Archive for the ‘Informational’ Category

What’s Healthy – What’s Not

Beet

Trying to eat healthy? Well make sure you’re doing it right.

Both Men’s Health and AOL chime in on foods that can be healthy but usually aren’t.

They both agree that you should stay away from granola bars.

Most granola bars are simply candy bars in disguise, with very little fiber, lots of processed carbs, and a ton of sugar. You’re better off making your own healthier version from raw oats, chopped almonds, coconut flakes, raisins and a dollop of raw organic honey.

AOL says there’s no need to hold off on the yolk in omelette’s.

No yolks in your omelette’s? That’s just utterly unnecessary. The yolk contains lutein and zeaxanthin, which are crucial for eye health. Egg yolks are also an important source of phosphatidylcholine, a nutrient that boosts brain health. Worried about your cholesterol levels? Consider this: Half the fat in the yolk isn’t even saturated.

And if you think farm-raised salmon is good…

You’d think eating penned salmon would be the healthier way to go, but the farm-raised fish are pumped full of antibiotics and are lower in nutritional value than their wild relatives. In addition, wild salmon get their red color from an antioxidant in their natural food source, krill. Farmed salmon get their color from dye.

Sugary cereals are obvious bad, but make sure you’re buying the right ones.

Most supermarket cereals are fiber lightweights and are also loaded with sugar. The best cereals are old-fashioned oatmeal, and a few standouts like Fiber One and All-Bran. Check the labels and choose cereals that have fewer than 5 grams of sugar and more than 5 grams of fiber per serving.

Careful when drinking bottled drinks, like apple juice.

It’s sweet, refreshing and a favorite among kids. But most apple juice is nothing more than sugar water with apple flavoring. One cup of apple juice has no fiber, 117 calories and 27 grams of sugar. And most people consume way more than a cup at a time. Stick to fiber-rich apples and skip the juice.

Men’s Health also advises to stay away from things like baked beans, and suggests red kidney beans packed in water.

Beans are packed with fiber, which helps keep you full and slows the absorption of sugar into your bloodstream. The baked kind are typically covered in a sauce made with brown and white sugars. And because the fiber is located inside the bean, it doesn’t have a chance to interfere with the speed at which the sugary glaze is digested. Consider that 1 cup of baked beans contains 24 g sugar: That’s about the same amount in 8 ounces of regular soda. Red kidney beans, packed in water. You get the nutritional benefits of legumes, but without the extra sugar. They don’t even need to be heated: Just open the can, rinse thoroughly, and serve. Try splashing some hot sauce on top for a spicy variation.

You think yogurt with fruit at the bottom is a smart breakfast? Just pick the right one…

Yogurt and fruit are two of the healthiest foods known to man. Corn syrup is not. But that’s exactly what’s used to make these products supersweet. For example, a cup of Colombo blueberry yogurt contains 36 grams (g) of sugar, only about half of which is found naturally in the yogurt and fruit. The rest comes in the form of “added” sugar — or what we prefer to call “unnecessary.” Opt for Dannon Light ‘n Fit Carb & Sugar Control Yogurt, which has 90 percent less sugar than regular yogurt does.

And watch out for fat-free salad dressing.

Cutting out the fat reduces the calories that a dressing contains. Sugar is added to provide flavor. But perhaps more important is that the removal of fat reduces your body’s ability to absorb many of the vitamins found in a salad’s vegetables. Ohio State University researchers discovered that people who ate a salad dressing that contained fat absorbed 15 times more beta-carotene and five times more lutein — both powerful antioxidants — than when they downed a salad topped with fat-free dressing. Choose a full-fat dressing that’s made with either olive oil or canola oil and has less than 2 g carbs per serving.

And for another list of the 10 worst foods (like a Starbucks Venti Caffè Mocha) and the 10 best foods (like Uncle Ben’s Microwaveable Brown Rice) click here.

