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How Much Would You Pay for Grass Clippings?

Monday, April 21st, 2014 - by Leslie Loftis

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For Easter this year, Whole Foods sold Organic Timothy Grass for kids’ Easter baskets. The story sounds good, as usual—plastic is toxic and the stuff in the Easter baskets lingers for years on the planet. Not mentioned is how prevalent shredded, recycled paper has become for baskets or how the plastic grass lasts and gets reused year after year. That is, the menace of plastic grass is overstated. Also not mentioned in the real grass is great story, the price of the real grass.

As I first learned about the grass clippings in a Tweet from @johnrobison, “Salute the marketing geniuses at @WholeFoods for selling grass clippings for $23.96 a pound – More than good steak!”

Price Matters

A few months ago, Rhonda Robinson posted about a poor neighborhood that “ran off” a Trader Joe’s opening. The gist of the article and comments assumed the neighborhood had elevated politics over health and made a bad decision. She concluded, “The Portland African American Leadership Forum would much rather see empty decaying buildings in their neighborhood than give up their victim card.”

I doubt the neighborhood would rather keep vacant buildings. I also doubt that they objected to a grocery store opening. They likely objected to a Trader Joe’s opening.

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The 10 Most Amazing Eateries in Austin, TX

Saturday, April 12th, 2014 - by Bryan Preston

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in March of 2013 as “The 10 Best Places to Eat in Austin, Texas“ It is being reprinted as part of a weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Visit tomorrow for the conclusion of the series. 

Austin, TX, home of SXSW, is known for its live music and its food. The fact is, you’d have to work pretty hard to find a bad meal in Austin. The people here take pride in being one of the food capitals of America. The weary SXSWer may have a hard time sorting the great places from the merely good, though, so as a local, I’m here to help out.

10. Pluckers Wing Bar.

Locations: All over town.

This chain of wing stops was started by some UT students. Pluckers isn’t fancy but it’s local and good, and has restaurants all over town.

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The Rise of the Robot Employee

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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President Obama’s new initiative is a higher minimum wage, and if he is successful the result will not be higher-paid employees heading off to work every day. Instead their jobs will be filled by an entirely new sort of worker: Robots.

Robots, unlike humans, don’t require pay or sick time or vacations. If they break they’re thrown out and recycled. Robots are expensive, but the threat of a higher minimum wage is now making a robotic worker more cost-effective than hiring a real person.

Across Japan the noodle-making chefs are now made of metal, and when you order a Big Mac at a MacDonald’s in Europe you do it by touch screen. A company called Momentum Machines in southern California has developed a robot that cranks out 400 perfectly-prepared burgers every hour. (Note: Robots do not sneeze. Ever. Think about that for a bit.)

Where is this going? Are we heading for a future where slinky femme fatale robots plot the destruction of mankind while wearing the perfect red dress?

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Adventures in Low Carb: Bullet-Resistant Coffee

Monday, April 7th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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So this is the latest goofy food fad: hot buttered toffee coffee. Basically, here’s the idea: you add unsalted butter, plus a little coconut oil, to coffee and whip it up in a blender, and drink that for breakfast.  Nothing else.  The theory is that this provides a good start for the day, leading to faster fat metabolism, increased mental alertness, weight loss, cures yaws, gives you greater strength, and conceals any foolish political contributions you may have made when young and foolish.

Or something.  It’s officially called Bulletproof Coffee, and according to the recipe you have to make it with special low-toxin coffee beans that the inventor sells for $26 a pound.

Well, maybe. Hot buttered drinks aren’t that unusual; Tibetans drink tea with butter. But the recipe sounds like a pain in the ass — coffee, boiling water, blender, and so on.  But let’s apply a little thought here.  Butter, reasonably enough, is basically 100 percent butterfat, and about 100 kcals a tablespoon. What you’re doing when you run it through a blender with liquid is returning the butterfat to an emulsion — you’re “re-creaming” it. Heavy cream, like whipping cream, is about half butterfat by volume (and 50 kcal per tablespoon).  So it stands to reason that adding heavy cream to coffee would be effectively the same.

So I tried it.  The recipe suggests between 2 and 6 Tsp of butter, so that’s 4 to 12 Tsp of cream — so make it 1/4 to 3/4 cup of cream.  For the last couple of days, I’ve started the day by adding about a quarter cup of cream to a big cup of coffee, adding some Stevia because I’m not thrilled by coffee with cream and no sugar — I usually prefer black — and drinking that first thing.

