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Archive for July, 2011

NEWS: Americans Making Better-For-You Food Choices At Restaurants

We met our brother for lunch this weekend at California Pizza Kitchen.

As we both ordered from what we considered to be the “better-for-you” salad menu, Brother, an attorney, looked at the small print.

“Yikes,” he said, “My Cobb Salad has 941 calories. I thought salads were supposed to be low-calorie!”

Well, er, not when topped with blue cheese, bacon, avocado and 1/4 cup of dressing (which is 400 calories in and of itself).

But we are still perplexed as to how our Thai Crunch Salad added up to 1089 calories. It had lots of Napa and red cabbage, carrots, cilantro, cucumbers and scallions, with perhaps two ounces of grilled chicken and modest accents of edamame, wontons, rice sticks and peanuts. The lime-cilantro dressing was minimal.

It seems that if we wanted to count calories, we should have gotten half portions. But we left full of fiber and protein, and grateful that we hadn’t ordered the BBQ Chicken Pizza.

This morning, we read a Food Channel Trendwire email which announced:


At 550 calories, a better-for-you entrée.
Photo courtesy Applebee’s.


Restaurant Diners Actually Starting to Make Healthier Choices

The article led with the bad news: A report issued earlier this month by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation showed that the national obesity epidemic continues to worsen. Only one state showed an obesity rate below 20% (and just barely): Colorado at 19.8%. Twelve states have obesity rates over 30%. Mississippi was number one at 34.4%. Seven states have seen their rates double in the past 20 years.

But there is some good news: This year, a number of leading restaurant chains are finding significant growth in the better-for-you menu options.

  • Applebee’s. For the first time in the restaurant’s history, the top selling entrée on the menu came from the under-550 calorie menu: Signature Sirloin with Garlic Herb Sauce. Applebee’s president, Mike Archer, remarked, “I’ve been in the restaurant business for 30 years, and I’ve never seen anything like this. We’re seeing a sea change in consumer behavior.”
  • IHOP. The pancake powerhouse reports that its Simple & Fit menu, offering a range of under-600 calorie choices, now accounts for 8% of entrées sold. At 330 calories, the Spinach, Mushroom and Tomato Omelet is now a best seller.
  • Friendly’s. Four of its under-550 calorie limited time offers have sold so well that they’ve been moved to the permanent menu this summer.
    Of course, the reports don’t count any beverages, bread, appetizers and desserts, but America is finally off to a good start.


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    RECIPE: Watermelon Tequila Fizz Cocktail

    Mix watermelon with tequila for a water-
    melon fizz. Photo courtesy Inocente Tequila.


    We love watermelon cocktails—they’re a great way to take advantage of watermelon season. Here’s a recipe that was part of our National Tequila Day celebration yesterday.

    The recipe for a Watermelon Fizz was created by Keith Dusko, mixologist at Haru Sushi, which has restaurants in New York City, Boston and Philadelphia.

    A fizz is a cocktail or soft drink with soda water (club soda), which creates the fizz.


    Ingredients For One Drink

  • 3 ounces fresh watermelon, de-seeded and cut into small cubes
  • 5 cilantro leaves, torn in halves
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 1 ounce blanco (silver) tequila
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce soda water
  • Squeeze of lime
  • Garnish: Watermelon triangle on a bamboo or cocktail skewer

    1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle watermelon with cilantro.
    2. Add simple syrup, tequila and ice. Shake vigorously, and pour all contents into a rocks glass.
    3. Garnish with a piece of watermelon on a bamboo spike.

    For an alcohol-free drink, substitute Sundia watermelon juice (or purée de-seeded watermelon cubes).

    Watermelon & Basil “Tequila Martini”
    Watermelon & Gin “Electrolyte” Cocktail
    Watermelon Gin Martini
    Watermelon Martini & Five More Watermelon Cocktails


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    TIP OF THE DAY: 15 Things To Do With Chocolate Sauce

    You know that the same delectable chocolate sauce (fudge sauce) that tops ice cream and profiteroles can also be used on a brownie or waffle.

    But how about using it:

  • As a dip for pretzels and potato chips?
  • As a fondue for strawberries, apple slices, other fruits and marshmallows?
  • To turn hot coffee into hot mocha?
    See all 15 of our suggestions for ways to use chocolate sauce.

    How many different types of dessert sauce can you name?

    See them in our Dessert Sauce Glossary.

    Check out our favorite dessert sauces.


    Our favorite white chocolate sauce from
    Somebody’s Mother’s. Photo by Corey Lugg | THE NIBBLE.



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    RECIPE: Tequila Shooter Cocktail For National Tequila Day

    Photo courtesy Milagro Tequila.


    We love the flavors of this tequila shooter combo, part of our National Tequila Day celebration. It’s a different take on the classic spicy tomato sangrita shooter.

    This recipe comes from Milagro Tequila, made from 100% estate-grown blue agave from the highlands of Jalisco, Mexico.

    Instead of the spicy tomato shot, pineapple juice with cilantro and mint steps in. The tequila shot is Reposado, aged a minimum of two months.

    The white and green shooter cocktail is called “El Vocho” after the white and green VW Beetle taxis that formerly swarmed Mexico City (and were recently phased out following a law mandating that cabs have four doors for safety purposes).



  • 4 parts Reposado tequila
  • 4 parts pineapple juice
  • 10 cilantro leaves
  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 small slice jalapeño, seeds and ribs removed

    1. Fill one shooter glass with Reposado tequila neat.
    2. Combine other ingredients in a blender and process 30 seconds. Fill the second shooter glass. Serve.


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    TIP OF THE DAY: Certified Humane Raised & Handled Meat

    Love animals? Buy meat that is Certified
    Humane Raised & Handled.


    If you care about animals yet eat meat and poultry, there’s an easy way to put your money where your steak is.

    Look for meat with the Certified Humane Raised & Handled logo.

    Humane Farm Animal Care is a national non-profit organization created to improve the lives of farm animals. It does so by setting rigorous standards, conducting annual inspections and certifying humane treatment of animals.

    The Certified Humane Raised & Handled program was developed to ensure animal welfare. Producers, processors and transporters verify that their livestock and poultry meet high quality humane animal care standards.


    A consumer benefit is that happy livestock tastes better.

  • The meat is more delicious because of the lack of stress placed on the animal. Stress hormones released by the endocrine system—especially at the final moments before butchering—negatively impact the flavor.
  • Animals that are well cared for typically have a better diet, which positively affects the flavor of the meat.
    Some restaurants specialize in Certified Humane Raised & Handled animals. They don’t have to be fancy restaurants: the New York Burger Company is an example.

  • Use the store locator to find out where you can purchase Certified Humane Raised & Handled meats.
  • See a list of restaurants carrying Certified Humane meat.

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