Pretty bummed by now? Well try some suggestions from Men’s Health for the best foods you aren’t eating, such as beets, cabbage, guava, Swiss chard, cinnamon, pomegranite, goji berries, dried plums and pumpkin seeds. All of these are packed with nutrients. They even suggest an Asian Slaw Salad:

  • 4 Tbsp peanut or canola oil
  • Juice of two limes
  • 1 Tbsp sriracha, an Asian chili sauce you can find in the international section of your grocery store
  • 1 head napa cabbage, finely chopped or shredded
  • 1/4 cup toasted peanuts
  • 1/2 cup shredded carrots
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Whisk together the oil, lime juice, and sriracha. Combine the remaining ingredients in a large mixing bowl and toss with the dressing to coat. Refrigerate for 20 minutes before serving. The slaw will keep in your fridge for 2 days.

Photo from Flickr.

Stuffed.

Stuffed!

Stuffed as in plush toys, not Thanksgiving.

I’m a little late on this, but from now until Dec. 2, if you’re in LA stop by Munky King in Hollywood for STUFFED a plush food show!

The show will be comprised of 3 main sections. The first is “The Feast”. The Feast will center around a plush turkey designed by Shane Geil of Purple Flavor and will be rounded out with lobster, sushi, pizza and many more mouthwatering food favorites. The second section is the “Dessert Cart” which will be spilling over with sweets, cakes and pies made of delicious looking felt and fabric. The third section is the “Grocery Store” which will have bountiful baskets of all different kinds of colorful plush foods that can be purchased and taken home starting on opening night! The Grocery Store will house fortune cookies, apples, doughnuts and more fun treats.

From the über-realistic cupcakes made by Kenta Shibusawa (Japan) to the cartoon-esque bread and butter of Heidi Kenney of My Paper Crane (USA) STUFFED lampoons the traditional American holiday food spread and combines humor with art.

Plush and food themed art will be for sale the night of the event and throughout the exhibition.

I haven’t been yet, but hopefully I’ll make it before it’s over. I think I may have to grab these plush cereal boxes.

Munky King
7308 Melrose Ave.
Los Angeles, CA
(213) 620-8787

UPDATE: In case you can’t make the show or don’t live in Los Angeles, check out this Flickr set.

WineM – The Visual Wine Organizer

WineM

WineM by ThingM is being unveiled at Wired’s NextFest and it a pretty genius idea. It might be a little much for personal use, but it’d be a great interactive wine cellar for a restaurant or wine store.

The rack uses radio frequency identification (RFID) to track and update wines in real time. Watch the video for a better explanation, but you pretty much use a pad to select the combination of wine you’re looking for (ie., by year, region, color, etc.) and the RFID lights accordingly.

According to their press release

WineM solves the problem of remembering all the information about the wines in a large wine rack, cellar or cabinet, or searching through that data. This smart wine rack makes that information always accessible and updatable. With WineM identifies the wines of a certain class, and where they are in the rack, without requiring users to consult paper wine logs or spreadsheets. A bottle can never be misfiled, and a wine rack organizer no longer has to choose a single organizational scheme. The wine in a collection can now be dynamically reorganized by any combination of year, region, price, or any other information axis that interests the collector or sommelier.

For example, a collector planning a dinner party could specify they want to see all of their 2003 Napa Chardonnays whose current market value exceeds $50. WineM will identify and light up just the bottles that match those criteria. ThingM co-founder and creative director Mike Kuniavsky explains, “A single bottle of wine exists as two kinds of objects, an informational object and a physical one. WineM unites these. It explores what everyday objects can be if computers and networks become ubiquitous, as we believe they soon will be. WineM’s unique cabinet is designed to make the process of selecting wine simple, elegant and entertaining, whether in your living room or your favorite restaurant.”

At the moment its just a prototype so keep your fingers crossed.

Check out the videos here and the ThingM site here.

Killer Meals

Last Supper

Ever wonder what your last meal would be if today was your last day on Earth? I have a friend who always asks that question, and it’s a pretty tough one for me.

But killers on death row often have their last meals archived. Seems like they can pretty much request anything they’d like, and it’s a pretty interesting read.

Epi Log recently wrote about how the Texas Department of Correction’s Web site used to display last meal requests (up until 2003) and some can still be seen in their archives. But sleuthing around the web I found a site that recovered list of final meals (click here to see it).

