Your Kid’s Jaws, Teeth and Health..

Last evening’s program that I had the pleasure to chair at The Commonwealth Club in San Francisco was truly eye-opening. Very brief summary: breastfeeding is more work for a baby than feeding from a bottle, so if at all possible nurse your baby as it strengthens his or her jaws which leads to aligned teeth, and a more open air passage—kids should never snore. When your baby starts to eat food, don’t have them suck it out of a package for ease. Again, make them work for it a little. When they start to eat real food sitting up at a table, have them chew well and take their time. There is so much more, but please do purchase and read the fascinating book and listen to the Podcast when it’s live—-link below.

Some basics on the program, the book authors and the book, Jaws: The Story of a Hidden Epidemic. (by the way, all proceeds go to charity)

Here is the link to the program. Check back end of the week as the podcast should be live by then. https://tinyurl.com/y9q87r59

JAWS: THE STORY OF A HIDDEN EPIDEMIC

There is a serious hidden epidemic just now being discovered by the public health community. It’s most obvious symptom is the growing frequency of children with crooked teeth wearing braces, but it includes children snoring, keeping their jaws hanging open, frequently afflicted with stuffy noses, children and adults with disturbed sleeping at night (sleep apnea) often unrecognized, attention and behavioral problems, and a general decline of physical appearance. Those symptoms indicate a building medical emergency that lies in the collection of serious diseases connected mouth breathing and disturbed sleep — a collection that includes heart disease, cancer, ADHD, depression, schizophrenia, suicide, asthma and perhaps Alzheimer’s disease. Disturbed sleep is an extremely serious stressor of the human mind and body; among other things, it tends to depress the immune system, making an individual much more vulnerable to a wide variety of diseases, and modifications of the brain that are manifest in many ways only partially understood. Add to this the large contributions of sleep deprivation to highway accidents, medical mistakes and poor performance at work and in school, and it’s easy to see how important this unrecognized public health emergency is. Come learn what causes this problem and many solutions. ‘Forwardontics’ will be discussed with clear explanations.

Sandra Kahn, D.D.S., M.S.D., is a graduate from the University of Mexico and the University of the Pacific. She has 25 years of clinical experience in orthodontics and is part of craniofacial anomalies teams at the University of California, San Francisco and Stanford University.

Paul R. Ehrlich, Ph.D., has been a household name since the publication of his 1968 bestseller, The Population Bomb. He is Bing Professor of Population Studies Emeritus and President of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford University. Ehrlich is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and a recipient of the Crafoord Prize, the Blue Planet Prize, and numerous other international honors. He investigates a wide range of topics in population biology, ecology, evolution, human ecology, and environmental science.

The Importance of Snacks

According to one study of 31,337 children and adolescents, snacking can contribute up to 600 calories per day, mostly from high-fat, high-salt, high-sugar foods. Three snacks per day are common and more than 27 percent of children’s daily caloric intake is coming from snacks. These snack habits are eroding mealtime where healthier food is generally served. My guess is that adults aren’t too far behind in these statistics.

Snacks can be a healthy part of food intake, but should be eaten only when hungry, not as habit or from boredom.  Here are some healthy snack tips:

  • Choose snacks for variety and select foods from different food groups.
  • Snack only when you are hungry.
  • Eat snack size portions.
  • Plan ahead and bring snacks with you.
  • Read labels for serving sizes and portion control.
  • Drink water.  At least 8 eight-ounce glasses are recommended each day, unless you have kidney problems.
  • When you are snacking be sure you are only eating.  Snacking while studying or watching TV usually means you will eat more than you intended!
  • Plan snacks as a part of the day’s food plan.
  • When shopping, let children help pick out fruits, vegetables and cheeses, they will be more interested in eating them.
  • Set aside a “snack spot” in the refrigerator and cupboard; keep it stocked with nutritious ready-to-eat snacks.  Teach kids to only eat when hungry.
  • Offer snacks at regular times, such as midmorning and mid afternoon. Don’t let children nibble constantly during the day.
  • Avoid high sugar, fatty (the ‘wrong’ kind of fats like potato chips which have been fried in who-know-what kinds of unhealthy fat) and salty snacks, such as candy and soda pop.
  • Snacks are a good way to introduce new foods. Include a game or activity to learn about the new food; let the child help fix it.
  • Never offer food as a reward for good behavior.

Here are a few healthy snacking ideas:

  • Fruits and vegetables. Eating fruits and vegetables provides a feeling of fullness and only a small amount of calories. They also provide vitamins, minerals, fiber and other nutrients.
  • Ants on a log — Spread peanut or almond butter on celery sticks and top with raisins.
  • Nuts and seeds. Nuts and seeds are a good source of protein and healthy fats, which helps keep you feeling fuller longer. Nuts and seeds are high in calories, however; so don’t eat them in large quantities. Buy and eat raw nuts and seeds.
  • Pita and hummus — Cut whole-grain pita bread, non-gluten if desired)  into triangles and bake in the oven until crispy. Serve with carrot and celery sticks and dip in hummus. At our non-profit DirectionFive-a culinary and nutrition program for kids-this recipes is a favorite of the kids we teach. Try it!