Okay, I’ve got to say, it’s pretty satisfying; I don’t have any particular hunger until noonish. And from the pure caloric standpoint, it’s got no carbs at all, and only about 200 kcal. As to any other effects, well, it’s only been two days.

When I lived in Europe, I used to go to Paris every so often, and stayed in a little hotel in the 15th arrondissement. Regular French businessman’s hotel, nothing special.  As with most European hotels they served “breakfast”; as with most French hotels, that consisted of a half a baguette, cafe au lait, a big lump of butter, and some jam. (And last night’s baguette at that, so it was a little hard.) You butter a chunk of the bread and dunk it, then eat it and drink the coffee. Now, I would have preferred eggs over easy and bacon, but honestly it was pretty good.

But it occurs to me that this isn’t far away from what we’re talking about: several hundred kcals of butterfat, coffee, and of course some carbs.  Maybe it’s not such a crazy idea.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Collard Greens

Saturday, April 5th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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So I’ve been trying to ramp up the veggies and I like collard greens but it’s a pain to cook them in a big batch. So, I thought, how about the Microwave? The package suggested cooking them for 13 minutes, but I was only cooking half a package, so I tried 6 minutes. They were a little rare.

Then I added a little butter and tried 4 more minutes. You see the results above.

For future reference, collard greens that catch fire aren’t a good choice.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Corned Beef with Cabbage and Turnip Greens

Friday, April 4th, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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I really like my slow cooker, and I really like the week after St Patrick’s Day, when corned beef is suddenly cheap. And I like corned beef and cabbage and don’t even miss the potatoes — which are usually overcooked and watery anyway.

So here was a little bit different approach. Cooked a corned beef round in the slow cooker. Took it out and refrigerated it, as well as the broth. (I also cooked a brisket and sliced that hot. Different meal.)

The next day, I took the fat off the top of the broth, poured a good bit into a wok and rewarmed the corned beef (which I’d sliced after it was cold). Then I added a half head of cabbage and about 4 cups of turnip greens, which I’d sliced into roughly similar sized pieces. I simmered them for about ten minutes. There’s the result.

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Adventures in Low Carb: Burgers and Greens

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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This time I had some leftover greens. Burgers into the George Foreman with about a tablespoon of chopped onions between them. Cook thoroughly.

Look, I like my meat crunchy. Deal with it.

Rewarmed the greens, burgers on top of the greens, grated quesadilla cheese on top.

I’m beginning to like this veggies thing.

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Adventures in Low Carb

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2014 - by Charlie Martin

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Continuing the effort to eat more vegetables, I got up this morning and felt ambitious, so I took out a bag of spinach and baby kale. I sauteed the greens with butter and olive oil and two sliced cloves of garlic, added some chopped onions and four beaten eggs, and about 2 Tablespoons of quesadilla cheese, and scrambled them.

This one worked good, but I think turnip greens and eggs are better.

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What Is the Best Tea? And Where Can I Get Some?

Tuesday, March 25th, 2014 - by Dave Swindle

What is the best #tea and where can I get some? A question I submit to the universe. #experiment

I’m going to begin the search and report on my results here at PJ Lifestyle. Where to begin to move beyond the basics of grocery store English Breakfast and Earl Grey? Leave you suggestions in the comments or get in touch with me via email.

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Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day the Irish Way: Get Drunk!

Monday, March 17th, 2014 - by Bonnie Ramthun

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Saint Patrick’s Day is an outrageous celebration of my Irish heritage. On that day adult Americans of all ethnic backgrounds feel free to wear green derby hats and shamrock necklaces, pack into bars and pubs to drink green beer and, if they’re really serious about celebrating the Irish way, end the day by vomiting and passing out in the gutter.

I’m offended by this, and it has to stop! Okay, just kidding. I don’t care a bit. The Irish are a fully integrated ethnic minority in America and St. Patrick’s Day is proof. You know your heritage is not an issue when you can poke fun at yourself.

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I don’t know how to make the Martin Luther King holiday as genuinely warm, funny, and celebratory as St. Patrick’s Day, but I’d like to try. Just last month a school system had to apologize for serving a lunch of fried chicken, cornbread and watermelon on Martin Luther King Day. How sad that the African-American holiday commemorating such a great man is about grievances and not praise. Why shouldn’t we all celebrate Martin Luther King day with soul food, vibrant African designs and colors in our decorations and celebrations, and a sense of fun and gratitude?