It’s fascinating if morbid reading, from suicidal murderer Charles Rumbaugh’s single flour tortilla and glass of water to shotgun-wielding killer Stanley Baker Jr., whose request makes you wonder whether he was trying to cheat the state of an execution by rupturing his own stomach. His last meal? Two 16-ounce ribeye steaks, one pound of turkey breast (sliced thin), 12 strips of bacon, two large hamburgers (with mayo, onion and lettuce), two large baked potatoes (with butter, sour cream, cheese and chives), four slices of cheese (or one-half pound of grated cheddar cheese), chef salad (with blue-cheese dressing), two ears of corn on the cob, one pint of mint chocolate-chip ice cream, and four vanilla Cokes (or Mr. Pibb).

You can also check out Dead Man Eating, a website that focuses on recent death row inmate’s last requests. The most recent?

Elijah Page, July 11, 2007 – the menu: steak with A-1 sauce, jalapeno poppers with cream sauce, onion rings, and a salad with cherry tomatoes, ham chunks, shredded cheese, bacon bits, and blue cheese and ranch dressing. He wanted lemon iced tea and coffee to drink and ice cream for dessert.

And before that?

John Washington Hightower, June 26, 2007 – the menu: had a final meal request of four fried pork chops, collard greens with boiled okra and “boiling meat”, fried corn, fried fatback, fried green tomatoes, cornbread, lemonade, one pint of strawberry ice cream and three glazed donuts.

Here’s some other good ones…

Thomas Grasso, 1995 – The signature meal in “Last Suppers”. Mr. Grasso devoured a dozen steamed mussels, a Burger King double cheeseburger with mustard, mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato, a can of Franco-American spaghetti with meatballs, a mango, half of a pumpkin pie with whipped cream, and a strawberry milkshake. But, there was a problem. Mr. Grasso had been served spaghetti and meatballs, but had actually requested Spaghetti-O’s. He did not take this slight lightly, his last words included this complaint, “I did not get my Spaghetti-O’s. I got spaghetti. I want the press to know this!”

Still not satisfied? Here’s an interview with a death row chef.

Not enough? Pick up the book My Last Supper: 50 Great Chefs and Their Final Meals, by Melanie Dunea. You can get your copy from Amazon for $26.37 or at a bookstore near you. I might have to pick up a copy for myself.

Annie Leibovitz meets Heat in this award-winning photographer’s stunning celebration of world-famous chefs and their final meals.

Chefs have been playing the “My Last Supper” game among themselves for decades, if not centuries, but it had always been kept within the profession until now. Melanie Dunea came up with the ingenious idea to ask fifty of the world’s famous chefs to let her in on this insider’s game and tell her what their final meals would be. My Last Supper showcases their fascinating answers alongside stunning Vanity Fair–style portraits. Their responses are surprising, refreshing, and as distinct from each other as the chefs themselves. The portraits—gorgeous, intimate, and playful—are informed by their answers and reveal the passions and personalities of the most respected names in the business. Lastly, one recipe from each landmark meal is included in the back of the book. With My Last Supper, Dunea found a way into the typically harried, hidden minds of the people who have turned preparing food into an art. Who wouldn’t want to know where Alain Ducasse would like his supper to be? And who would prepare Daniel Boulud’s final meal? What would Anthony Bourdain’s guest list look like? As the clock ticked, what album would Gordon Ramsay be listening to? And just what would Mario Batali eat for the last time?

Featuring: Ferrán Adrià, José Andrés, Dan Barber, Lidia Bastianich, Mario Batali, Rick Bayless, Michelle Bernstein, Daniel Boulud, Anthony Bourdain, Scott Conant, Gary Danko, Hélène Darroze, Alain Ducasse, Wylie Dufresne, Suzanne Goin, Gabrielle Hamilton, Fergus Henderson, Thomas Keller, Giorgio Locatelli, Masa Kobayashi, Nobu, Jamie Oliver, Jacques Pepin, Gordon Ramsay, Michel Richard, Eric Ripert, Marcus Samuelsson, Charlie Trotter, Jean-Georges Vongerichten and more… (from Amazon)

So what would your last meal be?

Good or Bad?

Bad Milk

Back in March I posted an blog entry titled “How Long Will It Last” which discussed different kinds of food and how long they were good for. To this day, that remains one of the most viewed blog entries on the site.

