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Nutrition

Maximize family meal flavors with cheese

From fish and seafood to veggie-inspired recipes, the dairy delight provides a versatile, flavorful ingredient.

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While there are many ways to enhance the taste and texture of your family’s favorite dishes, perhaps one of the simplest and most impactful is the addition of cheese. From fish and seafood to veggie-inspired recipes, the dairy delight provides a versatile, flavorful ingredient.

One wholesome option is cheese made with 100% sustainably sourced Real California Milk from dairy farm families, which helps bring out the full flavor of dishes like California Queso Fresco Fish Tacos. Quality, authentic dairy can be part of flavor-driven experiences with your loved ones whether you enjoy the tacos during a “fish Friday” event or simply as an opportunity to share a meal as a family. You can also use queso fresco to elevate the flavor of dishes like chilaquiles, or turn to other varieties like Oaxaca for a capirotada or asadero for quiche.

If a vegetarian-friendly meal suits your style, cheese can also enhance plant-forward dishes like Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers. These red bell peppers are cooked and seeded before being stuffed with onions, mushrooms, cheese and seasonings. Once they’re baked to an ooey-gooey doneness, they’re served with white rice for a filling yet healthful meal.

Visit realcaliforniamilk.com/hispanic-dairy to find more cheesy, delicious recipes.

Vegetarian Stuffed Peppers
Prep time: 25 minutes
Cook time: about 1 hour
Servings: 4

4          red bell peppers
1/2       cup, plus 1 tablespoon, vegetable oil, divided
1          cup white onion (about 1 medium), 1/4-inch diced
4          cups cremini or brown mushrooms (about 1 pound), 1/4-inch diced
1          teaspoon garlic salt
1          teaspoon black pepper
1          cup Real California Oaxaca cheese, shredded
            cooked white rice, for serving

Preheat oven to 400 F.

Rub bell peppers with 1 tablespoon oil then use grill, broiler or gas stovetop burner to cook peppers, turning occasionally, until well charred, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to bowl, cover and set aside until cool enough to handle, about 10 minutes.

In large skillet over medium heat, warm remaining oil. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, 3-5 minutes. Add mushrooms, garlic salt and black pepper; cook, stirring occasionally, until mushrooms are browned and liquid is almost entirely evaporated, 7-10 minutes.

Rub charred skin from bell peppers. Slice off tops and remove seeds. Fill bell peppers with mushroom mixture, top with cheese and arrange in baking dish. Replace bell pepper tops and bake until cheese melts, 8-10 minutes. Serve with cooked rice.

California Queso Fresco Fish Tacos
Servings: 6 (12 tacos)

Avocado Radish Salsa:
2          medium avocados, chopped
1/3       cup finely chopped onion
3/4       cup diced radish
5          serrano chile peppers, seeded and finely chopped
3          tablespoons cilantro, finely chopped
1          clove garlic, finely chopped
1          lime, juice only
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste

Tacos:
1 1/2    pounds swordfish, or other whitefish, steaks or fillets
            vegetable oil
            salt, to taste
            pepper, to taste
1          tablespoon lime juice
1/2       teaspoon ground cumin
12        corn tortillas
6          ounces Real California Queso Fresco cheese, crumbled
2          medium ripe tomatoes, diced
1          cup shredded cabbage

To make avocado radish salsa: In small bowl, combine avocados, onion, radish, chile peppers, cilantro, garlic and lime juice. Add salt and pepper, to taste. Set aside.

Heat grill to medium heat.

Rinse fish and pat dry with paper towels. Rub oil on both sides to coat; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Grill fish 6-9 minutes until cooked through; cool slightly. Remove skin and bones; cut fish into 1 1/2-inch strips.

In medium bowl, toss fish with lime juice and cumin. Warm tortillas in microwave or at 275 F in oven.

Place equal amounts of fish, cheese, tomatoes, cabbage and salsa in center of each tortilla. Roll up tacos to serve.

Substitution: Use Real California Asadero or Monterey Jack cheese for Queso Fresco.  

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Nutrition

Salad or cheeseburger? Your co-workers shape your food choices

Co-workers may implicitly or explicitly give each other license to choose unhealthy foods or exert pressure to make a healthier choice.

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Photo by Alice Pasqual from Unsplash.com

The foods people buy at a workplace cafeteria may not always be chosen to satisfy an individual craving or taste for a particular food. When co-workers are eating together, individuals are more likely to select foods that are as healthy–or unhealthy–as the food selections on their fellow employees’ trays.