I fear that instead of moving towards celebrating Martin Luther King Day as a positive affirmation of African-American heritage, we’re moving in the other direction. Columbus Day has come under such attack that this brave Italian hero and explorer is accused of genocide and celebrations in his honor are protested. The very word “Christmas” has been banned in some schools. How long before someone wants to ban St. Patrick’s Day?

May this never happen. Long may the green beer flow in the pubs of America on St. Patrick’s Day. May the green derby hats continue to be perched on the heads of all, may the Leprechaun decorations continue to be ridiculous and offensive, and may you always feel free to be Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

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images courtesy Shutterstock: Patryk Kosmider

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What Happens When A Fake Chef Invades Your Local Morning Show?

Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Morning show anchors at local news affiliates have an unenviable job, especially when they have to interview oddball guests. One of those guests making the rounds after Thanksgiving was Chef Keith Guerke, plugging his cookbook Leftovers Right: Making A Winner Out Of Last Night’s Dinner.

The problem is, Keith Guerke isn’t a chef – or a real person, for that matter, and his book doesn’t exist either. The stunt sprung from the minds of comedians Nick Preuher and Joe Pickett and their troupe, the Found Footage Festival. Preuher appeared on local news shows in Illinois and Wisconsin, promoting disgusting recipes with bogus statistics and made up anecdotes. He bumbled through his presentations and even talked one anchor into beatboxing while he rapped.

The results are hilarious. Sit back and enjoy, as these poor hosts gamely go along with Chef Keith and his horrid recipes.

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3 Principles of a Biblical Diet

Saturday, March 1st, 2014 - by Rhonda Robinson

Editor’s Note: This article was first published in July of 2013. It is being reprinted as part of a new weekend series at PJ Lifestyle collecting and organizing the top 50 best lists. Where will this great piece end up on the list? Reader feedback will be factored in when the PJ Lifestyle Top 50 List Collection is completed in a few months…

In recent posts I revealed a few personal pieces of our lives, mostly focusing on the economic impact of a health crisis. However, life-changing events such as these seldom come in isolation. This perfect storm arose out of our lifestyle and diet, devastating my husband’s health and testing our faith.

In the span of a weekend my hard-working husband Mike went from a “Top Gun” insurance-fraud investigator to a bedridden patient, while I morphed into little more than a trembling caregiver. Without our realizing it, his lifestyle of constant traveling and eating on the road along with my budget-conscious (rather than health-conscious) efforts at home created unthinkable consequences.

Without any real symptoms, over a period of years he quietly developed chronic deep vein thrombosis. After a stint in critical care, surgery, and high-power medications, we exhausted all medical avenues to dissolve the clot.

The surgeon came in sporting a “you-did-this-to-yourself-big-guy” attitude and handed us a one-way ticket into a nursing facility. He declared that nothing more, medically, could be done. He explained, in a clear “good-luck-with-that” tone, that Mike’s body had to heal itself. He needed to “forge new veins.”

The finest health-care system in the world could only stop the progression of the clotting — which, arguably, is profound. Nonetheless, medicine had nothing further to offer us other than opiates, Warfarin, insulin, and around-the-clock, skilled care.

No cure, not even an injection of hope.

The fluid in his legs wasn’t going away “any time soon.” Which translated to him not getting out of bed any time soon. What fluid remained in six months, they said, would become permanent — an inconceivable thought.

My oldest daughter developed a theory and a plan. In the process we discovered these simple principles that had a profound impact on Mike’s recovery and my life.

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Breakfast for Dinner, Ina Garten Style

Thursday, February 27th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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Breakfast for dinner is one of the best dinners a person can have. I made Ina Garten’s roasted asparagus and prosciutto with homemade Hollandaise sauce for dinner this week. Good ole’ eggs, meat, and veggies!

1 lb. fresh asparagus

6 large slices of prosciutto (or bacon!)

1 ½ tablespoons butter (unsalted)

3 large eggs

olive oil

kosher salt

black pepper

Ina’s Easy Hollandaise Sauce (recipe below)

Ina’s Hollandaise Sauce:

2 large egg yolks (at room temperature)

1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

6 tablespoons butter (unsalted)

a pinch of cayenne pepper

Let me just start by saying that this is a delicious recipe—and that it might be one of my favorites so far. Now that I got THAT off of my chest, I’ll tell you how to make it.

