Monthly Archives: June 2016

  1. Thought Leader Series: Building The Perfect Make-Your-Own Taco Bar

    Thought Leader Series: Building The Perfect Make-Your-Own Taco Bar

    Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade who serves up tasty treats and fun feats as a food/lifestyle blogger at SalmonAtSeven.com. This article discusses how taco bars are a great way to host a deconstructed dinner. Perfect for families...

    Taco bar

    Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade who serves up tasty treats and fun feats as a food/lifestyle blogger at SalmonAtSeven.com.

    This article discusses how taco bars are a great way to host a deconstructed dinner. Perfect for families with picky eaters or multiple tastes, easy for busy parents, and fun for kids to use as a creative tool. It includes all the necessary ingredients and fun serving ideas.

    The perfect taco bar isn't a mythical beast. In fact, it's something that you can easily incorporate into your repertoire of meals for your family, or a great way to host a party.

    Taco bar

    Taco bars give everyone the opportunity to build their perfect taco.

    So, what is a taco bar?

    A taco bar can be a fancy assembly line with labels for a party, or it can be as simple as bowls filled with your favorite ingredients in the kitchen. Each person's "perfect" taco bar will look different based on your favorite ingredients and the level of fancy you're looking for.

    Meal planning with a taco bar

    Does your family take part in Taco Tuesday or any other themed dinner nights? If not, then it's a fun way to meal plan and incorporate new flavors into a dish that can be a standby. Blackened halibut, chicken, ground beef, etc. The sky is the limit. Not feeling adventurous in the meat department? Consider some gourmet salsas - watermelon sriracha, strawberry mango habanero or pomegranate pear - in addition to your old standbys and guacamole.

    Taco bar

    A great selection of salsas can add pizzazz to your taco bar.

    The best part about a taco night (which incidentally, isn't limited to Tuesday), is that it's a great way to serve meals to picky eaters. Have one kid that doesn't eat cheese, and another that won't touch lettuce? If you have a taco bar, this isn't an issue, and you can still have all of your favorite ingredients while still making your family happy. The same rule of thumb flies when hosting a get-together.

    You no longer have to worry about meeting everyone's special dietary needs with a single dish, because you're serving individual ingredients. Make sure to have corn tortillas in addition to flour, in order to provide a gluten-free option. Deconstructed meals are all the rage in high-end restaurants, so you'll be joining the ranks of high-end chefs as you offer your kids some control over their food, and save time from dishing up time-intensive meals.

    Building the perfect taco bar

    When you're planning a gourmet taco bar, consider including:

      • shredded chicken, cooked with taco seasoning (or not)

      • seasoned ground beef

      • blackened salmon or halibut

      • black beans, kidney beans, and/or refried beans

      • selection of shredded cheeses

      • tomatoes

      • diced onions

      • cilantro

      • shredded lettuce

      • jalapenos

      • sour cream

      • guacamole

      • a variety of salsas - pico de gallo, restaurant style, and maybe a gourmet option or two

      • selection of taco and hot sauces

      • flour and corn tortillas

    Taco bar

    You and your guests will enjoy the perfect taco from your taco bar.

    The best part of a great taco bar is that outside of some great kitchen knives and some nice kitchenware to serve the ingredients, and you've got a great meal for your family and friends. Ready to get started, but need some great knives to dice your salsa or jalapenos perfectly? Browse our selection of kitchen knives! We've got the knives and serving ware covered, so all you have to do is prep, eat, and enjoy!

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  2. Thought Leader Series: Take Your Summer Salads to the Next Level with Fresh Herbs

    Thought Leader Series: Take Your Summer Salads to the Next Level with Fresh Herbs

    Allison Ruth is a food writer and photographer who dishes up the most delicious food every day on her food blog, Some the Wiser. A great summer salad can be so much more than just iceberg lettuce and a...

    Summer salads

    Allison Ruth is a food writer and photographer who dishes up the most delicious food every day on her food blog, Some the Wiser.

    A great summer salad can be so much more than just iceberg lettuce and a few tomatoes. Adding fresh herbs is an easy way to take your salads to the next level. Not only are fresh herbs easy to come by, there are so many varieties and flavors that can enhance the taste, texture, and even nutritional value of a salad.

    Summer salads

    Salads give you a chance to add a little of this and a little of that.

    Varieties of Herbs to Add to a Salad

    Any herb that's edible can be used in a salad. That being said, there are some herbs that work better in a fresh salad. Woody herbs, like sage and rosemary, have excellent flavor but their texture makes them more difficult to use in a fresh salad. Instead, save the woodier herbs for cooking and stick with tender herbs, like mint, dill, cilantro, parsley, basil, and tarragon for tossing into the salad bowl.

    To prepare tender, fresh herbs for a salad, rinse them and pat them dry with a paper towel. Pull the leaves from the stems and add them whole or chop them before tossing them into the salad bowl. In most cases, leaving the herbs whole adds a fresh note to greens, which makes heavy salad dressings unnecessary.

    How to Pair Herb Flavors in a Salad

    Most varieties of lettuces, while delicious and nutritious, don't have overpowering flavors and some are actually quite bland. The best fresh, green salads are a mix of diversified flavors, with lettuces and herbs blended together.

    The best way to find herbs that you'll enjoy in your favorite salads is to experiment. Start by picking some of your favorite herbs and tossing them into a simple lettuce blend. Taste the flavors together and find the combinations you like best. With fresh herbs and greens, it really can be that simple to make a flavorful, delicious salad.

    Here are a few herb and salad combinations to get started:

      • Fresh Mint with Cucumbers and Red onions

      • Fresh Mint and Arugula

      • Mixed Greens with Tarragon

      • Boston Lettuce with Fresh Basil Leaves

      • Romaine with Fresh Dill and Celery

    How to Add Fresh Herbs to a Salad

    Really, it's hard to go wrong when you're adding flavorful, fresh herbs to a bowl of lettuce greens. Still, when you're throwing together a simple summer salad, you want to add in the burst of flavor that fresh herbs offer without overpowering the entire salad.

    Start by adding a few teaspoons to an individual salad, or a few tablespoons to a large salad bowl. Taste it and if you can taste the fresh basil's peppery twist or the delicate anise flavor of fresh tarragon alongside the salad greens, then your salad is heading in the right direction. Your taste buds will let you know if you need to add another tablespoon or grab the vinaigrette and get started.

    Summer salads

    Room-brightening colors.

    This Napa Cabbage Salad is a perfect example of how adding fresh herbs can elevate a simple salad. Instead of a heavy mayonnaise dressing like most cabbage slaws are slathered in, this Cabbage Salad relies on the flavor of fresh cilantro to keep it light and make it shine.

