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February 2013

  February 2013  

Highlights

In this issue you'll find:


Good
Simple
Fun

What works...Success Stories

A Lunch Tote for Dudes!

“Finally a lunch tote for dudes! I just ordered the Dual-compartment Tote - Black/Blue, and I love it. Now I have a place for my main bento lunch box 2.0, which sits flat, plus the above area for apples, drinks or extra containers. This looks cool and can hold a lot of stuff. This is an exceptional product especially because it looks great for even a guy to carry to work. Great job!”

    -- Sam, Glendale, AZ

Great for Portion Control

“Just wanted you to know that this Laptop Lunch box is great. I had bariatric surgery in September, and it is great for portion control, and I can get both a breakfast and lunch in the lunch box. Best weight control devise on the market. I can also carry my liquid protein shake in the side zippered compartment. Thanks.”

    -- Peggy Mikulski, Baltimore, MD

Do you have a success story or photo to share? Email it to us at [email protected].













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From Our Desk to Yours

Greetings!

Happy February to all! As we move through the first few months of the year, expect to see some exciting incremental changes to this monthly newsletter. In fact, you can scroll down to see some of them now. We welcome your feedback, and we hope you like our new look!


VALENTINE'S DAY SPECIAL: Eat smart. Be True to your heart…with one of our Valentine’s Day bento packages, created especially for you! Available this month only — while supplies last!

WELCOME: We’d like to extend a warm welcome to Kay Uyeda, the newest member of our team. Kay lives in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, son, and two dogs. She likes dancing, hiking, cooking, and spending time with her family. Kay has been a salesperson since age 10, when she started working for her family business. Being aware of our place on this planet and in the universe is important to her. Realizing and manifesting our human connectivity is one of her joys in life.

                

Enjoy the coming weeks!


From Your Kitchen to Ours

"I have been using the Laptop Lunches box for my daughter for 2 days now, and I am SO EXCITED about it! I am a big fan of looking at pictures of bento lunches online, so I have been taking pictures of my own! Yesterday I sent strawberries and grapes in one container, cheese sandwich strips in another, cheese strips in the 3rd, cucumbers and dip in the 4th, and a bag of mini oatmeal chocolate chip cookies on the side. Today it was ham pepperoni sticks in one, moon and star shaped cheese in another; papaya, cantaloupe and honeydew cubes in the third, a combination of pretzels, mini Ritz cheese sandwich crackers and some sweet pretzel twists in the fourth, and a Rice Krispy square on the side. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! So worth the money! I look forward to using it for many years to come!!!"

    -- Mandy W., Phoenix, AZ


Food for Thought: Wheatgrass

Photo Credit: Melissa Braun

Wheatgrass is an excellent source of chlorophyll, which has anti-bacterial properties and helps eliminate toxins. In addition, chlorophyll is known to increase red blood cells. It is a great source of vitamins C, E, and B and effective in destroying and removing free radicals from the body. Wheatgrass is one of the most alkaline foods and helps detoxify the liver, the blood and the lymph system. It is immediately absorbed into the blood stream and boosts energy.

Wheatgrass is available either fresh, frozen, in tablets, or in powder form. Some people grow their own wheatgrass and juice it themselves. Frozen and powdered wheatgrass can be thrown into any blended juice or smoothie. The powder could also be mixed in a glass of juice or water. Tablets are taken as you would any vitamin or mineral.

To learn more about wheatgrass, visit: http://wheatgrass.org.

Benefits:

  • Excellent Source of Chlorophyll
  • Reduces High Blood Pressure
  • Detoxifies the Body
  • High in Amino Acids
  • Boosts the Immune System
  • Contains Antioxidants
  • Improves Digestion
  • Good for Skin
  • Increases Red Blood Cell Count
  • Beneficial to Cancer Patients

 


Photo Credit: Melissa Braun


This Month's Recipes: Warm Winter Soups From Rebecca Crump

These two soup recipes along with the accompanying photographs are reprinted with permission from Rebecca Crump, author of the Ezra Pound Cake site. To view more of Rebecca's recipes, visit: www.ezrapoundcake.com.

