Last-minute event alert: Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge, 5.30.13

Full blogger disclosure: I work at the company featured in this blog post. A girl’s gotta eat, amirite?

shrimp & grits
shrimp & grits (Photo credit: joannova, a/k/a foodalogue)

Want to learn how to make a family recipe more healthful?

The Humana Recipe Makeover Challenge will pair three local cooks with some top Louisville chefs to spruce up recipes and make them all shiny and healthy. Here’s a blurb about the event, which takes place at 11 a.m. today at the Humana Guidance Center at 1918 Hikes Lane:

During the challenge, Chef Allen Hubbard from Martini Italian Bistro will be remaking lasagna. The Seelbach Hilton Hotel’s Chef Patrick Roney will reimagine mac-n-cheese. Shrimp-n-grits will receive a healthy makeover from Chef Jeff Jarfi of Jarfi’s Catering. All the remade recipes will be taste-tested by the Guidance Center audience, and everything will be recorded for a future segment of Secrets of Bluegrass Chefs.

If you can’t make it to the event, the Humana Guidance Center is a place worthy of a visit. “It opened seven months ago as a community gathering place where older adults, families and individuals can also receive personal, face-to-face service on their health plans,” according to Humana. Plus, the center is open to everyone, whether or not you’re a Humana member.

[Bits and pieces] $100 margarita, chicken-nugget diet and other food news from the web, 1.30.12

Photo courtesy TheCulinaryGeek via Flickr.

 

  • A restaurant in L.A. has created a $100 margarita. I could have sworn we were in a recession. (LA Weekly)

 

  • In just a few days, KFC will introduce the Double Down and all its carbs to Japan. In case you forgot, the Double Down is made up of two pieces of chicken with cheese and bacon sandwiched in between. I still think this sandwich is too much of a good thing, but the Japanese poster sure is appealing. (Eater National)

 

  • True story: A British teenager has eaten nothing but chicken nuggets for 15 years. She also has anemia, breathing problems and swollen veins in her tongue. Where is the adult who should have stopped this madness? (Huffington Post)

 

  • Check out these amazing pictures and a story about the food of the Occupy movement. It takes some creative and dedicated people to feed the protesters, especially as winter hits. (The Kitchn)

 

  • I guess your eyes really can be bigger than your stomach. Optical illusions can make a big difference in how much we think we’re eating. Here are some tips on how not to let looks fool you. (NPR)

Paula Deen, diabetes and thoughts of my late grandmother

Photo courtesy of Pjork via Flickr.

I’ve always referred to Paula Deen as the white grandmother I never had.

And Paula has just revealed that she shares the same condition as my biological grandmother.

Paula Deen has the sugar, a disease known to non-Southerners as diabetes.

Paula announced Jan. 17 on The Today Show that a doctor diagnosed her with Type II diabetes three years ago. She’s now endorsing a drug company that makes a medicine for diabetics.

My initial reaction to the first wave of Deen/diabetes rumors that floated around the Internet Monday was on par with what an overwhelming majority of my online peers thought: DUH. Paula has plied us with rich, decadent recipes for years. Who’s really surprised that she has an illness that relates so closely with your diet? The virtual schadenfreude was thick.

Then I thought about my maternal grandmother.

Evelyn Clark died when she was 56. She had heart disease and diabetes. My mother remembers making runs to the hospital the day after Christmas because my grandmother wasn’t watching her blood sugar as she celebrated the holiday by indulging in holiday sweets.

I was only three when my grandmother died. I didn’t even know her long enough to remember what pet name I called her.

As a diabetic, my grandmother didn’t take care of herself like she should have. She was gone before I was old enough to build a memory of her.

Now, a stranger I have watched for years has diabetes, too.

I hope Paula uses her celebrity to encourage people to take better care of themselves, whether they have diabetes or not. I hope that diabetes doesn’t slow her down, and that she never loses her charm or vigor for life.

Paula said in her The Today Show interview that diabetes “is not a death sentence.”

I hope that Paula lives for many more years, years that my grandmother never had.

[Review] Middle-class dreams of healthy eating come true with Green BEAN Delivery

My bounty from Green BEAN Delivery.

(Blogger’s note: For one week, Green BEAN Delivery is offering Ashlee Eats readers 50 percent off the price of a produce bin for new and reactivating customers. Just type in ACLapc in the promo code area. The deal doesn’t include grocery add-ins.)

I keep my life goals realistic. So realistic, in fact, that I don’t even call them “goals.”

I have “Middle-Class Dreams.”

My top Middle-Class Dream? To be the weekly recipient of a CSA bin.