Hummus

Serves 6

Yield: 2 cups

2 cups cooked garbanzo beans or 1-15 ounce can*

1 lemon, juiced

2 tablespoons tahini

2 cloves garlic

1/2 teaspoon cumin

1/4 teaspoon cayenne

1/4 cup olive oil

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon paprika

Rinse and drain garbanzos and place them in a food processor. Add the lemon juice, salt and pepper, tahini, garlic, cumin and cayenne. Turn on the processor and slowly add the olive oil in a thin stream until the mixture is smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings, if needed. Place in a bowl, drizzle with a little olive oil and sprinkle with paprika.

Variation: Sometimes we add a handful of spinach and some fresh parsley to this. It’s delicious and adds more nutrients.

Garden Cake–A Favorite!

Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s still cake and you need to watch your portion size and limit how often you make this. That said, it’s chock-full of veggies and is moist and absolutely delicious!

Garden Cake

This delicious cake is full of vegetables.

Serves 12

1/2 cup walnut oil

1/2 cup applesauce

1 1/4 cups sugar

2 teaspoons vanilla

2 cups whole-wheat flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 cup raw grated carrots

1 cup raw grated zucchini

1/2 cup raw grated beets

1 cup chocolate chips, optional

1/2 cup walnuts, chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease and flour a 9 X 13″ pan.

In a large bowl mix the oil, eggs and sugar, beating well with a hand mixer or whisk for 3-4 minutes.

Wash the vegetables well, but there is no need to peel any of them. Grate all the vegetables and set aside. Place the beets in a separate bowl so the other veggies don’t turn pink.

In a small bowl combine flour, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Stir into wet ingredients.

Add shredded carrots, zucchini, beets, chocolate chips and walnuts. Stir until blended and pour into prepared pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean.

 

How About a Fruit Salad Contest?

Doesn’t this beautiful photograph of fruit make you want a fruit salad…right now? When it’s a hot day, and you don’t want to heat up the kitchen in the morning, place a lot of fruit on the kitchen counter, and let your kids have at it! Wash the fruit, cut up when necessary, and then the fun part, of making a bowl gorgeous! Perhaps offer a prize for the prettiest? Consider too saving some fruit and later in the day, place in a mason jar and cover with mineral water.

Perfect!

A Class for 6-9 Year Olds

Here’s Day 1 of a 5-Day Camp for 6-9 years olds. We have taught this class to many, many kids and they love the food, and especially love knife skills.

Day 1

Introduction:

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives is the mantra for this program.

When you understand the foods that support your health, and then you learn to create sumptuous meals for you and the people in your life, you feel satisfied and contented.

In the Kitchen:

Kids, like most adults, simply want to jump in and make homemade pizza, but there are basics that need to be learned first, for safety and sanitation reasons, of course, but also so one knows how to measure properly, what size and type of pan to use and other basic information needed for a successful kitchen experience.

Safety and Sanitation:

Before you enter the kitchen, tie your hair back if you have long hair, and if you’re sick, stay out of the kitchen altogether. Next wash your hands in warm, soapy water. If you have any cuts or sores, be sure to cover with a bandage. While you’re in the kitchen, if you sneeze, cough, touch your hair, nose or any other body part, or eat, please wash your hands again. You obviously wash your hands well after you use the restroom. If you handle raw meat or fish, please wash your hands before touching any other food. Ideally your clothes and aprons should be clean.

Here are some very important tips to always keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

  • When you work with food, keep raw foods away from cooked foods.
  • Keep food away from cleaning products.
  • Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before preparation.
  • Rinse off your meats and fish as well, pat dry and leave in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Raw and thawing meats and fish should always be kept on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid dripping and contamination.
  • Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in a proper container in the refrigerator. Do not refreeze food after it’s been thawed.
  • Food needs to be held at proper temperatures to avoid the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Stuffed meat and reheated leftovers should be kept at 165 degrees, beef and other hot food, 140 degrees, fish and poultry, 145 degrees and cooked pork, hamburgers and eggs, 155 degrees.

Kitchens can be dangerous places, with sharp equipment and hot stoves! It was my experience when I had my cooking school that, in order of accidents, potato peelers, graters, knives, and hot stoves and ovens, were the major culprits. With some very basic and very important rules, well learned, accidents rarely happen.

A tip for adults working with kids in the kitchen is to try not to hover. I understand the nervousness about watching an eight-year hold with a knife, but hovering only makes them nervous and makes the kitchen a stressful place, when it should be a warm, nurturing place. When they understand basic kitchen safety and the proper use of equipment such as knives, they’ll be fine.

There is one basic rule when working in the kitchen-stay focused on the job at hand! If you are grating or chopping, your eyes are on that knife and cutting board and nowhere else. When this is learned, accidents rarely happen.

Let’s begin with knives. When choosing a knife, how does it feel in your hand? A ten year old with relatively small hands wouldn’t be comfortable using a twelve-inch chef knife. A good knife can last a lifetime, so choose your knife carefully. A knife store with salespeople who really understand all the intricacies of knives is an invaluable source of information. Here are some basics:

The knife has a blade, which does the cutting. The example, below, is a typical western knife that is sharp on both sides. Japanese knives have blades that are sharp on only one side, as they believe they cut more effectively.

There are various types of blades:

Carbon steel- Our ‘knife –guy’s’ favorite knife because it takes a great edge but discolors when they come in contact with anything acidic like tomatoes or citrus fruit. A carbon knife will rust so be sure to clean and dry them after every use.

