Camouflage Seasoned Venison

Camouflage Seasoned Venison

With hunting season right around the corner, you just might find a little venison, also known as deer meat, finding its way on to your dinner plate. Venison is lean and great source of protein!

Did you know that in a 4-ounce serving of venison there is only 179 calories and is a great source of B vitamins and iron…

How you should choose venison? Well, it’s available fresh or frozen. But, for the most flavor, look for dark, fine-grain flesh and always check the sell-by date.

How to store your venison? Venison will stay fresh in the refrigerator for 2-3 days. It can also be frozen for use within 3-6 months.

How to use your deer meat? Venison jerky is easy to make and delicious. You can also try substituting venison for ground beef in recipes like lasagna and chili.

Venison Lasagna

Here are some venison recipes from my hometown, Harrisburg, PA newspaper The Patriot News…

http://www.pennlive.com/

Venison Lebanon Bologna

Ingredients:

  • 4 pounds venison burger
  • dash of hot pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 3/4 teaspoon garlic salt
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup Morton’s Tender Quick
  • 2 Tablespoons Wright’s Liquid Smoke

Mix ingredients. Roll out into sticks about 11/4 inches in diameter. Wrap sticks in wax paper and placed in refrigerator overnight. Bake in a broiler pan at 225 degrees for 11/2 hours. Turn. Bake for another 11/2 to 2-1/2 hours.

Deer Sausage

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound fine ground pork butt
  • 1 pound fine ground bacon
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon black pepper
  • 2 teaspoon sage
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 bay leaves, crushed
  • 1 cup water

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Stuff into white, plastic hamburger bags. Fry or bake as loose, crumbled sausage.

Deer Sausage made with bacon

Ingredients:

  • 3-½ lb. finely ground venison
  • 1-½ lb. finely ground bacon
  • 4 cloves pressed garlic
  • 2 tsp. sage/p 3 tsp. black pepper
  • ¾ tsp. allspice
  • 1 tsp. grated lemon rind
  • 1 cup water

Combine all ingredients, mixing well. Stuff into white, plastic hamburger bags. Fry or bake as loose, crumbled sausage.

Barbecue Venison

Ingredients

  • 3 pounds venison, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • ¼ cup red wine
  • 1 cup Italian salad dressing
  • 2 tablespoon steak sauce
  • 6 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon basil
  • 1 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 2 Tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients, except venison. Remove one-quarter of the combination and retain separately as finishing sauce. Stir venison cubes into remaining marinade. Pour everything, except the finishing sauce, into a freezer bag. Store both in refrigerator overnight. Place venison cubes into baking pan that has been sprayed with non-stick. Bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Pour finishing sauce over venison cubes. Bake for another 30 minutes.

Hawaiian Venison

Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless elk or deer round steak
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1/4 cup butter or margarine
  • 1/2 cup boiling water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2-3 green peppers
  • 1/2 cup pineapple chunks

Serving sauce

  • 2 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1/2 cup pineapple juice
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons soy sauce

How to prepare

  • Cut steak in 1 inch cubes and dredge with flour. Brown meat cubes on all sides in hot oil.
  • Place in Crock Pot add water and salt. Place on high one hour, low for approximately 6 hours.
  • Add green peppers and pineapple chunks to meat. Cook one hour longer.
  • On stove top prepare serving sauce: Combine all ingredients and cook until sauce is clear and thick.
  • Pour over meat mixture and heat until ready to serve. Serve over Chinese noodles or cooked rice.

And to top off all the recipe talk, here are some tips on making your venison extra delicious…

  1. Take a clean shot. A hunter’s duty is to ensure the animal’s death is as quick as possible. A clean, ethical shot will prevent the animal from running too far and ruining the flavor of the meat.
  2. Dress it fast.  “Heat will ruin meat faster than anything,”. It’s important that the deer is frozen as soon as possible.
  3. Clean it well. No one wants hair in the meat. I recommend giving the meat a thorough washing to get all the hair out.
  4. Trim the fat. The not-so-great gamey taste comes from the fat. Trim it off and avoid that unappetizing flavor. Supplement the fat by adding butter or cooking oil.
  5. Lower the temperature, extend the cook time. Venison have a lower fat content, therefore need to be cooked at lower temperatures for longer periods of time to get the optimum flavor. I’m a fan of using deer meat for soups, Crock Pot recipes and roasts.
  6. Baste continually. Venison has a tendency to become dry and hard if overcooked, Wolfe says. He recommends basting the meat and cooking it with red wine and vinegar to keep it moist
  7. Use more meat than normal.When substituting venison for beef in a recipe, more venison than listed is required. A beef steak is typically a half inch. A venison steak should be between 1 inch and 1 3/4 inches to get the same taste.