Community Supported Agriculture, aka CSA, is a way to buy local, seasonal and/or organic food directly from your friendly neighborhood farmer. Here are the basics of the idea, courtesy of localharvest.org:

A farmer offers a certain number of “shares” to the public. Typically the share consists of a box of vegetables, but other farm products may be included. Interested consumers purchase a share (aka a “membership” or a “subscription”) and in return receive a box (bag, basket) of seasonal produce each week throughout the farming season.

Sounds nice, right? But the price point of the CSAs I have come in contact with have kept me from signing up. So I was thrilled when Green BEAN Delivery contacted me to review their program because of my appreciation of CSA and similar programs and my love of free stuff.

Green BEAN (not a CSA, buy similar) serves Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio participants with bins of (mostly) organic produce, much of which is from local farms, and natural food. It’s easy to get started with the program. You pick which size bin you would like to receive (ranging from a $35 small bin to a $49 large bin) and the frequency you would like to receive your bin. You can also select certain natural food brands to add to your bin.

For my review, I signed up for the small produce bin that the Green BEAN website said is “perfect for 2-3 people.” The picture at the top of the page is everything that came in the bin, and here’s the list:

  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 1 bunch of carrots
  • 1 red onion
  • 24 oz. klamath pearl potatoes
  • 1 lb. green beans (the only non-organic item)
  • 4 bosc pears
  • 4 gala apples
  • 3 navel oranges
  • 3 tangerines
  • 1 head of bibb lettuce

The produce comes in an insulated bin complete with a cold pack, so everything arrived looking fresh out of the farmer’s market. Just opening the lid was like walking down the first aisle of the supermarket.

As soon as I washed and stored all the food, I peeled right into one of the deep-orange tangerines. It was juicy and tangy, a nice preview for the rest of the produce I would eat.

I spent the next week experimenting with all fresh food that packed the shelves of my fridge. Much like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get in the CSA bin each week, so a little research and flexibility are key.

After a call to my mom, I threw the green beans in a slow cooker with some bacon, onion, salt and pepper for a delicious side dish:

I also referred to my favorite cookbook and a recent issue of Better Homes and Gardens to create this dish of herb-roasted root vegetables that used the potatoes, carrots, red onion and a few sweet potatoes already in my house:

My husband and I ate the rest of the items in the bin straight out of the refrigerator in salads or just by themselves. Each piece of fruit or hunk of vegetable tasted better than the previous. Everything was fresh and fragrant, crisp and cool. Not a brown spot in the bunch.

The small bin is a great size for an adult couple and could last two weeks if you supplement your produce with other groceries. I also ate more fruits and vegetables during my time with the bin because I couldn’t escape all of the produce in my face.

The small $35 bin received on a bi-weekly basis is an expense I’m willing to work into my family’s grocery budget in exchange for healthier, fresher, more seasonal eating. There is enough variety and surprise in your selection to keep things interesting. I could easily seeing myself getting the majority of my produce from Green BEAN and The Root Cellar, another excellent resource for local, seasonal food.

The only thing left of my Green BEAN bin is the broccoli, and I don’t want my glimpse at achieving a Middle-Class Dream fade to black.

 

Bits and pieces: Happy Meals, colorful cauliflower and other food news from the web, 8.1.11

  • Starting in September, McDonald’s will add a serving of fruit or vegetable and reduce the portion of french fries in Happy Meals. The company is making the changes in response to criticism from health groups and parent organizations about the nutritional value of Happy Meals. When I was a tike, I had a cardboard box full of Happy Meal toys from all the Happy Meals I ate. Yes, I was a chubby kid. (LA Times)
  • A group of scientists say that drinking wine could help prevent sunburn. Like I needed another reason to make a pitcher of sangria. (The Telegraph)
  • One in six people change their order when a fast-food restaurant menu includes calorie count. But folks only reduce their intake by about 44 calories, the equivalent of one McNugget. (MSNBC)
  • A supermarket chain in the United Kingdom is selling cauliflower in colors like purple, yellow and green to get kids to eat more veggies. I don’t care what color you make it — I am a cauliflower hater. Yuck. (Daily Mail)

Bits and pieces: Michelle Obama, Quiznos death watch and other food news from the web, 7.25.11

  • “Our standard supermarket banana, a variety called Cavendish, may be at the brink of disaster.” That is definitely going to mess up my breakfast. (The Scientist)
  • First Lady Michelle Obama is trying to bring more fruits and vegetables to “food deserts” and is working with some big retailers to do so. (NPR)
  • And speaking of healthful living, should the government put a tax on junk food and subsidize produce to get Americans healthy? Food writer Mark Bittman argues that this idea is worth exploring. (New York Times)
  • Looks like business isn’t booming at Quiznos, a sandwich chain with a whole lot of debt. (Gawker)
  • Brooklyn restaurant Do or Dine serves foie gras doughnuts, and people are pissed about it. It just sounds kind of gross to me. (Gawker)

The food pyramid is now a plate. Will it help you eat healthier?

