BBQ Grilling Safety

For grilling aficionados, the longer, brighter, warmer days of summer mean only one thing: Cookouts! This time-honored backyard tradition brings families, friends, and neighbors together to enjoy flame-cooked barbecue delicacies such as burgers, hot dogs, steaks, and chicken.

However, a jovial environment shouldn’t stop grill cooks from observing the proper safety precautions. Individuals preparing their foods over open flames should be aware of potential risks and take continual measures to avoid them.

Food Safety Considerations

Although hazards such as cross-contamination and food poisoning aren’t new to outdoor cooking, the different ways in which people prepare food for barbecuing may lead them to forget. Therefore, BBQ chefs should take particular care to observe food safety measures throughout the preparation process, including:

– Shopping. When purchasing meat in the store, choose untorn packages and transport them in separate bags from other food items. Ensure meat products don’t remain unrefrigerated for extended periods of time, causing them to spoil.

– Storage. To prevent bacteria growth, freeze or refrigerate poultry or meat as soon as possible after purchasing. Freezers should remain at or below 0 degrees Fahrenheit, while refrigerators should stay at 40 degrees or lower. Use refrigerated meats within 1-5 days.

– Preparation. Always grill meat and poultry thoroughly, using a meat thermometer to ensure each piece has reached the correct internal temperature. Never place cooked meat on a dish that previously held raw meat, and keep meat hot until ready to serve.

Grilling Fire Safety Precautions

Although humans have been cooking with fire for thousands of years, modern conveniences such as stoves and microwaves can breed complacency when it comes to outdoor grilling. When using a grill improperly, operators place themselves at risk of severe injury. Before and during a cookout, observe methods to keep yourself and others safe, including:

– Outdoor use only. Whether charcoal or propane, grills are always unsuitable for indoor use.

– Cleaning and maintenance. Prior to each use, remove fat or grease deposits from the grills and the tray underneath.

– Location, location, location. To prevent spreading the cooking fire to surrounding areas, place a grill away from overhanging branches, eaves, deck railings, and housing structures.

– Proper charcoal ignition techniques. Use charcoal chimney starters, charcoal starter fluid, and electric charcoal starters with caution and according to the packaging directions.

– Proper propane ignition techniques. Propane grill owners should check gas tank hoses for leaks before their first use each summer and receive professional assistance rather than operating a leaky tank.

– Pay attention. Always monitor an active grill fire to ensure it doesn’t get out of control. Propane grill users who smell gas should immediately vacate the area and contact the fire department.

– Parental supervision. Pets and children should remain well away from the fire.

With the proper safety measures, backyard chefs and their families can enjoy delicious fire-cooked meals all summer long.

What are your secrets for a safe and tasty summer grilling experience?

What Is the Main Health Benefit of Dark Chocolate

Indulging in chocolate does not have to be a bad thing. Once you know what the benefits are to eating dark chocolate, you will never feel guilty again. Next time you have a chocolate craving, reach for a slab of dark chocolate because you will be making a healthy choice.

Darker chocolates do have health benefits, but what is the main one? Dark chocolate has been proven to be a powerful source of antioxidants. Tests have been done on a number of different food products to decipher whether or not they are a good source for antioxidants. Cocoa beans, happen to be one of the highest scoring sources of antioxidants. Some of the antioxidants that have been found in dark chocolate are:

� Polyphenols

� Flavanols

� Catechins

Antioxidants are extremely good for you because they can protect your cells in your body from getting damaged by harmful chemicals. It is necessary to eat a diet that contains foods that have antioxidants in so that you can prevent illnesses. This is why when you want to eat chocolate you should choose to eat the darker versions. You will be able to get in some well needed antioxidants into your body, while enjoying a tasty treat.

Now that you know what the main health benefit of dark chocolate is, you will want to know what else dark chocolate can do for you. It is also connected with:

� Nutrients: dark chocolate is a very high source of fiber, iron, magnesium and copper. The darker the chocolate the more nutrients is will have in it. It is best to eat the 70-85% cocoa content.

� Increased brain power: dark chocolate has been shown to increase the blood flow to your brain due to the antioxidants found in it. Helping you to concentrate for longer. The next time you are studying consider snacking on nuts and a high percentage dark chocolate to increase your brain power.

