Category Archives: Tips

More Eggy Wisdom

 

Folks, I am once again borrowing from my friend Heidi Bright, author of  Thriver Soup: A Feast for Living Consciously During the Cancer Journey (click here to learn more about her book) – we share the same “happy/healthy” philosophy regarding our animal sources and Heidi is just chock FULL of information regarding food and your health!

How Nutritious are Your Eggs?

I used to buy my eggs from a discount store at a discount price. The poor hens, most likely trapped in battery cages, probably never saw sunlight or moved outside of their tiny cells. (In a 2014 report, 95% of U.S. eggs came from hens trapped in battery cages.) What a miserable existence. I found the shells overly easy to crack open. They reminded me of the egg breakage I’d read about among wild birds. These fowl are experiencing losses in breeding success due to contamination by post-1945 “residues of synthetic organic chemicals used as pesticides and in industry.”

As I learned, I moved to slightly costlier eggs.

One day my son cut his finger and bled profusely. I remembered reading that eggshell membranes can be used to temporarily stop excessive bleeding. I grabbed an egg and struggled to get a little bit of the membrane out of the bottom of the shell. I got only a small crumpled piece out, and put it on his little cut.

The cut immediately stopped bleeding. We were both stunned.  I then looked up more information on those membranes. They can be used to:

  • treat wounds to prevent scar tissue;
  • reduce the effects of osteoarthritis;
  • improve health of skin, hair, and nails.

That was the end of cheap eggs for me. I began buying my eggs from local farmers, and when they weren’t available, got organic eggs from the supermarket. I immediately noticed a difference when cracking the eggs – the shells were tougher to break open.

But how to separate the membrane from the shell? I tried a few methods, none of which worked very well. The membranes were slick, tore easily, and took forever to separate from the shells.

Okay, so maybe the problem, again, was with the eggs themselves. So I moved to the most expensive eggs – organic, free-range, certified humane (raised and handled), and no synthetic pesticides, hormones, or antibiotics.

Viola! The membrane, tough and gauzy, pulled right off in large pieces. So easy! And to me it meant the membrane must be full of nutrients, especially collagen. I wanted those nutrients. If you want to see what a healthy membrane looks like you can see it here on YouTube.

I clean the membranes and drop them into my Vitamix to blend with greens for my smoothies.

To me, it’s worth the extra expense to get high-quality eggs, not only because I am prone to osteoarthritis, but also because as a survivor of highly aggressive end-stage sarcoma, nutrition is extremely important to me. I want to maintain my cancer remission! Healthy eating can only help, in my opinion.

Plus I’d rather get the membrane from eggs I cracked, so I know the source, than something that has been put through a chemical or other process, and then who knows the quality of the membrane anyway. Probably not from the healthiest eggs.

And another benefit. I clean and dehydrate the shells, crush them with a mortar and pestle, then add lemon or lime juice and create my own calcium supplement.

Happy hens make nutritious eggs, which help me stay healthy.

Click here to see a video of healthy egg membranes.

 

 

Another “Brainy” Food – the PINEAPPLE!

Underneath its spiny exterior, pineapples pack a brain-boosting wallop. Bromelain, an enzyme found only in pineapples, keeps blood platelets from sticking together and forming clots. These clots can break off from artery walls and interrupt blood flow to the brain, setting you up for a memory-damaging stroke.  Pineapples are also rich in folate (aka vitamin B9), which can help make you more alert and better able to focus!

Milk – What’s the Difference?

 

We all have our favorite “blend” – skim, 2% etc., and we know what we like to taste when drinking a big glass of ice cold milk.  BUT…can we just use whatever milk we have in the fridge to go into a recipe when it calls for milk?   Well, you can try…but not really… As with all cooking, science plays a big part – and the chemical makeup of fat milk vs. no fat milk does make a difference. 

