Archive | October, 2011

Why Kebab is Better Than McDonald’s

28 Oct

Have you ever been to McDonalds? How about a kebab restaurant? McDonald’s is the place where kids are usually taken first time they go eating out with their parents. Some time ago my parents told me when I was kid they tried to postpone our trip to McDonald’s as much as possible. Then, when we finally went to McDonalds, I got addicted. This probably has happened to you, too. But then, on the later date, we were introduced to something else… and this something was kebab.

Since then, kebab has always been close to our hearts, right? This raises a question: why. The taste is obviously number one but what if we dwell a little deeper and research. I think not supporting multinational, immensely rich corporation must be amongst the top reasons. McDonald’s has a shitloads of money already and it operates succesfully in many countries so why not to support your local kebab? They probably need money more than McDonald’s and are pleased to have you as their loyal customer.

Supporting your local kebab is good for employing people. Human mind tends to go dull if you don’t do anything and having a job is good at preventing from becoming dull. McDonald’s can also employ you but you have probably heard about McJob, “a low-paying job that requires little skill and provides little opportunity for advancement”, a term from Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary.

When you go to McDonald’s do you think the meals are good for you? They are not, and kebab is healthier than McDonald’s to some extent. McDonald’s clever tactic is to serve soft drink – one of the worst health offenders – with every meal. They get the money and you get heaps of sugar. Deep fried, heavily salted french fries are usually served along and with only one buck you get larger size. In kebab restaurants, however, soft drinks and kebab is sold separately and it’s so much easier to choose water for drink. Kebab with salad (no bread or french fries) is a real choice, while going to McDonald’s for a salad is like going to a whore for a hug.

Chicken McNuggets are one of the most popular items in the McDonald’s menu. I’ve tasted them and they were not bad until I saw picture of pink goop they are made of. Chickens are turned into that goop so that sophisticated nuggets can be created and served to the customers. I think the pink stuff looks gross! The rotating meat spit you see in the above photo looks OK and at least it wont be soaked in ammonia. Pick a kebab, not the Pink Panther nugget!

As a kid I was very excited about toys that were included in Happy Meals. Looking back, I was a victim of McDonald’s unethical marketing strategy. Kids love toys so what is better way to lure them in than offering those widgets for free. Now, how many kebab restaurants do this? I’ve not seen any. I think that targeting children in a such way is wrong and overly selfish.

Remember when your mom cooks your favourite food? She knows what you like and talks nice things to you. The atmosphere is calm and relaxing and you can smell good aromas floating from the stew. I call this food with love. McDonald’s, on the other hand, does not have such things. I almost call it “food with hate”. Order, eat quickly and get out. Grunts. Kebab places usually don’t have mom cooking either but they surely feel more nice and cosy!

This is why I think kebab is better than McDonald’s! Sometimes I opt for a hamburger but it happens rarely. Kebab is the number one choice. Or maybe I missed a point somewhere or am totally lost? I’d appreciate if you could tell me in the comment sections below!

Nice food——Pasta Puttanesca

26 Oct

Pasta Puttanesca roughly translates as “pasta in the style of a whore” – no doubt an enterprising whore who’s a little salty, a little spicy, and has plenty of bite to her. You may be wondering how this dish got its colorful name. Legend has it “ladies of the night” would lure customers into houses of ill repute with the enticing aroma of this sauce simmering away. Alternately, they would make this for themselves because it was a quick and easy meal that wouldn’t take much time away from their biznaz.

  Quick, easy, cheap, delicious…qualities any busy working girl/harlot could appreciate. Pasta Puttanesca makes a great spur-of-the-moment meal because it can be thrown together using ingredients in your pantry.

The dish is full of salt and brine – olives, capers, anchovies – flavors typical of Southern Italian cuisine. Canned Italian tuna soaked in olive oil plays well off of the anchovies and tomato sauce, and adds protein and body to the meal.

I’ve thrown in some fresh touches to this Puttanesca, but in a pinch you could omit the eggplant, onion, garlic, or fresh herbs, and the essence of the dish would remain intact.