To begin, I preheated the oven to 400 degrees. I also put a sauté pan on the stove at medium heat.

I snapped the “woody end” off of the stalk of the asparagus and spread them out in a single layer on a sheet pan.  Before placing them in the oven, I drizzled the asparagus with olive oil and dusted them with a pinch of salt and pepper.

Next, I prepped the bacon (I decided to use bacon since it was already in my freezer). I placed the thawed strips onto a baking sheet and placed them in the oven with the asparagus.  I roasted the asparagus for 10 minutes. For the bacon, follow the baking instructions (mine was done in 10 minutes—perfect timing with the asparagus!) If you are using prosciutto, bake for 5 minutes.

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Why Do Republicans Love Dark Chocolate More Than Democrats?

Tuesday, February 25th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Via Policy Mic: M&M’s or Skittles? Here’s What Your Favorite Candy Says About Your Politics

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Pollsters Jennifer Dube and Will Feltus of National Media Research, Planning and Placement LLP previous charted the politics of beer and Americans’ favorite TV shows. Now on Valentine’s Day week, they’ve released this chart showing whether Americans’ political preferences have any bearing on their favorite sweets.

This chart, though, isn’t as easy to decipher as their previous work on brands that marketed themselves as lifestyle choices (like hybrid cars, or Budweiser and Chik-fil-A). When’s the last time you saw candy marketed as a way to reinvent yourself?

 Read the whole thing.

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Spinach, Feta, and Reenacting James Bond

Monday, February 24th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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You win some. You lose some. This will be the unfortunate theme for today’s recipe.  (Don’t worry, I didn’t burn the house down.)

This week, I elected to make Ina Garten’s spinach with feta and pine nuts. 

2 ½ tablespoons good olive oil

1 ½ cups yellow onion (chopped)

1 pound fresh baby spinach

1 ½ tablespoons toasted pine nuts

½ cup feta (diced)

 1 lemon (1 ½ tablespoons juice)

kosher salt (1 ½ teaspoons)

black pepper (1 teaspoon)

I chose to halve the recipe because a) this type of dish doesn’t keep well and b) I didn’t want to eat 1 lb. of spinach by myself.

First, I heated the olive oil in a sauté pan and added the onion. I cooked the onion over medium heat until it was tender (about 8 to 10 minutes).  Next, I added the lemon juice (about 1 ½ tablespoons if you are making the full recipe) and the spinach.  I used tongs to turn the spinach in the pan until it was slightly wilted.  Then, I topped the spinach with a bit of lemon zest and removed the pan from the heat.

Now, here is where the problem started.  “Frailty, thy name is Salt.”

Ina says to mix in 1 ½ teaspoons salt, 1 teaspoon pepper, the Feta cheese, and pine nuts after the pan has been removed from the heat.   I halved these amounts because I was making half the recipe.  Unfortunately, even with half the salt, the dish was too salty.  When I attempted to choke down the final result, I felt like I was reenacting James Bond in Casino Royale after Le Chiffre poisons him and he is forced to drink salt to vomit…  It was that bad.  Way too much salt!!

This recipe is good in theory—it is very simple to make and the lemon is a nice touch–however, the proportions for the ingredients are a bit off. I suggest starting out with ½ teaspoon of salt in your dish and going from there.  Don’t forget that Feta in itself is quite salty!

I hope you all have better luck than I did with this recipe. If you manage to get the proportions correct, let me know!  I will try to make this one again in the future—but with less salt.

Love you, Ina. This time, it just didn’t work out.

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Which Fast Food Is Your Guilty Pleasure?

Thursday, February 20th, 2014 - by PJ Lifestyle Daily Question

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Nigel Slater at the Guardian: why Big Macs are my guilty pleasure:

My walk of shame is more of a ravenous dash. An excited run to the parked car. Yes, it is about the three layers of bun, the two thin beef patties and the secret sauce (oh God, the sauce) but so, so much more. The soft rustle of warm paper as I slip my hand deep into the bag and slowly pull out the chunky waxed box. The almost imperceptible click as I unhook the cardboard seal of the crass red and white carton and the salty rustle as I tip the fries into the lid. The wisp of stray lettuce. The warm, soft cushion of dough in my fingers. The peeking gherkin. The excited dribble of sauce between patty and bun. But more even than that. It’s the gorgeous, tingling luxury of instant gratification.

