Which is more important when it comes to health food: Taste or nutrition?

Once a certain food is labeled as “healthy”, nutrition is the most important thing to consider. It is true that most people won’t want to eat anything (nutritious or not) if it tastes bad, but there are many “health foods” available that are more focused on taste than nutritional content. Any food that is overly processed isn’t really a health food, and you want to be sure to look at things such as fat, calories, salt and sugar content. These things are often slipped into foods without notice, and the consumer thinks they are being healthy…little do they know, they are filling their bodies with junk. Even foods such as canned vegetables and soup can be loaded with more than a healthy amount of sodium, despite the fact that they are “healthy” and taste good. Salads are the poster-child of health food, yet if they aren’t made carefully they can have as much fat and calories as a fast-food meal; nearly enough for an entire day!

Many fast-food restaurants advertise their food as being healthy, yet consumers should use common sense before buying into this story. Obviously a salad or grilled chicken sandwich at a fast-food joint would be more healthy than their other options, yet much less healthy than food you would eat at a better restaurant or at home. If you are in a pinch go ahead and order the best fast-food option available. Also, these options are ok as an occasional treat, if you really enjoy them. You just need to be careful about how often you eat these foods. On a daily basis, it is much better to think ahead, and be prepared by taking packed lunches with you to school or work.

The best way to be sure you are eating nutritional food is to cook your own food, at home. By using lots of vegetables, fruits, whole grains and lean proteins, you can cook nutritionally balanced meals. By learning to healthfully flavor your food, you can eat things that taste incredible while controlling fat and sodium. Many people have trouble learning to cook a variety of foods that are both healthy and balanced, while not eating the same foods all of the time. With all of the cooking shows on TV, and the websites and cookbooks available, any person can develop a passion for nutritious food that is far better than the “health foods” available to buy. Some great sources for food education and inspiration that you can use at your own pace are Rachel Ray (TV, magazine and cookbooks), Barefoot Contessa and Giada deLaurentiis on Food Network. allrecipes.com and vegetariantimes.com (and their magazine)are great readable sources. Health and exercise magazines include recipes, as well as most other magazines. Keep your eyes open for new and exciting ways to combine ingredients, and you will be eating the true health food!

Tips for homemade food gifts

Food gifts are a wonderful idea to give during the holidays. You can give items such as cookies, breads, candies, meats or fruit. Food gifts could be soup and sourdough bread bowls, or that special pumpkin bread you mother-in-law loves so much. Food gifts are fun to make, and gives that special touch that someone went above and beyond to make you a food gift. Food gifts could consist of homemade food gifts and food gift baskets. Food gifts are fun to make, fun to give and fun to receive.

Homemade food gifts are what giving is all about. There are many different ways you can give a gift. You can put different layers of beans or pasta in a big jar with big spoons tied around the jar; you can make your own flavored salts with different spices. Homemade food gifts can be given during Christmas, when a baby comes home, or when you feel the time is right to give such a gift. Maybe your co-worker has a birthday coming up and you want to get them a festive birthday gift basket. However, it would be more fun to do it yourself! You can get a really nice basket with a stuffed animal, popcorn, candy and maybe some movie tickets and wrap it in cellophane. You can do that, or you can do the original, a food gift basket.

Food gift baskets usually have a theme. For example, a coffee basket would probably have an assortment of coffees, biscotti, truffles and espresso beans. Or a margarita food basket would usually have two margarita glasses, margarita mix and margarita salt. Food gift baskets are fun and festive to give to people when you just don’t have time to make your own. Many food gift baskets are available online. You can also have someone make one for you to be even more personalized. There’s many ways to give a gift of food.

With the options given about food gifts, homemade food gifts and food gift baskets, which one would you, choose? Would you make a homemade food gift with that special touch, or would you get the wonderfully assorted themed food gift basket? What event in your life would you most likely give a food gift? With all the options out there, and all the events and social activities out there, here are a few examples to help you out.

Little Known Ways to Find Great Restaurants

Dining out with your friends or family is a pleasurable occasion that nobody would like to miss. But with new restaurants springing up in every nook and corner and almost all offering global cuisine; selecting a good restaurant is in itself a daunting task. However there are few ways by which you can easily find local restaurants.

* Public media
Public media such as Newspapers, Television, Radio carry reviews and recommendations about restaurants in the locality which also includes info on menus, price ranges, cuisine, ambience and so on. They also rate these restaurants based on user reviews. But there is a chance of it being biased.

* Suggestions from family and friends
Suggestions from family and friends are also helpful in finding great restaurants as they had first hand experience. But this also has its limitations as they can provide only very little info about the restaurants that they’ve visited. Moreover they cannot comment on all the restaurants in town.

