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Empty Tomb Rolls

Just for Fun! “Empty Tomb” Rolls

Looking for a fun and easy recipe to bake with the kids this Easter weekend?  Check out these “Empty Tomb” rolls.  You can’t go wrong with marshmallows, butter and cinnamon and sugar!  Just be sure to seal them tight so the gooey goodness doesn’t escape from the “tomb”.

https://www.the-girl-who-ate-everything.com/empty-tomb-rolls/

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Chef’s Spotlight: Chef Jacob Gordon Wright

Meet our March Chef’s Spotlight: Chef Jacob Gordon Wright!

Chef Jacob prepping for a weekly meal prep client.

Chef Jacob Gordon Wright was born and raised in the rural town of Lawson, Missouri, forty miles north of Downtown Kansas City.  In high school, his focus was chemistry and playing tuba with no set career goals.  After high school, he was introduced to the culinary program at Johnson County Community College in Overland Park, KS.  Since day one, he fell in love with the culinary arts and soon realized his passion for preparing really great food.

Jacob has always felt strongly that he wanted to experience everything the hospitality industry has to offer.  He has worked in many different types of food service operations, from hospitals and hotels to catering and country clubs, absorbing all he can at every location.  In fall of 2013, Jacob earned his chef certification through the American Culinary Federation, and two Associate Degrees in Hospitality Management and Culinary Arts with an emphasis in dietary management.

Creating food is his art, but Jacob wanted to do more for others too.  Teaching soon became his next goal.  Just over one year ago, Jacob joined the Friend That Cooks family of personal chefs.  It has been an incredible stepping stone for him to move from behind the line in restaurants to helping families improve their quality of life and educate them on basic nutrition that the general public lacks.  At the end of the day, Jacob does not cook only to fill stomachs and nourish minds; he cooks to bring happiness into everyone’s life.  Being able to connect with his clients and their families, and to see first-hand how the food he prepares directly improves their lives, is such an important part to loving what he does.

When he is not cooking, Jacob enjoys spending his free time with family and friends, wood working and being outdoors.  He especially likes foraging and camping in the spring.  In the winter months, when he is stuck indoors, he likes playing video games and experimenting with new recipes.

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Seder Eggs – Beitza

Get Roasted.  But it’s not what you think.

seder plate

During Pesach/Passover many Jewish people use hard-boiled eggs as part of the celebration.  However, Jews from the Sephardi/Mizrachi tradition use oven-roasted or braised eggs.  Beitza.  This can be tricky because eggs will explode if they are just put into the oven and roasted at high temperatures. So, here are some traditional methods for roasting an egg:

  • The traditional method from Jews who lived in Transylvania/Turkey and the Balkan countries (Bulgaria/Romania, Croatia/Serbia, Macedonia, etc.) is to rub the egg with oil, and partially submerge it into the braising liquid with the meat and vegetables being prepared in the oven for the Seder meal.
  • The Mizrachi tradition (from Iran/Persia, Iraq/Syria, etc.) is to rub oil on the egg and wrap strips of meat around it, or stuff the eggs into the cavity of a hen or create a pocket in the meat to put the egg so the meat is holding/covering it. This acts as an insulation and causes the eggs to heat slower and cook evenly, so there’s less chance that the egg will explode
  • Another interesting method is the Yemenite-Jewish tradition of soft-boiling the egg for two to four minutes in coffee, and then placing the egg into or under the roasting meat in the oven. Whichever way you try, roasting an egg makes it really flavorful because the juices, broth, the flavors from spices, and the meat permeate the egg while roasting to create a wonderful treat!

At the conclusion of the Seder, it is customary to wish everyone Shalom/Peace and a return to the homeland by saying “Next year in Jerusalem!

