Handy Guide To Chili Peppers

chile-primer-various-peppersMy husband and some of my friends see peppers as a challenge.  The hotter the better.  They love to burn the heck out of their mouths and sweat & suffer afterward.

Not me.  I like my food spicy, but I still like the ability to taste and enjoy my food after I feel the burn.  Not the “Bern” that Bernie Sanders supporters feel 😉 , but the burn that a zip of spicy pepper adds to a dish.

Peppers, like salt, acid and fat, are essential flavor building blocks upon which dishes are built.  In an article at www.bonappetit.com, Amiel Stanek encourages readers to “tease out” the subtle nuances of spice in the season’s crop of peppers using some very specific techniques.  As someone who likes the taste, but not necessarily the need for a fire extinguisher after a bite, I appreciate the guidance.

Stanek reminds home cooks that peppers aren’t just spicy.  They’re also flavor bombs hiding hints of fruitiness, floral notes, earthiness, and “funk.”  To begin to experiment with these hidden flavors, a cook must first work on mellowing the pepper’s spice a bit:

  1. Remove the seeds – Using a paring knife or the edge of a spoon, remove the seed pod beneath the stem and white membranes that hold the rest of the seeds within.
  2. Char – You can do this whole on the grill, under the broiler, or directly on a stovetop gas burner and peel off the burnt layer before seeding them.
  3. Soak – Capsaicin, the compound that makes a pepper hot, is alcohol soluble. When using the hottest peppers, remove membranes and seeds, muddle, and soak in vodka for anywhere from a few hours up to a couple of days.

For a great, printable reference of the varied types of peppers and their levels of spiciness, from mild to “grab a fire extinguisher,” click on this link.

A recipe I shared earlier this year was for one of my favorite cocktail hour snacks on steak and salad night:  Blistered Shishito Peppers.  Take my advice and make a double batch!  These suckers are addicting and one batch is never enough.  If you have any left, put them in a re-sealable container or zip bag and toss in the refrigerator.  These are easily revived in a hot pan with a splash of olive oil a day or two later.

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Do You Eat Breakfast Every Day?

fruitandoatsSince we were young we’ve all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day.  Turns out that Mom wasn’t just trying to keep us from shoving candy and junk food into our pie holes by making us eat breakfast.

It really is important to eat breakfast for some very good reasons:

  • Breakfast influences how we perform physically and mentally throughout the day.  According to John L. Ivy, PhD University of Texas at Austin, “Breakfast immediately raises the body’s energy level and restores the blood glucose level to normal after an overnight fast.”
  • Kids who eat breakfast tend to eat healthier throughout the day
  • Skipping breakfast can make kids feel tired, restless and irritable
  • Choosing breakfast foods that are rich in whole grains, fiber, and protein while low in added sugar helps boost attention span, concentration, and memory
  • People who don’t eat breakfast tend to overeat later in the day and are more likely to be overweight
  • If you are trying to lose weight, breakfast kicks your metabolism into gear and helps get your body into calorie burning mode for the day.
  • Eating a good breakfast lowers levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol, lowers chances of getting diabetes, heart disease and being overweight (per WebMD.com)

Eating the right foods for breakfast is also important:

  • Oatmeal – Steel cut with fruit, almonds and sweetened (if desired) with honey.  Another healthy option, the one that Barry Jay, Co-Founder of Barry’s Boot Camp, prefers, is to add a tablespoon or two of natural almond or peanut butter.  Avoid pre-packaged oatmeal that’s high in sugar and low in fiber.
  • Cheerios – Top with a sliced banana, and serve with non-fat milk and a hard boiled egg.
  • Greek Yogurt – A great “Grab and Go” option. High in protein, just add a pinch of cinnamon and a handful of blueberries or raspberries to sweeten.
  • Vegetable omelet or scramble made with 3 egg whites + 1 egg yolk (which provides protein, vitamin A, choline and B vitamins) a handful of fresh spinach, chopped tomato, a few chopped broccoli or cauliflower florets and, if you desire, a bit of feta cheese.
  • Bananas, Apples, Berries – Easily Digestible fiber that will keep you fuller longer
  • Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Shake – chocolate whey protein powder, natural unsalted peanut (or almond) butter, ice, unsweetened almond or coconut milk, cinnamon, and water.
  • Whole Grain Bread Toasted – Topped with either: natural almond or peanut butter and a sliced banana; or a scrambled egg, atop a slice of cheese, a few leaves of raw spinach and a slice of tomato

