How could I not jump on the band-wagon and bring mindfulness into our discussion. It sure has become a buzz word associated with sensory experiences, thoughts and emotions.The practice is aimed at helping us to be mindful in how we respond to the stimuli around us. But instead of writing about mindful eating, I’d rather tell you a little about the opposite, mindless eating. Come and cook with us! Continue reading
One thing I really like about growing up in my small town in the Northern Alps, is that we have many traditions linked to events throughout the year. Passing down these traditions over time hasn’t been hard, as most families have lived in my area not just for generations, but centuries. In fact, my father’s family dates back to the valley to the early 1600 – we were called da Lacco back then. So yes, it looks like I have broken with traditions by moving away. That notwithstanding, I continue to cherish many of the habits that I have grown accustomed to living in my town. One of them is celebrating Fasching, meaning Carnival, which in our area starts with today, Fat Thursday and runs all the way to Fat Tuesday, better known as Mardi Gras here in the U.S. While there are many things we do every year during Fasching, there is one tradition that is quite unique to my valley, I believe, and it involves a pot of panicia, or barley soup. Come and cook with us! Continue reading
There are days when you feel like trying something new, and then there are days when you just hit the stove and mindlessly assemble a meal that you have already made a million times before. It seems that trying something new takes a lot longer, but it’s mostly because you have to be “mindful”, be in the moment and pay extra attention to every single step of the process. That makes it seem as if time is going by more slowly, even though it probably doesn’t take that much longer. However, when pressed for time, with little room for taking on any challenges, I resort to making a “mindless” meal, like this Mediterranean Chicken Salad. It’s a recipe from Carmel, like so many other yummy recipes we have on our site, and it is a true crowd-pleaser. Come and (mindlessly) cook with us! Continue reading
What better occasion to talk about chocolate than this week! After all, it’s Valentine’s Day tomorrow and while I don’t eat chocolate on a daily basis, I make exceptions. And this week is one of them. After all, chocolate in itself is not bad for you. At least not when you buy the right kind and eat it in moderation. Which is why I ventured into making my very own Valentine’s treat! Come and cook with us!
The reason why chocolate, and specifically cocoa, is good for you is because it is loaded with compounds called flavanoids. In plants, these flavanoids provide protection from environmental toxins, and when we eat a diet rich in these flavanoids, we also get a lot of the same benefits the plants get. Over 4,000 different types of flavanoids can be found in plants and the particular class of flavanoids in chocolate are called flavanols. They help to prevent fat-like substances in our bloodstream from clogging the arteries, which is why chocolate is known for reducing cardiovascular risk. Furthermore, chocolate also contains magnesium, one of the most important minerals for our heart health.
But don’t reach for those candy bars just yet. These antioxidants you are looking for are found in real cocoa and unless you buy the high-cocoa-content dark chocolate, you will most likely get more sugar and fat than you bargained for. So look for 60% or higher cocoa content with limited additional ingredients. Cocoa butter is the type of fat you want in your chocolate, so beware any cheap brands that replace the good cocoa butter with milk fats and hydrogenated oils. And sorry, milk and white chocolate won’t do.
While I enjoy indulging myself in a delicious bar of good quality chocolate, I seldom bake or cook with it, the occasional banana chocolate-swirl bread aside. This nutty chocolate bark with cardamom caught my eye, though, and after trying it for tomorrow’s Valentine’s celebration, I know that I’ll be back for more. The kids found a chocolate-covered spatula in the sink and were pressing me to know what I had made with chocolate. They are in for a treat this Valentine’s and I can’t wait to see their reaction when they bite into this deliciousness. May your Valentine’s celebration be filled with as much love and good food as theirs. Come and cook with us!
One Year Ago: Fat Chance!
Two Years Ago: No Coffee, No Chocolate, No Pasta, No Life!
Three Years Ago: Common Problems and Solutions: I don’t Know What to Cook!
It’s winter, so it’s the perfect time to take advantage of those vegetables that are in their prime right now. One way is to rely on my CSA box to fill my kitchen with what’s in season. Or I channel my inner Julia Child at the farmer’s market to find the “it” veggie right now. And, if you are like me and almost done with hard squashes, winter greens, and celery root, look no further and give Napa cabbage a chance. You might think that it is just like any other cabbage, but the Napa variety is different and there are many ways to integrate this vegetable in your winter menu with a few great-tasting recipes that bring me back all the way to my mom’s kitchen. What could be better. Come and cook with us! Continue reading