-Written by Rabbi Yehonatan Levy (Chef Jonathon Levy)

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Foraging for Food

Seeing the foods thru the trees- Foraging for your dinner

fiddlehead-ferns-

It’s that time of year.  The warmer days and cooler nights make great weather for camping and hiking.  Next time you head out into the woods, take a look at the ground near the base of trees.  You can often find highly coveted wild foods to forage right there on the forest floor.  Morel mushrooms, ramps, fiddleheads all start to pop-up in early spring, and you don’t have to be an expert to know what to look for.  Foraging can even be a great activity for the kids, and an entertaining way to teach them about nature.  Even if youdon’t find something, it will still be a fun adventure.  Check out this YouTube video for some tips on what to look for when you are out in the woods.

morel mushrooms

rhubarb

 

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New Year, New Diet.

The Facts About Top Diet Trends

diet plan

Anyone on a new diet this year, err lifestyle plan?  New Year’s resolutions are all about losing weight, getting healthy and making changes.  There is certainly no shortage of diet trends out there but picking the right one for you can be tricky.  Not everyone has the same goals, or the same budget.  So, I thought I’d help you narrow down the choices based on facts.  Here are the top diet trends, a list of some important info, and a link where you can find more information.  (*Disclaimer: this list is in no way comprehensive or meant to cure or treat any disease or illness.  You should consult your doctor before beginning any new diet plan.  Also, I do have my degree in dietetics and have studied food, nutrition and culinary arts for the entirety of my adult life.  But I’m not a doctor.  The statements below are a collaboration of my opinion (the list itself) and researched facts (specifics pertaining to each diet plan).)  There are a zillion diets out there.  If the one you are interested in is not on this list, email me and I can help!

 

Paleo:  www.thepaleodiet.com

The basic premise is to eat like a caveman.  There are some conflicting ideas about whether the intention is to eat only foods found in the paleolithic era.  But since woolly mammoths and cave lions are now extinct, we have to be a little flexible.  While finding food is a smidge easier, i.e less hunting and gathering, more loading up the cart at Whole Foods- the idea is that the foods should be about the same; whole, nutrient dense, not-processed foods.

 

 

Foods Allowed:

  • Grass Fed meats, Eggs, Fish and Seafood, Vegetables, Fruits, Nuts Seeds, Healthy Fats and Oils (olive, walnut, coconut, flaxseed, grapeseed, and of course avocado). Organic, non-GMO as much as possible.

Foods to Avoid:

  • Grains, Preservatives, Dairy (though some raw dairy is sometimes allowed), Refined Sugar, Refined Vegetable Oils, and even a few surprising foods like Legumes, Beans and Potatoes.

The various foods allowed and not allowed are not just based on what was available when our stone-age ancestors walked the Earth, but also about potential health benefits and harmful properties inherit therein.

 

Whole 30: whole30.com

You can do anything for 30 days.  And 30 days is just enough time to cut out the junk, let your body heal, establish healthier habits with food and get to a better you.

Foods Allowed:

  • Moderate amounts of meat, seafood, eggs. Lots of vegetables.  A few fruits.  And plenty of natural fats.  The idea is to consume whole, natural foods that are not processed, as minimally processed as possible, or to be able to read and understand every ingredient on a food label.

Foods to Avoid:

No Alcohol

  • Added Sugar- of any kind. So, no honey, agave, date syrup, coconut sugar, stevia or maple syrup.  Basically, if it makes the food sweeter, it’s a no-go.  I see you sneaky fruit juice!
  • Alcohol, even for cooking.
  • All grains.  Glutenous or Gluten Free.  Period.
  • No one really knows what legumes are (just kidding, we do!), but things like beans, lentils, soy and peanuts qualify.
  • Eggs of all forms-raw, pasteurized, fermented, frozen or soured.  If it comes out an animals mammary glands, it’s dairy.  And just to be clear, eggs are not dairy…they are just usually found in the diary section of the grocery store because that’s where the refrigerators are.
  • Some popular preservatives like Carrageenan, MSG and Sulfites.
  • And they also discourage the creation of “junk like foods” made from approved foods. Trying to make a chicken breast and broccoli brownie just misses the point altogether of avoiding junk food, doesn’t it?

Weight Watchers: www.weightwatchers.com

This oldie, but goodie, just got a face lift!  Their new Freestyle program offers greater flexibility with food choices, but still keep the accountability and tracking features that have scientifically proven to contribute to overall weight loss success.

