I have a really great way to get kids to eat almost all veggies, including Brussels sprouts! I found a product over ten years ago called Sale Alle Erbe delle Marlunghe at Dean and Deluca, a gourmet food and kitchen wares store, while on a wine tasting adventure in Napa. It’s a savory herb salt that makes EVERYTHING taste better. I only bought one jar and imagine my dismay when it was all gone. We put it on so many dishes from meat and potatoes to pasta and veggies to salads….you get it. But the best part was what happened when I put it on roasted veggies. The kids ate them like candy!! The salt is so amazing that I even mail it to our daughter in Boston when she runs out. And she runs out a lot! She could order it online from a store in Sacramento, but she would rather have me mail it to her. Imagine that!!
The reason it’s so good is the dried herbs and salt aren’t just mixed together. The herbs and garlic are put into the salt while they are fresh and then the salt dehydrates them, extracting all the aromatic oils and flavors into the salt.
I brought eight jars (I couldn’t get ten) over to Kauai last week when I snuck in a quick trip to check out the new Juice Bar @ Living Foods. It is heavenly and you should not miss it on your next adventure to Poipu! I even got Jeff out of the market for a bit to spend fun time cruising on the North Shore and camping at Polihale. All in only 5 days. I love that your camping essentials are a bathing suit, towel and sunscreen and you are set. Although 4-wheel drive, an air mattress, blanket, food, and beverages don’t hurt either! Oh, and don’t forget the camping permit.
Now for the best part of my blog post…the give away at Living Foods. Shop in the market and cafe and be one of the first eight customers to spend $50 in one visit, mention the give away and we’ll give you a jar of salt for free!
My autumn recipe suggestion to use with the salt is to cut up Kauai’s sweet and crunchy carrots, local sweet potatoes, yellow potatoes, and eggplant and toss them in olive oil, sprinkle with the salt and some pepper and roast at 425 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. Turn on convection if your oven has it for even better roasting. Then, add some broccoli florets, onion, and red bell pepper that have been cut into bite size pieces and lightly coat in olive oil and continue to roast until all the veggies are cooked and slightly charred. At this point, taste and add more salt if needed. This is definitely my go to side dish for many fall and winter evenings. Put a fried egg on top after taking out of the oven and it’ a meal!
As the thriving foodie hub on the South Side of Kauai, Living Foods Gourmet Market is thrilled to be preparing for the holiday season. As Thanksgiving approaches, Chef Justin Kai and his culinary team are busy finalizing new recipes, as well as old favorites.
For the third year, the market is offering free-range turkeys from the Diestel Family Ranch in Sonora, California. This particular ranch is known for their farming practices including feeding the finest one hundred percent vegetarian U.S. sourced grains, as well as never administering growth stimulants, antibiotics or artificial flavors. Pre-orders for an uncooked 10-12 lb. and 12-14 lb. turkey can be made at the market, or by calling 808-742-2323. Pick-up for turkeys begins on Saturday, November 21st through Thursday, November 26th (Thanksgiving Day)
If you are looking to enhance your Thanksgiving menu, Living Foods is offering unique side dishes including Butternut Squash and Apple Soup, Maple Roasted Yams and Carrots, as well as Brussels Sprouts with Roasted Bacon, Garlic and Lemon. Classic favorites are also available like Stuffing with Dried Fruit, Celery and Sage, Mashed Potatoes and Gravy. If sweets are on the mind, you can order a Pumpkin Pie, Walnut Tart or “Frank’s Famous Pumpkin Crunch Cheesecake.” All orders must be pre-paid by Tuesday, November 24th, and can be picked up on Thursday, November 26th from 8am until 2pm.
In case you haven’t heard, we opened a juice bar at Living Foods Gourmet Market and Cafe! Jeff and Howard asked me to write something about it so I took that to mean they wanted my opinion. Every day that I get to give my solicited opinion is like Christmas.
What do I think of juicing? Well the first thing that comes to mind is how excited I am because this means when our girls are on island, they will have easy access to all the fruit and veggie goodness they need. We have 5 girls between our 2 families, not including us moms, and it will be so awesome for them to have no excuses for getting their 5-7 servings of fruits and veggies daily.
The latest info from the National Institutes of Health is that on any given day, 45% of the US population is having no servings of fruit or fruit juice and 22% have no servings of vegetables. Really? That’s depressing to me. It’s because of these statistics that we need more access to juice bars.
There is no magic formula coming out of juice bars, but they typically feature fresh, nutritious, vitamin-and-mineral and anti-oxidant loaded beverages. These vitamins, minerals, and anti-oxidants are needed by our bodies and we aren’t getting enough of them.
