One pan pork and potatoes

One pan pork and potatoes

I’m like any other working parent with kids returning to school soon. I have limited time and patience to get dinner on the table! I also don’t want arguments at meal time. My feeling on meal time is that the less drama, the better. Kids aren’t going to eat food they don’t like. Plain and simple.

I recently made a quick, one-pan meal of pork tenderloin and red potatoes. While the oven heated up, I sliced potatoes into rounds and seasoned them with seasoned salt and oregano. Did you know seasoned salt has half the sodium of table salt? 390 mg VS 580 mg in 1 tsp. I only used a sprinkle anyway. I also added oregano, which gave the potatoes a nice earthy flavor.

I used Smithfield marinated fresh pork for the dish. I love this product because it’s simple, healthy and delicious. I am a rep for Smithfield and stand by their products. They come in 3 varieties and can be found at Walmart. I used cracked pepper and garlic for this dish but garlic and herb or Golden rotisserie are also tasty. It has a nice, spicy flavor without being overly seasoned. Pair the dish with a tossed green salad or other green vegetable, and POOF! Dinner is done. Below is the recipe. #sponsored #rep #client

Ingredients:

1-1 1/2 lbs Smithfield marinated fresh pork (use flavor of choice)

8 medium red potatoes, cleaned and scrubbed of dirt and sliced into 1/2″ rounds

seasoned salt

oregano

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

Spray a large baking pan with non-stick spray

Remove pork from plastic wrap and place on baking pan

Place potatoes on baking sheet and spray with non-stick spray.

Sprinkle seasoned salt and oregano over potatoes.

Bake on 400 degrees for ~40-45 minutes until pork is no longer pink.

Serve with salad or other veggies.

 

 

 

Should it stay or should it go? Q&A about food safety

Should it stay or should it go? Q&A about food safety

I often get asked about food waste VS food safety. I believe we should try to NOT to toss food away if we can avoid it. But where do we draw the line to protect ourselves from getting sick?

Did you know…1 in 6 Americans get food borne illness each year.

1.How long can we have meat or fish in the refrigerator before it goes bad?

Raw/fresh chicken or fish should be used within 2 days of being in the frig. Steak, pork, roasts, lamb, veal, beef lasts up to 5 days. Ground meat of any kind is good for ~2 days in the frig.

2.How long past the expiration date can we eat or drink dairy products?  Milk is typically good for at least a week after the expiration date and sometimes longer. It’s best to go by the smell. Yogurt can last even longer because of the bacteria (sometimes up to a month past the date).

3.What is the difference between expiration date, best by date and sell by date?

Best-By: This is a suggestion to the consumer on which date the product should be consumed to assure for ideal quality.

Use-By: This label is aimed at consumers as a directive of the date by which the product should be eaten; mostly because of quality, not because the item will necessarily make you sick if eaten after the use-by date. However, after the use-by date, product quality is likely to go down much faster and safety could be lessened.

Sell-By: This label is aimed at retailers, and it informs them of the date by which the product should be sold or removed from shelf life. This does not mean that the product is unsafe to consume after the date. Typically, one-third of a product’s shelf-life remains after the sell-by date for the consumer to use at home.

4. It it OK to cut the mold from cheese or bread and eat it? Yes and no. It’s OK to cut mold from hard cheeses as the spores won’t spread or penetrate the cheese. Bread, fruit and soft cheeses (like brie) should be thrown out as the spores can spread and possibly produce mycotoxins, poisonous substances that can make you sick.

5.Can you refreeze any foods?  Eggs (raw or cooked) should not be frozen. The USDA advises: Once food is thawed in the refrigerator, it is safe to refreeze it without cooking, although there may be a loss of quality due to the moisture lost through thawing. After cooking raw foods which were previously frozen, it is safe to freeze the cooked foods.

6.What is the best way to thaw meat? Thawing Frozen Meats (and no, leaving it on the counter isn’t one of them!): The absolute best way to thaw frozen meats is by leaving it in the fridge until it’s completely thawed. If you’re crunched for time, take the meat out of its package, put it on a plate, and place it under cool RUNNING water.

7. Do non-carbonated beverages expire? They don’t expire in the sense that they are dangerous to eat, but the carbonation will decrease, which reduces the quality of the product.

8. How long can picnic food stay out? No more than 2 hours unless temps are above 90 degrees, in which case, no more than ONE HOUR!

Any other facts to know?

Leftovers from restaurant– are good for 3-4 days

Cooked meat- 3-4 months in freezer, raw meat, 4-12 months (ground meat shorter)

Broken eggs- need to be tossed.

Helpful web sites for info:

http://www.fsis.usda.gov

https://www.recalls.gov/food.html

A few of my favorite things

A few of my favorite things

I’d like to get something straight. I love to eat, but like the rest of the world, I don’t want to be in the kitchen all. day. long. I tend to bend towards ethnic cuisine like Thai, Mexican and Indian, but also like Italian, which I ate a lot of growing up.