* Internet Search Engines
Generic search engines provide some info on restaurants. But since it is powered by keyword based technology it fetches vast amount of data mixed with a lot of irrelevant content. So it becomes a hectic task to select the right one.

* Review Sites
These are no doubt a good source of information providing both professional as well as user reviews. The basic drawback could be one could just be referring to a few review sites and they don’t cover all the local restaurants.

* Blogs
Some bloggers provide recommendations, reviews and suggestions about new restaurants in town. But it also provides limited information.

* Vertical search engine to Search Restaurants
It compiles reviews from across the web. As it’s powered by Natural Language Processing Technology it’s like a restaurant guide featuring detailed restaurants ratings, menus, ambience, addresses, hours, driving directions, maps, photographs, discount restaurant gift certificates and coupons, keyword searches and other relevant restaurant information. Users can also search by name, cuisine, occasion or location.

Of all the above options, vertical search engines are the best in finding great restaurants as they act as restaurant guides giving the most appropriate restaurant recommendations.

How food enhances our lives

Imagine for a moment that you are hundreds or perhaps thousands of years in the future. The Universe has run out of fertile soil to grow crops. Animals, other than humans, are only in history books. But man, in his brilliance, has found a way to keep himself alive by synthesizing proteins, minerals, vitamins, and fiber into one small nutrition biscuit that takes exactly 30 seconds to chew and swallow. The biscuit provides enough calories to keep a person alive for 24 hours so only one is needed. The wasted hours of mealtime and food preparation are no longer needed. Man can work continuously on other projects to “enhance” his life.

Sound like a nightmare? From our earliest moments when we recognize the smell of our mother’s milk, food is not only a physical necessity for life but a sensual one too. Food gives enjoyment; food sustains life; food or lack of it runs the world. Just as plentiful food enhances life, lack of food destroys life. Ask anyone who has been through a famine or hard time and they will tell you that abundance of food is a thing of joy. They will also tell you that it was an experience they’ll never forget and they are grateful for every meal.

Watch any courting couple and if they’re truly in love, sometime while eating together, one will feed the other. Perhaps it is a chocolate-dipped strawberry or just a spoonful of soup, but the act of feeding another is a gesture of love. We show our love and concern with food by cutting a child’s sandwich into triangles, by taking a hot casserole to an ailing neighbor, by celebrating a holiday with special foods. From the simple Communion wafer to the banquet spread, food is much more than itself. It’s a recognition that food comes from a higher power than our own hands. Whether it is God or Mother Nature that you thank before a meal, aloud or in silence, the acknowledgement is there that we are just the intermediaries. By preparing and giving food to others we are adding a greater than human element to our interactions.

For many of us, food enhances our lives not just by feeding us by supporting us financially. The farmer, the grocer, the chef, and the cooking show celebrity or writer all can thank food for their livelihood. Artists and photographers add food items to their still lifes, demonstrating once again that any work of art is enhanced by the presence of food. Entire industries are supported by preparing and marketing new foods. Dietitians, fitness trainers, and weight loss specialists enhance our lives by teaching us how to have a healthy relationship with food.

The beauty of growing and harvesting foods gives us a sense of belonging to the earth. From planting peas in spring soil to picking berries with friends, food deepens our understanding of life’s cycles and our connection with the Earth. There is something so deeply satisfying about bringing food from the garden to the table or better yet to the doorstep of a friend or neighbor. A gift of food speaks of caring rather than obligation. For the millions of us who “like to feed people,” we all understand the deep satisfaction that comes from sharing the vital substance of food.

Our lives are tremendously enhanced by food. Food gives us an opportunity to bond in the garden, in the kitchen, and at the table. It gives us a chance to be creative and to have fun. It gives us joy in celebration and comfort in sorrow.

Now, just how are they going to do that with nutrition wafers in the future? Don’t ask me to time travel. I’m staying right here

Terrific Ways to Find Good Restaurants

Are you fed up of the usual stuff offered by the restaurants that you normally frequent? Want to try new ones? Well, try the different ways given below to find good restaurants.

* Public media
Public media such as Newspapers, Television, Radio carry reviews and recommendations about restaurants in the locality, which also includes info on menus, price ranges, cuisine, ambience and so on. They also rate these restaurants based on user reviews. But there is a chance of it being biased.

* Recommendations from family and friends
Suggestions from family and friends are also helpful in finding great restaurants as they might have firsthand experience with some restaurants. But this also has its limitations as they can provide only very little info about the restaurants that they’ve visited. Moreover they cannot comment on all the restaurants in town.

