No doubt about it most Americans could use some help with diet and nutrition. Part of the problem is we are bombarded with messages from the TV, internet and radio advertising all sorts of tasty treats and fatty foods. On the other side of the coin is a slew of diet books and gurus telling us how to live and eat. Some of us think our doctors can help with nutrition advice, but according to the book “The China Study, the Most Comprehensive Study on Nutrition Ever” the author points out that most doctors receive 20 hours or less of nutrition training making them not such good resources for diet and nutrition help. Lucky for all of us there are many of great nutrition blogs out in the blogosphere written by registered dietitians,(RD’s) who specialize in helping us eat right. One of my favorite nutrition blogs is written by Laura Rosenberg who is both a Registered Dietitian and a trained chef! On her blog http://greennapkinnutrition.com/ there is a wealth of nutrition tips and facts as well as recipes. If you are feeling adventurous try taking the Nutrition Knowledge Quiz http://www.eatright.org/nnm/games/MythOrFact/index.html and see how much you know about diet and nutrition. I took the test and found out some surprising facts I didn’t know, like the amount of recommended sodium is now 1,500 mg. I really liked her article about Kale and how it is packed with vitamins and minerals as well as being tasty too. Check out this recipe on her website:
http://greennapkinnutrition.com/2013/03/kale-for-breakfast-hel-yeahl/. I have been eating more kale recently by baking it in the oven as kale chips, or sauteing it with a bit of olive oil and garlic.
I recently contacted Laura and asked if she would consider testing one of my recipes and compiling the nutritional statistics for it and she graciously accepted. After cooking up a batch of my Italian Tomato Soup Laura pronounced it tasty and healthy, but recommended lowering the sodium by using low sodium chicken broth. If you haven’t tried it yet go to my blog and in the soup category you will find my Italian Tomato Soup with the nutrition facts. This is a very easy to make soup that is even better the next day as leftovers. Even though it is a vegan recipe you can add cheese tortellini for a vegetarian option, or Italian Sausage for a meat option. I hope you will give the soup a try and visit Laura’s blog soon to get you on track for a healthier you.
I’m off to Japan early Saturday morning, and am looking forward to staying in luxury at a 5 star Tokyo hotel. It was an advertised special for flight and lodging on TravelZoo.com last September and we jumped on the chance to spend a week in Japan in style. It’s going to be interesting flying on the Airbus A380 the worlds largest passenger airplane to get there. This huge plane holds 525 passengers! It probably takes longer to load and unload this beast than you average airplane. Not only that, but the flight is operated by Singapore Airlines which is supposed to be one of the best to fly with. We fly Singapore from LAX to Tokyo and back.
While in Japan I hope to write about the food scene and other cultural highlights and post these tidbits to my blog. I will be in good hands as my in-laws are once again helping us with interpreting and guiding while in Japan. This will be my first time just staying in Tokyo. I know we will find some of the worlds best sushi, and plan to tour Tskuiji Fish Market and see the tuna auction around 5 am on Tuesday. I hope they allow pictures. If so I’ll post them to my blog for you to see the action without having to get up at 4 am to do so.
I have had five previous trips to Japan that have all been special. I have seen ancient temples, beautiful coastlines, large trees, amazing art and met many very nice Japanese locals. This trip will no doubt be special too. It doesn’t hurt that the exchange rate is way better than the last trip there. I hope to bring back some nice plates and dishes to further my food photography. Speaking of photography here’s a shot that proves the Japanese have had a great sense of humor for a long time. I don’t know how old this painting was that I shot in a castle museum, but it’s old and it cracks me up.
Look for my first post around Tuesday or Wednesday of next week. By then I hope to have shaken off the jet lag and starting writing.
