Posted: January 17, 2017||
Gwen Pratesi is a nationally recognized and award-winning travel and food writer that informs, educates and entertains her readers on PratesiLiving.com and in other magazines and outlets around the world. You've talked about being a latchkey kid, preparing meals for...
Gwen Pratesi is a nationally recognized and award-winning travel and food writer that informs, educates and entertains her readers on PratesiLiving.comand in other magazines and outlets around the world.
You've talked about being a latchkey kid, preparing meals for yourself and your mom when you were young. You continued to plan elaborate dinner parties, as you would grow up, for friends and family. Why are you so passionate about cooking for other people? What are some of your favorite things to come out of these gatherings?
I've always spent time in the kitchen as a way to relieve stress or channel my energy and thoughts into making something creative and delicious for others - and myself. Good food brings people together (around a table) and there's no better reward than having guests share a meal together for hours and tell you how much they've enjoyed your cooking and the company.
You've also talked about how you were discouraged from attending culinary school, as it was hard for women to become a chef in the '70s. First of all, do you regret that you never went down that road? And, secondly, how much has things changed for women in the culinary world since when you first got interested in cooking?
I regretted it at the time since I was unsure of the direction I wanted to go after being so focused on the desire to become a chef. I did go to college and found a career I enjoyed, but find it interesting that our business has now cycled back around to the culinary industry. After working with many chefs over the past 7 years, I do not regret the path I took. Today's restaurants are incredibly demanding and the work is very different from other industries and the days are long and stressful. I think I've ultimately ended up where I belong; traveling and cooking wonderful meals for family and friends while writing about it and sharing my passion.
To answer your question about women chefs, yes, there are many excellent women chefs doing great things in the kitchen now and their presence is everywhere in the culinary industry, including on television, online, and in cookbooks and magazines, so things have definitely changed since the late 1970s.
Your husband Roger was diagnosed with Stage 4 Cancer, in the first few years you were married. You again took comfort in cooking, during those hard times. How did the uncertainty of the future inform these dinners and gatherings? How can the little things help, in hard and dark times?
Roger was diagnosed with colon cancer that had metastasized to the lung. There's no question it was a lot to deal with. Planning dinner parties and cooking for friends was helpful for both of us. Roger enjoyed spending time at a home we had in the North Carolina mountains and playing golf with his friends and it was a great place to entertain. We believe that sharing good times with those friends played a large role in his recovery. He believes that a positive attitude is the most important part of getting through anything, especially a disease like cancer. Continuing to cook, entertain and be with friends, stay active, and focus on what was good rather than was wrong, we think, was one of the important differences in the healing process and getting through cancer. So many people diagnosed with cancer immediately become fearful and resigned to a bad outcome. Roger never did. It was always about dealing with it and looking forward to each new day and to the time it would no longer be in our life.
During one of Roger's breaks from chemo, you were able to sneak away for a quick trip to Europe. Where did you go? What were some of your favorite experiences of that trip? Also, how do you feel that seeing new sights, remaining lively and active, affected your husband's recovery?
We took a 2-week trip in 2005 from Paris, France to Siena, Italy and it was spectacular. I originally planned for part of the trip to be in Switzerland, but incredibly, it was the same time that Hurricane Katrina happened in New Orleans and the towns in Switzerland where we scheduled to go were also flooded and the rail lines were out to do landslides. I remember watching all the devastating news from both New Orleans and Europe on television, and at the last minute, altered our travel plans.
During the new itinerary, we visited Paris, Strasbourg, Avignon, the South of France, Florence, and Siena and smaller towns along the way. We traveled by both train and car. Seeing the city of Paris at night from the top of the Eiffel Tower was pretty spectacular, but I also fell in love with Strasbourg, and marveled at the beautiful city of Siena and the stunning mosaic floor in the Duomo. I think this trip was great for both of us and Roger did well until the last few days when he caught a flu bug in Siena. Any time you can travel and experience the world, especially when going through an illness, it's uplifting and inspiring and good for the soul. I think it also keeps you alive in spirit, even though it may be physically exhausting at times, and that is very important when dealing with cancer.
In October of 2009, around the time PratesLiving.com was being founded, you and your husband flew to the south of France. What was it like, visiting France, after having wanted to go to school there? Did it feel that you had "arrived", somehow, or that things had come full circle? How did that trip to France influence your culinary passion?
We flew to Nice and stayed three nights prior to a cruise and divided our time between the hillside town of Vence and Eze, overlooking the Mediterranean. Those beautiful destinations and the places we visited in that region along with the scenery were breathtaking. Since it was the second trip to France, I would say that the first time we traveled there in 2005 had more of a feeling of "coming full circle", but all of the trips to France have influenced my culinary passion and French cuisine is still my favorite to prepare and eat. I love the simplicity of the ingredients along with the fine-tuned methods and techniques that create wonderful and timeless dishes, such as Coq au Vin and Sole Meunière.
What were a few of your favorite meals that you had, while you were in France? Can you recommend a few ways where Americans can find authentic French ingredients in the States, especially without breaking the bank?
The two dishes mentioned above, Coq au Vin and Sole Meunière are two of my favorite French dishes and I love to order them in France, especially in a classic French bistro. During our last trip to Paris, we had a wonderful meal at La Regalade Saint-Honore. The food was beautifully presented and so flavorful and we enjoyed chatting with an interesting couple next to us at dinner. Two of the things we crave and are worth traveling to France for are the French baguettes and dairy products, such as their butter and yogurt. There really is nothing else like it.
The good news about most of the traditional French dishes is that they are made with basic and easy to find ingredients. Some of them are more time-consuming to prepare because flavors are layered in, such as with Coq au Vin, but the preparation becomes as much enjoyment as the final dish. We always buy the best ingredients we can source. The manner in which an animal is raised and harvested or the way vegetables are grown will have an impact on the product produced and therefore, on the dish you prepare.
Of course, purchasing better ingredients can be more expensive, but in the end it's worth it. Better tasting and healthier food is more satisfying and nourishing and you tend to eat less of it, so the cost almost works out to be the same, if you think about it. If you encounter an unusual ingredient or a unique pan that's required to make a French recipe or another dish, you can order a lot of items online and avoid chasing all over town to find it. And if you want to make your own French bread at home (and this is the closest thing to what we've had in France), teach yourself to make authentic French bread with a Passion for Bread, a book by French Master Baker Lionel Vatinet of Cary, NC. You'll be addicted.
When you started PratesiLiving.com in 2009, you didn't have much of a clear direction for the blog, apart from sharing your passion for cooking. How did you find your "voice", and your personal place in foodie culture? What have been a few of the major differences while writing about food and building your blog with a clear direction and focus?
I think you find your voice the more you write and build your niche and brand. We started as a food blog and then began interviewing farmers and chefs, which led to culinary travel, where we are today. Creating culinary tours with our small business, On The Road culinary adventures, and being a finalist in Journalism with the James Beard Awards were two things that helped get our name out there and created more opportunities. Now, we not only write for our own site, but have several large outlets where we are regular contributors and freelance for other publications and our work is around culinary travel and general travel stories, so the focus has migrated over the years from writing just about food to experiencing food and culture through travel.
You travel extensively, writing and researching PratesLiving.com. Where have been a few of your favorite locations that you've visited, and why?
We love Quebec City. It's a short trip from Atlanta and feels very French and international without having to take a long-haul flight over the pond. There's so much to do there and the city is beautiful. The food is also fabulous and we love the change of seasons and how each season offers a different travel experience. Their winter carnivals are so much fun. Just be sure to prepare for the cold temperatures!
For other favorite destinations - I was enchanted by several ports of call on a recent Windstar cruise from Lisbon to Dublin. The coastal walled city of Saint-Malo in France was spectacular as was the Asturias region of Spain. We also enjoyed our travels through Ireland and Northern Ireland. The scenery is breathtaking and so different throughout various parts of the country. There are lovely manor homes or castles to stay in and the food at these higher end establishments was very sophisticated. Of course, the people were lovely and the Guinness is not-to-be-missed, especially the freshest pour of all at the Guinness Storehouse in Dublin.
How would you say visiting the locations where food is grown and produced influences the way you enjoy and appreciate food? What about the way you write about it?
As I mentioned earlier, the way animals are raised and harvested and the methods that are used to farm vegetables and produce, have everything to do with the taste of the product. That in turn, will impact the food you cook. Taste celery grown by conventional methods and then compare that to organically grown celery - there is no comparison in taste. If you were to feed a child celery for the first time and they ate the bitter regular celery, they'd probably spit it out, never eat celery again, and rightfully so. I believe that a lot of people don't like certain foods because they haven't had a decent version of it. If I get very fresh locally caught fish, it's wonderful, but if you buy farm-raised fish imported from some foreign country that has been sitting on ice in the grocery, it's uneatable, in my opinion.