� Reduces the risk of cardiovascular disease: some studies have shown that eating high cocoa chocolate on a regular basis can decrease the chances of heart disease. This is due to the fact that higher cocoa percentage chocolates have compounds in that are highly protective against the oxidation of LDL (low-density lipoprotein) cholesterol.

The next time you want to indulge in a sweet treat, choose darker chocolate. You will not only be able to enjoy the taste of chocolate in one of its purest forms, but will be providing your body with added health benefits.

Where to get the best chocolate decorations

Creating delicious chocolate decorations is a delicate art. There are many ways in which you can manipulate chocolate to make amazing shapes. If you want to get the best chocolate decorations then you need to come to the professionals.

Creating delicious dark chocolate decorations is a delicate art. There are many ways in which you can manipulate chocolate to make amazing shapes. If you want to get the best chocolate decorations then you need to come to the professionals. Here at Chocoholic Impact we have amazing solutions for you. Whether you are looking for pure chocolate treats or a unique way to decorate your cakes then we have what you need

Smokey Vegetable Soup With Pasta Smells Good and Tastes Good

Smell has a lot to do with appetite and how much food we eat. Years ago, a friend of mine caught a terrible cold and lost his sense of smell. He didn’t lose it for a week or so, he lost it for six months. “I didn’t want to eat,” he admitted, “and had to force myself do it.”

The smoky smell of this nutritious soup will bring all family members to the kitchen. But the best thing about it is that it’s made primarily with leftovers. My refrigerator seemed to be stocked with a little of this and a little of that. Not one to waste food, I started removing food cartons from the fridge and vegetables from the bin. It was time to make soup.

Some vegetable soup recipes are tomato-based, while others are meat-based. Clear and cream soups are in categories of their own. My goal was to make delicious soup packed with vegetables and flavor. I started with half of a leftover onion. I found some leftover ham and pre-cooked real bacon pieces in the meat drawer. It was time to start cooking.

When you make vegetable soup it’s wise to cut vegetables about the same size. This original recipe may also be made in a slow cooker. I wanted soup for lunch, so I made it in a large saucepan. Because I had some ring pasta in the pantry, that’s what I used. You may use any small pasta of your choice. If you have other vegetables on hand, such as zucchini, throw it in the pot.

As long as you’re making soup, you may as well make a big batch and freeze some for future meals.

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 large rib celery, sliced into small pieces

2 peeled carrots, sliced into small pieces

1 pound 10-ounce carton unsalted chicken stock

2 cups water

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup frozen green beans

14.5-ounce can petite tomatoes

1 cup ham, cut into small cubes

1/4 cup pre-cooked real bacon recipe pieces

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/2 cup ring pasta

METHOD

Pour olive oil into large soup kettle. Saute onion, celery and carrots over medium heat for about three minutes. Add all other ingredients, with the exception of the pasta. Cover and cook soup over low heat until the vegetables are tender. Add the pasta, cover and cook about 10 minutes more. Serve with French bread, crusty rolls or salty crackers. Makes about 10 servings.

Coffee Cultures From Around The World

offee Cultures From Around The World

Here in the UK, we’ve developed a taste in recent years for cappuccinos, lattes, espressos and mochas that just a few decades ago, were completely absent from the High Street. As a result, many people assume this is how the rest of the world drink their coffee and some get a real shock when they travel abroad to find that their request for their favourite skinny caramel latte is met with a blank expression!

So how is coffee consumed in other countries around the world? We’ve taken some countries at random where coffee is taken seriously, and compared them to ourselves. Take a look and see how varied some of these coffee cultures are, and feel free to let us know about your own experiences when travelling overseas.

1. France Caf� au Lait

This famous drink (simply coffee served with hot milk in a mug or large cup) made it to the shores of the UK some time ago. This is consumed at breakfast time, and is traditionally served in a cup wide enough to allow a croissant to be dunked in. Available pretty much anywhere and about as basic as a coffee recipe can be (except for the croissant of course). They have joined the rest of the world in recent years, with the familiar Starbucks outlets in every major town.