My Cooking Blog Project
When I started this blog I had no idea how much work it would be. Cooking itself comes naturally to me and I flow through most cooking projects easily. The biggest challenges have been learning the operating systems of the blog. To name a few there is WordPress for blog hosting, Aweber for Email management, Facebook for promoting, Twitter for promoting, Ejunkie for processing payments, and a few others. This has been a bit more costly than I expected too. I have enjoyed this whole project even when some of the above mentioned caused me to need a long walk. Now that my Fast and Furious Cookbook volume #1 is available I hope most of you have received some benefit that would entice you to buy my cookbook as a way to help me defer some of my cost of putting out recipes and tips to make your food world a better place. For only $9.97 you would be helping me stay on track to produce new recipes and food news for many months and possibly years to come. When you buy the Ebook you will also get over 40 recipes that will have you making great healthy meals from scratch quicker than you thought possible. There is also a one week sample menu to help you plan your household meals. I will continue writing new original recipes for a print cookbook that I expect to have done by the end of the year. That cookbook I plan on publishing as a traditional print cookbook. I am enrolled in photography classes to improve the food pictures I take for the blog and cookbook. I will also attend Eat, Write, Retreat in Philadelphia to up my skills in all areas of food blogging so I can bring you my best. All I ask is for a little help, please.
Today I said goodbye to my dog Vixen after a four month battle with Lymphoma. We had a great five years together since picking her up as a pup on January 26, 2008. She had most of one year in Colorado, and the rest in Maryland. She was as good as a dog can be, and most people that knew her said she was one of the best trained dogs they had seen. She was beautiful, and many times at dog parks or on walks people would remark about her looks. Her true beauty was in a big heart and sweetness. She brought more than one boy out of their shell at St Vincent’s Villa where I volunteer with boys that live there facing challenges few of us imagine. When I couldn’t crack the shell of three of these boys she stood up to the challenge and always won them over. Her pet sitters considered her one of the family. When I took her there for one of my several trips each year she would almost bust down the door to get in. When I would come back to get her she would almost bust down the door to come to me. A perfect dog in that regard.
In five years in this world she never bit another dog or human. Just sticks, tennis balls and frisbees. However if you came to our door she would be the guard dog she was bred to be, and people would see a snapping snarling, barking maniac of a dog until I got there to call her off. She lived a life few dogs get to live, that is because she was with me 24/7 except for the 4-5 weeks per year I’d be gone on trips, or when we went out for dinner or a show. And so it is I think of the saying, “It’s not the years in the life but the life in the years that count”. Vixen had a lot of life in those five years.
Goodbye my dear friend.
Cooking and Music
Back in the days when I was cooking in the fast paced world of restaurant line cooking music could make a big difference in how any given night shift would go. Myself and the other line cooks needed fast rock and roll like Led Zepplin “Black Dog” Ten Years After doing “I Going Home”, or similar good stuff from the late 60’d and 70’s. Music like that would keep the pace needed for an intense 4-5 hour shift, and put us in a happy place too. I remember well a restaurant I worked at in Keystone, Colorado where we had a young manager who had just taken over from the previous owner after the place had sold. This young manager after about a week on the job told us we couldn’t play loud rock and roll music in the kitchen anymore even though it wasn’t heard out in the dinning room. Well I showed him by packing up my rock and roll tapes and quitting. I still crack me up thinking about that move. Fast forward to today and I still think music is a great aid in the kitchen for fostering a fast pace when needed, or even thoughtful music for experimenting in the kitchen while making up new recipes. Any given day might find me listening to Jimi Hendrix or Beethoven, or Warren Haynes “Fire in the Kitchen”, or Dvorak’s “New World Symphony”. Music, like cooking is a creative art form, and the two go together well. This mornings quick cooking project was to bake something sort of healthy baked good for the crew at Essex Middle River Vet Clinic. They take such good care of Miss Vixen on our almost weekly chemo visits, and she is doing well thus far. So there I was trying a new recipe for Whole Wheat Biscuits and had a very short timeframe to pull it off. From the music library I selected Jude Cole’s “Start the Car” to power me through the prep part of this job. It only took about 10 minutes to measure and mix the dough and another 5 to knead and cut the biscuits out. I cut them small so there will be enough for the crew at EMVC. In the oven they went and I went to work on the laptop writing this piece. Now they are out of the oven and smelling great! Time to get to the vet.