The more you learn about your food, the more you realize that the ingredients in most supermarkets may look like the product you want, but oftentimes don't taste the way they should. So much food is modified to produce large amounts and to make shelf life longer, especially when shipping from overseas. Until you've tasted a ham traditionally smoked and cured in the Friuli region of Italy, or know the difference that the time of harvest and location where its grown impacts the heat of a pepper, or eaten a mango direct from a tree in Nevis (if you can get one away from the green monkeys), you won't understand how wonderful food can be. Also, one of the most important things we've learned is that there are numerous varieties of the products we buy at the grocery. Most of us buy garlic, but did you know there are dozens of different garlics, yet supermarkets sell all of it as "garlic" despite the fact that different varieties have different flavor. Some varieties can be very bitter and will ruin a dish, so you need to taste your ingredients before adding them to your cooking. The best chefs understand this and that's why so many of their dishes taste different than many people make at home. It's easy to get passionate about ingredients because there is a significant difference and sometimes, the cost is not that much more, especially when you don't have waste because the food is so good and more satisfying.
With so much uncertainty and heaviness in the world, these last few years, why is it particularly important for people to take time out and appreciate their loved ones and their lives with simple pleasures and pleasant moments?
Recent research says that experiences are more satisfying than the things we own and we couldn't agree more. Take time to explore the world. Once you get a little older and start a family and have a career, life's commitments make it more difficult to spend the time and money to travel. Of course, that's why people enjoy traveling once they've retired and their children are older, but for many, their physical health may become a limiting factor.
When you're at home living the normal day-to-day life, cooking and entertaining are the best ways I know to appreciate the simple pleasures of life. Pull out a cookbook (I still prefer real books), select a few recipes, shop for great ingredients and good wine, and take up residence in your kitchen and create something wonderful. If you have young children or teenagers, teach them kitchen skills and how to create beautiful food. It can become a family tradition at a time when traditions seem to be lost, yet traditions are so critical to family life in that they last a lifetime. Invite family or friends over for an impromptu evening of excellent food and wine. The memories from a special evening creating great food for others, or with others, will be memorable.
Want to learn more ways that food can inspire your life? Register with Cilantrotoday!
Posted: January 13, 2017||
What single piece of kitchen equipment will see you through a luxurious three-course meal and provide the entertainment at the same time? The Trudeau Dido 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set. Here’s a closer look at the fun of fondue, along with...
What single piece of kitchen equipment will see you through a luxurious three-course meal and provide the entertainment at the same time? The Trudeau Dido 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set. Here’s a closer look at the fun of fondue, along with how this one device can help you take any ho-hum dinner from ordinary to extraordinary.
The 411 on Fondue
While fondue is a fact of life for many Europeans, most Americans go without. Sadly, this also means that they’re missing out on one seriously delicious dish.
For years, the Swiss, Italian and French have enjoyed feasting on everything from fish and fruit to bread and cheese — all cooked by diners themselves through the ingenuity of fondue, which involves the use of long-stemmed forks and a pot of communal hot liquid.
Whether you’re dipping assorted breads into a sublime mixture of wine and cheese or strawberries and pineapple chunks into a divine brandy-infused chocolate concoction, fondue always delivers a magnificent meal.
Think fondue is just a fad due to its blaze of glory in the US back in the 1960s and 1970s? Think again. Fondue has some serious staying power. In fact, it’s been the national dish of Switzerland for nearly 100 years!
About the Trudeau Dido 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set
How can you make your next fondue night even better? With the Trudeau Dido 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set. Designed for use with all of your favorite dippers, this sleek, chic piece of kitchen equipment is engineered with ease and efficient in mind.
A powerful 1500-watt, flame-free electric base with a thermostat and power indicator light means cheese-drenched appetizers, tantalizing main courses, and decadent desserts will all be cooked to perfection in just one pot.
A stoneware double boiler insert ensures that cheese and chocolate melt to consummate creaminess, while an easy-release power cord makes for the ultimate in on-the-go mobility.
The set even includes a fork guide and six stainless steel fondue forks with color-coded tips!
Want to be the star of your next holiday gathering or potluck party? The Trudeau Dido 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set is a must-have, but it’s just as appropriate for a quiet, couples night at home. Entertaining has never been easier…or more enticing.
If you’re looking for a gift that keeps on giving, meanwhile, look no further than the Trudeau Dido 3-in-1 Electric Fondue Set — ideal for anyone from your favorite college student to the “hostess with the mostess.”
There is one last thing worth keeping in mind during your next fondue night. Don’t drop your bread! According to tradition, any man who loses a piece of bread in the fondue pot is on the hook for buying the next round of drinks, while a woman who drops her bread into the pot must smooch all her neighbors.
One of the most amazing things about fondue? Home chefs can experiment to their hearts’ content. While cheese and strawberries are always delectable, the sky’s the limit: bite-sized seafood, vegetables, marshmallows, brownies, cookies and even cake are phenomenal fodder for fondue. Register with Cilantro today to learn more about how this one-stop shop for home chefs can help you bring your culinary dreams to life.
Marie Antoinette was well-known for her sweet tooth. One of the favorite treats, according to historians? Meringue. In fact, the ill-fated queen is credited with introducing Swiss-originated meringue to the French, who went on to co-opt it in many recipes...
Marie Antoinette was well-known for her sweet tooth. One of the favorite treats, according to historians? Meringue. In fact, the ill-fated queen is credited with introducing Swiss-originated meringue to the French, who went on to co-opt it in many recipes of their own.
But while everything from lemon meringue pie to meringue cookies are beloved around the world, meringue can be a mystery to home chefs -- particularly when it comes to achieving its signature form and texture. Here's a closer look at meringue, along with tips for making it -- and the onething you need to guarantee meringue-making success.
All About Meringue
There are actually three types of meringue. The most well-known version is French meringue, which simply involves beating fine white sugar into egg whites. (Some French meringue recipes also call for adding an acid, such as vinegar, lemon, or cream of tartar, or binding agent, such as gelatin, salt, or cornstarch.)
While you may be asking yourself, "What's so hard about beating sugar into egg whites?" the truth is that it making it can be a challenging process. Why? Because a successful meringue relies on the formation of stiff peaks which occur when the proteins in egg whites break down through a process known as "denaturing." It is only through this chemical reaction that the mixture can achieve the stiffness necessary required to make the light, airy and crisp confections we all know and love. Says website What's Cooking America of the craft, "making perfect egg white meringue is much like blowing air into a balloon while whipping."
The good news? Once you've perfected your meringue-making, the sky is the limit when it comes to flavoring. Adding vanilla, almond, coconut and other flavorings can take the taste of your meringue to delicious new levels. Just be careful when working with extracts as the oil they contain can inhibit the formation of foam.
Five Tips for Making Meringue
So what do you need to know to successfully make meringue? These five tips can help:
1. The eggs you use matter.
What's Cooking America suggests working with eggs that are at least a few days old. These whip up into a higher volume than fresher eggs. However, if stability is more important in your recipe than volume, fresher eggs may be a safer bet.
It is also essential to make sure that whites are completely free of yolk. Also, keep in mind that cold eggs separate more easily, but should be brought up to room temperature before beating.
2. Wait for a dry, sunny day.
Everyone's familiar with the old adage about the importance of "saving for a rainy day," but here's one task you should skip when the weather outside is wet. While it may sound like a wives tale, there's science behind it. Egg white meringues contain a significant amount of air. If you make them on a humid or rainy day, the texture may change due to the introduction of excess water.
3. Choose the right bowl and utensils.
While making meringues isn't necessarily difficult, the process is complex. The addition of any extra moisture can cause your meringue to fail, so make sure you're working with clean, dry, and grease-free utensils.
Also, copper, glass, and stainless steel bowls are preferable than plastic bowls when whipping egg whites.
4. Timing is everything.
You can't rush meringue, and any attempts to do so will actually lengthen the amount of time it takes to make it. Begin by whipping just the egg whites, and add the sugar in gradually only when the whites have already stiffened.
5. Measure well.
In addition to adding sugar at the right time, determine in advance the precise amount of sugar you'll need to achieve the desired consistency. More sugar achieves a harder, easier-to-pipe final product, while less sugar leads to a softer meringue more suitable for topping pies and cakes.
Beaten egg whites can expand in volume by up to eight times their original size. But if you've ever tried to whip eggs by hand, you're probably already aware that it can be both a time-consuming and exhausting process. One simple tool which can significantly improve your meringue-making efforts? A stand mixer. In fact, according to Martha Stewart, not only are standing mixers able to mix more efficiently than a whisk, but they also yield a more stable end result.
