Monday, December 23, 2013

Seven Savvy Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating

As my husband and I made the long drive to Mississippi yesterday from Texas, we were discussing how we needed to make an effort to get some physical activity in amongst the casseroles, cocktails, and conversation that would be surrounding us this holiday season. Talking about this made me remember that I had written a newspaper article for my college newspaper during my nutrition internship days about tips for healthy holiday eating.  In the words of my sister, "I will plagiarize myself and share it with you below." 

      The Holidays are a time filled with joy and togetherness.  However, for many of us they are also filled with food, and lots of it.  I asked some of my friends and family if they usually found themselves eating more during the holidays than other times of the year, and unanimously they said yes .  Regrettably, even with my study and knowledge of nutrition and portion control, I often tend to eat more during the holidays than I do at other times of the year. 
         The food on our tables is in such abundance during the holiday season that one might think this was our last meal.  Especially in the South, the tradition of family, fellowship, and feasting is ever prevalent in our society.  So, it is very difficult for us to discipline ourselves when it comes to food because it is all many of us have ever known. 
         Fortunately, there are ways for us to avoid overeating and still find our stomachs full.  Plus, just think of how exciting it will be when the New Year rolls around to still be able to fit in those same pre-holiday season jeans.  Not only will we look good, we will feel good for being in control of our lifestyle.  Here are some tips for Healthy Holiday Eating that I hope you will use this holiday season:

1.  Remember that THIS IS NOT YOUR LAST MEAL.  With this being said, try not to skip meals.  When this happens, we tend to eat one or two huge meals that are so high in calories they overcompensate for the missed meal or two.  It is better to eat three small meals a day and have one or two small snacks instead of overindulging yourself in one huge meal. 

2.  Watch your portion sizes.  You can do this by only getting foods that you like, or even some that you don’t get to have at other times of the year.  Try to balance the portions.  For example, don’t have all meat and mashed potatoes.  Try to get ¼ of your plate to be meat, ¼ to be a starch, and the other ½ to be vegetables, cranberry sauce, fruit etc. 

3.  Chew your food slowly and make conversation at the table.  There is no rush to see who can finish first-even if you have five minutes to see the next football game kickoff!  Enjoy your time with your family.  Give thanks for your blessings, laugh, and conversate with one another during this special time of year.  It takes the body twenty minutes to feel full, so give yourself time to eat and enjoy the food.  If you do this, you will feel satiated and may not want seconds, or thirds, or fourths!

4.  Try not to focus on the food so much.  Food is an important part of the holidays, especially in our culture, but it is not the most important part.  Focus on family bonding, relaxing, giving, or whatever else is of importance to you this holiday season.  Play games, volunteer to help those less fortunate, or curl up with a nice book to relieve your stress.  Just try to avoid curling up with a book and a big slice of pumpkin pie! 

5.  Don’t snack all day on appetizers and still indulge in the main course and dessert.  Try to avoid snacking mindlessly, as in snacking out of habit or boredom, and then don’t overdo it on the main course, or on dessert.  There are always plenty of leftovers, so remember that it’s not a race to see who can eat the most food!

6.  Continue to exercise or move around during the holidays.  Whether it be cleaning the house or bundling up to take a nice walk through downtown, still try to be active and move about.  The holidays are a relaxing time, but can also be an active time that provides enjoyment too. 

7. Finally, don’t beat yourself up if you do happen to overindulge in the holiday foods.  Just motivate yourself to follow these tips and try and do better at one of the next holiday parties or gatherings because most of us will have several opportunities to do better. 

I hope this holiday season finds you well-rested and well-fed, just not over fed.  Keep in mind these tips and try and put them into practice at the many holiday parties and festivities that will be coming your way.  Don't worry if you don't get to try everything that first go-round-I am almost certain that there will be plenty of leftovers on most of our tables all the way into the New Year!

May your days be merry and bright this season,


Saturday, December 7, 2013

National Brownie Day-Spotlight on a Southern Chef

In honor of National Brownie Day (and I checked to make sure it wasn't like the girl scout brownies day), I decided to write this post.   