* Internet search engines
Generic search engines provide some info on restaurants. Since, they are powered by keyword based technology; they fetch vast amounts of data mixed with a lot of irrelevant content. So, it’s a hectic task to select the right restaurant.

* Review sites
These are no doubt a good source of information providing both professional as well as user reviews. The basic drawback could be one could just be referring to a few review sites and they don’t cover all the local restaurants.

* Blogs
Some bloggers provide recommendations, reviews and suggestions about new restaurants in town. But, it also provides limited information.

* Vertical search engine to search restaurants
These compile reviews from across the web. As it’s powered by Natural Language Processing technology; it’s like a restaurant guide featuring detailed restaurants ratings, menus, ambience, addresses, hours, driving directions, maps, photographs, discount restaurant gift certificates and coupons, keyword searches and other relevant restaurant information. Users can also search by name, cuisine, occasion or location.

Of all the above options, vertical search engines are the best in finding good restaurants as they compile details from over a million online review sites to generate ratings of each and every restaurant based on its food, service and ambience. So, a restaurant guide helps in selecting good restaurants.

Metabolism boosting foods

I lost my adult weight gain and kept it off for over two years now by knowing which metabolism boosting foods worked best.

Not only did I lose weight, but I found enough energy to athletically outperform people 20 years younger than me.

It started by knowing that naturally growing foods boosts metabolism.

Mother Nature gave you an easy way to tell what foods constitute metabolism boosting foods, and what foods slow your metabolism down.

Here’s the catch, different foods have different metabolism affects on different people. This is why we have some people who could eat allot of one type of food and stay slim, while someone else eating that same food would balloon quickly.

Our bodies even react differently to what others would list as metabolism boosting foods.

Different people react to foods in different ways, but there’s a way for you to find out witch foods boost your metabolism and which ones slow it down.

Look back all the foods you’ve eaten in the past and recall how you reacted right afterwards.

If you’ve felt energetic for a long period of time, you’ve eaten a metabolism boosting food. If you’ve felt sleepy or tired after you ate that food, either immediately after eating or long after, you’ve eaten something that slows your metabolism.

Chances are that most the foods that kept you energetic after you ate were natural foods. Those that naturally grow that way in the wild or in the farm. You see these foods in the produce section like potatoes, carrots, and the butcher section, such as meats, fish, and poultry.

Go back to the last time you ate pancakes, allot of them. Also, go back and reflect on the last time you ate allot of cake and ice cream in one setting. Or when you ate allot of fudge bars. Chances are that you felt tired shortly afterwards.

This is your body shutting your metabolism down.

If you’ve wondered why some people could devote allot of time working out, but not losing weight, it’s possible that they’re eating foods that slow their metabolism down.

And it’s metabolism that contributes to people loosing weight, keeping it off, and getting by without needing coffee or feeling drowsy after lunch.

There’s an entire section in the grocery store that sells metabolism boosting foods. Fruits, vegetables, and meats are metabolism boosting. Natural grains like oatmeal and rice are also metabolism boosting.

Canned fruits, canned vegetables, and prepackaged/processed meats, have lots of sodium. Too much sodium slows your metabolism down and causes your body to hold more water. Canned fruits have too much processed sugar, another item that’ll slow your metabolism down.

Say you’ve gone to the produce section and purchased fresh fruits and vegetables. You’ve selected your meats and fish from the butcher section.

You’ve got fresh potatoes from the produce section instead of the prepackaged French fries and potato scallops. You’ve got your rice in the rice sack vice the boxed rice. You’ve got your natural oats that comes in the cylinder vice the prepackaged/boxed flavored oatmeal.

The next thing you do is eat them in a way that’ll maximize their metabolism boosting effects. You do this by eating them in the right amounts.

Instead of eating three large meals, eat several smaller ones. Eat when you get hungry. This is the trick to permanently loosing weight. Your body thinks that there’s plenty of food, and it’ll shed the pounds.

Supplement this with an exercise routine. Even if it means walking long distance on a regular basis. When you eat metabolism boosting foods, your eating will become the main weight loss strategy.

Why food is the ultimate gift

Life and food are intertwined. It is the first and most basic aspect of our lives that we imprint on. From the day of conception till the day we die food has a very central part in our existence. Without it life in our bodies would not begin or exist. Food is so vital, that just as the gift of life, it too has obtained a place in our consciousness as absolutely valuable and important to our very existence.

This consciousness that gives food such an elevated status, whether we think so or not, has to do with early life. When we are conceived our newly formed cells are nourished by it’s “yolk” until it is developed and can be feed via the placenta. Therefore we are born with an innate dependence for nourishment.

