July 4th – National BBQ Day

July 4th is National Barbecue Day

IZOSOFT'S image Disk Shashlyk & Barbecue IZ097
IZOSOFT’S image
Disk Shashlyk & Barbecue IZ097

Five Food Finds about Barbecue

  • Barbecues have been a White House tradition since Thomas Jefferson. Lyndon B. Johnson, the 36th president of the United States, hosted the first barbecue at the White House that featured Texas-style barbecued ribs.
  • The most popular holidays for barbecuing are, in order, July 4th (71 percent), Memorial Day (57 percent), and Labor Day (55 percent)..
  • The most popular foods for cooking on the grill are, in order: burgers (85 percent), steak (80 percent), hot dogs (79 percent) and chicken (73 percent).
  • The side dishes most commonly prepared on the grill are, in order, corn (41 percent), potatoes (41 percent), and other vegetables (32 percent).
  • The most popular flavors of barbecue sauce are hickory, followed by mesquite, honey, and then spicy-hot.

    Taken from: Foodimentary

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Decline in Fish Catching Threatens Human Health

How will the 10 billion people expected to be living on Earth by 2050 obtain sufficient and nutritious food? This is one of the greatest challenges humanity faces. Global food systems must supply enough calories and protein for a growing human population and provide important micronutrients such as iron, zinc, omega-3 fatty acids and vitamins. Fishing

Deficiencies of micronutrients — so called because the body needs them only in tiny amounts — can increase the risks of perinatal and maternal mortality, growth retardation, child mortality, cognitive deficits and reduced immune function1. The associated burdens of disease are large. Forty-five per cent of mortality in children under five is attributable to undernutrition; nutritional deficiencies are responsible for 50% of years lived with disability in children aged four and under1.

Fish are crucial sources of micronutrients, often in highly bioavailable forms. And fish populations are declining. Most previous analyses have considered only how people will be affected by the loss of protein derived from fish. We calculate that this is the tip of the iceberg. Combining data on dietary nutrition, and fish catch, we predict that more than 10% of the global population could face micronutrient and fatty-acid deficiencies driven by fish declines over the coming decades, especially in the developing nations at the Equator (see ‘Troubled Waters’). This new view underlines the need for nutrition-sensitive fisheries policies.

For more information, click here

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8 Myths to Senior Nutrition

Senior women enjoying meal together at home in kitchen
Senior women enjoying meal together at home in kitchen

Separating fact from fiction can be difficult for seniors who are looking for trustworthy information about nutrition. The fact is, most conventional dietary advice is geared toward middle-aged folks. But recent research has dug deeply into the nutritional needs of seniors and the findings have dispelled many common myths about nutrition and aging.

Here’s a look at some of the more common senior nutrition myths:

  1. Older People Lose Their Appetite

Metabolic changes coupled with decreased energy output mean seniors generally need less food than younger adults. However, that doesn’t mean seniors have less of an appetite; in fact, a loss of appetite could signal some serious health problems. There are other reasons why it may appear that a senior has lost his or her appetite – such as a decreased sense of taste or dental issues. That’s why it’s important for seniors to weigh themselves on a regular basis and monitor any sudden weight loss.

  1. Seniors Need Fewer Nutrients Because Their Metabolism Slows Down

It’s true that seniors generally need fewer calories than younger people. At the same time, older adults need more of certain nutrients, such as calcium, vitamin D and B12. As people age, their ability to absorb these vitamins and minerals decreases, so they need to take in more from food.

  1. By 65, it’s Too Late to Follow a Healthy Lifestyle

There’s never an age when it’s too late to make healthy changes to your diet or lifestyle. For example, you can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, and by becoming more physically active. Studies have even shown that a person who makes lifestyle changes after suffering a heart attack are at less risk of suffering another attack. Indeed, one of the more dangerous senior nutrition myths is the notion that there’s no benefit to changing your lifestyle past a certain age.

  1. If You’re Not Overweight You Can Eat What You Want

Being overweight clearly increases the risks of chronic illnesses, but a poor diet can increase your risk of these illnesses even if you’re at a healthy weight. Following a healthy nutritional plan is important regardless of your weight. Even seniors who are trying to gain weight should do so through a balanced diet, rather than filling themselves with foods that are high in fat, sugar, or salt, and low in nutrients.