Many of us will probably consume brownies at some point this holiday season.  For whatever reason, perhaps it is their simplicity to make coupled with their chewy goodness, brownies are always a popular treat for holiday parties and the like.  Despite their goodness, brownies tend to be "empty calories" (i.e. not much nutrient density per the calorie ratio).  So, I thought how awesome would it be to have a brownie that can provide us with the nutrients we need as well as the tastiness we love?

Now, I am by no means an expert recipe developer-knowing how much of this and that to substitute for certain items was never my strong suit.  But, I knew just the person to ask for this task.  Let me introduce you to Chef Miles McMath, the Director of Culinary Operations at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. Miles grew up hunting and fishing and learning the essentials of the south’s rich culinary traditions at an early age.  He was born and raised in rural Alabama with the experience of 
his family growing and gathering their own food. This led him to understand the basic principles and importance of food in everyday life that would set the stage for his career as a chef.  He attended school at Sullivan College in Louisville, Kentucky and began his professional career as a chef working in Louisville.  in Louisville. After leaving Louisville, McMath was Chef de Cuisine under Chef Gerard Thabuis of Grand Casino Inc., Gulfport, MS.  His success at Grand Casino led to his promotion within the Grand Casino Group to corporate research and development chef for all seven casinos owned by Grand Casino Inc. McMath spent just under three years fine tuning his craft in Tunica before opening his own restaurant, Timbeaux’s in Hernando, MS.  Following Timbeaux’s, he opened two more successful restaurants.  During his six years as Chef/Owner of these restaurants, Miles gained extensive experience as a chef and business manager. Miles taped over 100 cooking segments for local television show Mid South Living, where he appeared weekly for four years. He also appeared on the Food Network’s Simon Super Chefs Live and is a five time Gold Medal winner in National American Culinary Federation (ACF) competitions. 
Gingerbread House at St. Jude
    Today, Miles maintains a 60 raised bed garden at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee. “St. Jude has given me the opportunity to incorporate all of my experiences into one for the benefit of the patients, families and employees at St. Jude,” he says. “We have a garden that produces everything from mushrooms, lettuce and asparagus, as well as compost from our kitchen and worm beds. We have a weekly Farmers Market that includes over 15 farmers and food artisans. We also have a traveling farmers market that stops by the kitchen twice a week to fill in areas that are lacking in our garden. Most of our vendors such as vegetable, pork, beef and honey are from areas that are within 100 miles of St. Jude. In the kitchen at the Kay Kafe, we produce over 2500 meals per day and all come from ingredients that we source tirelessly every day.”  There are over 16 different food concepts, a catering department, two satellite cafes and patient room service model that the culinary team at St. Jude operates daily. To McMath the biggest challenge of all is coming up with ways to influence children to eat when they don’t have an appetite and are far away from the comforts of home. He has created some unique ways of doing so, such as kids making and cooking their own pizzas, decorating their own cupcakes and numbers other hands-on cooking
activities. One of the big events of the year is when the Culinary department builds a gingerbread house that is large enough to provide a dining table for two guests.  He invites 25 local chefs and 100 patients to decorate gingerbread for the surrounding area of the house.  
 I was fortunate enough to see this masterpiece two years ago when I visited St. Jude's during the holiday season.  Miles is also married to my cousin Julie, so I have the pleasure of knowing the family-man side of him as well.   

So, I asked Miles to share what he calls his "smart" brownies recipe, which is listed at the end of the post.  Then, I had to ask him some questions about the brownies, as well as his thoughts on some other food-related topics:

Me: So, I know that you mentioned before that you made these brownies for your three kids without telling them what was in it and they went over very well with the kids-they didn't even know they had spinach in them, right? 
Miles:  Correct!  I was asked to come up with a healthy brownie at work.  Not necessarily low fat or low sugar, just healthier.  Chocolate can overpower a lot of flavors.  So I just kept testing different healthy addisitions and came up with this recipe.  I was asked to be on ABC’s “Everyday Health” with Jenna Morasca and Ethan Zohn.  They came to our house for the filming and we made healthy pizzas and I made the brownies.  The kids didn’t know and really liked them.  (Since these kids are my cousins, I asked them as well, and they told me how wonderful they were, and that they had no idea that they contained the spinach because otherwise they would not have tried them!)