I would normally garnish this with fresh oregano or parsley, but a sly groundhog had gotten to them before me. Maybe he too was planning a dinner of Pasta Puttanesca. Luckily, my mom’s garden had a lovely bunch of chive blossoms still intact. The faint oniony twang worked well with the other aromatics, and the tiny purple blossoms even accented the deep hue of the eggplant.

In no time, we had a steaming hearty bowl of pasta to dig into, full of vibrant, sassy flavors. Those ladies of the night were on to something when they came up with this. Who would’ve thought? Whore-y pasta: customer satisfaction, guaranteed.

Back to School (and Work) Lunches

24 Oct

I’ve been writing and testing dozens of new back-to-school recipes for the past couple of weeks, and ironically, neglecting my own lunch in the process.

That all changed this afternoon when I spied in my box of cookbooks (we’re still unpacking boxes at the new house) 400 Best Sandwich Recipes by the amazing Alison Lewis of Ingredients, Inc. Alison and I met (virtually) while developing recipes for a mutual freelance client, and we’ve stayed in touch ever since.

  The minute I saw Alison’s book peeking over the top of the half-unpacked moving box, I knew it was time to get the heck out of my lunch rut and make myself something {wicked} good. I was craving vegetables (I’m sure because one had not touched my lips in days) and found the perfect inspiration in her Roasted Vegetable Wrap.

I didn’t have all of the exact ingredients on hand, but was able to substitute with the organic vegetables hanging out in the crisper. That’s the beauty of a sandwich (and probably why we love them) — sandwiches are so easy going. I also used flat bread instead of a tortilla wrap. The poor thing got left in the oven one minute too long and crisped right up. Despite, it was still just as delicious and exactly what I needed.

You can read Alison’s original Roasted Vegetable Wrap recipe on her web site. And if you need to wing it one day, I’m proof that works, too.

I’ll never know how she managed to write and test 400+ sandwich recipes for her book, but I’m sure glad she did. Now no one has an excuse for a boring or uninspired back-to-school or back-to-work lunch.

The New Year and the New Habits

22 Oct

It seems the New Year has brought with it a desire to change some habits. Both lifestyle and food-style!

Recent Accomplishments:

1.No Caffeine after Noon – In fact, I now CANNOT have caffeine after lunch – because I’m up til 1am or later in the evenings. I slip sometimes, but always regret it. I resolve to be more cognizant of what I’m putting in my body and how it will affect me later!

2.DO something every day – even it it’s just a walk. I was walking every morning until I went to Vegas for PubCon and came back with a HORRIBLE head and chest cold. As soon as that went away my back was terribly out of place and I spent a few weeks on drugs and in the chiropractor’s office – then all of a sudden it was Christmas – how did that happen?

Recent Decisions:

1.Eat better – Today is Sunday and we’re back to school and work next week. I’m going to do week-in-a-day food prep so dinner on the table will be quick and easy for the rest of the week. I’m also going to do some things to help throw lunches and breakfast together faster. Bagging frozen fruit individually so I can make a smoothie on the fly and hard-boiling some eggs.

2.Exercise MORE – Todd wants to do P90x – I’m terrified – so I might start with Wii Fit and a walk 5-days a week.

3.Shop less & Spend Less – along with a body/mind overhaul – I’m resolving to spend less each week on things I don’t really need.

No more lunch out, less eating out (which the planned & cooked for menu will definitely help,)

no new clothes unless I’m buying them because the ones I have DON’T FIT!

African Curried Coconut Chickpea Soup

21 Oct

I’m not sure this could be called authentic African food, but it’s pretty damn delicious.

I had a chicken carcass, and so made stock – it was meaty, as there was plenty left clinging to the bones. This was the perfect use for it – and it cook about ten minutes to prepare. Next time I’ll add a handful of torn spinach, I think.

It winds up like a soupy curry, ladled over a scoop of rice in a shallow bowl. It’s even better the next day, and freezes well. This will likely make it into my regular rotation – sometimes with a chopped apple, maybe, to make it more like mulligatawny. It would do well with any number of veggies, I think.

