Obesity and related health problems are epidemic in North America. Not only are most of us eating way too much and getting little exercise, but we're also eating very fatty foods. Even if you shun fast food restaurants and buy your food at supermarkets, it's still almost impossible to find quick-to-fix foods that aren't high in fat content.Experts say we were in far better health a few decades ago when just about everyone prepared their meals from scratch. Home cooking, even when elevated to the gourmet level, is far healthier than restaurants or instant dishes from the grocery store.But these days when everyone is working one, two, even three jobs, who has the time to make a complete meal at home? It would seem there is simply no fast, easy way to eat healthy food.Let me speak from experience: You CAN cook FAST at home and make EXCELLENT meals. Nick has been a gourmet chef for 25 years. During that time he developed more than 300 great, healthy recipes that can be prepared quickly.As a general rule of thumb, you can be sitting down, eating a hot, fresh meal within 45 minutes to one hour after you come home.Consider how much time and money you spend at fast food restaurants, and you'll realize how much money--even time--you can save.Not only does eating better help you stay trimmer, it also makes you feel better. People who eat better have more energy and quite often feel younger. Education specialists assure us kids develop normally and perform better in school when they eat right. And you can certainly head off a host of health problems that can plague you in middle and later life.Do yourself and your family a huge favor. Start cooking your meals at home using fresh ingredients in recipes that help you cook fast and often from scratch. It's cheaper and, goodness knows, it tastes a lot better!
You may not have noticed but there is a certain ingredient missing in the foods we eat which could wreck your life. Take asparagus for example. Now what could be missing? I am a chef, I can help you.I know. I know. Vegetables that are purple are in and you buy your purple passion asparagus farm fresh. None of that stuff thats transported 1250 miles on average from factory farms to reach the produce shelf, exhausted, at your market. Nope. You get the good stuff, organically grown, from the farmers market and cook it the only approved, right and correct way; you steam it (according to a recent study in the Journal of the Science of Food). Good.Then you sample it and it tastes kina good. So, whats missing? Maybe, your chef suggests, you add a little Meyers lemon butter, some French sea salt and imported, fresh ground black pepper. Now it tastes really good, you gourmet with a personal chef. But somethings still missing?Now you read the fine print and find out most of the essential nutrient folate or vitamin B9 is just not all there and whatever was there was lost when you cooked it (according to the USDA). And to make matters worse, it doesnt matter where you bought the asparagus or even if it is purple, white or green. Because the only thing The United States Department of Agriculture knows for sure it that it probably does not have an adequate amount of folate for you in the first place. Read on.All right. So folate is colorless, something you cannot taste and it is something you cannot live without. In fact you and I and whatever colored asparagus you're eating have something in common: none of us can live without folate (Andrew D. Hanson, Horticulture Sciences Department, University of Florida, personal communication). By deduction we know that the asparagus made enough for itself, but maybe not enough for you. So how do you know enough of it there or not there?You dont, period. Science could tell you, but try and find that answer. Of course you could have a nutrient analysis done before cooking and after cooking and you would find out for sure. But that would set you back a lot of lettuce, if you get my drift. And the asparagus would not plate up very pretty and I would quit as your chef. You say, so what? I knew that was coming. Your life without adequate folate or vitamin B9? If your primary source of folate was asparagus then you could end up putting yourself at risk for a host of devastating health problems. Heres the short list: heart disease, birth defects, retardation of development (in children) and low levels can lead to anemia in adults along with added risk for colon cancer. Oh, your body absolutely needs folate to make new cells and genetic material. Darn details.But dont throw out the asparagus, yet. As science built the story of this missing ingredient, study by study, and discovered what happens to us when it is not all there, the Federal Government stepped in to help fix the problem. But first science proved we were not getting enough folate from our natural foods. In fact about 50 or so years ago science proved that food richest in folate is (or was) asparagus, but it is also found in other green leafy vegetables, eggs and beans. All this has been published by the USDA and the FDA. However, in 1998 the Food and Drug Administration began requiring certain grain manufacturers to fortify their foods with folic acid, a synthetic form of folate. And low and behold folate deficiencies are becoming rare, according to nutritionists (thats what most every licensed nutritionist you can contact would most likely saycontact a few and see).But the levels of folate in our naturally occurring foods are still to low to sustain our health and we must have our diet fortified or suffer the consequences. We know this for sure because science has established it beyond doubt and with agreement of the Federal Government. In addition, no less an authority than Harvard University ( at Harvards Department of Public Health) says fresh fruits and vegetables alone cannot provide us with adequate nutritionwe need supplements to fill in the missing ingredients in our foods. So we now know there are ingredients missing from our foods that were there but are not now and we do not know why: the baseline for getting adequate nutrition from our foods has shifted.As your chef I recommend it is probably best to eat your asparagus, steamed and sauced along and pop a vitamin supplement rich in folate (a daily dose of 400 to 800 mcgs is recommended by the FDAcheck it out with your doctor before you start). Of course, if you do not like looking for missing ingredients in your foods you can eat some cereal fortified with folic acid and other yummy ingredients.