Stainless Steel- They don’t rust so taking care of them is much easier, however, they are difficult to keep a good sharp edge.

High carbon stainless steel – Tough, holds an edge and they don’t discolor. The carbon adds strength to stainless but also more cost. A good choice.

Titanium- Much lighter than steel, holds its edge, and is also flexible, so it is a better choice for boning and filleting knives.

The spine is opposite the blade and adds weight and stability. The tip of a knife is at the point and is used for inserting the knife into something and for cutting small items. The tang is that piece of metal that extends from the blade to the back of the knife and the handle attaches to. The tang also gives a knife some weight and balance. Better knives have tangs.

The bolster is that little collar that separates the blade and the handle and adds strength and balance. The bolster can run from the spine to the edge or just part way. You hold onto the handle and it’s important for the handle to feel good in your hand. It can be made out of wood, plastic, composite or stainless steel.

Knives are blocked, forged or sintered.

  • Blocked knives are cut from a single sheet of metal usually of the same thickness. Think of using a cookie cutter on rolled dough. The blades are then ground to form the edge and handles are added to the tang. They typically don’t have bolsters and are less expensive to make and therefore buy.
  • Forged knives, as the name suggest, are forged, and not stamped. The manufacturer takes metal, heats it up and pounds it into the correct shape using a drop forge machine. These knives typically have bolsters, more weight, and thicker bolsters and cost more to produce. They are better balanced knife that when taken care of properly, can last a lifetime.
  • Sintered knives, or Eastern-style knives, is a process where they take a separate blade and fuse it to a separate tang.

Whatever type of knives you choose, you must frequently sharpen them, as a sharp knife is safer than a dull knife. With a dull knife you exert more pressure on the knife, which generally means more accidents. Always hand-wash your knives, dry properly and store where they won’t rub against other knives. Besides a chef’s knife, you will also need a paring knife, which has a short blade and is used for small jobs, a bread or serrated knife, a boning knife for removing meat from joints and a carving knife, for carving and slicing meat.

A few last tips: never try to catch a falling knife! When you carry a knife it should point down and the blade should face backwards. Carry it close to you but not against your body. When you carry your knife to the sink, carry it by itself and not on your cutting board where it could fall. Do not place knives in a sink full of dirty dishes as in retrieving them; you could grab the blade by mistake.

Cutting boards can be made of any number of material, wood, plastic, bamboo or composite, which are various material fused or glued together. Wood boards are the easiest on your knives, but cannot be put in the dishwasher, plastic boards and composite boards can be washed in the dishwasher, but gouges can harbor bacteria, bamboo is a sustainable wood product; whichever you choose, wash it carefully between uses.

Now that you understand more about knives, you need to learn basic knife cuts. The proper knife cut affects cooking time and visual appeal.

Basic Knife Cuts:

Julienne: A stick cut. Strips 2-2 ½ inches long. 1/8” X 1/8”

Brunoise: A dice cut. 1/8” X 1/8” X 1/8”. Made from cutting a julienne.

Batonnet: A strip cut. Strips 2-2 ½ inches long. ¼” X ¼”

Small Dice: A dice cut. ¼” X ¼” X ¼”. Made from cutting a Batonnet.

Medium Dice: A dice cut. ½” X ½” X ½”.

Large Dice: A dice cut. ¾” X ¾” X ¾”

Mince: Small cut with no specific dimensions made by rocking the knife back and forth.

Chiffonade: Stacked leaves, rolled up, then sliced thinly.

Roll Cut: Slice vegetable on the diagonal, roll vegetable 90 degrees and slice gain

Diagonal Cut: Oval shaped slices. Made by cutting the ingredient at an angle. The knife is held at an angle–the more the angle the shorter the cooking time.

Slice: A thin, flat piece of something, such as a slice of bread

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Today we will practice our knife skills doing the following:

Medium and large dice using strips of watermelon. Slice bananas and apples. Mince a little mint for a lovely Fruit Salad.

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Ready to begin!

You are almost ready to begin, but before you do so, read the recipe completely to make sure you have all the ingredients. Next mise en place (meaning everything in its place) your ingredients, get out all necessary equipment and you’re ready!

Recipe Tips:

  • Read through the recipe carefully to make sure that you understand the ingredients and directions. Make sure all ingredients meet your dietary needs.
  • Make sure that you can perform all the techniques.
  • Look at the recipe yield and decide if the number of servings is what you need. Check that you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients.
  • Make sure that you have adequate time to prepare and cook, if needed, the recipe.
  • Check whether you can (or need to) make any part of the recipe ahead of time.
  • Check whether an ingredient is divided, so that you don’t make the mistake of using that ingredient all at once.
  • Find out whether you need to preheat the oven.

 

Recipe grammar is important! One cup chopped nuts is not the same as 1 cup nuts, chopped.  Sometimes you measure an ingredient and then prepare it and sometimes you prepare the ingredient and then measure it.

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Turkey Meatloaf

Can be made with ground beef or ground chicken

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Serves 10

3 pounds ground turkey

3 large eggs

1 cup oatmeal

1 medium red pepper, chopped fine

1 medium yellow onion, chopped fine

1 small carrot, grated

1 stalk celery, chopped fine

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

1 1/2 teaspoons pepper

1 1/2 teaspoons dry mustard

Place the all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. I find it easier to use my hands for the mixing. Place the mixture in the 9X9 pan and shape into a loaf. Bake for 1 1/2 hours, or until light brown.

