• 31Mar

    photo source: http://www.all-about-psychology.com/left-brain-right-brain.html

    Many people approach meals and food differently.  Is your idea of a meal based in reasoning and calculation or flavor and feeling? We discussed this idea in the chef’s training program at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts.

    The left side of the brain is associated with reasoning, analysis, linear thoughts, numbers, science and details. If your approach to food is more left brained, you’ll be more likely to think of these ideas when choosing foods:

    • Calorie content
    • Nutrients
    • Vitamins and minerals
    • Weight and volume of food
    • Nutritional science & theory

    The right side of the brain is associated with creativity, intuition, synthesis (interaction between parts), feelings, form and arts. If your approach to food is more right brained, you’ll be more likely to think of these ideas when choosing foods:

    • Taste
    • Color
    • Texture
    • How the food makes you feel
    • Smell

    This class discussion really intrigued me.

    Dietitians are trained to approach food from the left side of the brain. Diet and food recommendations are based in science, macro and micronutrient values, portion sizes and calories. Chefs are trained from the right side of the brain, learning to prepare food that is flavorful, visually appealing and artful.

    Where do these two styles meet? In the middle!  As with many things, balance is best. I can see great advantages in approaching food from both sides of the brain. My favorite meals are ones that bring pleasure and joy (from the right side of my brain) and are filled with vitamins, minerals and nutrients (from the left side of my brain) that will nourish my body.

    Does your approach to food lean more to the right of left side of your brain? How can we bring balance?

  • 28Mar

    As most of you know, our breakfast meals do not include smoothies, as we have no way of preserving a fresh made shake!   However, consider a smoothie to mix in variety now and then, especially once warmer temperatures hit!

    Looking for inspiration?  Check out these nutrient-rich smoothies packed with cancer-fighting nutrients that we served up at the Cancer Support Community this month.  The blueberries provide cancer-fighting anthocyanins; the wheat germ, wheat bran and flax give a healthy dose of fiber; the yogurt and milk serve up some bone healthy calcium and mango adds a new flavor along with fiber as well!

    Blueberry Smoothie with Tofu

    Adapted from Diana Dyer’s website.

    1 cup skim or 1% milk

    1/2 cup plain Greek 2% yogurt

    1/2 cup low-fat vanilla flavored  yogurt

    3 Tbsp. frozen OJ concentrate – not diluted

    2 - 3 oz. silken tofu (cut a 1 lb block into 6 pieces and use one piece)

    1 cup frozen blueberries

    1 Tbsp. wheat germ

    1 Tbsp. wheat bran

    1 Tbsp. ground flaxseed

    Mix in blender for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

    Nutrition Facts:  475 calories, 31 g pro, 9 g fiber

    Tasty Tropical Smoothie

    1 small ripe banana (or peach)

    1/2 cup frozen cubed mango

    1/2 cup 2% fat plain Greek yogurt

    1/2 cup orange mango juice

    1/4 –1/2 cup skim or 1% milk (use more or less depending on preferred consistency)

    Mix all ingredients in blender for 1-2 minutes until smooth.

    Nutrition Facts:  330 calories, 13 grams protein, 4 g fiber

  • 24Mar

    The new Good Measure Meals Spring/Summer Menu will begin very soon. As part of the launch, we will be introducing seitan to the vegetarian menu. I thought I knew a fair amount about seitan, but now I know of A LOT more. That’s because this week at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts we spent an entire day making seitan from scratch, talking about its culinary applications, history, nutrition profile, and preparing a wide variety of seitan recipes.

    The flickr slideshow (above) shows photos of the steps that we took to make seitan (a very long process that took several hours) and some of the seitan recipes that we prepared in class.

    Many of you might be thinking – what is seitain?!?! It is pronounced “say-tahn” and is sometimes referred to on menus as “wheat meat” or “mock meat”. The dough is made from flours that have a high gluten content and the starch is rinsed away, leaving mostly gluten. Gluten is the main protein of wheat and since seitan is high in gluten, it is also high in protein.  Seitan has about 2x more protein than tofu and 40% more than 2 eggs. It is not appropriate for those seeking a gluten-free diet, but it can be useful in small amounts for vegetarians or vegans who are seeking to increase protein in their diet. Seitan was created years ago in Japan and is popular in East and Southeast Asia cuisine.  If you want to enjoy seitan at home, you don’t have to spend hours making it from scratch. Seitan can be bought pre-prepared, but pay attention to the nutrition label and use sparingly because it can be very high in sodium.