I can only postulate as to why I think the American public isn’t getting enough fruits and veggies and my opinion is:
- Most produce requires preparation and when so many families have both parents working, there just isn’t enough time or energy to prepare the produce.
- If not eaten within a certain time frame, it goes bad and gets thrown out. Fresh produce can be expensive, especially if it’s organic, and this is a risk a lot of families don’t want to take.
- Kids don’t generally like the bitterness of many veggies so parents aren’t wasting their time serving them.
- Fruit as a snack isn’t nearly as appealing as cookies and candy.
- It’s just so much easier and frequently less expensive to grab fast food or prepare packaged food.
So, because of the above mentioned thoughts, my opinion is that we need more juice bars! Veggies are combined with sweet fruit juice, which cuts some of the bitterness (just a spoon full of sugar makes the medicine go down…) and juiced fruits and veggies deliver a lot of the nutrients that we are missing in the average American diet due to decrease consumption of fresh produce. These are nutrients that studies have shown are involved in decreasing our risk for cardiovascular disease, cancer, autoimmune diseases, and even mental health disorders. The mental health connection is due to the prebiotic nature of many fruits and vegetables, but I’m saving that for another post!!
One last bit of info – certain important nutrients in vegetables are more available to our body if the vegetable has been cooked, other nutrients are more nutritious if eaten raw so the take home is this – don’t let juicing fully replace your consumption of fruits and vegetables but use it in addition.
See you at the Juice Bar @ Living Foods!
This is a topic near and dear to my heart because my husband suffers from White Coat Hypertension. Ever heard of it? It’s the phenomenon that occurs when having your blood pressure taken during a doctor visit. Just being at the appointment can cause anxiety and thus blood pressure to rise. Anyway, Jeff is very disciplined about diet and exercise, other than the occasional Bubba Burger! In fact, most mornings he can be found running 5-7 miles in and around Poipu! As a result of his mostly-good habits, he has rarely needed to go to the doctor. But on the few occasions when a trip to the doctor or hospital is required such as a check-up or stitches from an errant elbow during a basketball game, he is a wreck. He even hates visiting friends or family at the hospital. So funny for a fearless guy!! Well, funny to me but not funny to him. So when he has his blood pressure taken, it’s higher than 120/80, he flips out because his BP is high, and then it goes higher!! This is obviously not an uncommon problem or it wouldn’t have a name. It might also be genetic as our oldest daughter also suffers from White Coat Hypertension.
How does White Coat Hypertension differ from clinical Hypertension? Clinical Hypertension is where your blood pressure exceeds 120/80 in a non-agitated state. The upper number, which is always the larger number, measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart muscle contracts as in a heartbeat, and the lower number measures the pressure in the arteries when the heart is at rest, between beats. The upper number is called systolic pressure and the lower is the diastolic.
Which brings me to how you can lower it naturally. According to the Institute of Medicine, most American women consume less than half the recommended amount of potassium, men just a bit more than women. Potassium can lower systolic blood pressure by anywhere from 3-7 points as well as blunt the effects of salt, reduce the risks of kidney stones, and decrease bone loss.
Adults should consume at least 4.7 grams of potassium/day to achieve the above effects and some potassium rich foods include:
- Potatoes (include the skin)
- Sweet potatoes
- Oranges and grapefruit
- Cantaloupe and honeydew
I want to focus on bananas because we carry the best bananas grown on island from Kapaa Banana Company! They are smaller, sometimes half the size, of the bananas seen on the mainland and they’re called apple bananas because they have a faint green apple flavor. They are the perfect size for a snack or a kid’s lunch with no leftover banana to turn brown and mushy. I like to take the really ripe ones, peel them, cut them up into 1 inch segments, and then put each cut up banana in it’s own ziplock bag in the freezer. All ready for smoothies and then I don’t have to add ice, which waters down the taste, to make it thick.
Fun facts about bananas:
- Mai’a is the Hawaiian word for banana
- Early Polynesians introduced bananas and they were taboo for women.
- It was considered bad luck to dream of bananas, to meet a man carrying bananas, or to take them in fishing canoes.
- Bananas don’t grow on trees, they grow on giant perennial herbs.
- A bunch of bananas is called a “hand.”
- They are available year round on Kauai.
Lastly, if you want to learn more about how potassium can lower your blood pressure, help prevent bone loss, and why it’s better to get potassium from foods instead of supplements, here’s a great article that’s easy to understand and is found in one of my frequently read science nerd publications.