  1. Eating Something Is Better Than Nothing

Another common misconception about senior nutrition is the notion that it’s better to give an older person only the foods they enjoy to encourage eating. But that could mean overindulging in fast food, easy-to-prepare frozen dinners and processed snacks that are loaded with sodium and unhealthy fats. Eating too much of these foods can lead to serious health issues, vitamin deficiencies, as well as excessive weight gain or loss.

  1. It’s OK to Skip a Meal if You’re Not Hungry

There are several reasons why it’s a bad idea to skip meals. First, skipping meals may lead to excessive consumption of high-calorie, nutrient-poor snacks between meals. Forgoing meals can also lead to unhealthy fluctuations in blood sugar levels – which can fall too low when you don’t eat, and then spike to hazardous levels when you eat a big meal. Moreover, skipping meals can suppress appetite, leading to unhealthy weight loss and other health issues. Nutritional experts advise eating a big breakfast while making sure to eat something at every other mealtime.

  1. Senior Communities Have Bad Food

One of the common senior nutrition myths is the stereotype that senior living communities There may have been some truth to it in the days before assisted living communities weren’t available and nursing homes were highly institutionalized. Today, it’s not uncommon for assisted living communities to serve meals that could actually fall under the category of luxury dining and that provide all of the necessary nutritional benefits. If you’re in the process of selecting a senior community for yourself or a loved one, it’s a good idea to try out at least one meal at each community you tour.

  1. Dividing Meals In Half is a Smart Move

Leftovers can make cooking easier and help keep costs down, especially if you’re on a tight budget, but there are potential dangers to relying on leftovers, too. For example, meals delivered to an older person’s home are usually prepared to provide balanced nutrition. Dividing a meal in half can mean you’ll fall short on important nutrients. Moreover, storing leftovers for more than a day increases the risk of the food going bad. For an older person whose sense of smell has declined as they’ve aged, it can become harder to tell when food has spoiled, which raises the likelihood of food poisoning.

Taken from: Senior Homes

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The Skinny on Fat – With Almonds