    Napa Cabbage Salad with Fresh Cilantro

    Ingredients

    ¼ cup rice vinegar

    2 teaspoons honey

    1 teaspoon grated peeled ginger

    2 tablespoons grapeseed oil

    1 small cucumber, sliced

    1 small carrot, grated

    1 small head Napa Cabbage (about 1 ½ pounds) cored and cut crosswise into slices

    1 bunch scallions, sliced

    ½ cup coarsely chopped cilantro

    Directions

    In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, honey, ginger, oil, chile and a pinch of salt. In a salad bowl, combine the remaining ingredients. Toss with the vinegar mixture. Let stand, tossing occasionally, for 10 minutes before serving.

    Whether it's fresh basil in your potato salad, market greens with fresh mint, or a cabbage coleslaw made tastier with fresh cilantro, herbs are the secret ingredient to the most delicious salads. Browse our cookware for helpful tools to make your time in the kitchen even easier.

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  3. Meatless Monday - Cold Melon and Cucumber Soup

    Meatless Monday - Cold Melon and Cucumber Soup

    Honey Dew and English Cucumbers English Cucumbers Chilled Melon-Cucumber Soup Once again the Publix Apron’s Magazine produced a winner for a recipe.  My friend Leslie shared and I immediately tried this combination as melons were featured at the market....

    Honey Dew and English Cucumbers

    English Cucumbers
    English Cucumbers

    Chilled Melon-Cucumber Soup

    Once again the Publix Apron’s Magazine produced a winner for a recipe.  My friend Leslie shared and I immediately tried this combination as melons were featured at the market.  I enjoyed this cold summer soup, sans the usual mint, and really enjoyed the clean flavors.  This cold summer soup will not disappoint!  This version does not add the usual fats and sugars in the added honey, yogurt and coconut milk.  

    The two surprise ingredients for me were the Vinegar and the Jalapeno Pepper.  Splurge on the White Balsamic Vinegar in this soup, this creates a nice finish.  The pepper adds an unexpected flair to the soup.  I bet you make this summer soup a number of times these next few months.

    Chilled Melon-Cucumber Soup

    – Publix Aprons Magazine

    Chilled Melon-Cucumber Soup
    Chilled Melon-Cucumber Soup

    Ingredients:

    • 1/2 European cucumber, coarsely chopped (often called an English Cucumber)
    • 1 Haas avocado, coarsely chopped
    • 1 jalapeño pepper, remove the seeds, coarsely chopped
    • 1 clove garlic, coarsely chopped ( I used 2 cloves )
    • Juice of 1 lime
    • 1 lb honeydew chunks ( this was ¾ of a good sized melon in my taste testing)
    • 1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar (splurge on this vinegar, it really adds a nice finish)
    • 2 tablespoons green onions, sliced ( I used 2 green onions, you could substitute some Videllia onions this time of year)
    • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (Next time, I might try to salt the cucumber and strain off the water to keep this a tighter soup) 

    Optional Garnish:

    8 teaspoons Greek yogurt with honey ( I opted to leave this out ) 

    Directions:

    1.      Prepare the honeydew, cucumber and avocado.  I did not hold back some for a garnish as I did not intend to enjoy this for a few hours.  It was suggested to reserve about ¼ cup of each to garnish.

    2.      Blend remaining ingredients (except yogurt) in a blender (or food processor) until smooth. Chill soup 20–30 minutes or until cold.  This soup was best after about 2 hours in the fridge.

    3.      Divide soup into 4 bowls.

    4.      Chop reserved ingredients finely and sprinkle over soup; top each with 2 teaspoons yogurt. Serve.

    5.      I opted for no garnish and no yogurt and these were not missed for me.  I might suggest a few chives for a more simple garnish or if you really love mint then you can go for it.

    This would be a great starter for a summer salad.

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  4. Thought Leader Series: Summer Refreshments - Lavender Lemonade from Scratch

    Thought Leader Series: Summer Refreshments - Lavender Lemonade from Scratch

    A marketer by trade, Erin Pennings serves up family fun and tasty treats at SalmonAtSeven.com. When you think of summer refreshments, what comes to mind? If you answered sipping a lovely lemonade from the comfort of your front porch,...

    Lemonaide

    A marketer by trade, Erin Pennings serves up family fun and tasty treats at SalmonAtSeven.com.

    When you think of summer refreshments, what comes to mind? If you answered sipping a lovely lemonade from the comfort of your front porch, then you're in the right frame of mind. But now, we're going to take that thought to the next level. We're going to add lavender, perfect for a gourmet touch and beautiful relaxing summer day.

    Lemonaide Freshly squeezed lemonade packs a tasty punch, but it's even better when infused with lavender.

    Relaxing on the front porch not your thing? Maybe you like to host gatherings of friends in your home. Jazz up your next party with a light, refreshing lavender lemonade. Perfect for a high-end luncheon, a baby shower, or a brunch with friends for a daytime drink. Or if you're looking to let loose or host an evening party, offer a lavender lemonade cocktail to your guests.

    There are as many ways to make a lavender lemonade are there are places to buy lemons, but there's something about fresh squeezed lemonade that imparts an extra special flavor and aroma. We're going to teach you how to make it from scratch so you can enjoy not just the bragging rights but the delicious fruits of your labor. (Bonus points if you grow the lemons yourself, but if you're a mere mortal without a citrus tree, you're in good company.)

    Lemonaide

    Lavender lemonade offers the perfect way to relax on a hot summer day, or on days you're dreaming of summer.

    Lavender Lemonade Recipe

    Modified from AllRecipes.com

    Ingredients

    1 tray ice cubes

    1/4 cup dried lavender

    2 cups boiling water

    3/4 cup rock sugar (ok to use white sugar too)

    8 lemons

    5 cups cold water, or as needed

    seltzer water and/or vodka, optional

    fresh lavender sprigs and lemon slices to garnish, optional

    Directions:

      • Infuse the dried lavender flowers in the boiling water by steeping for 10 minutes. (Hint: A tip for success is to place the lavender into a cheesecloth so it's easier to strain out of the hot liquid.)

      • Dissolve the sugar into the hot lavender-infused water.

      • In the meantime, cut your lemons in half and juice them into your favorite pitcher or lemonade dispenser. Add 5 cups of cold water, your lavender infusion, and the tray of ice cubes. Mix well together. Your finished drink should look pinkish red.

      • Pour into glasses and garnish, or set garnishes on plate near serving station.

     

    Lemonaide Lavender is known for its relaxing properties, so added to lemonade, it creates a wonderful mellow refreshment.

    Serving suggestions

    Lavender lemonade is a perfectly wonderful treat on its own. It's light and refreshing and wonderful to drink by yourself or with friends. But, if you'd like to take this tasty beverage to the next level, you can easily make it into a spritzer with seltzer water, or a cocktail or martini by adding vodka. Regardless of how you enjoy your lavender lemonade, you will be enjoying it. From the lavender that permeates the flavor to the aroma of freshly juiced lemons, engage your senses and relax with your freshly made beverage. Enjoy on your front porch, back deck, or inside your home as you dream of summer days.

