Thursday, December 8, 2011

Holiday Cookies! Low-fat Anise Biscotti recipe #GardenCuizine

Low-fat, Low-sodium
Anise Biscotti
Unlike typical American cookies high in saturated fat, sodium and calories, these Italian Anise Biscotti cookies are better. Two 3-inch biscotti contain 58mg sodium, 2g total fat and only 98 calories. And, for those managing their blood sugar, two cookies are equivalent to one carbohydrate exchange (15g).

Grow your own Anise
I add a few teaspoons of anise seeds from our garden to the recipe. Anise (Pimpinella anisum) makes a wonderful addition to butterfly and cottage gardens. After the Anise blooms, the seeds can be gathered and saved for use in baked goods. Anise seeds add licorice flavor and texture to recipes like biscotti or pizzelles. Italian biscotti cookies are one of Mama's favorites!

If you make the biscotti 3-inches in size and dip the edges in dark chocolate, they make a welcomed addition to holiday and party cookie trays. The recipe was first published in 2008 in an article I wrote for Dave's Garden. 
Here is the link: Diana's Anise Biscotti
My recipe was inspired from a 1976 Anise Toast recipe published in the Van Sciver School Heritage Cookbook submitted by Sandra Pitoscia. Junetta Mehl, my mom, used to be an elementary school teacher at Van Sciver school in Haddon Township NJ.
Photos and blog article Copyright (C) 2011 Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 28, 2011

White House Squash Soup #GardenCuizine @letsmove @ObamaFoodorama

Squash Soup with
French Espelette Pepper

Check out White House Chef Cristeta Commerford's seasonal recipe for Roasted Pumpkin Squash Soup With Pepitas And Greek Yogurt. Chef Commerford adds Espelette pepper powder in just the right amount for medium heat and delicious flavor. 

Learn more about nutritious Espelette peppers from France. Read my article "Warm Up Your Recipes With Espelette" coming this Friday, December 9th on Dave's Garden. The link for Chef Commerford's nutritious squash soup recipe is posted below.
Photo credit: Piments sur les façades and Piments - France - Espelette - Pyrénées-Atlantiques (64) - 2005-08-05 taken by Pinpin courtesy of Wikimedia Commons. GNU Free Documentation license. 
Related Links: Roasted Pumpkin Squash Soup with Pepitas and Greek Yogurt Obama Foodorama blog
Pepper, Pepper, and Espelette pepper. The Basque pepper. With a touch of Armagnac thrown in. FrenchFoodFreaks blog 

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Reduced Salt and Fat * Instant CHIA Mashed Potatoes #GardenCuizine

CHIA Mashed Potatoes

Home harvested or farm fresh whole organic potatoes make delicious mashed or smashed (with skins) potatoes. We savor and save our homegrown potatoes for rosemary roasted potatoes, home-fries for special breakfasts and brunches, or scalloped potatoes for
dinners. When we make mashed potatoes, for convenience and speed, we often whip up instant 100% real potatoes. 

If you have the time, and don't want to use instant potatoes, make them from scratch. You could also mix instant with homemade. I've seen chefs do that in commercial kitchens, depending on the restaurant. It's your preference.

Reduce Sodium and Fat
In general, a good rule of thumb for healthy individuals is to avoid consuming excess sodium and fat. The USDA Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends consuming less than 2,300 mg of sodium a day and less than 1,500 mg of sodium per day for those with or at risk for high blood pressure. The American Heart Association would like to see everyone consume less than 1,500 mg TOTAL sodium per day.

To put sodium content in perspective, the average American consumes over 3,400 mg of sodium a day. Just one McDonald's Quarter Pounder® with cheese contains 1,660 mg of sodium. Their Angus Bacon and Cheese has 2,540 mg, McRib® 980 mg, 10 pc Chicken McNuggets® 900 mg; even an EggMcMuffin® has 1,050 mg of sodium. If you're thinking, "But I don't eat at McDonald's?" Sodium can add up from just using a pinch here and there too. Look out for high sodium in canned goods, processed foods, prepared foods, soups, snacks, seasoning blends, lunch meats, cheese and even in milk (if drinking more than a few glasses). 

