Category: Food

Chocolate Cookies Are A Sweet Finale To Thanksgiving Dinners

Holiday entertaining season begins on Thanksgiving. Anyone who has been tasked with hosting Thanksgiving understands the commitment required to prepare a delicious meal for guests, which often encompasses appetizers, several side dishes and, of course, turkey as the centerpiece. Guests attending a Thanksgiving dinner can give holiday hosts and hostesses a break by providing dessert.

Cookies are a popular treat. Thanks to their flavor, portability and relatively short preparation and cooking times, cookies are a smart choice when bringing dessert to a holiday gathering. This recipe for “Flourless Chocolate Cookies” from Danielle Rye’s “Live Well Bake Cookies: 75 Classic Cookie Recipes for Every Occasion” (Rock Point) offers the added benefit of being flourless. That means that even those with gluten allergies or intolerances can indulge.

Flourless Chocolate Cookies

Makes 24 to 36 cookies

3 cups powdered sugar

3/4 natural unsweetened cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon espresso powder (optional)

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 large egg whites, at room temperature

1 large egg, at room temperature

1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats and set aside.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift the powdered sugar and unsweetened cocoa powder together, then whisk in the instant espresso powder (if using) and salt until well combined. Set aside.
  3. In a separate mixing bowl, whisk together the egg whites, egg, and vanilla extract until fully combined.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients, and stir until the mixture is fully combined and smooth.
  5. Using a 1-tablespoon cookie scoop, scoop the cookie dough onto the prepared baking sheets, making sure to leave a little room between each one.
  6. Bake for 11 to 14 minutes, or until the tops of the cookies are set. Remove from the oven, and allow the cookies to cool completely on the baking sheets.

Store the cookies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Helpful Tips for Picking and Cutting Watermelon

Watermelon is a summertime staple. Each summer, stores, and farm stands have an abundance of watermelons on display, and many people feel no picnic or barbecue is complete without watermelon.

Watermelon is a refreshing option on hot days. It’s ideal sliced and served, or can be included in fruit salads, smoothies or even “spiked” cocktails. The key to a tasty watermelon is knowing how to pick one that is ripe while serving watermelon comes down to understanding some easy-cutting strategies.

Choose a watermelon that has a firm, symmetrical shape

Avoid melons with bumps, dents or cuts.

Watermelons should be relatively heavy

They’re 92 percent water, and that juiciness should be reflected in a substantial weight for the melon’s size.

Watermelon.org advises looking for a creamy yellow spot on the underside of the watermelon

This is called the “ground spot.” It indicates where the melon sat on the ground and ripened in the sun. Once cut from the vine, a watermelon has about three to four weeks to be consumed.

All parts of the watermelon are edible, including the seeds and rind

The rind can be pickled or cut up to use in stir-fry dishes.

When bringing watermelon to an event, it is a courtesy to bring it already sliced or cut up. This ensures the host or hostess does not have to tackle what can sometimes be a chore. Here are three techniques to cut a watermelon easily.

Cubes

1. Cut both ends off of the watermelon.

2. Stand the watermelon on one sliced end. Use the knife to slice down and cut off the rind.

3. After removing the rind from all sides of the melon, cut into discs about 1/2-inch in thickness.

4. Then cut those discs into cubes.

Slices

1. Cut the watermelon in half lengthwise.

2. Take one cut half and place it cut-side down.

3. Cut the watermelon into slices.

4. Repeat for the other cut half.

Strips

1. Cut the watermelon as you would with the slices. Rather than leaving it in large slices, turn the watermelon and cut the same size slices in the opposite direction. This creates strips that are easy for kids to grab and maneuver.

2. Repeat with the other half of the watermelon in the same manner.

How To Make Grilling Healthier

Summer is synonymous with many things, including family vacations and relaxing days at the beach. For foodies, perhaps nothing evokes the spirit of summer more effectively than grilled foods.

Grilling is a beloved tradition, but it’s not necessarily the healthiest way to eat. Traditional backyard barbecue fare like hot dogs and hamburgers likely won’t make physicians’ hearts flutter, but there are ways to enjoy the flavor of grilling without compromising a nutritious diet.