    Ready to start infusing? If you need a citrus juicer or other great kitchen gadget, then browse our selection. We can't wait to hear how you love your new creation.

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  5. Thought Leader Series: 5 Tips for Better Stove-Top Grilling

    Thought Leader Series: 5 Tips for Better Stove-Top Grilling

    Allison Ruth is a food writer and photographer who dishes up the most delicious food every day on her food blog, Some the Wiser. Even if you don't own an outdoor grill, you can still enjoy delicious grilled food....

    Stove-top grilling

    Allison Ruth is a food writer and photographer who dishes up the most delicious food every day on her food blog, Some the Wiser.

    Even if you don't own an outdoor grill, you can still enjoy delicious grilled food. With the right tools and these five simple tips, you'll be ready to master all of your favorite grill recipes in your very own kitchen.

    Stove top grilling

    Mouths, commence watering!

    Tip 1: Start with a high quality grill pan. Not all pans are created equal and using a poor quality grill pan will prevent you from reaching the high temperatures needed for excellent grilling. Inferior pans are also difficult to clean.

    When purchasing a grill pan, look for sturdy cast iron, like a Lodge Square Grill Pan or this Le Creuset Square Grill pan. If you are doing a lot of grilling and have the space, consider this Double Play Grill from Lodge. Using an excellent pan will ensure deliciously grilled food.

    Tip 2: Turn up the heat. When you are ready to get cooking, high heat is key. When you're using a good cast iron pan, you can turn the heat up and the high heat will drive away surface moisture for a deeply browned crust on that steak or burger.

    Brush your grill pan lightly with a neutral oil that has a high smoke point, like vegetable oil, and heat it on high on the stove top until wisps of smoke rise from the surface. When you see that smoke, you're ready to start grilling.

    Tip 3: Remember to season, salt, or marinade in advance. Most grilled meats, and even grilled veggies, will only achieve their finest flavor with advanced seasoning, salting, or marinating. Whether you're just salting a perfect cut of steak or marinating a batch of chicken wings, try to plan ahead. Marinating, seasoning, and salting is best overnight, but even just a few hours will make a difference.

    Tip 4: Use a meat thermometer. There are a lot of ways to guesstimate when your meat is done, but the only reliable way is with a meat thermometer. It's a grilling tool you really shouldn't grill without.

    Tip 5: Before you dig in, allow your grilled meat to rest for about 5 minutes, or longer for large cuts of meat. This allows the juices to release slightly and meld flavors so that your first bite is absolutely delicious.

    Stove top grilling

    Don't go easy with the glaze!

    Balsamic Glazed Chicken Wings

    Ingredients

    4 pounds chicken wings

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    ½ teaspoon salt

    ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

    ¾ cup balsamic vinegar

    2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce

    1 teaspoon sugar

    1 tablespoon butter

    Directions:

    Place the wings in a large colander and rinse them under cool, running water. Pat them dry with paper towels.

    Whisk together the remaining ingredients for the marinade. Place the wings in a large bowl or sealable plastic bag and pour 2/3 of the marinade over the wings. Toss the wings well until they are well coated in the marinade. Refrigerate for at least one hour or overnight. When ready to grill, discard the marinade that has been in with the raw meat.

    Brush a cast iron grill pan lightly with vegetable oil. Heat pan on high. When small wisps of smoke begin to rise from the pan, place the wings on the pan and cook for 4 to 5 minutes on each side, basting with the remaining marinade. Depending on the size of your grill pan, you may need to do this in batches.

    Check with a meat thermometer to determine doneness - Chicken is done when it reaches 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

    Whether you're craving seasoned steak, juicy burgers, or glazed chicken, it is possible and easy to achieve a perfect sear and delicious grilled flavor on the stovetop. Browse our grillware for everything you need to get started grilling at home.

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  6. Thought Leader Series: Delectable Desserts with Fondue

    Thought Leader Series: Delectable Desserts with Fondue

    Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade who serves up tasty treats and fun feats at SalmonAtSeven.com. Fondue, how do we love you? Let us count the ways. Seriously, can any of us count that high? Fondue started as...

    Delectable desserts

    Erin Pennings is a marketer by trade who serves up tasty treats and fun feats at SalmonAtSeven.com.

    Fondue, how do we love you? Let us count the ways. Seriously, can any of us count that high? Fondue started as a simple melted cheese dish thousands of years ago (read more about it here). In recent decades, restaurants the world over have elevated fondue to an art form. With options for every course, fondue will sate your taste buds' quest for flavor.

    Fondue adds an extra panache to a dessert with friends.Where cheese fondue is perfect for an appetizer course and broth-, wine-, or oil-based fondues are great for main courses, dessert may prove to be the most popular yet. There's something intrinsically fun about watching your dinner prepped in front of you - it's the reason hibachi grills and sushi bars often have long wait lists each night. Fondue takes the concept and adds a unique element - you. It's a brilliant restaurant concept, people will pay top dollar to come in and cook their own food at their tables. And keep coming back.

    But why let the restaurants have all the fun?

    Fondue sets are the ultimate in kitchen gadgets. They're so easy to set up and use, and provide hours of paced entertainment, regardless of fondue type. But, while all fondues are fun, dessert really takes the cake (pun intended!). In fact, dessert fondue can be summed up in a single word - CHOCOLATE! While there are certainly other ways to enjoy a fondue dessert than chocolate, the choices within the chocolate spectrum are nearly endless. And nearly everyone loves chocolate.

    Chocolate fondue is the most popular, possibly since it has the widest appeal.There's something about sharing a chocolate fondue with someone that creates an instant bond. Whether it's the chocolate itself, or the sweet sensations, flavors and textures, or the act of sharing a dessert, we're not sure. But there is no better option for a girl's night or a romantic evening than dessert fondue.

    And there are so many options!

    What will satisfy your sweet tooth?

    We've listed some of our favorite dessert fondue recipes, and we've even included a few non-chocolate options for you! As you'll see, if you can dream it, you can build it! Enjoy our favorites or engineer some of your own. There are no rules!

    Almond Custard Fondue

    Caramel Apple Fondue

    Classic Chocolate Fondue

    Lemon Fondue

    Mexican Hot Chocolate Fondue

    Peanut Butter Chocolate Fondue

    Raspberry White Chocolate Fondue

    Make beautiful bites as you go with fruit, great toppings, and chocolate fondue. Dippers Make the Dessert

    Looking for ideas for what to dip? Well there's no end in sight to all the delicious flavors in front of you! What you choose as dippers may be entirely dependent on what dessert fondue recipe you're serving. Popular dippers in the snack food category are angel food cake, pretzels, marshmallows, cookies, and brownies. But also think about fruits - pineapple, coconut, bananas, apples, grapes. Remember you can't go wrong here! Want to double dip? That is, dip in chocolate and then coat in something else delicious as well? Consider cocoa powder, colored sugar crystals, chopped peanuts or almonds, sprinkles ... and more.