Meringue is beautiful and tastes delicious, but there's one more reason to try your hand at making meringue in this season of New Year's resolution. They're also fat-free! Register with Cilantrotoday for more valuable content aimed at helping home chefs bring their culinary visions to life.
Posted: January 09, 2017||
Approximately 40 percent of the food in the US goes uneaten -- to the tune of roughly $165 billion each year, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A large part of this food waste? Produce....
Approximately 40 percent of the food in the US goes uneaten -- to the tune of roughly $165 billion each year, according to a report from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC). A large part of this food waste? Produce. Luckily there are some things you can do to minimize food losses in your own home while enjoying fresher, longer-lasting produce.
One of the latest weapons leading the charge? The OXO GreenSaver Produce Keeper. Let's take a closer look at this revolutionary system designed to keep fruits and vegetables fresher longer, along with why it's a must-have for money-minded, health-conscious households.
The Trouble with Food Waste
There's nothing worse than reaching for a head of lettuce or apple only to discover that it's gone bad. Unfortunately, this is a common phenomenon in American households. In fact, Americans end up throwing away about 19 percent of the vegetables and 14 percent of the fruits they purchase, according to a report from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
While rotting is a natural part of the lifecycle of produce, a number of factors -- such as air, light, temperature, moisture, and microbial growth -- can accelerate the spoilage process. This isn't just an inconvenience; it can also be a significant hit to your monthly food budget as well as to the environment as it compounds the massive amount of uneaten food rotting in landfills.
So what can you do to slow down the rate at which your produce spoils? For starters, shop wisely by choosing undamaged, vibrantly colored fruits and vegetables, and select your produce at the end of your shopping trip so items requiring refrigeration aren't kept at room temperature for any longer than necessary. Also, be sure to plan ahead to ensure that you buy only what you will use and need.
Other useful tips aimed at slowing food spoilage? Avoid cutting fruits in advance; quickly remove rotting fruit before it spoils the rest; store foods properly; and set your fridge to 40 degrees or lower. Keeping your fridge clean can also help as other foods are more likely to spoil in the presence of leftover food residue and mold spores.
Your New Best Friend
But what if you could do more than just prevent your produce from rotting? What if you could proactively extend the life of your fruits and vegetables instead? Enter the OXO GreenSaver Produce Keeper.
This innovative system keeps produce fresher longer in several different ways. An all-natural activated carbon filter (it's made from coconuts!) traps and absorbs ethylene gas, which slows down the aging process and keeps fruits and vegetables fresh longer, while an elevated basket -- which can also be used separately as a colander for rinsing -- keeps produce free and clear of the container walls to promote optimal air flow.
Additionally, an adjustable top vent slides open and closed to allow users to set the humidity depending on the type of produce. Plus, it's roomy enough for heads of lettuce, bunches of apples and all of your other favorites.
If you're aiming to eat healthier in the new year, you'll need plenty of nutrition-packed fruits and vegetables to reach your goal. If they're spoiling before you can consume them however, you're not only wasting money, you're also preventing yourself from fulfilling your goal. With the OXO GreenSaver Produce Keeper, you can have the best of both worlds: saving money without having to skimp on fresh, delicious produce. For more great content for home chefs, be sure to register with Cilantrotoday.
Posted: January 06, 2017||
Is shedding a few pounds on your list of New Year's resolutions this year? If so, you may be dreading the blah, bland, boring food most people associate with successful weight loss. But the truth is that nutritious food can...
Is shedding a few pounds on your list of New Year's resolutions this year? If so, you may be dreading the blah, bland, boring food most people associate with successful weight loss. But the truth is that nutritious food can also be delicious -- if you have the right recipes, that is. Read on for a roundup of seven tasty recipes which are small in calories and large on taste.
Think Mexican food is off the menu when you're trying to lose weight? Think again. This flavor-packed, five-star Food Network Kitchen recipe is proof that eating healthy doesn't have to mean going without all the foods you crave. After braising the meat for hours in the crockpot, you end up with impossibly tender shredded pork -- perfect for topping with all of your favorite garnishes.
This Mediterranean-inspired recipe from Cooking Lightcuts back on the butter but not on the flavor thanks to plenty of fresh lemon, garlic, and ground pepper. Served over plump orzo, this recipe is just over 403 calories.
Rather than calling out for greasy, cheese-laden pizza, why not make your own gourmet version at home instead? While Brussels sprouts may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of pizza toppings, you may be in for a revelation when you sample them paired with salty pepperoni, bright lemon zest, and creamy fontina cheese on whole-wheat dough -- a healthy alternative to white.
Looking for the satisfaction of sinking your teeth into a burger without the red meat? This recipe courtesy of the Mayo Clinic delivers a hearty helping of everything you crave in a burger -- along with plenty of healthy stuff, too, including fiber-rich black beans, red bell pepper, brown rice, and whole-grain bread crumbs.
The rich flavors of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and vanilla add up to a homey yet wholesome breakfast guaranteed to get your day off to a solid start. Cakey in texture with just a hint of spice, these vibrantly colored creations will satisfy any sweet tooth, while walnuts add toothsome crunch. Honey butter is the perfect finishing touch.
This isn't your mother's plain, depressing salad. In fact, it could be described as a "fiesta of flavors" thanks to corn, black beans, diced red onion, and two kinds of cheese. Throw in plenty of fresh romaine lettuce, toss with light ranch dressing and BBQ sauce, and top with tortilla strips and you've got a family-pleasing salad that eats like a meal.
You don't have to say "no" to dessert thanks to this tasty take on cobbler made with low-fat biscuit mix and featuring grilled peach halves. Add a dollop of low-fat whipped topping for next-level decadence.
Diet-friendly food you actually want to eat? With these seven recipes, you can look forward to achieving the near-impossible: a healthy and happy new year. Register with Cilantro today for the first step in bringing these and countless other healthy recipes to life in the year ahead.
Posted: January 03, 2017||
Alice Bast is CEO of Beyond Celiac, a patient-centric organization serving 2.5 million Americans. Recently, Alice sat down with us to educate us about celiac disease and to give us some suggestions on how to transition to a gluten-free...
Alice Bast is CEO of Beyond Celiac, a patient-centric organization serving 2.5 million Americans. Recently, Alice sat down with us to educate us about celiac disease and to give us some suggestions on how to transition to a gluten-free diet.
Tell us your story about your struggle with celiac disease. Why did you decide to spearhead the efforts of Beyond Celiac?
The day I was diagnosed with celiac disease was the best day of my life.
People always react with surprise when I tell them that. They ask how I can consider being diagnosed with a serious genetic autoimmune disease such a positive milestone. And I tell them it's because that's the day I got my life back.
In hindsight, I believe a vacation to Mexico played a role in triggering the disease. You see, celiac disease is a genetic condition, so you have to have a genetic susceptibility in order to develop it. But there's something else needed to trigger the onset: an environmental factor, usually some type of emotional or physical stress. There's little known about it; but in my case, I believe a parasite that I caught on vacation was my trigger. I was treated, but after that, things were never the same.
My husband and I were starting a family, and my oldest daughter was born perfectly healthy after a normal pregnancy. My second pregnancy, though, was nothing like the first. Early on, severe fatigue set in. I was constantly weak and rarely got enough sleep, as severe diarrhea, joint pain, and migraines kept me awake at night. No matter what I did, I lost weight. Two weeks before my due date, I lost my baby.
Over the years, I went on to have multiple miscarriages before finally delivering my youngest daughter, who weighed only two pounds. For eight years, I visited an incredible number of doctors - 22, to be exact. No one knew what was wrong with me. At 5'9?, I had wilted to a mere 105 pounds. I thought I was dying.
It wasn't until talking to a family friend - a veterinarian - that I realized that what I was eating could be the problem. She mentioned celiac disease and said that animals can have reactions to grains. Still on my quest for answers, I visited my 23rd doctor. He said I was too tall to have celiac disease. Still, I insisted. "Here's my arm. Give me the blood test." Sure enough, the results came back positive for celiac disease. Finally, after eight years of struggling, I had my answer.
There's no cure for celiac disease, but I was told that by adopting a gluten-free diet and ridding myself of anything derived from wheat, barley, or rye, my health would return and I could live a normal life. And that's exactly what happened.
I enthusiastically accepted my diagnosis and took on the difficult task of eating gluten-free. No more pizza, pasta, bread, soy sauce, cakes... the list goes on. But I was willing to make the switch to reclaim my health. What bothered me the most about my diagnosis was the thought that other people who, like me, don't represent the "typical" celiac disease patient (I wasn't short, I wasn't a child, I looked fine), were out there suffering and not knowing why. I had lost my babies, and I was determined to prevent the same thing from happening to other women.
