Saturday, March 26, 2011

Just a Vegetable Curry

First off--I am not claiming this is an authentic Indian curry. It is based off of this Jamie Oliver recipe and I had to make some changes because things I needed were not available at the grocery store. Anyways--regardless of authenticity, this dish was delicious and I will definitely make it again. I am trying to come up with an arsenal of delicious vegetarian recipes so I turn to vegetarian dishes more often. This was ridiculously easy, very healthy and pretty inexpensive to make. Two thumbs up!
1 medium onion cut into chunks
2 cloves of garlic, diced
1 "thumb" of ginger grated
1 tbs of butter
3 tbs of EVOO
2 red peppers cut into chunks
1 can of chickenpeas, drained
1/2 butternut squash cut into cubes, peeled (I used the already cut-up 8 oz bag of it)
1/2 jar of Patek's mild curry paste
1 head of cauliflower, stemmed and cut into florets
3 tomatoes, quartered
2 cans of diced tomatoes
1) Heat oil and butter in a large pot (if you do not have a large stockpot, half the recipe) and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Cook for about 10 minutes until the onions are golden and translucent.
2) Add the red peppers, the chickpeas, and the squash. Coat all of the veggies with the curry paste and simmer for a few minutes.
3) Add the fresh and canned tomatoes and then the cauliflower. Simmer covered for 45 minutes. Check the curry at about 30 minutes and if it is still thin, let it simmer for the final 15 minutes without a cover.
4) Serve over brown rice. 
*I skipped 1 bunch of coriander (trimmed) and 1 red chili (diced), which should go in with the onions, garlic and ginger. The recipe also called for Jalfrezi curry paste which I could not find.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A Single Federal Food Safety Agency?

According to an article in the LA Times, The Government Accountability Office is recommending the creation of a single federal food safety agency.  Why you might ask? Apparently such a move would save billions of dollars and would improve oversight. The GAO report can be found here.

In some ways, I like this idea. I always wondered why a single agency governed both food and drugs (the Food and Drug Administration).  I also wondered why the FDA was not more involved with meat and farm products. Aren't those products food too? Then what about catfish as the LA Times articles brings up? The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) is responsible for inspecting catfish, but the FDA is responsible for seafood?  What about farmed fish in general? Is that a farm product or seafood?  Then the FDA is supposed to regulate animal food. Shouldn't that be an issue for the USDA? I can see where there is a lot of confusing overlap.

On the other hand, I do not like this idea. Sometimes I feel like these huge lumbering agencies are more likely to drop the ball.  Take for instance the peanut contamination and the recall of eggs tainted with salmonella.  I feel like it is harder to make federal employees accountable when an organization is huge and safety inspectors have several different layers of people in charge over them.

I am all for saving billions of dollars and for a safer food industry in the United States. I would like to see some of that savings invested in testing more imported foods, specifically seafood. Ever since I read this article about seafood from China, Vietnam and Malaysia that are contaminated with chemicals, I stray away from certain seafoods at restaurants. The FDA only tests 2% of imported seafood. Will a single agency make our system safer? That remains to be seen.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Restaurant Review: Bar La Grassa

Last night marked my second trip to Bar La Grassa. I am a pretty lucky girl if I do say so myself! My mom is visiting the Twin Cities and she loves BLG so off we went along with one another dining companion.

At Bar La Grassa you can order either half or full orders of pasta. My mom and I both love trying food, so we decided to try four half orders. However to start with we had charred red onion bruschetta with goat cheese. It was delicious--I loved the flavors of the goat cheese and onion together. Yum!

One of our favorites was the calamarta with raw tuna. The tuna was top notch and the pasta just had a little bit of kick to it which I love. My personal favorite was the gnocchi with cauliflower and orange. We also had orreccheti with braised rabbit and a pasta I loved before--mushroom agnolotti with red wine butter sauce.

The atmosphere is lively, a little loud at times--really what an Italian restaurant should be. I loved the exposed brick and the rough looking wood. Our server was good but, not particularly memorable--but for me that is okay, the spotlight should be on the food. The prices are also pretty good--for me, I mostly like to try the food, I do not like huge portions and hate feeling like overly stuffed, so Bar La Grassa is great for me because the prices allow me to do what I love--try the food.  I strongly urge you to check it out--but make a reservation in advance so you don't end up like Bob Harper, pleading and begging for a table to have one of the best meals in town.

On the menu tonight is Lucia's--an old favorite that is always a good bet!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Reason I Love Costco

A may not have blogged about it--but I am a huge fan of Costco and their products. I could go on and on...

On Tuesday, I found another reason to love Costco. We had two attorneys speak in my Food Law class about food borne illness litigation. Food borne illnesses are enough to make me quit eating all together, so I was a bit nervous for this lecture. Just to give you an idea how crazy I am--at age 10 I quit eating ground beef for about two years because I saw a 20/20 special called "Nightmare on Hamburgers."  I still am not overly thrilled about eating ground beef and I avoid it for the most part.

Anyways--back to Costco. Most of us remember the peanut butter contamination case when the peanut butter manufacturer was putting contaminated peanut products out on the market and several people died. Part of the problem there was the plant was unsanitary and not up to code. Apparently many of the groups that audit the plants are anything but independent and unbiased. One of my classmates asked why companies who distribute the products do not inspect the plants themselves. One of the attorneys explained that it would be a daunting task to do this considering how long ingredient lists are. However she added that Costco does inspect the suppliers for it's Kirkland brand products. It makes me rest a little bit easier knowing that there is one more check to ensure that the products are safe for consumption. Yay Costco!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Healthy Snacks

I have to admit I love to snack.  When I am studying I think I want to snack because I am bored. However, if I am going to snack--it is better if the snacks are not completely unhealthy.  When I am craving a snack I find that my craving is usually for something sweet, salty, crunchy or savory or any combination of the four.  Here are some suggestions for healthy snacking:

Pretzels--I love Trader Joe's giant sour dough pretzels with sweet & spicy mustard.

Pistachios--They are not only delicious but healthy too.  A serving is about 50 nuts and is only 170 calories.  Additionally the nuts have some essential vitamins and minerals along with 10% of the fiber you need each day.

Kashi crackers with Babybel cheese triangles-- Just about anything from Kashi is at least a little bit good for you and one of those Babybel cheese triangles goes a long ways when spreading it on crackers.

Dried Mango slices-- I normally don't like dried fruit because the texture weirds me out, but dried mango slices remind me of fruit roll-ups, which I loved as a child.  I am pretty sure that if someone told me dried mango slices were candy as a child, I would have believed them. They are about 20-30 calories per slice, and contain a ton of Vitamin A.

Craisins-- I don't like raisins, but I love Craisins.  You can eat 1/3 cup for Craisins for about 130 calories and you also get a ton of fiber.

Dark chocolate-- When I want something rich and indulgent, dark chocolate does the trick.  It also contains antioxidants which are good for you.

Frozen grapes-- They are like little frozen popsicles. I love them.

Cut up veggies-- I love dipping them in hummus, or plain yogurt flavored with some herbs.

Whole wheat pita bread--  I love pita bread and hummus or pita bread with tzatziki (a Greek dip made with cucumbers, garlic and Greek yogurt).

Popcorn-- This is a snack from the Biggest Loser Cookbook.  Make some air-popped popcorn (or buy some plain popcorn) and toss with miniature chocolate chips, craisins and whole wheat chex cereal.