    Let's do this!

    Ready to host the ultimate girls night or romantic evening? You have the recipes and the ideas, so now all you need is a fondue set! Check out our options and other bakeware here! Fun will be had by all, and you'll already be planning your next fondue event as your guests leave.

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  7. Expert Interview Series: Celine Steen of Have Cake Will Travel Discusses Her Vegan Lifestyle

    Expert Interview Series: Celine Steen of Have Cake Will Travel Discusses Her Vegan Lifestyle

    Celine Steen is a cookbook author and blogger who focuses on all? things related to veganism. Tell us about Have Cake, Will Travel. When and why did you start your blog? I started the blog back in 2007, about...

    Vegan lifestyleCeline Steen is a cookbook author and blogger who focuses on all? things related to veganism.

    Tell us about Have Cake, Will Travel. When and why did you start your blog?

    I started the blog back in 2007, about two years after opting for a vegan lifestyle. I was posting pictures and recipes on a journal-type site before, and there was a lot of interest for it since blogs were not quite as mainstream back then as they are today.

    What prompted you to become vegan?

    Being an on and off vegetarian for a decade before going vegan in 2005, animals have always held a special place in my heart. I cannot bear ?animals being mistreated, be it for food or otherwise. After meeting a ?friend who happened to be vegan, and?? who helped me realize that going full-on vegan was? really not that complicated, I just went for it and never looked back.

    What were some of the biggest challenges to adopting this lifestyle?

    I live in an area not especially known for being vegan-friendly. Finding all the ingredients I needed was? often a bit tricky. Over the years, with veganism becoming more and more mainstream, it's become? easier. ?Even large supermarkets that shan't be named now carry a fairly generous ?selection of vegan products. Ordering ingredients online is always a great option, too.

    Other than that, there are no vegan restaurant options in town. This is something I truly miss, as I would love to be able to say an enthusiastic "No!" to cooking and doing dishes every now and then.

    What have been the benefits of going vegan?

    I've become more adventurous with ingredients and types of cuisines. I cannot believe the amount of foods and cooking techniques I've tried since going vegan that I probably would never have gone for, had I not made the switch.

    Another benefit is that now I read food labels more thoroughly. Not only on the lookout for non-vegan ingredients, but also in order to keep track of the most random unhealthy items.

    The most obvious? (and slightly mushy)? benefit for me is to be at peace with my decision of trying not to harm anyone in the process of feeding myself.

    What do you think are the most common misconceptions people have about vegans?

    That we're? stuck-up,? malnourished folks who can't possibly enjoy the bland foods we must be eating. It couldn't be further from the truth, all it takes is one look at social media (Instagram in particular) to see how stoked and slightly obsess?ed we can be ?when it comes to fantastic food.

    What's your definition of a delicious vegan dish?

    ?Something nourishing, colorful, with lots of texture and flavor, and so irresistible that you have to make it at least once a week.?

    What's your favorite vegan recipes for ...

    Breakfast? ??Cinnamon Pull-Apart Brioche/

    Lunch?? Teff and Pea Fritters (paired with a big salad or roasted veggies of choice)

    Dinner?? Sesame Za'atar Pepper Soup

    Dessert?? ?Lemon Curd Tartlets

    Snack?? ?Cheesy Quackers

    What advice can you offer on preparing food as part of a vegan diet??

    ?It really is no different from preparing any type of food. Have fun with it, be creative, and most importantly: enjoy your food! ?

    What kitchen tool can't you live without?

    My immersion blender. I've had a Cuisinart ever since going vegan, and there isn't a day that goes by without ?it being put to good use. From dressings, to soups, to smoothies, it's simply indispensable.

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  8. Expert Interviews Series: Alissa Cohen of AlissaCohen.com on the Benefits of Raw Food Diets

    Expert Interviews Series: Alissa Cohen of AlissaCohen.com on the Benefits of Raw Food Diets

    Alissa Cohen is an internationally recognized author, speaker and educator. She is one of the world's leading authorities on whole health and vibrant living. We recently checked in to ask her about the benefits of raw food diets and...

    Benefits of raw diets

    Alissa Cohen is an internationally recognized author, speaker and educator. She is one of the world's leading authorities on whole health and vibrant living. We recently checked in to ask her about the benefits of raw food diets and get some of her favorite recipes. Here's what she had to say:

    What is a Raw Food Diet?

    A raw food diet consists of raw fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and sprouted grains. These are alkaline-rich foods that contain enzymes and are not cooked above 112 degrees Fahrenheit. They're filled with living energy, raw vitality and unlimited health benefits.

    How did you discover the Raw Food Diet? What interested you in it?

    I discovered raw food when I was about 18 years old, after I went vegetarian. I worked in a health food store and one of the women who worked there had a 3-year-old daughter who was 100 percent raw. This child never had an ear ache, a stuffy nose or any of the typical childhood ailments that we consider normal.

    I started to read and research more about it and started to experiment on myself what would happen if I only ate raw foods. I had some issues like candida and had just found out that I had fibromyalgia. After eating a raw food diet for only a couple of months, all of my ailments disappeared. I started to talk about the raw food diet to friends and family and eventually started working with other people and even making them raw food meals. I started to see people change before my eyes. Their illnesses were disappearing and they were losing tons of weight and they looked and felt younger, sometimes within weeks! I knew I had found the fountain of youth.

    What are the benefits of eating raw and living food?

    Raw and living foods help reverse and slow down the aging process because they contain high levels of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and enzymes. Raw and living foods are extremely beneficial in helping to arrest - and in many cases, may actually reverse - aging at the cellular level.

    Following a raw food diet has allowed thousands of people to find relief from numerous ailments and diseases including diabetes; fibromyalgia; acne; migraines; back, neck and joint pain; asthma; high blood pressure; high cholesterol; hypoglycemia; colitis and diverticulitis; candida; arthritis; serious allergies; depression, anxiety and mood swings; heartburn, gas and bloating; skin diseases; obesity; menopausal symptoms; chronic fatigue; cancers and other ailments.

    Why is raw food healthier than cooked food?

    Raw and living foods are alkaline-rich foods. When your diet is made up of raw foods, your body shifts from an acid state to a more alkaline state. Sicknesses and diseases occur in acidic bodies and many of the cooked foods that make up a SAD are acidic. Raw foods also contain enzyme which are essential for every function in our bodies. Enzymes are what keep us health, vibrant and alive. When you cook your food, many, if not most of the enzymes are destroyed.