“We found that individuals tend to mirror the food choices of others in their social circles, which may explain one way obesity spreads through social networks,” says Douglas Levy, PhD, an investigator at the Mongan Institute Health Policy Research Center at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and first author of new research published in Nature Human Behaviour.

Levy and his co-investigators discovered that individuals’ eating patterns can be shaped even by casual acquaintances, evidence that corroborates several multi-decade observational studies showing the influence of people’s social ties on weight gain, alcohol consumption and eating behavior.

Previous research on social influence upon food choice had been primarily limited to highly controlled settings like studies of college students eating a single meal together, making it difficult to generalize findings to other age groups and to real-world environments. The study by Levy and his co-authors examined the cumulative social influence of food choices among approximately 6,000 MGH employees of diverse ages and socioeconomic status as they ate at the hospital system’s seven cafeterias over two years. The healthfulness of employees’ food purchases was determined using the hospital cafeterias’ “traffic light” labeling system designating all food and beverages as green (healthy), yellow (less healthy) or red (unhealthy).

MGH employees may use their ID cards to pay at the hospitals’ cafeterias, which allowed the researchers to collect data on individuals’ specific food purchases, and when and where they purchased the food. The researchers inferred the participants’ social networks by examining how many minutes apart two people made food purchases, how often those two people ate at the same time over many weeks, and whether two people visited a different cafeteria at the same time.

“Two people who make purchases within two minutes of each other, for example, are more likely to know each other than those who make purchases 30 minutes apart,” says Levy.

And to validate the social network model, the researchers surveyed more than 1,000 employees, asking them to confirm the names of the people the investigators had identified as their dining partners.

Based on cross-sectional and longitudinal assessments of three million encounters between pairs of employees making cafeteria purchases together, the researchers found that food purchases by people who were connected to each other were consistently more alike than they were different. “The effect size was a bit stronger for healthy foods than for unhealthy foods,” says Levy.

A key component of the research was to determine whether social networks truly influence eating behavior, or whether people with similar lifestyles and food preferences are more likely to become friends and eat together, a phenomenon known as homophily. “We controlled for characteristics that people had in common and analyzed the data from numerous perspectives, consistently finding results that supported social influence rather than homophily explanations,” says Levy.

Why do people who are socially connected choose similar foods? Peer pressure is one explanation. “People may change their behavior to cement the relationship with someone in their social circle,” says Levy. Co-workers may also implicitly or explicitly give each other license to choose unhealthy foods or exert pressure to make a healthier choice.

The study’s findings have several broader implications for public health interventions to prevent obesity. One option may be to target pairs of people making food choices and offer two-for-one sales on salads and other healthful foods but no discounts on cheeseburgers. Another approach might be to have an influential person in a particular social circle model more healthful food choices, which will affect others in the network. The research also demonstrates to policymakers that an intervention that improves healthy eating in a particular group will also be of value to individuals socially connected to that group.

“As we emerge from the pandemic and transition back to in-person work, we have an opportunity to eat together in a more healthful way than we did before,” says co-author Mark Pachucki, PhD, associate professor of Sociology at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. “If your eating habits shape how your co-workers eat–even just a little–then changing your food choices for the better might benefit your co-workers as well.”

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Nutrition

Boosting your Zesty Grilled Steak Salad with flavors

A bold blend of garlic, brown sugar, soy, citrus and Creole seasoning give this Zesty Grilled Steak Salad a boost of flavor.

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Fire up the grill and grab the salad dressing!

A bold blend of garlic, brown sugar, soy, citrus and Creole seasoning give this Zesty Grilled Steak Salad a boost of flavor. The Beach House Kitchen doesn’t mess around when it comes to salads, and thanks to Tony Chachere’s Steakhouse Marinade and Creole-Style Italian Salad Dressing, this sweet and savory salad is guaranteed to please everyone at the table.

INGREDIENTS
2 Strip Steaks (10-12 Ounces Each)
¾ Cup Tony Chachere’s Creole-Style Steakhouse Marinade
3 Ears of Corn, Shucked
8 Cups Spring Mix
6 Campari Tomatoes, Quartered
½ Pound Strawberries, Hulled and Sliced
4 Ounces Blue Cheese Crumbles
¾ Cup Canned Crispy Fried Onions
¾ Cup Tony Chachere’s Creole-Style Italian Salad Dressing

PREPARATION
Prep Time:       20 Minutes
Cook Time:      17 Minutes
Serves:            2-4