Health tip for instant mashed potatoes
Don't follow the recipe on the box! Do you and your family a heart healthy favor, use less salt and fat than what is called for; no one will even notice. 

Recipes given by food companies on boxes of instant mashed potatoes are usually too high in salt and butter. The dried potato flakes themselves are low in sodium and are fat free. You can't eat them dry though! This fully seasoned comfort food recipe cuts the salt from 1 teaspoon to 1/4 teaspoon, and the margarine from 1/4 cup to 1 tablespoon. Chia seeds add additional nutrients, including omega-3 and dietary fiber.

Reduced Sodium and Fat instant Mashed Potatoes
Yields 4 servings

2 cups water
1 1/3 cups low fat milk (or non-dairy alternative if vegan)
1 tablespoon (~14g) margarine or butter (we use Smart Balance® Heart Smart spread w/plant stanols; use soy margarine if vegan)
2 teaspoons (~10g) minced horseradish (optional)
1 tablespoon raw Chia seeds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon salt
pinch black pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
few slices hot peppers dried or fresh from your garden (optional)
2 cups 100% real instant dried potatoes (we use Potato Buds® or Bob's Red Mill)
Putting it all together
  • Combine all the ingredients except the potato flakes in a large pot and set aside. We like to let the mixture sit while we get the rest of the meal together so the chia seeds can soak and soften up. This way the chia seeds will fully blend into the mashed potatoes. You will see the seeds, but they won't interfere with the creamy, comfort food texture.
  • When ready, bring the liquid milk mixture to a boil. 
  • Stir to combine all the ingredients and break up any clumps of chia seeds. 
  • Turn off or remove the pot from heat. 
  • Quickly stir in the potato flakes until evenly moistened. Stir in more potato flakes if the mixture seems too loose. Or, add more milk if the potatoes are not creamy enough. 
~Buon Appetito!

GardenCuizine Nutrition Analysis
Good Source: dietary Fiber, Riboflavin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Calcium, Potassium
Excellent Source: Vitamin C and Thiamin
Serving size 238g: 178 calories, 5g total fat, 2g saturated fat, 0g trans fat, Omega-3 323 mg, Cholesterol 7 mg, Sodium 244-394 mg (10-16% DV depending on how much salt you use), Carbohydrate 30g (2 starch), dietary Fiber 3g (11% DV), Protein 6g, Vitamin A 346 IU (7% DV), Vitamin C 25 mg (42% DV), Vitamin D 35 IU (9% DV), Thiamin 0.3 mg (22% DV), Ribovlavin 0.2 mg (11% DV), Niacin 2 mg (10% DV), Vitamin B6 0.3 mg (13% DV), Calcium 120 mg (12% DV), Potassium 465 mg (13% DV)

Related Links: CHIA, an Indigenous Food by Diana Wind
AHA Urges Stricter Guidelines for Sodium, Fat Intake
Revised 3/11/13. Photos and blog post Copyright (C)2013 Wind. All rights reserved. McDonald's Nutrition Data cited was generated by effective 11-22-2011.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Fine dining at home > Compound Butter adds a touch of elegance! @SmartBalance #GardenCuizine

Making Compound Butter

"Beurres composés", French for compound butters, are blends of butter mixed with other ingredients, such as fresh garden herbs and spices. Compound butters are traditionally made with pure butter, but a healthier version can be made using lower fat spreads like Smart Balance.
Smart Balance makes different spreads. My favorite is Heart Right Light because it contains plant stanols, Omega-3 and Vitamin E. Compound butters are often frozen - they unthaw quick - making it all the more convenient to have gourmet butter pats available at any time.   

Compound butter blends can be used to flavor fish, chicken, meats, vegetables or in finishing sauces. I made my first compound butters with herbs and garlic at the Academy of Culinary Arts, in Mays Landing, NJ. We made rosettes and froze them until ready to serve. They really added a nice touch of elegance and flavor to the breads and dinner rolls that we served in Careme's, an upscale, fine dining restaurant.

  Compound Butter Ideas
  • Beurre au citron – lemon butter  
  • Beurre à la bourguignonne garlic and parsley butter
Herb Storage Tips
DILL Cut dill at its peak. Wash and wrap in a paper towel and seal inside an airtight plastic baggie and freeze. When you need fresh dill just slice off whatever you need. BASIL can also be preserved at its peak by whizzing it in a food processor with olive oil. Label and store in freezer. Use basil in oil just as you would fresh basil. 

