Category: Food

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.

Match Food to Your Favorite Brews

The rise of craft and home brewing has created more beer flavor profiles than ever before. In fact, there’s likely a beer for everyone, whether you’re a novice or connoisseur. The Brewer’s Association, a trade association that represents small and independent American craft brewers, reports that, in 2018, small and independent brewers collectively produced 25.9 million barrels and experienced a 4 percent total market growth. The BA also states that these small brewers achieved a collective retail dollar take-in of $27.6 billion.

While wine will always have its enthusiasts, beer is fast on its heels as a popular mealtime beverage. Much in the way wines are paired with certain foods, it has become the natural course of action to pair certain foods with particular styles of beer.

“Beer is a great match for food because of the complexity of its flavors, its ability to provide refreshment and to interact with many food flavors,” says Marc Stroobandt, a master beer sommelier for the Food and Beer Consultancy, UK. Although each person has his or her preferences, here is a brief listing of generalized pairings, courtesy of the Brewer’s Association and CraftBeer.com.

• American Amber Lager: Creamy risotto, wild rice, polenta

• American Pale Ale: Game birds, such as duck and quail

• Belgian-style Dubbel: Pork chops, sausage, tenderloin

• Belgian-style Flanders: Grilled ribeye, root vegetables

• Blonde Ale: Chicken, salads, salmon, nutty cheese

• Dark Lager: Barbecue, sausage, roasted meat

• Hefeweizen: Weisswurst, seafood, sushi

• Imperial Stout: Smoked goose, foie gras, strong cheeses

• IPA: Spicy foods, curries

• Porter: Roasted or smoked foods, blackened fish

The Brewer’s Association recommends matching delicate dishes with delicate beers and strong dishes with assertive beers. Commonalities, like aromas and sub-flavors, also work together. A beer with roasted notes may pair well with chocolate, for example. Opposites also attract, in that a spicy food may taste best when paired with a sweet beer. Pairing might once have been limited to matching wines with certain foods. But the booming craft beer business has popularized pairing flavorful beers with foods to make meals even tastier.

How to Store Fresh Apples

Apples are a popular fruit that are grown in different places around the world. Come autumn, apples can be seen filling farm stands and supermarkets all over North America. Apples are available year-round, but many apple lovers insist there’s nothing better than plucking an apple directly off the tree in the fall. Apple orchards and pick-your-own farms are visited each autumn by apple lovers anxious for apples’ tart and juicy taste. Many people pick more apples than they can eat in a few days, so it pays to learn how to store apples properly so none of them go to waste.

Start by picking a variety of apple that won’t go bad too quickly. Apple growers can make suggestions, but Jonathan, Rome, Fuji, and Granny Smith varieties tend to last longer than other varieties. Choose apples that are free of blemishes or soft spots. The adage that “one bad apple can spoil the whole bunch” bears some truth. Apples give off ethylene gas as they decay, and a rotting apple can quickly affect nearby apples.

A good place to store apples in the short-term is in the refrigerator where it is cool. Put the apples in the crisper drawer. Do not store them with vegetables, as the apples may cause the veggies to ripen or rot prematurely. If you plan on long-term storage, a few extra steps are necessary. Apples need to be individually wrapped so they will not come in contact with other apples. Newsprint works great; just be sure to pick the pages that are done in black ink because colored ink may contain heavy metals. Once wrapped, place each apple in a container padded with more newspaper. Store this container in a cool place, such as a garage, root cellar or screened-in porch. Apples can last a couple of months if stored in this manner. Keep apples away from potatoes, as potatoes can cause the fruit to prematurely decay.

Another way to store apples is to turn them into preserves or apple sauce. By boiling the apples and sealing them shut in canning jars, that fresh apple taste can be enjoyed long after the apples are picked. Consult with a canning expert about the right way to begin the process. Fruits are generally canned using a boiling-water canner. However, some fruits, like apples, can be canned with a pressure canner. Because apples tend to discolor when the flesh meets the air, use a little lemon juice to prevent this while canning. Turning apples into candied apples also can help them keep longer. Apples can be dipped into a sugary coating, caramel or toffee to be enjoyed later on. Of course, you always can bake apples into a pie as well, then freeze the pie for another day.

Autumn would be incomplete without apples. Get ready for apple season by developing a storage plan before you visit the orchard.