Me:  "In your role at St. Jude, as the director of Culinary Operations, you probably get a lot of special requests from children for snacks/meals.  How do you incorporate the concept of good nutrition into kid-pleasing items?"
Miles: "Give them a lot of choices and let them be in control.  If you tell a kid they are having kale, it doesn’t go over so well.  If you ask would the like kale, spinach or broccoli – they will choose one.  We also do a lot of hands on cooking with them.  That definitely works."  (Personally, I can attest to the fact that involving children in cooking increases the chances of them eating some of it.  Positive attitudes about the food being cooked can also help to make children more excited to try it.)

Me:  "Last question for you, as a chef as well as a lover of getting back to the essence of eating "real food", how do you promote this in your work, recipes, family life, etc?  What challenges do you face and what's your advice for those of us trying to do that in our own lives in overcoming the barriers?"
Miles:  "Simple, 'Eat Real Food' not food like substances.  Michael Pollan's Food Rules is really good.  Here are some of his quotes:
1. Avoid food products containing ingredients that a third-grader cannot pronounce.
2. Avoid foods you see advertised on television.
3. Eat only foods that will eventually rot.
4. It’s not food if it arrived through the window of your car.
5. Eat mostly plants, especially leaves.
6. Eat animals that have themselves eaten well.
7. The whiter the bread, the sooner you’ll be dead.
8. Have a glass of wine with dinner.
9. Stop eating before you’re full.
10. Eat when you are hungry, not when you are bored. If you’re not hungry enough to eat an apple, then you’re not hungry.
11. Don’t get your fuel from the same place your car does.
12. Do all your eating at a table.       
I have to laugh at some of these quotes, but I think Pollan makes some excellent points.  It was a pleasure interviewing Miles for this post, and I hope you will all try out these marvelous brownies, not only for National Brownie Day, but throughout this holiday season.  Bon Appetit! 


Makes 12 brownies.

  •  6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 3/4 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 2 large farm eggs
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 cup Organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 cup Blueberry and Spinach Puree (recipe below)
  • 4 Tbsp. whole wheat flour
  • 2 Tbsp. flax meal
  • 1 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/4 cup rolled oats, ground in a food processor
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray only the bottom (not the sides) of a 9-inch square baking pan. Make the Blueberry and Spinach Puree first (recipe below). Set aside. Melt the butter and chocolate chips together in a double boiler or metal bowl over simmering water. Remove from heat and allow mixture to cool.
Meanwhile, in another bowl, stir together the eggs, vanilla, sugar and Puree. Combine this mixture with
the cooled chocolate mixture.
In a mixing bowl, stir together the flours, Flax Meal, cocoa powder, oats and salt. Add to the chocolate
mixture and mix (do not over mix, similar to mixing pancake batter). Mix in the chopped walnuts, if using, then pour the entire mixture in to the baking pan. Bake 25-30 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean.
Allow to cool completely in the pan before cutting the brownies. Brownies will keep up to a week in the refrigerator, covered tightly.

Blueberry and Spinach Puree
Yields 1 cup

  • 1 ½ cups raw baby spinach
  • 3/4 cup fresh or frozen unsweetened blueberries
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon juice
  • 2-3 Tbsp. water

Wash and dry the spinach thoroughly (even if it's triple-washed, bagged spinach). Bring the spinach and water to a boil in a medium saucepan. Turn the heat down to low and allow to simmer 10 minutes.
Rinse and drain blueberries. Place blueberries, cooked spinach and lemon juice in the work bowl of a food processor or blender. Process on high until smooth, stopping occasionally if necessary to scrape the bowl.
Add the more water if necessary, to make a smooth puree.

-Courtesy of Miles. T. McMath
St. Jude Children's Research Hospital-

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Food and Nutrition Conference Expo: A Food Lover's Dream

Imagine a four-day conference filled with 9,000 like-minded professionals listening to lectures, poster sessions, watching culinary demos, hearing motivational speakers, and attending a food expo with over 200 exhibitors providing samples, educational material, and networking opportunities.  

It was my first time to attend this annual event, and luckily for me, it was held in my current city of Houston, Texas.  My childhood best friend, and RD colleague, Stephanie Allen, was able to fly down from Winston-Salem to attend the event, and so it was nice to have another food and nutrition lover to explore with!  