  Special Occasions
Compound butter adds a special touch to holiday and special company meals. This is the recipe I used for Thanksgiving. You do not need to follow exact measurements for compound butter. Use this as an idea. Be creative and add whatever you have available.

Smart Balance Compound Butter recipe
12 oz tub (340g) Smart Balance Heart Right Light buttery spread

garden herbs and spices -
  • 1 Tablespoon fresh dill
  • 2 teaspoons fresh parsley
  • 2 teaspoons fresh basil (or garden basil preserved in oil)
Putting it all together  
Simply soften butter at room temperature, or if using Smart Balance buttery spread, it will be soft enough straight from the fridge. Mix in chopped herbs of your choice. Make rosettes or mold into logs or squares and freeze. To avoid clogging the tip in the pastry bag if piping out rosettes, try not to use stems or big pieces of herbs in your mixture.

  Smart Balance Rosettes
After mixing the herbs into your soft buttery herb spread, put the blend into a pastry bag with a large star tip and pipe out individual rosettes onto wax-paper-lined plates or sheet pans and freeze. Once frozen, the pats can be combined together in airtight freezer containers or freezer baggies. Smart Balance spread is softer than butter; serve them directly onto your guests bread plates rather than onto a separate serving plate, about 10 minutes before dinner is served.

  Smart Balance Herb Log or square
The soft buttery herb spread could also be formed into a log by rolling in parchment paper, wrapped in plastic wrap and frozen until firm. Or on a lined baking sheet press the spread into a smooth, even 1/4-inch thick square or rectangle block, cover with wax paper or clear wrap and freeze. When ready to use, slice and use in cooking or serve as you would butter. 

Related Links: Plant Sterols and Stanols
Homemade Butter and Compound Butter Ideas 
The Hungry Mouse blog - good step-by-step wrapping in parchment 
Photos and blog post Copyright Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Low Sodium, delicious moist Mesquite Apple Cake #Recipe #GardenCuizine

~ Low Sodium ~ 
Mesquite Apple Cake
A few notes about this delicious dessert: It's not your typical Jewish Apple Cake. This cake is lower in saturated fat and sodium and darker in color. The abundance of apples keeps the cake moist. Apple sauce replaces half the fat. If you happen to have snack size apple sauce (4oz) on hand, that's the perfect amount needed for this recipe, 1/2 cup. What if you have flavored, not "plain" applesauce? Any natural flavor would taste great too. 

Mesquite Flour
Why mesquite in apple cake? Well, it's not adding smokey flavor if that's what you're thinking. Mesquite smoke flavor comes from burning wood chips from Mesquite trees. Mesquite chips used in grilling add a distinct smoke flavor to foods. My recipe uses Mesquite Flour. Mesquite flour comes from Mesquite bean pods that grow on drought tolerant trees in places like Arizona,Texas and Mexico. The pods can be dried and ground. Mesquite flour is fat free and a source of dietary fiber, calcium, iron, vitamin C and other nutrients. It doesn't change the flavor of baked goods. The cake tastes like apple cake.

And, although this is not a gluten-free cake, Mesquite flour is gluten free and can be used in gluten-free recipes. The recipe calls for 1/4 cup 100% mesquite flour. Mesquite is a specialty flour with limited availability. I mail ordered it online from Casa deFruta, (update 6/30/17: I was recently notified that they no longer stock it; see links below for other sources). You can substitute regular all purpose flour for mesquite flour in this recipe, but I recommend you give mesquite flour a try. Mesquite flour gives baked goods added nutrition and appealing gingerbread color. 