 

When a recipe calls for just “milk” and doesn’t give you any direction, what to do? Just make sure there’s some fat in your milk.  I always have on hand skim milk because that’s what I like to drink (hormone and pesticide free, of course!).  I always have on hand half ‘n half because that’s what my beloved husband says I like in my coffee (yes it’s true…I have no idea what goes in my coffee – only Gordon does).  Since half ‘n half is half whole milk and half cream, it’s got plenty of fat  to make things taste dreamy, but more fat than we like on our hips.  Cutting it with no fat skim milk by ½ seems to keep my recipes rich, but not too fatty.  If you have 2% milk on hand at all times, I’d use that in its entirety as it has enough fat not to mess with a final recipe’s consistency.  Just don’t use all skim milk in recipes unless it is specifically called for because recipe developers count on the fat in conjunction with their other ingredients to create the final product consistency they intended upon. 

 

At Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering we have many different recipes for the same thing – for instance, our fat FREE Smashed Potatoes (we throw a couple of secret ingredients in there to fool your tastebuds into thinking how rich they are) or our Cream Cheese Horseradish Smashed Potatoes which uses skim milk to keep the fat content down, but the cream cheese keeps the luscious mouth feel and taste UP.  So…if you want a lower fat version of something – just ask!!

 

 

It’s SEAFOOD Time!

 

Ruby Red Trout Skin

Summer tends to make us want to eat lighter, and fish feels that way to me…so with a little “Deadliest Catch” in mind, I’d like to give you a few tips about purchasing your seafood:

  •  Stay away from purveyors who don’t display their seafood directly on ice – all seafood needs to STAY as cold as possible at all times.  It’s the protein that spoils the fastest!
  • If you’re buying something premade and packaged (like a stuffed flounder), there should be virtually no accumulated liquid in the package.
  • Fish should smell like a cross between the ocean and a clean running creek. If it smells too fishy, something’s “fishy”.
  • It’s best to not be lazy about your shrimp.  By it shell on and clean it at home – the shell holds in moisture which keeps your shrimp plump and firm.  Besides, the shells can be used for a broth or sauce that will GREATLY enhance your shrimp!
  • If you’ve got a recipe you want to try but can’t find the particular seafood it’s asking for, ask your fishmonger.  Virtually EVERY fish has one or two perfect substitutions – get what’s freshest!

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you the most fabulous summer ever – loaded with delicious fresh seafood!  The picture above is of a GORGEOUS Steelhead Trout (this particular filet weighing in at about 4.5 pounds… 🙂 )

 

A Beer Primer

Beer

I’m not a beer drinker.  There, I said it.  There are some beers that taste good to me, but in general, I don’t like the carbonation (I don’t drink pop either) and what it does to my ‘constitution”.  That being said, Cincinnati s a great beer town, and is becoming more  so every day with our new micro-breweries and pubs.  So, I thought, perhaps there are others out there who might like to know what they’re drinking, or talking about, when celebrating our city’s great tradition.  Here you go:

Beer (ALL beer – lager, ale, stout, bock, pilsener, porter, etc) is made from the same ingredients:  water, barley malt, hops, and yeast.  What makes a different taste, style, or type of beer is the addition of other ingredients, different types of yeast, and fermentation temperature.  Age also changes the flavor of beer.  So let’s touch on the 5 major “types” of beer and try and make sense of it:

ALE:    Ales are not aged, and are made with a yeast that floats to the top of the vat during fermentation.  They contain a little more alcohol than lagers.  They often have a hint of fruit in their flavor or aftertaste.  A type of ale is STOUT.  Darker and stronger than regular ale, a stout is brewed with toasted malt.

LAGER:  The yeast in lagers sinks to the bottom of the vat and is fermented slowly and at cool temperatures, and take one to six weeks to age.  Types of lager are:

PILSENER:  About a third fewer calories and about 20% less alcohol than regular lager.  Pale and golden, they are your “light” beers.

PORTER:  The stronger flavor of this lager comes from toasting the malt before brewing.  It is a  bit higher in alcohol content as well.

BOCK:  A dark German style of lager, bocks are traditionally spring beers, but these days they are brewed year round.  They are rich, and thicker (in Germany they are made by freezing the beer and taking off the top layer of ice to thicken it).  Bocks are brewed with roasted malts.

