What to Cook Your Vegetarian Guest

Are you used to making the same dishes that your family enjoys for dinner like meat loaf, chicken, or hamburgers? You have entertained many times before and are probably a great cook. But now a vegetarian is coming over for dinner. Some people don’t make anything special for vegetarians and let them eat what they can find to eat like side dishes. But you want to be a good host and make a main dish your vegetarian guest will enjoy.

Some people can be nervous about asking their guests who are coming to dinner what they like or don’t like to eat. If you don’t know what vegetarians eat ask your guests ahead of time what they eat. First of all it helps to know what kind of vegetarian they are.The ovo-lacto vegetarian eats eggs and dairy, the ovo vegetarian eats eggs, but no dairy, the lacto vegetarian eats dairy, but no eggs, and the vegan doesn’t eat eggs or dairy. People who eat fish and no other meat are called pescatarians and are not vegetarians. Many people have been misinformed that fish is a vegetarian food, which it is not. You don’t want to be one of the people making this mistake. Finding out what kind of vegetarian your guest is is a big step towards figuring out what to make for them.

Ask your guests what dishes they like. This is good advice for guests who are not vegetarian also because it will assure that the guest will like what dish you make. Vegetarians are used to people asking what they eat so they often have dishes to suggest.

If your guest has no suggestions the internet is a great place to look for recipes. You can also find a section of vegetarian cookbooks at your local library or bookstore. Some vegetarian recipes call for hard to find ingredients that are not carried at the average grocery store and that may be foreign to you. If you are not used to cooking vegetarian foods stick to some of the easier recipes using common ingredients.

Don’t be intimidated by making vegetarian recipes. Vegetarians eat many of the same dishes people who eat meat enjoy, minus the meat. Vegetarians like spaghetti, macaroni, rice, beans, burgers (veggie burgers), sandwiches, pizza, and many other dishes you already make and enjoy. You can make these same dishes listed, but simply don’t add the meat. Is it that simple? Well almost. If using any mix, dip, spread, soup, or anything you didn’t make from scratch read the ingredients. Some cornbread muffin mixes and soups have meat in them and some dips and spreads may have dairy or eggs in them even though they may not taste like it.

With these tips you are ready to host a vegetarian for dinner. You are probably already a great cook so it won’t be hard to use these skills to make a vegetarian meal. Your vegetarian guest will probably be more than happy to help provide suggestions on great vegetarian dishes. But if you want to plan a meal by yourself you are now prepared to look online for easy recipes or just make one of your favorite dishes sans the meat. Start getting ready for that next party or get together.

How Is Organic Chocolate Different

Organic chocolate products begin with growing and harvesting cocoa according to organic methods.

The Organic Foods Production Act (OFPA) of 1990 and regulations in Title 7, Part 205 of the Code of Federal Regulations define and govern “organic” production. This pertains to foods grown anywhere that are imported into the United States. These regulations seek to promote an integrated approach to growing and harvesting, which conserves natural ecosystems while at the same time prohibiting the use of pesticides and chemical fertilizers. Organic production methods have the added benefit of fostering sustainable conditions by preserving natural resources (for example, a tropical rainforest).

In the United States, “100% Organic” means all the ingredients are produced in accordance with organic methods. For a product to be legally labeled “Organic”, at least 95% of its ingredients must be organic. A product can be “Made With Organic Ingredients” if at least 70% of its content is organic. “Certified Organic” means a product must be grown and manufactured in accordance with specified standards determined by the country where the product is sold. Thus, “Certified Organic” means different things in different countries and is not necessarily a guarantee that the product is pesticide free.

The EPA regulates food products sold in the United States that have been exposed to pesticides. For chocolate (non-organic) made from imported cocoa, the EPA allows up to certain levels of pesticide residue in the cocoa powder. Among these chemicals are Methyl Bromide, Pyrethrins, Hydrogen Cyanide, Naled, and Glyphosate. The EPA bans Lindane as a treatment on food cops, however trace amounts have been found in some European chocolate products. The US Food and Drug Administration works to see that chemical contaminants within imported food products do not exceed the levels set by the EPA. These chemicals are hazardous to crop pests, but are deemed acceptable for human consumption at some level.

