Wednesday, November 30, 2011

How to Go Green in Your Kitchen?

If you want to be green in your kitchen, of course you will start with trying to be green in what you eat. But there are a number of things you can do in the areas of food prep, cleaning, using green equipment and staying away from bad chemicals that can make your kitchen healthier for everyone. Below are a few pointers.

Choose Long-Lasting Cookware

You should select utensils and cookware that will last a long time. First of all, this means that you should stop using Teflon-coated pots and pans. There already is a big debate about whether or not non-stick surfaces are unhealthy. The other thing to be aware of is that Teflon just does not last very long. We recommend that you choose a skillet made of steel or cast iron. It is true that a cast iron skillet is more expensive, but it lasts a long time.

On a similar note, you should choose utensils that will last a long time. Spoons made of wood will degrade and rot rather fast. Plastic melts if you leave it on your stove. You should try to buy higher quality metal utensils that last, and also buy higher quality knives that you can sharpen, rather than throw away when they get dull.

Gas or Electric?

This can be a tough choice. Natural gas is of course a fossil fuel, but most electricity still comes from power plants that burn coal. Many cooks like gas better because it is much easier to control the temperature. Gas also means that you have heat that is on instantly, and no heat is wasted when you are finished.

As far as electricity goes, the best ones are those that use induction parts. These will transfer all of the energy right to the pan. This leaves your cook top fairly cool and will use only half or so of the energy of a regular stovetop. You have to keep in mind that a stovetop with induction elements means you must use cookware made of metal. You cannot use aluminum or glass.

Another good choice for electric is to use a stovetop with a ceramic glass surface. These give heat right away and will respond fast when you change the temperature. They are easy to clean, too. However, they only work at the highest efficiency when there is a good amount of contact with the glass surface and the bottom of the pan. Much energy is wasted if the bottom of the pan is round at all.

Regular electric coils are the worst when you are trying to stay green in the kitchen. They waste a LOT of energy. If you do go electric, try to buy the most efficient energy-wise unit that you can afford. You also can buy green power to support renewable energy.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why You Should Choose A Vegetarian Diet?

There are many benefits that people can derive if they resort to a vegetarian diet. Meat-based meals are very tasty, but these are not for everyone. The reason is that many people get sick in the long run if they eat meat excessively and this will manifest in the form of elevated cholesterol levels, growth of certain cancers, and high blood pressure. Those who prefer a vegetarian diet do not have such problems and scientists have also discovered that vegetarians are less prone to cancer. Furthermore, vegetarians are not overweight or do not need to be on "a diet" to lose excess poundage.

Many people are now turning to a vegetarian diet because they want to live longer. Incidentally, there are a number of ethical reasons that have spurred people into becoming vegetable lovers. First, food wastage is a problem in many countries and there is an excess supply of grains and soybeans. These are used to feed livestock and one can imagine if people learn how to eat these things. Moreover, starvation can be eradicated in many countries if vegetables are used more often in their diets. Sadly, this is not the case and plenty of food are not used properly or ended up being thrown away as waste.

Another fact that many people overlook is that livestock excrement is produced thirty times more than humans can produce. Since there is a need for meat products, the overproduction of these animals that feed the population can have a possible disastrous effect to the environment. To illustrate this point, cows emit a huge amount of methane gas towards the atmosphere and this contributes to global warming. Also, feed animals are not treated humanely especially when they are being killed in slaughterhouses. For these reasons, it is not surprising that a vegetarian diet is something that many people now prefer because it contributes very much to their well-being.

A great majority of vegetarians do not eat meat, poultry or even products from the sea. Some people do eat fish or chicken sometimes, but they stick to their vegetarian diet. People may wonder what vegetarians eat and they will find that majority of them will consume fruits, dried beans, nuts, seeds, peas and grains to name a few. These vegetarians get all the nutrients they need under a vegetarian diet, but they have to eat various foods in order to get the much-needed nutrients for their bodies.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Chinese Food Comes To America

There are several versions of the story of how chop suey originated in America. According to one, some hungry miners in San Francisco were looking for a place to eat late one night. All the restaurants were closed except for a Chinese restaurant where only Chinese ate. At this time few Americans had ever had the courage or foresight to try Chinese food. The miners demanded to be fed, and the chef took what was left over, put it together with sauces and served it. The hungry miners enjoyed the meal so much that they wanted to know what the dish was called. The only name which the 'chef could give the leftovers was "chop suey" which means hash. The miners came back for more and the news spread and soon all Chinese restaurants served chop suey for Americans.

