Real Maple Syrup

Facebook puts the oddest ads on my page.  How would they know that I’m a big fan of REAL maple syrup.  Yes, it is far more expensive, but this is one of the biggest “it’s worth it” things in the food world.  I just could not, would not eat regular corn syrup based table syrup.

So today, FB gives me an ad with a link to this page: Get Real – Taste the Truth, which is really a maple syrup promo page.  They do have good stuff there, links to recipes, etc.  So with my maple-coated tongue in cheek, let me tout the benefits  of maple syrup, from their site!

The Health Benefits of Maple Syrup:

5 Points You Should Know

A researcher at the University of Rhode Island found more than 20 compounds in pure maple syrup that contribute to better health, including several newly identified antioxidant compounds that are reported to have anti-cancer, anti-bacterial and anti-diabetic properties.

A 1/4 cup serving of maple syrup contains more calcium than the same amount of milk and more potassium than a banana.

Buying maple syrup in bulk (say, a gallon jug vs. an 8oz bottle) can save more than 30%.

With one less cup of store-bought coffee every other week, you could buy a year’s worth of maple syrup!

Most maple producing states host a Maple Weekend every spring where families can watch maple syrup being made and learn all about the sugaring process.

Seriously, though, I will only buy pure maple syrup, usually from TJ, or Whole Foods.  I put some into muffins, sweet glazes, things like that.  Enjoy!


My Plate (replaces Food Pyramid)

In case you missed this…

The USDA has replaced the old food pyramid with My Plate – a picture of what we should eat, with these basic principles:

Balancing Calories

  • Enjoy your food, but eat less.
  • Avoid oversized portions.

Foods to Increase

  • Make half your plate fruits and vegetables.
  • Make at least half your grains whole grains.
  • Switch to fat-free or low-fat (1%) milk.

Foods to Reduce

  • Compare sodium in foods like soup, bread, and frozen meals ― and choose the foods with lower numbers.
  • Drink water instead of sugary drinks.

Easy enough!


Sunset’s Best Hotels in the West

I really love Sunset Magazine.  I find out great things about places I already thought I knew, even around the corner, and read about the way I wish I lived (you know what I mean?) in the West.  They always have great info on travel, dining, and how to make your home and garden better.

This month’s issue has their list of the 25 Best Hotels in the West.  I opened this article hoping that I’d stayed at at least several of them, and was dismayed to find I’ve only been to ONE – The Lodge at Torrey Pines in La Jolla.  It was fascinating reading about these unusual properties, some in urban settings, some in resorts.

The hotel I really want to try?  Post Ranch Inn, in Big Sur!


Whole Foods Holiday Guide

The holidays are approaching, and Whole Foods has put together a very comprehensive Guide for the Holidays, which includes tips on how to cook a turkey, a video on how to carve a turkey, leftovers ideas, vegetarian and vegan ideas, and much more.  They really should start paying me.

Doesn’t Halloween make you start thinking about Thanksgiving though?

CHECK BACK in about 2 weeks, and I will start posting my GOURMET Thanksgiving leftover recipes.  No, we don’t reheat turkey and zap the mashed potatoes at my house.  Recipes will include:

  • Moroccan Turkey Shepherd’s Pie (uses the turkey AND the mashed potatoes)
  • Stuffing stuffed mushrooms (if you make good stuffing, it will be even better baked in a mushroom with a little cheese)
  • Yam ribbon cheesecake with cranberry glaze and pecan garnish (the single best leftover food I’ve ever made!)

Happy Holiday Planning!


Friday Inspiration – Think OUTside the box

You’ll have a whole eternity to think inside the box.


Seasons 52 – Healthy Dining

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Seasons 52 is a small national chain, and they have a great restaurant at South Coast Plaza.  They are known for healthy food, and no dish is over 475 calories (including full entrees with sides!).  They also have the most fantastic way of serving dessert.  Their mini indulgences come in double shot glasses, and are generally around 250-300 calories, with so much flavor that a few bites are completely satisfying.

Like most restaurants though, they add a lot of sodium for flavor.  I discovered that their full nutritional info is on line, and if you sort through the menu, you can build a very flavorful and still low sodium meal.

Today I had the Arugula and Portobello salad, with parmagiano and truffles – 160 calories, 324 mg sodium.  This was followed by the LoSo Cedar Planked Salmon, which comes with roasted potatoes, baby carrots, and asparagus.  The lower sodium seasoning on the perfectly cooked salmon was delicious.  450 calories, 518 mg. sodium.

The peanut butter chocolate swirl mini indulgence was 220 calories, only 148 mg sodium.

So grand total for a fantastic 3 course meal: 830 calories; 990 mg of sodium.  Most restaurant meals are triple in both categories!


Fish Fraud

You aren’t necessarily getting what you think when you order fish in a restaurant, or sometimes even when you buy fish in a market.  This Boston Globe Article reveals how they conducted an undercover investigation with surprising results.  They collected 183 samples of fish from 134 sites and hired a laboratory in Canada to check the DNA. And they published their results in a two-part series this week: scientists found that 87 of 183 were sold with the wrong species name — some 48 percent.  The really great news?  Some retailers, like Trader Joes, were found to be truthful and reliable!

How about outside Boston?  NPR reports in their follow up that there probably is fraud all over.  But, they say National Fisheries Institute spokesman Gavin Gibbons told them that the problem could be worse in New England because it’s such a big seafood market.

There are numerous reports that the reported catch of Bluefin Tuna worldwide is only half of what is reported SOLD, so not all Tuna labeled Bluefin is Bluefin.

What’s worse is that a good portion of imported fish is tainted.  The website FairWarning reported this past summer that 80% of fish imported into the US is laced with banned chemicals.  Dangerous?  Who knows?  But how appetizing is that tidbit.

We can all try to know what we eat, ask more questions, and eat safe.  Be more of a locavore. Eat fish in locally owned restaurants that buy from premier local sources, and know what they are serving.