2. Italy Cappuccino, Latte, Mocha, Ristretto, Macchiato

It’s fair to say that the Italians know a bit about coffee, and are responsible for many of the Italian-sounding concoctions you’ll see in any branch of Costa. Not that you’ll find a branch of Costa in Italy though, they don’t do chains of coffee shops, preferring family run bars and cafes instead. They don’t actually drink latte (which literally just means ‘milk’) and rarely add syrups, whipped cream and other such flavourings, preferring instead to drink mostly espressos.

Most of the best known brands of coffee beans are Italian, such as Lavazza, Segafredo and Illy.

And don’t order a cappuccino after midday unless you want the barista to roll his eyes or just point-blank refuse – it’s considered to be something only drunk at breakfast time, usually with a sweet croissant or pastry. After midday, it’s espresso or macchiato unless you’re a tourist.

3. Turkey

Turkish coffee is rarely seen in the UK, mainly because it’s so far removed from what we here would call a cup of coffee. It’s usually served from a long-handled copperpot in small cups about the size of an espresso, and is thick, black and extremely sweet. Turkish citizens who come here to live or work in the UK won’t find any coffee widely available that will remind them of home, and so they often drink espresso or ristretto with lots of sugar, or simply make traditional Turkish coffee themselves at home.

4. Cuba

Another nation that prefers its coffee thick and strong is Cuba. Here though, it’s very much a social event consumed in a similar way to alcoholic shots, but in no way limited to the evenings. Many Cubans enjoy their coffee first thing in the morning, throughout the day and particularly after meals. It’s not quite as strong as the Turkish brew however, and is quite acceptable to Europeans palates.

5. Ethiopia

The Ethiopians should know a bit about coffee – their country is the birthplace of the stuff. They do take it pretty seriously too, with the traditional brewing process of ‘Buna’ as it’s known, taking anything up to 2 hours. It’s a social thing here, drunk with guests and friends and served with salt or butter instead of milk (which isn’t always available).

Many other countries drink their coffee in forms that would seem strange to us here in the UK. In Japan for instance, coffee in cans is extremely popular and has been for decades. It’s available from vending machines in both hot and cold forms, allowing busy commuters the chance to grab one on the go.

In Saudi Arabia and other Arabic cultures, coffee ceremonies follow many rules of etiquette, including always serving the elders first. It is also a common custom to serve this a cardamom-spiced coffee with dried fruit such as dates, partly to compensate for the bitterness of the coffee.

In Mexico, Caf� de olla is a spiced coffee brewed with cinnamon sticks in earthenware pots. Not to everyone’s taste, the Mexicans say it brings out the taste of the coffee. Each to their own of course!

In Vietnam, they have been drinking iced coffee for years. Unlike us, however, they like theirs made with very dark roasted beans and sweetened using condensed milk.

Australia. Ever since an influx of Italian immigrants after World War 2, Australians have been drinking coffee like the Italians and enjoying a real caf� culture of their own. The now world famous flat white originated here (see our article on how to make one), though don’t mention this if you are visiting New Zealand – they also claim to have invented it!

Last but not least, our cousins in the US are prolific coffee drinkers thanks to chains such as Starbucks. While the menu in a US branch of Starbucks is little different to one here, they do like filter coffee more than we do, and take their frappes and iced drinks with far more cream, sugar and chocolate sauce than many European countries.

It seems that no two countries have exactly the same taste when it comes to coffee, and this should be considered a good thing. We have absorbed a wide variety coffee drinks from Italy, France, Australia and the USA, and if we hadn’t, we might still all be drinking instant!

Cold Soups or Hot Soups, Which One is The Ideal Meal

There are many soups that are called “comfort foods” and this is because there really is nothing that can compare to the feeling of cradling a warm vessel of delicious soup in your hands on a cold day. However, soup is also a summer food when you make it with fresh vegetables and sip it cold under a shady tree.

Additionally, the smoothie craze has led more and more people to give a lot of different cold soups a try as well because they are often quite close in taste and texture to healthy smoothies.

Just think of that wildly popular favorite known as gazpacho. This is something that usually has very little salt and relies instead on the freshest herbs, garlic, vegetables, and a bit of healthy vinegar to give it zing. Whether eaten as a snack, a meal substitute, or the first course of a larger meal, it is one of the cleanest and most invigorating foods you can ever experience. It is, as many say, “like drinking a summer day”.