All comfort food is about timing. Get it wrong – too soon, too late, too often – and it misses the point. To be truly comforted you need, briefly, to be in a bad place. That slightly out-of-body feeling of extreme tiredness, low blood sugar, lost, away from home. In truth I have wolfed the Big Mac everywhere from Stockholm to Stoke-on-Trent. Hottest was Stockholm, where the fries almost burnt our lips and the bun was gold rather than beige. The most satisfying was at a fast food cathedral just off the motorway this summer, a salad dodger’s nirvana boasting everything from a Domino’s Pizza to an outpost of KFC. We didn’t possess the shiny manmade fibres and luminous trainers to eat in, so ran through the torrential rain back to our rented car, its windows lashed by the torrential rain. Ten minutes later, still licking our lips, we were back on the road, briefly satisfied, the windows fugged up and dripping with condensation.

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image via businessweek.com

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Grab Some Funky Pasta and Chow Down

Monday, February 17th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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Sometimes, the decision to make (or not to make) a recipe comes down to cook time. Will I be slaving over this meal for hours or will I be able to eat within 30 minutes?

I wanted an easy recipe this week—less cook time and fewer dirty dishes—as well as a dish that reheated well for lunches and dinners throughout the week.  Thankfully, Ina Garten’s cookbook had me covered.  This week, I made Ina’s orecchiette with broccoli rabe and sausage.

½ pound sweet Italian pork sausages

½ pound hot Italian pork sausages

1/3 cup good olive oil

6 large garlic cloves, thinly sliced

2 (14.5 oz) cans of crushed tomatoes

½ cup dry red wine

¼ cup tomato paste

1 pound dried orecchiette pasta  (I used radiatore)

2 bunches broccoli rabe (2 to 2 ½ pounds total) (variation: use broccolini)

1 cup grated parmesan cheese

kosher salt

black pepper

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Paula Deen’s Comeback Payday

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Chris Queen

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Looks like Paula Deen is bouncing back from last year’s controversy. The beleaguered celebrity chef seems to have overcome the accusations of racism that a former employee leveled at her in a lawsuit last summer. Deen’s new project, Paula Deen Ventures, has picked up an investment payday to the tune of at least $75 million.

The money came from private equity firm Najafi Cos., based in Phoenix. A representative from Paula Deen Ventures says the company is currently speaking with several “TV networks, retail chains and other possible partners,” though curiously, Food Network is not one of them.

After a year in which she lost sponsors left and right, this new start is good new for Deen. Her fan support has barely wavered, especially in the South, where her Savannah, Georgia, restaurant, The Lady & Sons, continues to experience long lines and waits. Deen is aware of the groundswell of approval from her longtime fans.

She said she draws confidence from the “hundreds of thousands of folks who signed up on Facebook’s ‘We Support Paula Deen’ page,” adding that “hundreds of thousands of my fans sent me messages of love and support.”

Will this new start mean more success for Paula Deen? Anyone who has heard her story knows better than to count her out.

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4 Sweet Treats for a Red Dye 40 Free Valentine’s Day

Friday, February 14th, 2014 - by Megan Fox

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I have watched my children go from contented and happy to screaming with uncontrollable rage in the time it takes to ingest one red sucker. I will never forget the day I put it together. I watched my child transform from a sweet, happy little girl into a tortured soul right before my eyes. Since I have eliminated red dye (and most other artificial dyes) from their diets, the tantrums and emotional upset has significantly decreased. If you have kids, you’ve written all their Valentine’s Day cards to hand out at school and you have or will have received in return bags and bags of cute cards and loads of bright red candy. For those of us with dye sensitive children, Valentines Day is worse than Halloween. It is a bloody red nightmare.

Even a homeschooling family like mine has to be ever watchful because at every extracurricular activity or co-op class we go to someone is handing my child a bright, red heart-shaped sucker I have to rip out of their hands and either give back or hide in my purse. My 8-year-old is very conscientious about not ingesting anything red because she knows it makes her feel out of control and angry. But my 4-year-old is still struggling with impulse control and will devour any candy anyone gives her. Without the watchful eye of her sister, she won’t make a good choice.

I’m not one of these insufferable parents who lecture other parents about recycled diapers and the dangers of aluminum foil. In fact, I never bring up the dye issue unless someone asks but I’ve noticed more and more people are curious about what artificial dyes might be doing to their children.

