Tag Archives: food

Summer Grills & Thrills in Aspen

Don’t you just love sweet and juicy July watermelons? 
I do, especially with Patron Tequila and a little jalapeño.


Welcome to the 2013 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen.
Did I mention wine?
And in fact wines from all over the world ready to be discovered.
Let’s start with a party celebrating Wines of Spain.
Now let’s start eating…..

I know it’s out of focus. I was getting kind of excited.
……..and eat some more.



What I learned from the pros in Aspen.
Fire up the grill and prep the fresh produce – it’s summer time!!!

Summer meals with a bounty of salads, just picked vegetables, fruit based desserts, seafood and lean meats serve up the delicious and nutritious win-win of taste and health.  Many recipes are as easy as sliced tomatoes topped with basil, a swirl of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. 

But, food fans gathered to acquire savvy secrets from celebrity chefs at the 2013 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen learned that what can look like a no-brainer actually takes some thought.

Rub, Season or Marinade?

A steak recipe or menu description may include the word ‘rub’ to describe the coating of herbs and spices added to meats but, Texas chef Tim Love warned the crowd at his cooking class, “Don’t rub it in!”  
Love, executive chef and owner of the Lonesome Dove Western Bistro in Fort Worth, explained that rubbing a mixture of spices, salt and often sugar into the meat can create an undesirable crust, “They tell us rub it so we rub it. But we want to leave the pores open. Rubbing will close the pores of the meat. Then the meat won’t taste like the crusted seasonings because it stays on the outside.”  So, a rub isn’t really a rub, it’s a seasoning to spread on lightly.  

Chef Tim Love with fans at the 2013 Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

 

For leaner cuts of beef, such as a flank steak, Love recommends a soy sauce based marinade to help tenderize, “It breaks down the connective tissue.” But, he advised against using it on expensive cuts of beef, “They’re already tender and the soy sauce will actually take away the velvetiness of high dollar steaks.”


Food and Wine Classic in Aspen goes from dawn to dusk and into the night.

Veggie Master

There’s something mesmerizing about watching a skilled athlete or musician perform with ease. 
Claudine and Jacques Pepin share secrets and sips with their foodie fans
The same thing can be said of witnessing cookbook author and TV food personality Jacques Pepin slice an onion or peel as asparagus spear. “We’re in awe,” I overheard a fan exclaim while attending Jacques Pepin’s cooking class with daughter Claudine called Techniques to Create a Great Meal.  “He makes it look so easy, “ says daughter Claudine who adds, “He is the food whisperer.”  In less that forty five minutes the elder Pepin slices, dices, chops, stirs, whips, and whirs his way through a dozen different techniques and ends up with a roasted chicken, quick cured herbed salmon, a mayonnaise, a grapefruit segment salad and a tomato rose.  All while drinking Champagne.  (Well actually Gruet sparkling wine from New Mexico.) 

Watch the hands of the maestro, Jacques Pepin season raw salmon for a fast cure. 
“It’s a question of practice,” says Pepin who’s been a headliner for the Food & Wine Classic for many of its 31 years in Aspen. “A sharp knife is important of course but did you know that when you slice an onion with a sharp knife there are less fumes?” Another veggie prep tip- lay asparagus flat on a cutting board and use a vegetable peeler to trim off the tough exterior flesh at the end of the spears. And don’t toss vegetable trimmings. Pepin keeps an empty milk carton in the freezer and adds bits and pieces, “Keep pressing it down, adding more, pressing it down and when it’s full you can make a wonderful vegetable stock.” Cooking class in your own kitchen: Jacques Pepin’s cookbook, “Essential Pepin” includes a DVD demonstration of culinary techniques.

Lexus dressed for Aspen chic
Basil on the Grill?

 Tim Love’s meat centric cooking class on best ways to season for the grill, did allow for a little dinner time diversity when he tossed in a shrimp recipe, “Eating seafood in Texas is like being a vegetarian! But, shrimp of all seafood does love a rub.” He even grilled some fresh basil to finish the dish. “Charred basil is fantastic. So is asparagus. Yes, I’m going to talk about vegetables. I don’t want to shock people.”
Another kitchen tip from Love, think of onions as another way to add heat to a dish.

And use your grill pan to create a mélange of vegetables. Slice potatoes so they grill as quickly as other veggies on the fire.  Love’s cooking demo drink of choice? Tequila shots at 10am. And all that after he ran the Food & Wine Classic 5K run, “Check with me at 5pm today and I’ll either be a hero or a zero!”

We say hero, Tim. And in your cute words, “Damn Skippy!”

OK Foodie Fan Time!
Guess which celebrity chef these gals are excited to see?

And my friend Liz McDermott, wanted to show her son Ford just how cool she is by posing with Ford’s favorite chef Andrew Zimmern.
And look a Thomas Keller sighting! He is as gracious as he is talented.

Ok the camera was shaking a bit. I think he’s actually taking photos of his dish, a creation of raw seafood.
No not Rocky Mountain Oysters in Aspen, this time.

As long as we’re having some fun. How about a musician in the tasting tents? 
Guitarist from Train

Woody Creek potato vodka is new this year, distilled just outside of Aspen near, you guessed it,
Woody Creek.  How about a sample? Gondola ride sized. 

New eatery in Aspen, Above the Salt.
New foods, new flavors, new wine adventures and new friends at the 31st Food & WIne Classic in Aspen.
Lindsay Feitlinger, Liz Moore McDermott, Carolyn O’Neil, Bridget Daley McDermott and
I don’t know who that guy is.

Congratulations Food & Wine Magazine for another great June weekend in Aspen.
Publisher of Food & Wine, Chris Grdovic Baltz salutes Devin Padgett, special events producer
for the annual party for 5000 food and wine lovers. 

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

A Tale of Two Avocados

My copy of My Key West Kitchen…mermaid optional.

Florida citrus and seafood star in chef Norman Van Aken’s new cookbook, “My Key West Kitchen.”  From key lime pie to conch salad, Van Aken and co-author Justin Van Aken tell the story of South Florida cuisine through recipes and remembrances. 
Justin and Norman Van Aken talking about great Key West food. 
In town for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival the father-son duo, shared their kitchen secrets during a seminar dubbed “Conch Culture.”  They describe Key West cuisine as a geographically unique blend of Caribbean, Cuban and Southern cooking with a dash of American hippie escapism. 
Pulling fish from the sea and plucking fruit from tropical trees cultivated in south Florida is only the start of the Van Akens’ grocery list. But it got me thinking about the Florida avocado.