Naturally, many people want a nutritious hot soup as well, and though cooking and processing can decrease the nutrient counts of some foods, there are ways to still enjoy the pleasures of warm and hot soups while also getting a lot of “bang” for the buck. For instance, the classic miso soup recipes can deliver a high number of enzymes, nutrients, and loads of protein. Whether enjoyed with or without noodles, these hot or warm soups really give a ton of nutrition.

If you are more concerned with fiber, you can get a classic “cream” soup by using roasted or boiled potatoes (or other starchy vegetables) and pureeing them for a soup base. This would allow you to gently heat the mixture, rather than boiling it and killing off a lot of enzymes. You could make everything from a creamy broccoli mixture to a classic “chowder” without the dairy and fat. Bean soups work in this way as well, and you can easily puree half of the cooked beans to make an amazingly “creamy” result. Blending beans really adds flavor and texture and is a “trade secret” of vegetarian and vegan soup fans.

We suggest you have a good mix of hot and cold soup recipes on hand. These should put an emphasis on cold soups because it means that they are, technically, “raw” and full of enzymes and nutrients in a way that cooked and processed foods just cannot be.

Like all foods and recipes, however, you do want your soups to be made from the finest whole and fresh foods. While it can be tempting to purchase vegetables that are not in prime condition, thinking that because they are going into the soup pot their “ugliness” won’t matter, but just think of the nutrition they have already lost. You want food to bring vitality and to do that it needs to be made from the best ingredients. The keys are fresh, organic, and local (whenever possible).

Go On A Juice Cleanse Diet Or Fast For Three Days and Detoxify Your Body

A detox juice diet is a diet that allows you to detoxify your body by consuming only raw fruit and vegetable juice and water for a brief period of time. Since intake of food, especially solid food, is either reduced or eliminated, it is regarded as one of the quicker methods of detoxification. The average duration of a juice fast is five days and you can use a juicer to extract the juice at home.

Prepare 3 Days Before For the Juice Fast

How well you respond to the juice cleanse will depend on how well you prepare for the juice diet or fast. To reduce cravings, headaches, and other withdrawal symptoms, phase out alcohol, coffee, dairy, meat, sugar, and wheat. Also increase your intake of fresh fruits and vegetables during this fast.

Go On a Juice Fast For Three Days

While you are on the diet, it is recommended that you drink 32 to 96 ounces of juice, and half of the juice you drink should be green vegetable-based. The chlorophyll in those vegetables will cleanse and heal your digestive tract.

When on a juice diet or fast, this is how your typical day should be:

Luke warm lemon juice (upon rising)
Almond or cashew milk
Green vegetable juice
Apple, beet, carrot juice
Almond or cashew milk

In between every juice that you drink, also drink a glass of lukewarm or room temperature water to promote detoxification. Instead of gulping the juices down, drink them slowly so that nutrients are properly absorbed. You can drink each juice almost one to two hours apart. You should drink the final juice of your day at least three hours before you go to bed.

You can prepare juices with fruits and vegetables like apple, beets, cabbage, carrot, celery, kale, leafy greens, and spinach. Avocados and bananas will not juice well. It is best if you use organic fruits and vegetables, or if unavailable, then some pesticide residues can be removed by washing them with a fruit and vegetable wash.

Break the Juice Fast

You can end your diet by gradually introducing lightly steamed or raw vegetables, and fruits or nuts into your diet. Keep your intake the same as when you were preparing for the diet. Avoid consuming beverages and foods you avoided while going on this diet.

In order to ensure a truly well-designed juice cleanse diet or fast, you should also incorporate the following components:

Body/mind wellness
Promote elimination
Physical activity

The bottom line is that a detox juice diet will not only cleanse the toxins from your body but will also eliminate pent up emotions, like anger and frustration, which are believed to be associated with accumulated toxins in the body.

Good Lunch Tips With Margarine

Packing sandwiches for your lunch break or kids’ midday energy boost can seem like a challenge, especially when you’re trying to keep it healthy and interesting. But never fear! Here are some great tips on how using healthy margarine in your lunches can help keep you and your family happy and well.