    Where our cuts of venison come from

Tigers May Hate Cinnamon But We Don’t

A balanced diet doesn’t have to be bland and boring. Some natural flavors will give your menu a healthy, tasty kick.

What’s In There?: A two-teaspoon serving of cinnamon has 12-15 calories. Cinnamon is a good source of manganese, calcium, iron,  and fiber.

Pros: Cinnamon was long used as a medicine in ancient times because of its anti-clotting and anti-microbial properties. Its scent has also been shown to boost brain function.

Choosing and Storing: You can purchase cinnamon in stick or powder forms. Sticks tend to last longer, but the powder has a stronger flavor. Store cinnamon in cool, dry place. Sticks can be kept for up to one year and powder for six months. Unless you entertain an army of applesauce eaters, stick with smaller quantities.

Using: Start your day off by adding cinnamon to your toast or oatmeal. Or add some spice to a black bean burrito with a dash of cinnamon. Beyond everyone’s favorite toast and pie recipes, cinnamon can be used to kick up your curry or add flavor to black bean burritos.

Synonymous with cold weather treats such as hot apple pie and homemade applesauce, cinnamon’s fame isn’t just for its flavor. The spice’s medicinal qualities have been well-documented. Cinnamon’s essential oils are considered anti-clotting and anti-microbial and shows promise in improving insulin resistance.

Here are 10 health benefits that are associated with cinnamon:

  1. Lower Cholesterol
    Studies have shown that just 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon per day can lower LDL cholesterol.
  2. Blood Sugar Regulation
    Several studies suggest that cinnamon may have a regulatory effect on blood sugar, making it especially beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes.
  3. Yeast Infection Help
    In some studies, cinnamon has shown an amazing ability to stop medication-resistant yeast infections.
  4. Cancer Prevention
    In a study published by researchers at the U.S. Department of Agriculture in Maryland, cinnamon reduced the proliferation of leukemia and lymphoma cancer cells.
  5. Anti-Clotting
    It has an anti-clotting effect on the blood.
  6. Arthritis Relief
    In a study at Copenhagen University, patients given half a teaspoon of cinnamon powder combined with one tablespoon of honey every morning before breakfast had significant relief in arthritis pain after one week and could walk without pain within one month.
  7. Anti-Bacterial
    When added to food, it inhibits bacterial growth and food spoilage, making it a natural food preservative.
  8. Brain Health
    One study found that smelling cinnamon boosts cognitive function and memory.
  9. E. Coli Fighter
    Researchers at Kansas State University found that cinnamon fights the E. coli bacteria in unpasteurized juices.
  10. High in Nutrients
    It is a great source of manganese, fiber, iron, and calcium.

    Cinnamon comes in different forms!!

Women Weigh In

Just when you think it’s hard enough being a woman. Now, studies have shown why we women have trouble keeping the LBS off… With the winter months and holiday seasons right around the corner, see how and why it’s becoming harder and harder for women to keep our “girlish figures” going….

http://www.livestrong.com/article/342944-six-reasons-why-it-is-hard-for-women-to-lose-weight/

Not Your Typical Pumpkin Season

Good for more than just delighting trick-or-treaters, the pumpkin is related to the squash and melon family and packs a nutritional antioxidant punch. The pumpkin is an autumn favorite, but you don’t just have to think about using one for decorating or pie.

What’s in Pumpkin: One cup of cooked, unsalted pumpkin has 49 calories and is a great source of the antioxidant beta-carotene. Pumpkin seeds have protein, healthy fats, minerals and a small amount of omega-3 fats.