Why Florida Avocados Deserve Attention, Too. 
The great majority of the time, when a recipe calls for avocado, it refers to the dark green pebbly skinned Hass avocado grown predominantly in California and Mexico. 
The flesh of the Hassavocado is rich and creamy tasting because of the high content of heart healthy monounsaturated fats.  Often misspelled Haas, the varietal was named after Rudolph Hass and it rhymes with “pass.”

 

Hass avocado on the left and Florida avocado on right with My Key West Kitchen  conch salad 
Avocados grown in Florida are literally a different breed. Twice as large as the palm sized Hass variety, the smooth green skinned Florida avocado is lower in total fat and calories.  An ounce of Florida avocado has about 33 calories, whereas the richer California variety packs about 50-calories per ounce.

Brooks Tropicals, a major grower in the Sunshine State, smartly brands its Florida avocados the “SlimCado” to call attention to the fact they have half the fat and third fewer calories than their California competitors.

Starring the Slimcado!
The season for Florida avocados kicks off in June (I just bought one at Publix in Atlanta) and Justin Van Aken says, “I find that when they’re good, they’re great — creamy and rich, yet as light and refreshing as any good tropical fruit should be.”
Some folks they don’t like the Florida avocado because it’s ‘too watery’ and ‘not as buttery’ as the Hass, but others prefer the slightly sweet taste and lighter texture.  

Nutritionally both varieties are rich in potassium, vitamin E and folate but California avocados are higher in heart healthy fats and Florida avocados are higher in vitamin C content. Van Aken suggests, “A little salt, and something acidic — especially lime or pineapple — to dress it, and you’re good to go. We make a salsa with them diced, along with mango, black beans, and queso fresco that is out-of-this-world!”

Conch Salad extreme close up from photo in My Key West Kitchen, avocado in there.
So, just as there are many different types of oranges -from California navel to Florida’s Valencia – variety is a good thing.

In My Key West Kitchen, recipes such as Crabmeat Stuffed in Avocado call for Florida avocados first with a ripe Hass avocado as ‘optional.’ 

What do you think of Florida vs. Hass avocado?  What’s your favorite way to eat avocado? 
(I like them all by themselves with a sprinkling of crunchy sea salt.) 

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Oscars of the Food World

A Winning Weekend in New York with Top Foodies
Monday night at Thomas Keller’s Per Se James Beard Awards After Party with the legendary Jacques Pepin 

What a thrill to wine and dine and chat with the top chefs, cookbook authors, TV food show stars and writers who tell us who’s cooking what, where, why and how to cook it up yourself – or try!

Thank you Marion Laney for this fab photo of Gotham Hall glam! 

The annual James Beard Foundation Awards, held in NYC are a must for moi! Traveling with Atlanta gal pals, Gina Christman and Anne Marsden and my daughter Katie as an early graduation present – we took the town by storm with shopping sprees and the goal of dining in just about every ‘hood in NYC.

It’s easy to make new friends in NYC. Balthazar drinking rose Champagne Saturday while Anne and Katie shopped.

I am on the James Beard Foundation Awards National Broadcast Media committee so there’s a lot of work leading up to the big announcements, but the weekend is a magical ride of Manhattan fun.

Friday kick-off lunch at Harry Cipriani. Vanilla cake.  We sat next to Robert Wagner. 

The big night is Friday for the Journalism Awards and the tables were set with pretty pink peonies as the wine flowed.  There’s Martha Stewart with her entourage over there. Of course, I said hello to her!
Chef Marcus Samuelson at the table next to us and he won for his autobio book, Yes Chef!

Chef Marcus Samuelson of Red Rooster tweets out his news: Winner!

Martha Teichner of CBS Sunday Morning near us too. She won in the Best TV Food Program, in studio or fixed location. Congrats to her and the CBS Sunday Morning Team.

Martha Teichner accepts the JBF Award for CBS Sunday Morning’s annual food themed show.

The South won big in Yankee territory. Nathalie Dupree and co-author Cynthia Graubert won a big prize, Best American Cookbook for their six pound cookbook, “Mastering the Art of Southern Cooking” Nathalie accepted the award saying, “The South is the new Italy!”

A photo from the big screen of Nathalie and Cynthia accepting the James Beard Award !

More love! Martha Teichner and Nathalie Dupree congratulate each other on their James Beard Awards.
Both live in Charleston, SC.
We had dinner at Del Posto restaurant on Sunday night. 
Del Posto is my favorite restaurant in New York. The service is elegant but relaxed.
We sat down at 7:30pm and finished dinner at 11pm. I felt as if I’d been there 11 minutes.
A beautiful experience that began with flutes of 2006 Pierre Gimonnet Brut Cuvee Fleuron Champagne and the prettiest salad I’ve ever tasted or seen. Congrats to Del Posto for winning Best Service and Best Pastry JBF Awards and nomination for Best Chef NYC. As my daughter texted a friend, “I’ve just had dinner in first class on the Titanic.”
Shhhhhh….this lunch is a secret. 

The “Southern Mafia Lunch” is an annual sort of secret invite only gathering on Monday before the Gala JB Awards at Avery Fisher Hall.  Top chef nominees from the South and Southeast categories gather along with Southern food writers, food producers and enthusiastic “southern-aires” at Iron Chef Alex Guarnaschelli’s beautiful little Butter Restaurant.

Butter colored buttercup flowers on the tables at the Southern Mafia Luncheon.
Lots of fun – Andrew Zimmern sneaks into the photo with Gina Christman,
Publisher of Atlanta Homes & Lifstyle Magazine and Mary Reynolds, of The Reynolds Group, Atlanta

Here’s a link to ALLLL of the winners thanks to Andrew Zimmern’s website!  He won as JBF Best Media Personality 2013.  And I give him the “Nicest Best TV Personality Award!”
James Beard Foundation Awards winners

How about some punch? Top foodies tell us the cool places to go in NYC.
We’re at Pouring Ribbons cocktail bar wayyyyyy down town on Sunday night.