    Want to know more? Click here to access a great article on seiten from dietitian, Jill Nussinow.

    I’m excited to hear your feedback on the new Good Measure Meals vegetarian menu. Let us know what you think of all the new additions, including those that contain seitan.

  • 21Mar

    If you had a chance to watch Atlanta & Company on 11 Alive this morning, you may have seen me talking about adding variety with veggies!

    If you are on Good Measure Meals, consider adding these vegetables for variety or making the recipes on days you don’t eat the meals.  If you are not a Good Measure Meals customer, consider using our meals as a way to introduce yourself to new foods!

    Bon Appetit!

    Arugula with Lemon Vinaigrette

    1 clove garlic, minced

    2-3 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

    6 Tbsp Extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ tsp salt

    Freshly grated black pepper

    1 package of baby arugula

    Freshly grated parmesan cheese

    Place the first five ingredients in a jar with a lid.  Tighten lid and shake vigorously to mix well.  Place arugula in a large bowl and toss lightly with dressing.  Top with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  Fresh sliced pears make a nice addition as well.

    Roasted Peeled Beets

    1 bunch of beets

    Extra virgin olive oil

    Freshly grated pepper

    Salt

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash beets and cut stems to remove the greens.  Using a vegetable peeler, peel beets then cut into 4-8 cubes, depending on the size of the beets.  Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper.  Spread out in a single layer on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet, and bake for 20-30 minutes, until caramelized and tender.    Be sure to not crowd the beets to allow proper roasting.  Beets can also be roasted whole.  Try this simple recipe as well!

    Sauteed Broccolini

    1 bunch broccolini

    ½ teaspoon salt

    2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

    ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

    Blanch the broccolini in boiling salted water for 2 minutes.  Drain immediately and place in a bowl of ice water.  Heat olive oil on low-medium heat in a saute pan.  Drain the broccolini and add to the pan and saute for 2 minutes.  Add the salt and pepper, and toss well before serving.

    Kale Chips

    1 bag of cut kale

    Olive oil

    Salt

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Toss kale pieces in olive oil until coated.  Spread out in single layer on parchment paper-lined baking sheet, sprinkle with salt and bake 8-10 minutes until edges are brown and crispy.

    Spaghetti Squash

    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wash outside of squash.  Cut spaghetti squash in half lengthwise with a large knife.  Scrape out the seeds and pulp with a spoon.  Place each half cut-side down in a baking dish with 1-2 Tbsp of water. Bake for about 30 minutes or until knife can easily cut through the squash.  Remove from oven to cool.  Using a fork, shred the strands of spaghetti squash.   Use in place of spaghetti noodles in recipes or serve as a side dish tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper.

  • 17Mar

     

    Roasting is a cooking technique that was discussed in great detail during Basic Cooking Techniques IV, a class that is part of the chef’s training curriculum at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. We experimented with this dry heat cooking method by roasting different vegetables including carrots, parsnips, potatoes, peppers, shallots, butternut squash and GARLIC.

    Garlic is one of my favorite foods to roast. The flavors become mellow and sweet. It tastes much different than garlic in its raw form.

    Roasted garlic is very easy to prepare:

    1. Preheat your oven to 325°F . Slice off enough of the top of the head of garlic to expose the cloves. (Above, you’ll see a picture of our roasted garlic from class. My group sliced the root end. It is actually better to slice off the opposite end. The cloves will stay intact to the root and not fall apart. Sliced either way, you’ll end up with a mellow, sweet, beautiful flavor.)

    2. Place garlic onto a piece of aluminum foil and drizzle the cut end with a touch of olive oil. Close up the foil, place on a baking tray and cook for approximately 45 minutes to an hour or until the garlic has softened and become golden brown.

    3. Once done, you can add the roasted garlic to soups, sauces, vinaigrette, salads, cheese platters, hummus, sandwiches, pizza, chicken, meats and pastas. The options are endless. Simply leave the garlic whole presented on a platter, squeeze it out of the skins, or if you want to keep the cloves whole, just gently peel off the skins.