Choosing: Pumpkins intended for carving don’t always taste as good as sugar (also called baking or pie) pumpkins. Choose pumpkins that are firm, smooth and brightly colored and, when possible, with the stem still attached.

Storing: Pumpkin “pulp” can be frozen or canned. You can store whole pumpkins in a cool, dry place for up to three months. Once sliced, keep the pieces in the refrigerator, wrapped in plastic for five to seven days. Place cooked pumpkin in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a week or in the freezer for three to six months.

Using Pumpkin this Season: Besides the iconic pumpkin pie, try your hand at pumpkin muffins, pumpkin rolls or maybe even pumpkin soup. You cook pumpkin like you would any other winter squash — peel it, slice it and remove the seeds. Then roast, boil or steam the pieces until tender. You can dice the cooked flesh into bite-sized pieces or puree them in a food processor.

You can also use the seeds. They’re easy to roast and are nutritious and flavorful.

So many ways to utilize seeds after carving pumpkins this season!

Health benefits of Pumpkin

  • It is one of the very low calorie vegetables. 100 g fruit provides just 26 calories and contains no saturated fats or cholesterol; however, it is rich in dietary fiber, anti-oxidants, minerals, vitamins. The vegetable is one of the food items recommended by dietitians in cholesterol controlling and weight reduction programs.
  • Pumpkin is a storehouse of many anti-oxidant vitamins such as vitamin-A, vitamin-C and vitamin-E.
  • With 7384 mg per 100 g, it is one of the vegetables in the Cucurbitaceae family featuring highest levels of vitamin-A, providing about 246% of RDA. Vitamin A is a powerful natural anti-oxidant and is required by the body for maintaining the integrity of skin and mucus membranes. It is also an essential vitamin for good visual sight. Research studies suggest that natural foods rich in vitamin A help a body protects against lung and oral cavity cancers.
  • It is also an excellent source of many natural poly-phenolic flavonoid compounds such as α, ß carotenes, cryptoxanthin, lutein and zea-xanthin. Carotenes convert into vitamin A inside the body.
  • Zea-xanthin is a natural anti-oxidant which has UV (ultra-violet) rays filtering actions in the macula lutea in retina of the eyes. Thus, it helps protect from “age-related macular disease” (ARMD) in the elderly.
  • The fruit is a good source of B-complex group of vitamins like folates, niacin, vitamin B-6 (pyridoxine), thiamin and pantothenic acid.
  • It is also rich source of minerals like copper, calcium, potassium and phosphorus.
  • Pumpkin seeds indeed are an excellent source of dietary fiber and mono-unsaturated fatty acids, which are good for heart health. In addition, the seeds are concentrated sources of protein, minerals and health-benefiting vitamins. For instance, 100 g of pumpkin seeds provide 559 calories, 30 g of protein, 110% RDA of iron, 4987 mg of niacin (31% RDA), selenium (17% of RDA), zinc (71%) etc., but no cholesterol. Further, the seeds are an excellent source of health promoting amino acid tryptophan. Tryptophan is converted to GABA in the brain.

    Pumpkin rolls are delicious year round

Key Health Benefits of Pumpkin Seeds

  1. Promotes Prostate Health

For you men over 50 helping carve pumpkins this Halloween, be sure to save those seeds.  Pumpkin seeds help promote a healthy prostate and minimize the issues such as urination problems due to an enlarged prostate.  Prostate problems are most common in men over fifty.

  1. Better Bones

Although it is the season for scary ghosts and skeletons, I’m not talking about a great looking skeleton with good bones hanging on your door for the “trick or treaters”.  I’m talking about your bones.  Pumpkin seeds are high in zinc and are a great natural resource for this much needed nutrition.  Low levels of zinc are one of the links to osteoporosis.

  1. Arthritis Relief

In a recent study pumpkin seeds showed the same anti-inflammatory benefits as the non-steroid drug indomethacin.  The good news on these results is that the pumpkin seeds did not have the same negative effect of damaged fats (lipid peroxides) in the lining of joints like the anti-inflammatory drug.  Okay, so this study was conducted on animals, but the healing benefits of pumpkin seeds for arthritis relief is a potential benefit to humans.