There were many topics covered and so much that I learned, but what I have decided to do is pick the top five things from FNCE 2013 and write about them here:  

1. One quarter of the world's population follow kosher and halal guidelines.  Kosher and Halal are not the same.  In a nutshell, Kosher guidelines deem certain animals as clean (i.e. cattle, sheep, deer, chicken turkey, duck, elk, and fish with fins and scales) and others as unclean (i.e. shellfish, rabbit, frogs, snails, alligators, pig).  Kosher also requires that meat and dairy not be consumed together and not within six hours can you consume dairy after meat.  If you ever are in a setting to serve this population, you would need to be sure to have separate cutlery for meat and milk and two separate kitchens-one for the population you are serving that are kosher and another kitchen for the non-kosher.  I also learned that not all foods labeled with the K or the U symbol are necessarily Kosher and that if there are certain items in question, there are some great websites to follow as guidelines.  Check out the following for more information:
For Halal in the Muslim population, this term means "permitted" so foods that are Halal, are considered permitted, whereas Haram foods are "not permitted".  The haram foods consist of pork, blood, alcohol and meals prepared with it, animals mishandled, carnivorous animals and amphibians, and cross-contamination of foods with any of the ones listed above.  Halal is unique in that it does have clear laws, but the degree to which they are followed is very individual specific.  I actually did a cultural diet report in college on halal by interviewing a fellow student of mine who followed the guidelines, so attending this lecture was a nice refresher and reminder for me of the diverse diets in varying cultures!

2.  RD's can work in numerous roles across the globe.  Here we are at the Welch's booth where I talked to a consultant RD who worked in communications and development for Welch's. Many other companies at the Expo had RD's in similar roles.  I talked to a booth American Overseas Dietetic Association  in which I learned of opportunities for RD's abroad.  It was fun to see the various ways in which our profession has a tremendous potential for impact and growth, both nationally and internationally! 

3. There were so many COOL (and yes that is the best word to describe it) products to check out at the Expo.  Here is one of them Beanitos- a unique sort of chip made from.. you guessed it! BEANS.  Some of the flavors include white bean with sea salt (as shown), original black bean, chipotle bbq (currently in our kitchen), and nacho cheese.  The chips are corn free, GMO free, gluten free, preservative free, trans fat free, cholesterol free, MSG free, Kosher, Vegan, no sugar added, high in fiber and protein rich, and low sodium.  In other words, most anyone with any type of dietary needs should be able to consume these chips!  They were very tasty too.  Some of the other booths I found to be quite tasty, interesting, and the best free samples were Canadian LentilsCocoaViaLaura's Lean BeefWell Amy, LLC, and KIND Healthy Snacks to name a few.  

4. I looked at several poster sessions in which I was proud to see my alma mater, Delta State University, represented along with several other Mississippi Schools as well as St. Jude Children's Research Hospital-one of my internship sites.  It is nice to see the ever-evolving research door in this 
profession of nutrition, food, and health. 

5. Networking, Networking, Networking.  I honestly can't think of a better event for dietitians or health-minded professionals to network and meet up than this event.  The expo portion itself provides an opportunity to speak with multiple companies from all over.  There was a career center and professional resume coaching session as well.  I found the networking aspect to be the most bang for my buck so to speak with the conference because it allowed me to meet so many other professionals not only in Houston but across the US.  As a young RD, it was a great way to connect with mentors in the field and pick their brain for tips/advice as well as meeting student interns and those in my shoes as a fairly new RD.  I hope to be able to attend FNCE 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia!  Just a little tidbit, if anyone reads this and isn't an RD but is interested in nutrition and health, it is relatively inexpensive to attend this conference as a guest.  Details for FNCE 2014 can be found here and will be updated as time draws closer:                
I'll be back again soon with some healthy holiday tips!


Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Poutine, Butter Tarts, and Cooky Canucks

For most of us here in the United States, we look forward with anticipation to Thanksgiving-a time to bring out the turkey, pumpkin pie, fellowship, and of course, Black Friday deals.  I got to experience an early Thanksgiving earlier this month, October 6th, by celebrating with my Canadian husband, Canadian Thanksgiving, hosted by The Canadian Club of Houston.  