But it looks like a new site might be able to help out if you’re stuck on whether or not something is good (thanks to a recent posting on lifehacker.com). Rather than posting a comment asking me when your tuna will go bad (believe me, I’m no expert) try heading over to BestWhenUsedBy.com, a site that will try to help you keep track of your food and let you know when it’s going bad. The site isn’t fully functional yet, but there’s a demo that’ll help you figure out how it all works.

Can’t wait for that site to launch? Well check out this comment from Drama Queen from a Lifehacker post. She says this is the Layman’s version of how to tell if an item is still good (just for fun, of course!):

Is it good or bad?

THE GAG TEST: Anything that makes you gag is spoiled (except for leftovers from what you cooked for yourself last night).

EGGS: When something starts pecking its way out of the shell, the egg is probably past its prime.

DAIRY PRODUCTS: Milk is spoiled when it starts to look like yogurt. Yogurt is spoiled when it starts to look like cottage cheese. Cottage cheese is spoiled when it starts to look like regular cheese. Regular cheese is nothing but spoiled milk anyway and can’t get any more spoiled than it is already. Cheddar cheese is spoiled when you think it is blue cheese but you realize you’ve never purchased that kind.

MAYONNAISE: If it makes you violently ill after you eat it, the mayonnaise is spoiled.

FROZEN FOODS: Frozen foods that have become an integral part of the defrosting problem in your freezer compartment will probably be spoiled (or wrecked anyway) by the time you pry them out with a kitchen knife.

EXPIRATION DATES: This is NOT a marketing ploy to encourage you to throw away perfectly good food so that you’ll spend more on groceries. Perhaps you’d benefit by having a calendar in your kitchen.

MEAT: If opening the refrigerator door causes stray animals from a three-block radius to congregate outside your house, the meat is spoiled.

BREAD: Sesame seeds and Poppy seeds are the only officially acceptable “spots” that should be seen on the surface of any loaf of bread. Fuzzy and hairy looking white or green growth areas are a good indication that your bread has turned into a pharmaceutical laboratory experiment.

FLOUR: Flour is spoiled when it wiggles.

SALT: It never spoils.

CEREAL: It is generally a good rule of thumb that cereal should be discarded when it is two years or longer beyond the expiration date.

LETTUCE: Bibb lettuce is spoiled when you can’t get it off the bottom of the vegetable crisper without Comet. Romaine lettuce is spoiled when it turns liquid.

CANNED GOODS: Any canned goods that have become the size or shape of a softball should be disposed of. Carefully.

CARROTS: A carrot that you can tie a clove hitch in is not fresh.

POTATOES: Fresh potatoes do not have roots, branches, or dense, leafy undergrowth.

CHIP DIP: If you can take it out of its container and bounce it on the floor, it has gone bad.

EMPTY CONTAINERS: Putting empty containers back into the refrigerator is an old trick, but it only works if you live with someone or have a maid.

UNMARKED ITEMS: You know it is well beyond prime when you’re tempted to discard the Tupperware along with the food. Generally speaking, Tupperware containers should not burp when you open them.

GENERAL RULE OF THUMB: Most food cannot be kept longer than the average life span of a hamster. Keep a hamster in or nearby your refrigerator to gauge this.

Still curious if your food is good? Check out this article from BusinessWeek that covers the topic.

Hope some (if not all) of this helps.

Photo from BusinessWeek.

Bag Clips Be Gone!

I’m always searching for some kind of clip or rubber band to close a recently opened bag of chips, but no more.

From now on, thanks to Swissmiss via Happy Mundane, I’ll be doing this…

Three Sheets

 Three Sheets

If you don’t happen to have an HDTV and Cable (sorry DirecTV fans), I highly suggest picking up this show on DVD.

Three Sheets has a loyal audience and is growing in popularity. It’s one of the most popular shows on MOJO HD, the all HD channel, and stars comedian Zane Lamprey as he tours the globe partaking in drinking traditions all over the world. Not only is it educational, but the show itself is a drinking game and by the end of the episode, Zane is quite drunk. When he wakes up in the morning he provides viewers with a local hang over cure.

In case you’re brand spanking new to the show, here’s some helpful info (thanks to IMDB) to make you feel at home.