    What advice do you have on making the transition to raw and living food?

    I would suggest starting to switch any of the junk food you eat to a raw dessert. I've never had anyone tell me that they didn't like my desserts! You can make decadent cheese cakes (out of nuts) and delicious pies with fresh fruit. Switching your breakfast to a smoothie is an easy way to start the transition as well. Making it a priority to have a big salad at least once a day is also important. The more fresh, raw, living foods you can add to your diet, the more your taste buds will begin to crave it.

    What foods do you think we should all try to kick out of our diet now whether or not we're ready to commit to eating raw?

    I think removing any processed food is imperative whether or not someone is going raw. The more whole foods you can eat, the more improvement you should see in your health.

    What do you think is a common misconception of raw diets?

    I think one of the common misconceptions about eating a raw food diet is that you have to eat just salads and juices and that you won't have enough food or variety. Also, that you won't be satisfied. But, I can't imagine eating any other way. I can eat whatever I want and however much I want. I love being able to eat a raw food pizza for lunch and fudge after dinner and having the freedom of not counting calories or fat grams and not weighing and measuring your food.

    Can you share a favorite raw diet dish for ...

    ... Breakfast: Chia Pudding

    Chia seeds are filling, packed with energy and act as a natural thickener. Start your day with a bowl of this tapioca-like pudding and some fresh or dried fruit stirred in. If you prefer a thicker pudding, use less water. This can be made with unsprouted almonds, but if you have sprouted ones, use them.

    Makes 2 to 4 servings

    3 cups water

    1 cup almonds

    ½ cup chia seeds

    2 tablespoons agave nectar

    Dash of ground cinnamon

    1. Put the almonds and 3 cups water in a Vita-Mix. Blend until creamy and smooth. Add the chia seeds, agave and cinnamon and pulse the blender several times just to mix. If it's not sweet enough, add a little more agave.

    2. Pour the mixture into a bowl and chill for one hour or longer to thicken. Store in the refrigerator up to two days.

    ... Lunch: Mock Salmon Pate

    A delicious pink pate with a hint of salmon flavor! I eat this all the time on top of a large salad with vinaigrette dressing. It's such an easy pate to prepare and oh so delicious!

    2 cups walnuts

    2 stalks celery

    1 large red bell pepper

    1 large scallion

    ½ -1 teaspoon sea salt

    Combine all ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. This can be served on a plate as is, drizzled over a salad, rolled up in a green leaf or spread on crackers.

    ... Dinner: Raw Ravioli

    This is one of my favorite raw recipes. I often make these at seminars and events and people go wild over them! There is always one person who continues to ask me through the whole event, "What kind of pasta is this made from?" Even after I tell them numerous times that it's turnip, not pasta. It's hard to believe these are raw!

    Wrapper:

    4 turnips

    Peal the turnips. Slice the turnips into very thin slices by cutting them in half and then using a spiral slicer, mandolin or other vegetable slicer to make thin round disks.

    These will be used as the wrapper, which would normally be the pasta dough.

    Cheese filling:

    1 cup pine nuts

    1 cup macadamia nuts

    1 cup walnuts

    6 teaspoons Braggs or Nama Shoyu

    8 teaspoons lemon juice

    2 cloves garlic

    1 cup parsley

    Blend the pine nuts, macadamia nuts and walnuts in a food processor until ground. Add the rest of the ingredients and blend well, until creamy.

    Tomato Sauce:

    2 large tomatoes

    1/2 cup sun dried tomatoes

    1/4 cup fresh basil

    1 clove garlic

    6 dates

    dash of olive oil (optional)

    Soak the sun dried tomatoes until soft. Blend in food processor: the tomatoes, sun-dried tomatoes, basil and garlic until well blended. Add the dates and olive oil and blend until smooth. This sauce should be thick.

    Directions for assembling the ravioli:

    Remove a single turnip slice from the batch. Place a teaspoon full of cheese filling in the turnip slice and fold the turnip over until all the sides meet. Squeeze the edges together. Some of the filling will ooze out; but this is what will hold the edges together. Just put the excess back into the bowl to reuse. If you don't have enough filling in them they will not stick together. Place them in a single layer on a large plate and drizzle the tomato sauce on top; allow to sit for a few hours. The turnip will become soft from the tomato sauce. Use a spatula to scoop the raviolis up and serve.

    ... Snack: Date Nut Torte

    Fudgy, creamy and sweet! I bring this with me when I'm visiting someone I'd like to introduce to raw food. People can't believe it's raw! And it's one of the quickest and easiest desserts to make.

    Base of Tort:

    2 cups raisins

    2 cups walnuts

    1. In a food processor, combine raisins and walnuts and blend until well blended and moist. (This will take a few minutes and you may see it forming a ball. Just make sure the raisins come out looking like a fudgy mixture and are not still grainy)

    2. Remove from processor and mold onto a plate in a round circle about 1 1/2 inches thick.

    Frosting:

    1 cup dates, pitted and soaked

    1/2 lemon, juiced

    1. In a food processor, combine dates and lemon juice until smooth and creamy.

    2. Spread the frosting on top of the torte.

    Note: I like this served at room temperature as the frosting and torte are still sticky, but if you want a firmer texture that will be easier to slice, refrigerate it for a few hours.

    What are your go-to kitchen tools?

    A food processor is a must! I make most of my recipes in a Cuisinart food processor. I also love my Vitamix. And I couldn't live without my Kyocera ceramic knives.

    Browse food processors, blenders and more.

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  9. Expert Interviews Series: Kristi Rimkus of Mother Rimmy's Cooking Light Done Right

    Expert Interviews Series: Kristi Rimkus of Mother Rimmy's Cooking Light Done Right

    Kristi Rimkus (a.k.a. Mother Rimmy) is a healthy recipe developer and food blogger with a passion for creating family-pleasing meals. We recently asked for her advice on health eating for the whole family. Here's what she had to say:...

    Cooking light done right

    Kristi Rimkus (a.k.a. Mother Rimmy) is a healthy recipe developer and food blogger with a passion for creating family-pleasing meals. We recently asked for her advice on health eating for the whole family. Here's what she had to say:

    Tell us the story behind Mother Rimmy. When and why did you start your blog?

    I started blogging seven years ago as a way to maintain the 40 pounds I lost with the Weight Watchers plan several years before. After losing weight I started developing my own healthier recipes and sharing them with friends and family. A blog seemed like a good way to post recipes everyone could access. During that time, I spent two years earning a nutrition certification as a way to ensure I was providing nutritious options on the blog as well.

    When did you become so passionate about healthy eating?