Substitutions

If you are sensitive to oats you may substitute leftover brown rice or brown rice breadcrumbs.

So many choices!

You may form the turkey into meatballs and place on a cookie sheet to bake. Cooking time for meatballs is about 30 minutes, depending on the size. You may also sauté them in a large frying pan in a little olive oil. After they have browned on all sides, remove them from the pan and keep them warm on a plate in the oven. Into the pan drippings add one tablespoon flour and cook for one minute. Whisk in 1/2 cup of white wine (or broth) and 1/4 cup of freshly minced parsley and cook for about 3 minutes, or until some of the wine/broth have evaporated. Season with sea salt and pepper, as desired. Pour over meatballs and serve.

For a beautiful presentation, try stuffing the meatloaf with additional vegetables. After you have prepared the meatloaf, place a 18″ piece of waxed paper or parchment on a hard surface. Press into a 9 X 12″ size. Into the center of the mixture place some grated carrots, cooked and drained spinach and whatever else you choose. Using the waxed paper roll up the meatloaf and place in pan, seam side down. When you slice into it, you will se spirals of colors. You may also sprinkle your stuffing mixture with about 1/2 cup of grated cheese if you like.

Basic Brown Rice

We will double this recipe

1 cup brown rice, long grain, short grain or basmati
2 cups water or stock
salt and pepper, to taste
1 Tb olive oil

Place olive oil in a pan and turn heat on to medium. Add brown rice and stir for a minute or two to coat rice. Add warm liquid. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and cover. Let cook, undisturbed until done about 40-50 minutes.

Long grain rice cooks to a fluffier texture and short grain to a stickier texture.

We’ll make a salad and dressing while the meatloaf and rice cook.

Mustard Vinaigrette

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

2 tablespoons shallots, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 lemon, juiced

3/4 cup olive oil, can also use flax oil

Place the mustard, shallots, garlic and lemon in a bowl and slowly whisk in the olive or flax oil. Or….throw it in a jar and shake!

We’ll use this basic salad dressing on a simple green salad.

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Nutrients:

 We are all biochemical individuals and therefore nutrition information as well as exercise programs and health advice should be altered to suit your particular needs. The intake percentage for fats, carbohydrates and proteins are estimates based on the “average” person of good health. Some people need slightly more protein to feel their best and some need less. An individual with, for instance, diabetes, might consume fewer carbohydrates.

Growing children might require increased protein and good fats, etc. Most food guides use a base of a 2,000-calorie a day diet though an individual’s calorie requirements depends on their stature, level of physical excursion and any health anomalies.

Recommended portions are based on this caloric number. Portion sizes have increased dramatically over the past 20 years and a portion of brown rice might now be 1-2 cups, when, for most, it should be 1⁄2 cup. Do be cognizant of your portion sizes.

There are certain constants for all; antioxidants, natural body chemicals that reduce the oxidative damage caused by free-radicals, are necessary for everyone’s health. A free radical is an unstable molecule with an unpaired electron, which can cause oxidative damage to cells or tissues. Antioxidants scavenge and destroy free-radicals and are found in leafy green vegetables such as kale and chard, as well as the carotenes such as carrots, yellow squash and sweet potatoes, etc. Free-radicals are created by such health-diminishing activities as smoking, alcohol consumption and exposure to toxins, to name a few. Phytonutrients (phyto means plants) are nutrients found in plants and are protective against many diseases, including cancer. Vitamin and mineral supplements can be a useful tool to help maintain health and a good-quality multivitamin is recommended to boost anti-oxidant levels and other important nutrients.

A whole food, also known as an intact food, is a foodstuff that is in its natural, unaltered state, unrefined state, i.e., brown rice, not white rice. Whole foods offer the health-supporting nutrients required for optimum health and should be a part of everyone’s diet. Avoid processed foods and consume nutrient-dense whole foods.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kids and Climate Change Class

The purpose of the Kids and Climate Change Class was to educate kids about aspects of climate change, and then empower them with information so that they know that what they do to help matters. This happened while they learned how to make Minestrone Soup with Farro. Kids always enjoy cooking, and love knife skills. They especially loved eating their delicious, nutritious soup at a communal table. Such a great class!

Give More Thought to Snacks

Give More Thought to Snacks

by Patty James

According to a recent survey of American’s dietary habits 75% of us eat breakfast, 88% eat lunch, and 90% of us snack daily, yet we don’t plan snacks like we do other meals.

Eating candy, chips, donuts, cookies, and other unhealthy snacks will satisfy your cravings temporarily, but they cause your blood sugar to rise and just as quickly drop, making you feel lethargic, moody, and still hungry because you haven’t given your body the fuel it needs. For those with children, studies have shown that up to 45% of the average American child’s caloric intake comes from snacks. Therefore, planning ahead for snacks is as important as the meals you plan for you and your family.

If you think about your daily snacks as another meal, then that meal should supplement breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Let’s say you serve oatmeal for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and salmon with brown rice and steamed broccoli for dinner. Complementary snacks might be fruit or some raw veggies, since those don’t make an appearance in the three main meals.