  1. Add steaks to a shallow bowl. Cover with Tony Chachere’s Creole-Style Steakhouse Marinade. Flip steaks. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
  2. While the steaks are marinating, preheat grill to high for 10 minutes. Add corn and cook, making sure to turn often until evenly charred, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill and let cool. Once cool, using a sharp knife, slice the corn off the cob onto a plate. Set aside.
  3. Once the steaks are finished marinating, place the steaks on the grill on high heat (400°-450°F). Cook until slightly charred, about 4 minutes. Turn steaks over and continue to cook for an additional 3-5 minutes, or until grilled to your liking. Remove from the grill and slice thin, against the grain.
  4. Add the spring mix to a large bowl or platter. Toss with the corn, tomatoes, strawberries and about half of the dressing. Stir in the blue cheese crumbles and crispy onions. Add the steak and drizzle with remaining dressing, if desired.
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Nutrition

Flavorful spring meal prepped in 20 minutes or Less

Make spending time with family and friends even more special by sharing a quick, delicious, spring-inspired meal together.

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Adding delicious, new flavors to your homecooked meals this spring may be easier than you think. A secret ingredient like cooking wine is a simple way to add a boost of flavor to all kinds of recipes.

During the spring months, few people would prefer cooking in the kitchen for hours rather than enjoying the outdoors. Make spending time with family and friends even more special by sharing a quick, delicious, spring-inspired meal together. Time-saving dishes at home begin with an option like Holland House® Cooking Wines that add an extra boost of flavor to recipes like Chicken Gyro Bowls. Perfect for a weeknight meal, the recipe combines pantry staples and enticing seasonings for an easy-to-make dish using a slow cooker.

Featuring savory chicken gyro meat atop a scoopful of rice, crisp and vibrant veggies, and garnished with crumbly feta and tangy tzatziki sauce, the bowls are bursting with flavor and perfect for the season.

Cooking wines are flavor-enhancing ingredients that can quickly transform an ordinary meal into an extraordinary one. Available in four flavors – Marsala, Sherry, White and Red – Holland House Cooking Wines are made with fine grapes and perfectly blended seasonings, aged to perfection, to offer bold flavor to your springtime cooking. Consider these uses for each variety:

Sherry cooking wine works equally well in dessert recipes, main dishes, sides, soups and sauces. One example is these delicious Chicken Gyro Bowls, which you can leave cooking in the Crockpot throughout the day. The remaining preparation is fast for a weeknight meal that’s ready in next to no time.

Best known for its use in chicken marsala, marsala cooking wine lends flavor to other preparations, too. Marinate sliced meat in marsala cooking wine before grilling, roasting or sauteing, or swirl it into gravies and soups to add delicious, savory flavor.

Stir red cooking wine into gravies and red sauces, or try marinating less-tender cuts of beef, lamb or pork in the refrigerator (for up to 24 hours) to boost flavor and tenderness.

White cooking wine pairs well with fish and lighter fare like chicken and turkey, as well as rice dishes.

Find more recipes to bring mouthwatering flavor to your springtime table at HollandHouseFlavors.com and crock-pot.com/slow-cookers.

Chicken Gyro Bowls
Recipe courtesy of Jillian of Food, Folks and Fun
Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 4-6 hours
Servings: 6

Chicken Gyro Meat:
1/4       cup Holland House Sherry Cooking Wine
3/4       cup chicken broth 
2          tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2    tablespoons dried oregano
1          teaspoon salt
1/2       teaspoon pepper
1          medium yellow onion, roughly chopped
2          pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, thawed
4          large garlic cloves, minced

Gyro Bowls:
2          cups long-grain rice
1          medium cucumber, seeded and sliced
1          large tomato, chopped
1          cup shredded iceberg lettuce 
1/2       cup crumbled feta cheese
1 1/2    cups tzatziki sauce 
            black pepper, to taste
4          pitas, warmed and cut into wedges

To make chicken gyro meat: In small bowl or liquid measuring cup, whisk cooking wine, chicken broth and lemon juice; set aside. 

In separate small bowl, combine dried oregano, salt and pepper; set aside. 

Add chopped onion to bottom of slow cooker and lay chicken breasts on top of onions. 

Pour cooking wine mixture over onions and chicken. 

Sprinkle half of oregano mixture over top of chicken. Flip chicken over and sprinkle remaining oregano mixture over chicken. 

Evenly distribute minced garlic over chicken. 

Cover slow cooker with lid and cook on high 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours. 

Shred cooked chicken then use wooden spoon to mix shredded chicken, onions and remaining liquid together. Turn off slow cooker and let mixture sit, with lid on, while preparing rice. 

To make gyro bowls: Cook rice according to package instructions. 

Place rice in bowls and top with chicken gyro mixture, cucumber, tomato, lettuce, feta, tzatziki sauce and black pepper, to taste. Serve with pita wedges.

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