  • Three Sheets is the first television show to be produced as a drinking game. When Zane drinks, you drink. First person to see the monkey makes someone else finish their drink. And when Zane talks about his friend, Steve McKenna, it’s a social (everyone drinks).
  • The drinking game was introduced in the Costa Rica episode.
  • Zane mentions his college buddy, Steve McKenna, in every episode.
  • The monkey, Pleepleus (plee-plee-us), seen in every episode, was a gift from Zane’s wife. She packed it in his suitcase on his first episode (Galway, Ireland). He puts it in every show to tell her he loves her.
  • Curtiss Marlowe, the Three Sheets cameraman, was a child actor, who appeared in Heathers, Silver Spoons and the TV movie The Shadow Box, directed by Paul Newman.
  • In the Czech Republic, Zane left Pleepleus (the monkey) in the beer bath. The Chodovar brewery FedExed it to Zane in Venice, where he opens the box during the show. That is why, in Croatia, the monkey only appears as a photo.
  • In Jamaica, the hangover cure was a ‘special tea’. The main ingredient of the tea was marijuana. After the segment, Zane was unable to shoot for the rest of the day. But he was reportedly very happy.

Still not convinced? Here’s some info direct from the MOJO site.

Can you say “I’m buying” in 12 languages? Embark on an international drinking tour with comedian Zane Lamprey, who takes you around the world to master local drinking customs. Zane drinks Brussels sprout-flavored beer in Belgium, a “Pint of Special” in Ireland and learns the hangover cures of Jamaica and Belize. It’s the ultimate pub crawl so get ready to lift your glasses and toast… Cheers! Slainte Mhath! Salud! Navdrovya!

  • According to French wine laws, it is forbidden to include the word “Champagne” in the title of sparkling wines, unless it is made in Champagne, France.
  • “Guaro” is a liquor or brandy made from sugar cane in Costa Rica. It is a shortened name for “aguardiente de cana”.
  • Three toasts are common in Belgium: Cheers, Sante (French) and Gezondheid (Dutch).
  • In Wales, the term “Pub” came from the Public Houses, where town folk would socialize and resolve disputes.
  • There are no restrictions on carrying alcohol in public in Jamaica.
  • As tequila ages it takes its color from the oak barrels in which it sits. The longer it ages, the darker the color.
  • The legal drinking age in Ireland is eighteen (18).
  • The national beer of Belize is Belikin. However, although there are 500,000 bottles manufactured every year, it is difficult to find outside of Belize. Only 24,000 bottles are exported a month and they are all exported to Los Angeles, CA.

Head over to the Three Sheets site to learn more and watch some clips of the show. You can also add Zane or Pleepleus as your friend on myspace.

I’m not sure if the DVD is available in stores, but you can order the show directly from their site at the MOJO HD shop. It’s a double disc set so you should be entertained for hours. It’ll cost ya $29.98.

100 Calories

Coke

Are those 100-calorie snack packs really worth it? According to Treehugger.com, they’re not.

Extra packaging and smaller bags factor into the price hike, but you might as well buy a regular bag and divvy it up into smaller portions.

The extra convenience—and unnecessarily wasteful packaging—costs extra money, says a new study from the Center for Science in Public Interest. ABC News notes that if you buy a large bag of the regular Chex Mix snack and divvy up portions equal to 100 calories each, you’d only be out 25 cents per portion, compared with 87 cents if you went with a 100-calorie pack. Each 100-calorie portion of Keebler Chips Deluxe Family Size Cookies cost 16 cents, but a prepackaged snack would cost you 40 cents extra. (from Treehugger.com)

And ABC News suggests that even though they only contain 100 calories, too much of a good thing can be bad.

For example, by splurging and eating two 100-calorie packs of Hostess Mini Cupcakes, suddenly a person has consumed more calories than if he or she had eaten one large Hostess cupcake.

And Jacobson said people should realize the types of foods that are in the snack packs.

“I think it’s important to note that none of these foods are really health foods. We’re talking cookies and crackers — foods that we really shouldn’t be eating much of anyhow,” Jacobson said. (from ABC News)

These 100-calorie packs are so popular that everyone is making reduced calorie packs now, even Coke.