  1. Lower Cholesterol

Another known benefit of pumpkin seeds is their ability to help lower LDL “bad” cholesterol.  That is because the seeds have phytosterols, a compound that not only helps lower cholesterol but helps protect against certain cancers.  In addition to pumpkin seeds, many other nuts and seeds have the phytosterol compound including pistachios, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, English walnuts and Brazil nuts.

Making Pumpkin Seeds

Although you can buy pumpkin seeds already dried and seasoned, baking your own seeds is a less expensive and much more fun.

  • Scoop out the seed from inside the pumpkin
  • Using a paper towel, lightly pat the seeds and remove any pulp
  • Spread seeds evenly on a paper bag and dry them overnight
  • Preheat the oven to 160 – 170 degrees F
  • Place them in a single layer on a cookie sheet
  • Bake for 15 to 20 minutes

You can add seasoning like garlic powder, onion powder or salt and pepper for extra flavor.

By baking at a low temperature, you are more likely to preserve the essential oils and get all the health benefits of your pumpkin seeds.  You can add your seeds to your favorite salads, sprinkle in your soup or chili, add to your sautéed veggies or just eat them as is.

Pumpkin can be used for breakfast too!

What in the world is a Persimmon?

What in the world is a Persimmon?

Dating to ancient China, this orange-red fruit made its U.S. debut in the 1880s after being introduced in Washington, D.C. Today, California produces hundreds of persimmon varieties.

Is it healthy?: A medium-sized persimmon contains 120 calories and is a good source of fiber and vitamins A and K.

Selecting YOUR Persimmon: Select persimmons that are plump with smooth, unblemished skin and eat ripe ones immediately.

Storing: Store unripe persimmons at room temperature in a paper bag with an apple or banana to ripen. Or briefly store ripe persimmons in the refrigerator.

How do I use them?: With persimmons’ sweet flavor, they make a great addition to desserts. Try a persimmon cheesecake or a traditional persimmon pudding.

Persimmons look similar to tiny tomatoes, until you slice them open!

Here are five ways to eat persimmons:

  1. In a salad. Despite originating thousands of miles apart, persimmons (from East Asia) and pomegranates (from the Middle East) harmonize nicely—both flavor-wise and visually—in a fall/winter fruit salad. For an even more colorful (and very nutritious) dish, toss them with sliced red cabbage, Romaine lettuce, Asian pear, hazelnuts and Gorgonzola cheese, as in the Rainbow Chopped Salad from Epicurious.
  2. As a condiment or accompaniment. Organic Authority suggests serving a fresh persimmon salsa with grilled fish or chicken. Or it can be cooked into a spicy chutney with apples and raisins. Firm fuyus can also be sliced and roasted to be served as a sweet/savory side dish, as in this recipe from About.com.
  3. Dried. Dried persimmons are a popular treat in Japan where they are made through a labor-intensive process you’re unlikely to want to replicate at home. But even the shortcut method you can make in your oven—like this recipe from Martha Stewart—produces a yummy snack.
  4. In a drink. Imbibe magazine’s recipe for a persimmon margarita rimmed with cinnamon salt is a novel twist on one of my favorite cocktails. On the nonalcoholic side, 101 Asian Recipes explains how to make a Korean persimmon tea.
  5. In dessert. Nicole of Pinch My Salt shares her grandma’s recipe for sweet, moist persimmon cookies. And you can try a delicious-looking fuyu persimmon, pear and walnut rolled tart.

Sweet Sweet Potato Season!

Sweet Sweet Potato Season!

Sweet potatoes are a Native American super food that are nutrient-packed plants with orange or yellow flesh. They’re named for their sweet flavor caused by an enzyme that converts the potato’s starched into sugar.

Can you believe that a ½ cup serving of sweet potatoes has 90 calories and is an excellent source of beta-carotene vitamins A and C.

HOW TO CHOOSE: Select sweet potatoes that are firm and smooth and avoid ones with bruises or cracks. Also avoid choosing from a refrigerated display as the cool air can change the flavor.

HOW TO STORE: Store your sweet potatoes in a cool, dry place just like regular potatoes. Use room temperature sweet potatoes within a week.

HOW TO USE: Whenever possible cook sweet potatoes whole to retain the nutrients before peeling. Serve in place of baked potatoes or get creative with a recipe such as sweet potato pancakes.