Foods Allowed:  

  • All of them! Each food is assigned a point value, and based on your goals and current stats, you are assigned a certain number of points each day.  Spend, or rather eat, the points as you like, but track it all for greater success.

Foods to Avoid:

  • The usual- highly processed foods, added sugar and unhealthy fats.

 

Mediterranean Diet:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/nutrition-and-healthy-eating/in-depth/mediterranean-diet/art-20047801

mediterranean dietAnother classic, this diet has been on the top 5 list for decades.  Developed after the eating habits of Mediterranean countries like Greece, Spain and Italy, it mingles moderation and foods proven to help reduce risks for chronic and acute illness.

Major Points:

  • Eat primarily plant-based foods like fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes and nuts.
  • Replace butter and other saturated or trans-fats with heart-healthy fats like olive oil.
  • Limit red meat to a few times a month.
  • Eat fish and chicken several times a week.
  • Enjoy red wine in moderation (optional).
  • Get plenty of rest and enjoy meals with friends and family.

 

Ketogenic (aka Keto) Diet: https://ketodash.com/ketogenic-diet

First, it is important to note that ketosis is not the same as ketoacidosis.  They are related, but the latter is very dangerous and can lead to serious complications.  Ketosis is the precursor to ketoacidosis, and while it is technically considered an adaptive nutritional state, it does have some important medical benefits.  The diet first started as a treatment method for epileptic patients to reduce seizures in the brain.  Previous therapies included outright starvation, which produced the same result.  However, the body suffered greatly as there was no nutrition to support the rest of the body.  What is now called “fed starvation”, the body gets the nutrition it needs thru the high fat, moderate protein, very low carb diet, and the brain gets the relief it needs thru the production of ketones.

Keto Diet

So what if you don’t have epilepsy?  Here’s where the science happens.  I’ll try to keep it simple.  Basically, the human body “prefers” glucose as a fuel source.  Think sugar and carbohydrates.  That’s why when you are hungry, I mean really really hungry, you unconsciously go for the sugary snacks and drinks.  They work fast because it is an efficient fuel source.  But what would happen if fat was the primary source of fuel for the body, and carbohydrates the last?  Well, that’s the Keto diet!  In a nut shell, the body doesn’t use fat directly as a fuel source, but instead has to convert it to glucose for use.  In that process, ketones are produced, and the body uses them for energy.

So how does someone lose weight eating mostly fat, if they already have excess fat?  Great question!  The answer, it takes some time.  Being in ketosis doesn’t happen overnight.  It can take anywhere from 2 weeks to 2 months, depending on activity level and other factors.  But once you reach that stage, your body has basically converted its primary fuel source from carbohydrates to fat.  And just like ALL FOOD you consume, taking in too much will lead to the excess being stored as fat- so you have to find the ratios that work best for your body and your activity level.

Foods Allowed:

  • Fat, like olives, avocados, bacon, fatty meats, butter, full fat cheese and other dairy, nuts. About 70% of your total calories for the day should come from fat. (As good an excuse to by the Wagyu beef as any!)
  • Moderate amounts of protein like red meat, chicken, eggs, fish and seafood. About 25% of your total calories should come from protein.  (This can be tricky to calculate since most protein is not just straight protein, but also contains some fat.)
  • Net Carbohydrates. Net, meaning total carbs minus the dietary fiber.  You can find it on a food label.  But remember, vegetables are technically carbs, albeit high fiber carbs.  But only about 5% of your total calories should come from carbohydrate food sources.

Tracking is key until you find a rhythm.  I suggest the My Fitness pal app, #notsponsored, because it does all the work and math for you.  Also, it is really easy to select foods from a list or add your own with the barcode scanner feature.

Foods to Avoid:

  • There isn’t a specific list of foods to avoid. Although high sugar foods like sweets, sodas, candies, etc. should just generally be avoided.  Also, high glycemic index foods like potatoes, pasta, rice, etc. are going to be hard to factor in because of their high net carb value.  That 5% will go fast!
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Chef’s Spotlight: Chef Jonelle Luchsinger

This month’s Chef’s Spotlight: Meet Chef Jonelle!