There are lots of personal anecdotes of children with behavioral problems, including children diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, whose symptoms completely disappear when petroleum based artificial dyes are eliminated from their diets. There are some in my own family. My own children are sensitive to red dye 40 and yellow 6. There are easy ways to tell if your child suffers the same problem, but why even test them? Just take them off of it. If artificial dyes can cause some children to have fits of rage, inability to concentrate, temper tantrums for no reason, crying jags and emotional upset, do you really think that substance is one you want your kid eating?

Many of our big companies like Kraft and General Mills already make dye-free everything to sell in the European market because artificial dyes are illegal there. With more public knowledge of this fact, perhaps we can convince them to offer us the same healthier choice. There is no nutritional value to food dyes as they are used solely for aesthetic purposes and to sell brightly colored objects to children who, let’s face it, are like birds attracted to shiny objects.

This does not mean all foods must have no color and be boring to look at. On the contrary, natural food dyes are so similar to artificial colors I can’t see a difference. Rainbow Goldfish are now made with all natural dyes including beet juice and carrot juice among others. My children love them and there is no taste difference. Finding dye-free food is challenging but not impossible. The following are my four favorite finds for this Valentine’s Day.

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3 Simple Desserts for Your Special Valentine

Wednesday, February 12th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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Valentine’s Day is coming up which means some of you may be running around trying to decide what to do for the occasion.  If you’re staying in and cooking, here are three, simple dessert sauces that can pair easily with things already in your kitchen.  Sometimes, a simple and classic dessert is the best dessert. Spend less time cooking and more time with the people you love!

All of these recipes an be found in my favorite, handy-dandy sauce cookbook, The Top 100 Quick and Easy Sauces.

1. The Classic: Chocolate Fudge Sauce

Ingredients:

heaped 1/2 cup packed brown sugar

heaped 1/2 cup sugar

2 oz. good-quality semi-sweet chocolate (broken into squares)

4 tbsp. butter (diced)

3 tbsp. light corn syrup

vanilla extract (a few drops)

4 tbsp. light cream

Directions:

Grab a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add the sugars, chocolate, butter, and corn syrup.  Heat the mixture slowly until it is smooth.  Stir continuously.

Bring the mixture to a boil and simmer over low heat for five minutes. Stir continuously.

Remove from heat.

Add the vanilla extract and cream.  Mix well.

How to serve: pour this over ice cream, sliced fruit (strawberries), or baked goods (hello, double chocolate brownies!)  Add some pink, red, and white jimmies for decoration.

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Going Greek! (In the Kitchen)

Monday, February 10th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

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I was in Naples, Florida last week and was introduced to a local gem—a restaurant called Greek Gourmet.  Their food was great, and their tzatziki sauce was to die for.  I knew Ina had an “Easy Tzatziki” recipe in her “Foolproof” cookbook and I planned to see how she stacked up to my new favorite restaurant in Naples… (Spoiler Alert: It makes the cut.)

2 (7-ounce) containers of Greek yogurt

1 hothouse cucumber

¼ cup of sour cream

2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tablespoon white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 ½ teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)

2 teaspoons kosher salt (I think this is too much–start with 1 teaspoon and go from there.)

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

(No oven to preheat this time!)

I placed the yogurt, sour cream, lemon juice, vinegar, dill, garlic, and pepper into a bowl. I only added in 1½ teaspoons of salt. (Start with 1 teaspoon and add more to taste.)

Next, I grated a large cucumber into a separate bowl.  In the process of grating my cucumber, my mind decided to check out and I succeeded in grating part of my finger. This was my first kitchen injury… maybe the Greek gods don’t like me?  (The cut made dealing with lemon and garlic a little tricky.)

The next step in the recipe is to pull the cucumber “guts” out of the bowl, ringing out most of the liquid, and then adding it to the bowl with the other ingredients. I wasn’t about to put my maimed finger in a bowl of grated cucumber, so I created a “press” with a large slatted spoon. If you aren’t privy to getting your hands dirty, or if you also grate part of your hand, use a slatted spoon so scoop out the cucumber pulp and then press the “guts” with another spoon, pushing the liquid out.

After pressing out all the liquid, I mixed up the ingredients into a thick sauce.

Ina suggests serving the tzatziki with olives, feta, and toasted pita breads (you can also use pita chips if you don’t want to toast your own pita breads). By the way, is it “kitchen legal” to eat this sauce with just a spoon when I run out of pita breads?  Just wondering… it’s that good.