    During class, we ate the roasted garlic by itself. As I tasted its goodness, I began thinking about all of the amazing health supportive properties of garlic. It is rich in dozens of powerful sulfur-containing compounds. These well-studied sulfur compounds have been shown to function as antioxidants. In addition, many may provide us with anti-inflammatory benefits, cardiovascular benefits, protection from cancer, antibacterial and antiviral benefits. Additionally, garlic is an excellent source of manganese, a very good source of vitamin B6 and vitamin C, and a good source of thiamin (vitamin B1), phosphorus, selenium, calcium, and copper. For an in-depth nutritional profile and information about some of these studies of garlic, click here.

    While we are on the subject of garlic, it’s important to select fresh garlic and store it so that it will yield the best flavor. To do this, follow these easy tips:

    • Purchase garlic that is plump and has unbroken skin. Gently squeeze the raw garlic bulb between your fingers to check that it feels firm and is not damp.
    • Avoid garlic that is soft, shriveled, moldy, or that has begun to sprout. These may be indications of decay that will cause inferior flavor and texture.
    • Size is often not an indication of quality.
    • Fresh garlic is available in the market throughout the year.
    • Store fresh garlic in either an uncovered or a loosely covered container in a cool, dark place away from exposure to heat and sunlight. This will help maintain its maximum freshness and help prevent sprouting, which causes a bitter flavor.
    • It is not necessary to refrigerate garlic.

    I invite you to enjoy the flavors and health benefits of garlic in the Good Measure Menu, as well as in recipes that you prepare at home.  Just remember to brush your teeth afterwards! :)

  • 10Mar

    photo compliments of TheDarkThing via flickr.com

    What is one tool that is used nearly every time you enter the kitchen?

    Answer: The KNIFE. It is used to slice, dice, peel, core, carve, segment, divide, and cut many different foods used in cooking. This is why I believe it is the most important tool in the kitchen.

    I have been using my knives A LOT in the first week of chef’s training at The Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts. I’m learning French knife skills, Japanese knife skills and I’m using my knives for several hours in every other class too. I’ve found that one week of intense practice and instruction has really improved my confidence. I’m really growing to love my knives!

    Knife skills are a must for chefs, but these skills are also essential for the home cook. Trust me, you can learn to love your knives too!

    Consider these 3 things before you chop another onion:

    1. Start with a sharp knife. Before you start to slice and dice, make sure that you have a well-made knife that is sharp and fits nicely in your hand. If your knife is dull, then you probably dread prepping ingredients. I would too! A sharp, well-made knife is well worth the investment. Remember, this is a tool that you will use nearly every time you enter the kitchen.  I promise that this will make a huge difference in your experience. Most retail cooking stores will let you test knives before you purchase them and offer professional sharpening service. The staff in these stores are usually very knowledgeable and will help guide you in your decision. I highly recommend trying several knives and chopping a few different foods with each knife you test. You’ll want  to see how the knife feels in your hand before making the purchase. A favorite knife for one person may not be a favorite knife for the next person.
    2. Practice by taking a basic knife skills class. Taking a class is well worth the investment of time and money. Learning to use a knife is like learning to do any new skill – practice will make perfect. Learning a few basic cuts will really improve your experience and may even take your food to the next level.  The Cooks Warehouse offers knife skills courses on a regular basis. I also like the book Knife Skills Illustrated by Peter Hertzmann. This book offers a lot of visual aids and gives specific advice for a wide variety of produce, poultry, fish and meats. Another idea is to watch YouTube videos. Learning from these sources will get you thinking in the right direction.
    3. Check your cutting board. The best surfaces on which to chop are wood and plastic. These surfaces are forgiving on the blade of a knife and are easy to sanitize. A wooden board should be hand-washed, whereas a plastic cutting board can be put in the dishwasher. Avoid cutting boards made from glass or hard surfaces. It is also best to avoid cutting directly on granite or other solid-surface countertops. Cutting on such hard surfaces will quickly dull your knife, and the food will slip around making it hard to control. One final tip: Place a damp paper towel or a small non-stick square under your board to ensure that it stays in place while chopping.

    If you have specific questions about knife skills please leave a comment or email me at aritchie@goodmeasuremeals.com

    Happy Chopping!