We are back from the vet and Miss Vixen got to skip the chemo today due to low white count on the blood test. She is still in complete remission according to the vet and looking good!
The crew there liked the biscuits and apricot jam for a morning snack, and I told them I take requests for what I’ll cook for next weeks visit. Cooking treats for people is one of the best ways I know to show gratitude. If you like whole grain baking this King Arthur baking book is just about my all time favorite baking cookbook. Give it a try and bake some healthy goodness in your home. Be sure and show someone you care by cooking up something special for them soon.
My wife and I just got back from eight days in Ecuador. It was a lot of fun exploring the food scene and natural places in the country. We found many tasty foods in our wide travels. From the $2.50 lunch in Mindo that had fried chicken and rice with a bowl of soup, to the wonderful seafood of the coast and Galapagos Islands. I attempted last night, to recreate a rice dish in Ecuador that is similar to a Spanish Paella. The big difference is with this rice dish you don’t cook the vegies and meat with the rice, and you don’t use saffron. My attempt last night included onions, carrots, peas, and garlic then mixed with steamed brown rice for a nice vegetarian dish. In Ecuador they commonly prepare it with squid, octopus, clams and shrimp. It was fairly easy and quick to create and I’ll give it a few more tries before posting the recipe. I suspect just like paella you can add chicken, sausage, and artichoke hearts if you like.
Another nice dish was the fried Tilapia. We only had it once but it was quite good. Tilapia is raised in Ecuador and exported to the U.S. often. The big difference is in Ecuador is usually is sold whole but in the U.S. is usually skinned and fileted.
In Otavalo we were amazed at the Saturday market. I had been to the regular market three years previous to this trip, but had not seen the huge Saturday market. It goes for blocks and blocks in every direction from the main square with people selling from tables or just sitting on the ground. You can buy just about any local food there is from pigs, chickens, fruits, vegetables, rice and beans. If we had cooking facilities in our accommodations I would have gone wild cooking all these amazing fresh foods! The avocados in the area were some of the best I have ever tasted. The hotel we stayed at, ( La Posada del Quinde) had a nice restaurant that served a tuna salad stuffed avocado that I had twice during our two day stay because it was so good. They also served a quinoa soup that I re-created last night. I have eaten quinoa for about 6 years now but never thought to put it in a soup. Once I do further testing on my version I’ll post the recipe.
Trout was also on the menu at several places we ate at and we had it twice. At the Hacienda Cusin in Otavalo we joined our new friends Mel and Peggy from upstate New York and had the rolled trout filet topped with shrimp sauce that was excellent.
Everywhere we stayed were different fruit juices served with breakfast and sometimes lunch. They had mango, strawberry, watermelon, and a few local special juices I still don’t know the name of. All were good and safe to drink. We rarely ate fresh fruit or vegies to avoid traveler’s disease.
We finished off the trip in Quito with a native guide for a 6 hour tour of the historic old town area. In old town we found a trendy street with many little shops and restaurants including Republica Del Cacao. I have tried their chocolate in the U.S. before and didn’t think it was that good. I went in the store with low expectations, but didn’t know they had many more varieties then I had seen in the U.S. Here also were samples of each kind of chocolate, and sample we did. They had a wild pineapple covered chocolate that was the best fruit and chocolate I had ever tasted. We ended up buying four types of dark chocolate bars and the pineapple covered chocolate too. Later in our guided trip I had the guide take us the SuperMaxi a large grocery store chain in Ecuador and bought more chocolate at much lower prices to bring home. With each bar we open in the U.S. will be fond memories of a great trip. Republica del Chocolate also has a shop in the Quito airport that is worth a stop even though it is a bit more expensive than buying in SuperMaxi.