It’s all about the fun and frolic. As a busy food journalist, and three time James Beard Foundation Award winner including JBF Who’s Who in Food Beverage – it’s an absolute thrill to hang out with all of these great foodie folks. There are too many parties to go and too many people to hug – but we can only try!

JBF Award winner and uber famous chef, Todd English and I
 at Chef’s Night Out Party at Todd English Food Halls, Plaza Hotel

Yes, it’s important to burn some calories after burning the midnight oil eating and drinking so Gina, Anne and I hit the streets on Sunday morning and walked 5 miles through and around beautiful Central Park. A brisk start but sunny day and lots of needed oxygen. 

Nightlife followed by wildlife in Central Park. Birdwatchers abound and the flowers in full May bloom.
My favorite place to stay is The Kimberly Hotel. I booked a two bedroom, two bath suite for our Atlanta gals getaway for $322 and that includes free internet, a roof top bar/breakfast and free coffee/tea and pastries all afternoon on the rooftop terrace. Hello! Why would you stay anywhere else? 50th between Lex and 3rd. 

Goodbye Manhattan, thank you for a wonderful James Beard Foundation weekend!
Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Wines for Spring’s Lighter Fare

It’s a spring fling
Let’s toast to toastier weather hopefully arriving soon.
Spring has sprung and with it the annual transition to lighten up our fashions and our foods. 
Coats give way to capris and hot soups are replaced with refreshing salads. 
As chefs welcome warmer weather with new crops of fresh ingredients their menus begin to morph with brighter notes and lighter fare. Wines change with the seasonal menu shift too. 

“More white wines and roses are emerge in the spring while chunky reds are not as much in full force,” says Michael Bryan, of Vino Venue and the Atlanta Wine School. Offering over two hundred classes a year on food and wine, Bryan’s team of wine and culinary experts present guidelines for pairing, “The goal is to find the right balance like able dance partners.”  
Michael Bryan of Vino Venue and Atlanta Wine School
Spring’s fresher flavors call for wines with fresh flavors. For instance, Bryan says a halibut dish presented with a mango, lime, jalapeno chutney would partner well with a New Zealand sauvignon blanc because the wine has melon and fresh tropical notes.
Pairing wines with vegetables

Springtime in Shafer Vineyards in Napa
Most of the time wines are chosen based on the protein portion of a dish. But, Annette Shafer of Shafer Vineyards in Napa Valley offers advice for vegetable focused menus. Shafer, who is the wife of winemaker Doug Shafer, is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and a wellness coach in Napa.

Visit Shafer Vineyards when you’re in Napa 
Annette Shafer says, Certain vegetables and herbs virtually always complement wines such as shallots, leeks, corn, peas, fava beans, and mushrooms. Among herbs and seasonings, good choices are thyme, sesame oil, and a hint of lightly cooked garlic.”

Shafer notes that how vegetables are cooked can change things a bit too.  “Roasting vegetables in a hint
of olive oil adds a rich quality that makes wine a good partner.” One of her favorites is butternut squash
roasted until just tender. “Finish it all off with a bit of shaved Asiago or manchego and you can enjoy
any wine in the gamut from a lively Chardonnay to a rich, bold Cabernet,” she suggests.

Grilled vegetables crave bolder bottles
Grilling vegetables creates a savory quality with toasty caramelized flavors that can match deliciously with wines such as Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel and even a less tannic Cabernet.  Bryan says the char created when grilling foods asks you to bring up the intensity of a wine, “You need a bigger dance partner.”


Shafer is known for their big reds but they make beautiful wines for lighter fare too.
Annette Shafer is ready for spring!

Annette Shafer’s wine and vegetable matches
   The earthiness of mushrooms with an earthy Pinot Noir or a fruit-forward Merlot

   The high acidity of tomatoes with the crisp acidity of a Pinot Gris or Sangiovese — even a fruit-forward Syrah

   The sweetness of corn or sugar snap peas with the off-dry fruit of a Chenin Blanc, 
            or a well-balanced Chardonnay

Cheers to Spring!

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Don’t Ban the Bon-Bons! Happy Healthy New Year!

If you’ve already banned bon-bons and sworn off French fries, I don’t need to tell you that New Year’s diet resolutions are among the most popular annual self-improvement declarations. 
My New Year’s Resolution is to swim more! 
But, the trouble with telling yourself you’re going to make big changes – whether it’s with food or finances – is that it only takes a few little slip ups and you’re back to your old tricks again.  
That’s why nutrition experts say don’t be so rough on yourself because adopting healthier eating behaviors takes some time. In her new book, The Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook, registered dietitian Janet Helm writes, “One recent study found that it takes an average of 66 days before a new habit becomes automatic. 
Helm’s Food Lover’s Healthy Habits Cookbook features expert tips from RD’s like moi! Page 205 folks on olive oil!!!
So commit to 30 days, then the next month will be much easier to sustain.”  She adds that long-term behavior change is the result of small victories and little daily tweaks.  For instance, when ordering a veggie omelet ask the kitchen to double up on the veggies and halve the cheese to shave off significant calories and add fiber and nutrients. 
Sometimes a new habit means continuing to enjoy the splurge foods you love, but less often. “Eat your special foods in reasonable amounts,” suggests registered dietitian Jill Nussinow.  “If you love cheesecake and eat it a few times a year, that’s fine. Love great croissants? Eat them occasionally, as in when you go to Paris or the best bakery around.”  You had me at Paris. 

Be Specific

Be Specific: I’ll only use a sprinkling of salt on the top of foods. OK, not as pictured!!!

Diet declarations such as “I’ll never eat ice cream again!” or “I’ll never eat out again!” are just way too broad to be believed. Helm advises being as specific as possible so goals are action-oriented. For instance, instead of “I’ll be more active” make the change to “Get up 30 minutes earlier so I can walk in the morning before work.” 

Be Specific: I will try to limit happy hour to one hour.


Or, let’s say you love southern foods. Rather than promising to back away from bacon and sweet tea, learn to enjoy southern flavor favorites in moderation.   At Buttermilk Kitchen in Buckhead, share an order of pimento cheese and house pickles with a few friends. Order the grilled chicken sandwich that comes with avocado, spinach, grilled onion and bacon but ask to skip the creamy ranch dressing.  Servers are happy to customize your iced tea by adding just a splash or two of sweet tea to take the edge of the unsweetened tea.  

