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Archive for the ‘Everyday Foods’ Category

KIND has released some new flavors. I got to try the Blueberry Pecan one this morning. It. Is. Delicious. It’s amazing: when you use real ingredients, things taste like real ingredients. This bar stars: Almonds, blueberries (blueberry pieces, whole dried blueberries), raisins, pecans, honey, cashews, non GMO glucose, crisp rice, chicory fiber, soy lecithin. This is a KIND plus bar, this one has added fiber.

Their other new flavors include:
Dark Chocolate Cherry Cashew + Antioxidants
Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate + Protein
Apple Cinnamon & Pecan
Pomegranate Blueberry Pistachio + Antioxidants
Peanut Butter & Strawberry

And this fabulous Healthy Indulgence Cube. This is awesome. I should get this for our studio.

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I am a graphic designer. That means that I layout projects that end up being printed as posters, brochures, postcards and more. I do this with a great team of people and 4 times a year we produce a brochure we call our Quarterly. When the Quarterly is on press, one of the designers goes on a press check, which means we go to the printers and look at the sheets as they come off the press and approve the printing and the color. Our Quarterly happens to be printed near a Panera, so we do lunch from Panera each time we’re on press. Today I tried to Eat Like Alton, even spent time thinking about it in advance. This was going to be a great time to get in some leafy greens (on the everyday list) and I recall at one point having a salad there with salmon and wheat berries – double score (oily fish and whole grains). This was going to be a breeze. Then I looked at the menu.

While all the salad descriptions sounded good at first pass, they were all basic variations on romaine lettuce with chicken. Some came with bacon, some with almonds, one even comes with a drizzle of “BBQ sauce”. (Ewww.) With the exception of one (Fuji Apple Chicken) they all are made with romaine lettuce. I know everyone isn’t trying to Eat Like Alton, but isn’t everyone into organic and micro greens and variety. I was surprised to find all of their salads so…normal and average. But, it is tradition and I needed to get leafy greens in, so I chose the Chopped Chicken Cobb salad. Here’s how my thought process went: I don’t like red peppers, I don’t want tasty crispy wontons to tempt me, BBQ sauce on salad sounds gross, caesar is usually good IF the dressing is good and I don’t want apples in my salad…Chopped Chicken Cobb it is. Looking back, I should have chosen Fuji Apple Chicken with fruit, nuts and leafy greens and just forced my way through the apples.

Then the salad came.

When I eat out, I like to eat things I can’t or won’t make at home. This salad was utterly disappointing. Salads I make at home look better. The lettuce was pale, the tomatoes were winter tomatoes (anemic and cold-tasting, not juicy and summer-tasting), the eggs were rubbery and the dressing was pretty ordinary. Come on Panera, I know your called Panera Bread not Panera Salad, but you can do better than this. Toss in some other greens – spinach would be easy as would chopped herbs; use thicker bacon; toss in some avocado; make salad dressing that doesn’t taste like it comes out of a vat; and have some other protein options…chicken gets boring, especially chicken that looks like the precooked chicken they sell in any grocery store.

I’m pretty sure in the past I have had good salads at Panera, even great ones. I’m not sure when the menu change happened, but I’m hoping it is seasonal or a temporary thing due to the economy. When I get a salad at a restaurant, I want it to be bright, bursting with flavor and freshness. I want to feel healthy eating it and I want to feel better about myself because I made a better food choice while I have to watch other people eating a burger and fries. And I want good tomatoes. Is that too much to ask?

Normally I wouldn’t think of Panera as fast food, to me fast food is fried and has a drive-through. But my salad today makes me wonder if this is bad food karma for crossing the ‘never’ line.

(This photo is 1/2 of the salad, I’m saving the other 1/2 for lunch tomorrow. And yes, I do often eat at my computer and yeah, it’s a Mac!)

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Today is Presidents Day. Some people had the day off. I did not.

Today is also Monday, which is a good day (as good as any) to start Eating Like Alton. To help you out, I’ve created this chart.

This chart has boxes so you can check off your ‘everyday’ foods, your ‘three-times-a-week’ foods, your ‘once a week’ foods, and reminds you of the ‘never’ list. It also has the helpful reminder to ‘eat breakfast every day, no exceptions’. This chart can help you keep track day-to-day, but also will help you reflect on your week and see where you need improvement (hello, oily fish!). If you’re the cheating kind and need something to help you stay in line, it will also let you know when you’ve already had that one dessert or one drink of your week.

Here’s a PDF of the chart EatLikeAltonWorksheet_4up you can download and print on an 8.5″ x 11″ size sheet of paper. This will give you 4 weeks worth of charts.

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Just saw this recipe on the Cultivating Sustainability blog over on FoodPress.com. This one combines sweet potato and kale. I will be trying these during an upcoming kale week, a week when my family tries kale in 7 different recipes in hopes of learning to love it. Check out Sweet Potato, Kale & Black Bean Fajitas and check leafy greens off the daily list and sweet potato off the three-times-a-week list. Add avocado or guacamole and check that off the list as well.

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Green Tea For Me

I am not a tea drinker. I’m not even a coffee drinker unless the coffee is on ice and loaded with cream and sugar. It’s sort of like a cup of melted coffee ice cream at that point and we all know it would be crazy to drink melted coffee ice cream…right?