The Skinny on Fat

Almond Sandwich

To keep hearts and bodies in the best shape possible, it’s important to maintain a healthy weight.1 That’s why integrating almonds into products or recipes is not only a smart choice, but also a satisfying one. Almonds offer key lifestyle benefits, including fewer calories for more nutrients, tempting crunch, and undeniable tasty flavor.
• An ounce of almonds provides 4 grams of filling fiber, “good” monounsaturated fat and 6 grams of energy-rich protein.2*
A recent study shows that whole almonds may provide the body with just 129 calories per ounce—that’s 20 percent fewer than the 160 calories Nutrition Facts labels currently state. The study takes into account the digestibility of whole almonds, and further research is needed to better understand the results of the study and how this technique for calculating calories could potentially affect the calorie count of other foods.3
• Consumers can feel extra confident about their choice to consume almonds as a snack. A study by Dr. Richard Mattes, published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition, found that consuming 43 grams (1.5 oz) of almonds a day as a snack or including them in a meal did not increase calorie intake over the course of the day or lead to weight gain over four weeks in the participants studied.2 The study also suggests that almonds are a smart snack choice, helping curb hunger and desire to eat with their satiating qualities.2
  • The Study: A study was conducted to determine the effect of almonds eaten at a meal or as a snack on blood sugar, appetite and body weight. To evaluate the measured effect, 137 otherwise healthy adults at increased risk of type 2 diabetes were assigned randomly to one of five groups for four weeks: a control group that did not consume nuts or seeds during the study period, and two meal groups and two snack groups that consumed 43 grams, or 1.5 oz. of whole almonds daily at assigned breakfast or lunch meal times, or morning or afternoon snack times, respectively. Oral glucose tolerance tests (OGTT) were performed at baseline, along with height, weight, body fat, waist circumference and blood pressure measurements.  A 24-hour dietary recall was completed with a registered dietitian and “hunger’, “fullness” and “desire to eat” sensations were captured using visual analog scales. Acute feeding sessions involving an overnight fast and consecutive blood samplings after ingestion of meals or snacks were performed one week after the OGTT and at the end of the four weeks. Participants underwent weekly follow-up visits where weight was recorded, 24-hour dietary intake and appetite sensation ratings were assessed.
    Limitations: The study was short in duration and did not measure the long-term impact of consuming almonds as a snack. The measures of hunger, desire to eat and fullness are subjective measures with uncertain effects on actual calorie or nutrient intake.
• Additionally, in a study published in the European Journal of Nutrition, a mid-morning snack of almonds helped control participants’ appetite, which resulted in a reduced calorie intake for the remainder of the day.1
  • The Study: The effects of two different portions of almonds as a mid-morning snack on satiety and energy intake were compared to having no snack as a control in a randomized crossover design, meaning that each participant completed all 3 interventions – no almonds, 1 ounce of almonds, and 1.5 ounces of almonds. Study participants were 32 healthy, normal weight (average BMI 22.7) adult women with an average age of 48.4 years.
    On each test day, participants consumed all meals under supervision at the study site. They were not permitted to eat or drink between meals other than the assigned snack intervention. Participants completed baseline appetite ratings, and then were given their usual breakfast at 8:30 am. The same breakfast was given to each volunteer on all three test days, ensuring that all participants felt their typical level of fullness after breakfast. They were then given a mid-morning snack at 11 am of no almonds, 1 oz. or 1.5 oz. of almonds to consume within 15 minutes.
    At 12:30 pm, participants were then provided lunch of ham and cheese sandwiches and strawberry yogurt and permitted to eat as much as they wanted until they were comfortably full. Appetite ratings were then assessed every 30 minutes until dinner was served at 5:30pm. Once again, participants were instructed to eat as much as they wanted, until comfortably full, of pasta with tomato and cheese sauces and lemon cake. 3.5 oz. of water was provided with each meal and participants were instructed to drink all the water. Subjective ratings of appetite and fullness were measured at regular intervals using VAS (visual analogue scale) ratings, and energy intake was assessed by weighing the meals before and after consumption.
    Limitations: The study was conducted in normal weight people, and findings may not be applicable in overweight and obese people, and only assessed the short-term (1 day) effects of eating almonds on satiety and energy intake. Habitual almond intake was not controlled for, and a control snack food of equal energy and volume to the almond snacks was not tested.
• Almonds are considered a good fit with many popular weight-loss programs such as Weight Watchers™, the Mediterranean Diet and the South Beach Diet™.
AlmondsSo, think of almonds when developing products to meet consumers’ demand for wholesome snacks with appealing taste and texture. They are a simple way to please even the pickiest palates while staying satisfied throughout the day.

Taken from: Almonds.com
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Food Labels to Show Real Calorie Picture

Food Serving SizesSabrina Trudo, a registered dietitian and associate professor of human nutrition in the University of Arkansas’ Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences, says upcoming changes to nutrition facts on food labels will make it easier for consumers to find how many calories they are eating.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced last month that most packaged foods sold in the country will include new nutrition labels so consumers can make more informed decisions regarding what they eat.
Most manufacturers will be required to use the new labels by July 26, 2018. Manufacturers with less than $10 million in annual food sales will have an additional year to comply with the new rules.
“The design has been revised a bit with the type larger for the words ‘calories,’ ‘servings per container’ and ‘serving size,'” said Trudo, who holds the 21st Century Endowed Chair in the Bumpers College’s School of Human Environmental Sciences. “The number of calories and ‘serving size’ will be in bold type. Serving sizes are supposed to reflect the amount people typically eat since portion sizes have increased over the years. There is the notion that package size affects how much people eat. For packages containing between one and two servings, calories and other nutrients will be labeled as from one serving because people typically consume the whole package in one sitting.”
The last serving size requirements were published in 1993. By law, the Nutrition and Labeling Act requires serving sizes to be based on what people actually eat.
The new rules will also require that labels show the grams and percent of daily value for “added sugars” to help consumers know how much sugar has been added to products. “This change could help people avoid excess calories that don’t bring needed nutrients,” said Trudo. “I’m also hoping this will help people recognize foods containing fresh fruit or milk are not inherently bad because they contain sugar. Many healthy foods contain natural sugars, and that’s fine. These aren’t the same as a product that has several grams of sugars added, perhaps unnecessarily, to crank up sweet perception, and unavoidably, calories.”