Kind of a loaded title but I can’t think of anyone who isn’t interested in losing, or at least not gaining, body fat! And there is something I learned in school many semesters ago and that is that caffeine, through a fairly simple metabolic process, helps our body mobilize fat and encourages working muscles to use this fat as a fuel source. In other words, while exercising under the influence of caffeine, the body derives a greater percentage of energy from fat than from carbohydrate, which is stored in muscles and liver in the form of glycogen. This works for me because I have to start my day with coffee, I am a morning exerciser, and coffee is a great source of caffeine. So there you have it! So simple. And we, at Living Foods, can help you!!
We buy our coffee unroasted from different islands – Kona coffee from the Big Island of Hawaii, a reserve coffee grown exclusively on the North Shore of Oahu, Peaberry Coffee from Maui, and Kauai Coffee from right here on Kauai. Kauai Coffee, with 3,100 acres and 4 million trees, happens to be the largest coffee plantation in the US!! Anyway, we then roast the beans in our store, bag them, and put our Living Foods labels on them.
An interesting fact: if you’ve ever heard of peaberry, it’s a coffee where only one of the beans inside the fruit gets fertilized and grows. Normally two beans grow in the fruit, side by side, which is why coffee beans have a flat side. Not peaberry! It gets its name from its round shape that occurs because it doesn’t grow next to another bean. Normally about 5% of beans harvested are of this form.
A few more interesting facts about coffee and caffeine I’ve come across as I indulge my nerdy science brain that loves to read medical journals and scientific studies are:
After you drink coffee, the caffeine is absorbed in the bloodstream and travels to the brain. From there, it blocks an inhibitory neurotransmitter, which increases the amount of other neurotransmitters, which in turn increases the firing of neurons. This has been shown to improve memory, mood, energy levels (duh), reaction times, and general cognitive function. Who wouldn’t want all that?
- Coffee contains essential nutrients: Vit B2, Vit B5, manganese, potassium, magnesium, and niacin.
- Observational studies have shown that coffee drinkers have a 23-50% lower risk of developing Type II diabetes.
- There appears to be an ingredient in coffee that helps protect against cirrhosis of the liver.
- In several studies, it has been shown that there is a 32-60% lowered risk of developing Parkinson’s disease in coffee drinkers due directly to the caffeine.
- Coffee has been found to have protective effects against certain cancers ie. liver and colorectal.
- And lastly- coffee has been found to be the biggest source of antioxidants in the western diet!!
So brew yourself a cup of coffee and start burning more fat, preventing yucky diseases, and antioxidizing your body!!
My mango story goes like this: I’ve revealed before that many years ago I was a nanny in Switzerland. I have also mentioned that it was my job to be first out of bed to get the coffee on, make the kid’s lunches, and prepare breakfast. The youngest of my charges was Sascha and he insisted on having a mango in his lunch every day. I had never tried a mango because back then they weren’t shipped around the world. However, the family I worked for had the resources ($) to get these juicy treats year around. Needless to say, it was love at first bite! It was so hard when I came home because it was a few years before I was able to consistently find mangos in the US. And then we bought a home on Kauai where mangos grow all over! The trees are so beautiful – big, shaggy, majestic trees that look like the fruit is dripping from it. And mango season is now! It started at the beginning of summer and will continue through about October. We have local mangos every day and we also put them in our smoothies. So a few reasons to eat mangos, besides the taste, are:
- They are rich in prebiotic dietary fiber that is necessary for a healthy microbiome.
- They are an excellent source of antioxidants that have been found to protect against colon, breast, leukemia, and prostate cancers.
- Mangos are is a good source of vitamin-A, vitamin-C, vitamin-E, and B-6.
- They are also an excellent source of potassium, which is an electrolyte that is important in the control of heart rate and blood pressure.
One last fact that I really like is that apparently mango is the fruit least likely to contain pesticide residue. And finally I want to help with cutting up a mango. I had to be taught how to do it many years ago, and I still do it the same way. Click here for video #1 and here for video #2 that show the best methods to cut up a mango. I included the second one because I thought she was hilarious and I had never seen this method. Enjoy, Liz Sacchini!
New buzz words – microbiome and probiotics. I hear and see them everywhere, but the reality is, there is something significant going on here. So important that the Mayo Clinic published a primer about how physicians might incorporate research on the microbiome into their clinical practice. The Mayo Clinic has stated that,”understanding the basic concepts about the interactions between humans and their microbiome will be as important to clinicians as understanding concepts of genetics or germ theory.” Another highly respected medical research and treatment facility, The Cleveland Clinic, has weighed in with their opinion and they also see the importance of studying and understanding the role of the microbiome and human health.