Remember that pesky food pyramid we learned about in elementary school?

It’s time to forget all of that.

First Lady Michelle Obama and the U.S. Department of Agriculture unveiled a new infographic on suggested dietary guidelines this morning. Behold, the “MyPlate“:

Photo courtesy of obamafoodorama.blogspot.com.

The USDA is now giving us a plate to better visualize the food groups we should eat daily. You can find more about the plate here. Once you get to the site, you can click on each food group to learn more about how much you should eat and examples of food in that group.

You can also read more about previous food pyramids and what critics think of this new graphic at the New York Times.

The plate is a better visual tool for me than the pyramid ever was. Pyramids are fun and all, but I always got confused when I worked my way up to meats and dairy. Thumbs up from me, USDA.

Bits and pieces: KFC, Slow Food International and other food news from the web, 4.11.11

New moms aren't eating right, so says the experts. Photo courtesy of flequi via Flickr.
  • New mothers let their health slip after the baby arrives because of lack of exercise and unhealthy eating, according to a study published in Pediatrics journal. It took a group of researchers to tell us that new moms are too busy to eat right and exercise. I’m not a mom, but I will give a “Well, DUH” in sisterly solidarity. (CNN)
  • Please check out these pictures from the World Grits Festival. They made my day. (Best Week Ever)
  • Here’s a list of 50 great food-related accounts to follow on Twitter. One day, I’ll make the list. One day. *shakes fist with determination (The Kitchn)
  • Good news — Slow Food International is considering Louisville as a host city for the group’s international congress, which would be its first such event in the United States. Bad news — the group has postponed making a decision until June. (WFPL News)
  • Yum! Brands, the folks who own KFC, is lobbying the state to allow the disabled, elderly and homeless to use food stamp vouchers at the company’s restaurants. Folks are pissed at this prospect. (WFPL)
  • Oh, snap. Louisville is getting an organic produce/local food/natural grocery delivery service. And the company, Green BEAN, is going to donate to Dare to Care Food Bank. It’s my middle class dream to have something like this. (Business First of Louisville)

Bits and pieces: Starbucks, honey buns and other food news from the web, 1.10.11

 

This is worth gold – at least in jail. Photo courtesy of Collin Anderson via Flickr.
  • You can always count on the St. Petersburg Times for a great story, but I never expected to find such a gripping narrative about honey buns. In the prison system, honey buns are a substitute for addictions, an effective bartering tool and, in some cases, a motive for murder.

 

  • Paul Mason, who was once the world’s heaviest man, has filed a lawsuit against Britain’s health system for sending him to dietitians who did not diagnose his eating disorder, according to an article from the New York Daily News.

 

  • I love sushi, but I’m not shelling out 250,000 pounds for a tuna fish like this wholesaler did at a recent Toyko auction.

 

  • Residents of the Highlands in Louisville will be welcoming a new neighbor soon. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals will erect a 5-foot 6-inch tall crippled chicken statue at 1578 Bardstown Road, according to an article in LEO Weekly. Here’s what PETA Vice President Tracy Reiman said in a statement:

Our chicken statue will remind Louisville residents that KFC’s suppliers break chickens’ bones and often scald birds to death as a result of KFC’s refusal to implement the animal welfare standards recommended by members of its own advisory council

 

  • Words – who needs them? Starbucks is streamlining its logo by eliminating the company’s name and the word “coffee,” according to Reuters. Check out the logo here. What do you think?

Bits and pieces: Jewish soul food, food-safety bill and other food news from the web, 12.6.10

Like matzo ball soup? How about matzo ball gumbo? Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Tastes via Flickr.
  • A University of North Carolina professor has written a book that takes a look at how Jews in the South have blended Jewish dishes with Southern staples. Marci Cohen Ferris recently appeared on NPR to discuss her book, Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South. Some interesting hybrids that Ferris discusses include lox and grits, sweet potato latkes and, of course, matzo ball gumbo. I can dig it.
  • A store clerk recently stopped a robbery by throwing a package of empanadas, a Latin American pastry, at the would-be robber, according to a story from the Associated Press.
  • Weight Watchers has changed its Points system, and some folks over in the Gawker comment section aren’t happy about it. According to ABC News, the biggest change to Weight Watchers is that fruits and vegetables have zero points. This probably means nothing to anyone who hasn’t done Weight Watchers, but as a two-time former Weight Watcher, this is pretty major. Thoughts?
  • The Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, the first major overhaul of the Food and Drug Administration’s food-safety provisions since 1938, is working its way through Congress. USA Today provides a really good overview of the bill and the changes that would take place if it passes, such as the FDA having the right to order companies to recall tainted food and the first federal oversight of produce.