June 30, 2013

John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice – Tips for Home Cooks

Spices are crucial for the home cook. That’s why John Beaver, spice expert and owner of Oaktown Spice Shop shares with you his top 5 tips for choosing and using spices. First, in most (but not all!) cases, whole spices which you grind at home are better. Second he provides tips on grinding. Third, he gives tips on keeping spices as fresh as possible. Fourth, there are also tips for cooking with spices. And don’t miss the final piece of advice. Don’t be afraid to experiment!

Read the full article here:
John Beaver’s 5 Essential Herb and Spice Tips for Home Cooks — Expert Essentials



June 25, 2013

Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup

Chilled dishes in the summer; how to make them work? Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup will satisfy the need for a cool plate during a hot season. However, preparing a cold soup that is tasty is a bit of a challenge, in other words, cold soups usually don’t taste good. There was one instance where excited food tasters got disappointed that the soup dish just tasted like cream.

Read the full article here:
Chilled Fennel and Cucumber Soup



June 20, 2013

Easy and Healthy Salad Dressing Options You Can Make at Home

When you decide to put together a salad recipe, the best thing to consider is the kind of salad dressing. If you’re not particular of your fat consumption, your salad could contain as much fat and calories as a bacon cheeseburger. A mayonnaise-based salad dressing can smother efforts if you’re trying to lose weight. Saturated fat is notorious to cause obesity and heart disease. You can still have healthy salad dressing options that won’t ruin your diet. Try the following:

salad dressings

Oil and Vinegar

The best option is oil and vinegar. It’s usually a combination of balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Since balsamic vinegar is known flavorful, mixing it along with olive oil creates vinaigrette with tremendous health benefits. For two tablespoons of olive oil, you can use as much vinegar as you like. I like adding a touch of lemon to this salad dressing option. The drops of lemon into my vinaigrette bring zest to my whole salad entree.

Yogurt Salad Dressing

If you are not aware yet, you can use plain yogurt as salad dressing base. Using yogurt instead of mayonnaise as a base for your dressing is a healthy alternative to customary recipes. Your body needs a healthy amount of ”good” bacteria in the digestive tract, and most yogurts are made using active, good bacteria. For a creamier consistency, you can blend the plain yogurt with other ingredients like Dijon mustard and chives. When using a richer ingredient for your mixture, use fat-free or low-fat plain yogurt. Wondering why yogurt?

Avocado Salad Dressing


Don’t be afraid of calories in avocado, you may check. Moderate amounts of unsaturated fats are good for the heart and skin. To make a healthy salad dressing, try a combination of avocado and parsley. The mild mixture is refreshing when sprinkled over a tossed green salad. Avocado and crushed garlic, lemon juice, and sea salt is another worth trying salad dressing. If you are planning to mix by shaking, use a fork first to mash the avocado.

Cottage Cheese and Dill

Cottage cheese is known a good source of calcium and protein which when combined with dill produces a flavorful and healthy salad dressing combination. Try mixing half a cup of cottage cheese and freshly chopped dill. Salt and pepper are all you need to season. For my cottage cheese, I like to top it with nice fresh or canned fruit juice, but cucumber and a little salt olives are enough to make it a favorite. Get a low-fat cottage cheese with less than five grams of fat per serving.

For subscribers, amaze yourself at how salad dressings can be one of the easiest things to make. Remember that nothing dresses up greens so well as a homemade dressing. You may begin experimenting any of the above salad dressing tips to any of the 5 fresh and green salad recipes (below) featured at Your Smart Kitchen’s latest newsletter. Sign up if you’re new.

1. Roast-Beef and Broccoli Salad with Creamy Horseradish Dressing
2. Grilled Skirt Steak with Fregola-Orange Salad
3. Baby Kale and Steak Salad
4. Jicama, Kirby and Carrot Salad with Charred Lamb
5. Grilled Pork Tenderloin Salad


June 18, 2013

Potato Cheese Chowder that’s Kind of Heavenly

This soup, cheesy as it is, makes a kind of favorite. There’s just something about potato cheese chowders that many of us can’t seem to get behind. This recipe is thick and hearty, warm and full of potato richness swimming in the cheddar cheese melt-ness. Paired with your favorite slice of hot bread – they are right, it’s kind of heaven.



1 1/2 cups raw potatoes, diced
2 cups boiling water
2 cubes chicken bouillon
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup green pepper, finely chopped
2 tbsp flour
2 cups milk
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 1/2 cups strong cheddar cheese, finely grated
Chopped parsley


Cook potatoes in boiling water until tender. Drain, saving cooking water. Add bouillon cubes to hot liquid and stir until dissolved.

Melt butter in a saucepan. Add onion and green pepper and cook gently 3 minutes, stirring. Sprinkle in flour and let bubble. Remove from heat. Add milk and potato water all at once. Stir in salt and pepper. Return to moderate heat and cook until boiling and smooth, stirring constantly. Turn heat to low and simmer 2 minutes.