First of all, it was awesome to me that we live in a city that has such a creative organization to make "Canucks"  feel at home and to connect them with fellow Canadians throughout the city.  I had to laugh out loud a little when I read on the invitation that we would be celebrating with a Canadian meal followed by ice skating!  So stereotypical.  How about a little poutine as well, eh?  Which by the way, if you don't know what that is, I am going to explain it later on.  

So, we pulled up to the ice skating complex greeted by a huge Canadian flag, on a dreary, cool day (also quite befitting-also extremely rare for Houston). Immediately, I noticed how jubilant Canadians are as a whole-I don't know if this is because they were so excited to be celebrating a day apart from American culture or because they are just an extremely nice group of people.  My husband assured me it was primarily the latter.  We continued along where we were greeted by bartenders serving Molsen Canadian beer and Caesars.  Caesars are a similar version of our Bloody Mary's except clamato juice is used in place of tomato juice.  Personally, I find them to knock Bloody Mary's out of the water!  We mingled with various Canadians, learning many interesting journeys and stories that brought them to Houston, Texas.  I learned that Canadian Thanksgiving occurred 43 years before the Pilgrims landed in Massachusetts, that their reason for celebrating originated as a harvest festival,  and that it was typically celebrated the 2nd Sunday in October, even though Monday is the official holiday.  Then, we got in line for our meal.  I was very curious as to how the food was going to be in comparison to our typical Thanksgiving fare in the United States.  Our plates consisted of light and dark meat baked turkey, mashed potatoes, green bean medley, baked sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, rolls, and dressing (usually stuffing is used, but my husband assured me this was cornbread dressing to which my reply was "Well, we are in Texas.").  For dessert, we were offered pumpkin pie and/or butter tarts.  We actually had butter tarts at our wedding that Owen's mom and sister made for our Canadian dessert groom's table as shown below, so I was pretty familiar with these.  However, at this meal they were three times as big and the fillings varied.  After a lively discussion at the table about butter tarts, we came to the consenus that they typically consist of butter, sugar, syrup, and egg filled into a flaky pastry baked until the filling is semi-done, runny inside and crunchy on top.  Generally, raisins are in the traditional butter tart, but walnuts or pecans may be added.  Butter tarts differ from pecan pie in their shape and the absence of cornstarch, making them runnier.  A typical butter tart could also contain up to 500 calories, so it is definitely a treat to be enjoyed on special occasions!  

After lunch, we did a little ice skating, in which I was very embarrassed by little Canadian hockey protege children, as well as old men and women, making it look so effortless.  My only consolation was remembering that I grew up in the land of cotton, not the land of snow and the only similarities are that they are both white and fluffy.  After skating, we had poutine and Tim Horton's coffee.  Poutine is a common Canadian dish, originally from Quebec, consisting of french fries, brown gravy, and cheese curds.  The dietitian in me thought up a healthier (notice I said healthi-ER) way to modify this recipe-use fresh potatoes, cut them into wedges, and bake them with a little Canola oil versus frying them.  Then, instead of using cheese curds, use part-skim mozzarella cheese cut up into cubes.  I was getting hung up on the gravy alternatives though, especially of how to make it taste and look right, so I did some research on recipes and found this one that seems quite tasty and as I said, healthi-ER.  My only recommendation would be using the part-skim mozzarella cheese or some sort of low-fat/fat-free white cheese.  Poutine is found all across Canadian restaurants and fast food chains.  With regards to our coffee, Tim Horton's is one of the most famous Canadian chains, known for its coffee and donuts.  There are a few locations in the USA as well, primarily around the east coast, including New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Delaware, and Michigan.  

From a food perspective, what did I learn from this event?  Well, Canadians like their fried, buttery foods just as much as we Americans do! I learned about variations of items that we have in the USA, such as the poutine versus fries, butter tarts versus pecan pie, and Caesars versus Bloody Mary's.  I found the people, the food, and the atmosphere to be most enjoyable and found myself being most thankful that I was able to celebrate a day of thanks with another culture of people, and in doing so, gained a better understanding and appreciation for their culture and heritage.  Below, I have some photos highlighting some of these adventures! 

Last week I had the opportunity to attend the Food and Nutrition Expo (FNCE) conference held in Houston, so be checking back to hear about that experience! And remember, even though American Thanksgiving hasn't occurred yet, it is never too early to remember to give thanks.  