The other story of the origin of chop suey is told about His Excellency Li Hung-Chang, the premier of China who visited this country on a good-will tour in 1896. Many ban­quets and receptions were given in his honour and in order to reciprocate he brought his own chef to entertain his hosts. But the premier being a wise man wasn't sure that his guests would enjoy such Chinese delicacies as bird's nest, shark's fin, bear's paw and others. He therefore had his chef prepare American meats and vegetables in the Chinese man­ner with the appropriate sauces and chopping. He named it "chop suey" because it was a combination of chopped mixed foods.

Once Americans were introduced to Chinese cooking, even though it was only Chinese-style American food in the be­ginning, they kept coming back for more and so created a greater and greater demand for Chinese food. The more ad­venturous Americans went down to the Chinatowns and ate at the restaurants which only the Chinese had patronized. Authentic dishes became popular.

One of the early peaks in the Chinese restaurant business was reached in the early twenties, coinciding with the Mah Jong craze. Two brothers named White had introduced the game with simplified rules to the English-speaking clubs in Shanghai, where it became popular. The game met with such success in America that by 1923 the Chinese makers of Mah Jong sets could no longer keep up with the demand and American manufacture was in full swing. A Mah Jong League of America was formed.

The Roaring Twenties and the age of prohibition brought with it dozens of huge, magnificent Chinese restaurants with dance floors and entertainment. In the larger cities where night-clubbing was prevalent, it became a fad to eat down in Chinatown at some wee hour in the morning after a whole evening of night clubbing. The Chinese-restaurants were among the few open at this time of night. It was a romantic idea to wander through the little streets of Chinatown at some unearthly hour and then sober up with fine Chinese food.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

How To Buy Ingredients Like The Paradoxical French?

When we set out to buy ingredients for our family's meals many of us these days tend to be significantly more conscious of the things which are good for us, and those which are not. Cutting out certain ingredients and replacing them with others is obviously a great way forward, and it is often the ingredients which we buy which have a huge effect on our family's health.

However, if you do buy ingredients and not just ready meals, then the chances are that you're already off to a great start. But one of the 'facts' which you may well have kept in mind when buying your ingredients may well be wrong.

When you choose meals and ingredients for recipes you will often look out for 'saturated fat', and avoid it. After all, medical evidence has clearly proved the fact that saturated fat is closely linked to heart disease. So cutting out your saturated fats will lead to a healthier heart, which has to be good news, right?

The problem though is the French. Let me explain. The French are well known for having a diet rich in saturated fats, including a significant amount of butter (they seem to cook everything in it!), massively more cheese (well, we all knew that!) as well as other dairy products. Yet at the same time the number of incidents of coronary disease in France is much lower than most other countries, including both the US and the UK. So what's going on?

The fact is that nobody is entirely sure, as there doesn't seem to be any one factor which could account for the paradox. But there are several smaller factors which are almost certainly contributing significantly towards this healthier diet. So here are a couple of ideas you can bear in mind when you're planning to buy ingredients for your brood.

First of all, red wine seems a good idea. Only in moderation of course, and certainly not for the children, but it is believed that a component of red wine called resveratrol could contribute towards longevity, cancer prevention and even reducing the effects of aging.

Secondly, buy fresh fish. Having fish three times a week has such a positive effect that it virtually counters those puddings!

Thirdly, forget avoiding the full fat and no fat products. Most of these have a massively higher concentration of sugar. Full fat products usually have little or no added sugar, and are therefore likely to be healthier.

Monday, November 21, 2011

How Become Professional Catering Services?

Do you have a big event coming up? Are you inviting a lot of guests? You may want to liven up the party with a professional catering service.

