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Tag: Cooking

One of my daughter’s favorite smoothies is my banana, peanut butter, chocolate smoothie. I know, you’re shocked, right? Tonight we had breakfast for dinner so I decided to go all out and whip up this smoothie too. The recipe has been rather fluid over the years. It started with bananas and chocolate protein powder. There was a brief stint with chocolate syrup, but I never liked the fake syrup flavor. My newest rendition replaces protein powder and chocolate syrup with unsweetened cocoa powder. The result? Purer ingredients, less added sugar, and amazing taste. I haven’t met too many people who don’t love this stuff.

After my blender broke, my immersion blender became my best friend. If fact, I love it so much, I haven’t even replaced my blender. For all my smoothies, I use an immersion “stick” blender and the tall beakers that came with it. A tall measuring cup, large plastic drinking glass or pitcher can work too if you are sans beaker. If you don’t have an immersion blender, use a your blender, but remember to wash immediately after use to avoid a nightmare clean up.

If you try it, please post your pics on our Facebook page!

Banana Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie

3 ripe bananas

2 tablespoons peanut butter

1/4 cup whole milk

2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1 cup ice

Peel bananas, break in half and place in beaker. Spoon out peanut butter (approximate amount is fine) and place on top of the bananas. Pour milk over the bananas and peanut butter and blend until well incorporated. Add cocoa powder and blend at highest speed until frothy. Pour in a little ice at a time and blend on a lower speed. I like one final blast on high to add some bubbles, pour into 2 glasses and serve immediately.

For this smoothie I used organic bananas (please buy fair trade bananas whenever possible), Trader Joe’s organic peanut butter, Organic Pastures raw whole milk, and Trader Joe’s unsweetened cocoa powder. If peanut butter is not your thing, try almond butter. Serving as a treat? Add fresh whipped cream and dark chocolate shavings.

Bragg apple cider vinegar drinks

120 acres of Goleta soil in a beautiful valley. Rows of parsley, rosemary, butternut squash, and spinach. Mature walnut trees loaded with chartreuse, nut-bearing bulbs. White trunks peaking out from the apple orchard. Flanked by a running stream and native chaparral. As eyes move up and to the North, the sloping hill boasts newly planted fruit trees. It is organic, experimental, and new.
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I couldn't resist using this picture.

I learned to cook with my daughter. We started a year and half ago and now both love it. If you follow this blog, you probably already know I didn’t always love cooking. My hubby is a great cook, but me, not so much. Or that is, until I actually started cooking. You can’t call yourself a bad cook until you do it on a regular basis. Once I started measuring flour and sauteing broccoli with my little helper, things just started to taste good. My 3-year old can’t wait to whip up pancake batter or prepare a green salad. She gets out her own plastic knife, cutting board, and stool and is thrilled as she cuts the bell peppers into strips. If you are not already cooking with your kids, check out these ten reasons to bring Olivia and Ethan into your kitchen.
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For months I kept asking my hubby what he wanted to do for his 40th birthday. Go out to a fancy dinner, rent out a private room for a party, or take a trip? No, no, and no. Finally, the decision:

“I want to have everyone over for dinner and barbecue ribeye steaks and lobster tails.”

When I heard this I remember thinking, “wow, I would never choose to cook for myself and 40 friends on my own birthday. He must really love cooking.”

Hubby has always enjoyed being in the kitchen or standing over a smoking grill. We subscribed to several cooking magazines, but it wasn’t until we began getting Cook’s Illustrated that something changed. If you’ve never seen Cook’s Illustrated before, it is a thin publication that features no actual photographs of food, only artists’ drawings. Sounds rather dull until you read it. Every recipe is tested, and tested, and tested, until they have the perfect crepe, stir-fry, or pineapple upside-down cake. They also have a member’s website which has an extensive array of recipes, technique videos, and equipment reviews.

Hubby's lobster tails grilling. Photo by Ananda Dalidd

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This is going to sound completely obvious, but the reason we use Cook’s Illustrated recipes day in and day out is because they always turn out great. Not good, but great.
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Gerri French recently joined Be Food Smart as a Special Advisor. She comes to us with over 30 years of experience as Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator (see Gerri’s full bio here). I sat down with Gerri last week to ask her a few questions. Here are some highlights from our chat.

Are there any popular/major diets that you like? For example, Paleo, South Beach, Zone, blood type, Mediterranean, Weight Watchers, etc.  Are there any you would recommend?

No one diet works for everyone. As a dietitian I listen to my patients to learn their needs and concerns while assessing their lifestyle, laboratory data and medical history; a very personalized approach.  A general diet book does not take the individual person into consideration.  There are many healthy people out there eating a variety of diets. Mediterranean and Asian people who follow diets taught by their ancestors tend to be healthiest and the research supports it. I am happy to see people returning to enjoying earthy seasonal local foods, heirloom grains and beans and also fermented foods.
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My daughter turned 3 this week. In celebration of her birthday, I spent Monday morning at her preschool making Danish-style pancakes (they are similar to French crepes) for her class. One of her classmates is gluten intolerant and his mother asked if I would mind using a gluten-free flour. I usually use whole wheat flour and since I’d never worked with this alternative, I was a little nervous. But she claimed this particular flour could be replaced almost one-for-one with regular flour and would taste great, so I decided to go for it.
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You have a wonderful assortment of organic, local vegetables that you are ready to cook.  You pour a little olive oil into your non-stick pan and saute your veggies. What do you get? Delicious sauteed veggies with a side of perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA). Wait, what?

What is PFOA?

PFOA is the chemical used to make the non-stick coating on cookware (pots, pans, muffin tins, baking sheets, etc.) and electric cooking appliances (griddles, indoor grills, sandwich makers, etc.). Products with Teflon can contain levels of the chemical or similar chemicals (such as Polytetrafluoroethylene or “PTFE”). PFOA is widely used in other products such as carpet, fast food wrappers, stain-resistant clothing, and in water repellents for fabric and upholstery.

We are exposed to PFOA through drinking water, air, dust, food packaging, breast milk, umbilical cord blood, and microwave popcorn. When non-stick cookware is exposed to high heat, the chemical gets into the air and there can be a risk of PFOA exposure.

Why Does PFOA Pose a Risk to my Health?

On the Environmental Protection Agency’s website, this is what they have to say about PFOA:

“Perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA), also known as “C8,” is a synthetic chemical that does not occur naturally in the environment… EPA has been investigating PFOA because it:

  • Is very persistent in the environment
  • Is found at very low levels both in the environment and in the blood of the general U.S. population
  • Remains in people for a very long time
  • Causes developmental and other adverse effects in laboratory animals.”

When tested, the chemical has been found in all or virtually all people’s blood, including newborn infants. Many animal and human studies over the years have shown that PFOA may cause a multitude of health concerns. These include, low birth rates, developmental delays, various forms of cancer, tumors, and liver toxicity; although the makers of PFOA maintain that the chemical is safe for humans and there is no reason for concern.

PFOA and Children

A recent September 2010 study from the West Virginia University Health Sciences Center studied 12, 476 children
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