If you have children, does your child attend day care or an after school program? Do you know what snacks are being served? Find out! If you feel that the snacks your child receives there aren’t healthy, put together your own snack bags for your child to bring with them.

Here are some snacking tips:

  • Snack first before chores, homework, or other activities. When you eat while doing other things, such as watching TV, you tend to overeat because you aren’t paying attention to your intake. An after-school snack-time is a great way to take a break and re-connect with kids who’ve been away at school all day.
  • If you have it on hand, you will eat it! That is, if you’re trying to avoid processed snack foods, don’t buy them. Stock up on snacks that make you feel good like fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, and whole grains.
  • Snacks are fuel for the body, just like meals. Aim for a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates in your snacks just like you would with a regular meal. Hummus and sliced vegetables, for instance, contain all 3 macronutrients: proteins, carbohydrates, and good fats.
  • Take note of what time of day you tend to snack. For many adults (and kids), it’s late afternoon. Anticipate your hunger and arm yourself with healthy snacks instead of scrambling and settling for something sugary.
  • Be aware of what you drink. A sugary drink or a high-sugar and fat coffee drink is not a healthy snack. It won’t fill you up – the most it will do is cause a blood sugar spike.
  • Pay attention to portions. According to Dr. Brian Wansink, director of Cornell’s Food and Brand Lab, people make over 200 food decisions a day. Some decisions are subtle, like choosing plate size, which influences how much we eat at that meal. It is just as important to be mindful of snack portions. However, if you’re eating fresh fruits and vegetables, you don’t really even need to measure! (French fries EXCLUDED.)

Examples of Healthy Snacks:

  • Half an apple with 2 teaspoons of peanut or almond butter
  • An orange and a few raw almonds or walnuts
  • 1/3 cup of unsweetened applesauce with 1 slice of whole-grain toast, cut into 4 strips for dunking
  • Popcorn, seasoned with herbs, garlic, nutritional yeast and a bit of olive oil.
  • Plain yogurt with berries
  • A small tossed salad with lettuce, tomato, cucumber, or whatever is in season, tossed with lemon juice or balsamic vinegar and flax or olive oil.
  • Hummus or bean dip and veggies, or baked whole-wheat pita bread or whole grain crackers.
  • Sushi made with brown rice and sliced vegetables (cucumbers, carrots, green onion, red pepper, avocado, etc)

Happy snacking!

 

 

 

Tips. Recipes. Anatomy/Digestive Lesson

Whether you’re a teacher to other people’s kids, or you want ideas for your own, here are some ideas for you.

Introduction:

Healthy Kitchens, Healthy Lives is the mantra for this program.

When you understand the foods that support your health, and then you learn to create sumptuous meals for you and the people in your life, you feel satisfied and contented.

In the Kitchen:

Kids, like most adults, simply want to jump in and make homemade pizza, but there are basics that need to be learned first, for safety and sanitation reasons, of course, but also so one knows how to measure properly, what size and type of pan to use and other basic information needed for a successful kitchen experience.

Safety and Sanitation:

Before you enter the kitchen, tie your hair back if you have long hair, and if you’re sick, stay out of the kitchen altogether. Next wash your hands in warm, soapy water. If you have any cuts or sores, be sure to cover with a bandage. While you’re in the kitchen, if you sneeze, cough, touch your hair, nose or any other body part, or eat, please wash your hands again. You obviously wash your hands well after you use the restroom. If you handle raw meat or fish, please wash your hands before touching any other food. Ideally your clothes and aprons should be clean.

Here are some very important tips to always keep in mind when you’re in the kitchen:

When you work with food, keep raw foods away from cooked foods.

Keep food away from cleaning products.

Wash all raw fruits and vegetables before preparation.

Rinse off your meats and fish as well, pat dry and leave in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use them. Raw and thawing meats and fish should always be kept on the bottom shelf of the refrigerator to avoid dripping and contamination.

Do not thaw foods at room temperature; thaw in a proper container in the refrigerator. Do not refreeze food after it’s been thawed.

Food needs to be held at proper temperatures to avoid the growth of bacteria that can make you sick. Cold foods should be kept at 40 degrees Fahrenheit.  Stuffed meat and reheated leftovers should be kept at 165 degrees, beef and other hot food, 140 degrees, fish and poultry, 145 degrees and cooked pork, hamburgers and eggs, 155 degrees.

Kitchens can be dangerous places, with sharp equipment and hot stoves! It was my experience when I had my cooking school that, in order of accidents, potato peelers, graters, knives, and hot stoves and ovens, were the major culprits. With some very basic and very important rules, well learned, accidents rarely happen.

A tip for adults working with kids in the kitchen is to try not to hover. I understand the nervousness about watching an eight-year hold with a knife, but hovering only makes them nervous and makes the kitchen a stressful place, when it should be a warm, nurturing place. When they understand basic kitchen safety and the proper use of equipment such as knives, they’ll be fine.

The importance of pan sizes:

You just made your favorite brownie recipe, which calls for a 9” X 9” pan. If you cook brownies that call for a 9” X 9” pan in a 9” X 13” pan, the batter will be thinly spread across the pan and the brownies will end up more like a cookie. You’ll be disappointed in the results. Pan size is a very important part of baking and cooking.