And according to USA Today…

The category didn’t exist four years ago. But 29 such 100-calorie pre-packaged products were introduced over the past three years — 18 last year. (from USA Today)

Check out this chart that shows how the percent change from a year ago has lifted the “treats” category by 14 BILLION dollars.

So you pretty much have 2 choices…either spend the extra money for already portioned snack, or portion it out yourself. Just don’t go gorging on the 100 calorie packs because they sound healthier. Cause they’re probably not.

More Dinner with the Band

Dinner with the Band

I’m going out of town this weekend so I thought I’d download a few podcasts for my trip. As I was browsing through iTunes, I noticed that “Dinner with the Band,” an online show hosted by chef Sam Mason, was available for download in all different kinds of format.

In case you missed my first post about this a while back, the premise is this; Chef Sam Mason invites a band over, cooks with them or uses them as a theme, and then the band plays some songs. It’s done really well and it’s entertaining, probably more so than most cooking shows on TV.

Here’s a cooking show that breaks the mold – the perfect mash-up of indie music and edgy food for total entertainment. Chef Sam Mason has been raising the stakes in the culinary world for the last ten years. Now join him as he invites his favorite touring bands to dinner for an intimate evening of cooking, conversation and live performance. Part rocker, part chef, Mason creates “intellectual food” that stimulates the palate as well as the dialogue. Rock on. (from On Networks)

So head over to the Dinner with the Band site or go browse the podcasts on iTunes.

For more on Sam Mason, including his latest projects, check out his site, sammasonnyc.com.

The Science of Menus or How Red Lobster Became Classy

menu

Think they just toss some items on a menu under their appropriate categories? Think again.

There’s an actual science behind where each item is placed on a menu in order to get you to spend the most money.

Here’s some of their secrets. You can check out the entire article on Forbes Traveler.

One of the reasons the tabs are going up is because of something you probably don’t realize. Then again, you’re not supposed to realize it: the secret science of menu psychology. Smart chefs (or their menu consultants) know that when most of you open a menu, your eyes go right to the top of the page on the right side. And, armed with that knowledge, chefs place the menu item that will give them the most profit at the top of the page. Hence, it soon becomes their biggest seller. Then, your eyes normally drift to the center of the page. That’s where many chefs place their absolutely most expensive item. They do that not because they expect you to buy that item, but because the psychology of menus indicates you’ll probably then look at the items immediately above and below the high ticket item and order one of those. Again, those two items rank second and third for generating profits.

There’s also a psychology to how menu items are priced.

• Not surprisingly, there is a migration toward higher price points. People buy brands, and food is an easy indulgence. That’s why we buy $4 Starbucks over fifty cent convenience store coffee.

• Price rounding psychology only works with lower-priced items: Someone will buy a $1.99 taco, but not one sold at $2. On higher priced items at upscale restaurants, it’s all called hip, minimalist pricing, and items are rounded up. That big steak in the fine dining restaurant isn’t $38.95, it’s $39.

• What’s the price barrier? $20 is the tipping point for casual dining restaurants. You won’t see many items at PF Changs or Cheesecake Factory above $19.99.

• Restaurants have also learned that pictures sell food, but pictures also pull down the perception of overall quality. Denny’s and IHop use pictures, but Red Lobster is becoming more upscale and stopped using photos last year. Their price points – and their profits – went up.

Not only has Red Lobster stopped using pictures, but they’re totally reinventing their restaurants.

A few weeks ago, the seafood chain, owned by Orlando-based Darden Restaurants, launched a marketing campaign designed to highlight an expanded fresh fish menu and other new culinary creations.

Sensing that some consumers associate Red Lobster with frozen seafood and dining rooms cluttered with fishing memorabilia, executives have been tweaking its look and feel.

Several months ago, Red Lobster introduced a daily rotating menu of fresh fish selections.

The chain also tested a sleeker restaurant design — meant to evoke the Maine coast — that it says will be used as the model for new restaurants. (from the Orlando Sentinel)

And on a related note, Red Lobster actually won an award for the Best Menu Revamp in 1999, but after reading the above you can probably tell that didn’t work out so well.

Lets just hope they keep that delicious cheesey wine biscuits on the tables. In case you haven’t tried them, or if you just want to make it at home, here’s the recipe.

Photo from Flickr.

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