Replace burgers and hot dogs with healthy proteins

The occasional hamburger or hot dog won’t do much damage, but people who regularly grill should skip these summertime staples and replace them with healthy proteins. The American Heart Association reports that fish and skinless chicken breasts are healthy alternatives to hamburgers and hot dogs. Burger devotees can still enjoy their go-to grilled food, but replace ground beef with lean ground poultry, which contains less saturated fat than red meat.

Avoid overdoing it

Most people have overindulged at a backyard barbecue at one point or another. The relaxed, party-like atmosphere of the backyard barbecue makes it easy to snack on chips and other unhealthy fares before moving on to burgers and hot dogs. Hosts can do guests a favor by replacing snacks and sides like chips and potato salad with healthier fare like celery, fruit salad or chickpea salad. Keep portions of grilled fare as close to a healthy size as possible. The AHA notes that a healthy portion of meat is around three ounces and no more than six ounces.

Create a salt-free rub

There’s no denying salt makes food more flavorful. But that flavor comes at a high cost. The health care experts Piedmont note that excessive amounts of salt can contribute to inflammation from fluid retention and increase a person’s risk for hypertension, or high blood pressure. Salt may be a go-to for many grilling enthusiasts, but it doesn’t have to be. A salt-free rub made with chili powder, garlic powder, paprika, and/or other spices is an effective and salt-free way to add flavor to meat, chicken, and fish.

Grill more vegetables

Grilled vegetables, whether they’re part of kebabs or simply grilled alongside the main course, add significant flavor and provide all the health benefits of veggies cooked in more traditional ways. The AHA notes that coating vegetables in a healthy oil like olive oil makes it easy to grill them directly over an open flame without sticking. Cooking in this way imparts that signature smoky, grilled flavor to vegetables.

This summer, grilling can be as healthy as it is flavorful. All it takes is a few simple strategies to make the menu at your next backyard barbecue one any doctor would love.

A Summer Dessert That Is Just Peachy

Peaches are a nutritious summertime favorite. Peaches are antioxidant-rich, include a wide range of vitamins and minerals, and are rich in fiber. And there is no denying how sweet and tasty peaches can be, whether they’re plucked right from a tree or enjoyed in any number of recipes.

Cobbler is a type of dessert that gained popularity in the United States during the 19th century. It is made by putting fruit in a deep baking dish and then topping it with a drop of biscuit batter and sometimes a crumb topping. Any number of fruits work well in cobblers, including apples, pears, and various berries. However, peach cobbler is the quintessential summertime treat.

Cobbler gets its name from the fact that early American settlers didn’t have strict recipes with exact measurements for ingredients, so they took what they had and “cobbled” them together.

Today’s cobbler bakers enjoy the benefits of having more direction when putting together their desserts. This recipe for “Southern Peach Cobbler” comes courtesy of Paula Deen.

Southern Peach Cobbler

Serves 15

11/2 cups self-rising flour

1 stick butter

1/2 cup water

2 cups sugar, divided

4 cups peaches, peeled and sliced

1 cup milk

Ground cinnamon (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Combine the peaches, 1 cup sugar, and water in a saucepan and mix well. Bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat.

Put the butter in a 3-quart baking dish and place it in the oven to melt.

Mix remaining 1 cup sugar, flour, and milk slowly to prevent clumping. Pour mixture over melted butter. Do not stir.

Spoon fruit on top, gently pouring in syrup. Sprinkle top with ground cinnamon, if using. Batter will rise to the top during baking. Bake for 30 to 45 minutes.

To serve, scoop onto a plate and serve with your choice of whipped cream or vanilla ice cream.

How to Host a Memorable Memorial Day BBQ

Memorial Day is a bittersweet day on the calendar. Memorial Day is a day to pay homage to the brave men and women who lost their lives defending the United States. However, over time, Memorial Day has evolved into the unofficial beginning of summer.

As temperatures start to heat up, so, too, do backyard grills. In fact, grilling is an essential component of a good Memorial Day barbecue. There are many other ways to put your mark on Memorial Day cookouts as well. These ideas can make your event all the more memorable.

Keep it simple

Guests have certain expectations when they arrive at Memorial Day barbecues, and simplicity often tops the list. A simple playlist of recognizable, popular songs playing in the background, classic yard games like corn hole or horseshoes, sack races or water balloon tosses for the kids, and tasty classic fare on the grill, including burgers, hot dogs and chicken drumsticks, is likely all you need to put smiles on the faces of your guests.