My gastroenterologist and I dug into European research studies and became convinced that the untreated celiac had caused my fertility issues. My commitment to spreading celiac awareness grew stronger. I had to get the word out to people in every way I could. And so, in 2003, Beyond Celiac (formerly the National Foundation for Celiac Awareness) was born.
I don't want other women to experience the heartbreak that comes with losing a baby due to undiagnosed celiac disease. And I don't want people to spend years questioning why they're suffering from depression, digestive issues, infertility, migraines, fatigue, anxiety, and even some cancers. There's an answer, and that answer could be celiac disease.
How can you tell if you are suffering from celiac disease? What types of environmental conditions can trigger it?
Accurately diagnosing celiac disease can be quite difficult largely because the symptoms often mimic those of other diseases, including irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), Crohn's disease, intestinal infections, lactose intolerance, and depression. There are more than 300 symptoms of celiac disease, and they may vary among different people. Or there may be no symptoms at all.
Blood tests are the first step in a diagnosis of celiac disease. A doctor will order one or more of a series of blood tests to measure your body's response to gluten. It is important to continue eating a normal, gluten-containing diet before being tested for celiac disease. If the blood tests and symptoms indicate celiac disease, a physician will likely recommend an upper gastrointestinal endoscopy. This procedure will allow your doctor to identify any inflammation or damage in your small intestines, which is a sure sign of celiac disease.
Also, there are known risk factors. Celiac disease is genetically-based, so it is more common in those with a family history of the condition. This means that if you have a blood relative with celiac disease, you are at an increased risk for developing it, too. This autoimmune condition occurs in up to 5-10% of family members of people diagnosed with celiac disease.
Having an autoimmune disease makes you more likely to develop other autoimmune diseases. Thyroid disease and type 1 diabetes are examples of other autoimmune diseases that are common among people with celiac disease.
If the disease is ignored or untreated, what can happen to a person with celiac disease?
In addition to the painful and unpleasant symptoms that may be present, such as rashes, stomach pain, bloating, migraine headaches, and more, untreated celiac disease can leave a patient vulnerable to a host of other diseases and conditions. Some are caused by malabsorption of nutrients, including anemia, osteoporosis, and failure to thrive. Liver disease, thyroid disease, and even some cancers have been linked to untreated celiac disease.
Finish this sentence: "The myth about celiac disease that I hear the most often is..."
... that it's not a big deal and that it's easy to treat. Celiac disease is serious and people who have it need to be diagnosed properly and treated immediately or risk further health complications.
Research is also demonstrating that most people diagnosed with celiac disease have ongoing damage to their small intestines. The gluten-free diet is not only less effective than once thought, but it also poses serious quality-of-life issues for patients, thereby necessitating the development of additional treatment options.
People think that the gluten-free diet is the cure for celiac disease when in reality it's a band-aid. Research has shown the gluten-free diet alone is not enough, and many people with celiac disease don't heal even though they are trying to stay gluten-free. Gluten hides in many foods, and something as simple as a crumb of gluten touching a "gluten-free" food can trigger the autoimmune response.
What is the difference between celiac disease and simple gluten sensitivity?
Gluten sensitivity has been coined to describe those individuals who cannot tolerate gluten and experience symptoms similar to those with celiac disease, yet lack the same antibodies and intestinal damage as seen in celiac disease. Research indicates that individuals with non-celiac gluten sensitivity have a prevalence of extraintestinal or non-GI symptoms, such as headaches, "foggy mind," joint pain, and numbness in the legs, arms, or fingers. Some research also shows that FODMAPs, a group of poorly-digested carbohydrates, are responsible for gluten sensitivity. It's important to note that gluten-containing grains are high in FODMAPs.
In your opinion, how many people who have embraced a gluten-free diet are actually suffering from gluten sensitivity or celiac disease?
Market research estimates that 30% of the population is excluding or limiting the amount of gluten in their diets. Celiac disease affects roughly 1% of the population, and four out of five of those people are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. It's also estimated that 6% of the population has gluten sensitivity.
There are other health conditions for which a gluten-free diet may be suggested. However, it does seem that a significant portion of people who are eating gluten-free do not have a diagnosed condition that would warrant it.
In practice, what does transitioning to a gluten-free diet entail?
Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley, rye, and the derivatives of these grains, including malt and brewer's yeast. A gluten-free diet excludes all products containing these ingredients and their derivatives.
Although getting a handle on this approach can be surprisingly difficult at first, people who need to eat gluten-free can still enjoy a healthy diet filled with fruits, vegetables, meats, poultry, fish, beans, legumes, and most dairy products. Such ingredients are naturally gluten-free and safe for individuals who do not have allergies to these respective food groups. I often tell people just starting out on the gluten-free diet to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, where most of the naturally gluten-free foods are found.
In addition, there are a variety of grain, flour, and starch alternatives that naturally do not contain gluten and thus can be consumed by those on a gluten-free diet. The most common of these are corn and rice, but there are numerous others like buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, and millet. Flours made from nuts and beans are also available.
All grains are considered "high risk" for cross-contact because they are often grown, milled, and manufactured near gluten-containing grains. "Cross-contact" occurs when a gluten-containing food touches a gluten-free food. Eating even tiny amounts of gluten like this can cause damage to the small intestine and prevent nutrients from being absorbed into the bloodstream. Whenever possible, purchase naturally gluten-free grains, flours, and starches that are labeled gluten-free and also certified gluten-free by a third party.
Could you share one of your favorite gluten-free recipes with us?
I tend to eat mostly fresh or "gently prepared" foods. Here is one of my favorites:
Pink Grapefruit and Avocado Salad
• 1 sliced fresh avocado
• 2 sectioned and peeled pink grapefruits
• 1 head of Boston lettuce
• Olive oil
• Lemon juice
• Fresh basil
1. Wash and dry lettuce and place in bowl. Add in avocado and pink grapefruits.
2. Chop fresh basil and add to salad per your taste preferences.
3. Drizzle salad with as little or as much olive oil and lemon juice as you like. Salt and pepper to taste.
• Create a pink grapefruit zest dressing. Zest the grapefruit and whisk together with lemon juice or olive oil.
• For extra nutritional value, top with pomegranate seeds.
• To give the salad a crunch, toss in some toasted nuts.
When you are cooking gluten-free meals and dishes in your kitchen, what are the utensils, tools, and other items that you simply cannot do without?
It's veryhelpful to have designated or even color-coded utensils for preparing gluten-free foods if you share a kitchen with those who do eat and prepare gluten-containing foods. For example, if the red-handled utensils are always for the gluten-free cooking, then you greatly reduce the risk of introducing cross-contact. You can't share a toaster because of cross-contact with crumbs, so some people choose to have a designated gluten-free toaster in their kitchen.
It's also very important to label condiments and jars. For example, if someone makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with regular bread and re-dips the knife in the jar after smearing it on gluten-containing bread, you can't safely make a gluten-free PB&J from the same jars.
Need some extra kitchenware? Check out our selection today!
Posted: December 29, 2016||
Victoria, British Columbia-based Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD brings the JOY of healthy eating to women and picky kids. We asked Kristen to share some of her thoughts on helping picky-eating children and developing healthful, positive relationships with food. Tell...
Victoria, British Columbia-based Kristen Yarker, MSc, RD brings the JOY of healthy eating to women and picky kids. We asked Kristen to share some of her thoughts on helping picky-eating children and developing healthful, positive relationships with food.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to use your nutrition and dietary expertise to focus directly on families?
I've always loved food and kids, so it's natural that I work with these two passions. I also focus my attention on families because it's so easy for kids and adults to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. I like to work with families so that they can get things right from the start. It's like inoculating kids to protect them as they head out into this unhealthy environment.
Why do you think people develop such unhealthy relationships with food?
Because we're constantly surrounded by negative messages about food and unrealistic messages about how our bodies should look. Having a healthy relationship with food is really a rebellious act.
If someone were to say to you, "I try to view food as fuel for my body and nothing more," how might you respond?
Then you're going to need to work to achieve that. We're more than just our bodies; we're our minds and spirits, too. In addition to being fuel for our bodies, food is a source of pleasure, and it's a connection to our families and culture. To deny that is denying who we are as human beings.
Since you mentioned that several years ago you were eating healthy but not feeling good, could you tell us what changes you made to address that concern?