Yields 1 Apple Cake


1 1/4 cup (250g) sugar
2 teaspoons (4g) ground cinnamon

4 large apples: 5 cups (~864g), peeled, cored and diced
1/2 cup (118ml) vegetable oil
1/2 cup natural unsweetened apple sauce

2 large eggs (100g)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup mesquite flour (if you don't have it, can use all purpose)
1/4 teaspoon (1.5g) salt
1 teaspoon (4g) baking soda
Putting it all together
Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C)
  • Lightly spray and flour one round spring-form cake or bundt pan with hole in center
  • Combine 1/4 cup sugar and cinnamon together in a small bowl and set aside
  • Peel, core and chop apples to equal about 5 cups. Toss the chopped apples in a large bowl with the cinnamon sugar and set aside.  
  • In a mixing bowl, beat together oil, applesauce, eggs and vanilla until creamy.
  • In another bowl, sift together flours, salt and baking soda
  • Slowly add flour mixture to the egg mixture and mix until combined and makes a thick batter
  • Fold in the apples using a plastic spatula. Spread batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake for 45-55 minutes or until cake tests done.
  • Let cake cool on a wire rack. Once cake is cool, remove from pan and serve with a dusting of powdered sugar.
~Buon Appetito!

GardenCuizine Nutrition Data:
Calculated using USDA Nutrition Data
Good Source: Selenium
Serving size 1/16th of recipe (109g): calories 224, total fat 8g, saturated fat 1g, Omega-3 635mg, cholesterol 26mg, sodium 125mg (5%DV), carbohydrate 38g, dietary fiber 2g (8%DV), protein 3g, Vitamin C 3.9mg (7%DV), Vitamin E 1.3mg (7%DV), Vitamin K 5.4 mcg (7%DV), Thiamin .1mg (9%DV), Riboflavin .1mg (8%DV), Folate 32mcg (8%DV), Iron 1mg (6%DV), Manganese .2mg (9%DV), Selenium 7.4mcg (11%DV)

Related Links:  
Source and Recipes for Mesquite Flour

Velvet mesquite Prosopis velutina 
Desert Harvesters

Photos and Recipe Copyright ©2011 Wind. All rights reserved. Updated 6/30/17.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Grow Garlic (Allium sativum) in your Kitchen, School or Hospital Garden #GardenCuizine

Grow Garlic Allium sativum

You can easily and sustainably grow your own garlic. A single clove grows into a whole bulb! Fresh garlic adds great flavor and nutrition to foods. When roasted, the flavor becomes sweet. Roasted garlic* is delicious added to vegetable dishes or as a spread on homemade whole grain bread. Most people think garlic is garlic. But did you know there are literally hundreds of different types of garlic with differing degree of garlic taste and flavors? Typical supermarket bulbs are large and bright white and usually come from China, the worlds biggest producer.

Purchase garlic from a supplier or, if you don’t mind not knowing exactly what the variety is, pick up fresh bulbs at your farmers market and plant the cloves. Select firm, organic bulbs (non-organic bulbs may have been treated to hinder sprouting). Garlic from suppliers is usually shipped late September or early October. 

Garlic Varieties
Garlic species are divided into softnecks var. sativum and hardneck var. ophioscorodon.

Hardnecks– are cold hardy with stronger garlic flavor. Hardneck varieties grow scapes. You can cut off and use the mild flavored herbal scapes as you would garlic chives in your recipes. The main hardneck types are Rocambole, Purple Stripe and Porcelain. Varieties include: Duganski, Deerfield Purple, German Extra Hardy, Purple Glazer and Rossa di Sulmona. Dig up and harvest the garlic bulbs after their green growing stalks turn brown, in June or July. 

Softnecks – have milder garlic flavor and are ready to dig up sooner (sometimes by April) than Hardneck varieties. Softneck garlic is usually the type sold in supermarkets because they have a longer shelf life. They are not as cold hardy and can be grown in warmer climates. The main types are Artichokes and Silverskins. Homegrown softneck garlic can be traditionally braided and hung in your kitchen. Varieties include Early Italian White, Early Italian Purple, Italian Late, White Sicilian and Chinese Pink. 

Elephant Garlic
Allium ampeloprasum is very mild in flavor and is not really a true garlic.
Easy to Grow
Garlic, along with onions, leeks and shallots are members of the Alliaceae family and are really easy to grow. Children can be big helpers too when it comes to planting garlic. Garlic cloves are large - the perfect size for little fingers to grip and push into the soil. 