Prep the grill and yard in advance

Memorial Day may be the first big event of the season, and chances are that the grill and yard could use some attention. Make sure all the burners are clean and working properly. Clear clutter from the yard and give patio furniture a thorough cleaning. Add outdoor furniture if you need more seating. Have a spare propane tank on hand so you won’t run out of fuel. If you have a pet, be sure that the yard is cleared of waste.

In addition to cleaning the yard, stock up on citronella candles or insect repellents. Bugs may want to join the festivities, too.

Create a red, white and blue burger

No barbecue is complete without delicious burgers cooking over an open flame. Those burgers can give an extra nod to the Stars and Stripes by showcasing the nation’s well-recognized colors. Place your grilled burger patty on your bun of choice. Top it with raw or grilled tomato slices (red), a slather of mayonnaise or a more dressed up aioli (white), and some blue cheese crumbles (blue). Carry the color theme over into a side salad as well, with your favorite greens topped with beets, blueberries and chunks of feta cheese.

Serve buffet style

One of the easiest ways to serve a number of people is to put the food out on long tables so that guests can pick and choose what they want. Place condiments and beverages in a separate area to keep the line flowing.

Separate beverages

Make sure that alcoholic beverages are kept separate from non-alcoholic options so that children do not get into the wrong drinks. Coolers placed on opposite sides of the yard can eliminate confusion.

It doesn’t take much to make Memorial Day barbecues enjoyable. With delicious food and close friends and family in attendance, fun is guaranteed.

Advancements in Livestock Technology

Consumer demand drives changes in the industry, and the agricultural sector is no exception. Consumer demands for improved animal welfare have led to changes in the livestock sector, and various technologies have been developed and are in development to help this particular segment of the agricultural industry thrive.

According to the Animal AgTech Innovation Summit, various startups have developed technologies that can make the livestock industry more sustainable and efficient.

Treatment

The Israeli firm Armenta has developed a non-antibiotic treatment for bovine mastitis that utilizes acoustic pulse technology. The treatment has a 70 percent cure rate.

Another firm working to treat livestock is the United States-based General Probiotics. Animal AgTech reports that General Probiotics develops cellbots and antimicrobial probiotics that eliminate harmful pathogens in livestock. That can reduce dependency on antibiotics and make food production safer.

Welfare

Faromatics, a firm based in Spain, has combined robotics, artificial intelligence and big data to improve animal welfare and farm productivity. One Faromatics product utilizes a robot suspended from a ceiling to monitor certain variables, including equipment function and health and welfare, that affect broiler chickens.

The American firm Swinetech utilizes voice recognition and computer vision technology in its SmartGuard product to prevent piglet deaths from crushing and starvation. The product also makes it possible to track and facilitate obstetrical assistance.

Operations

Based in Uganda, Jaguza Tech has developed a livestock management system that utilizes sensors, data science and machine learning to improve the efficiency, productivity and sustainability of modern farm operations. Farmers can utilize Jaguza to perform a host of functions, including monitoring their animals’ health and identifying their livestock.

The Netherlands-based H2Oalert is a water control management system that checks the quality and quantity of cattle drinking water in real time. The management system also checks for pollution and malfunctions in the water supply.

Livestock technology continues to advance, and firms across the globe are developing new products and platforms to help livestock farmers make their operations more efficient, sustainable and productive.

Eat Healthy at the Fair

Fairs, carnivals, rodeos, and roving amusement parks are popular summer attractions. Rides and raffles may attract the majority of revelers, but fairs and carnivals also are great places to enjoy mouth-watering food.

Fried dough, meats on sticks, pretzels, cotton candy, cheese steaks, and other aromas waft through the air at carnivals. However, fairs have not always been so great for people watching their calories. And while fairs might not be diet-friendly, it’s not impossible to adhere to one’s diet while visiting the fair.

Fill up at home

Prior to heading out to the fair, be sure to eat a filling, healthy breakfast. This will provide ample nutrients and decrease the likelihood that you will overindulge in less healthy fare while at the carnival.

Foods that are comprised of protein and fiber can help you to feel fuller longer. Pack a snack that can provide a boost of energy prior to indulging in any fair foods. Trail mix or a low-calorie protein bar may be enough to tide you over until you leave the fair.

Stay hydrated

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says that mild dehydration produces similar symptoms to hunger. If you feel hungry after eating, your body may only need fluids and not food. Therefore, reach for water or a hydrating sports drink (particularly when it is hot outside) as a first step to abating hunger symptoms, especially if you’ve recently eaten.