Now, I know that everyone loves pumpkin pie around this time of year but, how about opting out that pumpkin for sweet potatoes?

Though traditionally considered a Southern or ethnic dish, particularly in African-American and Latino households, sweet potato pie is gaining traction as a Thanksgiving side.

One of the reasons sweet potato pie is offered as a pumpkin pie substitute is that the pies are similar in color and use mostly the same ingredients. The main difference is texture and taste.

What a sweet potato looks like when sliced open

 

SWEET POTATO FACTS

  • Sweet potatoes are not yams. They’re not even related.
  • Sweet potatoes originally hail from Africa.
  • Pumpkins and sweet potatoes are great sources of vitamins A and C and other nutrients.

 

NUTRITIONAL BREAKDOWN

Here’s a breakdown for a 1/8 slice of a 9-inch pie:

  • Calories: Pumpkin pie — 316; Sweet potato pie — 340
  • Protein: Pumpkin —7 grams; Sweet potato — 5 grams
  • Fat: Pumpkin —14 grams; Sweet potato —16 grams
  • Cholesterol: Pumpkin — 25 mg; Sweet potato — 20 mg

 

KEEP IN MIND

While the fat and cholesterol levels are about the same, depending on the recipe you use and whether it is homemade or commercial, the calories and other nutrients can vary widely.

Pie Crust

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup shortening
  • 1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS:

  • In a large bowl, combine flour and salt. Cut in shortening until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in water until mixture forms a ball. Divide dough in half, and shape into balls. Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight
  • Roll out dough on a floured counter. Don’t overwork it.

Filling

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 large sweet potatoes (roasted) or 1 small roasted long-neck pumpkin (press excess liquid). You will need about 1.5 cups of potato or pumpkin puree.
  • 1 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon

DIRECTIONS:

  • Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 400 degrees.
  • Place puree in large bowl.
  • Whisk in brown sugar and next 4 ingredients.
  • Transfer filling to crust.
  • Bake pie until filling is puffed around edges and set in center, about 45 minutes. Transfer to rack; cool. Can be made a day ahead. Cover, refrigerate

    Home-cooked sweet potato pie

Swiss Chard You Say?

Swiss Chard You Say?

One of the most nutritious vegetable options out there, Swiss chard is also one of the most ignored. Its flavor, similar to beets, usually holds equal parts sweet and bitter.

NUTRITION: At 15 calories per half-cup serving, Swiss chard packs one heck of a healthy punch with vitamins K, A and C and phytonutrients.

HOW TO CHOOSE: Always buy Swiss chard from refrigerated displays to ensure freshness. You want to choose vivid green leaves with no signs of wilting.

HOW TO STORE: Don’t rinse Swiss chard before storing because it will lead to spoilage. Tightly wrap it in a plastic storage bag and keep it in the refrigerator where it can stay fresh for up to five days.

HOW TO USE: This is one of the few veggies that you can boil without losing nutrients, and it brings out a sweeter taste. To serve, toss with your favorite dressing.

Healthy Swiss Chard just picked!

While Swiss chard is a great vegetable to eat raw in salads and sandwiches, this versatile and nutrient-concentrated vegetable can serve as a great addition to most any cooked recipe. Yet, like with all foods it is important to consider how cooking can affect its nutrient content, taste, texture and color, so that you can insure that you are receiving the very best that this leafy green vegetable has to offer every time you eat it. While there are limited research studies on how to cook Swiss chard to maintain its optimal nutritional value, published studies all support what we emphasize on the World’s Healthiest Foods website: short cooking times are the best.

Nutrients in Swiss chard

Swiss chard is a power food, a storehouse of many different vitamins, minerals and nutrients. In fact, based upon the nutrient rating system we developed at the World’s Healthiest Foods, Swiss chard is an excellent source of 9 nutrients, a very good source of 7 nutrients and a good source of 7 nutrients. Swiss chard is a nutrition star!(link to either Food Rating Table or Nutritional Profile for chard).