When we are born we find out that lack of food causes pain. This is why a hungry baby is a screaming baby (truth is always found in innocence). And this is where imprinting affects our entire view of food as life progresses. The first two years of life has a profound effect on the rest of our lives. The first years are the foundation which has a lasting effect on all life. We should, therefore ,be careful how we treat those years because once they take hold the effects cannot be suppressed.

So, we love food primarily because it makes us feel good. This is a fact. People who do not feel pleasure from food would not eat as much and would starve. Just sustaining life would not be enough to keep food in the number one spot in our lives. For example, we know that it is better to eat fruits and vegetables for a healthy long life but do most people change their eating habits just because of that fact. No, taste and other feel good factors play a greater role.

Other factors that play a role in making food ultimate in our lives is presentation and social feel good factors. From childhood we are taught that food is a happy occasion which is easily instilled in the mind of a child because he has already imprinted food with feeling satisfied and content.

Parents make every occasion and celebration a time to bring out the best foods. This is a time to be free, to eat as much as you want and whatever you want. It seems that the best of food comes out on happy occasions. Food is further instilled in the mind of a child as a happy thought when chocolates, sweets and confectionery are given on Christmas, Valentines, Easter, etc. Good food and treats are therefore associated with what humans crave the most, Love. Children therefore imprint good food,love and unconstrained living with food (daily eating although it satisfies a need for sustenance is always surrounded but rules and etiquette).

Presentation of food has now become an art form. Smell and taste, although they are what created our first love for food, has been joined by presentation; presentation is becoming as much of a factor. With media like magazines,TV and the Internet presentation has become a very powerful tool in invoking the senses in its continual indulgence in food. By just looking at any of the fancy dishes they are creating today can cause even the most reverent of monks to break his vows. Temptation is the very reason why monks and the like seclude themselves. And the food industry is taking advantage of that to the highest degree.

Resisting food is not in us. We need it to maintain life and most of all it has been groomed into our lives as an irresistible feel good priority of life.

Importance of food hygiene

Do you think about the importance of food hygiene, and the negative impact that improper food hygiene could have on your health? Without proper hygiene in food preparation and storage, your health can be in danger of contracting food borne illnesses.

Here’s a list of some food safety precautions to be aware of to maintain proper food hygiene.

To begin with, be aware of your food purchases, either at a grocery store, outdoor food market, or homegrown either by yourself or others, or you dine out at a fast food chain or restaurant. Have there been any complaints against that store, market, restaurant, or fast food chain, disputing their reputation for proper food hygiene?

At a grocery store, most of your food items should have the expiration dates clearly marked on the item, either stating best if used by, or expires on a certain date. Watch for any outdated items that have not been cleared from the shelf yet. Also, be aware of fresh produce that may have already started showing signs of aging, such as browning of lettuce leafs, an excessive amount of bruising marks on fruit, or the obvious; signs of slight molding.

Outdoor food markets that have areas specifically catering to fresh seafood and fish are sometimes a haven for food borne illnesses. Be aware of any improper storage of the fresh seafood and fish. If those food items are not properly stored in ice and kept cold at a certain temperature required by law, food borne illnesses containing bacteria, viruses, and parasites may occur. If you’re not sure about a particular place and their food safety, just inquire about their credentials. It’s better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health.

Watch for signs of unclean practices at any restaurants you frequent. Typically, food scraps or garbage lying on the floor, improper handling of food, food left out that should be refrigerated and dirty dishes or utensils, are signs that definitely point to improper food hygiene, and pose a health hazard. There are places on the internet that will list some restaurants in the order of passing safety regulations. This is a good indication of their sanitary practices in their restaurant.

When it comes to the preparation of food, food hygiene should be at the top of your list to safeguard yourself against any unwanted food bacteria or contamination that could occur. When preparing raw meat, be sure to wash any surface that has come in contact with the raw meat. This will help to avoid cross contamination among other foods that you may be preparing. Wash your hands frequently after touching the raw meat to avoid transferring any possible harmful bacteria to any surfaces, utensils, or food. Be sure to follow the directions to thoroughly cook meat, as uncooked meat is a leading cause of food borne illnesses.

Refrigerate any unused portions of meat, poultry, and milk products immediately after use to keep your food from developing any harmful bacteria.

In conclusion, a person that knows the importance of proper food hygiene can help ward off any potentially harmful effects that occur from improper handling of food.