So, why are chemical fertilizers and pesticides used anyway? The answer lies in how each producer evaluates the balance between the cost of using chemical fertilizers and pesticides and the yield of product obtained. Natural pests compromise and lower harvest yield, thereby decreasing profits. Chemical fertilizers have the initial benefit of maximizing yield per acre.

Many cocoa producers rely heavily upon chemical pesticides and fertilizers to boost and maintain crop production. Cocoa pods are one of the world’s most heavily sprayed food crops. The use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers is controversial because of its adverse affects on human cultivators and harvesters, on surrounding vegetation and ecosystems, on other non-production related species, and on soil and local water.

There are also longer-term consequences to consider. High yield plantations replace natural rainforest with income producing crops. Long-term focus on production has had the unintended consequence of tending toward limiting biodiversity, making producing species less resistant to pests and disease. As trees become less resistant over time due to limited genetic diversity, producers tend to become more reliant on chemical pesticides to protect crop yield.

As a consumer of chocolate products, your purchases equate to your vote as to how cocoa is cultivated and harvested. There is no right or wrong, but there is a choice. Buying organic chocolate does not guarantee that the upstream producer will support sustainable production methods. Buying organic does, however, send a clear message to the retailer that you choose to spend your money on organic products. Ultimately, consumer demand drives the worldwide market and shapes the choices producers make.

My Favorite Cakes

I’m not one for too much sweet, so my favorite cakes are usually the moderate ones, nothing very sinful as a devil’s food cake, but still, each one is an indulgence that is always welcome.

1. Pound cake.

I have to admit, I am a fan of simplicity, and for all the fancy cakes in the world layered with toppings, a simple slice of pound cake and cup of coffee is my chosen delight. It’s so rich and satisfying in and of itself that it needs no frosting, owing to its 1:1 ratio of all ingredients, including butter and eggs. This also makes it a simple cake to whip up at home!

2. Black forest cake.

I often had this on my birthday as a child, so it’s linked to many fond memories. Originating in Germany, according to Wikipedia, “Black Forest cake consists of several layers of chocolate cake, with whipped cream and cherries between each layer. Then the cake is decorated with additional whipped cream, maraschino cherries, and chocolate shavings. In some European traditions sour cherries are used both between the layers and for decorating the top. Traditionally, Kirschwasser (a clear liquor distilled from tart cherries) is added to the cake.” This cake sounds complicated enough that I think I will stick to cake delivery for this one, lest I make a mess of the kitchen.

3. Carrot cake.

Another birthday favorite of mine, this cake owes its wonderful moisture and texture to the carrots in the batter, which release water while it’s cooked. It turns out that this practice originated in the middle ages, when sweet flavorings were difficult to come by, due to the sweetness of the carrots… But it was only really revived during the 1960s, at which point the classic cream cheese icing was added.

4. Coffee cake.

What I love most about these is not that they taste like coffee (they’re not actually required to contain any coffee flavoring), but that they are rich in spices and not overly sweet, making them a good breakfast cake, or lunch cake (I don’t know about you, but I can’t handle anything too sweet in the morning.)

5. Cheesecake.

Though commonly associated with New York city, the love of cheesecake actually goes back as far as ancient Greece, and was adopted by the Romans. Modern American cheesecake has several varieties, and the New York kind relies heavily on sour cream or heavy creams, as well as eggs and cream cheese. When served with some fruit, to add crisp lightness to this heavy dish, you’re getting a little slice of heaven. Is it little wonder that in the United States, there is actually an unofficial National Cheesecake Day? (July 30th)

Although cakes have been associated with parties and celebrations, we can enjoy it as an everyday dessert, each day having a different variety. There is no limit to the possibilities of enjoying a cake, be it a single slice, or a mini version. So what are you waiting for? As they say, go and have your cake and eat it, too.