When it comes to barbequing, there are two main schools of thought for the techniques that you can use. The first of these techniques and the most popular method for those who grill in their back yards is the style where the food is cooked directly over the source of heat. This way, the food is rapidly cooked on a hot grill suspended directly over the charcoals, the wood, or the gas burners. Rarely is the lid ever closed. Any foods, including the most tender cuts, hamburgers, steaks, kabobs of all kinds, chicken, and even vegetables are quickly seared and cooked to perfection using this technique. If sauces are desired, they can be added before hand, during the cooking process, or even after the food comes off the grill. These choices will all create different and enjoyable tastes and flavors.The second barbeque cooking technique uses heat indirectly. This is more appropriate when youre cooking much larger or whole cuts of meat, such as especially thick steaks, roasts, a whole hog, or a pork shoulder. When youre cooking using this method, the food is cooked away from the actual source of heat. This usually requires a water pan of some kind in order to maintain the moisture level of the food. The temperatures generally sit in around 250F. During this cooking method, the lid of the barbeque remains closed most of the time, and the length of the cooking is much longer than in the first method. When youre using an indirect barbeque cooker, there is usually an additional fire box that allows you to combine charcoal and wooden logs for burning. This allows the heat and the smoke to rise through the cooking chamber where the meat is, so that it is heated perfectly. The rule of thumb of this technique is a low temperature for a long time.No matter which method you use, its important not to cook your meat too quickly. If the internal temperature of your meat rises too quickly as you cook it, the water and the fat within it will be expelled before the collagen is able to melt. This means that your cut will be dry and tough. However, you cannot cook too slowly or you will risk a bacterial contamination. Though there is a fine line for barbequing properly, its important to find that line and stick to it.If youre already dealing with a cut of meat that is tough, such as a brisket or a pork roast, consider cooking slowly as the collagen adds flavor to the meat. If you buy a less tough, more expensive cut, you can cook at a higher temperature for a shorter period of time. This is why ribs and steaks take such a short time to cook, while pork shoulders or beef brisket can run up to 20 hours.As a final note, its important to have fun while you barbeque! Your pleasure will come through in your cooking as it will leave you motivated, and willing to try new and interesting things.
Spring has finally arrived in Toronto and, suddenly, it is time to start planning your outdoor events. Maybe you host an annual barbecue, or have a one-time celebration planned, like a wedding or family reunion, but, with a precious few months in which to hold an outdoor event in Toronto, the sooner you start planning the better.As a host, you want everything to be just right, not only to make the event enjoyable, but memorable too. Theres a lot to consider; location, date, entertainment, etc.. However, as any party planner will tell you, theres nothing more important than the food and refreshments for the success of a party, outdoors or indoors.Think of it this way; if you planned an outdoor event with great entertainment, all the right people and you got the nicest weather, it might still be considered a failure if the food and refreshments were not right. On the other hand, a plain barbecue, with great food and refreshments, will probably be a success and fondly remembered by your guests.With so much riding on what food and which drinks are served, its no wonder more hosts are turning to outdoor event catering to make sure their party is a success. Having your event catered add a special touch to your party and make it a memorable success.The right "outdoor event catering" company will do more than make sure you have a delicious menu and refreshing drinks. They will help you plan your party, provide serving staff and make sure you have everything you need, from cutlery to tents, so all you have to do is enjoy the time with your guests.The problem is, how do you know which outdoor event catering company in Toronto is the right one for your party? Idas Kitchen has successfully catered outdoor parties and barbecues all over Toronto and the GTA.
To offset any confusion, we are not talking about a grill for the Toyota Tundra but the powerful new Tundra Grill from Hammacher Schlemmer, built to withstand the elements and burn a variety of fuels including wood, charcoal, pinecones and brushwood, as well as cook all kinds of meat, poultry, fish and pretty much anything else you want to throw on, within reason. With the Tundras 37 inch diameter basin you are not limited to one type of cooking method either; you can grill, broil, simmer, fry, smoke and bake.The options do not end there is the Tundra Grill comes equipped with a grill rack, skewers, and three swing-out skillets for frying eggs, simmering sauces, or even baking bread Dutch-oven style. No need to fret about your steak not coming out just the way you like it; the skillet, skewer, and rack height are adjustable for precise flame proximity. You will be able to cook for an entire dinner party or family gathering all at once, with space for two whole fish, three whole chickens, and six steaks. Want a cup of hot coffee or soup on a brisk morning or chilly evening? No problem; put on a cast-iron kettle for coffee or stock pot for soup.The Tundra Grill is built to last, justifying its price tag. Whether you are cooking out in your backyard or braving the tundra, this grill has all the features and equipment to accommodate. The Tundra comes with a stainless smoke hood to induce draft in a gazebo or lean-to, or to keep out the rain so nasty weather will not thwart dinner plans. The Grill is wind deflector also helps make outdoor cooking a cinch. Zinc-coated steel shrugs off anything Mother Nature dishes out, while Birchwood handles allows for safe skillet use. Worried about messy ash clean up? The Tundra has got you covered,the Grills ash box and scoop makes for one-step ash disposal.