Other changes include:
Dual columns for both “per serving” and “per package” calorie and nutrition information for certain multi-serving food products that could be consumed in one or multiple sittings.

Updated daily values for nutrients such as sodium, dietary fiber and Vitamin D that will be consistent with Institute of Medicine recommendations and the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.
Declaration of Vitamin D and potassium that will include the actual gram amount in addition to the percent of daily value.
Amounts of vitamins A and C will no longer be required in the labeling because deficiencies are rare in modern diets.
“Calories from Fat” will be removed because research shows the type of fat is more important than the amount. “Total Fat,” “Saturated Fat” and “Trans Fat” will continue to be required.

A footnote to better explain the percent of daily value.
“Personally, I’ve had a problem with how serving sizes have been listed on labels,” said Trudo. “For example, the serving size for ice cream is listed as a half cup. Go to your kitchen and closely look at a half cup. Few people eat only a half cup in one sitting. I think it was unrealistic to expect people to adjust portion sizes down to equal what is currently listed on a package. We can hope when the new labels come out, people think twice and make better choices when they see calorie amounts that more closely reflect what they get in typical portion sizes they’ve been eating. Most of us don’t make the time to measure portions to ensure they are what we think they are. Hopefully these changes will help in weight maintenance and weight loss efforts.”
The Nutrition Facts label was introduced more than 20 years ago. Label regulations apply to packaged foods except certain meat, poultry and processed egg products, which are regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service.
“Nutritional science is a young and evolving science,” said Trudo. “We know more now than we did 20 years ago. Eating habits have changed, particularly with enlarging portion sizes over the years. The label should be updated to reflect the current state of knowledge, and current dietary patterns and challenges.”

Trudo said the labels will be most noticeable on products in a box, plastic container or can, such as snack foods, cereal, dairy products, soups, frozen meals and frozen pre-cooked foods.

Taken from: Medical Xpress

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Beer Nutrition – Moderation is Best

Beer is a beverage made from grain; typically barley, but it also could be wheat, corn or rice. The other three ingredients in beer are water, hops and yeast. More unique styles can also include fruits, vegetables, herbs, spices and sweeteners such as honey.

Glass of light beer on blue background
Glass of light beer on blue background Duluth News

On average, a 12-ounce serving of standard brew will contain about 150 calories with 12 grams of carbohydrate and 1.5 grams of protein. Beer also contains some B vitamins such as niacin and folic acid. But, beers can vary significantly in their nutritional content.

Keep in mind that alcohol provides 7 calories per gram (fat contains 9 calories per gram, while protein and carbohydrate both contain 4 calories per gram). A 12-ounce beer at 4 percent alcohol would provide about 80 calories just from alcohol, while a 12-ounce beer at 7 percent alcohol would provide about 140 calories just from alcohol. This example of difference in calories is just in the beer’s alcohol content; it does not take into account carbohydrate or protein, which comes from the grains and other added flavorings. In the craft beer scene, it is not uncommon to have beers as high as 8 percent alcohol, and sometimes even higher.

The color of a beer is not an indicator of its nutritional content. Dark beers can be low in calorie, and light colored beers can be high in calories. For example, Guinness Draught (an Irish dry stout) is about 125 calories per 12 ounces, while Budweiser (an American lager) is about 145 calories per 12-ounce serving.

The good news: beer is often touted to be one of the most nutritious alcoholic beverages related to its protein and vitamin B continent. Beer also contains just as many antioxidants as wine. Moderate alcohol consumption has been shown to have health benefits such as lowering your risk of cardiovascular disease. Despite some health benefits, the American Dietary Guidelines recommend that if you currently do not consume alcohol, you should not start.

It is important to be mindful of the accurate definition of moderate alcohol consumption. The definition of moderate alcohol consumption is no more than 2 servings of alcohol per day for men and no more than 1 serving per day for women. In regard to beer, a serving is 12-ounces with 5 percent alcohol content. When visiting your favorite local brewery or brewpub, a pint is 16-ounces; and the alcohol content may be higher than 5 percent.