African Curried Coconut Chickpea Soup

adapted (but not by much) from epicurious

canola oil, for cooking

1 onion, chopped

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and finely chopped

2 large cloves garlic, finely chopped

1/2-1 tsp. curry paste or powder

2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

1 19 oz (540 mL) can chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1 cup chopped tomatoes, seeded and peeled, fresh or canned

1/2 tsp salt, or to taste

freshly ground black pepper, or to taste

1 14 oz (398 mL) can light coconut milk

1 cup cooked white or brown rice

In a medium pot, heat a drizzle of oil over medium high heat and saute the onion, pepper and jalapeño; cook, stirring, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and curry paste and cook for another minute. Add the stock, chickpeas, tomatoes, salt and pepper; bring to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, for about 20 minutes.

Stir in the coconut milk, stir until heated through and serve hot, ladled over a scoop of rice in a shallow bowl. Serves 4-6.

Improve food safety of meat market

19 Oct

“With the new FDA Food Safety Modernization Act looming over the food industry, CO2 Fresh-Pads can help companies looking for ways to demonstrate how they are taking steps to improve food safety while at the same time improving their bottom line.” – Barney Seward, President, JS Food Brokers LLC.

CO2 Fresh-Pads, provide a 100% natural safety advantage by gradually releasing CO2 in a controlled atmosphere, which displaces Oxygen and Ethylene to retard bacteria growth from 20%-50%+ on perishable items, resulting in a safer fresher end product for the consumer. CO2 Fresh-Pads are being used by meat plants, food processors, restaurants, retail grocery and wholesale businesses to help them extend the shelf-life of perishable foods and enabling them to offer their customers a higher quality product, while reducing mark-downs, early pulls and discards.

“Major meat processing plants in Arizona and Colorado are now using the CO2 pads in ground beef, poultry and seafood to retard bacteria growth and extend shelf-life.

“One of Colorado’s oldest produce companies now uses CO2 pads in all of their sliced and diced produce including tomatoes, cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple, and green, red and gold peppers to retard bacteria growth, maintain freshness, reduce purge and give their customers a safer product.” – said Seward

Recent scientific testing has been completed by a major Texas chicken processor that provides high-end products to some of the top 10 restaurants and fast food chains across North America. Testing was completed by an ACIL/ASM independent laboratory showing chicken breasts packaged with CO2 pads have an average of 35% less Aerobic Plate Counts (APC) at day 7, 8, 9 and 13 than compared with the same product without using CO2 pads.

 

Ate a warm slice of banana bread and meat

17 Oct

Meal planners are another great benefit of some whole foods locations websites. These planners are intended to help consumers create healthy meals for their entire family. Recipes and shopping lists can be created from the meal planners which are usually available in PDF format for easy printing. Nutritional guides are also on many of these websites and provides a comprehensive break down of the nutritional value of different types of produce, meats and grains.

Brochures, pamphlets and easy to understand food guides can be found at larger whole foods locations. This type of reading material can be very beneficial for individuals who are on strict diets like gluten-free or even diabetic diets. These booklets contain information on products that are safe to eat as well as ingredient and nutritional facts of these items,check them out at your local whole foods locations.

The bread looked very enticing! I kept walking past it and then gave in to my temptation. I just couldn’t wait for my husband and child to return home, so I sat down and ate a warm slice of banana bread, washed down with a glass of apple cider and it was pure bliss! This gluten-free banana bread is moist and flavorful. It makes a great snack or dessert and it can also be served for breakfast with some fresh fruit. My toddler loved it too. He was grinning from ear to ear when I served him the bread. And my husband was grinning, too!

This recipe is easy, delicious, economical and gluten free. Not to mention, it is fantastic for this time of year! And now that Halloween is approaching, I am inspired to try some gluten-free pumpkin bread.

So I guess I answered my own question. I have discovered that gluten-free desserts can be utterly fabulous and I can’t wait to try more. Do you know of any gluten-free pumpkin bread recipes or other gluten-free goodies?