Pimento Cheese on toast with house made pickles and tomato jam at Buttermilk Kitchen, Atlanta
Survey the list of side dishes to see that Buttermilk Kitchen owner and Chopped winner Suzanne Vizethan let’s you order a broiled half grapefruit for a naturally sweet and low calorie dessert.

Resolve to Eat More

While most folks think of nutrition improvements as a list of the things they’re not to suppose to eat, registered dietitian David Grotto has come up with the lists of food you should be eating more of to be healthier.  
Dave is who we call a “Guy-a-titian”
In his new book, “The Best Things You Can Eat” he ranks nutrient rich foods “For everything from aches to zzzz.”  For instance, rather than maligning the ingredients associated with causing heart disease Grotto’s top foods for lowering cholesterol fall into three categories – whole grains, berries and legumes.  Garlic, apples and oatmeal make the list too.  
Another happy side effect of eating more of these healthy foods is that they taste great and keep you feeling full while crowding out the junk foods and fast foods you may be trying to consume less of this year. 

Happy New Year, New You and New Healthy Things to do!

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Culinary Cocktails with Healthy Punch

“Hey who took my basil?” a chef might complain and the answer could be the bartender. Restaurants are raising the bar on the culinary offerings on cocktails menus with a ‘farm to table’ philosophy filling glassware, too.

The Hummingbird Cocktail at The Old Edwards Inn: vodka, broccoli, pea shoots and a dash of local honey.

Mixologist Thomas Keenan created 5 wellness cocktails for Old Edwards Inn
“The demand for fresh, seasonal food from the kitchen carries over to the bar,” notes

Nancy Kruse, Atlanta based menu trends analyst and contributor to Nation’s Restaurant News.  At Ammazza fresh basil is just as likely to end up in a crafted cocktail as on their Napoletana-style wood fired pizzas.  At Holeman & Finch Public House,mixologists are masters at blending bits of citrus and a hint of honey in cocktails with intriguing names such as “She” made with mescal, dry curacao liqueur, grapefruit, lime and tonic.

The cocktail menu at The Optimist raids the kitchen too with potent potables such as the gin based “Mother of Pearl” spiced with celery salt, black pepper, fennel frond and celery leaf.

The high art of high balls made with produce and herbs is perhaps best displayed at chef Grant Achatz’s TheAviary in Chicago where bartenders give cocktails four-star restaurant attention as they whisk, whir, stir, foam and shake spirits in what they call “a state-of-the-art drink kitchen.”  There’s even an ice chef on staff to create just the right cube, ball, shard or snow to compliment the cocktail. 

Drink Your Vegetables

A collection of culinary cocktails is on the menu with spa treatments at The Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, North Carolina. So instead of herbal tea or lemon infused spring water, spa goers can sip refreshing blends of beet juice, broccoli, cucumber, herbs and edible flowers with a little kick from vodka, tequila, rum, brandy or moonshine. Because the drinks are made with vitamin and antioxidant rich fresh fruit and vegetables they could be considered a health and beauty treatment and each drink calls for only an ounce or ounce and half of spirits, “We are trying to focus on flavor and nutrition with less alcohol,” says executive chef Johannes Klapdohr.

Farm to Bar Table
To Your Health

Since these hand-crafted and often pretty pricy cocktails are meant to be sipped and savored in a sophisticated setting registered dietitians like the trend because it encourages moderation in alcohol consumption. Dietitian Rachel Begun, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics says they’re drinks with benefits, “Cocktails made from fresh fruits, vegetables and herbs do deliver nutrients and are better options than drinks made from processed mixers both from a taste and nutrition perspective.” 
Drink Your Beets
There’s even a research study from the U.S.D.A’s Agricultural Research Service Department that shows treating strawberries and blackberries with alcohol boosts the fruit’s antioxidant activity.
Registered dietitian Cynthia Chandler is serving a holiday herb cocktail at her Thanksgiving Day feast made with tequila, lime juice and fresh sage, “Sage is a member of the mint family and is one of the oldest herbs used for both culinary and medicinal purposes and sage has been used to help digest heavy meals.” So here’s a toast to your health to help kick off the holiday season.  

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Balancing Act of Great Food and Good Nutrition

Nobody’s perfect, and that’s especially true when it comes to eating a healthy well balanced diet. “All these years and we still know that balance, variety and moderation are the keys to good nutrition and that includes enjoying occasional splurges,” says dietitian Jill Melton, editor of Relish Magazine. Melton and more than eight thousand nutrition expert colleagues meeting at The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics 2012 Food & Nutrition Conference in Philadelphia gathered to learn the latest research and sample the best new healthy food products.

How to find a happy balance between healthy living and enjoying great foods was the focus of a series of lively panel discussions held in the spacious and welcoming Nestlé́ exhibit booth designed to look and feel like a home.  Dietitians gathered around an oversized dining room table and spilled into the aisles to listen to leading nutrition experts and expert observers talk about the challenges of promoting nutrition through the lifecycle from infancy to the elderly.  Invited by Nestlé́, I served as the moderator for four fast-paced 20-minute chats and – woah – did I learn a lot!  First off – Nestlé́ is the world’s largest food company with a commitment to nutrition, health and wellness. 

Good Food, Good Life

Nestlé́’s headquarters is in Switzerland and is most associated worldwide with their wonderful chocolate. But did you know that Nestlé́ USA develops and distributes so many other popular leading brands including Lean Cuisine, Stouffers, Buitoni, Libby’s Pumpkin, Juicy Juice and Carnation Breakfast Essentials? Nestlé́ Waters hydrates and quenches the thirst of millions with such iconic brands as Perrier, Acqua Panna and S. Pellegrino, as well as Nestlé́ Pure Life purified bottled waters in the U.S. 

Nutrition Numero Uno

I learned more about the broad reach and respect for the Nestlé́ Nutrition Institute (NNI), too. NNI shares state-of-the-art science-based information and education with nutrition and health experts all over the world. And while most of us are familiar with their consumer brands – including childhood faves Ovaltine and Nesquik – Nestlé́ Health Science works with nutrition professionals to offer products for people with special health needs such as Boost, the nutritional supplement beverage for seniors who need a boost of protein, vitamins and minerals. 