Now, the not-so-good news. Excessive alcohol intake can increase risk of high blood pressure and stroke. Excessive alcohol is harmful to the liver and pancreas, and it is also linked to cancers of the mouth, throat, esophagus, colon and breast. Not to mention, the non-nutrition related risks of physical accidents while intoxicated.

Alcohol can have some health benefits, and beer offers nutritional content. But, if you do not consume alcohol, do not start because the risks may outweigh the benefits. Most importantly, remember to be mindful of the amount of your alcohol intake. I’ll end with the classic dietitian phrase of “everything in moderation.”

Taken from: Duluth News

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Edible Petals

Edible petals pack nutrients

dandelionWe can do more than just smell flowers this spring. Many of these pretties are edible, say plant experts. Add flower petals to salads, cheese spreads or salad dressings. Freeze them in ice cubes to dress up cold beverages. Some flowers can even be used to make wine.

The scientific name for people who eat flowers for food is floriphagia. And, it’s not a particularly new practice, say food historians. Native Americans for example, have long enjoyed eating blossoms from pumpkin and squash plants.

Edible flowers also can contribute to our nutritional health, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Although nutritional analyses of edible flowers is limited, researchers have identified several nutrients in the petals of flowers including vitamins A and C, riboflavin, niacin and minerals such as calcium, phosphorous, iron and potassium.

Colorful flowers also signal the presence of phytochemicals (natural echinoceasubstances in plants) found to be beneficial to human health. Pigments that make roses red and nasturtiums orange for example, are rich in substances called polyphenols. These compounds are rich in antioxidant properties which might help prevent chronic diseases such as heart disease and cancer.

Be cautious before imbibing on any flower in the garden, however. Some plants and their flowers are poisonous, caution experts at the College of Agriculture at North Carolina State University.

Further, do not eat flowers purchased at a nursery or roadside stand unless it is labeled as edible. And, avoid any flowers that have been sprayed with pesticides not approved for edible plants or grown in soil fertilized with untreated manure (that which has not been composted).

And, if you suffer with allergies or hay fever this time of year, flower pollen might not be the best idea.

Here are a few edible flower offerings:

  • Chocolate Cosmos (Cosmos atrosanguineus) is dark burgundy colored and has the aroma of dark chocolate. Add the petals or young leaves to salads, say culinary experts. Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet Savignon, say experts at Josh Cellars.
  • Rose petals. Rose hips — the round part of the flower just below the petals — have been found to contain vitamin C, a potent antioxidant nutrient. And, if roses smell good, they probably will taste good, say food experts. Use rose petals to garnish summer beverages and fruit dishes. Rose petals also make attractive cake decorations.
  • lavendarLavender. Use lavender flowers in sweet as well as savory dishes, say garden experts Thompson & Morgan. Or, check out the Lavender Harvest Celebration this summer at Bernardus Lodge in Carmel Valley, Calif., with a sumptuous lunch buffet infused with lavender delicacies. (My favorite in years past was lavender lemonade.)
  • Nasturtium If you can learn to spell these delightful garden climbers, you deserve to eat them. Nasturtiums are related to the cruciferous vegetable family known for their cancer-fighting abilities. Similar in taste to its close family member watercress, Nasturtium leaves and flowers have a peppery flavor that can spice up salads or sandwiches. Use the flowers to garnish steaks or casseroles, suggests Thompson & Morgan.nasturtium picture

By the way Dandelion — the flower I love to hate — is also edible if it’s not soaked in pesticide. Some folks even make wine from it. I think I’ll stick to a nice Chardonnay.

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Reinventing The Vending Machine

Reinventing The Vending Machine With Healthy, Local Food
Byte lets office workers snack on something better than a candy bar.

Vending MachinesSo far, Byte works with more than 150 offices in the Bay Area, including CBS, Autodesk, and SolarCity. Byte’s small fridges are loaded with locally made salads, cold-pressed juices, sandwiches, and coffee from local favorite Blue Bottle. Unlike a vending machine, where candy bars might stay in place for as long as a year, Byte’s food has a shelf life of as little as two days.

Byte’s small fridges are loaded with locally made salads, cold-pressed juices, sandwiches, and coffee from local favorite Blue Bottle.