When lunches are dull it’s tempting for the kids to sneak off to the local fast food restaurant around the corner, or even the sweet shop. Using margarine as a spread in your everyday sandwich is an enticing incentive to get munching and is a great way to ensure your kids are getting some extra goodness into them at school.

Margarine is high in the good fats our body need, but can’t make by itself such as omega 3 and 6. It also contains extra vitamins such as A and D, for healthy eyes and bones.. Furthermore, it has less saturated fats than butter and only traces of trans fats. Simply making some basic changes in your eating habits could have a major impact on your lifestyle as well as making sure your little ones are getting more of the goodness they need.

Replacing your mid-afternoon chocolate bar with a healthy snack, such as fresh vegetables with hummus and a thick slice of bread lightly spread with your favourite margarine blend is the ideal way to beat the blues and to avoid that sugar crash we’ve all come to expect at 3.00 in the afternoon! Swapping the kids’ crisps for cereal bars for healthy margarine-and-jam sandwiches is a good way to keep their energy up and their tummies full.

But lunches aren’t always about sandwiches. In the winter it can be such a treat to heat up a bowl of fresh, home-made soup. There are oodles of recipes that’ll do just the trick, such as creamy leek and potato soup with a bit of a difference.

Vegetarian and margarine lover Kim shared her day healthy, home-cooked food with us and her Turnip Greens and Caramelised Onion lunch recipe from My Recipes is just divine:

Just melt 2 teaspoons of margarine over medium-high heat. Add 4 cups of sliced onion then saut� for about 7 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons sugar and � a teaspoon of pepper. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 20 minutes. Make sure you keep stirring frequently. Remove onion mixture from the pan and set aside. Place a pan coated with cooking spray over medium-high heat until hot. Gradually add you 2lbs of chopped turnip greens, and cook until wilted, stirring frequently. Add onion mixture to turnip greens and stir gently. If you’re feeling daring you could try a dash of hot pepper sauce to add excitement!

For more lunch tips using margarine, just look online.

Sue Batty is a home economist and chef. She loves Thai food and Asian cooking and always opts for healthy margarine in her cooking and baking. She likes to keep recipes simple and ingredients have to be the best.

What Can You Make With Yogurt

While good on its own, yogurt makes a useful ingredient in the kitchen. With the exception of a decreased sugar content and a higher acidity, yogurt may serve as a replacement for milk in many instances. Replacing milk with yogurt, allows those with lactose intolerance to enjoy foods they otherwise wouldn’t be able to.

Yogurt in Sauces around the World

The proteins in yogurt act differently than those found in milk. Pasteurizing milk, prior to making yogurt, results in proteins that do not curd and that hold water better. Both make for a smoother texture to yogurt; which makes great sauces.

A large percentage of India’s population is vegetarian, and yogurt holds an important place in Indian cuisine. In addition to lentils and beans, yogurt provides an important source of protein for the populace. India sees the use of yogurt in sauces often. Each region in India has its own way of cooking kadhi, yogurt-based curry.
Punjabi kadhi is made with ginger, garlic, coriander, turmeric, cumin, and garam masala and famously contains pakodas, fried chickpea flour dumplings.
Greek cuisine takes advantage of yogurt by combining it with cucumber and garlic to produce tzatziki. which is frequently used over gyros or as a dip for pita bread.
Turkey has an equivalent sauce called cacik.

Yogurt in Desserts

In the southern states of India, it’s not uncommon to see a mix of sweetened yogurt and rice at the end of the meal. The dish is used to cool the tongue after consuming spicy foods, and cool the body from the hot and humid climates.

In Greece, yogurt is eaten with nuts and honey for a sweet snack.

Replacing milk or cream with a yogurt alternative is oftentimes a beneficial solution for sugar-sensitive individuals. The overall flavor and creamy texture is preserved with the exchange from milk to yogurt. Frozen yogurt is a popular treat to replace ice cream.

Yogurt On-The-Go

Additionally, yogurt is often sold in single servings as a highly nutritious snack, or meal on-the-go. It contains a great number of vitamins that snacking can sometimes leave out of the diet. It also offers a balance of protein, fat, and carbohydrates. For these reasons, yogurt makes a fine substitute for meals, as well as a bridge between them. The addition of fruits to yogurt is delicious and common, and makes for a refreshing flavor, though the need for refrigeration with fruit is greater than with plain yogurt.