Chef Jonelle Luchsinger
Chef Jonelle Luchsinger

Raised in Anchorage, Alaska and Upstate NY, Chef Jonelle began her informal culinary training at a 100-year-old restaurant on one of The Finger Lakes. She quickly fell in love with cooking and decided to continue her education at Johnson & Wales University.  She graduated in 2007 with an associate’s degree.

Eager to practice her skills and further her education through experience, she worked for a variety of restaurants ranging in Middle Eastern, Modern American and Italian cuisines. She took pride in starting from the bottom, working her way up each station, absorbing everything she could along the way.

An opening in the in-house bakery of Rosalies Cucina, where she worked on the line, led to a full-time head baker position and a new love for bread and pastries. She would later go on to work under Maurizio Negrini, of Izzio’s, learning the art of Artisan Italian Bread.

Restaurant and bakery industries can be rough. They generally require working long hours on your feet during nights, weekends and holidays. In return, the pay is low, the benefits are few and the turnover is high causing for stressful working conditions. Even in the best managed restaurants, it’s hard to find a work/life balance while working opposite schedules as the rest of society. The high demands paired with few rewards of the industry can quickly turn the passion you once had into resentment.

Five years after switching gears to Quality Assurance and Food Safety Roles, she found herself once again on her feet, in her kitchen most nights and weekends. This time cooking not only because she wanted to, but because she had to.  An artist needs a creative outlet and a chef needs to cook!

Chef Jonelle is currently one year into her dream job at Friend that Cooks!  She is able to spend her days cooking; doing what she loves all while having endless creative freedom, a desirable schedule, a great management team supporting her, and amazing clients to cook for! Chef Jonelle currently lives in a north suburb of Denver.  She likes to grow her own vegetables and is planning her wedding that will take place later this year.

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Countdown to Thanksgiving

What to prepare for 1 Week out from Thanksgiving

We are 1 week away from Thanksgiving. Hopefully your guest list is finalized, and your menu has been planned. But what should you be prepping for one week before the big day? Here are a few tips to make sure you are on the right track to a stress-free day!

Pick Up Your Turkey
If you’ve ordered a turkey, now is the time to pick it up so you can be prepped to defrost it. If you haven’t planned for your turkey yet, purchase a frozen bird today so it will be able to defrost properly in the fridge.

Shop for Non-Perishables
Divide up your shopping list into perishables and non-perishables and get the latter out of the way now. Non-perishables include equipment, decor, paper goods and cleaning supplies – but could also include baking ingredients like flour, sugar, brown sugar, corn syrup, canned pumpkin and cranberries. Wait until the day before Thanksgiving to buy fresh vegetables, seafood and bread.

Prepare a Cooking Schedule
Being organized is the key to keeping stress at a minimum on turkey day. Review your recipes and create a day-by-day schedule for the week leading up to Thanksgiving as well as a day-of plan.

Follow Friend That Cooks on Facebook for more daily tips and tricks to prepare for Thanksgiving.

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Get Ready for Cooking Season

Cooking Season is right around the corner, folks!  None of us are ready.

Every year, we see it on the calendar.  And as if we are daring ourselves to see how long we can procrastinate, the week before Thanksgiving always ends up a flurry of planning, cleaning, shopping and cooking, and it all goes downhill from there.

This year, let’s do something different!  Let’s all start planning a little earlier.  Of course, I am the one that ends up cooking the majority of the T-Day meal in my family.  I’m ok with that.  I like it.  But it never fails that I get down to the day before, make my list, and decide I need a new insert-favorite-kitchen-gadget-here and I either can’t find it, or it’s too late to order it.

There are a lot of kitchen gadgets on the market that can help you do a lot of really fun things.  But there is also some ridiculous stuff out there too that ends up cluttering your cabinets and drawers more than it is helpful.  Each dish will require different equipment to get it ready.  But there are some universal basics that all chefs swear by, and we want to share them with you.