All in all I would highly recommend Ecuador as a great vacation spot. There are many interesting places with very different climate zones to visit. Be sure and read up on it first as you need to know what precautions to take, like staying away from certain foods and neighborhoods. I would recommend tripadvisor.com and their So. America forum to get specific information on an area you want to see. We used it often and it helped immensely. Your public library will probably have several guide books to as Ecuador is rapidly becoming the place to visit.
Mexican food in the U.S. is one of the least known ethnic foods we eat. We don’t know much about it beyond tacos, burritos, and nachos. The blame goes to our eat first ask questions later harried lifestyle. We seldom ask, is that all there is to Mexican food”? My eyes were first opened back in the 1980’s when I bought a book of Mexican recipes that were nothing like the foods I had eaten for years at Mexican restaurants in Colorado, New Mexico, and Alaska. These were bold new dishes with fish, and turkey in them. Chiles with names I had never heard of frequented the pages. It was so intimidating to find some of the ingredients I never cooked a single recipe from the book and lost it amongst the many moves that followed over the years. That cookbook did however open my eyes to a different aspect of Mexican food.
Baltimore is really my first experience with a wider range of Mexican dishes. Two restaurants stand out in this food voyage of discovery. The first was Fiesta Mexicana that featured street foods of Mexico City. Beef tongue tacos, strange and delicious sandwiches called tortas, amazing guacamole, and the best enchiladas I have ever had. Then came R&R Taqueria that was featured on the Diners, Dives and Drive Ins show. This was the first place I ate Mexican lamb. They slow cook a whole lamb in onions, garlic and spices then use it in taco that only costs $2.19! They also put it in other dishes like huaraches, and tortas. I was amazed at the taste and quality of their food. They have the best beef tongue tacos I have ever had. The tilapia and shrimp dishes were amazing too. This is stuff that you just didn’t see in most Mexican restaurants up until the 1990’s in most places. It seems that slowly but surely the true variety of Mexican Cuisine is showing up on American menus and it’s about time.
While browsing my library a couple days ago I spied Simple Food, Big Flavor by Aaron Sanchez. I decided right then and there I was going in search of a wider view of Mexican food and see if I could find a healthier version. Last night I dove into that book and Rosa’s New Mexican Table, by Roberto Santibanez to come up with the following dinner. I started by making Habenero Love from Simple Food, Big Flavor. It’s a fluffy salsa mostly made from bell peppers,(red and yellow), onion and yes, habenero. It’s a special salsa that is not too hot, but full of flavor. I doubled the amount of habeneros which made the heat just about right for me. The next dish I tackled was Mushroom Quesadillas that I turned into soft tacos, but other than that I followed the recipe. I rounded it off with a Mexican Red Rice recipe I found posted on a food blog. It made for a wonderful meal that many a vegetarian would love. So my challenge to you is to explore the internet and your library to open up the possibilities of cooking quick and healthy Mexican food in your home. I think you are going to love it.
I am thrilled to be writing about a lifestyle that has allowed me to lose 35 pounds and eat well too. During my 20 year chef career (1975-1995), I managed to eat myself fat and unhealthy. For the last 20 years, however I have turned that around and developed what I think is the best of both worlds… I eat healthy, mostly vegetarian meals Monday through Friday with room for splurges on weekend nights and special occasions. I believe I can show you a way of cooking meals for yourself and loved ones that can put you on track for a healthier lifestyle without feeling deprived. These will be easy to cook, healthy meals using ingredients found in most grocery stores coast to coast. I’ll provide photos and videos for my recipes to help virtually anyone copy what I do in my kitchen. Most recipes will take 10-25 minutes of preparation and 30- 50 minutes of cook time.
I will embark on a mission to write a complete cookbook over the course of the next year. I will be adding 2-5 original recipes per week to my blog unless I am travelling that will be in the cookbook. I’ll also post links to other great recipes out in the blogosphere from some of the excellent blog sites I come across. You will also get food preparation tips, as well as health tips.
I’m not known for writing long-winded posts so be prepared for short concise information and recipes on my blog site where I encourage comments and feedback. I look forward to helping you eat better and look better in a way that can last a lifetime here at FastandFuriousCook.com.