Advantages of Drinking Tea

Why do you adore a hot cup of tea? Is it because you feel relaxed while sipping a warm cup of tea? Maybe it is the fragrance or the warmth of holding a tea mug in your hand or maybe it’s the lovely small talk that begins a relationship.

Besides making you feel awesome, teal also has a lot of health benefits. Did you know that tea decreases the danger of stroke and heart attack? Drinking tea regularly also protects you against cancer. It strengthens your immune system and keeps your bone strong.

Check my small list of benefits of drinking tea.

It has the perfect measure of caffeine

The minimal caffeine content in tea ensures that you do not get the anxieties, indigestion, headaches or sleeplessness associated with caffeine rich drinks. In fact, a latest study suggests that the minimal caffeine content in tea actually helps to increase tea’s cancer protection effects.

Tea keeps you young

The antioxidants present in tea protect your body from consequences of aging and the effects of pollution. A small dosage of caffeine teams with the antioxidants to combat aging and the effects of skin cancer.

It helps you fight against diabetes

Tea is a good blood sugar lowering agent that develops insulin sensitivity and controls blood pressure to prevent you from diabetes and other similar complications such as diabetic cataracts.

It keeps you fit

If you are gaining weight, I would suggest you to drink a cup of tea every day. Tea does not have any calories if you do not add milk or sweeteners. It also increases your metabolic rate so that you can burn 80 to 100 extra calories by sipping just five cups of green tea per day. You can also burn your extra calories by jogging every day but it is nothing like losing weight with a cup of warm tea

It gives you a sweet smile

You might be surprised to know that a cup of tea can offer you a sweet smile. It actually contains fluoride and tannins that keeps you away from dental plague. So, develop a habit of drinking unsweetened tea and add it to your daily dental routine of brushing your teeth.

It keeps you sane

Besides having stress reducing properties, the antioxidants in tea counteract the oxidative stress on the brain and decrease the danger of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease.

Drinking a cup of good tea is not only about the feelings attached with it; it is actually about living a healthy life. Tea comes with a lot of benefits and advantages.

Heart Warming Vegetable Beef Soup

Vegetable Beef Soup On A Cold Winters Day

Waking up with freezing rain and temperatures below freezing warrants a day for a steaming hot bowl of soup. We have all grown up with our favorite version of Vegetable Beef Soup. Soup is one of those dishes that taste even better the next day. When I make Vegetable Beef Soup I start it early in the morning and let the beef cook most of the day in the rich broth, it produces amazing flavor.

Varieties of Vegetables for Soup

When making Vegetable Beef Soup you can use any vegetables that you like. Some people choose corn, peas, green beans with potatoes and carrots added. In our home we have potatoes, turnips, carrots and cabbage. The secret to Vegetable Beef Soup is your broth, if your broth is bland your soup will be bland. There is nothing as heart warming than coming in from the freezing cold and smelling the wonder aroma of the broth from your soup.

Mama T’s Vegetable Beef Soup

Ingredients:

-1/4 cup olive oil
-2-3 pounds rump roast cut into chunks
-1 large onion, diced
-4 cups beef broth (made from 5-6 tablespoons beef base and 4 cups water)
-1 14ounce can of tomato sauce
-1 tablespoon oregano
-1 tablespoon marjoram
-1 tablespoon thyme
-1 tablespoon basil
-3-4 bay leaves
-Salt and Pepper, to taste
-6 large carrots, diced
-3-4 turnips
-4-6 potatoes, diced
-1 medium to large head of cabbage, shredded

Directions:

1. In a heavy-bottom stock pot add 1/4 cup olive oil on medium-high heat. Add onions and roast chunks. Cook until meat is brown.

2. Mix together the beef broth and tomato sauce. Add to the meat mixture; and turn heat down to medium.

3. Add all spices. Add extra water if needed. Make sure and keep the meat covered in liquid. Cook 3-5 hours, make sure meat is very tender.