On Alton’s Everyday list is green tea. When I have on occasion had tea, it has been something orange or peachy. When, on occasion, I have tried a green tea drink I have not been a fan. There is something about the flavor that I just do not enjoy. After reading over Alton’s lists, I knew I needed to find a green tea that I could drink everyday. I had my work set out for me.

Picture me in the grocery store, in the tea aisle, carefully inspecting box after box of any tea with ‘green’ in the title. There’s straight green tea, green tea with lemon, with mango, blueberry, organic, a ‘loose weight’ version and more. There was a jasmine green tea, and I like jasmine rice, so naturally I thought I would give that a try. I compared the ingredients in that tea to the ingredients in Stash’s Chai Green Tea. I ultimately decided upon the Chai version.

This tea is great. It doesn’t have that green tea taste that I have disliked in the past. The cinnamon, clove and cardamom flavors make this a warm, delicious tea. The directions on the box say you can make it with milk and that might make it more like a chai you’d get at a coffee shop, but I actually have been making it with hot water alone and it’s still really tasty. This tea also has caffeine, so if you’re a coffee drinker for that morning pick-me-up, this might do the trick.

At a workshop the other day, I was able to try the jasmine green tea. Not as good. I’ll be sticking with the chai green tea. Now my only problem is remembering to drink it every day.

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My son and husband LOVE mac and cheese. I usually make this version. I decided to give this an Eat Like Alton makeover.

Mac And Cheese Madeover

The first change I made was to add about 1/4 cup of wheat germ to the flour butter mixture before letting it bubble. I love wheat germ, I add it to smoothies, sweet breads and a family favorite is toast with peanut butter, honey and wheat germ. It’s a great snack.

The second change I made was to use whole wheat elbow pasta. I found a store-brand in our local grocery store, but there are also name-brands out on the market too. I cooked it a little longer than the 8 to 10 minutes suggested, thinking that often whole wheat pasta is tougher, but I may have overdone it. The pasta had no tooth and was just this side of mushy. Next time I’ll follow the time suggestions on the bag.

What are those little orange specs you wonder? Carrots. I put about 1/2 a cup of baby carrots in our mini food processor and tossed these in just after adding the milk. These cooked up, but still had some texture after the whole thing was baked. My husband said he liked them and although it caused my son to stop mid-song and ask “what are those orange things” after hearing they were carrots, he ate up as usual.

The two other changes I make from the recipe above: I have an older version of this recipe, before they modernized it with ground mustard and Worcestershire sauce, though I bet those would be good additions. I usually add a little bit of nutmeg, and on top I add bread crumbs or panko.

Close up of mac and cheese

The end result tasted very similar to my usual mac and cheese, both guys liked it, and this recipe makes plenty for left overs. Next time I’m going to add spinach at the same time I add the carrots. I love spinach, but the other folks in my house are not fans.

Lets recap: I added 2 whole grains (whole wheat pasta and wheat germ) and carrots, both on the ‘eat every day’ list. It’s still mac and cheese, made with butter and cheese, but it’s a step in the right direction. Remember, pasta is a once a week food, so bring the leftovers into your  work mates!

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I’m a long time subscriber to Cooking Light Magazine. It’s one of 3 magazines that I read cover to cover (the other two being Real Simple and Entertainment Weekly) and as I’m reading I fold back the pages of all the recipes I want to try. Depending on my free time I enjoy cooking. I’m not crazy about making the simple meals. I like making elaborate meals and as my husband with tell you, I leave a wake of dirty dishes like no one else. One of the recipes I found a couple of years ago was Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup and it’s been a favorite ever since.

Coconut-Curry Chicken Soup

When I started looking for things I could make to Eat Like Alton, I was happy to discover that this soup could make the cut. This soup is fantastic if you make it exactly as the recipe says, but I have made some changes: Instead of snow peas, I use cauliflower. I love my curries with cauliflower and I like the texture of cauliflower in this soup better than snow peas. I don’t put in the red chilies. Depending on how much I want my son to eat it, I sometimes put in red pepper flakes. Lastly, instead of the pad thai noodles, I usually use basmati rice, I love the flavor, and the noodles seem to make the soup hard to eat. I’d also caution you to use the best chicken broth you can for this. I often use Better Than Bouillon Organic Chicken Base, but this last time I bought the non-organic version by mistake and I think it made the soup a little salty.

My two suggestions for making this Eat Like Alton approved:

1. Instead of using spinach, use kale, or use half and half. With the spinach, it’s within the rules (leafy greens); but why not add in kale, the super food. I’d recommend cutting it up into smaller-than-bite-sized pieces, so your not trying to chew down big pieces of kale while enjoying your soup.

2. Instead of noodles or basmati rice, cook brown rice (I do it according to Alton’s Baked Brown Rice recipe – while still chewy, it’s delicious tasting and perfectly done). Put the cooked rice in the bowl first and then ladle the soup on top of the rice and enjoy. I think the texture doesn’t disrupt the soup, and it ads another Alton element to the dish: whole grains.

Next time I make this I’ll also be cutting up carrots and put them in. Carrots are on the eat daily list, they are delicious in curry and would work well in this soup, maybe in a 1/4 inch dice. I’m also planning to make this for a soup fundraiser in the future. It’s that good and I’m that confident everyone will enjoy it.

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