“Ninety-nine percent of all offices don’t have fresh food on site,” says Megan Mokri, founder of Byte Foods, the San Francisco-based startup. “There’s this pretty significant disconnect between people now shopping at Whole Foods and other high-quality grocers and then going to work, and their food’s stuck in 1982. If they’re lucky, they’ve got a vending machine, or maybe there’s a [food truck] or vendor with the same menu day in and day out.”

While running a previous meal delivery company, and as a student at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business, Mokri and her cofounder realized that new technology could offer offices something different.

“There’s a plethora of options for companies that fully subsidize food for employees, but for those that don’t have the budget, that’s really where we see the greenfield opportunity,” she says. “Tech companies are not a core client base, which might sound funny, being in the heart of San Francisco, but that certainly is the case.”

Byte plans to expand to more major metropolitan areas. “Really any place that has a good prevalence of Whole Foods is a good place for Byte to be,” Mokri says.

Photos: via Byte Foods

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Frozen Breakfast Foods

Frozen Breakfast Food Is Not the Breakfast of Champions

May 22, 2016

Hello. My name Is Nick Gazin and I am VICE’s frozen food editor. And the art editor too, I guess. All my life I’ve hated eating food, and then one day I started liking food and immediately turned into the blob I see every time I mistakenly pass by a mirror. Now I show the food who is boss with my review column. It’s my revenge on the food for making me fat. Fuck you, food. Suck my dick, food!

The most easily-prepared foods are breakfast foods. Hot cereal, cold cereal, fried eggs, hard boiled eggs, soft boiled eggs, omelettes, quiche, poached eggs, eggs benedict, tostadas, scrambles, french toast, pancakes, coffee, other types of eggs, juice, fresh fruit, grits, biscuits, and yogurt are all prepared with minimal fuss. All frozen breakfast foods seem like a bad, impractical idea to me. But I’m not here to avoid the food mistakes, I’m here to eat them.

Aunt Jemima Croissant Sandwiches

The package came with two sandwiches. I microwaved the first for a minute and fifteen seconds. It was not unlike the similarly-prepared sandwiches you get at Dunkin’ Donuts. The croissants are chewier than you might expect, but that’s fine. The cost and time investment are low, so I wasn’t expecting some miracle sandwich. It was good.

I cooked the second sandwich in the oven which involves waiting for the oven to preheat, disassembling the sandwich and then cooking it at 350 degrees for 25 minutes on a sheet of tinfoil. Then I had to put the top croissant half back on and cook it for five more minutes. This seems nuts to me. I could make a fresh version of this sandwich in maybe fifteen minutes. But I’m a professional, so I indulged the box’s directions.

After taking a half hour to make this retarded sandwich, the croissant was too crunchy. If you buy these, just microwave them.

Fans of my frozen food reviews often make jokes about how they feel bad for my guts, or pity my toilet. For the most part, I don’t have tummy distress from the frozen things I consume in the name of journalism. These sandwiches made me pretty ill though.

GRADE: C


Kellogg’s Eggo Breakfast Sandwiches – Ham, Egg & Cheese

The “waffle-style bread” had the consistency of warmed Play-Doh. The egg disc was OK. The cheese was terrible. The ham was the only element that wasn’t mushy, but it still resisted the bite of my teeth. Ultimately, this doesn’t seem like food. It’s more like a thing a small child would construct, and you should just pretend to eat in profile while you pass it behind your face.

GRADE: C-

Aunt Jemima – Scrambled Eggs and Sausage with Hash Brown Potato

The scrambled eggs had the consistency of styrofoam pebbles. I accidentally flipped them all over my living room with my fork because they’re so dry and pellet-like. The sausages aren’t the best I’ve had, but I was able to eat them. The hash brown was soft and resembled greasy potato waste, pressed into the approximate size of an iPhone—similar to the kind I get at my corner deli. Making this actual breakfast the normal way would take most people ten minutes. Has anyone bought this thing twice? A banana is an OK breakfast, and cheaper.

GRADE: D-


Aunt Jemima – Homestyle French Toast

I liked eating this very much, but I had covered them in butter and maple syrup. It’s hard not to enjoy some fat and sugar and gluten and hydrogenated oils. The center of the toasts were soft like a new catcher’s mitt. The crust remained tough and chewy like an old catcher’s mitt. But you shouldn’t start the day with a ton of sugar. My normal breakfast (when off duty) typically includes three boiled eggs, coffee, and a banana. It is stupid easy to make, and is definitely way healthier than this thing I ate.