I was doing a lot of emotional eating back then. What I changed was learning other ways to care for myself - what I call adding tools to my self-care toolkit, like having a daily gratitude practice and meditating. I also changed what I ate for breakfast. I included more protein-rich foods, healthy fats, and slower-to-digest whole grains. The result is that I now don't crave sugar all day.
My most common breakfast now is overnight oats. Here's the recipe:
• Combine equal parts rolled or steel cut oats with yogurt and milk in a bowl or the container that you'll take this in to go. Choose 1/4 cup - 1/3 cup oats, 1/4 cup - 1/3 cup yogurt, 1/4 cup - 1/3 cup milk. If you don't consume dairy, use a double portion of plant-based milk alternative (e.g. ½ - 2/3 cup soy milk, almond milk, etc.) and leave out the yogurt.
• Choose a nut or seed that you like. Examples include hemp hearts (my personal favorite), chia seeds, chopped or sliced nuts, nut butter, or pumpkin seeds. Add it to the oat mixture.
• Choose a fruit that you like. Examples include applesauce, berries, pomegranate, or pumpkin puree. Add it to the oat mixture.
As the name of this dish suggests, prepare everything the night before. Place it in the fridge; and the next morning, give it a stir and enjoy!
Since you work a lot with kids who are picky eaters, could you give parents one piece of advice that they can act on today to help them with their picky-eating children?
Sit and eat with your kids at as many meals as possible. Use this time to have pleasant conversations. Don't talk about what food is or isn't being eaten (e.g. don't negotiate over how many more bites of peas). Instead, talk about topics such as how your days went, upcoming family events, etc. Also, choose a different time to scold kids; don't do it at the table. As the saying goes, what kids really want for dinner... is you. Kids really do eat better when a trusted adult joins them.
When you're preparing meals and foods in your kitchen, what are the utensils, tools, gadgets, appliances, or other items that you simply cannot live without?
People are often surprised that I don't have a lot of fancy gadgets. But I do have excellent-quality equipment. Good quality kitchen basics really do make cooking more enjoyable, so buy as high a level of quality as you can afford.
I couldn't live without sharp knives (several sizes) and heavy-bottomed pots and pans. During winter, I do a lot of roasting, so I'd be lost without my roasting pans. And, of course, my coffee grinder and French press coffee maker.
Need a new roasting pan or heavy-bottomed pot? Check out Cilantro's selection today!
Posted: December 27, 2016|Categories: Holidays & Events|
So you've gotten through Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner, but you're not quite done yet. New Year's Eve is still ahead -- your last chance to send off 2016 in style. While you could head out to your favorite...
So you've gotten through Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner, but you're not quite done yet. New Year's Eve is still ahead -- your last chance to send off 2016 in style. While you could head out to your favorite restaurant for dinner, doing so will be crowded, expensive and impersonal. So why not create a special dinner of your own at home this year instead? Read on for 15 New Year's Eve recipes perfect for ringing in 2017 in scrumptious style.
Does anything say luxury quite like lobster? Both hearty and haute, this is the perfect celebratory meal.
Who couldn't use a little good luck heading into the new year? This recipe courtesy of Patrick and Gina Neely earns rave reviews from home cooks, who declare the meal "absolutely superb," "awesome," and "amazing." The overall consensus on this one? It just might be the best black-eyed peas recipe ever.
More than 3,100 reviews and an impressive five-star rating makes these crispy, cheesy, golden French cheese puffs a must-make appetizer or side for your New Year's Eve spread.
This inventive recipe may be approaching its 30th birthday, but it more than stands the test of time. And besides -- what better occasion than New Year's Eve to indulge in this ridiculously rich, amaretto-infused cream sauce?
Served in a shot glass, this tasty soup featuring the bold combination of tomato, Worcestershire and vodka are both festive and flavorful.
Like black-eyed peas, pork is considered to be one of the luckiest foods to indulge in upon the changing of the year. And while the weather outside may be frightful, but this recipe is the perfect comfort food for gathering friends and family members for a celebratory feast. The best part? It couldn't be easier to make...or more delicious to eat.
The Greeks may smash pomegranates for good luck at New Year's, but we prefer this approach instead.
For some people, it's just not New Year's Eve unless there's a nice, juicy steak involved. Why not feast on a phenomenal filet this December 31? Porcini butter is the perfect finishing touch.
Looking for an alternative to straight-up steak? Carnivorous foodies will love digging into this fresh, South American-inspired meal.
Greet guests with a festive beverage and these perky pinwheels.
What do you get when you combine baguette rounds, store-bought ricotta, bacon and a drizzle of sweet honey? A show-stopping, make-ahead appetizer for your New Year's Eve fete.
The essence of simplicity, this green salad makes for a refreshing palate-cleanser between entrees.
13. Creamed Kale
Spinach is so 1994. Kale makes a savory substitute in this popular Tyler Florence recipe.
Just four ingredients and 15 minutes add up to a special, statement-making dessert for your New Year's Eve dinner. Plus, fondueis interactive -- a great way to liven up the post-dinner lag.
Sure to elicit plenty of oohs and ahhs from your guests, this trifle is easy to assemble and yet appropriately elegant.
When you think about it, is there any meal of the year with more meaning than New Year's Eve? Serve up an appropriately special dinner with help from Cilantro The Cooks Shop. Browse food, cookbooks, barware, and much more today.
Posted: December 23, 2016|Categories: Holidays & Events
New Year's Eve means busting out the bubbly! Why not amp up this year's festivities with one of these 15 chic champagne cocktail recipes? Bottoms up! Let the cork-popping commence! 1. Classic Champagne Cocktail You can't go wrong...
New Year's Eve means busting out the bubbly! Why not amp up this year's festivities with one of these 15 chic champagne cocktail recipes? Bottoms up!
You can't go wrong with a classic: spirits, bitters, and refreshing citrus add up to a perfect celebratory sipper.
It's not just for morning-after brunch. Help sustain your guests for the night of revelry ahead with this vitamin C-packed libation.
Mario Batali knows his way around a cocktail. Combine Prosecco with fresh white peach puree and you're good to go with this festive favorite.
4. French 75
This lemony libation is bright, crisp and completely delicious.
5. Kir Royale
This iconic French cocktail fusing black currant liqueur and champagne is the epitome of elegant.
The Greeks celebrate by smashing pomegranates. Why not carry the theme over with this ruby-red, sweet-tart treat?
Don't want to spend your evening mixing drinks? Serve this up punch-style, instead.
Orange zest adds refreshing zing to this vodka, champagne and cranberry juice concoction courtesy of the king of Creole himself, Emeril Lagasse.
9. Black Velvet
Why wait until St. Patrick's Day? Even the diehard beer drinkers in the bunch will be won over by this Guinness-sparkling wine mix thanks to its full, slightly creamy body.
10. Pink Flirtini
What's better than a martini? A pink martini. A mix of fruity spirits, fresh lime, and fresh raspberries makes this an irresistible addition to the night's festivities.
Mango might be the last flavor you think of when you think of champagne cocktail, but a five-star Food Network rating is good enough for us. And besides, who couldn't use a taste of the tropics right about now?
12. Apricot Fizz
Give your guests a fruity fix with this bright, beautiful cocktail.
Aside from its awesome name, this divine cocktail packs a flavorful punch. A lemon wheel and fresh mint bouquet garnish add to its festive flair.
Fresh blood orange, rosemary simple syrup, and Aperol -- "like the national anthem" of Italy, according to designer and blogger Athena Calderone -- make this an unexpectedly delicious alternative to the usual.
Everyone loves a mojito. They'll also love this playful champagne cocktail reboot courtesy of FoodieCrush.
If you're ready to pop open the bubbly, these 15 recipes have you covered -- and then some. Need more help bringing your New Year's Eve party vision to life? Browse barware, bakeware, kitchenware, and much more at Cilantro The Cooks Shop.
Posted: December 21, 2016|
Here's the challenge: Can one cookware set help home chefs pull off an entire holiday feast? As it turns out, it's not much of a challenge at all -- at least not when you're using the Korkmaz Alfa 9...
Here's the challenge: Can one cookware set help home chefs pull off an entire holiday feast? As it turns out, it's not much of a challenge at all -- at least not when you're using the Korkmaz Alfa 9 Piece Cookware Set from Cilantro. Here's a rundown of nine different recipes which add up to one amazing Christmas or New Year's dinner -- using only the Korkmaz Alfa 9 Piece Cookware Set.
This festive favorite is not just for weddings! In fact, many Italians kick off Christmas dinner each year with this celebratory soup packed with endive and miniature meatballs. The Parmesan egg drizzle offers a flavorful finishing touch. Prepare the meatballs, then pop all of the ingredients into the Korkmaz Alfa 5.4L casserole, simmer on the stovetop, and serve.