Enjoy!

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Green Up, Chill Out

Monday, February 10th, 2014 - by Hannah Sternberg

This week’s gardening music:

For Part 1 of this gardening series, sprouting seeds, click here.

When I was searching for seeds on Amazon, I noticed that the same companies that offered the highest-rated herb variety packs also sold “survival garden” seed packages. These packs contain a selection of hardy vegetables that provide a range of important nutrients, the perfect addition to your survival bunker. Of course, they aren’t much help if you don’t know how to grow them.

A simple herb garden won’t sustain you in case of a global disaster, but it is a good way to learn basic gardening skills. Most common herbs go easy on the gardener — Mediterranean herbs like thyme and oregano don’t require a lot of water, so a day or two of forgetting your new calling won’t kill them. Woody herbs like lavender and rosemary are difficult to start from seed, but once they’re well-established they’re extremely hardy. Leafy herbs like basil take minimal tending — just put them in a sunny spot and they’ll fill your garden or kitchen with beautiful fragrance even when you’re not cooking.

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Operation Onion

Thursday, February 6th, 2014 - by Becky Graebner

onions

For some reason, whenever I enter the produce section of a grocery store I am afflicted with temporary amnesia.  I forget what veggies and fruit I have at home and I tend to duplicate what I already have in my fridge. “It’s ok…I’ll use it up…”

I am notorious for serial buying onions.  Onions do tend to last forever, but this week I really wanted to get rid of at least one sulking in the back of my refrigerator. (What one person needs three onions?)  I decided to consult my magical book of sauces.

 

Soubise Sauce

(Serves 4)

INGREDIENTS

3 tablespoons butter

1 large onion, finely chopped (red or yellow)

2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 ¼ cups milk

freshly ground black pepper

salt

 

TOOLS

2 Saucepans

Cutting board

Knife (for chopping)

Spoon

Measuring cups

Measuring spoons

Whisk

 

DIRECTIONS

  • Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter in the saucepan.
  • Add in the onion and fry for 10-15 minutes (or until soft). Remove pan from heat and set aside.
  • In the second saucepan, melt 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
  • Add the flour and cook for 1 minute while stirring.
  • Remove the pan from the heat and gradually whisk in the milk.
  • Return the saucepan to the heat and bring to a boil.  Stir/whisk until sauce thick and smooth.
  • Simmer sauce for 2-3 minutes and stir continuously.
  • Add the fried onion.
  • Add salt and pepper to taste and serve hot.

This recipe suggests pairing this sauce with roast chicken, baked ham, broiled haddock, or monkfish.

Yum yum yum! Enjoy! (and hooray for one less onion!)

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A Cure For Peanut Allergies?

Tuesday, February 4th, 2014 - by Theodore Dalrymple

shutterstock_606741 (1)

Many medical papers nowadays have such complex statistics that not one in a hundred doctors understands them fully, and the rest have merely to hope or take it on trust that the authors’ conclusions really do follow from their data. I am afraid I hold to the rather crude view that, if results involving large numbers of patients need involved and sophisticated statistical manipulation to yield a positive outcome, they probably are not very important clinically, however statistically significant they may be. Clear-cut results are not very common these days.

I therefore rejoiced to see in a recent edition of the Lancet the report of an experiment so conclusive that it hardly needed statistical confirmation to prove it. The experiment was a double-blind trial of the desensitization of children with an allergy to peanuts by means of oral immunotherapy (OIT).

Ninety-nine children aged between 7 and 12 with proven allergy to peanuts were divided into two groups: those who, unbeknown to them, received small but increasing doses of peanut protein mixed into their food over a period of six months, and those who did not. At the end of that period, 62 percent of the treated group, but none of the untreated, tolerated a challenge of 1400 milligrams of peanut allergy. The children who had had the OIT were 25 times less sensitive than those who had not. When the control group who had not had it were given it, they too became less sensitive.

The authors also demonstrated that the quality of life of the desensitized children improved because they became less anxious that any food might ambush them, as it were, and cause an allergic reaction. Anyone who has seen an allergic reaction to peanuts (or other nuts) will understand this. Since the number of food products that bear the warning “may contain peanuts” is ever-increasing – peanuts seem almost as ubiquitous in our environment as rock music – the world must appear a dangerous place to those with the allergy.

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