Planting Garlic  
Fall-planted garlic works well for Northern and gardeners who have cold winters. Gardeners in Southern areas, with mild winter weather, can plant garlic in late winter or early spring. Garlic can be planted in rows in prepared garden beds or can be grown as a companion plant alongside some plants (cabbage, beets, roses) because of garlic's natural pesticide properties. 
  • First break apart the bulb, separating the cloves. Each individual clove will mature into whole bulb of garlic by the following summer. There is no need to peel each clove. 
  • Using a small shovel or trowel, make a trench a few inches deep for how ever many rows you wish to plant. 
  • I then like to push my finger in the soil before putting in each clove. The space between each clove should be around 3-4-inches to assure room in between for the clove to grow into a bulb. 
  • Position each clove flat side down in each hole with the pointed tip up (roots grow down from the flat part).  
  • After you get all the cloves in the dirt, position stakes or signs so you remember where they're planted.
  • Cover the cloves up with dirt, gently patting down the soil. No need to water them. Let mother nature do the rest.
Green shoots will emerge in the spring. In Northern gardens and those with cold winters, if they start to sprout before the first frost, don’t worry. Just leave them alone. The garlic will stop growing when it gets cold and resume again in the spring. The important thing is to plant the cloves in the fall so their root systems get started.
Garlic is hardy and will grow in most soils. For the best garlic, horticulturists recommend growing your bulbs in rich, well composted soil. We grow ours in a raised bed, and mix in compost annually.
Related links:
Gourmet Garlic Gardens click on the link and scroll down for great photos!
Garlic and Organosulphur Compounds 
Fruits and Veggies More matters Garlic
Blog article and photos copyright ©2011 D.Wind. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Healthy Food | Healthy Planet #njhealthy #GardenCuizine

Healthy Food | Healthy Planet

The live webcast of the Healthy Food, Healthy Planet Conference in Washington DC was held today, October 26, 2011 from 8:30 to 10:30 am. The Honorable Tom Vilsack, U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary, joined a panel of experts for an engaging discussion on new paradigms for ensuring a future of enough food for our growing population while maintaining a healthy planet.

By the end of this year, projections estimate that the world’s population will reach seven billion people, growing to nine billion by 2050. That is a lot of mouths to feed. In order to do this, food production will need to grow 70-100 percent during a time of uncertain environmental changes, destabilized agri-foods market and continued global economic turmoil.

The Secretary kicked off the session speaking for 10 minutes about Healthy Food, Healthy Planet concerns. Vilsack supported the MyPlate icon as a simple graphic that gives you a sense of what a balanced, healthy meal should look like.

Matthew Cooper, editor of National Journal Daily then moderated the all male panel asking questions of sustainability, malnutrition, food security and environmental impact with an emphasis on how to feed a growing planet.

Meet the Panel

  • John Reilly, BCFN Advisory Board Member, senior lecturer, MIT Sloan School of Management, co-director, Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, Center for Environmental Policy Research
  • Ken Cook, president and co-Founder, Environmental Working Group
  • The Honorable Dan Glickman, former secretary, U.S. Department of Agriculture; senior fellow at the Bipartisan Policy Center
  • Corby Kummer, senior editor, The Atlantic
John Reilly said many people eat foods that are bad for their health and that those foods are bad for the planet. He suggested eating healthy foods and that those foods are better for the planet. Reilly pointed out climate change should be an issue of priority.

Ken Cook agreed with Reilly that eating good food was good for the planet adding,
“Organic is now a 30 billion dollar business in this country.” Cook pointed out that thanks to stores like Whole Foods, Safeway and Walmart, organic food demand will increase production. He acknowledged that so far, “We’re not doing a good job in matching production.” And, "We are under investing in organic." Cook encouraged continued open dialog with regards to the farm bill and that the Food Stamp program is the bills top priority. Further along in the discussion when Cooper asked Cook what he would change if he could. He said, “I would use the school lunch program. Educate them early on. It would support thousands of farmers to grow more fruits and vegetables.”

Former USDA secretary Dan Glickman brought up as he called it, “The enormous problem of obesity.” This was apparent to him while on a recent trip to Disney. “This is not a simple solution,” he said. Glickman mentioned how food and nutrition get more focus in schools than physical activity. When asked what would he change if he could. Glickman responded, “To try and relieve poverty.” He added, “I’d have a research agenda to help meet climate change, drought, disease and pests.”