Add cheese and stir until cheese is melted. Stir in potatoes and heat well. Serve very hot, sprinkled with chopped parsley.

Tips for making potato soup recipes:

Soup does not have to be blended but if you do wish to blend your soup there are a few options. The most common way is to use a blender. In this method, wait until your soup is lukewarm. Running boiling hot soup through a blender is asking for trouble, since the pressure inside the blender will blow the top off and decorate your whole kitchen with potato soup. Fill the blender halfway every time.

A hand or stick blender is an ideal option for daily use. Easy to clean, you can run it under running water. It has 4 interchangeable blades, including a whisk attachment and you can mix in any container. The perfect alternative for the smaller kitchen or to hauling out the big blender.


June 12, 2013

Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta

This Roasted Red Pepper recipe is all about a very quick and easy to prepare pasta dish. If you have the time to roast the red peppers yourself on the stove top, do so. If not, you can by jarred roasted red peppers and they work fine as well. For the recipe itself, start with the pasta, add diced onion garlic, red peppers and butter, add them all up and blend.

Read the full article here:
Quick and Easy Roasted Red Pepper Pasta



June 4, 2013

Still the Best Dessert Suggestion

Not only sometimes but all the time that we needed fresh fruits to finish a meal. In fact, many of us agree on fruits as still the best choice to finish a meal. It is even less routinely than preparing something decadent. Summer is still the season that bears delightfully-tasting sun-kissed fruits. It is during this season that we see baskets and baskets of different fruit varieties.


While enjoying a slice of crunchy apples or a juicy watermelon, why not make it extraordinary by transforming the fruits into something different? Imagine how slices of fresh berries make a wonderful sweet after-meal treat when poured over with frozen yogurts, or stirred into batters to make crunchy and fruit-smelling, scones, bars and squares. Just make sure your knife blade is sharp so as not to mush the fruits. What about mid-morning fruit sorbet, and chucked strawberry or pineapple topped with jellied raspberry puree for the afternoon? Contrast is delicious, remember.

Fresh fruits, frozen or dried are whole foods that contain natural sugars from the fruit itself yet are low in calories and saturated fat. Even during the royalty times, people used to serve fresh fruit slices on platters. There are so many possible fruit dessert variations. In my case, I like cutting oranges half with the rind on. This makes a beautiful fruit plate that always makes a hit.


Another idea is to make fruit shake, smoothies, fresh fruit juice and concoctions. Have you tried low-sugar smoothies using banana? You’ll not forget Peanut-Banana Espresso Smoothie. Try it.
You will impress everyone serving them with concocted real fruit-tasting juices. Broiling ripened fruits also brings out the fruits inherent sweetness. You can also use pineapple for a variation. Make granite treat with ripe melon and apple juice with squeezes of lime juice to perk up the flavors.

Slow juicing them is a lot better. Frozen grapes and raspberries can be made to mini-popsicles, too.

The possibilities are endless. I suggest that you begin discovering plenty of fresh fruit dessert recipes that use orange, or orange juice a lot. You don’t only add some after-meal zest, you are embracing a very healthy treat full of vitamins!


Isn’t Blending Fruits And Vegetables In A Green Smoothie Improper Food Combining?

Are you fond of combining fruits and vegetables in a green smoothie? The food combining hypothesis states that certain food combinations should never be consumed since such combinations will disrupt the body’s balance, cause digestion problems, and lead to poor health and “toxic buildup”.

Food combining “no-no’s” include mixing protein with fat, or protein with carbohydrate. Fruit should always be eaten separately, and certain types of fruit should not be mixed. For example… Read more.



Juicing Tips to a Healthier Juice

When you drink your vegetable juice, the juice should be at room temperature. This means you should take your vegetables out of the fridge and place on the counter for a few hours before juicing. Ideally and if you can, leave your vegetables out overnight to ensure they are at room temperature. Cold food shuts down the digestive system and this would then defeat the purpose of juicing.

Read more juicing tips, here.



May 27, 2013

Which Is Better – Juicing or Blending

This is a trick question!

Both are good. Juicing is a process which extracts water and nutrients from produce and discards the indigestible fiber, while blending consists of fruits and vegetables in a blender. All the fiber is contained in the drink and you can use things like bananas, avocados, flax seed etc. that you wouldn’t want to juice.

Freshly squeezed vegetable juices form part of most healing and detoxification programs because they are so nutrient rich and nourish and restore the body at a cellular level. So is blending better than juicing? or juicing better than blending? Is there any one better?



The Nutrition of Prickly Pear Fruit – Cactus Juice

Sounds unusual but cactus fruits are becoming popular because of their far-ranging benefits, flavor and flexibility. Being anti inflammatory food, it helps control blood pressure, balance cholesterol levels, and lower blood sugar levels. Because cactus juice is a natural remedy for arthritis, it is known very helpful when you get on in years.

If you have cactus plants near your house, there are juice recipes to make juice of both the pad (vegetable part) and pear (fruit). Find out how healthy this prickly pear fruit is.