Choose healthy food vendors

Look for vendors that offer things like yogurt cups, roasted vegetables, lean meats, and fresh fruits. Kabobs that include lean meats that are low in calories can make a great carnival meal. Corn on the cob without gobs of butter also can be a filling snack. Smart dessert options include fruit smoothies, water ice, frozen yogurt, and even a candied apple, which may be rich in fiber. A small dose of cotton candy, which is just 100 calories per ounce, can offer a sweet fix while you avoid deep-fried concoctions. Keep in mind that cheese curds can set you back 650 calories and a funnel cake 720 calories, according to the YMCA. It can take several miles of traversing the fair to burn all those calories.

Watch portion sizes

If you splurge on a treat or two, consider sharing it with a friend or family member to cut the portion size. A single bite of a calorie-rich food can be enough to satisfy a craving.

If you’re heading to a Renaissance Fair, giant turkey legs may be prime for the picking. Those legs, which may contain as many as 1,140 calories, are well beyond the typical poultry portion size of four ounces. Such food is best shared with others.

Pay attention to beverages

Before you fill up on lemonade or visit the beer tent, remember some beverages contain lots of calories. Weigh your options carefully. If you want a cold beer, you may need to skip that chocolate-covered banana.

Fair foods are delicious but often high in calories. Smart choices can ensure dining at a fair does not derail your diet.

How Doughnuts Became So Famous

Doughnuts are beloved breakfast staples. A glazed doughnut to go with morning coffee on the way to work is a morning ritual for many people. Despite their popularity, many people do not know much about how doughnuts came to be.

Oily Cakes Precede Doughnuts

The origin of doughnutss is widely debated. Desserts made from fried dough can be found in various countries and cultures. However, historians largely believe that the Americanized doughnut arrived thanks to Dutch immigrants. According to Smithsonian magazine, when Dutch settlers came to New York, they brought along olykoeks, translated to “oily cakes.” Records show the Dutch were making these creations as early as the mid-nineteenth century. These earliest doughnuts were balls of cake fried in pork fat until they were golden brown. Since the center of these doughnuts did not cook as fast as the outside, many also were stuffed with fillings that did not need to be cooked.

Literally Minded Name

In a similar fashion, Elizabeth Gregory, a New England ship captain’s mother, used her son’s spice cargo along with lemon rind to fashion her own fried dough. Gregory made these pastries so that her son, Hanson, and his crew could store them on long voyages, and eat something that would ward off scurvy and colds. Gregory stuffed walnuts or hazelnuts in the centers of the dough. She came to call the pastries “doughnuts.” However, others attribute the name to the original olykoeks, which were sometimes shaped into knots and called “dough knots.”

Seaworthy Improvements

While the doughnuts certainly were acceptable, Captain Gregory came up with a way to improve his mother’s concoction. Rather than stuff the doughnut to make up for the uncooked center, he punched a hole in the middle of the dough ball before it was fried. The hole increased the surface area and exposure to the hot oil, ensuring the entire doughnut cooked evenly. Other stories about the doughnut hole attributed the modification to the fact that Captain Gregory could then hang the doughnut on the ship’s steering wheel so he could use both hands to steer.

Doughnuts Get Automated

Prior to 1920, doughnuts were made entirely by hand. Adolph Levitt, a Russian refugee and baker, began selling doughnuts from his bakery in New York City’s theater district. To keep up with the crowds, Levitt invented a gadget that could make the fried rings faster. A circle of dough shaped like a ring dropped into a vat of boiling oil, circulated, was flipped over, and emerged from the oil on a moving ramp. Many modern doughnut companies still make their doughnuts like this.

Modernization and mass production brought a shortening of the name “doughnut.” Various doughnut companies use “donut” for the cakes. Whether you call them dough knots, doughnuts or donuts, the treats are delectable.

Take-Out Tips When Dining at Home

Although takeout has long been a convenience enjoyed by people around the world, in recent months takeout became a key way for many restaurants to stay afloat when the novel coronavirus COVID-19 forced many to close their facilities to customers. Restaurants have been allowed to remain open, though they have been forced to change their business models. In a matter of weeks, establishments that were not accustomed to offering takeout quickly reimagined their operations to offer curbside pickup or delivery options.