Wednesday, October 9, 2013

So, I know I mentioned in my last blog post that I was going to go into further details of some inspiration that I had for creating a blog.  I started a new job two weeks ago, so I am finally finding some time to do this!

If you were like me, you probably have never heard of Outstanding in the Field.  I got invited to attend through my cousin, Miles, who was cooking for this event along with some other chefs in the Memphis/Oxford area.

First, I will give you a little background about this organization.  I won't bore you with too many details, because I think you should check it out for yourself.  But, basically this organization was born in the summer of 1998 with a series of "farmer dinners" in California.  The founder of OITF, Jim Denevan, invited several of the producers out of the field and into the restaurant cafe in California.  The menu featured dishes containing ingredients that came from the farm, from the man or woman that grew the food, or raised the animals, or caught the bird, fish or whatever-so, it was a way to show appreciation to the farmers for all of their hard work and to directly show how it came "from the earth to the table, or from the farm to the table."  The idea continued to expand into having an actual meal on a long wooden table in a field on the actual farm itself.  Guests came toting their own plates, a tradition that still continues today, wearing smiles of gratitude and appreciation for these farmers and their toil.  There, on a sunny California afternoon, a chef prepared a five course meal using all local ingredients from the farm.  The idea continued to expand into San Francisco and other California regions, ultimately culminating in a big red and white bus traveling from coast to coast.  The core staff consists of the original founder, as well as staff from all around the world, from Atlanta to Vancouver, from Italy to Portland.  In 2011, they traveled (without their big red bus I'm assuming) to six European countries.  They even host an annual vegetarian meal to accommodate those who don't eat the farm fare livestock!  Each event begins mid-afternoon, is about five hours in length, beginning with a reception, meet and greet cocktail hour and appetizer pass, followed by an introduction to OITF and their staff, followed by a tour of the farm, ending in typically a four course meal, finishing up around sunset.  Their mission is simple:  To reconnect diners to the land and the origins of their food, and to honor the local food farmers and food artisans who cultivate it.  Essentially, it is a restaurant without walls, setting up a dinner table with white tablecloths in barns, greenhouses, gardens, ranches, wherever the climate and terrain allow.  The meal is prepared by celebrated chefs of the region, using ingredients often found as "local" as a few feet behind your chair, and everyone celebrates together:  farmers, producers, culinary experts, and diners.
  Outstanding in the Field event at Woodson Ridge Farms in Oxford, MS that I attended

Having personally attended an event, I can attest that what they say on their website-from their mission, to their presentation and style, is all true.  During my years attending college in the Mississippi Delta, as I watched farmers toil over the fruits of their labor (often from sun up to sun down) while we carried on about our precarious ways, as most college students do, I would think to myself, it must be taxing on the body and spirit to work all day, to plan for the harvest, and to rarely ever feel any gratification or receive any appreciation for your work.  Outstanding in the Field is an organization that gets it-giving farmers and producers the credit that they deserve.  Not only that, it educates the general public, like you and me, about the origins of our food, the work it takes to cultivate it, and the skills it takes to delicately prepare a fine meal.  Perhaps you find this spin on a mobile restaurant as unique and interesting as I did.  If so, check them out here and see if the big red and white bus is rolling into your town anytime soon!  Save money for a ticket, bring your finest dinner plate, and go-because I guarantee you that you won't have another meal quite like this, and I can also guarantee you that it will be absolutely outstanding!  

Main website for schedule of events, interactive map, photos, and more
 Check out the blog here!

Sample Menu (based off of the program that we had) Note:  All items served are not listed here.