Corby Kummer chimed in about obesity, citing sugared beverages as one measure to consider. In the case of organic foods, Kummer thought that organic is safer for the health of the earth and for farm workers. He was all for helping small farmers to continue to make a living. Kummer said a priority for him was getting fruits and vegetables into the hands of people in need.

Glickman concluded that for the first time in history we can expect to see more and more input and conversion about food and climate change.

Related Links: 
The Farm Bill Oregon Dietetic Association 
USDA Ag Secretary Vilsack's 2012 Farm Bill priorities
Wildlife and the Farm Bill
National Sustainable Agriculture Coalition
Learn about the Farm Bill
"Covering much more than just farms, the federal Food, Conservation and Energy Act (Public Law 110-246), or Farm Bill for short, is a wide-ranging package of laws governing food, fiber, nutrition assistance, conservation, energy, rural development and other related policies. Since its initial passage in 1933, a new iteration of the Farm Bill has been reauthorized every four to six years. Natural resource conservation made its first major appearance in the 1985 bill." 
Blog Article Copyright ©2011 D.Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Jerusalem Artichoke Sunflowers * Nutritious * Delicious edible tubers (Helianthus tuberosus) #GardenCuizine

Jerusalem Artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

Jerusalem artichokes were first written about in 1605 by an explorer named Champlain who observed Native Americans growing them along with corn and beans on Cape Cod.
Also known as Sunchokes, this 8 to 10 foot perennial sunflower is hardy to USDA zones 4a – 9b. The plants thrive in full sun. We had a patch slowly die off because a nearby cherry tree grew larger and shaded the area. This year we were happy to see some Sunchokes reseeded and emerged 10-feet away, in full sun.  

When you plant them, pick a spot where you want them to stay. They grow tall. The plants bloom late summer and the flowers are small considering the plants tall stature. Sunchokes grow carefree and are considered a weed by some.  

Sunchoke Tubers or Seeds
Order Sunchoke tubers or seeds from garden catalogs. They come in many varieties. You can also buy Jerusalem artichoke tubers at grocery markets like Whole Foods. The tubers look like ginger roots. For an easy way to start your own Jerusalem artichoke sunflower patch, plant them in a special yard or garden spot in spring, early summer or before a frost when you plant garlic. 

Sunchoke tubers for harvesting can be dug up after the first frost and washed, stored and eaten raw or cooked. They are an excellent source of iron and thiamine. Jerusalem artichokes also provide a good source of dietary fiber*, vitamin C, niacin and potassium. Add raw, peeled and sliced Sunchokes to garden salads. Sunchokes can also be roasted or added to soups, stews or stir-fries. 

Roasted Sunchokes: cut unpeeled tubers into nugget sizes, drizzle with olive oil and toss with a light seasoning of Parmesan cheese, black pepper, garlic powder and rosemary. Bake in a preheated 375°F oven, turning occasionally, as you would oven roasted potato fries.

Buon Appetito!

    * Sunchokes contain inulin, a healthful, prebiotic, soluble fiber that is also found in chicory, jicama, asparagus, bananas, garlic and onions.

GardenCuizine Nutrition analysis: calculated from USDA nutrient values 
Excellent source: Iron, Thiamine (Vitamin B1)  
Good source: Dietary Fiber, Vitamin C, Niacin (Vitamin B3), Potassium  

1 cup sliced raw Jerusalem artichokes (150g): 109 calories, total carbohydrate 26g, calories from fat 0, total fat 0, Protein 3g (6%DV), dietary Fiber 2g (10%DV), Vitamin C (10%DV), iron 5mg (28%DV), Thiamin .3mg (20%DV), Niacin 2mg (10%DV), Potassium 643mg (18%DV) 

Related Links: Jerusalem Artichoke Ohio State University Extension 
Prebiotics as “Good Carbs” by Carol Ann Brannon, MS, RD, LD - Today’s Dietitian 
Sunchokes Shine on Menus  
Percent Daily Values (%DV) are reference values based on eating 2,000 calories for adults and children age 4 or older. Your daily values may be higher or lower based on your individual needs.
Blog Article and photo Copyright © 2011 D.Wind. All rights reserved.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Preserving Your Grape Harvest * Reduced Sugar Jelly @Canvolution @dgdave #GardenCuizine

Reduced Sugar Grape Jelly 
using home grown organic red grapes

Harry and I have been learning about and growing organic grapes for several years now. We have a few varieties, red Vitis labrusca and green Interlaken grapes, Vitis labrusca uva variedad Interlaken. The grapes grow along a split rail fence in full sun. In 2008, my online article with recipe, A Beginner's Guide to Making Jam or Jelly, was published on Dave's Garden. It's been popular, with over 17,000 people reading it so far. 