Nestlé́ Professional, serving healthcare institutions, restaurants and schools, offers unique services, balanced products and valuable resources for the food pros specializing in away from home eating experiences.

Start Healthy – Stay Healthy

Now that you’ve glimpsed the scope of the company’s core mission to help people start healthy and stay healthy throughout life – here are some highlights from the hot topics of Nestlé́’s nutrition panels held during the 2012 Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics Food and Nutrition Conference and Exposition held in Philadelphia.

Healthy Hydration

Officially titled “Nourishing Healthy Living: Nutrition Throughout the lifecycle, including healthy aging, super foods and balanced eating,” this panel discussion got right to the heart of the matter – how nutrition can make a difference in the support of good health throughout the lifespan – from infancy to the elderly to support wellness and when we’re not that well to help nurture us back to health.  

Each of the dietitians on the panel are experts in working with the elderly and in medical care settings so have been on the front lines of seeing health declines in patients that could have been prevented. One of the simplest yet most important observations is that many elderly patients are dehydrated.

“Some elderly people don’t know they’re thirsty and can end up in the emergency room by not being hydrated, which affects brain function,” says Carol Siegel, MS, RD, Head of Medical Affairs, Nestlé́ Healthcare Nutrition. Another challenge – the elderly are more at risk of dehydration because their mobility problems may discourage them from drinking water (they might not be able to run to the restroom!) and due to physiological changes.  

“The body becomes dryer as you get older,” says Val Wendel, MS, RD, LDN, Healthcare Channel Sales Manager, Nestlé́ Professional. Adding more nutrition to hydration – as with Boost beverages and Trio soups – can offer a solution. Wendel says, “Fortified soups and beverages provide an excellent source of nutrients and hydration.” 

Easy To Swallow Solutions

Simply sipping soup and enjoying a cool glass of water is a big challenge for folks with swallowing problems that may be caused by stroke or as a side effect of radiation. “Swallowing difficulties can increase the risk for malnutrition,” says Maureen Huhmann, DCN, RD, CSO Manager, Clinical Sciences, Nestlé́ Nutrition.

Huhmann, a specialist in oncology nutrition, described how the odorless starch-based thickener called Resource Thicken Up Clear is used to thicken liquids to help patients with dysphagia (swallowing problems).

Drink Up Before School Kids!

Kids are vulnerable to dehydration too. In fact, “64% of kids go to school dehydrated,” says Carol Savage, MS, RD, Manager, Beverages Division, Nutrition, Health & Wellness, Nestlé́ USA. So when you send the kids off to school, whether on the school bus or when helping them put on the seat belt in the car, hand them a bottle of water or a container of Juicy Juice. By the way, milk hydrates, too – even chocolate milk.

Think About Your Drink

The take home from this panel of nutrition experts: dietitians care about keeping folks healthy and hydrated and a lot of the solutions are pretty simple – and tasty! You just have to know the power of proper hydration to think about your drink.

Nestlé́ products like Nestlé́ Pure Life help address a hydration deficit occurring in the elderly and in kids,” says Chavanne Hanson, MPH, RD, LD, Nestlé́ USA Wellness Champion.

Mindful Eating

The second panel was packed with nutrition experts, including Dr. Barbara Rolls, Penn State University Nutritional Sciences Guthrie Chair, Dr. Wahida Karmally, dietitian and Director of Nutrition, Columbia University and Dr. Adam Drewnowski, Director of Nutritional Sciences Program at the University of Washington. Diving into the discussion about nutrition, cognition and mindful eating, Dr. Karmally, whose research focuses on pediatric nutrition, shared this important fact,

“Eating habits are established in the first 6 years of child’s life.”

And while most everyone agrees that nutrition is key to proper growth of body and mind, Dr. Karmally says the reality reveals big improvements are needed. “One in eight kids miss breakfast!”

In a hurry? I remember my mom giving me Carnation Instant Breakfast as I ran to catch the school bus. My favorite flavor is strawberry. I was always late because I couldn’t decide what to wear.

“Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and Carnation Breakfast Essentials offers a great breakfast substitute,” says Wendy Johnson-Askew, PhD, RD, MPH, Director, Public Policy, Nestlé́ Nutrition.

Breakfast, lunch or dinner – what family meals look like today is the research focus of Dr. Drewnowski, who says, “The family meal is evolving.”  That means the balancing act of sitting around the kitchen table versus running off to sports practices and all of the other dinner time distractions is shaping the family meal today. 

The good news is that Dr. Rolls, author of “The Ultimate VolumetricsDiet”, wants parents to know that the balancing act of good nutrition can include occasional splurges. “You can eat anything in moderation,” She says.  And snacking is AOK in her book, too. “Find your healthy snacking pattern.”

Foods for the Future

What’s really a lot of fun is when discussions about nutrition burst into enthusiasm about great tasting, healthy foods. Leading the surge in discussing Foods for the Future, Lucien Vendôme, Director of Culinary Operations for Nestlé́ Prepared Foods says “We must all be passionate about nutrition.”  Vendôme, who is the creative genius behind the recipe development for Lean Cuisine, Buitoni and Stouffer’s Frozen foods, shared that frozen foods offer a tasty, nutritious and convenient solution for busy folks and families. 

Registered dietitian Jill Melton, blogger and editor of Relish Magazine, notes, “We are a microwave generation.” So it’s good news when food companies such as Nestlé́ stock the grocer’s freezer with delicious and nutritious microwavable options.

Melton, who was one of the founding editors of Cooking Light Magazine, observed that the word ‘light’ used to have a stigma; folks just assumed light foods wouldn’t be as good. But today that’s changed, and light eating is appealing and sought after.

Have Some Fun

Teaching the next generation to balance lighter choices with fun ‘splurge foods’ is an important goal for foods for the future.  And the lessons begin very early.

“The hardest transition for babies is from baby food to table food. Eating patterns begin to form at 18 months, and are set at two years of age,” notes Wendy Johnson-Askew, PhD, RD, MPH, Director, Public Policy, Nestlé́ Nutrition. Johnson-Askew also noted that one-third of kids’ calories come from snacks, so those snack choices should count towards good nutrition.