As an example of how to alter some-not all- recipes; if you are making a cake and it calls for a 11 X 4 1/2 X 2 ¾” pan, which by the below chart is 50 square inches, and you don’t have such a pan, then you can use the 8 X 1 ½ “ round pan as it is the same square inches. Cooking time might have to be adjusted, as a greater surface area would take less time to cook. Pans are measured across the top of the pan between the inside edges.

Square and rectangular pans

7 ¾ X 3 5/8 X 2 ¼”…….28 sq. inches

8 X 8 X 1 ½” ……64 sq. inches

9 X 5 X 2 ¾” ……45 square inches

9 X 9 X 1 ½” …..81 sq. inches

11 X 4 ½ X 2 ¾” …….50 sq. inches

11 X 7 X 1 ½” …..77 sq. inches

13 X 9 X 2” ….117 square inches

15 X 10 X 2”….150 sq. inches

15 ½ X 10 ½ X 1”……163 sq. inches

16 X 5 X 4 “ …..80 sq. inches

Round pans

8 X 1 ½”…….50 sq. inches

9 X 1 ½”……..64 square inches

10 X 1 ½”…….79 square inches

Another note regarding cake pans is that the type of pan it is has an effect on the end result. A glass or enamel pan or pans of a dark color will hold more heat and make for a browner crust. If you have these pans, but do not want the darker crust, you can reduce the heat by 25 degrees, but use the same baking time. If you have shiny metal pans, your crust will be thinner and less brown.

Oven temperatures:

Remember to always pre-heat your oven at least 10 minutes before baking to allow it to come up to temperature.  High temperature recipes can take 20 minutes for the oven to reach the required temperature.

Very slow …250 degrees or below

Slow …300 degrees

Moderately slow….325 degrees

Moderate ….350 degrees

Moderately hot…375 degrees

Hot….400 degrees

Very hot…425 degrees or higher

Lastly, you need to know how to measure dry and liquid ingredients.

Dry ingredients:

With dry ingredients, you scoop up the flour (or whatever) and level the top of the measuring cup with a knife. Do not press ingredients down before leveling.

3 teaspoons=1 tablespoon=1/2 ounce

2 tablespoons=1/8 cup=1 ounce

4 tablespoons=1/4 cup=2 ounce

5 1/3 tablespoons=1/3 cup=2.6 ounce

8 tablespoons=1/2 cup=4 ounces

12 tablespoons=3/4 cup=6 ounces

16 tablespoons=1 cup=8 ounces

32 tablespoons=2 cups=16 ounce

Liquid Ingredients:

Place the measuring cup on a flat service to make sure the liquid is at the proper line on the measuring cup.

2 tablespoons=1 fluid ounce

¼ cup=2 fl.oz.

½ cup=4 fl.oz.

1 cup=8 fl.oz.

1 ½ cups=12 fl.oz.

2 cups or 1 pint=16 fl.oz.

4 cups or 1 quart=32 fl.oz.

1 gallon=128 fl.oz

Ready to begin!

You are almost ready to begin, but before you do so, read the recipe completely to make sure you have all the ingredients. Next mise en place your ingredients, get out all necessary equipment and you’re ready!

Recipe Tips:

  • Read through the recipe carefully to make sure that you understand the ingredients and directions. Make sure all ingredients meet your dietary needs.
  • Make sure that you can perform all the techniques.
  • Look at the recipe yield and decide if the number of servings is what you need. Check that you have all the necessary equipment and ingredients.
  • Make sure that you have adequate time to prepare and cook, if needed, the recipe.
  • Check whether you can (or need to) make any part of the recipe ahead of time.
  • Check whether an ingredient is divided, so that you don’t make the mistake of using that ingredient all at once.
  • Find out whether you need to preheat the oven.

Recipe grammar is important! One cup chopped nuts is not the same as 1 cup nuts, chopped.  Sometimes you measure an ingredient and then prepare it and sometimes you prepare the ingredient and then measure it.

Ghee or Clarified Butter

We’ll use this for various recipes this week.

Take 1 pound of organic, unsalted butter and melt in over medium-low. Skim the white foam off the top. Let simmer over low heat until the milk solids on the bottom have turned a light brown; about 15 minutes. Filter though a coffee filter or cheesecloth into a jar. Ghee does not burn like butter. It’s often used in Indian cooking. This will keep for approximately 1 month.

 

A Tip for ‘quick breads’:

Carbon dioxide is necessary for leavening, or causing tiny air pockets in, the pancakes or muffins. Excessive blending of the batter causes early formation and escape of carbon dioxide gas. Over-mixing can overdevelop the gluten (a protein) in the flour. While some of this protein is necessary for the normal texture of pancakes, too much gluten can produce tough, chewy pancakes and muffins. For best results, stop mixing the batter before all the tiny clumps of flour are gone.

Oat Bran Muffins

Serves 12

2 cups oat bran (not oatmeal)

1/2 cup sugar*

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 cup milk or other liquid. I used Chai once.

3/4 cup applesauce or pumpkin puree or prune puree

2 eggs

1 cup apple, grated

1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, chopped

1/3 cup almonds, chopped

1/4 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 425 degrees and lightly oil the muffin pan or use paper muffin cups.

Mix together first 5 ingredients. In a small bowl mix together the milk, applesauce and egg; stir well and add the grated apple. Stir briefly into the dry ingredients with the pumpkin seeds, almonds and raisins.

Spoon into prepared muffin pan and bake for 15-17 minutes.