Sheet Pans:  aka, rimmed baking sheet

What these are good for: EVERYTHING! Not just for baking, the multi-purpose bad boys will become your new favorite.  Ever wonder how to make your baked fries crispier?  Sheet pans.  Want to bake 10 chicken breasts at the same time?  Sheet pans.  Want to bake thin layers of cake for a dozen tiered cake extravaganza?  Sheet pans.  Don’t worry about if they are non-stick (though I rarely recommend non-stick anything), shiny or dark metal, or if they have handles or not.  You can usually buy the aluminum ones in a three-pack at your local big-box store on the cheap.  Or you can busy super fancy ones at the restaurant supply store or online.  Line them with parchment paper or aluminum foil when you are using them (unless you are baking cookies, then don’t use anything!) to keep them clean and shiny forever.

 

Cutting Boards:

The bigger the better. If it came as a free gift with purchase of tequila, leave it in your bar cabinet.  At least 18” x 12”, minimum!

You need more than one, because sometimes you are prepping meat at the same time as veggies and you don’t want to cross-contaminate.  Two or three is recommended.

Wood or plastic, those are your only two options.  Glass is not a cutting board.  It’s a trivet.  And so is that extra piece of granite your countertop guy gave you.

Sometime that little divot that goes all the way around the edge to catch juices is handy.  But you should let your meat rest long enough that you don’t need that.  Just sayin’.

 

Mixing Bowls: To put your prep in

Cooking is 80% prep work.  So, you need something to put your prep into before it gets cooked.  A 5-piece nesting set is a great space saver.  You want a really big bowl, like 5qt or larger, a couple of medium sized ones, and a smaller one or two.  Or something like that.  Digging around the Tupperware cabinet is never fun, and generally what you find there is not very helpful.

 

Knives: The most important tool!

It’s self-explanatory, but your hands and a good knife set are the two most important tools in any kitchen.  You don’t have to have the most expensive set either.  But if you are using your grandmother’s hand-me-downs, that haven’t been sharpened since 1952, it’s probably time for an upgrade.  There are 3 knives you should always have on hand: a large chef’s knife, a small paring knife, and a serrated long blade for slicing bread, tomatoes, etc.  Also, you need a honing steel.  These come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, but you should learn how to use it properly, and use it every time.  If you take good care of your knifes, they will take good care of you.  As in, not cut you.  And who knows, you may even be able to pass them down to your grandchildren.  Just kidding…don’t do that!

If you really want to get serious about it, there are about a hundred different decisions to make before purchasing which knife is best for you.  Do you want German made, or Japanese?  Carbon or stainless steel?  Full tang or partial?  Handle material?  Handle fasteners?  And on it goes… The point is, find a cutlery store near you and go talk to a pro.  A really good knife will last a lifetime.  And if you like it, you are more likely to use it.

Next to not putting them in the dishwasher, sharpening is the number one most important way to take good care of your knife.  Not honing…that’s different.  I mean really sharpen the blade.  At least once a year if you don’t use them often.  Up to once every few months if you are a pro.  You can take them somewhere to have them professionally sharpened, or you can buy a stone and do it yourself.  But now is the time of year to do it!  Most places charge a minimal fee per knife, so there is no reason not to do it.  Most cuts happen because the blade is too dull, and you must compensate by using more force to push the knife thru the food.  Also, most Thanksgiving Day ER visits are from self-inflicted knife injuries.

 

Plastic To-Go Containers: think deli-counter macaroni salad.

One of the restaurants I worked in early in my career used these for all of their prep.  We had several different sizes.  And at the end of the night, we put all of our station prep into the appropriate size to store overnight.  They are stackable, disposable, dishwasher safe, and great for prepping several days ahead.  

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Chef’s Spotlight: Nikki Murillo

Chef Nikki Murillo

This month’s chef’s spotlight comes from our Chicago market. She has been with Friend That Cooks for just over a year after making a career change to pursue her passion for food. Meet Nikki!

In her own words.