This year I added another sequel about our jelly making adventures. Our late summer red grape harvest inspired us to make jelly again, only this time we made it with much less added sugar. gelled! (yay, a big achievement for us). The lower sugar jelly tasted plenty sweet and delicious too.

We were able to cut half of the sugar from our original recipe by using a type of pectin that does not depend on using high added sugar. Read more about it.

Here is the link for the article and recipe:  
I'm glad Connie Sumberg, partner in Workstead Industries (Pomona's Pectin) approves! 
Pomona's Pectin, For Jam & Jelly "I am very impressed with your article: lovely pictures & a well written, correct jelly making process. When using concord grapes, I would highly recommend letting the juice sit overnight & then pouring it off without the sediment. Crystals in your jelly are like pieces of glass."
~ Connie    Facebook - September 22 at 11:35am ·

Related Link 
Pomona's Universal Pectin
Photo collage and blog article Copyright ©2011 D.Wind. All rights reserved.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

First @LetsMove Tweetup @WhiteHouse Garden @ObamaFoodorama @patchesmagarro #WHTweetup #GardenCuizine

First @LetsMove Tweetup 
Wednesday, October 5th
First Lady Michelle Obama will be hosting local students and some privileged Twitter guests to the first White House "tweetup" for their 2011 Fall Garden Harvest - October 5, 2011.

Students from Bancroft Elementary School and Harriet Tubman Elementary School helped get the garden started in the spring. They planted spinach, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, peas, beets and Swiss chard. White House Horticulturist Dale Haney may have added even more healthy veggies to the garden too. 

What does the White House do with their Garden Harvest?  

Jesse Lee posted on the White House blog (March 2009) that the delicious veggies grown in the White House garden are cooked in the White House Kitchen and given to Miriam's Kitchen, which serves the homeless in Washington, DC.
Who does the Cooking?  
In the White House kitchen, you'll find Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford and her Assistant Chef Sam Kass, who is also Senior Policy Adviser for Healthy Food Initiatives. William "Bill" Yosses is the White House Executive Pastry Chef and coauthor of the book Desserts For Dummies. I had the pleasure of assisting his successor, Thaddeus DuBois, at Borgata the Event, which was held at the Supper Club in NY city, before he took the job at the White House. It was great fun and an honor to arrive by limousine with the Dean of the Academy of Culinary Arts, Mays Landing, NJ.

Happy and Healthy Gardening!  
During all the White House garden excitement, I’ll be studying for the RD exam and planting arugula, lettuce and harvesting what seem to be an endless supply of Serrano peppers, as well as Thai peppers, tomatillos and basil. Unlike TX, we've had lots of rain the past few months. I only wish we had planted okra this year.

Related Links:  

Let's Move
Childhood Overweight and Obesity Prevention Initiative
Let’s Move Start a Community Garden
Chefs Move to School
Let's Move! 'Followers' Invited to White House for Annual Fall Harvest by Takia McClendon 
Photo White House Executive Chef Cristeta Comerford courtesy of Tina Hager, Wikimedia Commons
Blog Article and Tweetup pic Copyright 2011 D.Wind. All rights reserved.

Monday, October 3, 2011

What to do about Food Chemicals Eaten in Small Amounts? @marionnestle #GardenCuizine

Chemicals in Health Foods

Sustainable > Garden > Organic > No matter how healthy you may try and eat, it’s practically impossible to avoid food chemicals. We live in a world surrounded by products and foods created by scientists and flavor chemists.
Food chemicals enhance or preserve food. Unless you grow your own, even plain and pure garden produce may be pretreated with chemicals to prevent sprouting and prolong shelf life. All food chemicals and additives are regulated. Some are considered Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) by the FDA

GRAS list items by definition, are not considered food additives. And, not all GRAS list items are synthetic chemical flavorings or preservatives. Certain herbs, spices, seeds, essential oils and natural extracts are also listed.

