Monday, April 28, 2014

Important Food Safety Information About Bread Products...

Well, I am trying to keep myself informed about my buying options for food so I that I can make smart, healthy choices to the best of my ability, and within reason for my family.  If you are a mom with similar concerns, this article is for you...
I subscribe to an organization called EWG - Environmental Working Group, and they keep me up to date with all the information about chemicals and pesticides that are so prevalent in our food industry here in the United States.
I'm sure many of you have heard about Subway sandwiches changing their recipe for bread because they were pressured by a consumer group lead by Vani Hari to get rid of the chemical ADA or  azodicarbonamide - a chemical used to make yoga mats.  
Now the EWG has conducted research and found over 500 other everyday foods that contain this harmful chemical.  GROSS! NOOOOO!! is the appropriate reaction.
Some of the brands containing this chemical are Pillsbury, Sara Lee, Shoprite, Safeway, Smucker's, Fleischman's, Jimmy Dean, Kroger, Little Debbie, Tyson and Wonder. 
So I thought I would create this post to give you a list of foods/ brands to avoid if you don't want your kids and your family to consume this harmful chemical.
Here is a link to the entire list - 

Here's my shorter list of foods that I used to get that I will no longer purchase because of this nasty chemical:

1. Basically anything from Pillsbury
2. Van de Kamp hot dog buns
3. Mediterranean Pita
4. Oroweat Raisin Cinnamon Bread
5. Village Hearth 100% Whole Wheat Bread

Luckily I don't buy the majority of brands/ foods on this list anyway.  I have found that the best way to protect my family is to be well informed and always, always read the ingredients list on foods I buy, especially pantry items.  
Anytime you see a list of more than 10 - 12 ingredients in something as simple to make as bread, or peanut butter some warning signs should go off.  Often these long ingredient lists will contain a number of chemically processed sugars and preservatives. The names will likely be very long and hard to pronounce.  If you see a list like that on a food you are looking to buy - move on - it will not be worth it in the long run when you experience major health problems likely related to the consumption of chemicals in processed foods.
Here is some more info about this particular chemical, ADA...
Finding from the EWG:
This chemical, nicknamed ADA, is used in the plastics industry as a "foaming agent" and in the food industry as a dough conditioner for the convenience of industrial bakers.
In the plastics industry, it is mixed into polymer plastic gel to generate tiny gas bubbles, something like champagne for plastics. The results are materials that are strong, light, spongy and malleable. In many commercial baked goods, ADA is used as a "dough conditioner" that renders large batches of dough easier to handle and makes the finished products puffier and tough enough to withstand shipping and storage.
Below is a link to a petition to major brands to stop using this chemical if you are interested in helping to get rid of it in our food...
Okay - hope this was helpful!  

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My husbands favorite soup - Spicy Potato

Spicy Potato Soup

This is my version of a classic potato soup.  I originally found the recipe in an Irish Pub cook book, along with having learned a similar soup from my granny, and I have added my own twists of flavor to it over time.  It is my husbands absolute favorite soup.  It is really comforting to eat and filling enough to be a meal on it's own.

 

 This soup is pretty basic to make, you basically chop and prep all your ingredients and throw them in a pot.  There are a couple of extra steps at the end to make this soup extra creamy and delicious, but it's really pretty easy.

 

Ingredients:

- 1lb pancetta or bacon - diced into small chunks (I buy the diced pancetta from Trader Joe's) - you can omit this ingredient for the vegetarian version of this soup
- 1 tablespoon of veggie oil
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 1 hot pepper (jalepeno or serrano) finely chopped for a little kick (omit this if you don't want it to be spicy)
- 1 diced onion
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 8 medium size potatoes peeled and cubed (I use Yukon Gold)
- 4 cups of chicken stock, veggie stock or water
- 3 to 4 tablespoons of butter (or veggie oil if you want less fat)
- 1/4 cup of all purpose flour (sometimes I use chickpea flour or rice flour for a gluten free option)
- 1cup heavy cream and half a cup of plain yogurt or milk (you can just use yogurt for the healthier version)
- 3 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon of coriander
- 1 teaspoon of oregeno
- 1 cup of chopped chives or green onions to garnish
- sometimes I add a little tumeric for color and subtle flavor - it also has amazing health benefits



 Directions:

- I start by prepping all my ingredients.  I chop all the veggies and put them aside.  I put the celery, onions, garlic and peppers into one bowl, the potatoes in another, and the cilantro into it's own little bowl.

- Using a heavy bottomed pot like a cast iron dutch oven, turn the stove to medium heat and begin by browning the pancetta or bacon in a tiny bit of vegetable oil.  Cook for 3 or 4 minutes until lightly browned, then carefully remove with a slotted spoon and set aside.

- Now add a tiny bit more vegetable oil, and a tablespoon of butter to the pot and throw in your onions, garlic, celery and pepper.  Cook for about 5-6 minutes on medium heat until the veggies are softened.



 - At this point you can add in your spices and salt and pepper to the veggie mixture.  Once the vegetables are soft add in the potatoes, and also the pancetta that you set aside.  Cook this for about 2 minutes and make sure everything is incorporated together.

- Now add in the chicken stock until the potato/ veggie mixture is fully submerged and bring to a boil.  Once boiling turn the heat to low and let simmer for about 45 minutes.


- While that is cooking you can start your roux - which is the creamy component to your soup.
- To make the roux, in a separate small pot, add in the rest of your butter and the flour over medium/ low heat.



- Once the butter is all melted and incorporated with the flour, turn the heat to low and slowly add in the heavy cream and milk.


- Now whisk the mixture until it begins to thicken, then turn off the heat.


 - Then you can add in the chopped cilantro and a little salt and pepper to taste.

- The roux/ cream mixture should be very thick at this point like cake icing.

- Once the potatoes are softened in your soup you can add the cream mixture to it and stir it around.


At this point you can serve it as is or you can mash the soup down a bit to make your chunky soup a little more creamy.  I use a hand held mixer and just mix/ mash the soup a little just on the top so I still have a good amount of chunkiness.

Your done!  Serve with green onions for garnish if you like or just as is.  I hope you like this soup as much as we do!



 Bon apetit!