Coconut-Sweet Potato Bisque

  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced (or one
    15 oz can pumpkin puree)
  • 4 cups (plus 1-1/2 Tbsp) water
  • 2 (14 oz) cans unsweetened coconut milk, divided
  • 2 Tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 Tbsp pure maple syrup
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 1-1/2 Tbsp cornstarch
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)

 

  1. In a 4-quart saucepan, combine the sweet potatoes and 4 cups of water over high heat. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender. (Be careful not to boil away all of the water.)
  2. Reduce the heat to medium and, using a potato masher, mash the potatoes in the water.
  3. Add 1 can of coconut milk, brown sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin pie spice. Simmer for about 15 minutes, or until it begins to thicken.
  4. In a small bowl, combine the cornstarch and the remaining 1-1/2 Tbsp water to form a thick paste.
  5. Add the cornstarch mixture and the cayenne to the soup, and cook over low heat for about 5 minutes longer, or until it coats the back of a spoon.
  6. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup until smooth, or use a food processor, working in batches, and transfer the soup back to the saucepan to keep warm. Use the contents of the remaining can of coconut milk to thin the soup to your desired consistency, if necessary. Season to taste with salt, pepper and cayenne (if used). Serve immediately.

This recipe can be found at: http://www.ezrapoundcake.com/archives/17641. For more of Rebecca's soup recipes, visit: www.ezrapoundcake.com/archives/24514.


Tomato and Red Pepper Soup with Basil-Infused Olive Oil


  • 15 ripe plum tomatoes OR 1 (28-ounce) can tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 3 medium red bell peppers OR 1 jar roasted red bell peppers, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh seeded red chili (optional)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar, or to taste
  • 2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 handfuls of fresh basil leaves

 


  1. If Using Fresh Tomatoes: Using a knife, score a shallow “x” on the tops of the tomatoes. Place in a large pot of boiling water for about 60 seconds. Then transfer them immediately to a large bowl of ice water. Remove the skins and seed. Set aside.
  2. If Using Fresh Peppers: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the peppers on a baking sheet covered in aluminum foil. Roast the peppers, turning them every 15 minutes until the skins are blistered and have big black patches. Place them in a covered bowl or large Ziploc bag until they’re cool enough to handle. Then peel and finely chop them.
  3. Warm 2 Tbsp of extra-virgin olive oil and the chopped red chili (if using) in a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat.
  4. Add the chopped red peppers and a pinch of salt. Cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Add garlic, and cook for 2 minutes.
  6. Add chopped tomatoes, another pinch of salt, and red wine vinegar. Cook for another 10 minutes.
  7. Add the broth, and simmer for 15 minutes.
  8. While the soup is simmering, make the Basil Topping: Toss the basil and a pinch of salt in the food processor, and pulse until finely chopped. Transfer the mixture to a bowl, and stir in the remaining olive oil. Add a drop or two of red wine vinegar. Set aside.
  9. Season the soup to taste, and let it cool slightly.
  10. Using an immersion blender, tabletop blender or food processor, blend the soup in batches until you get the consistency you want. Ladle your soup into bowls, and generously drizzle each serving with the Basil Topping.

This recipe can be found at: www.ezrapoundcake.com/archives/23930. For more of Rebecca's soup recipes, visit: www.ezrapoundcake.com/archives/24514.

In the Spotlight: An Article by Cynthia Lair of Cookus Interuptus


Feeding the Young Athlete: On the Road!

About Cynthia Lair:
Cynthia Lair is the author of Feeding the Whole Family and co-creator of the humorous online cooking show, Cookus Interruptus (www.cookus.tv ). A certified health and nutrition counselor, Cynthia is an assistant professor in the Nutrition and Exercise Science Department at Bastyr University. In addition to teaching, writing and cooking, she was a soccer mom for 14 years and remains a loyal fan. She lives in Seattle, Washington.

Ignoring the demands of travel can put the whole team’s performance at risk.