Over the years, I’ve discovered a handful of products that I really don’t want to live without. Granted, a few may be higher in sodium than some people can tolerate, but for the most part, these are things that are simple, convenient and relatively healthy to make food a little more palatable.

I’ll start with True Lemon. I first was introduced to this product when I worked as a clinical dietitian at the VA Medical Center. True Lemon had just come out and like other companies with a new product, they graciously sent lots of samples. Unlike other powdered drink mixes, what I like about this product is you have the option of plain, crystallized True Citrus products without sweetener or the artificially sweetened versions of tea or kool-aide type drinks. While fresh lemon is great to freshen water, it may be contaminated in restaurants and you can’t add lemons to a suitcase when traveling. True Lemon has multiple flavors including lime, orange and grapefruit. I often find boxes of it at the Dollar Store. Bonus!

The next product that honestly, I should buy stock in, is squeeze ginger. I prefer Spiceworld’s version because you get so much bang for your buck. You can find a 10 oz. container for $2.99 at most big box groceries. I use this stuff in EVERYTHING. It’s great for marinades for chicken, fish or pork, or you can season sweet potatoes, broccoli, green beans or spinach with it. I’ve used it in stir fries, oatmeal and quinoa. It is less pungent that fresh ginger and a lot more convenient. It is located behind the bananas with the salad fixins at Kroger.

Along with squeeze ginger goes chili garlic paste. I typically find this in the Asian food section but have found it with other condiments at Big Lots as well. Chili garlic paste can be used to make spicy Szechuan green beans, spicy broccoli or Thai peanut noodles. It just kicks the flavor of things up a few notches.

Another favorite seasoning that I often find in small Hispanic markets to big box groceries is Goya Foods Sazon seasoning. It is my secret weapon for chili, black beans, tortilla soup and brown rice. I realize it contains sodium and some food coloring if you get the type with annatto, but there is a salt-free, annatto free variety. The type that has cilantro added is especially delightful.

Finally, the ridiculously cute marketing of Bubly sparkling water tickles my funny bone. From the smile on the can to the tiny “hiya” and “oh hi” on the pull tabs, I can’t resist it. Oh, and the flavors are great, too! My favorite is cherry. It tastes like the memory of a cherry Dum Dum sucker you got at the bank as a kid. There are multiple flavors including lemon, grapefruit, apple, strawberry and more. The best part is it’s calorie free, color free and no artificial flavors. Check them out and if you get a chance. You won’t be disappointed.

How and why to make kombucha

How and why to make kombucha

I feel a little late to the kombucha party, but recently a friend posted that she had “extra scoby” and I jumped at the chance to make my own kombucha.

For starters, kombucha is simply black or green tea that has bacteria and sugar added in and is left to ferment. The tea is brewed just like any other tea- hot water and a few tea bags. It is left to cool or ice can be added to it to cool. Kombucha, like other fermented foods (sauerkraut, sour dough bread, kimchee, miso) has several health benefits.

SCOBY (pronounced skoh bee), stands for symbiotic culture of bacteria and yeast. Scoby is used to make kombucha as well as other fermented foods such as sour dough bread. I’ll admit, a scoby is a bit odd looking- kind of like a slippery, large mushroom. You can obtain scoby from a friend or buy it commercially on amazon. Here is a review of the best ones for purchase: http://kombuchahome.com/best-kombucha-starter-kit-sources/

The most important reason to include fermented foods in your diet is gut health. Approximately 60% of your immune system resides in your bowels. While that may sound gross, it’s important to keep the bacteria in your gut thriving to help prevent disease. Fermented foods introduce probiotics (healthy bacteria) into your gut. The bacteria has been found to improve digestion, absorption of nutrients and may even help with weight loss and immunity. Eating a diet high in fiber from a variety of plant foods (fruit, veggies, whole grains, nuts, seeds, legumes) also helps keep gut bacteria thriving.

You can buy commercial kombucha just about anywhere, though it will cost you. The cheapest ones I’ve seen will run you $2.79 per 20 oz. bottle. If you make your own, it will cost about .25 per quart!

To make kombucha, brew at least a quart of tea using a few tea bags. Allow the tea to cool. Add ¼ cup of white or other sugar to the tea. Sugar is needed to feed bacteria, so no use of Stevia, Splenda or other sugar subs allowed here. Add your scoby and let the tea sit at room temperature with a breathable cloth over it that’s “clamped down” using a rubber band. You’ll need 1/4 cup of sugar per quart of tea. If you brew a gallon, use 1 cup of sugar.

After 4-7 days, the tea will begin to ferment and become carbonated. It will take on a tangy taste. You can add flavors to the tea such as ginger, basil, lemon or other herbs and spices. You may notice a small film or disc of bacteria (scoby, also called “the mother”) develop on the top of the tea. This can be removed and another batch of tea started. The tea should be allowed to ferment up to 30 days. The longer it ferments, the tangier and less sweet it will become.