Balanced Eating

In the final panel, we get closer to ‘wear the rubber meets the road’ so to speak and that of course is the power of portion control, taste, enjoyment and the pleasures of the table.

While one of the USDA’s current nutrition messages to combat obesity is “Enjoy your food, but eat less,” Dr. Barbara Rolls, professor of nutrition at Penn State University, argues that the message should be to eat more of certain foods to fill up the plate. “People tend to eat a consistent amount of food. If you tell them to just eat less they don’t like it because they don’t want a plate that’s half empty.” Dr. Rolls’ research shows that eating more foods – which are higher in water content such as fruits, vegetables and soups – adds volume to the plate and satiety to support weight management.  

Easy Veggies

Making it easier to get more vegetables into meals, frozen vegetables and frozen entrees that include veggies offer simple solutions for complicated modern days.

“I always recommend mixing prepared foods with fresh foods,” says Katherine Brooking, RD, blogger, author, media personality and founder of Appetite for Health.  Blogger Colleen Padilla, known as Classy Mommy, says “Moms are always looking for more convenience.”

And with taste and style in mind Kristen Colapinto, blogger at Social Vixen, suggests, “One trick I use is taking prepared food out of their packages and placing on a plate to make it seem more presentable.”  I love this idea! Especially because I have a passion for pretty plates and even collect them at yard sales. Treat yourself and set a pretty table even when you’re smart to save time by choosing delicious frozen entrees.

Write it if you bite it!

Helping people keep track of what they’re eating and how much was discussed, and Katherine Brooking emphasized the power of the pen and recommends her nutrition minded clients keep a daily food journal. After a week they get a snap shot of where those extra calories may be coming from.  I say “if you bite it, write it.”

Dietitian Chavanne Hanson, MPH, RD, LD, Nestlé́ USA Wellness Champion, sums it up very nicely, “Pleasures, balance and understanding are core pillars of what Nestlé́ wants to convey to the marketplace.”

So, the delicious lesson learned  (and echoed throughout the four nutrition expert panels for Nestlé́) is to find a happy balance in your food life – seeking healthier options for every day and enjoying occasional splurges. Oh, and don’t forget to drink some water!

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Pleasures of Pantelleria

In the salted caper room at Bonomo and Giglio on Pantelleria

 

One of my favorite ingredients – whether sprinkled on pizza, tossed into a salad or paired with olive oil and lemon to adorn grilled fish – are capers.  Slightly sweet, mostly salty with a tangy bite capers add a bright note to many dishes.  

Caper plants clinging to the earth bound for Bonomo and Giglio 


Capers are the unopened flower buds of bushy plants that cling to stonewalls or are cultivated close to the ground. On the tiny Italian island of Pantelleria, off the coast of Sicily just 36 miles from the coast of North Africa, the volcanic soil and Mediterranean sun produce high quality capers prized for their flavor. “They are the best capers and I like them because they are cured in salt and not pickled,” says chef Piero Premoli of Pricci Restaurant. Premoli is featuring a menu of Sicilian dishes throughout October including a cured tuna with capers and the region’s classic caponata stew with eggplant and capers.
Olives, tomatoes, onions, basil and olive oil love in Pantelleria


Pleasures of 

Pantelleria 

If you haven’t been to Pantelleria or even heard of it, join the club.  I was invited by a non-profit food and nutrition organization called Old WaysPreservation and Exchange Trust to join a group of writers and culinary experts for a symposium to discover the island’s uniquely healthy food and lifestyle habits.  
It’s a desert out there. The island of Pantelleria gets very little rain fall. 
The rocky island is pummeled by the wind forcing olive trees, grape vines and caper bushes to lie low growing outward not upward. Citrus trees are cradled in walled gardens to protect the fruit.

“There’s still a little magic out there,” says Phil Meldrum of Food Match a specialty foods importer attending the symposium. “When you find something with a taste particular to that area it gives me goose bumps.”

 Pantelleria capers on freshly caught swordfish makes me swoon. 
Stone cliffs, stonewalls, stone buildings, and piles of stone create a harsh landscape surrounded by the crashing sea. Minimal rain means cactus blooms and bougainvillea blooms offer the only color. 

“It was frozen in time,” says dietitian Sharon Palmer, author of The Plant Powered Diet, “We had very little red meat. It’s primarily a plant based diet that’s nutritionally really balanced with carbs from pastas, healthy fats from almonds, olives and olive oil and dishes flavored with herbs, fennel and capers.”  
Sharon Palmer and I enjoying ‘studying’ nutrition on Pantelleria.
Other common cooking ingredients included eggplant, zucchini and tomatoes. Since cows were not a traditional part of farm life here, there is very little cheese and pasta dishes and potatoes are sprinkled with seasoned bread crumbs instead of parmesan.  
Just so you believe me. Pantescans add breadcrumbs to pasta.
Palmer notes, “We had traditional dishes handed down through the generations in an isolated farming environment so we had what they have there.” 
Even though there is a tradition of sweet cookies made in intricate patterns and shapes, the principal sweetener is made from reducing grape juice not refined sugar. 
“It’s nice that the healthiest traditional eating patterns happen to be the most delicious,” says Sara Baer-Sinnott, President of Oldways.   

Mediterranean Medicine

The health benefits of the Mediterranean diet – rich in vegetables, legumes, grains, nuts, seafood and olive oil – are well documented. Dietitian Kathy McManus, Director of the Department of Nutrition at Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston says, “Since this diet is not low in fat people enjoy the foods more, lose more weight and they tend to eat more vegetables because they can add olive oil.”  The Mediterranean lifestyle leads to longevity, too. 
Olive oil contains more than healthy fats, it’s rich in plant nutrients and antioxidants to promote good health.
Ligia Dominguez, MD of the University of Palermo says, “We want an active life in old age not frailty. The Mediterranean diet is high in antioxidants which can add years to your life and life to your years.”

Dominguez says being “kissed” by the sun for at least 15 minutes a day boosts vitamin D levels naturally and getting enough sleep is important too. “I took a nap every day in Pantelleria,” admits Baer-Sinnot, “It’s the joy of resting to reduce stress.”

