Weekly Wisdom – Food Rules…. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as FOOD!

September 17, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Food Rules…. Don’t eat anything your great grandmother wouldn’t recognize as  FOOD!

  • “Go-gurt”…grandmother wonders “is it food or toothpaste”
  • “Avoid complicated foods”:  processed foods are specifically designed to get us to buy & eat more
  • Choose food that is found in nature

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules

October recipe: Sweet Potato Ham Biscuits

Sweet Potato Ham Biscuits
Makes 18 biscuits

2c - cooked sweet potatoes
2 1/4c - biscuit mix
1/4lb - brown sugar
2-3T - water
3T - softened butter
1lb - shaved virginia ham or turkey
3T - or more fig jam or fig confit

  1. Preheat oven to 350°
  2. Mash potatoes with biscuit mix & sugar. Add water to form soft dough
  3. Roll dough to1/2-inch thick, (on lightly floured surface) Cut with 2" floured cutter
  4. Bake on paper lined sheet trays, at 350° until golden brown, about 18 minutes
  5. Cool, split, spread with softened butter-about 1/2t per biscuit
  6. Fill with about 1-1 1/2oz ham (or turkey) & 1/2t fig jam per biscuit

Trash Talk – Bottled water vs. tap water

September 10, 2012
Becky Tweedy, Assistant to the President

Bottled Water vs. Tap Water by the numbers

2,000 - On average, bottled water consumes around 2,000 times more energy than tap
1 to 3 - 1 liter of bottled water requires 3 liters of water to produce…
10,000 - Bottled water costs 10,000 times more than tap water in the US, more by volume than gasoline or soda.
30,000,000 - bottles per day end up in landfills or the ocean. Only 5% of plastic water bottles are recycled in the US.
Tap water is tested more often and held to higher safety standards than bottled water in the US.

Think about it!  Turn on the tap!

Source: Mother Earth News magazine

Lightening up lasagna

September 5, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

My parents are very typical of their age group when it comes to food, in that they’re all about the meat & potatoes. They also know what they like, and don’t like for anyone to mess with it.  I cook dinner for them just about every Sunday, and tend to menu ‘comfort’, staying away from too many experiments. Except for vegetables-but that’s another story for another day!

So when dad requested lasagna a couple weeks ago, it was with some trepidation that I took upon the task of lightening up the recipe I’ve used for many years. It’s full of fat, with ground beef, Italian sausage (the pork kind) and full fat cheeses. It’s delicious, don’t get me wrong, but a single serving is enough fat & calories for a week!

Breaking it down:

The Sauce: the healthiest part of the dish! I’ll admit to cheating when it comes to sauce. Barilla brand marinara & arrabbiata sauces, mixed together in equal portions, along with lots of onion & garlic sautéed in evoo, is the perfect sauce for any Italian dish! 
The Noodles: Dad request came about not long after I found a cool lasagna recipe that uses raw zucchini planks in place of the noodles. 

The Meat: I figured the ground beef was extraneous, so just deleted it. I figured a turkey or chicken based sausage would help get the calorie & fat content down a good bit over the pork sausage. I did add a little bit of fennel to the sauce while simmering it. It gave it that sweetness typical of traditional Italian sausage.

The Cheese: Skim version for the ricotta, a no-brainer. I also deleted the egg I’d always added to the ricotta to help bind it. The skim seemed pretty dense, so I didn’t think we’d  miss the egg. I splurged a bit on the shredded cheese. I got a ‘pizza blend’ with mozzarella, provolone, Parmesan & Romano. I checked the nutritional info, and it had the same amount of fat & calories as the skim mozzarella, so thought the blend would add a nice depth of flavor vs the plain mozz.

Now to put it all together and see how it turns out….

I decided I wouldn’t mention any of these changes to my folks until after they’d tried the lasagna, afraid it would bias their opinion. I let them get about half way through their dinner before asking how they liked it.  Both said it was delicious, although dad did stop with his fork halfway to his mouth when I mentioned that I’d “lightened it up a good bit”. He asked me how I’d done so-probably afraid I’d tell him I’d added tofu & weeds to it.

They seemed OK with the changes, in fact, hadn’t even noticed there was any difference from the original version. I knew they were being honest when dad asked for another slab... and said ‘yes’ immediately after I asked if they wanted the leftovers once I’d packaged & frozen them.