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses beer in some of our recipes.  Try our Ballpark Casserole – our Brats and Metts are poached in beer before grilling.  Or, this fall, order our Cheddar-Ale Fondue, served with our Brats and Metts as well as our homemade German Salt Rye!  You can always order our Beer Marinated Pork Tenderloin Sandwich from our Deli!  Cheers!

Tomato, ToMAHto

We all love the juicy sweet red ripe tomato straight from the garden, right?  Well, did you know there are juicy sweet GREEN tomatoes as well as many other colors?  Heirloom tomatoes are in vogue, and lucky us – we get to eat them!    Below is an indicator (in general) of tomato colors and their flavor profiles.

In general, the RED and PURPLE colored variety of tomatoes are fuller flavored with more acidity and, some would say, a slightly “salty” taste.  Better Boys and Beefsteaks are in this color group – we all know them.  BUT>..when you’re at the farmer’s market, ask about the Cherokee Purple or Marmara – and see if one of your local farmers can supply you with some – or other alternatives of like taste.

YELLOW and ORANGE tomatoes are lovely, and a bit less acidic.  Sometimes they’re described as sweet.  Ask for Orange Strawberry or Pineapple!  A Balsamic reduction is perfect and beautiful on these tomatoes – sharp and tangy with the sweetness of the tomatoes bursts in your mouth.

GREEN tomatoes are not always “unripe”!!!  There are green varieties, such as the Green Zebra (one of my favorites) that are very complex – sharp, sweet, tangy, salty…and stunning on a plate!

Did you know there are even PINK and WHITE tomatoes?  Translucent, very thin skin make these varieties delicate and sweet without bitterness.  Harder to find – it’s still worth asking for a “Great White” or a “Rose de Berne” … your palate with thank you!!

An Easy Grilling Tip

OK – so we all know raw chicken is yucky, right?  Instead of using 2 sets of tongs and platters to “separate” the salmonella from the fabulousness (Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s fabulous Tico Chicken pictured above) , try wrapping aluminum foil around your tong ends and layering your platter with foil, do your marinating and transferring to the grill…then when the chicken exterior is getting done, whip off the foil on both apparati (great word, right?!? – I made it up!) and continue using them to transfer your cooked chicken to your clean platter!  Lula is now bowing for the applause…

The Almond as Dessert

 

Recently, a friend called me in despair because she couldn’t get her cookie recipe right.  I asked about her ingredient list and she told me she had used Marzipan as the recipe had called for Almond Paste.  Mystery solved!  Though they are both made from almonds, they are DEFINITELY not interchangeable. 

 

Almond Paste is made (check the label) from almonds (first on the label if it’s a decent almond paste) and some sugar or sugar product  and cooked till creamy then canned.  Marzipan is value added almond paste – the added value being more sugar.  It’s stiffer, and much sweeter, and used more to decorate and make candy rather than in baked goods.  So there you have it – if you love almonds (and dessert), try some recipes with either of these two ingredients!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering wishes for you a VERY satisfied sweet tooth!

 

 

Labeling your Leftovers!

I don’t know HOW MANY times I’ve put leftovers in containers (you know the cottage cheese container that you feel really bad about just throwing away – SAVE OUR PLANET! – so you wash it and re-use it as many times as possible before it goes into recycling)…and said to myself “Self, you’re incredibly smart and quick and have the best memory; of COURSE you’re going to remember what’s in this container next month when you’re scrounging for a quick lunch”!

NOT.  So I started using folder labels to identify and date the food.  Didn’t work – labels fell off.  So I bought freezer labels but really resented how expensive they were.  So I bought myself a permanent black Sharpie and started writing stuff on the lids.  The lids got “full” (I’m really concerned about the environment).  THEN I saw a tip SOMEwhere I can’t remember – and I’m going to share it with you.  Buy a roll of blue painter’s tape at the hardware store.  Five bucks, you can tear pieces off with your hands – no need for scissors, it won’t fall off in the freezer, that five dollar investment will pay off for 5 YEARS,  and it’s easily removable when you need to switch labels.  There.  For more tips and tidbits subscribe here.