As a member of the goosefoot family of plants (also called the chenopod family), Swiss chard is in the company of and beets (which originally and still grow wild around parts of the Mediterranean), quinoa (which originated in the valleys of the Andes and was a staple food for the Inca civilization) and spinach). Chard’s unique heritage as a member of the goosefoot family is one of the reasons it is so valuable nutritionally.

Short term cooking can best retain Swiss chard’s nutrients–focus on vitamin C:

As noted above, cooking Swiss chard for minimal amounts of time is key to maximizing it nutrient profile. This is because many of the nutrients concentrated in Swiss chard are susceptible to damage from heat and water.

Looking to the 12 nutrients for which Swiss chard is an excellent source, let’s take vitamin C as an example of how cooking may impact the nutrient content of this vegetable. Studies that have examined the impact of cooking upon vitamin C have shown that short-duration cooking (3-6 minutes) resulted in vitamin C loss of 25% or less while studies involving longer cooking times (10-20 minutes) have shown that 50% or more of the vitamin C may become lost.

How important is it to preserve this vitamin C? Consider these numbers: in one cup of chard, costing you only 35 calories, there are 32 milligrams of vitamin C. These numbers rank chard right alongside of freshly squeezed organic orange juice as a source of vitamin C! Cooking the chard for too long is like leaving half of your freshly squeezed organic orange juice sitting in the glass.

Short term cooking can best retain Swiss chard’s nutrients–focus on potassium and magnesium:

Other examples of how cooking can impact the nutrient content of Swiss chard involve the minerals in which Swiss chard is concentrated. Included in chard’s “excellent amount” category are the minerals potassium and magnesium, and both are particularly vulnerable to reductions from cooking. Even blanching for several minutes may greatly reduce the content of these minerals. Applying insights gleaned from studies focused on nutrient losses from cooked spinach, where blanching for several minutes resulted in a reduction of over 50% of potassium and approximately one-third of magnesium, we once again see how minerals are at risk for nutrient loss during cooking and how important using minimal cooking times can be.

How cooking affects oxalates in Swiss chard

Swiss chard is one of the vegetables that contain oxalates, naturally-occurring substances found in plants, animals, and in humans. Although there are a few, relatively rare health conditions that require strict oxalate restriction (hypertext to oxalate article here), for the vast majority of individuals, oxalate-containing foods should not be a health concern.

While we have not seen research on cooking, Swiss chard, and oxalates, there is some research on this topic with another chenopod family vegetable, spinach. Research has shown that the boiling of spinach in large amounts of water helps decrease the oxalic acid content by as much as 50%.

Maintaining vibrant color

While the rich colors of Swiss chard can be attributed to a host of different phytonutrients, chlorophyll is a major contributor to its rich green color. Chlorophyll contributes a green color to vegetables and plants since it reflects sunlight at exact appropriate wavelengths for our eyes to detect them as green.

Prolonged cooking results in a dramatic loss of chlorophyll. Excessive heating results in the removal of the magnesium from the center of the chlorophyll molecule causing it to turn into a molecule called pheophytin, which results in a noticeable change in color from from bright green to olive-gray. Therefore, to maintain the vibrant green color of Swiss chard and the potential health benefits supplied by the chlorophyll phytonutrients it is important to cook it for minimal amounts of time.

In the world of processed food, you can never trust your senses to tell you whether a food is nutritious or not. There are too many ways for a food manufacturer to trick your taste buds and your eyes. There are artificial flavors and artificial colors in the majority of non-organic, processed foods. But in the world of cooking and organically-grown food, it is amazing just how much you can trust your senses! You can depend on your taste buds and your eyes! When chard color starts to look lifeless, guess what? The chard is losing something – in this case, the magnesium found in its chlorophyll.

Enhanced taste and texture

One of the reasons that many people don’t like green leafy vegetables is that they equate these foods with a soggy, limp texture that also can contribute to a taste profile that is compromised. Yet, this texture and taste are not inherent to the vegetables themselves but are caused by the overcooking that the vegetable has experienced either in the home or in a restaurant. Therefore, by only cooking Swiss chard for only a few minutes as opposed to a longer period of time, you will not only be able to enjoy the nutrients inherent in this vegetable, but its great taste and texture.