Some food chemicals have become controversial to those seeking good health. Some ask, "Why doesn't the FDA ban all unhealthy chemicals?" Good question. I'd like to believe the science just doesn’t support that decision or they would. But, why did Canada declare BPA as a toxic substance last year? BPA is banned for use in baby bottles too, in both Europe and Canada. To me, this negates all the reassuring news reported by the American Chemistry Council that BPA has not been proven to be dangerous, not even to infants and children.  

This leaves it up to us to read product labels and eat foods containing chemicals of concern with discretion. The Center for Science and Public Interest recommends avoiding:
  • Sodium nitrite
  • Saccharin, Aspartame (Nutrasweet), Acesulfame-K
  • Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA)
  • Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil (trans fats)
  • Potassium bromate
  • Olestra
  • Food Dyes
Not all food chemicals are bad. Among health practitioners, the general consensus is that the benefits outweigh the risks; especially, for those used as preservatives to prevent potentially dangerous microorganisms and bacteria.

Marion Nestle with a Ph.D. in molecular biology and a Masters degree in public health nutrition recently addressed this topic of food chemicals on her Food Politics blog. Rather than posting a long comment on her blog, you can read my comments here. My least favorite food chemicals include: food dyes, sodium benzoate and BPA (Bisphenol A).

Food Dyes

Food dyes have made health news with some studies that suggest an association with ADHD. My dislike for food dyes began while working as a pastry chef in a French Patisserie. Black was the worst. We would squeeze all colors together to create black when we needed it. Truly a color in frosting you want to avoid. Food dyes are added to foods you wouldn't expect too, like yogurts, salad dressings, snacks and cereals. The Center for Science in the Public Interest recommends avoiding food dyes, specifically ARTIFICIAL COLORINGS: BLUE 2, GREEN 3, ORANGE B, RED 3, YELLOW 5, YELLOW 6.

Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate (C7H5NaO2) does not occur naturally. It is made by the neutralization of benzoic acid with sodium bicarbonate, sodium carbonate, or sodium hydroxide. Its on the FDA’s GRAS (Generally Recognized as Safe) list. A decade ago, even the World Health Organization admitted there was limited science supporting its safety. Sodium benzoate is added to many foods, including: soda, syrup, margarine, olives, relish, jams and jellies, liquid pectin, pie fillings, low fat salad dressings and ready-made fruit salads.

BPA (Bisphenol A)

Since the 1950's, Bisphenol A (BPA) has been used in many things, primarily as an epoxy resin on metal food cans and as an ingredient in popular polycarbonate plastics. Plastics include everything from trash bags to baby bottles, food storage containers and even Ball® brand canning lids (plastic seals) used in home canning of wholesome, pure and natural foods from the garden. 

Even though BPA has been reported not to accumulate in the body and biological metabolites are excreted within 24 hours, I think the majority of us would prefer to limit exposure to this endocrine disruptor.

Note: For those wanting BPA-free canning lids. I've seen at least one company who markets them. I did write a letter to Ball® (Jarden Home Brands) last month and have yet to get a reply addressing this public concern.

Shop Smart

The best course of action may be to consume fewer processed foods and not buy products you believe to be inferior. When people buy foods made with food chemicals of concern, it casts a “vote of support, I like it” to the makers. Without a slip in sales, companies using these questionable ingredients will never have reason to reformulate their products with healthier alternatives.
>>> Edited October 6, 2011 

California Gov. Jerry Brown signed a new state law October 4, 2011 banning the sale of any baby bottles or cups that contain more than 0.1 parts per billion Bisphenol A. Other states in the US have also moved to ban BPA.
Related Links:  
What to do About Food Chemicals Eaten in Tiny Amounts by Marion Nestle 
Chemical Cuisine Center for Science in the Public Interest 
Frequently Asked Questions About GRAS

Artwork: Synthesis of polycarbonate from bisphenol-A and phosgene courtesy Roland1952 Wikipedia Free Documentation License
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