Favorite Fair Foods

State and county fair season has arrived, and that means there will be rides and games galore. While many people are drawn to fairs by the entertainment, just as many are willing to stand in line for the unique and tasty foods that seem to embody fair and carnival fun. If it can be served on a stick or deep fried, chances are you can find it at a fair. Everything from chocolate-dipped bacon to deep-fried butter may turn up on fair stand menus. The following are some of the more coveted foods revelers can expect to find at their local fairs and carnivals.

Funnel cake: Funnel cake and its close cousin, zeppole, have long been fair favorites. Topped with powdered sugar, funnel cakes can be pulled apart and shared with others.

Corn dogs: Corn dogs are essentially hot dogs on a stick that have been covered in cornmeal and fried. Like funnel cakes, corn dogs have become so synonymous with fairs and carnivals that few people have ever enjoyed them anywhere outside of their local fairgrounds.

French fries: French fries are a favorite at fairs, and carnival-goers can choose from savory shoestrings to hearty steak-cut potato chunks.

Cotton candy: What fair would be complete without a cotton candy vendor? Cotton candy is made by heating up granulated sugar until it is liquified enough to be blown into thin threads. Those threads are collected and wound into a sweet treat that is loved by kids and adults alike.

Pie: Fair-goers are likely to happen upon a pie-eating contest or pie-tasting tent. Many prefer to indulge in a piece of pie while at the fair, preferring such treats to sweeter, heavier desserts.

Corn on the cob: Corn on the cob is proof that carnivals and fairs provide some healthy fare for customers in addition to the many decadent treats on display. Corn on the cob is most popular in corn-producing areas and can be the ideal complement to burgers and other fair foods.

Anything on a stick: Each year fair vendors experiment with culinary oddities that can be served on a stick. One day it may be skewered pork chops and the next a sleeve of cookies. Those who want the full fair experience should consider trying something served on a stick.

The Various Benefits of Farm-to-Table

Few things are more satisfying than biting into a fresh tomato right from the garden or seasoning a meal with herbs picked from a windowsill greenhouse. Restaurants recognize the value of such experiences, and more and more are relying on locally sourced products in their kitchens.

The farm-to-table movement is not new, but it has gained momentum as consumers become increasingly enamored with the flavor and environmental impact of locally sourced foods. The National Restaurant Association found that farm-to-table food was one of its top 10 trends for 2015. Furthermore, the group says that one in five consumers are willing to pay more for local food, and 41 percent admit that locally sourced ingredients influence their decisions when choosing where to dine. Newcomers to the farm-to-table dining experience may not understand all the fuss surrounding this popular trend. The following are some of the key benefits of farm-to-table.

Peak freshness and ripeness: Local produce ripens on the plant and can be harvested at the last possible minute before it turns up on a plate. This helps ensure that it contains the highest amount of nutrients and flavor, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Food that has to travel further is often picked well before it is ready, ripening on the way to stores or other vendors.

Better for the environment: Food that needn’t travel far before reaching diners’ plates saves roughly 500 gallons of diesel fuel to haul produce a distance of 1,500 miles. This conserves fossil fuels and prevents harmful emissions from entering the atmosphere.

Supports neighboring farms: Supporting farm-to-table restaurants and other eateries keeps business local in two different ways. It not only benefits local restaurants, but it also directly supports neighboring farms, fisheries and other suppliers.

Accessibility to seasonal choices: Farm-to-table eating provides a wide variety of in-season foods. This can translate into tastier foods because they are grown and harvested during their optimal growing season.

Reduces factory farming: According to O.info, the informational resource powered by Overstock.com, farm-to-table and local farming can reduce reliance on large, profit-driven corporations that may focus on maximum production over animal health and welfare. Local farms may be more inclined to treat their animals well and institute sustainable practices.

Learn about the community: A person might live in an area and never know that a local vineyard is in the vicinity or that a producer of straight-from-the-hive honey is nearby. Exploring farm-to-table resources can open people’s eyes to local businesses doing great work in and around their communities.