GRADE: B-

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Vegan Nachos

Better-Than-Restaurant Vegan Nachos

from: Well and Good
Serves 4

Vegan NachosI have created one version of vegan nachos on the blog, but wanted to upgrade it with my Best Ever 20-minute Vegan Queso, which does a stand-up job of mocking the flavor, texture, and mouthfeel of real cheese sauce! Toppings are versatile and plenty, and if you bake your own chips, this is actually a pretty healthy snack or meal.

Ingredients
20 yellow corn tortillas*, cut into small wedges
Nonstick cooking oil spray (for coating tortillas)
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1 cup black beans (if unsalted, season with salt to taste)
1 batch Best Ever 20-Minute Vegan Queso (see below), warmed
1⁄4 cup black olives, diced (optional)

Pico De Gallo
1⁄4 cup cilantro, chopped
1⁄4 cup red onion, diced
1⁄2 cup tomato, diced
1 lime, juiced (2 Tbsp)
Pinch sea salt

Guacamole
1 ripe avocado
1 lime, juiced (2 Tbsp)
Pinch sea salt

Directions
1. Preheat oven to 375º Fahrenheit (skip step 1 if using store-bought chips*). Spray (or brush) tortillas with oil and season with salt. Toss to coat. Arrange on two baking sheets. Bake in batches for 10–12 minutes, flipping once halfway through to ensure even cooking. Set aside.

2. In the meantime, heat black beans in small saucepan over medium heat. Once simmering, reduce heat to low to keep warm, stirring occasionally.

3. Prepare pico de gallo by adding all ingredients to bowl. Toss to combine.

4. Add guacamole ingredients to small bowl. Mash to combine. Taste and adjust flavor.

5. To serve, add chips to large serving platter and top with queso, black beans, black olives (optional), pico de gallo, guacamole, and any other desired toppings, such as cilantro, salsa, or hot sauce.

Best Ever 20-Minute Vegan Queso

Ingredients
3 Tbsp vegan butter (or sub grapeseed or avocado oil)
4 cloves garlic, minced (2 Tbsp)
1⁄4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour*
1 3⁄4-2 cups unsweetened plain almond or rice milk
1⁄2 cup nutritional yeast
1⁄2 tsp sea salt
1⁄4 tsp ground cumin
1⁄4 tsp chili powder
1 Tbsp maple syrup (or sub organic cane sugar)

Optional
1⁄4 tsp hot sauce
4 Tbsp chunky salsa (or canned diced tomatoes with peppers or chilies)

Directions
1. Heat large skillet or saucepan over medium heat. Once hot, add butter and let melt and start to sizzle—about 1 minute. 

2. Add minced garlic and stir to disperse. Cook for 1–2 minutes, stirring frequently, then turn down heat if garlic starts to brown too quickly.

3. Add flour 1 Tbsp at a time and whisk (see notes for gluten-free version). Cook for 1 minute, then whisk in almond milk 1⁄2 cup at a time until it no longer looks thick and lumpy—about 1 3⁄4 cups total.

4. Cook in skillet for 2 minutes, then transfer to high-speed blender. Add nutritional yeast, salt, cumin, chili powder, maple syrup, and hot sauce (optional). Blend on high until creamy and smooth.

5. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding more nutritional yeast for extra cheesiness, salt for savoriness, sweetener for flavor balance, or dry spices for depth of flavor.

6. Transfer back to skillet or saucepan and simmer on low for 5 minutes, stirring often, to thicken.

7. Turn off heat and use a slotted spoon to add chunky salsa or diced tomatoes and chilies. Stir to combine.

8. Serve hot with chips, on burrito bowls, nachos, or enchiladas. Best when fresh, but will keep in refrigerator for up to 3-4 days. Reheat in microwave or in small saucepan until hot and bubbly.

Notes
*To keep this queso gluten-free, simply sub cornstarch or arrowroot starch for flour and proceed through recipe as instructed. It will look more clumpy initially, but when blended it works the same.

Notes
*To save time, use 5–6 cups store-bought tortilla chips in place of the corn tortillas.

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