Once again, your senses can be your guide here. If you had a plant at home, or in your garden, and it started looking limp, you would automatically think that it had either too much water, too little water, or had been exposed to too much sun. Assume the same thing about the the chard you are preparing: too much heat, too much contact with boiling water or steam and you’ll observe the exact same consequence.

Practical tips

To maximize the content of the nutrients of which Swiss chard is concentrated, quickly cook this leafy green vegetable, covering the pot or pan. Steaming for 2-3 minutes is the method we highly suggest. Not only will this method help to retain nutrient content, but will provide you with a vegetable bursting with taste, great texture and bright color.

Swiss Chard growing in the garden!

Increasing Vitamin B12 Intake

Boosting Vitamin B12 Intake

Experts believe the recommended dietary allowance should be higher for vitamin B12.

The 2010 Dietary Guidelines included vitamin B12 as one of the nutrients in which supplementation may be warranted for older individuals. Because many people over the age of 50 lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 from foods due to a decreased production of hydrochloric acid in the stomach, the guidelines recommend people in this age bracket consume a B12-containing supplement for B12- fortified foods because those sources don’t require stomach acid for absorption. The RDA is 2.4 mcg/day but some nutrition experts are questioning whether that amount is enough.

Normal ranges for B12 vary slightly among different labs and can range anywhere between 200 to 900 pg/mL. The general consensus is values less than 200 pg/mL constitute a B12 deficiency.

B12 screening typically now relies mainly on serum B12 values, one potential solution is to aim for a higher serum B12 level within the normal range.

Vitamin B12 food sources

The Benefits on Vitamin B12

B12 serves important roles throughout the body. It’s required for proper RBC formation, neurological function, and DNA synthesis. While neurological problems and certain anemias, such as Megaloblastic and pernicious, are the same the B12 deficiency, other possible health consequences may arise due to inadequate levels. These include the follow:

Cognitive Impairment

  • Research links B12 and brain function over the years. Declines in cognitive function can be a possible fore-runner to Alzheimer’s disease, a direct link between vitamin B12 levels and this disease’s development is lacking. Brain atrophy is associated with Alzheimer’s disease, it’s theorized that higher B12 levels may modify risk.

Depression

  • A cause-and-effect relationship between B12 and depression remains elusive, but an association between intake and incidence of depression has been shown.

Osteoporosis

  • Vitamin B12 is important for aiding in osteoblasts and lowering blood levels of homocysteine, which may interfere with collagen cross-linking. Remedying B12 deficiency may be a factor in reducing osteoporosis risk.

Age-related Macular Degeneration (AMD)

The bottom line is that when RDs are counseling patients or clients, regarding their vitamin B12 status, advise anymore with blood level less than 350 pg/mL to take a B12 supplement or, at the least, a MVI  formulated for people over the age of 50. For all others, encourage them to eat routinely B12-containing foods, including at least some B12-fortified foods.

B12 comparisons

RDs and Restaurant Opportunities

Exciting Restaurant Opportunities

Menu labeling laws are creating new jobs for RDs in nutrition analysis, menu development, and more. Despite challenging economic times, people are eating out more than ever.

Obviously, today’s eating-out scene isn’t what it used to be. It’s no longer an occasional treat. In fact, it’s become mainstream. Part of the reason is that reason is that restaurants are reaching more people in more powerful ways. Social media, big-batch couponing, and targeted marketing and advertising are wildly popular, and restaurants often promote nutrition and health-related messages.

Food is a competitive business, and restaurants stand out offering what people want. Weight-conscious consumers demand tasty, low-fat, low-carb, and low-calorie. Eco-conscious customers seek restaurants that promote social responsibility and sustainability and offer local selections. Health-conscious clientele ask for nutrition and allergy info as well as options for special diets such as low sodium, vegan, gluten-free, and oil free. In fact, according to a National Restaurant Association (NRA) survey of 1,800 chefs, health/nutrition, gluten-free/allergy-free fare, children’s nutrition, and healthful kids’ meals are among the 20 hottest restaurant trends of 2012.

The sky’s the limit for RDs in restaurants nowadays. Some of the most important roles RDs can play in the restaurant industry include providing nutrition information, developing menus for special needs customers, helping with food safety and label regulation compliance, and marketing.