Freeze Dried

Freeze-dried yogurt snacks go a step further: yogurt preserved in this manner may safely be stored without refrigeration for long periods of time. In addition, the beneficial bacterial strains they contain will persist after the freeze drying process. The probiotic effects these bacteria contain are safely retained without much effort. It is very helpful to freeze-dry yogurt, and the cultures they contain, if you are not going to consume them for a long period of time.

As you can see, yogurt can be used in a wide variety of recipes from sauces, to desserts, to wholesome snacks. It is a healthy and delicious choice that provides the nutrients and bacteria to benefit the body.

My Favorite Easy and Healthy Recipes for Summer Pies

Summer is the season for parties, picnics, and cookouts, but that doesn’t mean your plans for healthy eating need to go on the back burner until September. We may be secretly high-fiving ourselves for resisting the chips, cheesy dips, and burgers, but then comes dessert. Don’t you deserve a little sweet treat after eating carefully all day? Yes, you do!

The trick is to watch out for those store-bought treats that may be loaded with tons of extra sugar, chemicals and preservatives. Why not bring dessert to your next party so you can control the choices and amount of sugar. These 2 recipes are so simple, easy to make, and delicious that you’ll be the star of the party. Plus, they are so easy you can get your kids to make them for you!

Mixed Fruit Berry Tart

Whether you pick your own fruit or buy some fruit at your local market, this tart is a winner. Plus, by using a single crust instead of a double crust you are already slashing the number of calories in this tasty treat. Make dessert preparation even easier by using a pre-made crust. Many good quality whole wheat and granola pre-made crusts are available. This recipe is so easy you just mix, pour, and bake!

Mix together in a large bowl and let sit 10 minutes:

4 cups fresh fruit of your choice (Choose one or a combination of your favorites – strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, apples)

1/4 to 1/2 cup of sugar (or your favorite sweetener – such as honey, raw honey, agave nectar)

note: fresh sweet fruit doesn’t need a lot of added sugar so start with 1/4 cup, mix, taste, and decide if you want to add a little more sugar.

1/4 cup minute tapioca (or your favorite thickener – such as cornstarch, arrowroot)

note: I like to use 2 tablespoons tapioca and 2 tablespoons chia to thicken the pie filling and give it a nutritional boost.

Pour ingredients into you pie crust, cover with foil, and bake for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees (place pie tin on a baking sheet to avoid a messy cleanup if fruit bubbles up). Remove foil and bake for another 5-10 minutes. Cool and Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie

Yes, I know. You can’t really call Key Lime Pie a healthy dessert, but sometimes I just need to have a slice. What I discovered was I no longer even like the taste of the restaurant and store-bought pies. They are so loaded with extra sugar that you can’t even enjoy the key lime flavor. On top of that, many store-bought pies contain between 3,000 to 5,000 calories. The per serving calorie count divides that by 8 (about 375-625 calories per slice), but not everyone is cutting a pie up into 8 small portions. In reality, most of us are probably eating a slice containing about 1,000 calories.

What if you could make a simple homemade Key Lime Pie with a fraction of the calories and tremendous flavor. Even better, it only takes 5 steps (Really only 3 action steps including measuring, whisking, and pouring).

Purchase a good quality graham cracker crust (no high fructose corn syrup!)

Whisk together 1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk and 4 egg yolks (takes about 1 minute by hand)

Add 1/2 cup fresh or bottled Key Lime juice and whisk (takes about 1 minute for mixture to slightly thicken)

Pour filling into crust and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Cool pie completely on rack then chill for 8 hours in the refrigerator.

Personally, I find the hardest part is waiting 8 hours to let the pie set! This pie tastes so good, you don’t even need to add extra cream for a topping. A few sliced limes on top for garnish give your pie a professional look.

So the next time you go to a party and want to bring an easy homemade dessert that will knock everyone’s socks off, try one of these recipes. Stay in control of the calories and ingredients by knowing what you are eating. You can still eat healthy and allow yourself to indulge once in a while. Healthy living is all about finding the right balance that works for you.