4. Add carrots, turnips, potatoes and cabbage. Cook on medium until done.

5. Once the vegetables are tender you can turn the heat to medium-low and allow for the flavors to continue to meld together.

It is ready to serve with your favorite rolls.

Our pot of soup is almost ready. Soon our family will sit around the table enjoying this heart warming Vegetable Beef Soup. When you sit around the dining room table with a warm bowl of soup, it is a great time to talk about your favorite memories with your family.

Fruity Chicken Salad Sub Recipe

Chicken salad is a great quick lite recipe to make for the summer. I love sub sandwiches and there is a fast food sub place I frequent a lot but I won’t mention them here. You’ll have to guess who they are. Here’s a hint, some man named Jared lost a lot of weight eating them. Anyway they have added one of my favorite sandwiches back to their menu for the summer.

Even though they are relatively a cheap place to eat, I still like trying to cut corners on spending as little money as possible. I like coming up with my version of how I make something you buy at a fast food restaurant. It’s healthier, cheaper and probably taste better than the original. Here, I will share my Fruity Chicken Salad sub. This is a recipe where you can put your own creativity into what ingredients you like in your sub sandwich.

Ingredients

12-16 oz can chicken

1/2 cup grapes (red, green or both)

1 celery stalk

half onion

1/2 cup mayo

1 peach yogurt cup

1 tsp rosemary

2 tbsp dill

1/4 cup green peppers

1/2 cup of raisins, cranberries & almonds

spinach

black olives

hot pepperjack cheese

cucumbers

In a large mixing bowl add the can chicken drained. Chop your onions, celery and green pepper small and add to chicken. Add the fruit mix with almonds in along with the grapes. Add the mayo and peach yogurt and mix well with the ingredients. Add the dill and salt and pepper to season. Don’t skimp on the dill, it gives the salad a nice flavor after it’s been in the refrigerator. The longer in the fridge the better tasting. Choose your favorite bread. I use any kind of bread but if I’m making subs, I will use an Italian loaf or french bread. I cut the loaf in half then slice the half separating the top and bottom. I use two slices of pepperjack cheese to line the bottom bread then top with my cold chicken salad. You are ready to dress you sandwich. I like lots of black olives, spinach and cucumbers lined neatly across the sandwich. You can choose whatever toppings for your sandwich according to your taste. I don’t use any other dressing on mine because the mayo and peach yogurt is enough but you can. Fold the sandwich together and you have fruity chicken subs.

Coffee Makes the World Go Round

Have you ever thought about why there are different kinds of coffee in the world and why coffee in different places taste differently? For example, an Original, well-blended coffee mixture is smooth and tastes just right, as it is perfect for the Filipino tongue, but what about other kinds of coffee in the world?

Factors that affect the way coffee tastes

The way it is grown actually has a big impact on its taste. It is said that the best tasting coffee in the world are those that are grown in locations with high altitude. Those countries that are close to the equator, such as the Philippines, are the best places to grow coffee. Aside from that, other factors include:

The kind or variety of the bean
The type of soil on which the plant has grown
The kind of weather where the plant is, in particular, the amount of sunshine and rain. This is why tropical countries are great for growing the plant’s beans because there is a balanced amount of sun and rain.

And that’s why the United States does not produce Coffee. In fact, Hawaii is the only state that is able to grow it because of its tropical weather! And that’s why this addictive drink ingredient is considered as sort of a delicacy in Hawaii.

Here, there and everywhere

Here are some interesting facts about coffee from different parts of the world:

Brazilian Coffee is known for being mild and warm-bodied and come from the biggest coffee farms in the world.
Hawaiian Coffee grows around the Mount Loa Volcano in Kona, the largest island in Hawaii. It is full of aroma and very delicious.
Mexico is also known as one of the biggest producers of coffee in the world. Mexican coffee is often sharp and very strong-smelling.
Coffee in Puerto Rico is known for being fruity. Now, that really says something about the colorful life in the Caribbean!
Guatemalan beans is perfect for Chocolate lovers. Why? Because it has a distinct, rich chocolatey taste that those with sweet tooth will certainly love.
Yemeni beans tastes particularly like Mocha. This is because it has been combined with coffee grown in the island of Java. And yep, that’s where the name Coffee Java came from.
Indonesian Coffee is smooth but full-bodied, which is a result of their damp and warm climate.