In turn, many communities promoted movements to help keep restaurants afloat, with some encouraging residents to participate in Takeout Thursdays to patronize struggling bars, restaurants and delis. Takeout has always provided a respite from cooking meals at home, but it seems especially welcomed during the COVID-19 outbreak. Now more than ever, individuals and families could use a break from cooking three meals per day. When opting for takeout, consider these tasty tips:

• Support small businesses. Independent restaurants could have a tougher time bouncing back from reduced sales and income than large restaurant chains. When seeking out food- and beverage-related businesses, lean heavily on mom-and-pop restaurants, many of which are pillars in their communities. These are the businesses whose owners may have children in your local schools or those who sponsor local sports leagues.

• Investigate food safety. Inquire about the safety measures restaurants are taking to ensure food safety. Most restaurants and delivery services are enacting even more safety measures than are required by law. Keep in mind, however, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has said, “There is no evidence to support transmission of COVID-19 associated with food.” Simple hand washing after touching food packaging and your food or face may be sufficient.

• Learn new protocol. Ask the business what their requirements are for ordering food. Some restaurants will bring the order directly to your car through curbside pickup. Others may enable you to enter the establishment if you are wearing a mask. Delivery only might be the policy at another establishment. Follow all rules, as they have been implemented to keep you and the business employees safe.

• Pay by credit card. When placing an order for takeout or curbside pickup, pay by credit card online or over the phone if that is an option. This limits how much you and restaurant employees have to handle cards or cash.

• Avoid direct handoffs. Ask the counter server or delivery person to put down your order and step away before you grab it. This is an extra step to combat the spread of the virus.

Even as stay-at-home restrictions are being relaxed, takeout figures to remain popular. Certain tips can keep everyone well fed and safe and help bars and restaurants stay afloat.

How to Incorporate More Heart-Healthy Foods into Your Diet

Diet and heart health go hand in hand. The American Heart Association notes that a healthy diet and lifestyle are the best weapons to fight cardiovascular diseases, which the World Health Organization says kill more people across the globe each year than any other disease.

Men and women do not need degrees in nutrition science to create heart-healthy diets for themselves and their families. In fact, the familiar calls to “eat your fruits and vegetables” many adults recall from childhood lessons or nights around the family dinner table still bear weight today. A diet that is rich in fruits and vegetables is a hallmark of a healthy lifestyle. And supplementing such a diet with other heart-healthy foods is a great way to reduce one’s risk for cardiovascular disease.

Fruits and Vegetables

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services notes that fruits and vegetables are healthy whether they’re fresh, frozen, canned, and/or dried. The AHA advises eating fruits and vegetables with every meal and snack, and that may require a little creativity as you sneak them into favorite dishes. For example, the AHA suggests replacing half the ground meat in recipes for burgers, meatloaf or meatballs with cooked chopped mushrooms. The mushrooms can be finely chopped with a knife or food processor, and then sautéed in some olive oil until they’re soft. They can then be mixed in with the lean meat, and the meal can be cooked as it normally would. At the breakfast table, add fruit to a bowl of cereal to make for a more flavorful morning meal.

Dairy Products

When purchasing dairy products, the DHHS recommends sticking to fat-free or low-fat options. Replace whole milk with fat-free or 1 percent milk and buy only fat-free or low-fat cheese. When snacking, reach for fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt or cottage cheese. You can even add fruit or vegetables to such snacks to make snack time even more heart-healthy.

Proteins

Healthy proteins are another way people can promote heart health with their daily diets. When choosing proteins at the grocery store, the AHA recommends choosing chicken and fish over red meats. That’s because red meats, which include beef and lamb, have more saturated fat than chicken and fish. Saturated fats increase blood cholesterol levels and can worsen heart disease, while the unsaturated fats in fish like salmon can actually reduce the risk for cardiovascular issues like heart failure and ischemic stroke. When preparing poultry, remove the skin, as most of the saturated fat in poultry is found just beneath the skin.

Grains

When buying grains, the DHHS recommends reading the ingredients list on the package before purchasing. Make sure whole wheat or another whole grain is the first item listed in the ingredients list, and choose only those products that say 100 percent whole grain. Instead of preparing white rice as a side dish, serve brown or wild rice, quinoa or oats.

A heart-healthy diet is easy to design and just as flavorful as less healthy alternatives.