Notes:

* Use non-refined sugar such as Sucanat or Rapadura

You may use walnuts instead of almonds and dried apricots, cranberries or cherries instead of raisins. I have also added 1 tablespoon of sesame seeds and 1 tablespoon of chopped sunflower seeds.

A bite of food and you:

Where does digestion begin? Let’s use a slice of pizza as an example. Digestion begins in the brain when you first notice that beautiful crust topped with all your favorites—sight, perhaps sound and most acutely smell all kick in to begin the digestion process of that first bite.

Is your mouth watering? It’s supposed to! The salivary glands in your mouth produce saliva that contains an enzyme, salivary amylase, which moistens the food and begins the chemical digestion of carbohydrates.

Next your teeth chew the food, hopefully very well, as that affects digestion and nutrient absorption. So far you have been in control, you voluntarily bit into that slice of pizza and also chose to chew well. That chewed piece of food you’re about to swallow is now called a bolus. After you’ve swallowed the bite, everything else is involuntary.

Swallowed food is pushed first into the pharynx, a tube-like structure behind the nasal cavities and the mouth. Air must pass through the pharynx on the way to the lungs and food on the way to the stomach. Next, that masticated (chewed) bite of pizza passes into the esophagus, which connects the throat above with the stomach below. At the junction of the esophagus and stomach, there is a ring-like muscle, called the lower esophageal sphincter that closes the passage between the two organs. As food approaches the closed sphincter, the sphincter relaxes and allows the food to pass through to the stomach.

Next is the stomach, a muscular bag, with three main parts. The top is called the fundus. The middle is called the body of the stomach. The bottom is called the antrum or pylorus.

The lining of the stomach contains glands, which make and secrete stomach juices. The stomach juices contain an acid and a digestive enzyme called pepsin. These began to flow as soon as you saw and smelled that slice of pizza, well before food entered your stomach. The enzyme starts to break down (digest) proteins in the food so that the body can absorb them. The acid is needed for the enzyme to work properly. It also helps to kill bacteria that might be in the food, protecting against food poisoning. Stomach acids sterilize your food.

That bite of pizza you took looks nothing like a bite of pizza anymore, especially after it hits the stomach and stomach acids. First the muscle of the upper part of the stomach relaxes to accept the swallowed material. Next the muscles of the stomach wall begin powerful contractions, which pass over the stomach in waves. This movement of organ walls, which propels food and liquid through the system from one organ to the next, is called peristalsis. These muscle contractions mix up the food, liquid and digestive juices and break it down until it is a thick liquid. The third task of the stomach is to empty its contents slowly into the small intestine.

Some foods stay in the stomach longer than others. Carbohydrates spend the least amount of time in the stomach, while protein stays in the stomach longer, and fats the longest.

The stomach makes another chemical (the intrinsic factor) that is needed for the body to absorb a vitamin called vitamin B12. This vitamin is needed by the body to help make red blood cells and to helps to maintain a healthy nervous system.

So why doesn’t our stomach eat itself with all these acids? There are other glands in the stomach lining that make thick mucus. This mucus helps to protect the stomach lining from being damaged by the acid and protein-digesting enzyme in the stomach juices.

After the stomach empties the food and juice mixture into the first part of the small intestines, the duodenum, the juices of two other digestive organs mix with the food that is now called chyme. One of these organs is the liver, which produces bile, a digestive juice. Bile is stored in the gallbladder. It is squeezed out of the gallbladder, through the bile ducts, and into the intestine to mix with the fat in food. The bile acids dissolve fat into the contents of the intestine. The other organ is the pancreas, which produces pancreatic enzymes that break down the carbohydrate, fat, and protein in food.

The next small intestine section is the jejunum, followed by the ileum, which leads to the large intestine. These two sections absorb nutrients and water more than they break down food. The intestinal wall contains blood vessels that carry the absorbed nutrients to the liver through the portal vein. The intestinal wall also releases water and mucus, which lubricates the intestinal contents, which dissolves the digested fragments. Small amounts of enzymes that digest proteins, sugars, and fats are also released. The mucosa of the small intestine contains many folds that are covered with tiny fingerlike projections called villi. In turn, the villi are covered with microscopic projections called microvilli. These structures create a vast surface area through which nutrients can be absorbed.

Once all the nutrients are taken from the food, the indigestible parts are transported to the large intestines. Like the small intestines, the large intestines have three parts. The first is called the cecum. Next comes the colon, which has three sections: ascending, transverse and descending. In the first two sections, salts and fluids are absorbed from the indigestible food. Billions of bacteria that live in the colon help to ferment and absorb substances like fiber. The products of this process include cells that have been shed from the mucosa and undigested parts of the food, known as fiber.  While these tracts absorb, they also produce mucus that helps feces move easily through the descending colon and into the third part of the large intestine: the rectum. Your feces or stool is approximately thirty percent bacteria, thirty percent indigestible matter like fiber, and forty percent inorganic waste like chemicals from processed foods and bodily waste like old red blood cells. Lastly, feces is excreted through your anus in your bowel movement, triggered by nerves that tell you it’s time to go!

That’s it! Your digestive system, like the rest of your body, is truly amazing.