My friend had multiple batches of kombucha brewing on her kitchen counter. Once the tea is to your liking, store it in the frig and consume a little bit daily. The scoby that’s used from the first batch can be cut and shared with others. The scoby created from the new batch can start another batch or also be paid forward.

Soup tips!

Soup tips!

Despite the recent warm up in temperatures, I still consider February to be soup season. In all honesty, I eat soup almost year-round with the exception of July and August when the temps rise above 90 in Cincinnati.

I have picked up a few tricks to making soup faster and more delicious as I almost always do soup as a food demo for companies. It’s a recipe that can easily be scaled for a larger crowd and I’ve never had a complaint of a bad recipe.

Here are a few tips to make a tastier, healthier soup:

  1. Sautee dried herbs and spices along with onions and garlic. This enhances the flavor of your soup. If you are adding fresh herbs like basil, cilantro or parsley, add them at the end.
  2. Consider corn oil when you cook. Corn oil has 10 x more plant sterols, a chemical found to lower LDL (lousy) cholesterol than coconut oil, 4 times more than olive oil and 1 1/2 times more than canola oil. It’s also less expensive than most of the above cooking oils.
  3. Add beans or lentils to your soup. This boosts protein and fiber and makes a more filling, hearty soup. Lentils take about 2 hours to simmer before they soften, but canned beans are pre-cooked and ready in about 20 minutes.
  4. Use frozen spinach or peppers to boost color, flavor and nutrition in your soup. These are inexpensive ways to sneak in more veggies without having to chop them.
  5. Use reduced sodium stock to cut back on the salt in recipes.It’s great if you’ve got your own homemade stock, but most of us don’t have the “thyme” (har har). Despite popular opinion, there are not any health advantages to bone broth. It does make a tastier stock, but it not going to cure cancer, anemia or any other ailment.

Below is one of my favorite soup recipes. Enjoy!

Pizza Soup:

Ingredients
1 Tbsp. corn oil
1/2 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. oregano
1 Tbsp. basil
1 tbsp. rosemary

1 can diced tomatoes (15 oz can, keep liquid)
2 cans white beans (drained and rinsed)
6 cups chicken or vegetable broth
1 box chopped frozen spinach

Turkey pepperoni (optional)

Directions
Sautee onions, garlic and spices in corn oil until the onions are translucent.  Add broth, tomatoes, spinach, and beans and continue to simmer on low heat until soup thickens (~30 minutes). Serve with shredded Parmesan or Asiago cheese and your favorite crusty bread.

Makes 12 servings. Nutrition Facts per serving: 160 calories, .2 grams fat, 10 grams protein, 28 grams carbohydrate, 8grams fiber, 107 mg sodium

 

Cures for that super hangover

Cures for that super hangover

Oops!  You’ve done it again.  You agreed to that last beer at closing time, tequila shot with your persuasive friends, or victory champagne after the Eagles win.  Here are 5 tips to get your brain and body back to full throttle today:

For nausea:

Ginger tea or peppermint.  Ginger has been used for centuries as a natural nausea cure.  It’s not just for morning sickness!  Try ginger tea, ginger ale or non-alcoholic ginger beer to calm your stomach.  Peppermint oil relaxes stomach muscles and can have a soothing effect.  Peppermint oil is often used with IBS, but should be avoided in those with reflux, as it lowers esophageal sphincter pressure.  The sugar in peppermint candy will raise blood sugar, too for energy.

For energy:

Toast or crackers.  Normally when blood sugar is low, your liver kicks in to release sugar from stored glucose (called glycogen).  But if it’s been metabolizing alcohol all night, it can’t handle the extra work.  Toast, crackers, bread or any other carbohydrates (like fruit) will bring your blood sugar up and give you energy.

For headaches:

Water, water, water.  It’s a known fact that alcohol is a diuretic- meaning it will make you pee most of the night, resulting in dehydration and a headache.  If you can, drink at least 2 glasses before going to bed the night before.  If not, start drinking as soon as you wake up.  You CAN over-hydrate yourself- resulting in hyponatremia (low blood sodium) and brain edema.  Three liters/day is plenty for most people.  Seltzer is another good option for an upset stomach.

Coffee.  If you’re a regular consumer of coffee, you’ll need it to prevent a headache.  But overdoing it, won’t help as it is also a diuretic.  Too much can cause stomach upset.  Enjoy your usual 1-2 cups, but continue to hydrate throughout the day.

Pain meds.  Stick with aspirin, Naproxen or Ibuprofen for your hangover headache.  Tylenol mixed with alcohol can lead to liver damage.  Take your non-steroidal drugs with food or a glass of milk as they can eat up your stomach lining over time.

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