Bruschetta, tomato jam
Roasted eggplant, goat cheese, mini BLT

Apalachicola Bay oysters, mignonette, Claybrook Farms oxtail horseradish
LA gulf shrimp, citrus rind puree, oxtail brussel sprouts
2011 Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier

Will Harris' chicken a la grecque, hominy, burnt okra, pickled radish, Bonnie blue feta,
Woodson Ridge farms salad, beets, chicken fat vinaigrette, slow grilled Woodson Ridge farms eggplant

Frangipane tart, warm apple and brandy compote, sweetened chantilly cream
2011 Secco Brut Rose

Local Farmers and Culinary experts used for this meal:

-Elizabeth and Luke Heiskell                                                  -Kelly English
Woodson Ridge Farms, Oxford, MS                                       Restaurant Iris, Memphis, TN

-John Currence                                                                      -Wally Joe and Andrew Adams
Dwayne Ingraham                                                                   Acre, Memphis, TN
City Grocery, Oxford, MS

-Miles McMath                                                                     -Vishwesh Bhatt
St. Jude, Memphis, TN                                                           SnackBar, Oxford, MS

-Jesse Houston                                                                      -Sean Adams
Jackson, MS                                                                          Honeybee Bakery, Oxford, MS

-Michael Hudman and Andrew Ticer
Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen
Memphis, TN

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

“When work, commitment, and pleasure all become one and you reach that deep well where passion lives, nothing is impossible.”-Nancy Coey, motivational speakerFor some time now, I have wrestled back and forth with the idea of having a blog.  Naturally, the first question is what to blog about and how to do it in such a way that I am committed to it, I enjoy it, and it encompasses topics that I have knowledge and curiosity about.  Because of my career as a dietitian and my interest in food and nutrition, I knew that a blog pertaining to these topics would be a way to pursue my passion for writing, (as well as developing writing skills), inspire me to research and stay abreast of what is going on in my field, and provide me a way to meet other bloggers and receive feedback and interaction.   One evening, several months ago, I had started to think about and write out what my vision for a blog would be.  Lots of dietitians have blogs to promote a nutritional business or topics that they are passionate about, or to provide accurate nutritional information to consumers.  I wanted a bit broader scope for my blog.  The phrase Food 360 came to mind.  The background story which inspired this title is this: I had attended an event called Outstanding in the Field, which I will discuss in my next post, that inspired my idea.  In addition to the event, I had read several books by Michael Pollan concerning the origins of food and practical applications in society, and had many discussions with my cousin, Miles McMath, the Director of Culinary Operations for St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, on eating real food and the impact it has on society.  So, I am sure you are wondering what was so significant about these things that it led to a vision or a premise for creating a blog.  I will share with you the notes that I jotted down to serve as topics for this blog, in hopes that you will better understand the vision that I had in mind.     

Food 360

-Food at its origins, from the earth, to the table
-Food as comfort, as healing, as medicine, as entertainment, as pleasure, as social hour
-From the fields to slaughter, as it takes its presence in our homes and in our bodies
-From the labs to the supermarkets, through all the marketing in between
-Food for it’s sensory appeals-touch, taste, sight, smell
-Food as a holistic approach, for it’s nutrition or lack thereof, for its allergic reactions and intolerances, as therapy, as sustenance, in sickness, and in health

Like I said, these are merely notes jotted down in a short time frame, but it definitely got my brain to turning.  I wanted to write about food on a deeper level, not just what foods contain Vitamin A, the so-called benefits of eating gluten-free, or what it means to be a vegan.  However, I didn't want to negate the benefits of food from a nutritional standpoint, especially since a lot of my career as a dietitian deals with this aspect, so I included the holistic part.  

Moreover, I wanted to have a blog where I could capture and appeal to a wider audience and learn from them.  I wanted to have a place to discuss the origins and history of food, and how it has significantly changed as more than the hunter-gatherer approach, and become a major marketing campaign and a social, entertaining part of our culture, whether that be from dining out on a first date, to planning a huge pot-luck event for a family reunion.  By incorporating this facet, I believe I will be able to share personal stories, photographs, recipes, restaurants, events I attend, and the like.  Growing up in Mississippi, attending school in the Mississippi Delta (aka the most southern place on earth) where tea is sweet, everything is fried, and food insecurity is a real issue, and now living in Houston, Texas, where food trucks are on every corner, tea is not so sweet, and BBQ is done with beef, I am looking forward to assessing the impact of food in various cultures, as well as in my own life.  As I have often told many clients:  Food is very Personal.  

I hope you will join me for this adventure, bear with me as I am a novice to the blogging world, and share with me your experiences and opinions concerning a topic that we all require in order to sustain life.  Thanks to my husband for helping me set this up.  I look forward to seeing the direction it takes.