Digestive System

 

Carrot Apple Walnut Muffins

Carrot Apple Walnut Muffins

No sugar and non-gluten

These muffins contain stevia, which is the dried powder of the Stevia plant. Be careful to purchase Stevia without artificial sweeteners.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Makes 12 muffins

2 eggs

¼ cup olive or coconut oil

1/3 cup mashed banana

1/8 cup dried stevia See Note: *

1 medium apple, grated

1 cup grated carrot

½ cup milk-dairy or non-dairy, unsweetened

2 teaspoons vanilla

1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

2/3 cup old fashioned oats- See Note*

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour- See Note*

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 ½ teaspoons baking soda

2 teaspoons cinnamon

½ teaspoon ground ginger

1/3 cup chopped raw walnuts

1 tablespoon poppy seeds

 

In a large bowl, place the eggs and whisk slightly. Add the mashed banana, stevia, apple, carrot, milk and vanilla and mix well. Next stir in the oats and let sit for 2 minutes. Combine the flour, baking soda and spices and add to the bowl, stirring briefly. Lastly stir in the walnuts and poppy seeds.

Place in well-greased (use olive oil or coconut oil) muffin tins or use muffin tin liner. Even with liners, I recommend greasing the bottom slightly as non-gluten flour seems to stick a bit more than other types of flour. Bake in preheated 375 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Let cool before trying to remove paper liners.

*Note: Use non-gluten oats if you are making this as a non-gluten recipe. Use non-gluten flour mix or flour made from the ancient wheat, Einkorn. To make this a vegan recipe, use egg substitute and nut milk. If you don’t want to use Stevia, use ¼ cup non-refined sugar such as Sucanat or coconut sugar.

Creativity: Feel free to change spices. Chinese 5-Spice is a nice choice. Perhaps add nutmeg or cardamom. You could use raw almonds instead of walnuts and use almond extract instead of vanilla.

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Homemade Pasta

It’s so much fun teaching a bunch of thirteen year-old girls at a birthday party! The request by the birthday girl was to learn to make homemade pasta, and ice cream sandwiches.

The birthday girl didn’t consume dairy as she was aware that dairy made her allergies worse. Pretty great that she was able to listen to her body and figure out this connection.

Fresh Pasta

By Patty James
Makes about 1 pound.

3 cups unbleached or whole-wheat pastry flour plus additional for dusting
4 large eggs, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon sea salt
2 to 3 tablespoons water

Special equipment: a pasta machine (or you may roll out by hand on a lightly floured board)

To make dough in a processor:
Blend flour, eggs, salt, and 2 tablespoons water in a food processor until mixture just begins to form a ball, adding more water, drop by drop, if dough is too dry (dough should be firm and not sticky). Process dough for 15 seconds more to knead it. Transfer to a floured surface and let stand, covered with an inverted bowl, 1 hour to let the gluten relax and make rolling easier.

To make dough by hand:
Mound flour on a work surface, preferably wooden, and make a well in center. Add eggs, salt, and 2 tablespoons water to well. With a fork, gently beat eggs and water until combined. Gradually stir in enough flour to form a paste, pulling in flour closest to egg mixture and being careful not to make an opening in outer wall of well. Knead remaining flour into mixture with your hands to form a dough, adding more water drop by drop if dough is too dry (dough should be firm and not sticky). Knead dough until smooth and elastic, 8 to 10 minutes. Cover with an inverted bowl and let stand 1 hour to let the gluten relax and make rolling easier.

Roll pasta:
Divide dough into 8 pieces, then flatten each piece into a rough rectangle and cover rectangles with an inverted large bowl. Set rollers of pasta machine on widest setting.

Lightly dust 1 rectangle with flour and feed through rollers. (Keep remaining rectangles under bowl.) Fold rectangle in half and feed it, folded end first, through rollers 7 or 8 more times, folding it in half each time and feeding folded end through. Dust with flour if necessary to prevent sticking. Turn dial to next (narrower) setting and feed dough through rollers without folding. Continue to feed dough through rollers once at each setting, without folding, until you reach narrowest setting. Dough will be a smooth sheet (about 36 inches long and 4 inches wide). Cut sheet crosswise in half. Lay sheets of dough on lightly floured baking sheets to dry until leathery but still pliable, about 15 minutes. (Alternatively, lightly dust pasta sheets with flour and hang over the backs of straight-backed chairs to dry.) Roll out remaining pieces of dough in same manner.

• Dough can be made (but not rolled out) 4 hours ahead and chilled, tightly wrapped in plastic wrap. • Fresh-cut pasta sheets can be chilled in large sealed plastic bags up to 12 hours.

Snickerdoodle Cookies

We made ice cream sandwiches using this recipe with the butter substitute since the birthday girl couldn’t have dairy. After the cookies were cooled, we used coconut milk ice cream. They were a big hit!

  • 1 1/2 cups non-refined sugar
  • 1 cup butter or butter substitute (non-hydrogenated)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose or whole-wheat pastry flour
  • 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 2 tablespoons non-refined sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon

Preheat oven to 375F.

Mix 1 1/2 c. sugar, butter, eggs and vanilla. Stir in flour, cream of tartar, and soda. Chill dough. Roll dough into balls the size of walnuts. Combine the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and cinnamon. Roll cookies in this mixture and bake for 8-10 minutes. Cool completely on wire racks.

Note: If you use a butter substitute such as EarthBalance the cooking time is increased to about 15 minutes.

 

 

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