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Archive for March 23, 2014

FOOD FUN: Rainbow Baby Carrots

Baby carrots are hot sellers. But how much hotter can they get than these rainbow baby carrots?

Carrots—standard size and baby—are available in six different colors: the familiar deep orange plus burgundy red, deep purple, tangerine (light orange), yellow and white.

They’re a delicious way to add color and crunch to appetizers, salads and entrées. Kids and adults alike love them for their unusual colors—and for helping make family nutrition fun.
 
CARROT HISTORY

The original wild carrots were white, like parsnips. According to Colorful Harvest, marketer of these rainbow carrots, the cultivated purple and yellow carrots—mutations—were eaten more than 1,000 years ago in what is now Afghanistan.

Other colors are the product of generations of traditional plant breeding. Orange carrots were first successfully bred in Holland from an orange mutation by Dutch farmers. Here’s the history of carrots.

Deeply colored produce are rich in nutrients, including antioxidants. Different antioxidants produce the different colors or carrots:

 

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Rainbow carrots from Colorful Harvest. Photo by Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

 

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A rainbow of carrots. Photo by Stephen
Ausmus | Wikimedia.

 

WHERE DO CARROTS GET THEIR COLOR?

  • Red carrots get their color from lycopene, an antioxidant that may promote healthy eyes and a healthy prostate.
  • Orange and tangerine carrots get their color comes from beta-carotene, an antioxidant and precursor of vitamin A.
  • Purple carrots get their color from anthocyanins, the same potent phytonutrients (antioxidants) that makes blueberries blue,. Anthocyanins are flavonoids that may help increase the antioxidant capacity of the blood and may help maintain good brain function.
  • Yellow and white carrots get their color from lutein, which studies suggest may promote good eye health.
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    Studies indicate that these phytonutrients are also more bio-available and easier to absorb from fresh fruits and vegetables than from other sources.

    So they’re not only cute, tasty and good for you: Rainbow carrots are extra-cute and extra-good for you.

      

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    PRODUCT: DoubleTree Chocolate Chip Cookies

    The clever media relations people at DoubleTree by Hilton know just how to get a busy writer to take time from the editorial calendar* and apportion it to them.

    Because you’ve got to love people who send you delicious chocolate chip cookies. In thanks, you’ve got to write about them. So here goes:

    DoubleTree guests know that a warm chocolate chip cookie will be waiting for them on arrival. In its 25 year history, more than 300 million cookies have been handed out at DoubleTree by Hilton hotels around the world.

    The popular cookies are also sold in the hotel gift shops and online

    Three and a half inches in diameter, in a soft and chewy style, the cookies have no nuts but a hint of cinnamon. It’s a nice touch that we must remember to try the next time we bake a batch of chocolate chip cookies.

    Each cookie is approximately two full ounces, filled with an average of 20 chocolate chips. More than 580,000 pounds of chocolate chips are used each year in the 21 million cookies given out.

     

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    Cookie care: Send some to a loved one. Photo courtesy DoubleTree by Hilton.

     
    Cookie Care

    DoubleTree has donated more than one million cookies to communities where it operates hotels: to doctors and nurses, homeless shelters and orphanages, food banks and firefighters.

    If you’re a Hilton Honors member, you can enter the Cookie Care sweepstakes on Facebook to win cookies for yourself and the person(s) you’ll share them with. Not an Honors member? You can sign up via the Facebook page.

    Coming soon, the cookie dough will be available for sale online, so those who have become very fond of the cookies don’t need to check into the hotel in order to have a warm one.

    Now for the burning question: Why can’t airlines serve these cookies in First Class instead of the thanks-but-no-thanks oil-based, butterless cookies they serve?

     
    *Publications chart their schedule of articles on an “editorial calendar,” a calendar which shows what will be published every day (or, for weekly and monthly periodicals, every week/month).

      

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    RECIPE: Mussels Escargot Style, With Maitre d’Hotel Butter

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    Mussels, escargot style. Photo courtesy
    Millesime Restaurant | NYC.

     

    Escargots don’t have much flavor. What brings them to life is the vibrant garlic-parsley butter, known in French cuisine as beurre maître d’hôtel butter.

    It’s a popular compound butter that’s used on fish, meat, noodles, potatoes, vegetables and you-name-it. It’s delicious year around, and ushers in spring with its bright hue.

    Substitute the escargots for mussels, as this inspired recipe from Millesime restaurant in New York City shows, and serve it as a first course.

    The only challenge is to decide what dishes you have to serve it in—most of us don’t have escargot dishes. But as you can see in the photo, anything will work. Have Champagne coupes? Time to use them for other than Champagne.

    We’ve suggested extra toast, below, because most people will want to soak up every last drop of the butter sauce.

    Going forward, we’ll use the American name for the butter sauce, sparing those who don’t speak French the need to pronounce beurre maître d’hôtel butter (burr meh-TRUH doe-TELL).

     
    RECIPE: MUSSELS IN GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER

    Ingredients For 4 Servings

  • 30 mussels
  • Garlic parsley butter (recipe below).
  • 8 slices brioche or quality white bread
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    Preparation

    1. MAKE the garlic parsley butter. Keep on the stove.

    2. REMOVE mussels and beards from shells; rinse and sauté lightly in butter.

    3. MAKE the toast and slice into quarters. Warm garlic parsley butter sauce as necessary.

    4. ASSEMBLE and serve: Fill dish with butter sauce, add six mussels and serve with toast points.

    5. REFRIGERATE any remaining garlic parsley butter for other use, including garlic bread.

     

    RECIPE: GARLIC PARSLEY BUTTER

    Ingredients

  • 1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced shallot
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
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    Preparation

    1. PULSE all ingredients in a food processor until smooth. Pour into a microwave-safe dish or small pitcher.

    2. KEEP on or near stove if making the mussels for immediate consumption. Otherwise, cover tightly and refrigerate until ready to use.