What's even more mouthwatering than filet of beef? Ina Garten's extraordinary Fillet of Beef Bourguignonne. The perfect Christmas dinner, this meal combines crisp bacon, tender beef, hearty mushrooms and a rich, silky and delicious sauce repeatedly described as nothing short of "amazing." The best part? It uses just one pan -- the handy Korkmaz Alfa 3.0L frypan.
A sophisticated twist on your grandmother's green bean casserole, this Tyler Florence recipe lets its ingredients shine. Boil green beans in a medium-sized Korkmaz Alfa casserole before toasting the almonds and caramelizing the onions in the same pot. The final step brings all of the cooked components together into one beautifully cohesive dish.
What's a holiday meal without a little -- or maybe a lot of -- indulgence? Russet potatoes, bacon, two kinds of cheese, and half-and-half add up to an impossibly rich, delightfully creamy concoction, while fresh parsley and chives embolden and brighten up the dish. Korkmaz Alfa low casserole ensures a quicker cooking time, while the lid means no fussing within aluminum foil.
Looking for an alternative for -- or complement to the fillet of beef? This is not so much a recipe as a primer for how to cook the perfect roast chicken with minimal effort and maximal results. The secret? Cooking the bird on a bed of onions at a low temperature in a covered pot. That's it. Just two ingredients, the right method, and a holiday-worthy happy ending in the form of succulent, falling-off-the-bone tenderness. (The chicken should fit snugly in the pan, so choose the Korkmaz Alfa casserole that best fits your bird.)
Anyone who's ever endured mushy carrots will rejoice in this recipe's refreshingly al dente preparation. Add in a phenomenal glaze, and you've got the perfect sweet and savory side dish for your holiday meal. Even better? It's another one-pot wonder with Korkmaz Alfa cookware.)
Step away from the can of jellied cranberries. This perennial crowd-pleaser gets a seasonal update thanks to the unexpected -- and yet decidedly delicious -- addition of kumquats. It's bright, bracing, and the perfect accompaniment to a roast chicken or other main dish. The best part? You can make it a full five days in advance freeing up your Korkmaz Alfa cookware for other components of the meal.
Sweet, fluffy panettone is a holiday favorite, and the perfect base for a soothing bread pudding. The addition of eggnog makes this divine dessert as festive as it is flavorful. Just mix together the ingredients, pour into the Korkmaz Alfa Low Casserole, bake, serve and await the "ooohs" and "aaahs" of your guests.
We can think of no more wholesome way to finish off your holiday meal than with this exceptionally tasty treat. Not only is it surprisingly low in sugar and high in satisfaction, it's also a snap to make thanks to Korkmaz Alfa's stovetop-to-oven functionality.
Need anything else to pull off your holiday menu? In addition to the Korkmaz Alfa Cookware Set, Cilantro The Cooks Shop has you covered. Browse kitchenware, cookware, bakeware, ovenware, and much much more at Cilantro The Cooks Shop today.
Posted: December 19, 2016|
David Purdon, owner of BakingBar, is a leading food and home writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. We recently had a chance to chat with David about developing new recipes, interviewing leading chefs, and making baking easier and more fun....
David Purdon, owner of BakingBar, is a leading food and home writer from Belfast, Northern Ireland. We recently had a chance to chat with David about developing new recipes, interviewing leading chefs, and making baking easier and more fun.
Tell us a bit about your background. Why did you decide to start a blog?
I Initially decided to start blogging as a way of keeping track of my own recipes and keep a record of what I created. Baking has always been a passion since I was young, so it was great to see other people appreciating the recipes I enjoyed writing.
Since you're based in Belfast, could you tell us what types of foods or cuisine are popular in your area?
The food in Northern Ireland is very traditional, but Belfast in particular has been thrust into the world food scene in recent years with some amazing restaurants. Now you can find most cuisines in Belfast.
Tell us about the process of developing a new recipe. How much trial-and-error is involved before you finally have a recipe that you're ready to submit or publish?
Developing some recipes takes weeks or even months. It is fairly easy to get an idea for a recipe. But if it is a little less traditional, it can take a lot trial and error to get the recipe just right. No recipe can't be made better or altered in some way, so it's a constant process of improvement.
Since you've interviewed quite a few "top chefs" for your blog, could you tell us what that most or all of these master chefs have in common?
The most common trait of the top chefs we have interviewed is their dedication to their field. A lot of chefs have started at the very bottom as plate washers and kitchen porters, and they spent years watching their head chefs at work. They persist at what they want to do and eventually work their way to the very top. I truly believe if you work in an industry you love, then you will thrive and grow with every year you spend doing it.
Since your blog has been promoting cookery classes over the last few years, could you tell us what types of cooking or cuisine are the most popular with people who are interested in these classes?
It will be no surprise that the most popular cookery classes which we get requests for are cupcake classes. Everyone wants to know how to make beautiful cupcakes and decorate them. The secret is that it's not that difficult once you know the simple processes to follow.
Do you mind sharing one of your favorite original recipes that your friends can never get enough of?
This Jam and Coconut Sponge recipe is both our favorite and all our friends' favorite, too. It reminds everyone of school when it was served with custard. The flavor works so well - and the smell is divine!
- 175g butter
- 175g caster sugar
- 3 eggs
- 2tsp vanilla extract/essence
- 175g NEILL'S® self-raising flour
- half a jar of your favorite strawberry jam
- 100g desiccated coconut
- food mixer (recommend Sage Appliances Scraper Mixer Pro)
- Le Creuset loaf tin
- Pyrex mixing bowls
- Heston Blumenthal Dual Platform Precision Scale
- Preheat oven to 180c.
- Lightly grease a loaf tin.
- Cream the butter and sugar together on high speed until light and pale.
- Beat in the eggs one at a time until well combined.
- Beat in the vanilla extract.
- Fold in the sieved flour.
- Pour the cake batter into the prepared loaf tin. Spread out evenly.
- Bake in the center of the oven for 40 mins or until a skewer inserted comes out clean.
- Allow to cool for 15 mins before turning out onto a wire cooling rack.
- Once cool, cover with the strawberry jam, ensuring the cake is well covered.
- Sprinkle the top and sides with the desiccated coconut. Press the coconut lightly against the cake to help it stick. Store in an airtight tin or box.
When you are cooking or baking in the kitchen, what are the utensils, tools, or other items that you simply cannot live without?
A lot of people say that a stand mixer isn't necessary for any recipe. That is technically true. But it takes so much work out of a tiring part of baking. If you can afford a good stand mixer, then it's a great choice for a budding baker.
Need a new stand mixer? Check out our selection today!
Posted: December 16, 2016|
From brightening up pasta dishes to adding depth to a rich chocolate cake, zest is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance the flavors of your foods. But all zesters are not created equally. A go-to...
From brightening up pasta dishes to adding depth to a rich chocolate cake, zest is one of the simplest yet most effective ways to enhance the flavors of your foods. But all zesters are not created equally. A go-to gadget for many home chefs? Cilantro the Cooks Shop's Swissmar Citrus Zester. Here's a closer look at this handy tool, along with tips for improving all of your favorite recipes with it.
About the Swissmar Citrus Zester
What makes this zester different from the rest? For starters, there's its versatile double-ended, three-in-one functionality, making it perfect not just for zesting, but also for grating and storing. Looking to create professional-looking garnishes for everything from main dishes to desserts? The Swissmar Zester makes it easy.
This innovative model also stands out from other zesters because of its ergonomic design suitable for both left- and right-handed chefs, as well as its durable stainless steel construction featuring super-fine holes ideal for producing the best results. Clear plastic caps at both ends, meanwhile, ensure safe, hygienic storage.
One additional Swissmar Citrus Zester feature sure to please busy home chefs? It's dishwasher safe -- meaning minimal cleanup is necessary.
While lemons may first come to mind when you think about zest, any kind of citrus can be zested. Whether you stick with lemon or choose lime, orange, grapefruit, tangerine or an alternate type of citrus, you can use zest to add zing to countless recipes.
Many people mistakenly assume that citrus juice and citrus zest are interchangeable as ingredients, but the truth is that the aromatic oils found in the skin of fruit have a much more intense and complex flavor profile than one-note juice. Floral, tangy and with just a hint of bitterness, zest can do everything from underscore already-present citrus flavor to balance and brighten savory and sweet dishes alike.
If a particular recipe has in the past turned out "just okay," zest can give it the boost it needs to shine.
Making the Most of Your Swissmar Citrus Zester
Of course, your zester is only as good as the produce you're using. Because zest derives from the outside of fruit, stick with organic, if possible, to avoid chemicals which can potentially taint the taste of your zest. When choosing between fruits, look for ones with a firm texture and vividly colored peel. Another general rule of thumb? Fragrant fruits typically yield more flavorful zest. If a particular fruit smells bland, reach for another one.