No Escaping from Coffee

The fact that there are different varieties of coffee in the world proves that there’s a big world of coffee out there-and that you should at least try these different types of coffee at least once in your life. It’ll be an experience worth making.

Funny Facts About Coffee

Coffee is an essential part of one’s everyday life. You probably drink a cup or two of your favorite coffee concoction each day and maybe even love trying to make your own special coffee drinks. You probably visit the neighborhood caf´┐Ż whenever you can to have your coffee fix. But have you ever thought about why coffee became so popular? Or what the tree actually looks like? Well, now you have the chance to know about all these and more!

Here’s what you have to know…

Coffee is special for a lot of reasons, such as:

There is an Ethiopian legend that says that shepherds realized that caffeine has an energizing effect when they saw their goats dancing after eating its berries. Dancing goats, now that’s something!
The tree, where coffee berries come from grows up to 30 feet tall, but you barely ever see tall trees these days because they are often shortened to just 10 feet, or 3 meters for the purpose of easier picking of coffee berries.
Inside the berries, you will find the beans-which are then processed to become instant coffee.
George Washington invented instant coffee. But no, not THAT George Washington. This one is a Belgian George Washington from Guatemala. He made instant coffee using the press.
Milk was first added to coffee in the 1600’s when a French Doctor suggested that it was actually good for patients.
Islam is considered as one of the reasons why coffee became popular? Why? Because Islam prohibits alcohol, but promoted the use of coffee by saying that it is acceptable.
Voltaire, an author and French Philosopher was said to have drunk 50 cups of coffee a day. Yep. 50. Each Day. But please, do not try this yourself.
In Italy, it is recommended that a person drink at least a cup of coffee each day- because it is considered as a normal part of daily life.
Coffee wasn’t originally drank- it was eaten. Tribes in Africa mixed fat with the tree berries and turned them into balls.
Coffee is the second most traded commodity in the world, next to Oil.
All coffee grows only in what is known as the “Bean Belt”, or the area in the globe between the Tropics of cancer and Capricporn. Some of the countries are Mexico, India, Ivory Coast, Thailand, Uganda, Madagascar, Haiti, and the Philippines.

So Many Facts, So Little Time

See? There really is a lot that you should know about coffee. What you have read today are just some of those. Who knew that coffee actually had a colorful and interesting background? Now, you’d be able to appreciate that cup of coffee even more.

10 Delicious Chicken Dishes

Chicken is a popular non vegetarian option that is relished by non vegetarians all over the world. A lot of experimentation can be done with chicken.

10 delicious chicken dishes that are loved by people are as follow

Chicken kebabs
Divine in taste and perfect barbeque recipe, this is relished by people of all age groups. Nectarine salsa adds authentic flavor to this dish.

Chicken Marsala
It is another popular chicken recipe which is available in higher end restaurants. This is an incredible tasting dish that can be enjoyed along with the family members.

Cilantro Lime Chicken
This dish is perfect for Alfresco dinner adding a lot of flavor to the chicken breasts. Adding citrus to the dish makes this dish quite appealing.

Chicken salad with raisins
As the name suggests, this recipe comes with raisins ensuring the taste of the dish much better. Apples can also be added to this dish making it more tasty with a sweet flavor.

Chicken Scallopini
Chicken can be pounded into thin crispy scllopini and it tastes simply amazing. Breadcrumbs and a dash of lemon is added to this recipe after which the dish needs to be saute for almost three minutes.

Coconut chicken
As the name suggests this dish comes with a dash of coconut. This is a popular dish with a creamy and smooth texture added to this sauce.

Chicken Cordon Bleu
This dish is prepared using butter that enhances its flavor. Boiled green beans and boiled potatoes can be served on the side with this dish.