    After I lost the weight I realized that cooking at home using whole ingredients was the best possible option I had to maintain a healthy lifestyle. I don't always succeed and definitely have my healthy eating challenges, but I have the tools and skills now to get back on track.

    What do you think is the key to creating healthy, delicious meals?

    Whole foods and eating in season is the key to creating meals people will want to eat. Buying in-season fruits and vegetables not only saves money but provides the best flavors. Healthy oils, whole grains, dairy and lean meats all get a boost from fresh herbs. You can't beat using the freshest ingredients you can find when cooking at home.

    Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?

    When I was working the Weight Watchers plan I quickly realized that if I didn't serve meals the whole family would enjoy, then I wasn't going to succeed. It was too hard to work outside the home and make separate meals for myself and the family. I wanted us all to eat better, and now that the kids are grown and gone it's just as important that my husband and I eat well. All this is to say, that my family is my greatest inspiration.

    How do you approach making meals that your whole family will enjoy?

    I like to keep recipes as fresh and simple as possible. When I first started developing recipes I'd have a list of ingredients a mile long. I quickly realized that people don't have time to cook complicated meals and that I didn't have time for that either. Now my recipes are easy to put together and readers are much happier with the results in their own kitchens.

    What's one of your family's all-time favorite healthy meals?

    My family's favorite meals include chicken of any kind, with baked chicken tenders breaded with herbs and panko breadcrumbs the best-loved meal. Add a lightly tossed salad with fruit and nuts and they're happy.

    What are some tricks for adapting beloved recipes to make them healthier?

    One of my favorite tricks learned from a popular chef is to faux fry foods by baking them on a cookie rack over a cookie sheet. I line a cookie sheet with foil for easy cleanup, then place a cookie cooling rack sprayed with cooking spray on top. Using panko bread crumbs and dried or fresh herbs, I spray the meat or vegetables lightly with olive oil cooking spray, then press the meat or vegetables into the bread crumbs, then place them on the cookie rack. Using this method the breadcrumbs retain their crunch and the meat is moist and tender.

    What are some ways we unintentionally add unnecessary calories to the foods we make?

    While healthy fats are nutritious, they are calorie dense. By free-pouring oils into a pan you can easily add hundreds of calories and extra fat to a dish. Also, with the information we know about the health implications of unnecessary sugar, these days we're watching the grams of sugar in the products we buy. Often times condiments and packaged foods contain unnecessary sugars we add to our meals.

    What's one kitchen tool you can't live without?

    I purchased an Instant Pot a few months ago and it's become my favorite kitchen appliance. It slow cooks, pressure cooks, sautes and steams food. Though we don't eat a lot of rice in our home, it's even a rice cooker. I love the fact that I can brown or saute ingredients, then turn the pot to the slow or pressure cooker settings and dinner is ready to go when I need it. One pot, minimal mess. It doesn't get better than that!

    Browse kitchenware on CilantroCooks.com.

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  10. Thought Leader Series: Mmm, Bacon! 3 of the Best Ways to Cook Bacon

    Thought Leader Series: Mmm, Bacon! 3 of the Best Ways to Cook Bacon

    Bacon, who doesn't love bacon? It's one of those foods that makes you smile, the smile of it makes your tummy rumble, and the taste leaves you wanting more. There really isn't a wrong way to prepare bacon, but...

    Best ways to cook bacon

    Bacon, who doesn't love bacon? It's one of those foods that makes you smile, the smile of it makes your tummy rumble, and the taste leaves you wanting more. There really isn't a wrong way to prepare bacon, but there are more precise ways to cook it. Read on and you'll learn 3 of the best ways to cook bacon and to add that extra crunch and sizzle to your next barbecue!

    Best way to cook bacon
    So tempting!

    1.) Bake it honey, but don't break it!!

    Surely, you've heard of baking your bacon. Toss it in the oven and let it sizzle for 20 minutes. What if you used a toaster to do the same? Not a toaster, but a toaster oven? You can cook your bacon in your toaster oven just as easily, as long as you are sure to drain the grease and keep your bacon crisp. Toast it in the oven for 15 minutes, draining the grease as needed, saving some to the side, and turning it each time. Once your bacon is beginning to crisp, using a small BBQ brush, caress it with some of the grease, a drizzle and toast on high for 1 to 2 minutes. This will give your bacon the crunch without the drip!

    2.) Fryin' in the cast iron!

    I'm sure you grew up with cast iron skillets. Cast iron has been around for decades because of its durability, even cooking, and flavor-capture abilities. Frying your bacon in a cast iron skillet takes some attention, but it cooks even and quickly. The trick is to make sure your skillet is hot enough. Light the burner on high underneath and heat it until a drop of water sizzles off. Turn the burner to medium heat and toss just a bit of butter and then lay your bacon strips down away from you to avoid splatter. Fry about 3 minutes on each side and lay on a paper towel covered dish. Sprinkle coarse ground pepper, to your liking, and let rest while you finish the other strips. Carefully lay the cooked strips in the hot iron skillet for an additional 30 seconds on each side and then let drain. It will be a crisp and spiced addition to your eggs and bacon.

    Best way to cook bacon
    Crisp and crunchy.

    3.) Just Nuke it!!!

    As much as you may dislike using the microwave, it can be a lifesaver, as well as a time saver. Cooking some bacon in the microwave can be an easy way to get it cooked while you are working on the rest of your meal. Just remember, it takes some tools and patience. Using a microwave safe bacon tray or other items can help to cook the bacon evenly. Be sure that you are using the right tools. Splatter lids and cooking trays will help keep your bacon the best it can be!

    Cooking a meal for your family is a blessing in itself. Serving up delicious creations is a bonus. Adding bacon to that makes it out of this world! Register with Cilantro to find everything you need to make your creations just as remarkable as you want them to be!

    Lorena Brockman is a blogger for JennsBlahBlahBlog.com and has notable know-how in blogging, cooking, food, family and has been deemed "Greatest Auntie Ever" by many. To learn more about Lorena, visit her company's blog at JennsBlahBlahBlog.com.

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  11. Expert Interview Series: Ben Waters of LA Foodie on Eating in the City of Angels

    Expert Interview Series: Ben Waters of LA Foodie on Eating in the City of Angels

    Ben Waters and his wife Lisa run L.A. Foodie, a food blog devoted to seeking out the best eats in the world's craziest foodie paradise, Los Angeles. We recently checked in with Ben to get his picks on where...

    Eating in the city of angels

    Ben Waters and his wife Lisa run L.A. Foodie, a food blog devoted to seeking out the best eats in the world's craziest foodie paradise, Los Angeles. We recently checked in with Ben to get his picks on where to go and what to eat in the City of Angels. Here's what he had to say:

    What do you love about eating in L.A.?