Any of these choices are hearty enough to keep you full until at least 10:00- 10:30 when you should have a mid-morning snack to keep you going.  Keeping your blood sugar steady throughout the day helps keep your energy levels and attention up during the school day or work day, which is especially important if you are someone who operates heavy equipment or drives for a living.  I’d want to be at my very best if that’s what I did!

If you’re dieting it’s important to eat small amounts between your main meals for the same reason.  When blood sugar crashes we are at our most vulnerable and most likely to reach for the nearest food to satisfy our hunger, which often isn’t the healthiest choice: drive-thru, pre-packaged snacks, etc.

quest-bar-cheat-clean

In my case, I always try (I don’t always succeed) to choose:  a piece of fruit with a cutiesjuiceindividually packaged cheese stick;  a low net carbohydrate protein bar (I like Quest Bars); or a hard boiled egg and a glass of fresh sqeezed or whole fruit (no sugar added) juice like Cuties Tangerine Juice.

If you’re like me, you do more in a day than most people and do for yourself last.  I, for one, am slowing down to take care of my health because if I don’t, the rest of the people around me will surely fall apart.  Moms are the grease that keep the squeaky wheel of the family turning and we need to start taking care of ourselves today.  Yesterday is gone, we can’t change that, but we can change tomorrow.

That change starts with breakfast, even if it’s just a glass of juice (or an apple or banana) and a hard boiled egg that’s been pre-made and peeled to grab and go on the way out the door.

One way to make sure to have quick mid-morning and mid-afternoon snack on hand at work is to at least prepare your grab and go snacks on Sunday:

  • If you have a small to medium lunch or grocery type bag you can leave in the refrigerator that’s ideal.
  • Boil a dozen eggs; peel once they are cool enough to touch (I plunge mine in ice water to stop the cooking); put 5 into a zip bag and then into the lunch bag.  Put the other 7 into a second zip bag and put into the snack / deli drawer in your refrigerator.
  • Fill 5 snack sized zip bags with 1-2 TBLS each natural (no sugar added) almond or peanut butter and put into lunch bag.
  • Put 5 medium sized Apples and 5 individually wrapped low-fat cheese sticks into the lunch bag and put into the refrigerator.
  • Make a note for yourself and put it with your car keys so you don’t leave without your snack bag.

It takes a very small effort to eat breakfast when it’s something as simple as a banana and a hard boiled egg that you can grab on the way out the door to work.  Even if you regularly eat out for lunch, you will likely eat less (and better) and will get through your day with more energy and clarity if you have your snacks on hand to get you through the mid-morning and mid-afternoon danger zones.  Who knows, you might even lose a few pounds. 😉

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

 

How to Make 30 Classic Cocktails

This illustration by Mike Houston, originally published at www.foodrepublic.com on July 14, 2015, provided a handy guide to making 30 of the most popular drinks requested of bartenders.

30cocktails

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood

Mango – Jalapeno Popsicles

A spicy-sweet way to cool the heat of a sizzling summer day!

mangojalpop

Are you on Facebook?  You might be interested in the things I may not devote an entire blog post to: recipes, food facts, nutritional information, photos and other things that make my mouth water. I may not write a blog post every day, but there are daily updates to my This Girl Loves To Eat community at: https://www.facebook.com/ThisGirlLovesHerFood