Nutrition analysis is one of the many menu-consulting services RDs can provide to restaurants. Others include recipe creation, menu development, recipe makeovers for improved nutrient profiles, identification and development of selections that meet guidelines for specific diets and dietary restrictions, adaptation of recipes for health conditions, and assistance with increasing perceived healthfulness of menus.

RDs with strong culinary backgrounds are ideal for assisting restaurants with developing new flavor profiles and ingredient combinations while meeting calorie and nutrient targets, sourcing fresh/local or unusual ingredients, and even helping with food budgeting. RDs also can train staff on topics that bring together nutrition and culinary arts in unique and interesting ways.

Menu development is another new avenue for RDs in today’s food industry. Niche markets provide consulting opportunities for RDs, like identifying and designing gluten- and allergy-free menu options; developing low-carb or low-fat dishes; promoting healthful kids’ meals; procuring local, organic, or sustainable ingredients; and developing vegetarian/vegan fare.

Developing, defining criteria for, and implementing special dietary meal, such as heart-healthy choices, are other opportunities requiring RDs expertise. In some cases, programs with nutrition criteria already exist, and the restaurant simply needs help identifying and developing menu items that meet the criteria. One example is the NRAs Kids LiveWell program, which already has established criteria for its participating menu items.

Another critical area of opportunity for RDs in the restaurant industry is food safety. Becoming ServSafe certified is one way to get your foot in the door. RDs also can become involved with state-specific compliance measures with the department of health, front- and back-of-the-house food safety training programs, food allergen labeling, and food allergy protocol training, which entails the prevention of allergen cross-contamination.

Food Safety at its finest!

RDs with experience in public relations and marketing are valuable additions to restaurant teams. For example, experts in customer relationship management give restaurants an edge with the use of social networking tools and social influence marketing. Being the healthy voice of a restaurant can be accomplished through marketing materials, becoming a spokesperson, interviews, food demos, tastings, seminars, workshops, health fairs, lectures, and trade shows.

RDs are in high demand to help restaurants comply with menu labeling laws. In addition to providing soon-to-be-required nutrition information, like calorie counts on menus, menu boards, food display tags, and at drive-thrus, restaurants will need assistance understanding health claims, FDA legislation, requirements, exemptions, and recommendations. Chain food establishments, including grocery store cafés and convenience stores, as well as those managing vending machines soon need to comply with the laws too. These businesses may know less about menu labeling than traditional restaurants and will be receptive to RDs expertise.

Despite mixed study findings on the effectiveness of menu labeling on food choices and behavior and its influence on the obesity epidemic, no one can ignore the fact that people want nutrition information. They also want healthful, tasty, balanced meals. Smart restaurants appreciate the value that dietitians bring to the table and understand the importance of customer loyalty. For nutrition professionals to effectively sell their services to restaurants, they need to be armed with persuasive evidence that illustrates their value.

RDs make the perfect partners for restaurants that care about the accuracy and quality of nutrition information they provide. A restaurant needs to protect its credibility. Restaurant nutrition consulting involves a high level of skill, knowledge, education, experience, and responsibility, and RDs are the best fit to ensure that nutrition information is accurate and doesn’t mislead consumers. And if food labels or nutrient claims are involved, RDs are familiar with FDA regulations.

RDs understand the bottom line.

RDs know that a restaurant is a business, and businesses must turn a profit. They know that being sensitive to the financial challenges of restaurateurs is an important part of forging a successful working relationship. When setting fees, a little creativity and flexibility regarding bulk pricing, package deals, and other compromises may, depending on the situation, result in a win-win.

RDs are also aware that chefs are passionate about the tools they create and may be resistant to standardizing recipes and following guidelines that ensure consistency and accuracy in recipe analysis. It’s important to respect the need for creativity and agree on ways to retain the food’s high quality while providing accurate, reliable information.

As for nutrition professionals, there is no better time to explore career opportunities in the restaurant industry. Restaurateurs need our expertise on many levels to provide healthful foods and accurate nutrition information in creative, innovative ways during a time when obesity and chronic disease is at an all-time high. Without a doubt, our generation has to make a difference….

RDs can be in the most unexpected places in your favorite restaurant!