Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Eating The Elephant, One Bite at a Time: A Guest Post by Healthy Sous Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

We have probably all heard of the question "How do you eat an elephant?" The answer of course is "one bite at a time". This means that one should not focus solely on the big goal of eating the elephant, but to break down your ultimate goal into smaller more attainable accomplishments. Chef Nancy uses this metaphor often during our healthy eating presentations. I love this example in the context of improving one's eating habits. Most often, people who make radical changes to their diet, do find immediate gratification when the pounds start to fall off. Unfortunately, so many of the fad diets these days emphasize the elimination of a certain food group or the consumption of only certain items. This is great for a short time, but ultimately, one will begin to feel deprived and perhaps indulge in a binge or fall off their diet plan all together. It is important to look at healthy eating as something that you can build on and live with for the rest of your life. Personally, I know for a fact that I could not live the rest of my life without chocolate, red wine, cheese and good bread. I still indulge in all of these delicacies, but view them more as treats, rather than staples. Occasional indulgences keep me satisfied and help to prevent me from overdoing it. Additionally, I have learned how to integrate anti-inflammatory and antioxidant rich foods into my daily diet. Below is a list of several of the foods that we use in our kitchen every week. I challenge you to try and add one or more of these healthy ingredients into your repertoire over the next few weeks. This will help you to eat your elephant one bite (or one ingredient) at a time.

Top 5 Fabulous Ingredients in the Taste and Savor Kitchen:

1) Turmeric: This is a popular Indian spice that adds a wonderful yellow hue to foods and is widely thought to have anti-inflammatory properties because of it's active ingredient, curcumin. When used in conjunction with olive oil and black pepper, the bioavailabilty of the curcumin is increased. Try turmeric to add a lovely saffron color to rice or saute veggies in turmeric and black pepper olive oil.

2) Capers: Caper buds are a popular Mediterranean ingredient that contains high amounts of quercetin, another anti-inflammatory. Try adding capers to a salad or sandwich spread.

3) Sweet Bell Peppers: These sweet peppers are delicious raw or roasted, are low in calories and high in antioxidant properties. They are also high in vitamin C. Add raw or roasted peppers to salads, stir fries or sandwiches.

4) Kale: This leafy green vegetable is a member of the cabbage family and is high in beta carotene, vitamins K and C and calcium. Kale is great sauteed in olive oil or can be used raw after a brief rubdown in sea salt. The sea salt will soften the kale thus making a great addition to a coleslaw or salad.

5) Dark Chocolate: If you are eating chocolate for it's antioxidant properties, make sure that the chocolate you eat contains at least 70% cacao solids and is not Dutch processed. Try melting some dark chocolate and adding some toasted almonds and dried cranberries. Spread the mixture out on parchment paper and chill in the fridge until hard. Break into 1 ounce pieces and enjoy!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Crock Pot Cucina- A Guest Post by Healthy Sous Chef Partyologist, Lea Bowen

With the official start of fall fast approaching and a break in the summer heat, I started thinking that it was time to dust off the ole' Crock Pot and start cooking up some cool weather comfort food. Coincidentally, as thoughts of my own Crock Pot entered my conscious, I was inundated with Crock Pot chatter from my neighbors, co-workers and Facebook posts. I happened upon two Facebook pages that celebrate the joys of Crock Pot meals. The first, is a page called "Crock Pot Girls" that posts classic Crock Pot recipes. The second page, "Skinny Crock Pot" sparked my interest, as it features lighter, healthier recipes.

As I looked for inspiration for my recipe this week, I remembered a wonderful beef stew that I had in Italy last summer called "Peposo". Peposo is a peppery beef stew, cooked in Chianti. This dish dates back to the renaissance and was a favorite of the kiln workers who fabricated tiles for the roof of the Duomo in Florence.

This is a simple recipe for Crock Pot Peposo that tastes great on top of creamy polenta or a slice of toasted ciabatta.

Crock Pot Peposo:

1 Spanish Onion, medium dice

2 Carrots, medium dice

2 Celery Stalks, medium dice

4 Cloves Garlic, minced

3-4 lb Chuck Roast, cut into one inch pieces and trimmed of excess fat

1 14 ounce can of Diced Tomatoes, drained

1 10.5 ounce can of Tomato Puree

1 1/2 cup Chianti

2 TB fresh cracked Black Pepper

2 TSP salt, or to taste

3 Thyme Sprigs


Place onion, carrots, celery and garlic in bottom of Crock Pot. Add the meat on top of the vegetables, followed by the diced tomatoes and tomato puree. Next add the Chianti, salt, pepper and thyme.


Cover pot and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4 hours. Sauce may be thickened before service with a slurry of 1/4 of cold water and 1 TBSP of cornstarch. Stir in the slurry and cook uncovered until sauce reaches desired thickness.