So what is the microbiome and what are probiotics? Well first of all, the average human has 100 trillion microbes in the gut, which is 10 times more than the number of cells in the human body; hence, the bacteria and fungi known as our microbiome that inhabit our bodies vastly outnumber our human cells. These 100 trillion cells are made up of bacteria, eukaryotes, and viruses and they live in our gut, our whole digestive tract, our reproductive tract, on our skin, and even in our nose!! They weigh in at about 3 pounds total! And are involved in the health of our immune system, digestion, metabolism, appetite, and mental health. Not only do they help us to digest what we eat, in that process of digestion, they produce metabolites such as vitamins and neurotransmitters that our bodies depend on. Our gut is responsible for producing more of the neurotransmitter serotonin than is our brain. The problem is, the modern American diet has changed so much over the years that we don’t consume the microbes that we used to and in turn, are exposed to microbial-killing antibiotics and antimicrobials on a daily basis. Think of all the antibiotics that are prescribed, plus the antibiotics we consume from the meat we eat. On top of that, we are constantly exposed to all the different sources of antimicrobial soaps, hand washes, hand sanitizers, etc. Another exposure to microbes most Americans don’t get is time spent getting up close and personal with the outdoors by gardening, working in the yard, etc. Those activities expose us to all the different microbes living in the soil. Enter probiotics. It’s a category of foods and supplements we can consume to help re-colonize our microbiome. There are probiotics in pill form that you can get over the counter and in prescription form, but there are also really great foods that contain the healthy micrboes our microbiome needs. Any fermented foods, such as sauerkraut, kimchi, and pickles contain “live-culture” microbes as do cultured foods like yogurt and kefir. You can also maintain a healthy microbiome by consuming kombucha, which is a beverage that begins with a fermented base, called a SCOBY – symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast. It ferments for a period of time and, when it is ready to consume, is a cocktail of live microbes!
So that brings me back to Living Foods and what we have to offer in probiotics. We have lots of different beverages containing healthy microbes including our local Kauai Juices, We have a really great cottage cheese that is organic and contains live cultures, as well as yogurts, sauerkraut, pickles, and kimchi. Here is a recipe made with kimchi for a soup that I love! Eat and//or drink any of these foods and you will be giving yourself a daily inoculation of healthy microbes!
To learn more about the microbiome, here are some great articles and websites:
Independence Day is this Saturday and you know what that means…barbecues and beach parties! If you want to keep it simple, you can always come in for one of our prepared salads to accompany your barbecue items, or you can really wow your guests with one of these simple recipes. Everyone loves our fresh Kauai corn and grilling it is always a tasty option. If a cool refreshing salad is your fancy, then this watermelon concoction is sure to please.
Happy 4th of July and bon appetit!
Corn on the Cob
- 6 ears of raw corn
- 1/2 cup of melted butter
- 1 finely chopped jalapeño
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
Simply brush the butter and jalapeño mixture onto corn, wrap in foil and grill. Top off with the finely chopped cilantro.
- 4 cups cubed watermelon
- 1/2 cup chopped basil
- 1/2 cup pitted gourmet black olives
- 1/2 cup of feta
Toss watermelon, basil and olives with 4 tablespoons of balsamic. Sprinkle with feta cheese and chill.
For the past couple years, I have made my best effort to eat gluten free but, since I don’t have celiac disease, I give myself the liberty of eating gluten when the situation calls for it. Like when there are cookies anywhere within reach. Definitely my kryptonite. And unfortunately I haven’t found a gluten free cookie I like, probably because they are all made with a funky flour like rice or corn substituted for wheat flour. But I did find a recipe on the back of my oatmeal from Trader Joes and it contained NO flour at all, just oats. So I thought I would try it. So good!! Not a replacement for an old fashioned, crispy-on-the-outside-chewy-on-the-inside oatmeal cookie or an oatmeal scotchie from my childhood which, by the way, was mouthwatering for 2 reasons- the butterscotch chips and the fact that no one ever put raisins in oatmeal scotchies, but a whole new experience that is equally as perfect. So if you’re craving a cookie and you’re trying to keep gluten out of your diet, I highly recommend this recipe. A couple things I experienced- don’t overcook, 12:00 minutes seemed perfect and I noticed the chocolate chips don’t want to incorporate into the dough, which was very weird. Almost like a science experiment where the dough repelled the chips but I persevered and overcame by pushing them back in to every scoop I put on the baking sheet. I’ll be curious to see if anyone else has this problem!!