Even if you've chosen organic, most fruits are still coated with edible wax for freshness. To make sure you're really grabbing the skin in order to produce the best zest, give fruit a brisk, brief scrub in warm water to remove the wax coating.
Whether you're peeling thin strips for garnishes or aiming for a finer texture for sprinkling into a recipe, using a light hand can also help you avoid ending up with the bitter pith in addition to the zest. It's also easiest to zest a whole fruit as opposed to a halved one. And remember: a little goes a long way -- particularly in baked goods.
One last thing to keep in mind? Zest is always strongest when fresh due to its volatile oils, so be sure to use it right away.
Which brings us to our final point: Zest is pretty much a foolproof way to liven many recipes, so don't be afraid to experiment with it in your cooking. Taste a finished dish and feel like it lacks "oomph"? Just whip out your Swissmar Citrus Zester, add a small amount of zest, taste, and repeat until the dish has gone from dull to delicious.
For more on the Swissmar Citrus Zester, check out Cilantro the Cooks Shop's collection of video demonstrations. Then, be sure to visit Cilantro the Cooks Shops to browse its comprehensive collection of bakeware, kitchen knives, cookware and more -- all aimed at helping home cooks bring their culinary visions to life.
Posted: December 16, 2016||
Dan is the Founder of Sharp Gourmet, the first and only knife sharpening subscription service which provides sharp cutlery to homes across the U.S. We recently spoke with Dan about the impact that a well-sharpened knife can have on...
Dan is the Founder of Sharp Gourmet, the first and only knife sharpening subscription service which provides sharp cutlery to homes across the U.S. We recently spoke with Dan about the impact that a well-sharpened knife can have on cooking and preparing foods.
Tell us a little about yourself. How did you come up with the idea of Sharp Gourmet?
For over 100 years, my family has been sharpening cutlery throughout different areas of the Northeast. In late 2010, I decided to shift gears and become the fourth generation to work in the knife sharpening industry. Our company primarily focuses on providing cutlery rental services to businesses across the entire food industry. Whether it's a small corner store or a large supermarket chain, our customers are serviced on a weekly basis, thus ensuring easier and more efficient food prep.
Throughout our continued growth, I was constantly asked if we could sharpen personal knives from our customer's homes. It wasn't hard to see an opportunity emerging if I could somehow standardize a sharpening program and provide consistently sharp cutlery to homes across the U.S. Sharp Gourmet was born out of this realization that knife sharpening isn't something many folks know how to do or want to do. With subscription businesses blossoming across a variety of industries, I see Sharp Gourmet as being uniquely positioned to change how home cooks across the U.S. think about their kitchen knives.
How can you tell if a knife isn't as sharp as it can be?
Ask a dozen people this question and you're likely to get a dozen different answers. Within our sharpening shop, we like to use a sheet of paper as a basic test. If the knife isn't razor sharp and properly honed, you won't be able to easily grab the paper and slice through it.
Within a kitchen, I think the best judge is yourself. If you feel you're struggling with slicing a tomato or mincing herbs, you likely need professional maintenance of your cutlery.
Finish this sentence: "You can best see the difference between a dull knife and a sharpened knife when cutting ... "
A tomato. With a tough skin and soft interior, a dull knife will make cutting a tomato a miserable process. If your knife is struggling to get through a tomato and you're pushing too hard, it will become a mushy mess.
What characterizes a superior knife sharpening process?
Our process has been improved over the last century to create a sharp and lasting edge. All of our cutlery is put through a three-step process where a thin bevel is created and a thin razor sharp edge is honed onto the bottom of the blade. Above all else, a steady hand only improves the process. It takes thousands of hours to become an expert at sharpening a knife.
For people who want to sharpen their own knives, do you have any tips on how to do it right?
If you do decide to sharpen your own knives, I would recommend watching a few "how-to" videos. I learned from a young age while watching my father during my summers off from school. Watching someone and trying to imitate their movements can be very helpful.
However, sharpening a knife isn't easy. In fact, you're more likely to ruin the edge than create a razor-sharp piece of cutlery.
What impact does using a well-sharpened knife have on the finished dishes, entrees, or foods?
Anyone who's ever tried to slice paper-thin garlic, or garnish an entrée with an ingredient called to be prepared in a specific way, can relate to how important a well-sharpened knife can be. Many recipes specify an ingredient to be minced, sliced, diced, or chopped; and without a sharp knife, it can be an uphill battle.
When you're working in your own kitchen, what type of knife [or knives] tend to get the most use?
Specifically, I love Sharp Gourmet's trusty 8" chef knife. Whether it's slicing or dicing, it's my go-to for nearly every type of food prep in my home kitchen.
Need a new kitchen knife? Check out our selection today!
Posted: December 14, 2016||
Nancy Montuori is the creator of Ordinary Vegan, a leading blog and podcast for health, wellness, and a plant-based diet. Ordinary Vegan has become a beacon for people seeking a healthy lifestyle. Nancy chatted with us recently about the...
Nancy Montuori is the creator of Ordinary Vegan, a leading blog and podcast for health, wellness, and a plant-based diet. Ordinary Vegan has become a beacon for people seeking a healthy lifestyle. Nancy chatted with us recently about the benefits of a plant-based diet and how easy it can be to embrace a vegan lifestyle.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Why did you decide to create Ordinary Vegan?
On May 1, 2011, I went to see a documentary film called "Forks over Knives." I left that movie theater convinced of the connection between food and disease, and I wanted to scream it from the rooftops. So I began chronicling my experience on my blog called "Ordinary Vegan." I went on to educate myself by reading a variety of experts, and I earned my plant-based nutrition certificate in 2012. In 2017, I will be teaching an online course in plant-based nutrition.
What diseases, conditions, or other ailments can a vegan diet help to reduce symptoms - or even reverse?
A convergence of evidence proves that plant-based diets can help prevent and even reverse some of the most common deadliest diseases including heart disease, cancer, obesity, and type-2 diabetes. Eating whole grains, legumes, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats like nuts and seeds, while eliminating dairy products and meat, can also reduce one's chances of forming kidney stones and gallstones. Vegans are also at a lower risk for osteoporosis, asthma, and dementia.
Name a healthy, tasty vegan food or ingredient that most vegans typically don't know about.
My new favorite ingredient is jackfruit. Jackfruit grows on branches and trunks of tall trees and is considered a fruit. Jackfruit is rich in vitamins and minerals and contains no cholesterol or saturated fats. It is also rich in antioxidants that protect the body from cancer, aging, and degenerative disease. Since jackfruit is known for its shredding quality, it can easily mimic pulled pork; and one of Ordinary Vegan's most popular recipes is the "No Bones Baby Jackfruit Barbecue Sandwich."
How challenging is it (or not) to adhere to a vegan diet and still get all of the nutrients that your body needs?
The biggest misconception of a vegan diet is that you won't get enough protein or nutrients. That's absolutely 100% false. If you eat a well-balanced whole food plant-based diet, you will get all the nutrients you need and then some. The only vitamin supplement I ever recommend is a daily dose of the smallest available tablet of B-12 (which is usually 100 micrograms). Vitamin B-12 is found in animal food, and plants do not contain B-12. But you can find B-12 in fortified non-dairy milk, cereals, and nutritional yeast.
Is it possible to be a three-meal-a-day vegan without spending an inordinate amount of time in the kitchen?
Positively - especially if you keep it simple. Think of your plate divided into quarters with one part a grain, one part a vegetable, one part a fruit and one part a legume with a small side of healthy fat like nuts and seeds. I like to start my morning with oatmeal with a tablespoon of hemp seeds, topped with nuts and fresh fruit. A typical lunch can be a smashed chickpea sandwich with vegan mayo, lettuce, tomatoes, sprouts, cucumber, or avocado sliced on toast topped with a little lemon, salt, and sliced radishes. Dinner can be rice and beans and leafy greens. The best part of eating like this is you want to run a marathon after you consume your meal - not lay down.
Do you mind sharing a recipe with us that will appeal to both vegans and non-vegans?
Sure! The great thing about this recipe is that it is protein- and nutrient-packed, and you can make a big batch and eat it throughout the week.