How to Make Your Favorite Foods Healthier

After the whirlwind of the holiday season, the season of resolutions takes over. Many people to resolve to live healthier, and they may not have to give up their favorite foods to do so. Research from the National Institutes of Health suggests American adults between the ages of 18 and 49 gain an average of one to two pounds every year. Grazing and overeating tends to increase when the weather cools down. A 2005 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that, in the fall, people tend to consume more calories, total fat and saturated fat. In the spring, people seem to prefer more carbohydrates. In addition, less powerful sunshine in winter coupled with people bundling up translates into less vitamin D being absorbed by the body. Some researchers believe there is a link between vitamin D deficiency and weight gain as well. To ensure that certain foods do not sabotage healthy eating plans, people can employ some easy modifications and make healthier versions of the foods they like to eat.

• Choose crunchy foods. Those who are prone to snacking can reach for noisy foods. These include crunchy items like apples, carrots and pretzels. Scientists say that when people listen to what they are chewing — called the “crunch effect” — they eat less of that item.

• Tone down the cream. Delicious dishes like fettuccine alfredo typically are made with lots of butter and cream. Replace cream sauces with a healthier base made of low-fat milk thickened with flour. Increase the flavor with favorite spices.

• Fry with care. Use healthy oils like olive or coconut sparingly. Many foods that are traditionally fried also can be lightly coated with cooking spray and baked for a crunchy texture.

• Choose sodium-free seasonings. The USCA recommends limiting sodium to less than 1 teaspoon of salt per day. Try options like fresh herbs or lemon juice to add some sodium-free flavor.

• Increase fiber content. Fiber helps one feel fuller longer and can also be helpful for digestion and heart health. Choose the “brown” varieties of rice, pasta and breads.

• Replace meat with leaner forms of protein. Lean chicken, turkey and pork can replace red meats in many recipes. Some traditional meat dishes, such as burgers, also can be modified using vegetables or seafood. Lean meats dry out quickly, so keep foods moist by watching cooking times.

• Stock up on yogurt. Greek and other varieties of yogurt can replace sour cream and mayonnaise in many dishes.

Resolving to eat healthier can be easy by making some simple swaps when preparing your favorite foods.

How to Approach “What can I bring?”

When hosting a party, hosts are often asked, “What can I bring?” Those four words can spark as much thought in hosts as they do in guests, who want to show their appreciation for gracious hosts by bringing something to the party and hopefully taking some of the load off their hosts’ shoulders.

Veteran hosts know that answering, “What can I bring?” is not always so easy. But there are a few guidelines hosts can follow to ensure both they and their guests feel good about what is brought to the festivities.

Consider the type of party

The type of gathering you’re hosting may dictate which gifts are acceptable and which are best left at home. For example, what works for a football party likely will not suffice at a formal affair. Casual affairs tend to be more loose and not as planned, whereas hosts throwing a formal dinner party likely have a set menu and schedule in mind. Guests can bring appetizers or snacks like potato chips and pretzels to backyard barbecues or parties geared around televised sporting events, but asking guests to bring appetizers to formal affairs may throw your entire schedule out of whack if guests are late.

Consider the guests

Some guests may specialize in a particular item or be especially knowledgeable in a certain area, and hosts can put such skills and knowledge to good use when guests ask what to bring to the party. Guests whose baked goods have achieved legendary status within your social circle can be tasked with bringing dessert, while those with an extensive knowledge of wines can bring the libations for the night. In the latter case, let the party’s wine enthusiast know the menu in advance so he or she can bring appropriate pairings.

Avoid asking guests to bring side dishes

Some guests may offer to bring side dishes, but this once again may leave hosts vulnerable to guests who may not arrive on time. In addition, guests may have their own favorite side dishes, which may or may not go well with your entree. When hosting a dinner party, it’s best to prepare the whole dinner on your own. If guests offer to bring sides, thank them before you politely explain how excited you are to host and prepare the entire meal on your own.

Don’t overlook decorative items

If the food and beverages are already taken care of but guests still want to contribute, don’t be afraid to ask guests to bring decorative items like a bouquet of fresh flowers or candles for the dinner table. Such items add to the ambiance of a dinner party, and picking them up does not require much effort on the part of guests.

Have a backup plan in place

Guests sometimes forget to bring something, even if they promised they would. So hosts should have a backup plan in place just in case guests prove forgetful. If one guest is tasked with bringing dessert, pick up some ice cream anyway just so you’re covered if that guest forgets to bring some dessert.

“What can I bring?” is a question party hosts can expect to hear. How hosts answer that question can impact how much they and their guests enjoy the festivities.