Grape harvest bonanza during my stay on Pantelleria.


Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

The Italian Island of Capers, Olives and Wine

The gateway to discovery. Atlanta to Milan. Milan to Pantelleria.  

The Pleasures of Pantelleria. 
I’d never even heard of Pantelleria until I received an email inviting me to join a group of food writers, food purveyors and nutrition researchers for a trip with Oldways Preservation Exchange and Trust in September.
Oldways was founded to study and preserve the healthy ways folks used to eat and gather their food – from the mountains to the sea. 

Pantelleria. Don’t you just like saying it?Now find it. It’s an island off the coast of Sicily in the Mediterranean Sea not too far from Tunisia. This is about as south in southern Italy as you can get. There’s something irresistible about an invitation to someplace you’ve never heard of before. When I read that the island was famous for capers I replied to my hosts, “You had me at capers.”

Benvenuto!

Arriving alone at the slightly modernistic looking Pantelleria airport (most folks in our Old Ways group traveled from New York or Boston or LA through Rome) my 30-something taxi driver who spoke only “hello” and “thank you” English was quite busy chatting in Italian on his flip cell phone while we crossed the island past lots of rocks and cactus in bloom and sweeping views of the Mediterranean.

I took a photo of him and he smiled shyly. No, I don’t have a crush on you – I just haven’t seen anyone on a flip phone in a while. OK, on my best behavior. For now.

A tiny island of rough black, umber and grey volcanic rock soon softens to the eye with cascades of glorious flowers.

Purple and white bougainvillea abound.

 Stone walls are everywhere – Pantescan people are really good with rock. Tumbling out of crevices are long green tendrils that I soon learn are the mighty little plants that give us capers.  A little lemon and olive oil with this edible landscape and I’m ready to toss with pasta.
But, don’t be tempted to pluck a wild caper and sample – I’ll explain why later.

Caper plants spring boldly from boulders on Pantelleria.
This might be my favorite photo.
Sunset over the Mediterranean from my patio at The Mursia Hotel on Pantelleria. 

Alora, we arrive at the Mursia Hotel. The white washed building with a Moorish look  (we’re only 36 miles from North Africa here) rises above the black lava rock majestically without need of embellishment. Entering the breezy lobby my eye is drawn beyond the reception desk to what I had been dreaming of all day. A swimming pool. Palm trees were a bonus. It’s about 85 degrees outside.

Let me explain. The huge pool in the foreground is empty – an old pool once filled by the sea.
The new pool at The Mursia surrounded by palms and lounge chairs is nearer the hotel bar. Nirvana- a salt water pool.

So far the only Italian word I really like is “Alora!” which I think means OK or implies “what’s next?” or “then…”….which is like my favorite Spanish word “Entonces!” I will never work as a translator at the UN. But, I do know how to rally a group. “Alora! Time for a drink folks.”

Winery Owner Cologero Mannino of Abraxas offers up a taste of the island’s specialty – slightly sweet, nicely balanced  passito de Pantelleria wine.
How about another glass of wine? This is Italy. That’s better.
Alessandro Luchetti bound for Florida International University in January demonstrates his handsome host skills.
Starting to relax into the Mediterranean lifestyle. 
Stay tuned for the next post……as the pleasures of Pantelleria continue. 

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Why French Fries are OK after 50.

Looks like eating more fruits and vegetables is the not-so-surprising secret to weigh control for older women.

Look at this sassy crowd in Aspen. Nice flowers and big glasses of  wine.
And notice the yellow caution tape near the burger and fries.

 Ladies, it’s just not fair.

It’s a common complaint as waistlines widen with advancing birthdays especially for post-menopausal women, ‘I’m eating the same but the numbers on the scale just keep creeping higher.’

What’s not the same, unfortunately, is the body’s metabolic rate, which naturally slows down with age. Add to that a lifestyle that’s often less active and you’ve got the math to prove that calories-in versus calories-out can tip the scales in the wrong direction.

 Sure, you can step up the exercise regime and vow never to order dessert again. But, according to a new study of nearly 500 overweight women in their 50’s and 60’s it’s what they were adding to their meals that ultimately helped them lose weight and keep it off.

Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD, and colleagues at The University of Pittsburgh studied the eating habits of women who lost weight over the short-term (six months) and the long-term (four years).

Bethany Barone Gibbs, PhD University of Pittsburgh Department of Health and Physical Activity
She is adorable! Listen to her discuss this study in a podcast on website of The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics

The highly motivated dieters in the six-month group ate fewer desserts and fried foods, drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages and ate more seafood.

Steamed shrimp with a squeeze of lemon: girl’s best friend.

Here’s Why You’ll Never Say No to Broccoli Again. 

After four years the women were still saying ‘no’ to pie and soda fairly often but the habit that emerged as the most powerful predictor for long-term weight loss was eating more fruits and vegetables followed by eating less meat and cheese.

We said eating LESS meat and cheese, Liz!
OH, well you look fabulous. I’m sure there’s an apple and carrots sticks in your Hermes bag. 

Good news for especially Southerners- they weren’t necessarily skipping fried foods.

 “People are so motivated when they start a weight loss program,” explains Barone Gibbs. “You can say, ‘I’m never going to eat another piece of pie,’ and you see the pounds coming off. Eating fruits and vegetables may not make as big a difference in your caloric intake. But that small change can build up and give you a better long-term result, because it’s not as hard to do as giving up French fries forever.” 

OK, we said still eating fried foods, not as the main event on the plate. This is enough fries to share with three women.
Meal Makeover: more fish, more fresh mango salsa and fewer fries. Don’t use the tartar sauce. Ask for more lemons.



During the four year study the number of times dieters ate out in restaurants declined, but Barone Gibbs chalks that up to the downturn in the economy not a sign that eating out less is linked to weight loss. Get it? The”I’m not eating out as much” trend wasn’t part of a diet plan, it was a fiscal plan.

Easy Add for Losing

The “How Women over 50 stay slim” weight control study published in the September 2012 issue of The Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics showed that adding just two servings of fruits and vegetables to a daily diet was linked to a three-pound weight loss four years later. This may not sound like much, but keep in mind that most folks gain weight every year. It turns out the small changes we can sustain over the long haul make the biggest difference in life long weight control.