Growing up in an Italian household, food has always been an important part of my life.  I used to watch and cook with my grandma, and that is what inspired me to become a cook. Ever since I can remember, food has been my passion. I honestly never thought that cooking would be my career. After several years of schooling in various majors, and never really feeling happy or satisfied with what I was doing, I decided to go to culinary school. While working overnights as an ER Tech, I attended Kendall College and graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Culinary Arts. I went on to work mostly in corporate catering on a very large scale. I’ve worked for companies such as Google, Yahoo, Uber, Pinterest and Walt Disney World and eventually on to Friend that Cooks.

I wouldn’t trade what I do for anything in the world.  Food is my passion. It brings people together, makes people happy, and gives us the nourishment that we need. I’m happy that I can provide that for people. Whenever I’m not cooking, I love going out to eat in Chicago, one of the greatest food cities in the world! I also love traveling and exploring new places!

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The Great Pumpkin Adventure- Beyond the PSL

IT’S PUMPKIN SEASON!!

And beyond the ever loved PSL, there are about a million things you can do with the delicious gourd.  A friend recently told me that she isn’t a huge fan, because she has only had it prepared super sweet.  She didn’t even think of the gazillion other spices she could put with it.  But trust me, if you like butternut squash, you will love pumpkin.

There are a couple of things to keep in mind before you begin your Great Pumpkin adventures (see what I did there!)  First, don’t use the jack-o-lantern that has been sitting on your front porch for the last several weeks.  One, it’s rotten.  Two, it’s not the right kind of pumpkin.  Three, it’ rotten.  “But we just carved it last night?”  Yeah, and about a bazillion flies and other bugs have already made it a fun little breeding and feeding ground overnight, if the squirrels didn’t get to it first.  Plus, you’ve had it for several weeks, or days, sitting in the hot, direct, daytime sunlight.  Not an ideal storage place for vegetables.  Trust me, it won’t be good.  And it’s not even the right kind to begin with.  What you want is called a pie pumpkin.  They are small-ish, cute and have a much sweeter and more tender flesh than the big guy you bought at the pumpkin patch.  You should be able to find them at your local patch or grocery store pretty easily.

“So how do I cook it?”  They are quite easy to prepare, actually.  You can either cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and roast it in a 400-degree oven for about 30-45 minutes.  Or you can prick the whole thing with a fork or paring knife and roast the whole thing, same way as above, for about an hour.  Save the seeds though!  After a quick scrub, some olive oil and sea salt, and quick toast in the oven, they make the best salad toppings and granola add-ins!  You can save the seeds from your carved pumpkin too, if you haven’t already thrown them away.

“Now what do I do with it?”  Well…whatever you want, really.  Think of it just like any other squash.  It makes a velvety creamy soup, is perfect to hide in chili and sauces for picky-kids, pancakes, French Toast, muffins, breads, cakes, pastas and even cocktails.  The sky is the limit.  Your pumpkin may yield more than you need for whatever recipe you decide, but it freeze well.

If cooking a whole pumpkin isn’t your things, no worries!  The canned stuff is delicious too.  And most brands are simply ‘just pumpkin’, so you don’t have to worry about getting a bunch of extra stuff you don’t want.  Check out this link from Food Network Magazine for 50 ideas to get you started.  And if you aren’t a big fan of cinnamon and nutmeg, you are in luck.  Because pumpkin pairs well with lots of other spices and herbs.

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The Global Effort to Eliminate Food Waste

recyclingEliminating food waste is a big part of the service that we provide our clients. Not only do we want to add variety and save time to your busy lifestyle, we want to help you eliminate that weekly food waste from overbuying, not eating leftovers, or eating out all the time. There are conditions that we, as individuals, cannot currently change as we wait for the government to change its policies about food. But we can still help and we need to stay accountable for our actions.  According to Rodney McMullen, CEO of Kroger, “More than 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. each year goes unconsumed, while one in eight people struggle with hunger. That just doesn’t make sense.” It does NOT make sense, especially when there are easy steps each of us can take to help the situation.

Not only are we using up our planet’s resources but we are also wasting food that could end global hunger. Food production uses 50% of our land, 30% of all energy resources and swallows 80% of all freshwater (USDA, 2016). Reducing our food loss by up to 15% could feed over 25 million people a year! So, how do we do it?