    3. HEAT before serving.

     

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    Garlic parsley butter, a compound butter known in French cuisine as maitre d’hotel butter. Photo courtesy Brown Eyed Baker.

     

    WHAT IS COMPOUND BUTTER

    Compound butter is preparation that combines unsalted butter with flavorful ingredients: fruits, herbs, nuts, spices and/or other savory ingredients (anchovies, capers, mustard, olives, etc.).

    It is often used in French cooking to create an instant sauce for anything from grilled steak to sautéed chicken and fish to vegetables; it is also stirred into soups and stews for added flavor.

    In the U.S., popular compound butters include strawberry butter for muffins, chipotle butter for corn on the cob, and perhaps the most familiar, garlic butter for garlic bread.

    Here’s more on compound butter, plus recipes.

      

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    TIP OF THE DAY: 4 Ways To Stretch Potatoes With Veggies

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    How to eat more veggies? Just add them to
    potato dishes. It couldn’t be easier. Photo
    courtesy Betty Crocker.

     

    Is there anyone who doesn’t love potatoes? Not merely like potatoes, but love them?

    They’re filling and affordable, but they’re a starch—they don’t count toward your daily servings of vegetables. Here are four easy ways to change that.

    1. ROAST VEGGIES WITH THE POTATOES

    Bell peppers, carrots, mushrooms, onions, squash—all are delicious with potatoes. One of our favorite dishes is roasted fall vegetables: potatoes with beets, Brussels sprouts, carrots and turnips.

    The added colors and flavors from the veggies make the potatoes taste even better. Here’s a popular recipe from Betty Crocker.

    2. TOP MASHED POTATOES WITH COOKED VEGETABLES

    A hearty garnish of diced red and green bell peppers (or any two vegetables you like) has eye appeal, palate appeal and yes, sneaks in more veggies.

     

    3. MASH VEGGIES WITH POTATOES

    You may already know the trick of cauliflower mashed potatoes, which look just like mashed potatoes.

    You can also do a 50:50 mix of cauliflower and potato, or any proportion you like.

    Along the same lines, mix in another favorite vegetable. Zucchini mashed potatoes are an excellent choice; carrot mashed potatoes are especially fun.

    And don’t forget colcannon, the traditional Irish dish of mashed potatoes with cabbage or kale. Here’s a recipe.

    4. MUST HAVE FRIES?

    Combine French fries with French fried zucchini, carrots, onions, portobellos, summer squash and more.

    Here’s how to make fries from almost any vegetable.

    Help everyone eat more veggies! Send us your suggestions and recipes!

     

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    Colcannon, a mash of potatoes and kale. Here’s the recipe. Photo courtesy Elise Bauer | Simply Recipes.

     

      

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    PRODUCT: RealBeanz Nutrient-Enhanced Iced Coffee

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    RealBeanz with coconut water. Photo by
    Elvira Kalviste | THE NIBBLE.

     

    A year ago or so, we had the opportunity to taste RealBeanz, a line of flavored bottled coffee beverages with a stylish vibe, 100% natural ingredients and rBST-free milk.

    The flavors have neutraceutical enhancements that turn them into functional beverages. For example, Vanilla Nut has “naturally-calming herbs to sooth feelings of nervousness brought on by everyday stresses”; Mocha has “powerful ingredients that will undoubtedly add a boost to your body’s immune system.”

    Depending on the neutraceutical, each flavor is also labeled with a benefit: Energize, Focus, Relax, and so forth.

    But we, who don’t put sugar in our coffee, found the flavors to be overly sweetened.

    Recently, the company sent us new flavors made with coconut water: Cappuccino With Coconut Water and Dark Roast With Coconut Water.

    The sweetness level seems to be toned down a bit—but still plenty sweet for sugar-craving Americans.

     
    RealBeanz products are all natural, made with real brewed coffee and natural energy enhancing ingredients. (Some brands, likeJava Monster, Rockstar Roasted, and Starbucks Double Shot, are not.)

    There’s more about the neutraceuticals below.

    The line is Certified Kosher by The Orthodox Union.

    WHAT’S THE BENEFIT OF COCONUT WATER?

    Enjoy a coconut water drink for hydration, not for enhanced health. According to Web MD, the main benefit of coconut water is the potassium.

    “Most Americans don’t get enough potassium in their diets…” says Web MD, “so coconut water can help fill in the nutritional gaps. Beyond that, the scientific literature does not support the hype that it will help with a laundry list of diseases.”

    Here’s the full article.

     

    WHAT’S THE REAL BENEFIT OF THE
    NEUTRACEUTICALS IN YOUR BEVERAGE?

    All seven varieties of RealBeanz are nutrient enhanced. Beyond the natural caffeine from brewed coffee, the different flavors include natural ingredients such as choline bitrate, green tea, grape seed extract, guarana, L-theanine, niacin, panax ginseng, vitamins B6, B12, B5 and yerba mate.

    Each of these ingredients has shown efficacy, but the question is: How much of these nutrients is needed to provide noticeable benefit? To quote Price Hamlet, “Aye, there’s the rub.”

    Whether you drink cups of green tea or beverages with a neutraceutical enhancement, there’s a threshold beneath which you’re not getting any benefits. The amount of the functional ingredient may be just enough to make a marketing claim and attract your attention.

    So enjoy whatever you drink for the taste and hydration, and try to cut back on the sugar.

     

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    Coconut water has lots of potassium, but that’s about the extent of its extra benefits. Photo | IST.

     

    If you’re counting on real health benefits, do the research: Check how much of the neutraceutical is in your beverage and what health experts recommend as your daily value for efficacy.

      

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