Professional catering services offer you the option of filling your guests' bellies with happiness. You can make a great impression on your guests by ordering food to either leave out for them or be served to them leaving them impressed and satisfied.

Whether you are holding a family gathering, a work-related event or even a celebration such as a prom, it is always appropriate to have a catering service and come take care of the food situation for you.

Catering services give you a wide selection of foods whether your taste is simple and common or you have a more delicate palate with an interest for more exotic foods. You may order hors deurves to be passed about the party the entire night. The catering service can be hired with a well groomed wait staff so your food can be served with class, or it can be put out buffet style for your guests to grab as they please throughout the night from a food table or tables.

Sit down dinners are equally available in many different ways for you to choose from. You can have the dinners come in heated trays and platters of buffet style display tables of food, or the dinners can be ordered and served individually at the tables at meal time.

They will have services available for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and cocktail parties and menu items to match. You will be able to choose more than one item so your guests will have a variety of flavors to enjoy throughout the hours of the party. Whether it is a main course or finger foods you are guaranteed to find matches that will be a hit with your bunch of people.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Guide in Choosing a Water Lonizer

Alkaline water is the recommended type of water because of its detoxifying and acid-neutralizing properties. It helps the body to detoxify to its cellular level and improves the ability of your immune system. But you cannot have healthy water without having a machine that changes the ionic nature of water quite a bit. How will you choose the right water ionizing apparatus when there are several of these machines on the market? Here are some tips to help you.

1. Check the reputation of the seller. There are only a few reliable alkaline water machine sellers on the planet. These companies have made it long enough because of the quality of their machines and their good consumer relations. It's easy to find them because their websites appear on the first page of Google when you look for them.

2. Know how their machines work. A water ionizer works through the principle of electrolysis. Water with some ions is subjected to electric currents that separate molecules to hydrogen and hydroxide ions. Such dissociation occurs at the electrodes. Hence, it is important to check the number of electrodes. How many electrodes does the machine have? The surface area of the electrodes is also essential to the efficiency of the apparatus. A water ionizing device with 3 big plates is often the one recommended. Make sure the electrodes are made of titanium plates coated with platinum. Otherwise, do not buy the product.

3. How much water can the machine produce? A cheap machine that takes a long time to produce a glass of water is just plain useless. Read the description for the water ionizer and see the rate at which it produces water.

4. Ask about the warranty period. While a one-year warranty for the alkaline water maker is okay, note that there are manufacturers that put a 5-year warranty on their machines. A good ionizer should last for about ten years, though.

5. The pH of water the machine produces is another consideration you need to make. Ideally, alkaline water should have a pH range from 8.5 to 9.5. Anywhere higher than this range makes water harsh to the body, while a pH reading lower than 8.5 means inadequate ionization process.

6. Check out the filtration mechanism of the water ionization apparatus. Modern ionizers are equipped with a water treatment system. Unwanted minerals from your tap water shall be filtered out before passing through the electrolysis system.

7. Make sure the device is easy to use. Good water ionizers are those that can be operated by simply pushing a few buttons. It's frustrating to check the manual each time.

8. Compare prices of different brands of machines. Indeed, water ionizers have different prices, depending on the functionality and speed of operations. However, these machines are really pricey. The high price of these machines prevents many customers from buying them.

9. Look at the demos. The best way to understand the product is by watching the demos for it. Such demos actually provide usage instructions.

10. Read product reviews. Product descriptions and demos alone are not enough to decide whether you should buy the apparatus or not. You should read testimonials about the product to know its qualities and flaws.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Natural Meats Are Back and How in Evolution We Eat?

Natural meats would have been an un-natural phrase 20 years ago; and though meat has long been the center of every meal the world over, yet in some countries such as America this staple has a darker side and more unfavorable future in its present state. The light of a new day in the consciousness of many Americans has dawned, revealing the under belly of what we always thought was good. "Healthy meats are changing the way people eat and see what was always there". I will point out some differences in industry standard beef and natural beef. 