My daughter, Grace, had two things that put her at an advantage for travelling to away games—cooking skills and a rice cooker. In the sleepy early-morning, while finding cleats and shin guards to pack, she would also sauté whatever vegetables she had handy, add some cooked rice, and pack the food in a container to throw in her bag. While the other players were eating paltry sandwiches provided to the team, she would whip out her fried rice and listen to the “Ooohhh. That looks so good!” from other players. I admired Grace for her resourcefulness, but couldn’t help wonder why there wasn’t plenty of food on the bus for everyone. When you ride for long hours on a bus or plane, the body goes into a lethargic mode. Not only do muscles get sleepy and brains get foggy, but the body also gets dehydrated. Kids are often expected to jump off the bus, do a quick warm up, and then play their best. This simply is not going to happen if the quality and timing of eating and drinking have not been considered.

If you need to stop and eat, then the question is ... what and where?

Grace played on a select team for many years. At least once or twice a season we had to drive over the Cascade Mountains to the eastern part of Washington State. During one trip, we found a sweet little Indian restaurant in a small town. The food was good—plenty of fragrant rice and tasty vegetables. We bookmarked the spot. From then on it was our routine watering hole going east.

Too often the assumption is that young people will only eat “kids’ food,” meaning poor-quality fast food.

Cost is usually a factor as well. The default food for traveling teams seems to be cheap pizza and sodas. There are better choices. Choose food venues based on the best food for players. Let everyone know that this is part of the game plan. Want better performance? Think outside the bun. Don’t necessarily look for the nearest chain restaurant or convenience store. Use your phone apps. Find that locally-owned ethnic restaurant. Typical ethnic meals offer the opportunity to “make your plate” with the right proportion of nutrients.

Find a good ethnic restaurant and have fun ordering

When we think about the proportions of the pre-game plate, carbohydrates in the form of whole grains are front and center, with fresh fruits, vegetables and some protein as teammates. This is the proportion of many ethnic meals since traditional cultures throughout the ages depended on affordable carbohydrates to provide the majority of calories for their meals. Italians have pasta. Asians depend on rice. Masa is part of Central American meals. Fruits and vegetables are eaten seasonally, and meats are used in moderation, often as flavoring rather than center plate. Many of the recipes for pre-game meals we included here are inspired by ethnic foods and flavors. Players can try these new tastes out at home first to gain more confidence ordering at an ethnic restaurant.

Find a good grocery store

If out of town for a few days for a tournament, scout out a high-end grocery store and stock up on some appropriate grocery store items such as fresh fruit, pasta salads, toasted nuts and raisins, yogurts and more. If gravitating toward the convenience of energy bars, be sure to read the labels carefully and know that you can get the same (or better!) nutrition from a half sandwich and a piece of fruit.

Don’t underestimate the power of a snack

One Sunday afternoon, in a rural area about two hours from home, our team was surprised by a win that meant we were sticking around for a championship game.  We had about 2 hours to kill before the final – not enough time to go to find a restaurant, sit down, and order.  We knew the girls needed some food to replenish before the championship game.  I drove around for quite a while trying to find something appropriate and finally just stopped at a grocery store.  I bought a loaf of raisin bread and some oranges and dashed back to the field where the girls were waiting.  This proved to be a very inexpensive and effective snack.  This particular time, I don’t remember if the team won or not.  All I remember was this happy bunch of girls, sitting on a grassy hill, grabbing slices of raisin bread out of a bag and giggling. 

The above article is an excerpt reprinted from Feeding the Young Athlete: Sports Nutrition Made Easy for Players, Parents and Coaches (Readers to Eaters, 2012) To purchase or learn more about the book, visit www.amazon.com/Feeding-Young-Athlete-Nutrition-Players/dp/0983661529/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top.

For more on Cynthia, visit: www.cynthialair.com and check out the menus, recipes and videos at: www.cookusinterruptus.com.

Worth Sharing

BENTO TIP – Before you pack your stainless bento jar, fill it with boiling water and let it sit for a few minutes. Pour out the water and add your food immediately, and it will stay hot for hours!


DID YOU KNOW – blueberries are considered a heart healthy food? Visit: www.webmd.com/food-recipes/features/25-top-heart-healthy-foods to learn about 25 foods loaded with heart-healthy nutrients that help protect your cardiovascular system.

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