Chicken sandwiches
As the name implies, this is a sandwich recipe with chicken as filling. This is a barbeque dish and can be served with fresh bread and pickles.

Chicken soup
Light in weight and nutritious for the body, this soup is great for good health.It is a great source for weight loss. In this dish, the meat is cooked at a slow rate. Sweet and spicy sauce can also be added to this dish.

Chicken Tostadas
This is a popular, authentic chicken recipe. Milk and flour mixture is used to prepare this dish. This dish can be cooked in an effortless manner and enjoyed along with the family and friends.

The above mentioned chicken recipes are quite tasteful and relished by people all over the world. They are easy to cook at home and can be enjoyed along with the friends and family members.

Banana Squash, What Is It

Banana squashes are native to South America, specifically Peru, and made its way to the United States in 1893. They require over half a year to cultivate and only yield one crop. This makes them less desirable for farmers, which makes the squash less available in produce stores.

A banana squash is a winter squash. It is yellow/orange in color (when ripe, it is salmon colored) and is about 2 to 3 feet long. It smells like a cucumber, the meat looks similar to a pumpkin, but it has its own flavor. It can weigh up to 35lbs but is generally around 10lbs.

They are fat free, cholesterol free, sodium free, and an excellent source of vitamin A and C. They can be stored up to six months if in a dark, low humid environment and can be used in the same way as any other winter squash. It makes great stews, soups, and salad toppings. It pairs great with butter, cheese, lamb, pork belly and truffles. The best herbs/spices to use are the ones we love for winter: thyme, bay, sage, rosemary, cumin, curry, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg.

I had no idea what to do with a banana squash when I purchased it. The following recipes were my first attempt at using a banana squash and were followed with rave reviews from family and friends. I hope you enjoy!

Banana Squash Pie

First, wash the squash and then cut the ends off. Use a serrated knife to keep from slicing your hand. Cut into pieces and scoop out the seeds. Keeping the pieces as big as you can, put them in a microwaveable bowl. You may have to do this several times in order to get all of them done. Put two inches of water in the bowl and then put the lid on. Now place in the microwave for approximately 12 minutes (until the squash is soft).

Take the squash out and scoop out the meat. It is OK to let it cool before scooping. The squash will yield more than enough, so you don’t have to be overly precise. Blend the squash (I used a food processor but you can also use a blender).

Now your squash is ready for the recipe.

3 cups squash puree

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1 1/2 can evaporated milk

2 graham cracker pie crusts

Mix it all together and put in pie crusts. The mixture is very liquid, that is OK.

Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Then turn temp to 350F and cook around 60 minutes. You test done-ness by inserting butter knife or toothpick and it coming out clean.

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Banana Squash-Raisin-Walnut Bread

I had left over squash. So I made some bread.

Rest of squash

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cloves

1 tsp all spice

1/2 tsp ginger

1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1/2 can evaporated milk

3 cups Bisquick

Chopped walnuts

Raisins

Mix together and put in bread pans. Cook at 350F for 40 minutes.

Freezing Option

It is possible to retain some of the Banana Squash meat in the freezer, but not for too long. Take the meat out of the skin and put in a vacuum seal bag. Don’t have a vacuum sealer? No problem! Put it in a ziploc bag. Place a straw in the bag and seal it up (straw will be poking out). Suck out the air, pull the straw out and seal the bag. This isn’t as good as vacuum sealing, but works pretty well!

Laura is an author, writer, consultant, photographer, homeschool mom, Mary Kay consultant and Army wife. Her passions in writing are in food/health, Christian persecution and children’s curriculum. Laura loves to travel, volunteer, photograph, cook, and learn as much as she can about everything! Connect with her at http://www.LDMurray.com.

Because of health issues and special diets in her family, Laura has learned how to eat healthy while keeping the expense down and the taste elevated. She strives to reach out to those that have special diet requirements, are looking for alternative solutions to medicine, and/or just trying to be healthy with a budget.