I thought it turned out pretty good too. I’ll absolutely keep the lightened up version as my lasagna recipe of choice. The only thing I’d do differently is roast or sear the squash first. Adding that little extra layer of flavor, and keeping the moisture down will make it so close to the original, I dare anyone to tell the difference!

How healthy is your ice cream?

September 5, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Years ago, when I had hours to spend in the kitchen, I purchased a pistachio green ice cream maker to prepare tasty frozen concoctions. The first few months of purchase the hum, hum, hum of the maker was heard throughout our tiny condominium in Atlanta.  Sadly, like most novice appliances, the ice cream maker had been relegated to the upper confines of our cabinet. This past weekend my husband decided it was time to release our ice cream maker from its dark refuge and prepare a yummy confection with the boys.  Since our son Oliver has declared he is going to be a chef (despite my incessant warning that chefs don’t eat all the chocolate chips out of the cookies they bake) he was all for this kitchen adventure.   Since New York Times food writer Mark Bittman is often our go to guy when it comes to cooking, we followed his recipe that was featured in 2007.  Of course with a family full of ice cream lovers, one is never satisfied with just plain vanilla so add in’s were a chocolate peanut butter swirl, crushed pretzels and to my boys delight, marshmallows.  The whole process of churning and thickening fascinated my little ones and they were eagerly anticipating that first bite.  Of interest, the tasty treat uses cornstarch as a thickener instead of egg yolks to reduce the calorie load making it a bit healthier then the traditional home made ice cream.

Weekly Wisdom – Food rules…. what should I eat? FOOD!

September 4, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

  • “Avoid edible food-like substances”: i.e. highly processed concoctions containing mostly soy & corn
  • Avoid “industrial novelties” – created by food scientists
  • “Choose real food”

Source: Michael Pollen Food Rules


Weekly Wisdom – Soluble Fiber… May help reduce abdominal fat

August 27, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Soluble Fiber… May help reduce abdominal fat

Consuming soluble fiber: may reduce accumulation of visceral (abdominal) fat as we age
Soluble fiber sources: fruits (apples, oranges, pears), vegetables (peas, corn, carrots, Brussels sprouts), oats, barley, beans & lentils
A high fiber diet (soluble or insoluble) may be helpful in prevention of overall weight gain

Trash Talk – What is a watershed?

August 22, 2012
Becky Tweedy, Assistant to the President

What is a Watershed?
An area of land where all of the water that is under it or drains off of it goes into the same place; or

"that area of land … within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community."
-John Wesley Powell, scientist, geographer

Watersheds come in all shapes and sizes. They cross county, state, and national boundaries. In the continental US, there are 2,110 watersheds.
Learn more about watersheds. Help keep your watershed clean today!

Do you really encourage innovation & creativity?

August 21, 2012
Denise Simmons, Corporate Chef

I was all set to write an article about lightening up lasagna, but came across this piece on leadership & innovation and decided to repost it instead. My next post will be about lasagna...
I love the quote from  CEO Garry Ridge: “At WD-40 Company, we don’t make mistakes. We have learning moments. We give people permission to have a conversation about things that go wrong.”

He describes this process as the company's ongoing success, pointing out negative and positive outcomes to make sure the company is always innovating and improving.  

Read full article on fastcompany.com here

Schizophrenic science?

August 21, 2012
Sherri Meyer, MG Registered Dietitian,

Schizophrenic science?  That is the word that may come to mind if you heard about the recent headlines once again demonizing the egg.
“No yolk: eating the whole egg as dangerous as smoking?” writes the LA Times
“Eggs found to be as dangerous for the heart as smoking, new study suggests” says the Global Post
This egg filled frenzy is based on recent article published in the journal Atheroscelerosis
There has been a great deal of buzz about this study in the nutrition community.   After I read this journal article and was compiling my thoughts on the findings, I came across this summary from “The Everyday Dietitian” which I think will help you to make informed decisions about keeping eggs as part of your daily diet.  Personally, I plan to keep eggs as a regular part of my diet, taking care to make other choices that will limit my dietary cholesterol & saturated fat.  Read the link and rest assured that it is not all gloom and doom for “the incredible, edible egg.”