Garbanzo Bean Soup with Tomatoes and Pasta
• 2 15-ounce cans organic, low-salt garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed)
• 3-5 cups vegetable stock
• 1 cup orzo or any small pasta
• 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil or 1/2 cup vegetable broth for sautéing*
• 1 28-ounce can low-salt diced tomatoes (or crushed)
• 4 garlic cloves, minced
• 3 shallots, minced (or one leek)
• 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
• 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
• 1 teaspoon dried basil
• 1 teaspoon salt
• freshly ground pepper
• ¼ tsp red pepper flakes
In a large soup pot or stockpot, heat the olive oil or vegetable broth. Add the shallots and garlic and sauté for about 2-3 minutes until soft. Add the seasoning, garbanzo beans, tomatoes, pasta, and vegetable stock (use 3-5 cups of vegetable stock depending on how much liquid you like in your soup). Cook until orzo is al-dente, approximately 10 minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve with crunchy bread and something green.
For a thicker soup, transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender or food processor and blend until smooth. Return the puree to the pot.
*-I always recommend using oil sparingly and sautéing in vegetable broth, especially if you have any heart conditions.
When you're cooking in the kitchen, what utensils or tools do you rely on the most?
I couldn't live without my food processor and my lemon and lime squeezer. Fresh citrus livens up any vegetable without adding any calories.
If someone were to give you a gift for your kitchen and money were no object, what appliance, gadget, or other kitchen item would you want?
I would definitely want a high-performance blender like a Vitamix.
Need a new blender or food processor? Check out Cilantro's selection today!
Posted: December 12, 2016||
Dana Notte is a registered dietitian and the Nutrition Lead at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a non-diet, mindfulness-based retreat that helps free women from eating and weight worries. We had a chance to sit down with Dana to...
Dana Notte is a registered dietitian and the Nutrition Lead at Green Mountain at Fox Run, a non-diet, mindfulness-based retreat that helps free women from eating and weight worries. We had a chance to sit down with Dana to discuss embracing a more desirable attitude toward food, eating, and weight loss, and also learned some tips on improving your overall health without resorting to restrictive diets.
Why did you choose to focus your dietitian expertise on weight loss?
I actually don't identify myself as a weight loss dietitian. While it's true that many of the people with whom we work at Green Mountain at Fox Run have a goal of achieving weight loss, what we do is so much deeper than that. We are really all about helping people heal their relationship with food and their bodies by taking the focus off of weight loss.
I started my career working in the field of behavioral weight management, and what I quickly learned is that this approach just doesn't work for the vast majority of people. It doesn't produce sustained weight loss. It doesn't improve health in the long term. It leads to disordered thoughts and beliefs about, and behaviors around, food. And it makes people miserable.
I would say my expertise really lies in the areas of mindful and intuitive eating. That is: helping people to learn how to trust themselves around food again; how to let go of food and diet rules and be their own authority on health; how to feel their bodies and let feelings of hunger and fullness drive their decisions about what, when, and how much to eat; how to find pleasure in food again; and so much more.
Essentially, my goal in working with women is to help them to learn to use food to feel their best while becoming fearless, confident, and mindful eaters.
What's a typical day like for a guest at Green Mountain at Fox Run?
It's hard to boil that down into a few words because a typical day at Green Mountain depends on a lot of factors. How long has a participant been staying at Green Mountain? Have they visited before? What time of year is it? What are they most interested in focusing on? And I think that this variety is really one of the things that makes Green Mountain so special.
That said, our program is built upon a core foundation. There is a basic psychoeducational program that everyone arriving at Green Mountain completes, which covers the core components of our eating, moving, and living philosophy. There are classes on Redefining Healthy Eating, Mindful Eating, Movement for the Soul, Stress Management, Body Image, and more. There are also a variety of optional educational classes and discussion groups throughout the week, so participants have some flexibility in deciding what they are most interested in learning more about.
There are always a variety of fitness opportunities offered throughout the day - everything from yoga to Tabata to belly dancing to hiking to snowshoeing (when there is snow, of course) - so participants can explore different types of movement and find what they enjoy. Meals and snacks are offered regularly throughout the day and often include educational components (for example, a guided mindful eating exercise). And participants always have access to snacks between scheduled meal and snack times so they know there is always food available when they need it. Finally, there is time for individual coaching sessions, meditation, journaling, and general self-care built into the program schedule, too.
How do you and your staff try to ensure that guests will continue to practice the lessons they learned at your facility once they leave?
We understand that our guests' journeys aren't over when they leave Green Mountain, and that ongoing support is integral to help our alumnae reach their health and wellness goals. To sustain the change after their stay, Green Mountain offers many options, including:
- Phone coaching - participants can stay connected to Green Mountain's professional staff even after they've gone home, so they always know they can find the support they need to help them as they continue on their journey.
- Social media - once participants have completed their stay at Green Mountain, they can request access to a closed group Facebook page that is moderated by GMFR staff. This provides a platform on which they can communicate with like-minded women about challenges they might be experiencing and questions they have, so they can find the support they need after their stay with us is complete.
- Sustain the Change - this is a class that all Green Mountain participants attend prior to their departure to help prepare them for life beyond the walls of GMFR. They learn about resources that are available to them and where they can look for support when they are back home. We'll even help them to find professionals in their area at home who follow a similar practice philosophy so that there is continuity in their support systems.
- A Weight Lifted - our blog provides strategies about learning to eat, move, and live in the moment. Topics range from enjoyable exercise to mindful eating to stress management.
- Newsletter mailing list - our emails encourage subscribers to live healthfully without dieting or restrictive eating and alert them to upcoming opportunities and helpful resources.
- Guides & White Papers - our library of resources and tools provides a deep dive into subjects such as binge eating disorder and sugar addiction.
- Webinars - our collection of free recorded webinars educates our alumnae on special topics surrounding emotional and physical health, mindful movement, and stress management.
What are some of the common emotional challenges facing the women who visit Green Mountain at Fox Run?
Stress is by far the most common emotional challenge reported by women who visit Green Mountain. Stress comes in a lot of different forms and has a lot of psychological and physiological effects on the body, which is why learning how to effectively manage stress is an essential component to our program.
In addition to our psychoeducational program, Green Mountain at Fox Run's Women's Center for Binge and Emotional Eating has a team of trained therapists on staff who help women work through the deeper emotional challenges that affect their eating and self-care behaviors.
Finish this sentence: "The biggest myth about women who have trouble losing weight is..."
...that weight is something that an individual can control. It's a common misconception that weight and weight loss are simply a matter of calories in and calories out or eating less and moving more, when in reality weight is far more complex than that. Genetics, sociocultural factors, environmental factors, and physiological factors also play a role in determining an individual's natural weight, and those factors cannot always be controlled. Diet and exercise are part of what determines an individual's weight, but are certainly not the only factors.
A far more valuable focus is on health and health behaviors - helping people to cultivate eating, moving, and living behaviors that promote health and well-being. After all, weight loss on its own also does not guarantee improved health, especially if a person is engaging in unhealthy behaviors (e.g., restriction) to achieve that weight loss.
Name one easy habit that women can change or embrace today to aid them in their efforts to lose weight.
I wouldn't say any of these changes are "easy." Changing thoughts, beliefs, and actions around food is never easy because we have years and years of forming those thoughts and habits. It takes time to begin changing them. However, broadening the focus beyond weight loss, and maybe just trying to focus on one thing you can do today to make you happy, can be a helpful place to start.
When our sole intention is to lose weight, and every decision we make revolves around how it will impact that goal, it becomes all-consuming. It's exhausting and overwhelming. We constantly feel deprived. And it's just not sustainable, which leaves us yo-yoing up and down in our eating behaviors and our weight.
When we can start broadening our focus by being the person now that we've always said we want to be once we lose the weight, it can help to decrease the power food has over us because it's no longer the center of our world -it's just one piece. We start to feel empowered, happier, and more fulfilled. And if it's the case that we are holding on to weight that our body does not want, it creates space for our body to begin letting go of some of that weight.
The food served to your guests looks delicious! Could you share a favorite recipe that your guests love to prepare for themselves after their retreat is finished?
Makes 4 cups of dressing (or 32 servings)
1 cup vegetable oil
½ cup rice vinegar
¼ cup soy sauce
1 tablespoon sugar
1½ teaspoon finely grated ginger
2 medium carrots (about 8 ounces.), peeled and roughly chopped
½ medium yellow onion (about 6 ounces), roughly chopped
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1. Combine oil, vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, ginger, carrots, and onion in a food processor.
2. Process until smooth.
3. Season with salt and pepper.
When you are at home cooking in your kitchen, what are some of the tools, utensils, and other items that you simply cannot live without?
High-quality ingredients, a good chef's knife, and a good skillet are the essentials for me to create meals that I love. Preparing good tasting food does not need to be complicated - and that is one of the key messages we try to communicate to participants who often feel overwhelmed by meal planning and food preparation.
Need a new chef's knife? Check out Cilantro's selection today!