Natural beef is not injected with hormones as most beef is as the standard practice.
Healthy beef is not subjected to hormones that make the animal grow more muscle in a shorter period of time; most beef we consume receives hormone injections.
All-Natural beef does not receive injections to ward off insects and naturally occurring pests in our environment.
People are ready for healthy meats for the most part, but some people don't believe the idea that the foods we consume such as meats can have such an adverse effect on our health or quality of life, even though there is ample evidence to support this idea. More often than not we believe what the crowd on the right is telling us to believe. The numbers of people in the US that are obese have cancer and other chronic health conditions are staggering. It makes good sense to correlate our health to what we consume on a daily basis.

Consumers have the reins in their hands, the industry will respond to what the market wants; but that takes awareness. We as buyers have to understand and demand the products and production methodology that is in unison with our future health picture. The evidence shows that have not been the driving force in meat production at all in our country; but the call to produce more end sales faster and larger animals to pad the stockholders portfolio. This seemed to work for everyone; meat prices fell as production became cheaper and more people were able to put "good meat on the dinner table".

We have come full circle in the minds of many people; they want to get back to natural meats and healthier foods without all the enhancers that have turned their reality upside down. The market believes as well; "meat industry leaders are running" to get ahead of consumer driven need for healthy meats. People are beginning to think past today and their lifetime to see how these things affect our children and our neighbor's kids. It may be too large a leap to ask the industry to have a conscious but we can however; appeal to the business logic in the powers that be.

In the end we as individuals have to decide where we stand; this may not be as noble a cause as the constitution, yet it is a cause for prudent thought, consideration and action on the part of everyone around us. "We are what we eat" is a true saying and when we decide on healthy foods others will take note; change comes one mind at a time. Health is not everything, but it's pretty high up on the list for many. Eat naturally and live.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Four Cities For Restaurant Lovers In North America

There are a number of bragging rights a city stands by; having the most sports teams, the best shopping, and the highest job rate. One field that continues to draw attention from travelers and residents is where the most restaurants exist per capita. It's a claim that many cities make, but only the certain few can actually stand by with bragging rights.

According to the National Restaurant Association, California stands tall in this category with an incredible number of 87,225 restaurants for residents and visitors to choose from.

Although impressive in its own, New York State is far behind with 58,027 restaurants.

Texas follows with 53,631 along with Florida (41,901) and Pennsylvania (31,466).

All of this is impressive, especially considering there are 0.4 restaurants per 100 people in the United States.

But which cities have the most restaurants to choose from? When looking at cities with more than 100,000 people, you may just be surprised as to what makes the list.

Topping the list is a city of 744,230 people with a claim of 2,662 restaurants within the city... San Francisco.

When strictly looking at San Francisco, there are 279 people for every restaurant. But when looking at the metro area as a whole, the number of restaurants climbs to 4,300.

The next two cities in North America are actually not in the US, but in Canada. First up is the relatively small city of Winnipeg, a city full of French toast, perogies and sauerkraut, and Vietnamese imperial rolls.

Some sites say Winnipeg has 900 restaurants in total, but in reality there are only 478. Compare this to the 619,544 population and you find one restaurant per 1,296 Canadians.

As you drop to the next city, you head over to Vancouver Island and capital city of British Columbia with Victoria. With just 335,000 within the city, there is an amazing variety of 265 Italian, French, Greek, East Indian, Vegetarian, German, Dutch, Mexican, Chinese and other restaurants in Victoria BC to choose from. That means there is one restaurant for every 1,264 people.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Food Additives-What They Are and Why They Are Used?

There are thousands of different substances that are being added to foods. Their purpose usually falls into one of four different categories. They keep, replenish or enhance nutrients, retain a product's freshness or overall quality, help in processing or preparing the food or make the food appear more attractive.

After testing the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) determines how additives can be used in foods. About 25% of these additives have been used for so long and without any harmful side effects that they are considered harmless by the FDA. Most of the additives used in the United States are common items that are easily recognizable on the packages. These include pepper, salt, sugar, colorings and dyes, baking soda and citric acid.

Those additives that replenish or enhance nutrients attempt to replace vitamins or minerals that are lost in processing. Thus, the idea that raw fruits and vegetables are better than cooked foods is true. Cooking can and does deplete nutrients. Food processors want to enrich their products with additional items that may never have been there to begin with in order to use strong selling words like "fortified" or "enriched." A good example is common salt, which is fortified with iodine or flour which is enriched with vitamins.