    L.A. does not care what people think about it, which is kinda awesome. When you've got no pretensions, hundreds of cultures rubbing up against each other, and a huge population of hungry people with an open palate -- amazing food is bound to happen.

    Why is it important to you to spread the word about eating in L.A. and beyond?

    When I taste something crazy delicious for the first time, there's a moment that's like seeing a flash of the credits at the end of the movie; I get a sense of the hours of training, experimentation and refinement that all went into making this. We love seeing people that dedicated to their craft succeed, and great food brings everybody together and makes them happy -- who wouldn't want to be a part of that?

    Can you describe L.A.'s food scene? What should visitors definitely make sure to try?

    People in Los Angeles love their classics - the #19 at Langer's, the Original French Dip at Phillipe's, Hickory Burgers at The Apple Pan - but they're always eager to check out the newest culinary mashups and food fads too. Roy Choi, poster boy of the L.A. food scene, serves up the goods at several places across town, but the Shortrib Burrito at Kogi Taqueria is my current favorite.

    What are your favorite spots in L.A. to grab:

    ... Breakfast Pacific Dining Car

    ... Lunch East Borough (the Banh Mi French Dip served w/a Pho sidecar is genius)

    ... Dinner If I'm buying, burgers at Father's Office. If you're buying, I hear Bestia's great.

    ... Dessert Atticus Creamery & Pies

    ... A cocktail The bar at the Magic Castle

    What are some of the most interesting food trends you're following in L.A. right now?

    From Shake Shack to Van Leeuwen's Ice Cream, there's been a huge influx of great casual-but-upscale restaurants from New York, Portland and San Francisco recently. As more and more commercial areas derive almost their sole income from restaurants, the appetite for unique, high-quality, proven quantity establishments has ballooned.

    What are your favorite So-Cal dishes to make at home?

    When I'm cooking for myself, I keep it pretty simple, but putting a couple slices of fresh California avocado on a grilled cheese sandwich doesn't need to be complicated. Also, I'm originally from the midwest and didn't know about tamales at Christmastime until I moved to L.A; Now we make some for the holidays every year.

    What are staples of So-Cal cooking?

    Southern California cooking covers a pretty broad spectrum. You've got homemade tortillas, incredibly fresh produce of all kinds, Sriracha sauce, Thousand Island dressing on cheeseburgers, pastrami on anything... and nothing's more So-Cal than finding a way to make all of that work in one dish.

    Browse food at Cilantro.

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  12. Expert Interview Series: Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics on Food Preservation

    Expert Interview Series: Sean Timberlake of Punk Domestics on Food Preservation

    Sean Timberlake is the founder of Punk Domestics, a community site for DIY and food preservation enthusiasts, and is the Food Preservation Expert for About.com We recently checked in with him to learn more about his passion for punk...

    Food preservation

    Sean Timberlake is the founder of Punk Domestics, a community site for DIY and food preservation enthusiasts, and is the Food Preservation Expert for About.com We recently checked in with him to learn more about his passion for punk cooking and food preservation. Here's what he had to say:

    Can you tell us the story behind Punk Domestics? When and why did you start your site?

    I have a long history in the product development of online content and affinity sites. When I left my last full-time job in 2010, I had an itch to create a new site. The DIY food movement was really growing at the time, and no one was aggregating around that particular niche. I had a clear vision in my mind for the site, and my bet paid off. The site was an instant success, and the community it has sparked has been enormously active and rich.

    How did you become so passionate about food preservation?

    Interestingly, I did not grow up with food preservation, though my husband, who grew up in rural Kentucky, did. It wasn't until after I began blogging in 2006, exploring more about food in general, that I became aware of home canning. I'm the sort of person who, once I discover that I can do something, I have to do all of it, so it became a real obsession. All the different topics of the site represent something that fascinates me, and which I continue to explore today, from pickling to salumi and more.

    How would you describe Punk or DIY cooking?

    The origin of punk in the context of the site comes from an antiestablishment sentiment that arose during the upwelling of this movement. There had been an uptick in food safety scares, and people were losing trust in packaged foods. By making our own jams, pickles, condiments and other foods, we were giving the finger to Big Grocery and reclaiming our connection to the roots of our food.

    What's one of your favorite Punk/DIY cooking finds?

    I'm always awed by the amount of creativity and inspiration I see out there. I often say I learn something new every day just by moderating posts to the site. Lately I'm really taken by innovation in products that enable the process, like Kraut Source and Mason Tops Pickle Pipes for fermentation, and I just backed a Kickstarter for a device you install in a fridge to turn it into a proper curing chamber for salumi and cheeses.

    What's one of the most unique or surprising food preparation or preservation techniques you've learned about?

    Just last week I read this fascinating article on the Nordic Food Lab where they were waxing entire plums and letting the natural yeasts ferment the fruit within. I mean, who thinks of these things? I would never have, but I'm glad there's always someone out there pushing the boundaries.

    How has travel informed your culinary tastes?

    In every way imaginable. I was vegetarian for many years; the thing that brought me back to eating meat was my first trip to Italy in 1999. I was in a wine cantina, and they were serving salame they made on premises. I looked at it, and decided I had not flown 7,000 miles not to eat it, so I tried it. Not long after, I was a travel editor for a while, and that was when I realized I approached every culture through the lens of food. In my everyday cooking, I pull in influences from around the world.

    You periodically lead culinary tours in Romagna, Italy. How does this region inspire what you do in the kitchen?

    Back in 2011, there was a blog phenomenon called Charcutepalooza, helmed by blogger Cathy Barrow of Mrs. Wheelbarrow. It was a year of monthly challenges from the book Charcuterie by Michael Ruhlman and Brian Polcyn. During that time, a friend of mine from Romagna approached me, noting that every year her family had a hog slaughtered and hired in a norcino to turn it into multiple kinds of salumi. Would my community be interested in going and doing this? Yes! We also do a bunch of other hands-on stuff in the region, like making hand-rolled pasta, the flatbread known as piadina, and more.

    What are some of your favorite food discoveries from Romagna?

    In the town of Sogliano al Rubicone, they make a particular cheese that gets aged in limestone pits. This was initially done to hide the cheese from Vatican tax collectors, but they discovered that it imparted a unique, flinty flavor and sharpness. It's called formaggio di fossa - literally, pit cheese. They also make a wintertime conserve called savòr, made with quince, apples, pears, nuts and saba, or reduced grape juice. It's phenomenal. I'm also partial to the sea salt they harvest from Cervia on the coast. The composition of minerals in the sea water makes the salt mild; they call it sal dolce, or sweet salt, and it used to be reserved exclusively for the use at the Vatican.

    What's one tool you can't live without in your kitchen?

    Truly, there's almost nothing I can't do with a good chef's knife and a pair of tongs.

    Browse kitchenware to stock up for all your Punk cooking needs.