One way to reduce food waste is to support food policy changes. So much food gets thrown out because it’s not pretty enough. The appearance of food accounts for up to 1/3 of total food waste. In addition to looks, establishing uniform “sell-by/use-by” labels on meat and produce products could heavily impact the amount of food we throw away. An Ohio State University study states, “Sixty-eight percent of Americans believe that throwing away food once its expiration date passes lowers their chances of getting sick from it, and fifty-nine percent believe that food waste is “necessary” to consistently produce fresh, flavorful meals.”

This past week, The Consumer Goods Forum, a network of the 400 largest food and consumer companies in the world, developed a plan to simplify date labels. Instead of having many competing terms, there would be only two common phrases; “Best if used by” and “Use by.” This initiative aims to reduce global food waste by 50% by 2030. Click here to read more about the plans to streamline food labels to eliminate food waste.

So, what can we control at a personal level? Consumer behavior is still a big part of the equation. Changing what we eat has a big impact on the entire food chain. If we ate all the crops it takes to feed the animals we eat, food production would increase by approximately two billion tons. It is thought that reducing the amount of meat we consume could have the same as eliminating all retail food losses. Try meatless Monday or go vegetarian one other day of the week. If everyone in the U.S. didn’t eat meat just ONE day each week, the effect would be huge. And not just with land and water but air too! Greenhouse gas emissions would reduce by 1.2 million tons and we would save 70 million gallons of gas and 33 tons of antibiotics that ranchers and farmers use to transport and protect their animals. That’s HUGE! Plus, it’s a good excuse to eat more vegetables, something we could all use a little more of.

The good news is that there is a huge effort across the world to solve the food waste problem. Many countries are implementing new policies such as mandatory composting and recycling in many grocery stores. And there are lots of things you can do at home, besides eating less meat. Check out some of those ideas here. The important things to remember are to buy less, buy ugly, get creative with your food and be an advocate. And if you can’t reduce your food waste, try to donate untouched food to food banks or compost your food scraps rather than throwing them away. Every bit helps to reduce your carbon footprint on this planet.

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Upgrade Your Tailgate With A Fresh Menu

tailgate foodFor some, tailgating is more important than the game itself.  It’s the smell of burgers on a grill, the chill of an ice-cold beer, face paint and community gathered together to cheer on the… whatever your mascot of choice is.  Sometimes it’s an early morning game though, and a burger just doesn’t sound delicious.  Or maybe you are just looking to spice things up!  Whether it’s the booze or the food that keeps the parking lot party going for you, there are a few simple things you can do to make your next tailgate a real hit.

First, the menu.  It doesn’t always have to be burgers and hot dogs!  Mexican, Italian, even bacon and pancakes are all great ideas to change it up.  Think outside the bun and get creative with your menu.

Second, the equipment.  Whatever you are using to cook your tailgate foods now will work for other menus too.  You may just need to think about it a little differently.  We use water baths, or bain maries if you are fancy, to heat up foods that are awkward or have already been cooked.  All you need are two disposable aluminum pans like this.  One that is deep to hold the water, and another that is shallower to hold the food.  Fill the deeper pan with about 2 inches of water and use the fire from your grill to heat it up.  The steam from the hot water will heat the shallow pan on top and provide a non-direct heat source for your lasagna, quesadillas or scrambled eggs.  Best part, when you are done, everything can be recycled, or even reused!

If you are a purist, and want to cook all your food on-site, think about packing a griddle or skillet.  For foods that don’t grill well, like bacon, pancakes, pasta sauce… you get the idea, your flame from the grill will act like a gas stove and you can cook just like you do at home.  Don’t forget about a good-old-fashioned Crock Pot.  Cook your dish at home and pack it up.  You don’t even need electricity.  Those things will hold heat for hours!

Third, the CHEER!  Tailgating is supposed to be fun, not fussy.  So above all else, relax and have a good time.  If you are happy, your guests will be too!  Just don’t forget the ice.  No one like a warm beer at a tailgate.