Other chemical-sounding nutrients that are added to foods include beta carotene (converted to vitamin A in the body), niacinamide (vitamin B3), riboflavin (vitamin B2) and tocopherols (vitamin E). Unless you have an allergic reaction to these vitamins, having them added to the foods that you eat is no more harmful than taking supplements. That is why it is important to watch what you are eating, so you know whether or not extra vitamins and minerals are really necessary. You can do harm by ingesting too much of a good thing.

We can appreciate that bread contains additives that keep it fresh longer than homemade, but we might be paying a price because of these preservatives. Is it natural for edible substances to last for years? Additives that keep a product fresh mean that they keep away bacteria, yeast, mold and fungi. Names of these preservatives include butyl-, heptyl- or methylparaben (parabens are used more in cosmetics, lotions and deodorants as antibacterials), calcium, sodium or potassium propionate (used mostly to prevent mold in baked products), sodium benzoate (found in foods high in acid, like salad dressings, vinegar, fruit juices and jams, carbonated drinks and condiments) or sodium nitrate (used to fight botulism).

Additives used in processing or food preparation include emulsifiers, thickeners and stabilizers. These provide consistent texture (diglycerides, various gums, modified food starch, polysorbates, propylene glycol, sorbitan monostearate and cellulose). Leavening additives control food volume (calcium phosphate) and pH agents control acidity (acetic, lactic, phosphoric or tartaric acid and ammonium alginate). Some additives retain moisture (glycerine) and some anti-caking agents keep powdered substances from clumping together (iron-ammonium citrate, mannitol, silicon dioxide). This is the price we pay to keep our food looking its very best.

The fourth use of additives make you crave the food by enhancing their flavor or color. They include the flavor enhancers, sweeteners and dyes. Annatto is perhaps one of the more common color enhancers used for years in cheeses and butter to turn them yellow. Other color additives include the obvious dyes plus iron oxide, tagetes (from a marigold) and titanium dioxide.

Sweeteners include dextrose, fructose and mannitol. High fructose corn syrup is a controversial sweetener that appears in so many foods that it may be easier to list those that don't contain it. Sugar additives are a whole other topic, but suffice it to say that any additive with a suffix of -tose is most likely a sugar or sugar derivative. Food processors know that adding sweetness to a food will encourage people to eat more of it. Judging by the obesity rate, their success will, ironically enough, shorten the lives of their most loyal customers.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Tips Cooking for Home Cooks

Cooking is a very enjoyable activity for most people because aside from tasting delicious dishes, seeing the happiness and satisfaction on your loved ones' faces once they have tasted your dish is truly priceless. Although most of us cannot cook at home all the time maybe due to work or any other activity, we always try to serve our family with good food whenever we have the chance. Hence we have the terms 'weekend chefs' and 'home cooks'. Here are some tips that can help improve your cooking skills and the quality of your dishes.

Prioritize Safety

More than anything else, safety should be your main concern. A lot of accidents happen in the kitchen so you should do your part in preventing them. As much as possible, keep little children and pets out of the kitchen. Knives and other kitchen tools must always be kept in their respective storage places after usage. Never leave them scattered around the kitchen. Remember to always turn ovens, stoves, gas valves, and other kitchen appliances off as soon as you are done using them. Also, clean spills immediately.

Practice Mise en Place

Mise en place is a French term that translates to "to put in place". This states that you have to prepare everything you will need before starting to cook. Make sure that you have all the ingredients, tools, and appliances that the recipe calls for. Realizing that you lack a few important ingredients while in the process of cooking can be very frustrating. To save time and maintain the quality of your dish, it would be advisable to practice mise en place.

Use Fresh Ingredients Whenever Possible

The ingredients make the dish and only the freshest ingredients are the best ingredients. When combined with the proper techniques, they yield dishes that stand out from the rest. Do not expect bad ingredients to do some kind of magic in your pot and give out exceptional dishes. Moreover, fresh ingredients still have most of their nutrients and they were not treated with chemical preservatives, so you can be sure that they are good for your family's health.