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  13. Expert Interview Series: Lori Popkewiwz Alper of Groovy Green Livin on Adopting a Non-toxic Lifestyle

    Expert Interview Series: Lori Popkewiwz Alper of Groovy Green Livin on Adopting a Non-toxic Lifestyle

    Lori Popkewitz Alper is a recovering attorney and the founder and editor-in-chief of Groovy Green Livin, a site dedicated to sharing simple green living tips and trends. A contributing writer for multiple blogs and websites including The Huffington Post...

    Groovy green livin

    Lori Popkewitz Alper is a recovering attorney and the founder and editor-in-chief of Groovy Green Livin, a site dedicated to sharing simple green living tips and trends. A contributing writer for multiple blogs and websites including The Huffington Post and Moms Clean Air Force, Lori speaks, writes and advises on a variety of issues related to creating a greener and healthier lifestyle.

    We recently asked her for advice about how home cooks can go greener in the kitchen. Here's what she had to say:

    Why Groovy Green Livin? How did you become so passionate about living a healthy, non-toxic lifestyle?

    After practicing law for many years, I realized that I had outgrown the fast-paced and stressful lifestyle. I slowly shifted my focus towards a creating a green and clean lifestyle and began to educate myself about chemicals and other toxins that were going in and on my body. I was amazed at what I found as I continued to dig. A few years later, two of my children developed life-threatening food allergies. My commitment to living as toxin-free as possible became even stronger as a way to gain some control over their allergies. Blogging offered a venue to share information and connect with others interested in a green lifestyle. After a year of planning and creating the site, Groovy Green Livin was born!

    How would you define green living when it comes to what you eat?

    The age-old adage, "you are what you eat" continues to hold true. Everything that we put in and on our bodies impacts our individual health and well-being. When it comes to a green lifestyle our food choices can also impact the environment.

    How has green living changed your time in the kitchen?

    My husband and I do our best to provide our three growing boys with nutritious meals. We buy organic when we can, belong to a CSA and spend time reading labels before bringing food into our home. The entire cooking process is absolutely more time-consuming than before we were making this effort, but it's so worthwhile. We're far from perfect, but it's important that we know exactly what we're putting into our bodies.

    How has your approach to food shopping changed as a result of your green lifestyle?

    I think back to shopping when I was in school and it's a completely different experience now. I'm not only feeding myself, but have four additional people to feed. And they eat a lot! I spend much of my time in search of organic and healthy ingredients. I wish I could say I'm a meal planner, but I'm not. Thankfully there's usually something available to throw together for a healthy meal.

    What has surprised you the most about adopting a non-toxic, healthier, greener lifestyle when it comes to cooking/eating?

    Healthy cooking tastes great and there are so many simple recipes out there! The best part - your kids will eat it, too (at least some of the time!).

    What "green" kitchen tools have you found you can't live without?

    I wrote a Go-To Guide to Eco-Friendly Cooking Tools not long ago. My favorite cooking tool is my immersion blender. I use it all the time for soups. I also can't live without my Blendtec blender for smoothies. Unfortunately, the top is made of plastic, but the blender is amazing.

    Are there any tools that you've stopped using since adopting a more green lifestyle?

    Yes, I've swapped out most of the plastic tools in my kitchen for stainless steel or wood. All Teflon pots and pans have also been replaced. I'm a fan of cast iron at the moment.

    Overhauling our diets to adopt more green practices can seem overwhelming. What advice can you offer those who are considering being more green but don't know where to start?

    The best advice I received when I began this "green" journey was to start slow and only replace things on an as-needed basis. That's truly green.

    If I were starting my "green" journey all over again I would start with these five simple steps:

    1. Start to phase out plastics in your home, especially those that come in contact with food.

    2. Make the switch to reusable bags.

    3. Change over to non-toxic cleaning products.

    4. Replace your personal care products with safe, non-toxic alternatives.

    5. Leave your shoes at the door.

    Browse kitchenware on Cilantro.

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  14. Expert Interview Series: Sam Linsell of Drizzle and Dip on Creating Eye-Catching Dishes

    Expert Interview Series: Sam Linsell of Drizzle and Dip on Creating Eye-Catching Dishes

    Sam Linsell is a Cape Town, South Africa- based cookbook author, food stylist, photographer and creator of DrizzleandDip.com, where she shares her favorite recipes and mouthwatering food photography. We recently checked in with Sam about how she approaches making...

    Eye-catching dishes

    Sam Linsell is a Cape Town, South Africa- based cookbook author, food stylist, photographer and creator of DrizzleandDip.com, where she shares her favorite recipes and mouthwatering food photography. We recently checked in with Sam about how she approaches making delicious and eye-catching dishes. Here's what she had to say:

    How did you become so passionate about food?

    I have been passionate about food for as long as I can remember. Literally my whole life.

    Who inspires you in the kitchen?

    I'm seriously inspired by chefs and follow many to see their delicious creations

    How do you use cooking and baking to express yourself or as an outlet for your creativity?

    I cook and bake because I love to eat, so I use that as a starting point. Once I know what flavors I crave I cook and bake things to satisfy that. I'm also fascinated with new products and techniques, so I go through phases where I will cook with a particular ingredient for a while or experiment with a new way of doing things.

    What role do aesthetics play in creating great dishes?

    I'm a food stylist so what the food looks like is of paramount importance. If I'm just cooking for myself I'm less concerned about it, but when I cook for others, or for photography, the food needs to be good looking.

    How do you approach making dishes beautiful (or making beautiful dishes)?

    I imagine what the food will look like either raw or cooked and then try and capture it in the best possible way. I will think about what sort of props will make the food pop and what colors would work well with it and plan around that. I tend to stick to a controlled and neutral color palette because I want to the food to be the hero.

    What's one of your favorite dishes to prepare right now?

    I'm focusing on eating vegetables in new and exciting ways and I love making cerviche.

    Can you tell us a little about the cuisine in South Africa. What are your favorite dishes?

    South African cuisine is a melting pot of many cultures, so it's impossible to pinpoint one particular style. It's a country with 11 official languages so along with that comes multiple cultures that influence our cooking. I love the dishes that have their roots in Malay culture like samosas and bobotie and the delectable sweet koeksisters which are from Dutch origins. We cure and dry-age beef and the result is "biltong" - similar to beef jerky only better.

    How does South Africa inspire your cooking?

    My cooking is always ingredient driven but I don't stick to one particular culture in my cooking style and draw influence from all over the world. The internet is my natural habitat, so there are no borders.

    What's one kitchen tool you can't live without?

    Oh dear I hate this question because there are quite a few. Good spatulas and an offset spatula are very important in baking and a good set of very sharp knives makes the job a whole lot easier.

    Browse kitchen knives on CilantroCooks.com

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