The importance of food safety

The importance of food safety can not be underestimated. The safety of food is vital to your health and safety. The consequences of unsafe food can make you extremely ill or worse in the most severe causes can lead to death. The list of things that can be done to ensure food is kept safe is a mile long but without understanding the value of food safety you won’t see any reason to practice them.

Food safety is important to the health and well being of the family. It is also vital to the overall health of the nation when the problem begins before food is ever released in the market. You go to the store and get what you need only to have it make you sick or you go out to eat and spend the next day revisiting the food you had the night before to put it nicely. These are just a couple of things that occur when the correct precautions are not taken to ensure that the food we eat is grown, stored or prepared properly.

Restaurants aren’t the only places that have to know the importance of food safety. While the health department will make periodic inspections of the retail food world they will not come into your kitchen and tell you what’s wrong.

Waste results from improper food safety. Yes, waste because food that isn’t stored properly will spoil and you don’t want to feed rotten food to your family at any point and time during the course of your meals. When you don’t store food correctly bacteria can set up in it causing sickness to develop.

Cooking food properly is a part of food safety as well. When the importance of cooking food properly is not known disasters can result. There are some foods that have to be fully cooked before they can be eaten and when they aren’t cooked correctly they can cause you to become rather ill.

Cleaning food correctly is an important part of food safety. Whether you realize it or not there are sometimes chemicals used in the fields that your food is produced in. When these chemicals are not washed off due to an improper cleaning they can cause a poisoning effect on the body. The purpose of these chemicals is to kill insects that would eat the crop and the last thing that you want to do is to ingest a pesticide.

The importance of food safety is that it is the one thing that can make multiple people sick when not done correctly. Those that you love have to be kept safe and when you are responsible for preparing the food you feel responsible for things that happen when those eating it get sick.

There are cases of improper food safety that lead to death after an extended illness. While the cases are not frequent as they could be they do still exist. The importance of food safety can not be underestimated if you want to ensure the safety of your family.

Dining out as a Vegan

Dining out is one of the luxuries that many take for granted. We often swing through a fast food drive-up for a quick meal, celebrate important occasions at nice restaurants, and even invite friends out for a bite. Most of us look for meals that simply sound good, but there are many who have dietary restrictions that narrow their choices. It is true that most establishments have adapted to these diners by offering things like low carb and low fat choices, as well as allergy warnings and even fad diet calculations. The Weight Watcher’s menu at Applebee’s is a good example. Yet when it comes to the vegan diner, we usually find that they have been forgotten.

The main problem occurs when a restaurant does not understand the difference between a vegetarian and a vegan. A vegetarian, depending on the type, will exclude red meats but still consume varying levels of animal products. A vegan will not eat, or use, any animal products or honey. I have often found that inquiring about vegan items on the menu leads the server to suggest a vegetarian item. Consequently, vegetarian meals are offered and vegan foods are forgotten.

Another issue is in the detail of the menu. Main ingredients are usually listed, and even some minor ones that are special to the dish, but meat products are sometimes included in the meal but not in the menu description. Mexican restaurants, for example, will offer vegetable fajitas that are served with melted cheese and refried beans that are sometimes made with lard. Family restaurants may have a meal composed of their side dishes, but those vegetables are often cooked with butter or bits of meat as flavor enhancers. Burger establishments commonly offer vegetarian burgers. Though this seems like a great solution, these patties can contain eggs and milk, and they are often topped with a slice of cheese and a smear of mayo. In addition, many bread products are made with eggs and dairy products, which can make cold sandwiches another tricky dinner venue.

Lastly, there are places a vegan will be invited to that have meat in everything they serve. Every main dish includes a large hunk of animal flesh. Their soups are made with beef or chicken stock and their breads are made with eggs and dairy. Someone will eventually suggest a salad, which turns out to be little more than iceberg lettuce and carrots topped with bacon, cheeses, and buttered croutons. If you are lucky, there are unshelled peanuts at the table for you to munch on while your dinner guests finish their meals.

It is understandable that not every establishment can cater to every diet. They each have their target customers, as it would be very expensive to serve food for every type of diner. However, there are a few things vegans would like restaurants to consider. First, educate yourself and your staff about vegetarians and vegans. This will allow them to make educated suggestions to your vegetarian and vegan patrons. Second, label the presence of animal products in your menu items. Even something as small as a symbol next to an item that is 100% vegan would be a great step, one that some Thai restaurants have already taken! Third, if you aren’t a place that obviously is designed to grill up meat, like a steak house, offer at least one item on the menu that is vegan. It will increase both your number of patrons and your reputation. Vegans are a growing part of society that like dining out, and with a few thoughtful changes, they will enjoy it even more!