So a perfect meal for me would be a big green salad, grilled fish with lemon and no yup, French fries.

Tips on Dining Out with the Forever Svelte Set

Stick with lean fish, seafood and animal proteins, simply prepared; always include mushrooms if possible– for their substantial meaty texture, enormous health benefits, and umami characteristics than enhance flavor of whatever they’re eaten with. 

And champagne of course…the bubbles fill you up!!!!


Gina Christman, Publisher of Atlanta Homes & Lifestyle Magazine


I like restaurants that offer half portions. I also like to order a broth based soup and share an entree. Or order salad and appetizer for my entree. Nothing revolutionary!
Chris Rosenbloom, registered dietitian and professor of nutrition emeritus, Georgia State University
Girlfriend, been cycling at Flywheel since March so weight is not an issue. Drag by butt there every other day so I can drink like a lush & eat anything I want. LOL Finally a plan that works for moi…
 Aida Flamm, fabulous fashion savvy world traveling furniture importer
Always have a green salad to start. Grilled food, no sauces, veggies instead of carbs, appetizer instead of entree andshared or two bite shot glass dessert. 

Kathleen Zelman, registered dietitian and Director of Nutrition for WebMD.

 You go girls! 

Does this tree make me look skinny?

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Veggies Culinary Stars in Aspen

What happened to the foie gras and caviar?

It seems top chefs are excited about vegetables. Three days of cooking seminars and wine tastings at the 29th annual Food & Wine Classic in Aspen – one of the world’s most exclusive and star chef studded culinary events in the world – enthusiastically embraced the beauty and benefits of Brussels sprouts, tomatoes, zucchini and kale.

Jose Andres, chef, cookbook author and owner of celebrated restaurants in Washington, DC’s including Jaleo and Zaytinya put his passion for cooking produce right up front with a seminar titled, “Sexy Vegetables.” Andres, known for his love of Spanish cuisine, zealously addressed a packed ballroom of enthusiastic foodie fans at Aspen’s St. Regis Hotel and expertly prepared eight vegetable dishes in under an hour including a radish and grapefruit salad with shrimp, watermelon and tomato skewers with a sherry vinaigrette, cucumber and tomato gazpacho with Spanish sherry and Brussels sprouts tapas with green apples and grapes. “Most people cook Brussels sprouts too long for 20 to 30 minutes,” Andres admonished, “Are we nuts? It should be two to three to four minutes! Don’t over cook them; it releases the sulfur smell and that is not sexy!”

Risotto for All Seasons
Sustainability expert and Connecticut chef Michel Nischan who is a culinary consultant to Atlanta’s Terrace Restaurant in the Ellis Hotel presented four risotto recipes –one for each season’s harvest of vegetables- featuring ancient grains called faro and spelt. Nischan, whose restaurant Dressing Room is known for local and organic menu items, centered on the health and taste advantages of eating with the seasons. He shared his definition of sustainability, “It means you give as much back to the earth as you take. For instance, composting leftover vegetable peelings creates more soil to plant more vegetables.”

Drink Your Salad


Andres, who was named 2011 James Beard Award Outstanding Chef, certainly knows about quality but he credits his recent 25 pound weight loss to focusing on quantity, “It’s really about the calories. Learning how much you personally should be eating.” Filling half your plate with vegetables and fruit is the latest diet advice from nutrition experts as illustrated by the USDA’s new My Plate icon. Filling your glass works too as Andres said about his gazpacho recipe, “You don’t eat the salad, you drink the salad!”

Aspen’s summer time vibe is lively with folks headed out hiking, biking, river rafting and fly fishing. The beauty of the wild flowers and Aspen trees spills over into the city’s cuisine. At The Little Nell Hotel, an epicenter for those devoted to dining, Montagna’s menu features great steaks and fabulous fresh fish but vegetables seem to rank just as high in the kitchen. A salad of greens, sliced radishes, fava beans and thin asparagus was so fresh it nearly leapt off the plate.

Wine with Vegetables


“Times they are a changing,” remarked registered dietitian Ashley Koff who noted that one of the Food & Wine Magazine’s Best New Chefs Joshua Skenes of Saison in San Francisco chose to feature a vegetarian dish of cauliflower and sea lettuce, “It was clear that the days of all animal all day are a thing of the past. As for what wines go best with your veggies, wine writer Mark Oldman helped me choose a delicious Spanish Rueda – the new “it” wine he said.” More than five thousand food and wine lovers converge to sample the best vintages and victuals each June in Aspen.

Isn’t That Jacques Pepin?

It’s a weekend where the majestic scenery of the Colorado Rockies is closely matched by culinary icon sightings. Jacques Pepin having lunch at Ajax Tavern with Atlanta chef and recent Bravo Top Chef winner Richard Blais. (Try the truffle fries!)

The French Laundry’s chef Thomas Keller having dinner at Aspen’s chic Cache Cache restaurant with chef Daniel Boulud of New York. My favorite food memory of the weekend- enjoying a grilled vegetable salad of marinated artichokes, butternut squash, Portobello mushrooms with arugula and chards of parmesan cheese at Campo de Fiori with Atlanta friends including winemaker Rob Mondavi and his wife Lydia of 29 Cosmetics. Taste, health, beauty and good fun. All that and plenty of vegetables being celebrated in Aspen this summer.
Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest

Marvelous Marche Region of Italy

Let the love of all things Italian continue…….. Under the Marche Sun.

You’ve probably been to Rome, Florence and Venice. And perhaps you’ve also toured the Amalfi Coast or walked the cliffs of the Cinque Terra. But, chances are you haven’t visited the Marche region on the east coast of Italy. The lavendar scented view above is taken from the lovely Hotel Emelia in Portonovo perched high above the Adriatic Sea.

Marche is a region brimming with culture, beauty, art, cuisine, wine and people who greet you with an attitude, “We’ve been waiting for you!” What the towns and villages of Marche do not have are crowded streets or long lines to get into museums and historic sights.

From stone country houses such as Locanda ca’ Andreana offering a dream sequence of farm fresh lunches to elegant evenings inspired by top Italian designs at Symposium restaurant ……… the Marche is yours to discover.

More to come…..ciao for now.

Share this on: facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterest