Food and Entertaining

How much juice should kids drink? What you need to know about juice and serving size

6/22/2017

(BPT) - Selecting beverages for your children can be tricky. What should they be drinking and how much should they drink? Dr. Lisa Thornton, pediatrician and mother, breaks down new juice guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and answers questions about 100 percent juice in the diet.

My kids like to drink juice, but I don’t know how much to serve them. Do you have any suggestions?

Like the whole fruit it is squeezed from, 100 percent juice is both delicious and nutritious. It is filled with important vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate and vitamin C, which make it a great beverage to serve your children. A serving of 100 percent juice is also a good option to help children meet their daily fruit serving recommendations.

In regards to portion size, follow the guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). Children ages 1-3 can have up to 4 ounces of juice a day, kids ages 4-6 can drink up to 6 ounces a day and children 7 and older can have up to 8 ounces per day. These new guidelines were put into place to help parents manage their children’s intake.

Should I be worried about juice and weight gain?

Balance is the key to good health for people of all ages, from age 1 to 100. Guidelines and recommendations are put into place by experts at the American Academy of Pediatrics and the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help guide you to make the best decisions about the foods and beverages you serve to your family.

Scientific studies that analyzed the juice consumption of children and adults found that when juice is consumed in appropriate amounts, there is no association between drinking juice and obesity. If you are worried about the impact of individual foods on your child’s weight, consult with a professional, such as a nutritionist or pediatrician.

Does drinking juice impact fruit consumption? I’m concerned that if I serve my children juice, they will be less likely to eat fruit.

Actually, nutrition research shows just the opposite. Children who drink juice tend to have overall better quality diets than those who do not drink juice. This means they eat more whole fruit, less saturated fats and have less added sugar in their diet.

Drinking juice shouldn’t replace eating whole fruit in the diet; it should complement it. According to the U.S. Dietary Guidelines, 100 percent juice is part of the fruit group, which consists of all forms of fruit — fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100 percent juice. More than 75 percent of Americans do not eat the recommended amount of fruit; one serving of fruit juice can help to supplement your family’s intake.

Making decisions about what to feed your family shouldn’t be stressful or difficult. Consult with your physician, pediatrician or nutritionist if you are confused about what foods and beverages you should be serving your loved ones. For more information about 100 percent juice and how it fits into an overall balanced diet, visit Juice Central. Juice Central is your source for the latest information about juice, including healthy lifestyle tips, recipes and nutrition science.



Create a special day for Dad this Father's Day with a delicious meal

6/16/2017

(BPT) - By Yvette Marquez, Vive Mejor spokesperson

As my grandma would always say, “Panza llena, corazón contento.” The best gift you can give Dad on Father's Day is a full stomach. Sure you could take him to a fancy restaurant, but try surprising Dad with an economical and homemade meal for his special day. It’ll mean a lot that you put some extra thought into making his day more special and this simple dish is delicious and made with amor. Show Dad how much you love him with this one-skillet Garlic Shrimp Risotto made with Knorr Sides.

Shrimp is featured in this recipe, but any kind of seafood will work. The garlic adds a very classic and tantalizing element to the dish. The kale and cherry tomatoes adds freshness and a burst of color. The four cheeses in the Knorr Selects package adds a lot of flavor, and I guarantee the entire family will love this rich and creamy risotto.

Knorr Selects is a new premium line of rice side dishes that contains no artificial flavors or preservatives, and are gluten free. They have cleaner, shorter ingredient labels and are made with rice sustainably sourced from Arkansas.

This one-skillet meal is made in less than 20 minutes, so you can spend less time in the kitchen cooking and cleaning, and more time planning Father's Day around one of his favorite hobbies or interests, such as fishing or hiking. He’ll appreciate the opportunity to do what he loves, and he’ll especially enjoy spending time with his family.

For more information and mealtime inspiration, go to ViveMejor.com.



5 essential soft skills for a job interview

6/14/2017

(BPT) - Picture this: After months of networking and polishing your resume, you managed to make the necessary connections, get in front of the right people and land an interview.

You deserve to be here. After all, you have an impressive background, great experience, fantastic references and are confident you can exceed the requirements of the job. The interview is really just a formality.

For many, the hardest part of the job hunt is simply getting an interview. However, many top candidates get passed over and are surprised when they are not offered a job. The reason for this is they often spend a lot of time practicing how to answer questions and explaining their qualifications, but forget about the soft skills.

A successful interview is about making the right impression, and these five soft skills are essential to making the impression that leads to a job offer.

1. A memorable appearance. We all know you need to dress your best before going into an interview, but you should go the extra mile to ensure the person you meet with remembers you. In addition to looking clean, tidy and professional, dress in a way that makes you feel confident and will make others notice.

2. Be ready to floss on the go. If someone notices something in your teeth, a piece of spinach or fleck of cereal, they won’t be able to see anything else. Before any interview, be sure to have a pack of Plackers Flossers with you. Made with strong floss that can quickly remove any gunk stuck in your teeth, these convenient one-handed flossers also double as a toothpick. Don’t leave home without them!

3. Exude confidence. Beyond just making you look good, the big reason behind dressing well and double checking that your teeth are clean and free of gunk is because this will give you confidence. Hiring managers can tell the difference between someone who is confident and someone who is not. Needless to say, they’re more impressed by confidence! So even if you’re nervous, dress up, keep clean, give a firm handshake and—if you have to—fake it until you make it!

4. Keep it positive. How you answer questions is often just as important as the answers you give. Always frame what you say in a positive note. In describing difficult managers or poor work conditions at other companies, frame it as a challenge you were happy to take on, an opportunity to learn and grow. Most importantly, remember to smile!

5. Eat well. You might be nervous and lose your appetite, but be sure you eat well the night before and the morning of the interview. Whole grains and foods loaded with fatty acids, such as salmon, eggs and kale, can help you feel great and relaxed for the interview. Just remember to have a few Plackers Flossers on hand so that energizing meal doesn’t become an unsightly mess in your mouth!



5 reasons summer is salad season

6/8/2017

(BPT) - Summer is the perfect time to turn over a new you. With the arrival of warm weather, a relaxed schedule and summer vacations, this is the moment to invest in a new wardrobe and, of course, a new, healthier menu. When you think of summer cuisine, light and flavorful is the order of the day, and nothing captures that order quite like a fresh, vibrant salad.

Salads can be so much more than just a healthy lunch or dinner choice, thanks to their minimal prep requirements and the boatload of benefits they can deliver, such as the five posted below. So, take a mindful turn toward salads this summer and enjoy their many perks.

* A great source of vegetables — and fruits, too. You’re constantly hearing you need to eat more fruits and vegetables, so make it easy by including them in whichever kind of salad you choose. Peppers, cucumbers, carrots and tomatoes are all popular salad staples, but no matter which vegetable you crave, feel good knowing that it’s a natural fit on your salad plate. And if you’re trying to up your fruit intake, you’ll find plenty of reasons to add strawberries, grapes and other delicious treats to your salad serving.

* A window of opportunity. If the idea of a salad seems same old same old, it’s time to get creative. And it’s so easy. There are virtually no rules when it comes to whipping up a salad, so don’t always settle for what you think “just has to go in there.” Seize the day and mix in what you truly want, instead. The inclusion of seafood is an easy way to add both a lean protein and the omega-3 fatty acids that are good for your body. Plus, seafood flat-out tastes great. Salmon, shrimp and crab are all excellent options.

* Easy, carefree meals. With so much to do during the summer, your life is constantly on the go. When you don’t have much time, a salad can be your best friend. Simply toss those ingredients together and grab a fork. It’s the perfect quick fix when you just want to relax after a fun-filled summer day.

* Loaded with health benefits. You already know salads are an easy, scrumptious way to satisfy your recommended vegetable intake, but did you know they can also be your path to numerous other nutritional benefits? Adding spinach to your salad, for instance, has been proven to support your need for vitamins A and K, which help your bones and your vision. Meanwhile, romaine lettuce has been shown to lower the risk of stroke and cardiovascular disease, and arugula can reduce the chance you’ll get diabetes.

* New tastes every single day. Even if you don’t consider yourself the creative type in the kitchen, you can still enjoy the limitless options that salads present. The web is loaded with unique salad recipes, allowing you to sample a tasty combination you may have never tried before. For example, you can start your summer salad stretch with this inventive Island Coconut Shrimp Salad.

Island Coconut Shrimp Salad

Ingredients

1/2 of 18-ounce package of SeaPak Family Size Jumbo Coconut Shrimp

2 packets orange marmalade sauce (included in coconut shrimp package)

2/3 cup bottled ranch salad dressing

1 package (10 ounces) bagged mixed salad greens (or 1 head of lettuce, chopped)

1 mango, peeled and sliced

1/2 red bell pepper, diced

4 tablespoons macadamia nuts or pecan halves (if desired), chopped

Directions

Prepare coconut shrimp according to package directions. In small bowl, whisk together the orange marmalade sauce and salad dressing.

Divide the salad greens, mango slices and diced peppers among 4 serving plates. Evenly top each plate with shrimp.

Pour the salad dressing mixture over each serving of the coconut shrimp salad.

Sprinkle chopped nuts over the salads and serve immediately.



Top 10 tips for hosting a stress-free summer BBQ

6/7/2017

(BPT) - The party is at your place, but no need to panic! These expert entertaining tips from the Chinet brand will help you plan, prep and enjoy a casual summer gathering — without the stress.

1. Be smart during set-up

Arrange two tables, one for dining and the other for food and drinks. Stack sturdy plates and cutlery at each end of the food table to keep the buffet from getting backed up.

2. Go potluck on the sides

Lessen the stress of hosting a backyard BBQ by making it a potluck. Assign each guest a dish — appetizer, salad, side dish or dessert — to contribute, leaving you to make the main course.

3. Ditch dirty dishes for disposables

A flimsy paper plate is no picnic. When hosting a backyard BBQ, choose biodegradable Chinet Classic White paper plates. Not only are they sleek and stylish, but they’re made from 100 percent pre-consumer recycled paper and made in the USA.

4. Make time with make-ahead recipes

Cooking for a crowd can turn into a hassle as you’re prepping for a party. Appear cool, calm and collected when your guests arrive by preparing food in advance. Kabobs are a perfect make-ahead recipe for cookouts and are easy for your guests to eat outside.

5. Helping hands

When feasible, choose simple, seasonal recipes that can be served as handhelds or in individual cups. This not only makes it easy for guests to mingle and move about, but also helps cut down on cleanup.

6. Serve pitcher-perfect drinks

Stage a bar area where guests can make their own drinks. Serve a big-batch beverage, like a summer sangria. Keep a non-alcoholic drink as an option as well. You can’t go wrong with lemonade or iced tea — both are always refreshing, light and just right for the season.

7. Let the yard games begin

Have pre-planned yard games like bocce ball, cornhole or ladder golf available for early arrivals or to combat the post-lunch slump. If you’re feeling extra crafty, create a DIY word jumble game using square paper plates and large gold sticker letters.

8. Light up the night

Supplement the stars with this Glittered Cup Garland using Chinet Cut Crystal 14 oz. cups. Use a gold string of lights for a more classic look, or if you’re feeling bold, opt for a colored strand. Once finished, string along your veranda, fence, patio or deck for a memorable ambience.

9. No campfire, no problem

S’mores aren’t just for the campfire. Get your fix on this traditional summertime snack with this easy dessert recipe.

10. Enjoy

A happy, stress-free host means a fun time for your guests and a successful get-together!

Save



5 surprising facts about dairy you should know

6/7/2017

(BPT) - Have you ever stopped to think about what a delicious cheeseburger, the dressing on your salad or your morning extra-foam latte have in common? They’re all undeniably dairy! From cow care to nutrient-packed punches, here are five facts you may not know about dairy:

1. Dairy farming is a family affair.

Every day, nearly 42,000 dairy farmers across the U.S. work hard to care for the cows that produce the milk that becomes the many dairy products everyone loves. The majority of all dairy farms — 97 percent — are family owned. Many dairy farms have been in the same family for generations, and each new generation of dairy farmers brings something new and innovative to the family farm.

2. Milk is "green" and that’s good!

Sustainability and cow comfort are priorities for today’s dairy farmers. In fact, producing a gallon of milk today takes 90 percent less land and 65 percent less water than 60 years ago, according to a study by Capper et al in Journal of Dairy Science. Dairy farms reuse their water, recycling it an average of three to five times a day, and even cow manure doesn't go to waste. Many farmers reuse manure to fertilize crops, and some farmers even capture the methane produced from manure to power their farms and the neighboring communities.

3. Dairy offers more nutritional benefits than just calcium.

Dairy’s reputation as a calcium powerhouse is well established, but did you know it offers additional nutritional and health benefits? For example, one cup of milk has the same amount of protein as 1 1/3 eggs. Milk also contains B vitamins - B12, riboflavin (B2), niacin (B3) and pantothenic acid (B5), which can help give you energy. From cheese, you can also get phosphorus, and yogurt provides zinc, too. Following a low-fat diet? Good news — lower fat versions of favorite dairy foods contain less fat but all the same nutrients of whole milk and dairy products.

4. It’s all about caring for the cows.

It makes good business sense to take the best possible care of the animals that produce your livelihood, and dairy farmers are constantly improving how they care for their cows. Cow nutritionists help determine the perfect balance of feed ingredients in cows’ diets to ensure the health of the animals. Dairy farmers also use technology to monitor the health of their cows with sophisticated collars, bracelets or ear tags that track key behaviors like activity levels, body temperature and milk production for each individual cow.

5. Dairy brings joy to summertime dishes.

Whether it's topping your burger with a slice of cheddar or enjoying fresh berries with a dollop of Greek yogurt, dairy is the ingredient that makes a variety of summertime dishes so enjoyable. So next time you gather with friends and/or family, tap into a little nostalgia with this Blueberry Hand Pie recipe:

Blueberry Hand Pies

Ingredients:

2 9-inch, store-bought, ready-to-bake pie crusts

1 pint fresh blueberries

1 tablespoon all-purpose, unbleached flour

3 tablespoons granulated sugar

1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1 large egg yolk, lightly beaten with 1 teaspoon of water

1/4 cup confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon reduced-fat milk

Directions:

In a medium bowl, toss blueberries with flour. Add sugar and vanilla extract. Toss to combine. Set aside.

Allow store-bought crust to come to room temperature. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Flour a work surface and roll out the warmed pie crust to 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into eight rectangles about 3-by-4 inches in size. Scoop a scant 1/4 cup of the blueberries into the center of four dough rectangles. Place the remaining dough rectangles over the top of each blueberry filling. Use a fork to seal the edges of each pie and transfer pies to the prepared baking sheet.

Pierce the tops of the pies with a paring knife a few times and brush with egg wash. Bake for 30 minutes or until dough is golden brown. Allow pies to cool completely before icing. Use a fork to stir together the confectioner’s sugar and 1 tablespoon of milk. Drizzle over cooled hand pies. Serve with a glass of cold milk.

For more ways to enjoy dairy this summer, and to learn more about America’s farm families and importers, visit UndeniablyDairy.org.



Catch a day on the water with Dad this Father's Day

6/6/2017

(BPT) - This Father’s Day, add a little adventure and gift Dad a day he will remember by surprising him with a day of fishing. There’s nothing like getting in a boat with loved ones and heading out on the water to sink a line and enjoy some of the finer things in life together — like fishing, snacking and discovering a few unexpected treasures along the way.

The invite

Whether it’ll be just the two of you or the entire family on this excursion, start the day by presenting him with a Father’s Day card attached to a tackle box with the message that you’ll be taking him fishing. Add a new baseball cap emblazoned with his favorite team’s logo to shield his head from the sun and wind.

Piping hot coffee

When you get in the car, make sure the cup holder has a new tumbler full of Dad’s favorite coffee, ready for him to sip on the way to the water. Some of today’s insulated bottles can hold the heat, keeping the coffee piping hot for up to 24 hours so you can rig up this treat hours and hours ahead of time. Check labels to see how long various containers keep drinks hot or cold, just to make sure.

Fishing gear

As soon as you’re on the boat and it’s time to open the tackle box, have some new fishing gear pre-packed inside, ready for him to discover. An ultra-versatile choice that will have him reeling in fish all day is the new Storm 360GT Searchbait, which uses a natural swimming action that fish just can’t refuse. While you’re at it, tuck in a spool of Sufix 832 Advanced Superline to ensure a good day’s catch. The strongest, most durable line on the market is a great gift that will help Dad avoid breakoffs.

Snack time

As the day goes on, keep Dad fueled with plenty of snacks to charge forward through the day — even if that means waiting for the next big fish to bite. Grab something simple and manly, like protein-packed Matador Jerky, to keep him fueled. Always good to go with no refrigeration needed, it’s available in several flavors to tempt his taste buds, from Original to Teriyaki to Peppered. Find them wherever chips are sold, in both individual 3-ounce packs and four-count variety packs. Be sure to bring along a cooler filled with ice-cold beverages to put out the fire and quench his thirst.

Shore-side supper

After a great day on the water with Dad, top it off with a shore-side grilled supper featuring the entree of all entrees, fresh-caught fish. Toss some corn on the cob or veggies on the grill for sides and bring along something indulgent for dessert. A pre-made cake or homemade cookies can provide an easy and satisfying cap to a fun-filled day. However, the present he’ll likely remember most on this Father’s Day is the time you’ve spent enjoying it together.



Throw a sizzling summer cocktail party

5/31/2017

(BPT) - Raise your glasses high — cocktail parties are the toast of this summer’s entertaining. Don’t know where to start? Think barware, which is nearly as hot as the rising temperatures. That’s why we turned to designer Julie Robbins from Replacements, Ltd., the world’s largest retailer of vintage and current dinnerware, for fabulously fun ideas sure to make your soiree one of your favorite summer memories.

Why are cocktail parties so popular for summer 2017?

These gatherings are both fun and easy to put together — you’re not trying to seat everyone at the same table so you can make use of more of your home, whether that’s an apartment, condo or house. Cocktail parties are all about conversation, networking and introducing one group of friends to another, so people are always moving around. This type of entertaining is perfect for both small and large spaces alike; you can use your kitchen, family room or head outside to a patio, deck or even your yard.

What’s the best time for the perfect cocktail party?

Any time! Cocktail parties are usually the warm-up or wind-down for the evening, and timing often depends on your reasons for celebrating. For instance, if you’re holding your party as a kick-off to some event, say an evening out or concert under the stars, you may want to serve drier drinks and savory, spicier foods. If it’s a post-event gathering, consider a late night with sweets, such as liqueurs and dessert-type finger foods.

What about barware? What’s hot this summer?

I think three barware types will be extremely popular this season: the coupe, the old fashioned and a tall drink glass, such as a tumbler or highball.

Why the coupe?

There’s a movement toward more elegant cocktails, and people want to serve those beverages in something equally elegant. That’s why coupes (often referred to as champagne-sherbet glasses) are really stepping into the fore. Coupes offer a more refined shape that looks great in the hand. Vintage coupes from classic American glassmakers such as Tiffin, Fostoria and Heisey are big with our customers, with unique pieces in pretty much every price range. Not only are vintage coupes a great conversation starter, these glasses are highly collectible. You can also use them for desserts.

The old fashioned?

Old fashioned or even double old fashioned glasses are used for serving spirits straight up or on the rocks. They’re also great for mixed cocktails, such as old fashioneds (the glass is named after this whiskey-based drink, which muddies bitters and sugars with a citrus twist), whiskey sours or even Bloody Marys. What’s neat is that you’ll find them in varying shapes. For example, Waterford has great old fashioned patterns, from something very simple and squared like their “Vintage” collection to more elegant, cut patterns such as “Powerscourt,” which is sparkly and almost tulip shaped. You’ll also find very rounded, roly-poly shapes made popular on the television show Mad Men.

How about the highball?

Highballs are perfect for serving taller, refreshing drinks such as Long Island iced teas or a Tom Collins. You may see highball glasses referred to as tumblers in vintage patterns. Most of the Depression glass patterns have unique shapes such as footed tumblers, which can really step up your game.

Bar carts seem to be everywhere. Is that another trend for summer entertaining?

Bar carts are great! We’re coming out of a phase where people kept their liquor put away; these days they want to show it off. A well-stocked bar cart is the perfect accessory for any size living space. And many companies even seem to want a beautiful, shiny and organized bar cart for the office. Bar carts are a great way to help keep your entertaining organized and not all spread out. And you can set those up for any style or taste. For example, you might want to put your alcohol on one shelf and your barware on another, or you can mix it up. Plus you can move your cart around as needed, so you’re not stuck in the same place with your guests glued to a bar.

How about food?

Pre-portioned foods are fantastic for cocktail parties and a great way to serve something pricier without having to break the bank. One fun idea — think about using barware you may not need at that particular party, such as glass punch cups, to make individual shrimp cocktail servings. This saves you from having a huge bowl of shrimp where that one person (you know the one) will stand and eat all night and keeps your guests moving — they can grab a serving and go. Two- and three-tiered servers are fabulous for cocktail parties. These servers have a very small footprint since they’re stacked, meaning you can tier different hors d'oeuvres on each layer and serve your guests without taking up a huge chunk of your table. Replacements can actually handcraft these pieces in the pattern of your choice.

Any final tips?

Limit your party to one or two signature cocktails. This keeps you from having to stock ten kinds of liquor and you can mix drinks in batches, meaning you can spend more time enjoying your party rather than bartending.



Party themes for a summer bash to remember

5/31/2017

(BPT) - When summer party season arrives, your guests will be happy to eat the grilled food you serve and down gallons of iced tea, but will they recall your party after Labor Day? Every good host wants to throw a bash guests will talk about all summer and remember long after the first snowfall. A themed summer party can be just the ticket to ensure your summer celebration has everyone clamoring to be on the guest list for your next big event.

Here are tips for staging a summer celebration to remember:

Sporting fun

A summer without sports would be like a beach vacation with no water! A sports-themed party is sure to have broad appeal, whether you opt to focus on a single sport or incorporate several favorites. Sports-themed decorations are a good start, but to really make a statement, rent some bleachers from your local party rental store, add in some concession equipment like popcorn and cotton candy makers, and throw in some backyard-sized versions of your favorite sports games. You can rent basketball tosses, pitching games and more at your local rental store.

Go patriotic

Summer has three of the year’s most patriotic holidays. Red, white and blue bunting and other decorations are musts for patriotic celebrations, but don’t stop there. Consider incorporating other all-American features in your event, like a barbecue cook-off with all the rentable fixings you need, and favorite summer lawn games like ring toss and lawn darts.

Dance-off

Great weather and freedom from school can make anyone feel like dancing, so why not host a backyard dance party? Rent a dance floor, add in a jukebox and a karaoke machine, and you’ve got the basis for a summer dance-off featuring summer-themed music. Include a misting fan or two to help keep dancers and spectators cool.

Summer snack celebration

Shaved ice, ice cream, fruit salads, popcorn — seasonal snacks are as much a part of summer as sunshine and hot temperatures. Why not heat up your backyard event by turning it into a celebration of summer snacks? Slice some watermelon, steep some iced tea in the sun, and rent a variety of snack machines to make cotton candy, popcorn, frozen drinks and snow cones.

Summer chilling

Your party should be hot but your guests don’t have to be. Rental stores carry a wide range of items that can help party-goers cool off, from dunk tanks to misting fans, and inflatable water slides to snow machines. Visit your local dollar discount store to stock up on water pistols, squirters, water balloons and buckets (for reloading), and invite guests to have a cool backyard water battle.

Movie madness

Summer is blockbuster movie season, so why not bring a bit of the excitement of the cinema to your own backyard? Rent projectors and screens, some theater seats and velvet rope and stanchions to turn your yard into an open-air theater. Turn on the popcorn machine and pop in a DVD of last summer’s hottest blockbuster for a night of movie madness.

For more party rental ideas or to find summer party items for rent near you, visit www.RentalHQ.com.



5 signs you need a relationship upgrade - with your grill

5/26/2017

(BPT) - Do you still feel the heat? Are you allowed the space you need? Are the best years yet to come? If you answered "no" to any of those questions, you may want to dump your current grill and upgrade to a newer model. With grilling season upon us, there’s no time to waste being stuck in a grilling relationship rut.

While you likely have a sentimental attachment to your grill, like most Americans, you may feel you could do better. According to a study from gourmet grill-maker Napoleon, two-thirds of grill owners feel a connection to their current grill. Yet, four in five grill owners agree their grill isn’t perfect — and could benefit from some upgrades.

How do you know when it’s time to cut ties and move on? Following are five signs your grill relationship might need a trade up:

1. Commitment Phobia – You need a partner who’s in it for the long haul. Number one on the list of importance for grillers is high-quality construction and durability. Some grills, like some relationships, lose their luster over time. Consider a grill that offers superior construction, high-quality materials and a long warranty. For example, Napoleon grills offer premium stainless steel construction, including the body, burners, sear plates and grate.

2. You’ve Been Left in the Dark – Are you and your grill riding off into the sunset, or when darkness falls are you left by your lonesome? Look for a grill that features integrated interior lights and lighted control knobs to help keep the flame burning all night long. Napoleon’s Prestige PRO series even offers knobs that turn red when the gas is on and blue when the gas is off, allowing users to know exactly which burners are lit for both precise grilling and added safety.

3. It Feels Like a Chore – Some say relationships should be simple. This is especially true when it comes to your relationship with your grill. Look for traits in your partner that make life easier, like easy assembly and set-up, an integrated wood chip smoker tray or interior storage to house all the grilling essentials.

4. There’s No Spark – Wanna feel the heat? Meet the infrared burner. Napoleon offers an Infrared Sizzle Zone Side Burner that heats to 1,800 degrees F in 30 seconds for a restaurant-quality sear. Perfect for steaks, it heats up fast and gets extremely hot — much like a young summer romance, but with the durability to last a lifetime.

5. You’re Left Wanting More – Perhaps you’re feeling restless, looking for something more, but not quite sure what. How about a built-in ice bucket for marinade or a cold beverage? Or a built-in cutting board for added convenience? Today’s grills offer features you didn’t even know you needed, until now.

Life’s too short to be stuck in a lackluster relationship — even if it’s with your grill. You can do better.

To begin your online search for a fiery soulmate, visit NapoleonGrills.com.



Simplifying baby nutrition: Expert advice for your infant's first foods

5/22/2017

(BPT) - Your cooing, curious, incredibly cute baby is now 6 months old and you've got the go-ahead from your pediatrician to start solid foods. You both are excited to begin this new adventure, but when you head to the store you are suddenly confused by a sea of options.

Which foods are safe for your new little eater? Which offer the most nutrition? How do you know what is the best for your baby? If you’re feeling overwhelmed, you’re not alone.

In research conducted by ORC International and Stonyfield, at least one-third of parents admit to feeding confusion during baby’s first months, and just over half (53 percent) feel overwhelmed by the varying opinions of early childhood nutrition.

Pediatrician Dr. Tanya Altmann, MD, FAAP and mother of three, sees many parents who are unsure about best first foods for infants. To help guide parents and caregivers, she offers five important pieces of advice.

Seek safe dairy options for babies under 12 months.

You might think it’s safer to avoid dairy products until infants are at least 12 months old. However, dairy is packed with essential nutrients (such as calcium and vitamin D) for growing bodies, and can be an important part of baby’s diet.

The good news is babies as young as 6 months can begin eating yogurt, even if they’re breastfeeding. Not only is it a healthy option for their little bodies, you’ll find infants love yogurt. Choose a brand made with organic whole milk, like Stonyfield YoBaby yogurt, the No. 1 Pediatrician Recommended yogurt for babies between 6 months and 2 years old among refrigerated yogurts. (Source: IMS Health ProVoice Survey, 12/01/15 - 09/30/16)

Expose baby to healthy foods early.

Introducing baby’s first solids is a stressful time for parents. To keep it simple, reference a list of trusted foundation foods to ensure your baby is receiving the proper nutrients. Remember to check with your pediatrician before feeding your baby any new food groups and modify as needed to accommodate any food allergies.

Some great foundation foods are eggs, prunes, avocados, fish, yogurt, cheese, nut butters, chicken, beans, lentils, berries, citrus fruits, green vegetables, whole grains and water. Mix and match these foods as your baby becomes more comfortable with solids.

Protect baby’s gut health.

Did you know gut health is the foundation for overall good health? To help protect your baby’s gut health, you want to ensure they’re getting enough probiotics. While naturally found in breast milk, probiotics are also found in yogurt.

Stonyfield recently added the probiotic BB-12 (registered trademark of Chr. Hansen) to its YoBaby Yogurt. BB-12(R) has been shown to have a digestive health benefit when consumed regularly as part of a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle by promoting beneficial gut bacteria and regular, soft stools.

Understand natural sugar vs. added sugar.

Sugar is receiving a lot of attention in the news recently and many parents are looking more closely at labels when grocery shopping. In doing so, it's important to understand the difference between naturally occurring sugar and added sugar.

Wholesome foods like milk, yogurt and fruit have naturally occurring sugars that are part of a healthy diet. Many yogurts come in both plain and flavored varieties, and if you’re looking to control the amount of sweetness, you can purchase unsweetened yogurt to which you can add your own mashed fruits.

Get adventurous with finger foods.

Don’t be afraid to put down the spoon and let your little one try feeding themselves with some nutritious finger foods. Not only will baby explore new flavors and textures, but it's an excellent way to practice fine-motor skills.

A simple and nutrient-packed first finger food is berries cut into small pieces. The soft berries are easy for babies to pick up and they feel gentle against their gums.

Introducing first foods to your baby doesn't have to be a confusing process. By working with your pediatrician and keeping this information close at hand, you'll be ready to expose baby to a whole new world of flavors.



Alternative white wine pairings for popular summer meals

5/19/2017

(BPT) - Summer means long days, bountiful sunshine and fresh fare to tantalize the taste buds. Locally grown produce, grilled meats and seafood, and new takes on classic dishes like pizza and pasta make this the season to raise a glass and toast to family, friends and the sharing of delicious food.

White wine is a classic summer drink that never goes out of style. However, you may want to look beyond the traditional chardonnays and sauvignon blancs when creating the perfect pairings for your summer menus.

If you want alternative white wines for upcoming meal pairings, the following options are guaranteed to satisfy whether you're making an intimate meal for two or are hosting a large outdoor event.

Perfect pairing: Pinot gris and grilled poultry and seafood

Wine to try: Wairau River Pinot Gris 2015 Marlborough

Grilling poultry and seafood infuses amazing flavor, making it a popular main dish for summer dining. A pinot gris is a fantastic dry white wine that complements these types of dishes. With the rich fresh flavor of pear and green apple mingling with touches of spice, this wine adds weight to the palate and completes the dining experience.

Perfect pairing: Chenin blanc with salads and fresh vegetables

Wine to try: Protea Chenin Blanc 2016 Western Cape

Whether you regularly visit the farmers market, subscribe to a CSA or grow your own produce in a home garden, fresh vegetables are abundant throughout the summer season. When enjoying a luscious salad, pour yourself a glass of chenin blanc. This lively wine with notes of stone fruit have a light body that enhances without overwhelming fresh fare.

Perfect pairing: Garganega with shellfish, fish and white pizza

Wine to try: Anselmi San Vincenzo 2016 Veneto

Summer is the ideal time for new takes on favorite dishes. For example, try a white pizza for extraordinary, outside-the-box flavor. White pizza typically features a garlic sauce that is then topped with loads of vegetables. This light take on pizza calls for a crisp, medium-bodied wine made from garganega grapes. (This dry variety is also a great option for shellfish and fish dishes.)

Perfect pairing: Carricante with pesto dishes and white fish ceviche

Wine to try: Alta Mora Etna Bianco 2015

Wines made from the carricante grape are sure to please. Fresh and fruity, with touches of earthy minerality, this silky, full-bodied wine is a wonderful pair to the pesto dishes that are so popular during summertime. (Also ideal for seafood and shellfish, particularly fish ceviche.)

Perfect pairing: Falanghina with pasta made with citrus- and cream-based sauces

Wine to try: Feudi di San Gregorio Falanghina 2015

Inspired by warm weather, chefs often create a citrus- or cream-based pasta dish on their summer menus. You too can enjoy this quintessential summer trend by cooking your own recipe from the comfort of your home and then enjoying it with a big glass of Falanghina. Fresh and well-balanced, this wine blends flavors of flowers and fruit, and has a clean finish.

Need more inspiration? Try this recipe and visit www.uncorked.com/discovery-whites.html for the right wine pairings.

Simplest Shrimp Kebabs

Serves 6

Pick and choose the vegetables that are freshest at the market, and alternate them with plump shrimp on skewers to create a colorful warm-weather entrée.

Ingredients

1 1/2 pounds raw peeled and cleaned jumbo (16 to 20 count) shrimp

3 cups mixed vegetables, such as red onions, bell peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, or briefly cooked cauliflower or broccoli, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces, or whole cherry tomatoes

1/2 cup Citrus Basil Sauce (recipe follows)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lemon wedges, for serving

Fourteen 6-inch or eight 12-inch wooden or metal skewers

Directions

1. Place the shrimp in a large bowl. Add the vegetables, then toss with the Citrus Basil Sauce. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours.

2. If you are using wooden skewers, at least 30 minutes before cooking soak them in water to cover in order to prevent them from burning.

3. Thread the shrimp and veggies on skewers, creating appealing patterns. (The 6-inch skewers will hold about 3 pieces of shrimp, alternating with veggies; for 12-inch skewers, double that amount.) Lightly salt and pepper the skewers.

4. Preheat the grill to medium-high.

5. Grill the kebabs until the shrimp is cooked through and everything has a nice grill-marked exterior, about 3 minutes per side. Serve the kebabs hot, with wedges of lemon. If you used metal skewers they will be hot, so make sure your guests know.



Cottage cheese reimagined [Video]

5/17/2017

(BPT) - When it comes to food options to supplement a healthy lifestyle, one high protein choice that has been overlooked because of its dull and boring taste is cottage cheese. Muuna has changed all that with its rich and creamy cottage cheese with delicious pieces of real fruit including blueberry, strawberry, pineapple, peach, mango and lowfat plain. Muuna’s perfectly portioned, single serve cups are easy to grab on your way to work, school or for a quick protein-packed snack, to help sustain energy and keep you full. Muuna, the new way to cottage!



5 ways to make your gluten-free lifestyle more appetizing

5/16/2017

(BPT) - Whether you have been gluten free for years or are just starting out, it’s a lifestyle rife with challenges. From cardboard-tasting foods to limited choices at social gatherings, a gluten-free lifestyle can make you feel left out and stuck with unappetizing options.

“A gluten-free lifestyle doesn’t have to be a life sentence of boring, bland food,” says Laura Fuentes, of MOMables.com and author of “The Best Grain-Free Family Meals on the Planet” and “The Best Homemade Kids' Lunches on the Planet.” “By following a few simple suggestions, you can enjoy your meals both at home and at parties, without worry.”

With just a few simple tips, you can add a feeling of “gluten freedom” to your gluten-free lifestyle.

* Make simple ingredient swaps. Changing out a few gluten-heavy ingredients can turn retired recipes into updated favorites. Substitute flour tortillas for Boston bib lettuce leaves or swap in grated steamed cauliflower instead of couscous.

* Find gluten-free meals everyone will enjoy. “After switching to a gluten-free diet, many families find it challenging to find convenient foods that everyone likes — especially social and celebratory foods like pizza,” says Fuentes, a mother of one child with a gluten intolerance and two without. “Rather than making different pizzas for different diets, I serve everyone Freschetta Gluten Free pizza. It’s a delicious, thin-crust alternative that my family loves.”

* Incorporate snack prep into your weekly routine. Choose colorful, nutritious foods such as dipped apples, fruit skewers, popcorn and veggies with dip. Store snacks in clear containers and keep them at the front of your fridge or cupboard. Easy access makes gluten-free snacking a breeze and encourages you to eat healthier, since you have to think twice before reaching for chips or sweets.

* Experiment with new flavors and dishes. “Pizza night is a great time to expand your palate. Top gluten free pizza crust with adventurous choices like pesto and chicken or mushrooms and caramelized onions,” said Fuentes. “Or, rather than searching for new gluten-free recipes, seek out recipes with naturally gluten-free ingredients like fish, vegetables and rice.”

* Add texture with tasty alternatives. Fried and baked chicken are still possible by exchanging breadcrumbs for ground rice cereal. Instead of skipping the crunch of croutons on your salad, add lightly toasted almonds, pecans or walnuts. And try plantain chips in place of crackers — they’re delicious and just as crunchy.

Incorporate these ideas into your everyday eating habits and your gluten-free lifestyle will be rich with flavors and textures, while still ensuring your food is safe and delicious.

To learn more about Freschetta Gluten Free Pizza and to find a store near you, visit http://www.freschetta.com/where-to-buy.htm.



Seasoning tips to help you savor a great grilling season

5/16/2017

(BPT) - Flowers are blooming, days are getting longer and temperatures are warmer — you can probably recognize all the signs that grilling season has arrived! But do you know how to best season all the fresh foods you’ll grill this summer?

Sure, a dash of salt and pepper may be all you need for some premium cuts of meat, but creative seasoning with organic spices and herbs can enhance the taste of virtually everything you grill. What’s more, the clean simplicity of organic seasonings perfectly complements the natural healthfulness of grilling.

The organic seasoning experts at Frontier Co-op offer some tips for using seasonings to achieve greater grilling this spring and summer:

Dry or wet? That’s the rub

Two of the most common ways to add seasonings to grilled food is through the use of a rub or marinade. What’s the difference between the two? It’s not just that one is dry and the other wet, because some rubs are wet, too.

Generally, rubs are mixtures of dry spices that you rub on food to add flavor before cooking. They’re good for high-fat foods like meat, and often contain salt and sugar, which also promotes the formation of a crust on the food when you grill it. Usually, after applying a rub you’ll want to let the food sit an hour or two before grilling it.

Marinades are typically liquid seasoned with spices to add flavor to food and sometimes tenderize it. You place the food in the liquid and allow it to sit for a set period of time — a few hours to overnight. When you’re ready to cook, remove the food from the marinade and use a brush or rubber spatula to remove excess marinade before placing the food on the grill. Marinades are great for vegetables and meat, poultry or fish that tend to be dry.

Other ways to spice things up

Of course, seasonings can add flavor to food in multiple ways. For example, if you’re soaking vegetables or fruit before grilling, you can add herbs and spices to the soaking water. In addition to absorbing liquid, the food will also soak up the great flavor of the seasonings.

Some foods benefit from basting during the grilling process. You can enhance the flavor of the food by adding seasonings to the butter or liquid you use for basting. If you use foil packets to steam fish, veggies or fruit on the grill, you can add seasonings directly atop the food before folding the foil, or add them to a bit of liquid at the base of the packet.

Pairing seasonings with food

Some food/seasoning pairings are obvious, like apples and cinnamon or fish and lemon pepper. However, a wide range of seasonings can elevate the flavor of a variety of foods. Here are a few creative pairings to try this summer grilling season:

* Cardamom — Pork, apples, pears, citrus fruits, cabbage and carrots

* Cloves — Beef, pork, sweet potatoes, onions, apples, pears, citrus fruits and peaches

* Cumin — Hamburgers, pork, chicken (marinades), tofu, tempeh and cabbage

* Ginger — Steak, chicken, fish, seafood and fruits

* Marjoram — Burgers, chicken, fish, lamp, poultry and vegetables

* Poppy seed — Potatoes, cabbage, carrots, onions and zucchini

* Saffron — Chicken and fish

* Turmeric — Lamb, beans and zucchini

Try this recipe for Savory Paprika and Chili Rub the next time you grill meat, tofu or vegetables:

Savory Paprika and Chili Rub

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Ground Paprika

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Chili Powder

2 teaspoons Frontier Organic Ground Cumin Seed

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Onion Powder

1 teaspoon Frontier Organic Ground Cayenne Chili Pepper

1/2 teaspoon Frontier Organic Garlic Powder

4 teaspoons olive oil

Directions:

Mix all ingredients together and rub into meats, poultry or vegetables (or shake onto soft veggies, tofu or tempeh). Then refrigerate for one hour before grilling.

For more grilling seasoning ideas and recipes, visit www.frontiercoop.com.



6 ways to stay cool during summer entertaining

5/15/2017

(BPT) - The thermometer is on the rise but hosts stay as cool as can be when entertaining friends and family. The secret? Planning ahead to deliver easy ambiance, crowd-pleasing food and plenty of fun. Start with versatile foods, such as fresh California grapes, that can both stand alone and serve as recipe-enhancing ingredients to help keep summertime hosting stress-free.

1. Turn to the summer host’s best friend — an entrée salad that’s cool, crunchy and refreshing, like the Crispy Garlic Chicken Chopped Salad (recipe follows) that tickles tastebuds with a delightful contrast of sweet California grapes and savory toasted garlic.

2. Spending the afternoon poolside? Keep an assortment of floats and inflatable tubes so guests can relax or play in the water. Stock a mini-fridge with cool beverages, and tuck small bags of grapes in the freezer section for a cooling snack. Hint: grapes also make great ice cubes that won’t dilute a drink!

3. Put together an Italian-inspired antipasto platter in minutes — arrange clusters of fresh grapes next to olives, marinated artichoke hearts, cubes of provolone cheese and roasted red peppers on a large plate. Serve with crusty Italian bread.

4. Liven up any picnic with a cooler filled with easy-to-eat red, green and black California grapes that have been cut into small clusters ahead of time. Add some assorted cheeses, crackers, fresh veggies and Mediterranean dips and let the party begin.

5. Say olé to cool summer libations at celebrations. Start the party with an unexpected and unique drink, the frosty Grape Mojito, shown below. Red grapes add natural sweetness and a pop of color.

6. Set up a grilled fruit buffet for a fun snack or dessert. Thread fresh grapes, pineapple chunks and peach cubes on skewers. Brush lightly with oil and grill until the fruits begin to caramelize, which deepens and enhances flavor. Serve with a choice of sorbets.

Crispy Garlic Chicken Chopped Salad

Serves 4

Ingredients

1/3 cup grapeseed oil

6 large cloves garlic, very thinly sliced

2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided

3/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, divided

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon rice vinegar

2 teaspoons honey

Pinch cayenne

3 cups chopped romaine lettuce

2 cups chopped radicchio

2 cups chopped green cabbage

2 cups halved California grapes

1 cup thinly sliced celery

1/4 cup roughly chopped mint

Directions

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and cook until browned and crisp, removing pieces as they brown with a slotted spoon, about 2 minutes altogether. Pour the oil into a heatproof cup.

Sprinkle the chicken with 1/2 teaspoon each salt and pepper. Transfer 2 tablespoons of the garlic oil back to the skillet. Heat over medium-high until almost smoking and add the chicken. Cook until golden on the bottom, about 7-9 minutes. Turn and cook another 7-9 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Remove to a cutting board. Let stand 5 minutes.

Whisk the lemon juice, vinegar and honey into the remaining garlic oil. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt, freshly ground black pepper and cayenne.

Combine romaine, radicchio, cabbage, grapes, celery and mint in a large bowl. Chop the chicken and add to the bowl along with the dressing. Toss to mix and serve sprinkled with the crispy garlic.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 360; Protein 22 g; Carbohydrate 25 g; Fat 21 g (50% Calories from Fat); 2.5 g Saturated Fat (6% Calories from Saturated Fat); Cholesterol 60 mg; Sodium 290 mg; Fiber 4 g.

Grape Mojito

Ingredients

3 wedges lime

12 mint leaves

6 large red California grapes, halved, plus more for garnish

2 teaspoons sugar

2 oz. white rum

Ice

Club soda

Directions

In a cocktail glass, muddle together two of the lime wedges, mint leaves, grape halves, sugar and rum until the sugar dissolves. Fill the glass with ice and top off with club soda. Top with the reserved lime wedge and more grapes.

Nutritional analysis per serving: Calories 200; Protein 0 g; Carbohydrate 18 g; Fat 0 g; Sat Fat 0 g; Cholesterol 0 mg; Sodium 0 mg; Fiber 1 g.



5 nutritionist tips to start eating and living healthier

5/11/2017

(BPT) - When you need to fix your car, learn the latest tech or finish a major home improvement, what do you do? You turn to the experts, those with in-depth knowledge on how to accomplish these tasks in the most efficient and effective way. And when you’re looking to improve your overall health by focusing on improving your diet, it’s also time to turn to the experts.

Nutritionists and registered dietitians are the thought leaders when it comes to improving your eating habits. So to learn from the professionals, we asked Registered Dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner to offer her tips on how you can improve your nutrition and start living a healthier life today. She offers this advice:

*Get organized. Your environment can work for you or against you. Having an organized refrigerator can be the key to success on the journey to weight loss. Keep produce where it is easily visible and accessible. Storing foods like hard-boiled eggs, chicken breast and roasted vegetables at eye-level can really help to make smarter meal choices. Clear food containers will also help to keep already prepared meals top of mind and lessen food waste, which means saving money in the long run.

*Practice superfood swaps. Don’t cut out food cravings — embrace them! Eat the flavors that you crave but swap out overly processed stuff for fresh, wholesome ingredients. Avoid products with chemicals, refined sugars and flours, artificial flavors and preservatives and it will naturally lead to a healthier lifestyle. When you fill the house with healthier foods, you’ll automatically eat smarter when hunger strikes.

*Eat your “green base.” It can be difficult to make the right nutrition choices all the time. So when you are eating more decadent food like fried chicken, Chinese or pizza, put it on a base of leafy greens like spinach, spring mix or kale. That way you will get to eat what you want, but you’ll fill up more on your superfood greens and eat less of the high-calorie foods.

*Set the table. One of the simplest ways to start naturally eating less and enjoying food more is to eat all meals and snacks at the table. When you put food on a plate, eat at a table and sit in a chair you’ll eat much less than if you were eating while working on the computer, watching TV, standing in the fridge or driving!

*Build a better breakfast. A healthy diet starts with a nutritious breakfast. Think whole foods instead of pre-packaged foods high in calories and packed with preservatives. Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and more than double the vitamin B12 compared to ordinary eggs, which can be perfect for maintaining heart health. They also contain 25 percent less saturated fat, six times more vitamin D and 10 times the vitamin E of ordinary eggs. Plus, they taste great. Get your day started with this amazing recipe and you’ll be happier and healthier all day long.

Spinach, Grape Tomato and Cheddar Frittata

Ingredients

2 tablespoons olive oil

6 ounces baby spinach

1 cup grape tomatoes, sliced in half

8 Eggland's Best eggs (large)

1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

salt & pepper to taste

1/4 cup milk

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 F.

Whisk eggs and milk together until smooth.

Heat cast iron or oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and saute spinach until wilted and then add half of the grape tomatoes.

Pour eggs slowly into pan.

Sprinkle cheese over eggs and spread remaining grape tomatoes evenly over the egg mixture.

Season with salt and pepper.

Place skillet to oven and bake for 20-30 minutes or until eggs are cooked through and golden brown.

Remove skillet from oven and let rest for a few minutes.

Cut into wedges and serve warm.

To find more delicious recipes, tips and tricks to celebrate 25 years of a more nutritious egg, sign up for the EB newsletter, http://www.egglandsbest.com/newsletter/.



Small-space gardens: Easy tips for homegrown flavors

5/11/2017

(BPT) - The new growing season is upon us. You don’t have to be an experienced gardener to enjoy the many benefits of the season, nor do you need large swaths of land and sprawling acreage to grow your favorite greens. In fact, beautiful outdoor spaces — rich with colorful blooms and hearty edibles — can be created in nearly any space, including patios and balconies.

“Small-space gardening is the fastest-growing area in gardening and is becoming increasingly important to individuals who are interested in starting a garden but don’t have a lot of space,” says Tom Batt, a horticulturist and sales associate with Burpee Gardening Products and a consultant for Tractor Supply Company. “Ultimately, people are looking to have more control over what goes into their family meals and there’s no better way to know than by harvesting food from your own garden.”

Small-space gardening is all about getting creative and having fun. So whether you’re attempting to create an eye-catching outdoor oasis or produce delicious food for cooking, the most effective way to learn is by simply digging in.

To help you get started, the experts at Tractor Supply Company compiled a list of tips on how to take a confined area and turn it into a bountiful garden.

Ready, set, prep

As with most new endeavors, preparation is key. First, determine how much space you’ll be allocating and whether or not the area has access to adequate sunlight. According to Batt, a successful garden should receive at least eight hours of sunlight per day. It’s also important to make sure your planters are equipped with a sufficient drainage system. A hole at the bottom of your containers will help prevent oversaturation while still allowing water to permeate the soil. It will also ensure adequate airflow reaches the roots.

Commit to cultivating

Now that you’ve decided on an area, it’s important to remember that a garden — regardless of its size — requires time, attention and effort. It isn’t just planting then vacating. With that in mind, try to be realistic about how much time you’re willing to put forth. Batt suggests reserving an hour over the weekend for things like weeding and watering.

When it comes to plant hydration, it’s better to water deeply and thoroughly on a seldom basis than water too little on a regular basis. That being said, plants in containers tend to dry out more quickly than plants in the ground and will often require more water, especially during warmer months. A good rule of thumb is to soak plants until you notice water coming through the drainage holes. But remember plants absorb water through their roots and lose water through their leaves, so when watering try to avoid the foliage.

Start simple

It’s almost time to plant those first few seeds, but you’re not entirely sure what to grow. Consider starting with simple, cool-season crops like cabbage, carrots and radishes. Often, according to Batt, newer gardeners attempt to grow popular products like peppers, but what they don’t know is that in order to thrive, those need to be started indoors.

Another great option for beginners is herbs, which are inexpensive, require nothing larger than a 6–8-inch container, and only take three to four weeks to yield results.

“Herb gardens involve very little space and provide gardeners with a harvestable product that’s relatively easy to cultivate,” Batt says. “It’s also a fantastic way to grow a wide variety of plants in one fell swoop.”

Time to eat

It’s vital to know what you’ve planted and how long it should stay in the ground. Carrots, for instance, will harvest in about 65 to 70 days and, according to Batt, will show signs of wilting when they’re ready to be eaten.

Try to make a trip out to the garden every day to see what has ripened or is starting to flower. Trim back herbs, such as chives and basil, as soon as they start to flower. This will help plants continue to put energy into growth and production.

Checking on your garden daily also allows you to intervene at the first sign of trouble.

When it comes to small-space gardening, a little goes a long way. To give you an idea, a 10-foot by 12-foot garden has the capacity to feed a family of three for the entire summer simply by rotating the crops.

Tractor Supply Company hosts a variety of gardening events throughout the year, featuring expert advice and special products, all geared toward getting families out from under the roof and inside the garden. The rural lifestyle store carries all the supplies a family needs to get started, including mulch and soil, live plants, regular and organic seeds, pest control and garden tools.

Check with your local Tractor Supply store for details on upcoming gardening events.

For more expert advice on lawn and garden care, visit Tractor Supply’s Know How Central, and for homegrown inspiration for your garden, visit Tractor Supply’s Pinterest page.



Cook like a pro: Easy restaurant-quality meals to make at home

5/10/2017

(BPT) - "Meals are only as good as the ingredients that they’re made with, and some of the best meals are a lot simpler than you would think," says Colby Garrelts, a James Beard Foundation award-winning chef. "When you start with premium, high-quality foods, all you need are a few basic ingredients to create a simple yet elegant, flavorful dish."

To ensure you’re using high-quality foods, look no further than the label. For example, all-natural Smithfield Prime Fresh Pork states right on the packaging that it contains no artificial ingredients or added preservatives and is 20 percent more tender than other leading brands.

To enhance your recipe repertoire with only a few pantry staples, try these dishes from acclaimed chefs Colby Garrelts and Jose Mendin. Whether you have a dinner party or you’re simply looking to elevate your weeknight meal, these recipes will be sure to impress — and your friends and family will never know just how easy they were to prepare.

Visit www.smithfield.com for additional meal ideas and recipe inspiration for any occasion.

Lemon-Herb Roasted Pork Sirloin

Created by Chef Colby Garrelts, 2013 James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: Midwest” award winner

Ingredients:

1 Smithfield Prime Boneless Pork Sirloin Roast

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic

1 tablespoon kosher salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

2 teaspoons chopped fresh oregano

2 teaspoons finely grated lemon zest

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350 F. In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, garlic, salt, pepper, sage, oregano and lemon zest; coat pork sirloin completely with the rub.

Place the pork roast on a rack in a roasting pan; pour water into bottom of pan until 1/2-inch deep. Roast pork until internal temperature reaches 145 F to 160 F, about 1 hour.

Remove pork roast from oven, tent loosely with foil, and let stand 20 minutes before carving.

Serve with collard greens on the side.

Sauteed Pork Chops with Romesco

Created by Chef Jose Mendin, five-time James Beard Foundation “Best Chef: South” award nominee

Ingredients:

4 Smithfield Prime Bone-In Pork Chops (1-inch thick)

2/3 cup hazelnuts

1/4 cup pine nuts

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided

5 cloves garlic

2 tomatoes, halved

1/2 cup piquillo chiles

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

1 tablespoon kosher salt

Directions:

Heat oven to 325 F. Toss hazelnuts and pine nuts with 2 tablespoons olive oil; spread on small baking sheet. Toast in oven until golden brown.

On another baking sheet, spread additional 2 tablespoons of olive oil; place garlic, tomato halves (cut side down), and piquillo chiles on pan. Roast until ingredients begin to caramelize.

In food processor or blender, puree all toasted and caramelized ingredients until smooth. Add sherry vinegar and salt, to taste. While processor or blender is running, slowly add 1/4 cup olive oil to the sauce until emulsified.

Toss pork chops in marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

In large skillet, heat remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Sautee pork chops for 5 to 7 minutes per side until internal temperature reaches 145 F to 160 F. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Serve with roasted vegetables on the side.



The mess is the best: Cooking with family creates lifelong memories

5/10/2017

(BPT) - Preparing a family dinner doesn’t have to be a solo chore when there are helping hands nearby. Getting the kids involved in the kitchen not only teaches them valuable lessons, but it’s also an opportunity to create fun family memories with a few spills and messes along the way.

“The dinner table is a great place for sharing the day’s events, but it’s in the kitchen where family memories are made,” says actor, dad and cookbook author Freddie Prinze Jr. “Some of the best moments with my kids are when we roll up our sleeves and get messy while making our favorite recipes.”

There is no doubt that splatters, splashes and spills are a mess, but these messy moments can lead to laughter and unforgettable memories. To encourage families to make time for fun in the kitchen, Prinze Jr. has created a series of “Messipes,” kid-friendly messy recipes that are tasty, simple to prepare, with handy cleanup tips along the way.

“One thing I’ve learned from cooking with my kids is to appreciate the time spent together and not worry about the mess,” he says. “Of course, the clean-up has to happen at some point, so I like to add a few cleaning steps to encourage my kids to help while we’re in the kitchen.”

A trick he uses is to ask the kids to fill a large bowl with warm water and a few drops of dish liquid, such as Palmolive Ultra Strength, to quickly cut through the grease. Then, the kids help by collecting the used dishes and place them in the bowl to make cleanup easier.

The first step to family fun in the kitchen is selecting the “Messipe.” One of Prinze Jr.'s favorite “Messipes” is: The Sauce. This tasty tomato-based sauce has enough steps and ingredients to get the whole family involved, yet it is also easy to make and delicious.

“Between the prep, taste tests, stirring and adding the Parmesan cheese at the end, the whole family works together,” he says. “This time spent with family is just as good as the meals we make.”

The Sauce

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 pound ground pork

1/2 pound ground veal or beef

4 ounces diced pancetta

salt and black pepper

1/2 cup red wine (something you would drink)

3 small to medium cloves of garlic

1/4 cup minced fresh parsley

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 box or can (26 ounces) tomato sauce

1 box linguine

Instructions:

1. Start off with a clean slate. Ask the kids to quickly help empty the dishwasher and sink to de-clutter the kitchen. Before you start cooking, have the kids guess how long they think the “Messipe” cleanup will take and time it. The winner gets to try the first bite!

2. In a medium soup pot, heat the oil over medium low heat.

3. Add your diced pancetta to the pan and cook for 2 minutes.

4. “Messipe” moment: Roll up your sleeves, it's time to get messy! In a bowl, take turns mixing the veal and pork with washed, clean hands. Add your salt and pepper, then add to the pan, browning the meat with the pancetta. Stir occasionally, with a wooden spoon, for about 8 minutes, breaking the meat up as you go.

5. Increase the heat to medium and add the wine, simmering until it reduces by half.

6. Add the garlic, parsley, basil and tomato sauce. Reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce begins to thicken, about 30 minutes.

7. Cover and cook for 15 minutes more (aka walk away till it’s done). Take turns tasting for salt and pepper and serve hot. "I like to pair the sauce with linguine pasta — and it’s also my kids’ favorite," Prinze says.

8. Cleanup tip: If sauce spills, quickly drop some flour on the spill to stop the spill from spreading. This way, you can keep cooking and not worry about cleaning up the mess right away. When you’re ready, fill a spray bottle with warm water and a few drops of Palmolive Ultra Strength dish liquid. Let the kids squirt the bottle over the mess ... or maybe even at each other!

For more kid-friendly “Messipes” and cleanup tips, visit www.facebook.com/palmolive.



5 ways to make your staycation feel like an actual getaway

5/4/2017

(BPT) - No stringent schedule. Eating new, exotic foods. Getting lost in a page-turning novel. Trying a new activity that takes you outside your comfort zone.

These are the types of things that make for a memorable vacation. The problem is, you're not traveling this year and instead are opting for the increasingly popular staycation.

Yes, you're taking PTO and staying put, but that doesn't mean you can't have an incredible time. In fact, many of the activities that make a traditional vacation so wonderful can be emulated while at home.

To help make your staycation feel like a real getaway, follow these five steps. You'll have just as much fun as leaving town, but you'll save tons of money, plus get to sleep in your own bed.

Limit technology: When you travel to a faraway location, you probably have limited-to-no access to your cell phone and email. That disconnection helps you unwind. Mimic that feeling by limiting your technology use during your staycation.

Leave your phone upstairs, turn the computer off and resist grabbing the tablet. You should consider changing your email and phone message to say you'll have limited access over the time you're off, so people who contact you know it might be awhile until you get back to them.

Escape with a destination-specific book: Want to feel like you're leaving town without leaving the house? Historical fiction can transport you to a different time and place, no matter how short or long your time off. For example, New York Times best-selling author Anita Shreve's newest novel, "The Stars Are Fire," vividly brings 1947 New England to life. Based on a real event — “the year Maine burned,” when more than 200 fires raged across the state — the book introduces us to Grace Holland, five months pregnant and the mother to two toddlers. As flames rip through the town, Grace must flee into the ocean to survive, spending the night in the frigid sea as the fire sends debris and smoke onto the beach. In the morning, she discovers her husband missing and her home completely destroyed. Amid devastating loss, Grace must rebuild her family’s life, and find strength she didn’t know she had. The novel asks her, and its readers: What would you do if you could begin again?

People Magazine called the book “original and gripping,” the perfect recipe for a staycation. And USA Today gave the book three and a half out of four stars: "Shreve is masterful at creating compelling characters whose inner conversations about love and intimacy are both heartfelt and heartrending … [this] quiet novel about marriage, duty and passion lingers long after the last page is turned, like the smoke from a wildfire."

Eat exotic and amazing fare: Every corner of the world offers cuisine that represents the culture of the people who live there. When you travel, eating these types of foods enhances the vacation experience. During your staycation, skip standard weekly meals and try new destination-inspired recipes and make a few at home.

Try your hand at a New England clam bake, the Midwest-famous Watergate Salad or chili rellenos from the southern U.S. states. Or, for a more exotic taste adventure, explore ethnic recipes from around the world. Whatever you choose, you're sure to have fun making and eating the unique dishes.

Drink and be merry: While you're expanding your staycation experience with new cuisine, why not drink that way too? Complement your meals with a traditional location-inspired libation, such as a Manhattan from New York, Mai Tai from Hawaii or Vieux Carre from New Orleans.

Of course there are plenty of non-alcoholic beverages to wet your whistle, too. Feel the southern charm with a traditional sweet tea, or sit down with your book and instead of a classic cup of joe, indulge in an Italian espresso or an iced coffee.

Break routine with a daily adventure: You may be home, but that doesn't mean you can't explore areas of your city that you rarely venture to. By doing new things, you'll feel like you're really on vacation!

Visit that museum. Go to that quiet park. Take a hike down by the river. Go to a movie in the middle of the afternoon. Try something new, such as paddle boarding or rock climbing. Just because you're "home" doesn't mean you can't have unique adventures that make for unforgettable memories.

Staycations continue to grow in popularity, and with these tips, it will truly feel like a getaway rather than just bland days off at home.



Gather the family in the kitchen for a magical Mother's Day

5/2/2017

(BPT) - She's your biggest fan and the one you call whenever you need advice. Moms should be celebrated every day of the year, but there's no better time to show her you care than on Mother's Day!

This year, rather than going with the tried-and-true gift of flowers and chocolate, surprise Mom with a day of activities she's sure to remember for years to come. Esteemed celebrity chef and Iron Chef America judge Donatella Arpaia says to make Mom smile, turn to the kitchen for food, fun and a dash of love, and follow these five tips to create new Mother’s Day traditions:

Tip 1: Find activities for the entire family to actively partake in.

“Start Mother’s Day off right with breakfast in bed,” says Arpaia. “Try something new this year that the entire family can indulge in together — my ‘Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza’! It’s absolutely delish and you can personalize it to reflect Mom’s favorite ingredients. Also, don’t forget her favorite coffee and fresh squeezed orange juice. It’s all about the details for Mom’s special day!”

Tip 2: Create divine dishes by stocking up on delicious ingredients and storing them correctly.

“If you have little helpers assisting with the preparation of Mom’s breakfast pizza, assemble ingredients ahead of time and store them in the LG InstaView Refrigerator's Door-in-Door compartment, which makes them easily accessible without having to open the entire fridge,” says Arpaia. “You can also knock twice on the glass InstaView panel and it lights up, letting you see what’s inside without having to open the door and helping you keep your prized cooking ingredients front and center. Go the extra mile and write simple recipe instructions on Post-it notes for your little ones. This will make them feel so proud knowing that they made breakfast themselves ... with a little help from Dad.”

Tip 3: Make sure your kitchen is well-equipped.

The right tools — including your appliances — not only make cooking more fun, but also allow novice chefs to cook like professionals in their own homes. “Make technology work hardest for you, even in the kitchen,” says Arpaia. “Think like a chef and choose appliances that make every meal unforgettable. I am loving LG’s ProBake Convection ovens because the heating element can be found on the back wall versus the bottom, guaranteeing even cooking on every rack, every time. Your breakfast pizza will definitely come out crispy and delicious when baked using ProBake Convection technology!”

Tip 4: Relax, enjoy a slice and give the gift of time.

“As a busy, working mom, what I treasure most is a day without cooking and cleaning — and simply being present with my family,” says Arpaia. “After making breakfast pizza for Mom, give her the gift of your time and engage in your favorite family activity. Keep technology at bay — unless it’s in the kitchen working for you! Go for a hike, play a board game, relax and enjoy! It’s essential to slow down and savor those sweet moments with your whole family.”

Tip 5: Give her a gourmet experience with a celebrity chef-approved recipe.

To really wow Mom, Arpaia developed a Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza recipe you can bake at home. Given her success with the Prova Pizzabar restaurant in NYC, Mom is certain to be impressed.

Donatella Arpaia’s Green Eggs & Ham Breakfast Pizza

Ingredients:

1 pound pizza dough, at room temperature (store bought or recipe for dough attached)
1/4 cup prepared pesto
1 cup (8 ounces) shredded mozzarella cheese
1 cup cherry tomatoes halved, tossed with extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper
1/4 cup thick chunks of ham
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 eggs
Parmesan cheese, to taste

Directions:

About 30 minutes before baking the pizza, preheat the oven to 500 F and place a large, rimless baking sheet in the lower third of the oven; for the most even cooking and optimal heat distribution, use an LG ProBake Convection oven. Place a large sheet of parchment paper on a work surface and dust the parchment lightly with flour.

Stretch dough using hands or rolling pin. Pierce the dough firmly all over with the tines of a fork.

Slide pizza with parchment onto a baking sheet, then slide it onto the hot rimless baking sheet in the oven.

When the dough is slightly puffed, at about 7 minutes, take out of oven and spread on pesto mixture, top with mozzarella cheese, cherry tomatoes, Parmesan and ham. Be sure to keep your toppings stored in a secure compartment separate from the main refrigerator, like the LG InstaView refrigerator’s Door-in-Door; this provides easy access to your ingredients without having to open the entire fridge and ensures they stay fresh while prepping. Place back in oven for another 3 minutes until cheese is melted. Slide pizza out, crack four eggs (one on each quarter of pizza), place back in oven and broil for about 4 minutes or until egg cooks to over easy (LG ProBake Convection will ensure consistent heating on the top and bottom of the pizza pan).

Grab the edge of the parchment and transfer the pizza from the oven to a cutting board, again using a rimless baking sheet or back of a rimmed pan to facilitate moving it. Drop ricotta cheese by rounded teaspoonful over top, cut and serve. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Donatella’s Homemade Pizza Dough

Ingredients:

2 3/4 teaspoons fresh yeast or active dry yeast
4 1/8 cups fresh water
2 3/4 tablespoons sea salt
12 1/3 cups type “00” flour
Olive oil

Directions:

Sprinkle the yeast over the water and let stand until the yeast is creamy, about 1 minute. Stir until the yeast dissolves. In a large bowl, add the sea salt, yeast mixture and the flour; stir until a soft dough forms.

Transfer the dough ball to a lightly floured surface and knead, adding more flour if necessary, until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. Lightly coat another large bowl with olive oil. Place the dough in the bowl, turning it to oil the top. Cover with plastic wrap and store someplace warm; let rise until it doubles in size, about 6 hours.

Shape the dough into a 20-ounce ball. Place the ball on a nonstick surface or parchment paper, and then cover with plastic wrap, allowing room for the dough to expand. Let the dough rise until doubled, 8-12 hours.

Rest the dough in the LG InstaView refrigerator’s Door-in-Door compartment for 2-4 hours. Knock twice on the refrigerator’s glass panel to keep tabs on its progress without opening the fridge door, reducing cold air loss to keep the dough fresh. Your homemade dough is now ready to be baked. Remove dough and allow it to come to temperature for 45 minutes.

Preheat oven to as high as it can go for 15 minutes. Take sheet pan tray and spread thin layer of oil all over. Put some flour on your hand and stretch dough on table, then transfer into tray and press the dough further into shape of pan. Drizzle dough with about 2 tablespoons olive oil.



5 ways to take your summer grilling to a whole new level

5/1/2017

(BPT) - The bright, sunny days of summer are your favorite time of year and when the season arrives, you spend much of your time outdoors. Your yard becomes your living room and you move your cooking to the grill.

Summer is grilling season and there is nowhere you'd rather be than standing in front of your favorite grill for every game day, holiday and weekend cookout. These events are when some of your best memories are made, and now is the perfect time to make this grilling season your best yet. To do just that, here are five ways you can up your grilling game in 2017.

* Switch to lump charcoal. The number one reason people grill with lump charcoal is due to the enhanced wood-fire flavor it imparts. When most think of charcoal, they inherently think of it as briquettes, and miss out on the natural advantages of its alternative — lump charcoal. Lump charcoal accounts for only 7 percent of the market, but the figure is growing steadily as more grill masters recognize the improved flavor. When you grill with lump charcoal, you’ll enjoy a quick, hot burn with less ash production. Lump charcoal is also natural and widely available in an array of varieties, allowing you to find the perfect charcoal to match your menu.

* Use a Smarter Starter fluid. Lighter fluid is a mainstay around the grill when you want to get cooking quickly; however, the chemical taste it leaves behind poses a serious drawback. The reason you get that petrochemical taste is because the chemical vapor from the fluid gets into the food. You can gain the benefits of a quick burn without the chemical taste by using Smarter Starter Fluid. Made from recycled restaurant cooking oil, Smarter Starter Fluid doesn't smell like traditional petroleum-based alternatives and you’ll never have to worry about it corrupting the taste of your food. Smarter Starter Fluid, being made from recycled cooking oil, makes it safe for use around kids and pets. The result is 87 percent less greenhouse gas emissions, so you can feel as good about your environmental impact as you do your grilling. And, it’s perfectly suited for use on lump charcoal.

* Customize the smoke flavor. Lump charcoal already lends itself a natural smoke flavor when compared to briquettes, but to really customize that flavor in your food, you can complement your lump charcoal with wood chips or chunks. Chips are smaller and more readily available in most stores, but they burn faster. Chunks burn slower and give you a better chance to lock in that unique smoke flavor. And once you pick a wood size, it’s time to pick a flavor. Apple, cherry, oak, mesquite and hickory are just a few of your options, so don’t be afraid to explore several. Whatever you're planning to smoke, there’s a chip or chunk out there that offers the perfect flavor complement.

* Take control of your temperature. In the hands of an experienced grill master, the uneven heat offered by charcoal grills is a benefit, not a drawback. Creating two zones on your grill will give you the strong, searing heat of the fire on one side, and indirect heat on the other side to cook your meat all the way through. To accomplish this, pour charcoal into one half of the grill — this will be your direct heat source — and leave the other half empty as your indirect heating zone. Heartier meats like steak can then be cooked for two minutes on each side in the direct zone and allowed to finish cooking in the indirect zone where you’ll lock in all of the flavor without burning your meat.

* Targeting the topmost temperature. To be sure your food is cooked to perfection, a temperature thermometer is a must. Dark meat chicken or turkey should be cooked to 175 degrees, while white meat should be cooked to 165. Beef and lamb should be cooked to 130 degrees (for a rare result) all the way to 170 degrees or higher for well done. And if your menu calls for brisket, keep the meat cooking until it reaches 185-205 degrees.

You look forward to the summer grilling season all year. Now that it's here, don't let a single opportunity pass you by. Apply the tips above and you'll take your time-honored pastime to a whole new level in 2017. To learn more about Smarter Starter Fluid, visit escogo.com/smarterstarterfluid.



6 surprising health benefits of strawberries

5/1/2017

(BPT) - Eight strawberries, a single serving, delivers on a surprising checklist of benefits for anyone looking to live a healthier lifestyle. Strawberries are much more than a sweet and delicious treat — they are a versatile fruit that's great for your health. What better time than National Strawberry Month to share six health benefits of strawberries that may be new to you. Grab a handful of strawberries and read on, because eating right has never tasted so good.

* Strawberries help you stay sharp. A recent study in the Annals of Neurology suggests that eating strawberries more than twice a week appears to delay cognitive aging by up to two and a half years.

* Loaded with nutrients. Strawberries pack a lot of healthy properties into a small package. Each berry is full of beneficial antioxidants and nutrients, including potassium, folate and fiber.

* Sweet without the sugar. The sweet taste of strawberries makes them a natural dessert topping, and strawberries are also low in calories and sugar — one serving of eight strawberries contains just 45 calories!

* A delicious source of vitamin C. When you think vitamin C, think strawberries. One serving of eight strawberries has more vitamin C than an orange, topping out at 140 percent of the recommended daily value. It's the perfect power-packed boost that you can add to any meal or cold remedy.

* A healthy choice for diabetics. The American Diabetes Association has identified berries, including strawberries, as a perfect component of a diabetes meal plan. This is because strawberries have a low glycemic index and are loaded with vitamins, antioxidants and dietary fiber.

* Cholesterol fighter. Lowering your cholesterol is a common goal for many Americans these days, and strawberries can help. In addition to being packed with antioxidants and fiber, strawberries are also rich in phytochemicals, which have been shown to reduce overall cholesterol levels. In addition, the potassium found in strawberries may help control blood pressure and fight strokes.

It's easy to see why you should eat eight strawberries each day. Grab a handful today — your body and taste buds will be glad you did.

To learn more about the health benefits of strawberries, visit www.californiastrawberries.com.



Men and millennials pour it on, salad dressing survey reveals

5/1/2017

(BPT) - Summer heat often brings lighter meals, and salads can bring a cool dish to the menu. How Americans dress their salads can vary, from ranch to vinaigrette and from bottles to jars to packets.

Consumers purchased salad dressings more often than just two years ago, the Association for Dressings and Sauces found in their January 2017 survey. What’s even more surprising? Men and Millennials played major roles in setting the table of trends for this popular condiment, as these groups showed some of the biggest swings in the past two years. The survey also uncovered that some of these upward trends pointed to new ways to use salad dressings, outside of salads.

Salad dressings being purchased more often

All three types of salad dressings saw an increase in purchase frequency. When consumers were asked when they most recently purchased salad dressing, the most popular answer was within the past month. Bottled grocery shelf dressings saw 52 percent of consumers buying the product within the past month, compared with 44 percent in the prior survey conducted two years ago. For refrigerated salad dressings, 33 percent of consumers bought them within the past month (compared with 26 percent prior). And for dry packet salad dressings, 25 percent bought them within the past month, compared with 22 percent before.

One of the biggest catalysts for the growth was with men and those 18-34 years of age.

Men reaching more often for dressings, reading more labels

The survey discovered twice as many men (42 percent now compared with 21 percent before) using dry packet dressings several times a week. What could they possibly be doing with all of this dry salad dressing? The study found that men are using dry dressings more on a sandwich as a condiment or added flavor and as an ingredient in a hot dip. For example, try a vegetarian ranch taco salad with a packet of dry ranch salad dressing, taco seasoning and mayonnaise over top of mixed greens, cilantro, black beans, mango and tortilla chips. That full recipe can be found at dressings-sauces.org.

Another interesting trend has been the increase in popularity of lite or lower fat, organic and clean label salad dressings, particularly among the dry dressings category among men. Again, more men than before are buying lite or lower fat at 34 percent (from 31 percent), organic dressing purchased by men increased to 28 percent (from 13 percent) and clean label dressing products increased to 14 percent (from 9 percent).

Millennials buying more and more often

The January survey also revealed that young buyers, age 18 to 34, are buying more, with 52 percent buying grocery shelf dressings in the past month, compared with 43 percent two years ago. For dry packet dressings, 30 percent of Millennials bought the product in the past month, compared with 23 percent two years ago. And 38 percent bought refrigerated product versus 24 percent two years ago.

Once the product is bought, the survey found Millennials are using salad dressings more often. About four in 10 younger buyers are using all three types more often than they did prior. With Millennials' interest in the culinary arts, some may be making their own dishes, such as hot dips. For example, here is a recipe for Buffalo chicken dip that utilizes bleu cheese dressing. Mix together some cooked and shredded chicken, bleu cheese dressing, bleu cheese crumbles, buffalo wing sauce and cream cheese, and the results are delicious (the recipe can be found at dressings-sauces.org).



Check out this year's top 3 trends in vegetable gardening

4/28/2017

(BPT) - Whether you go to a restaurant or stay home and dine in, you want what you eat to be fresh and full of flavor. This movement toward tasty, locally grown food is illustrated by the rise in farmers markets, food subscription boxes, and a renewed joy in growing vegetables at home. As the spring gardening season gets underway, here are three of the top trends you can take advantage of in your own vegetable garden that can help you reach a new foodie level in 2017.

Trend number 1: Garden size doesn't matter

You don’t need massive outdoor space to enjoy the benefits of growing your own food. In fact, today’s garden veggies make it possible to achieve that fresh-from-the-garden taste even if you only have a small sunny patch or balcony. With Take 2 Tomato Combos from Burpee you combine a delicious slicer tomato with a sweet cherry in one container. They ripen at the same time for a steady supply of great-tasting tomatoes, like BushSteak and Baby Boomer. Next to your hardworking container, plant complementary herbs, peppers or lettuces, which also grow well in smaller spaces.

Trend number 2: Explore fresh, unique tastes

Unleash your inner gourmet by selecting vegetables for your garden that create a unique flavor story or experience. Cupcake Summer Squash offers a new twist on a familiar favorite. Its edible zucchini-like skin is shaped perfectly for savory stuffing. The presentation is sure to impress dinner guests, while it’s petite enough to enjoy solo. Continue to experiment and be on the lookout for other unique vegetables and herbs with color, texture and global flavor. Your garden can be a culinary adventure.

Trend number 3: Grow something amazing

We’re all a bit of a showoff when it comes to growing vegetables. The satisfaction of success is even sweeter when you can impress your friends and neighbors — either over the garden wall or on social media. So why not grow the biggest, the earliest or the best? SteakHouse is one of the world’s largest beefsteaks. This tomato routinely tips the scale at three pounds or more. Loaded with tomato flavor and fragrance, it will get them saying, “Wow!” and get you excited for dinnertime. Up your social currency with other amazing selections like the season’s first tomato, the best herbs for recipes all season, high-yielding peppers and more.

Like many other aspects of your life, the 2017 trends in vegetable gardening are all about maximizing your time, space and abilities to create an experience that’s uniquely yours. Use these ideas in your garden as your next step to fresh and flavorful food.

Visit BurpeeHomeGardens.com to start your shopping list of Foodie Fresh, Space Savers, and Amazing Veggies vegetables and herbs. Get timely garden tips and recipes from Burpee experts in their weekly blog.



Think you're eating well? Misconceptions lead to nutrient deficiencies for many

4/24/2017

(BPT) - The good news? Americans think they are eating well; in fact, 60 percent say they eat a very healthy diet. The not-so-good news? Perception and reality may not be aligned.

Only 6 percent of Americans report eating five or more servings of fruits and vegetables per day, reveals recent research from supplement maker MegaFood. The discrepancy leaves a huge nutritional gap to fill.

The survey results highlight another knowledge gap between Americans and healthy eating — you can eat plenty of healthy foods, and still not get the recommended daily allowances of key nutrients.

For example, 52 percent of survey respondents say they think they get enough vitamin B6 in their diets. B6 is found in foods like bananas and avocados, plays an important role in producing fuel and energy, and is critical for optimal function of the brain, nervous and immune systems. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) say 30 million Americans are deficient in vitamin B6.

Multiple studies have shown many Americans don’t get the recommended amounts of needed nutrients every day, yet two-thirds believe they can get all the required nutrients by eating a healthy diet, according to the MegaFood survey. As a result, the belief they don’t need a multivitamin is the top reason two in five people don’t take one.

“My experience consistently shows me that a large number of Americans live high-carb, high-sugar, caffeine-overloaded, stressed-out, no-exercise lives,” says Dr. Tieraona Low Dog, an internationally recognized expert in the fields of integrative medicine, herbal medicine and dietary supplementation, and author of National Geographic’s "Fortify Your Life: Your Guide to Vitamins, Minerals, and More." “We may have good intentions when it comes to eating well, but the truth is that many of us fall short of an ideal diet — and even when we do our best to eat well, it is extremely difficult to get all the nutrients we need on a regular basis with diet alone.”

What you can do

It is possible to take steps to improve nutrition. Dr. Low Dog offers these tips:

* Know the nutrients you should be getting and the recommended daily amount for each. The National Institutes of Health provide online tables for recommended daily allowances of vitamins and minerals, based on age and gender.

* Do your best to eat a balanced diet; it delivers health benefits beyond vitamin sufficiency. Be sure to get at least five servings of fruits and vegetables per day.

* Supplement your good eating habits with a quality multivitamin. Eighty-one percent of consumers realize that not all multivitamins are the same. MegaFood makes a line of multivitamins formulated to support the health of men and women during various phases of life. They’re made from real food from real family farmers. The line is gluten-, soy-, GMO- and dairy-free, and tested to be free of pesticides and herbicides.



Proper nutrition is key to senior health

4/17/2017

(BPT) - Americans are now living longer than ever before. In fact, one of the fastest growing segments is people over the age of 85 who will represent 20 percent of the population by the year 2040. Because we are living longer, certain conditions specific to seniors are also on a steady rise. Dehydration, falls, fractures, cognition loss and attention deficits are now becoming more commonplace.

In a recent paper titled "Salt Appetite Across Generations" presented at a medical conference in Switzerland, Israeli researchers from the University of Haifa indicated that among seniors, a reduced sense of thirst could increase the increased risk of serious dehydration. They also noted that the appetite for salt does not diminish with age, and suggested that this could be used to help sustain hydration and prevent the dangerous symptoms that result from dehydration.

Another study published in the American Journal of Hypertension identified significant risks to cardiovascular health and longevity from consuming any less than 1, or more than 3 teaspoons of salt per day. Fortunately, most Americans, including seniors, when left to their own choice consume right in the middle of this range.

Seniors in assisted living centers can be especially susceptible to the dangers of low salt diets. In 2013 a task force of 12 professional medical, nursing, and nutritional organizations assembled by the Pioneer Network published the "New Dining Practice Standards." Their report concluded that low salt diets were contributing to malnutrition and weight loss among a significant percentage of seniors in assisted living facilities.

Low salt diets can also cause seniors to suffer from mild hyponatremia, an electrolyte imbalance in the blood which may not sound bad but can lead directly to walking impairment, attention deficits and a much higher frequency of falls. Several recent medical papers found a direct relationship between hyponatremia and unsteadiness, falls, bone fractures and attention deficits.

Falls are one of the most serious problems for the elderly and about a third of people over 65 fall at least once every year. Fall-related injuries in the elderly are associated with numerous psychological and physical consequences and are a leading cause of bone breakage and hip fractures, which can lead to complications and permanent disability or death. Some seniors do need a low salt diets but many do not, and it should not be assumed that they all do or benefit from when in fact the opposite may be the case.



Plan on breakfast: 5 tips to ensure you don't miss the most important meal of the day

4/19/2017

(BPT) - Maybe it's because you hit the snooze button too many times. Maybe your toddler decided this was the day they were going to be difficult. Maybe you have a big presentation and need those extra minutes for preparation. No matter what the reason, every day many people tend to skip out on breakfast.

"Breakfast is the most important meal of the day" is more than just an old adage. A wholesome morning meal supports health and wellness, according to Consumer Reports. From kick-starting your metabolism to keeping your mind and body energized throughout the day, breakfast is definitely an important part of a healthy morning routine.

However, there's no denying it can be hard to squeeze in a nutritious meal on those busy mornings. These five simple ideas you can do the night before, along with delicious fruit-filled recipes can help. Be inspired and follow each to help ensure you enjoy breakfast every day of the week.

Prepare the night before to ease the morning hours

By preparing for the day the night prior you eliminate the need to rush in the morning and will have ample time to eat breakfast. For example, set out clothing, pack backpacks and prepare lunches all before bed. Try making Apricot Glazed Chicken Kabobs for dinner, and add any extras to a container for lunch tomorrow. These Asian-inspired kabobs featuring garlic, scallions, orange zest and Libby’s(R) Apricot Halves are as good the day after as the day of.

Get up 15 minutes earlier

It may be the most important meal of the day, but it's also one of the fastest. Eating breakfast doesn't have to be a long ordeal. By setting your alarm an extra 10 or 15 minutes earlier, you allow yourself enough time to enjoy a healthful start to the day and have a moment of peace before the busyness begins.

Toast it up and top it with flavor

When you're short on time you can still create a satisfying breakfast thanks to a handy little appliance: your toaster. Grab a slice of whole-wheat bread, pop it in and warm it up. At night you can make some indulgent Vanilla Honey Peach Butter and spread on your toast in the morning for a warm, irresistible topping. The subtle flavors of cinnamon, ginger and vanilla mingle perfectly with sweet peaches and honey.

Eat what you like and keep it small and light

When it comes to breakfast, there may be traditional breakfast foods, but you can also get creative in the kitchen. If it sounds tasty, give it a whirl. Save time and pair Libby's(R) Canned Fruit with last night’s grilled pork? Yes! Leftover pasta? Sure, why not? Just keep meals small and light and you'll be ready to jump-start the morning with a satisfied belly.

Make grab-and-go snack bars at night

Breakfast bars are an easy on-the-go meal, and when you make them at home, you ensure you include wholesome ingredients that satisfy. Try Fruit and Oat Snack Bars, whole-grain bars the entire family will love. These tasty bars have a natural sweetness and fruity flavor that's irresistible. Don't forget to add an extra to lunch for a quick snack later in the day!

For more tasty recipes and breakfast inspiration, check out Libby's Digital Recipe Box.



Fresh ways to enjoy pizza night and make a balanced meal

4/13/2017

(BPT) - You know a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables is best for your health, but achieving that can be a challenge given everything you have to accomplish in a day. Daily meal planning doesn’t have to be such a chore if you turn to your freezer for a little help. In fact, starting with frozen prepared foods as the foundation of your dinner plate and adding side dishes with fresh fruit, vegetables, whole grains and/or low-fat dairy can make it possible to serve a balanced meal that is quick and tasty. And that works for pizza night, too!

"Eating a balanced meal doesn't mean you have to give up favorite foods like pizza," says Bobby Parrish, Food Network personality and Today contributor. "It just means you need to be mindful of portion sizes and balance out your plate with a nutritious side dish of fresh vegetables, fruit and whole grains."

Research shows that Americans struggle with meeting recommended dietary guidelines. In fact, nine out of 10 people don’t get the daily recommended servings of fruits and vegetables, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say. A simple way to improve the mix of foods you’re eating is by supplementing something you already enjoy — like pizza — with side dishes made up of other food groups.

Nestlé USA's Balance Your Plate educational program aims to help you put together delicious and nutritious meals that incorporate both frozen and fresh foods. The website www.nestleusa.com/balance provides information, tips and recipes to help consumers create easy, balanced meals that meet dietary guidelines.

By choosing your favorite frozen dishes, like pizza, as the foundation of your meal, you can build a more balanced plate with these tips:

* Make at least half your plate fruits and vegetables. For example, if you have a slice of cheese pizza, pair it with a fresh salad or your favorite vegetable side dish.

* Figure out your portion by looking at the recommended Serving Size in the Nutrition Facts label. Here’s an easy idea for pizza portions: picture your hand as a pizza slice and plan to enjoy one or two hands’ worth.

* Don’t be afraid to mix vegetables right into or on top of your pizza. For example, top cheese pizza with fresh tomato and basil after it comes out of the oven.

* Bagged salad greens, spinach or salad kits are a great, speedy way to add greens to your plate.

Parrish, who partnered with DiGiorno to create original side dish recipes, offers these two nutritious and tasty salad recipes to pair with your favorite pizza to create a more balanced meal:

Quinoa and Grapefruit Herb Salad

Ingredients:

2 cups of cooked quinoa

1 grapefruit

2 tablespoons pistachios, chopped and roasted (optional)

1-2 small carrots, grated

1 tablespoon each of fresh parsley and dill, chopped

Zest of 1 lemon

Juice of half a lemon

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Directions:

Bring 1 3/4 cups of water to a boil and add 1/2 a teaspoon of salt. Add 3/4 cups of raw quinoa. Stir well, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 20 minutes. Check the quinoa; the water should be absorbed and the grain should be fluffy. If the quinoa has not unraveled, add another 1/4 cup of water and cook until the water evaporates and the quinoa looks cooked. Fluff with a fork and allow to cool for up to two hours, or you can make ahead of time and refrigerate overnight.

Place the cooked, cooled quinoa in a large bowl. Using a knife, cut away all the skin from the grapefruit and cut all segments directly into the bowl. Add all the remaining ingredients and mix well. Check for taste; you may need to add more lemon juice. The salad will keep in the refrigerator for up to three days.

Shaved Apple and Romaine Crunch Salad

Ingredients:

2 hearts of romaine lettuce

1 sweet apple, like gala or pink lady

2 tablespoons raisins

1 tablespoon fresh chives, sliced

2 teaspoons sesame seeds

For the salad dressing:

3 tablespoons tahini

2 teaspoons agave nectar or honey

1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika

Zest and juice of half a lemon

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon freshly chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Couple cracks of black pepper

2-4 tablespoons water

Directions:

Use a slicer or mandoline to thinly slice the apple. Place the slices in a large bowl and squeeze some lemon juice over the slices to prevent them from turning brown. Slice the romaine thinly and add it to the bowl along with the remaining salad ingredients. Set aside.

For the dressing, add everything but the water to a small bowl and whisk to combine. Add enough water to loosen the dressing so it's able to be poured. Check for seasoning; you may need a little more salt or lemon juice.

Keep the dressing and salad in the fridge until ready to serve. Right before you dress the salad, add 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a couple cracks of pepper to the romaine mixture. Toss the salad with just enough dressing to coat everything, making sure not to over-dress the salad. Once the salad is dressed, it must be eaten and cannot be stored in the fridge.

For more recipes, information and meal ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/balance.



Simple ideas to get in shape for summer

4/10/2017

(BPT) - Getting in shape for summer is more than just feeling good in a swimsuit. It's being healthy so you can participate in all the fun activities that come along with the warmer weather.

From hiking to swimming, you don't want to miss out on any of the summer fun. Eating right is a great way to ensure you’re healthy and in shape for summer. Use these easy healthy-eating tips to work your way toward healthier living.

1) Eat a high-protein breakfast
A Tel Aviv University study found that adding whey protein to your breakfast can help you slim down. What's more, you'll feel satisfied for longer. Record-setting long distance runner Jordan Hasay eats the same whey-protein-powered breakfast before each of her races. Try out the recipe for yourself: French vanilla BiPro, cinnamon oatmeal, fresh fruit, peanut butter and flax seed.

2) Give your workout routine a jolt
A growing body of research shows that having caffeine before exercise can improve athletic performance, whether you’re lifting weights or doing an endurance workout. A study in the journal "Nutrients" found that cyclists who consumed caffeine were able to pedal for an average of 23 percent longer than other bikers. Another study, from the "European Journal of Sport Science," indicated that pre-workout caffeine can increase muscular force and power. More research from the "American Journal of Physiology" even shows that consuming caffeine before a workout can help accelerate fat loss!

3) Join a workout challenge
There are all kinds of great fitness challenges online, which offer nutritional tips and workout advice. One of the great things about a challenge is that it not only helps you learn more about nutrition and the gym, but it can also give you a concrete workout schedule. Check out the Summer Jumpstart Challenge at Info.BiProUSA.com/jumpstart.

4) Avoid late night snacking
One of the easiest ways to eat healthier is by cutting out unneeded snacks. If you watch TV at night, it’s pretty easy to grab a bag of chips or microwave a bag of popcorn to eat while sitting on the couch. Try to cut out these unnecessary calories. If you eat a protein-packed, healthy dinner then you shouldn’t feel the need to snack later.

5) Make your desserts healthier
Ok, if you absolutely can’t go without having a late night snack then at least make it as healthy as possible. The recipe below is great because it satisfies your sweet tooth and each serving is just 30 calories.

Frozen Strawberry Yogurt Pops

Ingredients

1 cup of chopped strawberries
1 cup of Greek yogurt
1/4 cup of strawberry BiPro whey protein isolate
1-2 tablespoons of orange juice

Directions

Place 1/2 cup of strawberries, yogurt, strawberry BiPro and orange juice in a blender and puree until smooth.

Divide remaining strawberries into desired molds. Pour pureed mixture over chopped fruit.

Insert sticks and freeze for at least 5 hours.



Prepare for things that pop up this spring

4/6/2017

(BPT) - Spring is known for things that "pop" up, from warm weather to special occasions. To help you make the most of both, Lay's is offering you two things you absolutely need: the perfect snack and the biggest pop culture dance moves.

We know picnics and barbecues are on the rise, and so are casual movie nights with friends. Whatever the occasion, we now have you covered with a go-to snack that just started popping up in aisles - Poppables! These bite-size multidimensional popped potato snacks are light-textured and full of flavor on the inside and out, bringing a whole new level of fun, and pop, to snack time.

But the pop doesn't have to stop there. For those looking to get things "popping" on the dance floor at weddings, birthday parties or even in your living room, here are a few simple moves to help you bring your A-game.

1. Dab - Drop your head while raising an arm and rest your face inside the elbow of your other arm. It may resemble a sneeze, but this dance move found instant popularity after it was adopted by professional football players and later by celebrities worldwide.

2. Chest Pop - A popular move from the "popping" dance style, contract your chest and "pop" it out fast. This signature move will make you look like a pro.

3. Arm Wave - Seen as a core dance move, the arm wave is the illusion that your limbs turn to water. Once you've perfected the arm wave, try mastering the full-body wave next!

4. Poppable - And finally, introducing the "Poppable," which includes popping a Poppables snack into your mouth while bopping side to side. This is sure to be the hottest new trend.

Poppables flavors include White Cheddar and Sea Salt and are now available nationwide in 5 oz. bags for a suggested retail price of $3.29 each and 2 oz. bags for a suggested retail price of $1.69.

Now you're equipped with the tips to make your spring the best one yet. Be sure to pop by www.Poppables.com for more information.



Get safer drinking water

4/5/2017

(BPT) - Your home plumbing could be making you sick and costing you money. Hard water, which contains high levels of calcium and magnesium, may be directly contributing to the buildup of dangerous bacteria in your household pipes. This is a serious problem across the United States, especially when you consider that nearly 90 percent of American homes have hard water.

Left untreated, the water you use to wash your fresh fruits and vegetables may actually contain more bacteria, and the problem isn't only in the kitchen. When you take a hot shower the steam you are inhaling can also contain the same microbial contamination that is in the rest of your plumbing, exposing you to bacteria such as Legionella, which can cause Legionnaire's disease.

Normally, the piping used in home plumbing, whether it is copper or PVC, has very smooth interior surfaces that don't permit bacteria to settle and grow. However, hard water results in scale formation on the interior surfaces of those pipes and that provides a perfect home for bacteria.

Researchers at the School of Sustainable Engineering at Arizona State University found bacteria may grow in pipes filled with both hard scale and soft scale at the same rate. This is important new information because some forms of water conditioning produce this soft scale.

The only solution is to remove both hard and soft scale in the pipes with a traditional salt-based water softener. These work by running the incoming hard water through a resin filter that traps the calcium and magnesium in the water - as well as iron, manganese or radium ions - and replaces them with sodium ions.

A salt-based water softener doesn't just help protect your health, it protects your appliances, as well. Hard water scaling clogs waterlines and plumbing, forcing appliances to work harder and operate less efficiently. Hard water can reduce the efficiency of water heaters and increase electricity costs by as much as 48 percent, according to the Battelle Memorial Institute. Hard water also damages appliances like water heaters, dishwashers, shower heads and faucets. These must be repaired and replaced more often as a result.

Kitchens also benefit from soft water because it is up to 12 times more effective at cleaning dishes than increasing the amount of detergent used. Researchers found that for clothes washing machines, the most important factor in removing stains from clothing was water softness. Reduction of water hardness was up to 100 times more effective at stain removal than increasing the detergent dose or washing with hotter water. In fact, soft water can reduce soap use by as much as half.

To determine if you have hard water, look for spots and scale buildup on fixtures. You can also test your water yourself to check for hardness with home water testing kits or you can have a water treatment professional do the testing. For more information on water softening and salt health please visit www.saltinstitute.org.



Cover your nutrition bases with this popular vegetable

4/5/2017

(BPT) - Whether you're on or off the field, it's important to fuel up wisely. Leading sports nutritionists across the country recommend potatoes as the go-to choice for fueling your body before or after a workout.

"To perform at your best, put potatoes on your plate," says Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, CSSD, the nutritionist for the 2016 World Series Champion Chicago Cubs. That's because the benefits of America's most popular vegetable go far beyond its delicious taste and versatility in the kitchen.

Up to bat and gearing up for a grand slam? Here's how potatoes can get you there.

First Base: Carbohydrate

Did you know that carbohydrate is the primary fuel for your brain and a key source of energy for muscles? Because your body's own stores of carbohydrate are limited and may be depleted even in a single session of intense and/or prolonged exercise it's important to replenish them for optimal mental and physical performance. With a medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato containing 26 grams of carbohydrate, potatoes are a nutrient-dense carb, containing as much, if not more, of several essential vitamins and minerals than spaghetti, brown rice or whole wheat bread (compared on a per-serving basis).

Second Base: Potassium

A medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato also contains 620 milligrams of potassium. That's more potassium than a banana! Potassium is an important electrolyte that aids in muscle, cardiovascular and nervous system function. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines mention potassium as an under-consumed nutrient of concern and recommends consuming foods with high levels of potassium, such as white potatoes.

Third Base: Energy

As we know, adequate energy supports optimal body functions, and it's critical to take in the appropriate number of calories to match the demands of your day. Potatoes are more energy-packed than any other popular vegetable, with a medium (5.3 ounce) skin-on potato containing 110 calories.

Home Run!

Whether you lead an active lifestyle or compete with elite athletes, there's an all-star potato option to fuel your body and brain throughout the day. Katie Cavuto, MS, RD, chef and dietitian for the Philadelphia Flyers and Phillies, keeps her potato dishes interesting with recipes like Smoky Maple Potato Bites, combining a crunchy panko crust with a creamy and satisfying potato center to create an easy make-ahead, post-workout (or in between inning) snack.

Smoky Maple Potato Bites

Created Exclusively for Potatoes USA by Katie Cavuto, MS, RD

Yield: 16 servings (2 bites per serving)

INGREDIENTS

2 pounds russet potatoes, washed and cut into 2-inch cubes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 teaspoon sea salt, plus extra as needed

3/4 cup diced leeks, white part only (one medium leek)

1/2 cup low-fat plain strained yogurt

1 1/2 tablespoons mild smoked paprika

1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano

3 tablespoons real maple syrup

1 teaspoon Dijon mustard

3 large eggs, divided

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground pepper, plus extra as needed

1 1/2 cups panko (regular or gluten-free)

Olive oil cooking spray

DIRECTIONS

1. Add potatoes to a large pot of water and bring them to a boil. Cook uncovered at medium-high heat for 15 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork tender. Drain the potatoes and place them in a large bowl.

2. While the potatoes are cooking, heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil, leeks and 1/8 teaspoon of the salt. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, stirring regularly, to soften. Place the cooked leeks in the bowl with the potatoes.

3. Add the yogurt, paprika, oregano, maple syrup, mustard, 1 egg, the pepper, and remaining salt to the bowl with the potatoes and leeks. Mash the potatoes, stirring periodically, until smooth.

4. Place the potato mixture in the refrigerator for 30 minutes.

5. Preheat the oven to 425 F.

6. Crack the remaining 2 eggs in a small bowl and whisk.

7. Add the panko to another small bowl. Season with salt and pepper.

8. Make 2-tablespoon portions of the potato mixture and roll them into balls.

9. Working one at a time, dip the balls into the eggs, then dredge in the panko, pressing it to coat.

10. Place the balls on a baking sheet coating with olive oil cooking spray. Spray the tops of the balls with cooking spray as well.

11. Bake for 15 minutes and then, if needed, broil them for 2 to 3 minutes to brown. Serve immediately.

Per serving (2 bites): Calories: 136, Fat: 3 g, Cholesterol: 35 mg, Sodium: 273 mg, Carbohydrates: 23 g, Fiber: 2 g, Potassium: 386 mg, Protein: 5 g, Vitamin C: 9%



New cookware trend combines pressure cooking and microwaving for tasty, nutritious meals

3/30/2017

(BPT) - A Swiss-designed innovation for fast and easy home cooked meals, the Duromatic Micro Microwave Pressure Cooker from Kuhn Rikon, combines pressure cooking and microwaving for a new way to cook. Pressure cooking reduces cooking times by up to 70 percent, and microwaving takes about a half or a third of the time it would take on the stove, so the combination of the two is unbeatable for speed.

There are also nutritional benefits. Speed cooking is regarded as the best cooking method for preserving vitamins and minerals, in addition to taste and texture. The Kuhn Rikon Duromatic Micro, winner of the International Housewares Association Global Innovation Award for product excellence, comes with a book of 40 recipes, such as Chili Con Carne, Moroccan Chicken, Caponata Siciliana, Nutella Chocolate Bake and more.

Midwest Mac-n-Cheese

4 servings

Prep: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 6 minutes

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups elbow pasta

4 cups water (enough to cover pasta)

1 tablespoon salt

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1/2 cup Swiss cheese, shredded

1/2 cup whole milk

1/4 cup heavy cream

1/3 cup seasoned bread crumbs

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In base of Micro Cooker, add pasta before covering with salted water. Cover the cooker with the lid and lock. Place in microwave and set cooking time for 6 minutes.

After cooking time has passed, remove cooker from microwave and use the Natural Release Method. After about 2-3 minutes, check to see if the pressure reduced fully. Once the pressure indicator shows no more pressure, unlock and remove lid. Strain pasta, after all liquid has been removed from the base of the cooker, pour pasta back in.

Next add the shredded cheddar, Swiss cheese, milk, cream and bread crumbs before seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Mix well to combine. If a thinner consistency is desired, add some water and mix before serving.

Frittata

4 Servings

Prep: 6 minutes

Cooking time: 6 minutes

Ingredients:

8 eggs, whisked

1/2 cup milk

1 cup ham, fully cooked and cubed

3/4 cup onion, diced

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

2 cups spinach

2 Roma tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut

1 cup cheese of your choice, shredded

Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

In the base of the Micro Cooker, whisk together eggs and milk lightly. Add ham, onion, mushrooms, spinach, tomato and cheese before mixing again lightly. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Lock Micro Cooker lid onto the base and place in microwave. Set cooking time for 6 minutes.

After the cooking time has passed, allow pressure to reduce using the Natural Release Method. After 2-3 minutes, check to see if the pressure reduced fully. Once the pressure indicator shows no more pressure, unlock and remove lid. Season with salt and pepper to taste.



Welcome warmer weather with a picnic

3/28/2017

(BPT) - This time of year, the urge to go outside increases by the day. What better way to welcome warmer months than with a picnic, complete with homemade breads and baked goods made from scratch?

Whether you’re celebrating a birthday, looking for a new idea for date night or just want an excuse to relax on a lazy Sunday afternoon, these tips will equip you for a picnic that’s sure to please.

Location, location, location

The wonderful thing about picnics is that they can be enjoyed just about anywhere. Whether you want to take in your own backyard, visit a favorite park in your neighborhood or town or escape to a cherished remote spot that is secret to you, picnics allow you to make your meals extra special.

Rain showers got you down? Transform your living room into an indoor picnic space. Prepare a delicious spread, pick up some flowers, grab your favorite board games and make a day of it. You’ll forget the gray weather in no time.

A cause to celebrate

Warmer temperatures are enough cause for celebration, but if you’re planning a unique way to ring in a birthday or toast an anniversary, picnics are a great way to celebrate. Or, for a new twist on your next date night, ditch the dinner reservations in favor of a romantic picnic dinner spread somewhere special, or right outside your own back door.

The food: The reason we picnic

Whether a brunch, lunch or dinner picnic, food is always the star of the show; it’s the reason to own a picnic basket and the lovely accoutrements. For your next picnic, no matter the occasion, make it a priority to bake something from the heart.

Fleischmann’s Yeast can be used for a variety of everyday and seasonal recipes, and as your oven works its magic, the smell of made-from-scratch baked goods is sure to get everyone excited to start the picnic party. Visit BreadWorld.com for recipe inspiration for beginners and seasoned bakers alike.

From Beginner’s Cinnamon Rolls for a brunch picnic to French Bread, a staple for any occasion, these recipes are guaranteed to impress your picnic guests. So roll up your sleeves and start baking with yeast — it’s easier than you might think.

Follow the recipe below to build a delicious foundation for your perfect picnic sandwich.

French Bread

Ingredients

1 3/4 cups warm water (100 to 110 degrees F)
2 envelopes Fleischmann's Active Dry Yeast
1 tablespoon Mazola Corn Oil
2 teaspoons salt
5 to 5 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
cornmeal (to sprinkle on greased baking sheet)
1 egg white beaten with 1 tablespoon water

Directions

Place water in large, warm bowl. Sprinkle in yeast; stir until dissolved. Stir in oil, salt and enough flour to make a soft dough. Knead on floured surface until smooth and elastic, about six to eight minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning to grease top. Cover; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Punch dough down. On floured surface, divide dough in half; roll to 15x10-inch ovals. Roll up from long ends to make loaves. Pinch seams and ends to seal; taper ends.

Place, seam sides down, on large greased baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Cover; let rise in warm draft-free place until doubled in size, about 30 to 45 minutes.

Brush with egg white mixture. With a sharp knife, make four or five diagonal cuts (1/4-inch deep), on top of each loaf. Bake in a preheated 400 degree F oven for 25 minutes, or until done. For crispier crusts, brush two more times with egg white mixture, after 15 and 20 minutes of baking time. Remove from sheet and cool on wire rack.



Fiber: 3 simple ways to get more of it in your diet

3/24/2017

(BPT) - Eat more fiber.

If your doctor didn’t give you this advice at your last checkup, she probably should have: 97 percent of Americans don’t get the recommended daily amount of dietary fiber they need to stay healthy. But what is fiber, and why is it good for you?

Dietary fiber, sometimes called “roughage,” is a plant-based carbohydrate found in fruits, vegetables, beans, nuts, seeds and whole grains such as rice and wheat. Our bodies have a difficult time digesting fiber, which is actually a good thing — as fiber passes through the body undigested, it does a lot of good along the way!

Fiber has many proven health benefits. It has been shown to improve heart health, lower cholesterol, control blood sugar, decrease the risk of stroke, help you feel fuller longer, prevent constipation and boost digestive health and your immune system.

Experts like the Food and Drug Administration recommend we consume about 28 grams of fiber each day — which, it turns out, is a lot of food. Here are three ways to include more fiber in your diet.

Eat whole grains

Whole grains like whole wheat breads, cereals, oatmeal, brown rice, and quinoa are an excellent source of dietary fiber. There are a number of ways to add whole grains to your favorite meals. Start your day with whole grain cereal to boost your fiber intake at breakfast or bulk up your baking by substituting whole-grain flour for half or all of your recipe’s white flour.

Check your food label

The FDA has approved seven ingredients that can be taken as supplements or added to food to boost the amount of dietary fiber they contain. One of those ingredients is cellulose gel, or microcrystalline cellulose. Cellulose gel is derived from cellulose, an essential component of fruits, vegetables and trees. In fact, it is the most abundant organic compound on Earth! Cellulose gel offers the same great health benefits as the dietary fiber found in fruits, vegetables and whole grains and can be found in foods such as yogurt, cereal bars and protein shakes.

Add nuts and seeds

Nuts and seeds are a great way to add more fiber to your diet and improve heart health. Better yet, nuts and seeds make for a satisfying on-the-go snack! Add a small handful of nuts to your morning smoothie or homemade trail mix or top your soup or salad with a handful of seeds to add extra fiber and healthy fats to your everyday diet.

To learn more about cellulose gel and other food ingredients that make our favorite foods better for us, visit www.foodsciencematters.com.



Is seaweed the next superfood?

3/22/2017

(BPT) - There’s a new superfood in town. And it’s not kale.

Seaweed may be a hot new food trend in the United States, but this leafy green from the sea has been used in Asian cuisine for thousands of years. Not only is seaweed low in calories and fat, it’s also packed with essential nutrients like vitamins A, B and C. Better yet? Research shows it’s a good source of antioxidants and calcium and can prevent and reduce inflammation.

You may know seaweed as a crunchy, salty snack or the wrap that holds together sushi rolls. What you may not know is that seaweed is an important food ingredient that improves the taste of foods, makes them better for us and benefits the environment.

For example, carrageenan, an ingredient naturally derived from red seaweed, makes our ice cream creamy, keeps chocolate milk from separating and is the reason the ground nuts in our nut milk don’t settle to the bottom of the carton. It can also be used instead of sodium in deli meats and to replace fats and sugar in other foods.

Some sweets, like puddings and gummy candies, get their unique texture from gelatin, an animal-based ingredient. But what about those who follow a vegetarian or kosher diet? Have no fear, seaweed is here! Plant-based carrageenan can be used in place of gelatin to make sure these tasty snacks are vegetarian, vegan, halal and kosher.

Another way seaweed improves the foods we eat every day? Alginates, also a seaweed-based ingredient, are added to baked goods, such as bread, and even your favorite energy bars to make them taste better and stay fresh for longer. Alginates are also used to make beer foamy and replace the fat in low-fat ice cream.

But seaweed doesn’t just benefit the foods we eat; it’s also good for the environment and the people who farm it.

Seaweed is one of the most sustainable and eco-friendly crops on the planet. It requires none of the fertilizers, pesticides or other chemicals that are used in land-based farming. And seaweed sequesters carbon and cleans ocean water of phosphorus and nitrogen. Some scientists and researchers believe seaweed might even be the biofuel of the future.

More than 75,000 farmers around the world rely on seaweed farming to support their families. Before they started farming carrageenan seaweed, many coastal communities lived at or below the poverty level. With the income they earn harvesting carrageenan seaweed, these farmers are able to improve their homes, enhance their diets and send their children to school. And in some countries, seaweed harvesting provides a way out of poverty for women who do not have access to other jobs.

Seaweed isn’t just a healthy snack or ingredient that makes our favorite foods better tasting and better for us. It’s revolutionizing dinner plates and economies around the world, restoring our oceans and improving lives.

For more information about the benefits of seaweed, including how it is used in foods we love, visit www.foodsciencematters.com.



Additives or gifts from nature?

3/22/2017

(BPT) - Food labels are getting shorter. Why? Because the people have spoken: We want fewer, better ingredients in our foods. We asked, and the companies that make our food responded by replacing artificial colors and flavors with naturally derived ingredients.

But even though these shorter “clean” labels can still read like a technical manual, that doesn’t mean these ingredients aren’t good for you.

For instance, if you’re not familiar with cholecalciferol, it might sound a little scary. But cholecalciferol is just another name for vitamin D. You might not have heard of rickets, either; that’s because this once-common childhood disease became nearly obsolete when vitamin D was added to milk. (In addition to preventing rickets, vitamin D also helps our bodies absorb the calcium in milk.)

Another ingredient with a somewhat strange name is carrageenan. This seaweed-based ingredient makes some of our favorite foods more nutritious. It replaces the sodium in lunch meat and can take the place of fats, oils and sugar, which is why that nonfat yogurt you had for lunch tastes just as good as the full-fat option.

Microcrystalline cellulose (MCC) might look like a mouthful, but MCC — also called cellulose gel — is just cellulose derived from fruits, vegetables and trees. Cellulose, which is the most common organic compound on earth, is one of only seven FDA-approved sources of fiber. So when microcrystalline cellulose or cellulose gel appears on a food label, it means your food contains the same plant fiber found in broccoli and apples.

Other ingredients that might not ring a bell? Turmeric is a plant in the ginger family that has been used as a medicine and spice in India for thousands of years. Modern science has shown it is also a powerful antioxidant that settles upset stomachs and may lower cholesterol and prevent heart attacks, all while brightening your food with its deep yellow color.

Some of the unfamiliar ingredients on your food label might be found in your own backyard. Pectin, for example, comes from the peels of lemons or other citrus fruits and is commonly used to thicken jams and jellies.

Understanding what goes into our food is important. Rather than turn down a product with ingredients you don’t recognize, do a little research on the label. You might come to find those intimidating-sounding “additives” are actually delicious gifts from nature.

To learn more about what’s in your food, visit foodsciencematters.com.



A professional chef shares 7 kitchen essentials

3/22/2017

(BPT) - From spices and oils to gadgets and gizmos, there are always new, trendy items to add to your kitchen. Trying to separate the handy from the hype, however, can be a time-consuming and expensive process.

Professional chefs know not everything is worthy of space in their kitchens, but it's not always easy for home cooks to figure out what they need and what they don't.

That's why Devin Alexander, New York Times Bestselling Author and professional chef, gives a peek inside her kitchen. Find out what’s really worth your while as she shares the top items she uses.

Chef Alexander's top kitchen must-haves include:

Reusable oil sprayer: An oil sprayer allows you to cook with fats in a healthful and efficient way. You can fill the sprayer with your choice of oil — whatever suits your current taste preference and cooking needs.

Kitchen scale: You don’t have to weigh everything, but a countertop scale is a handy tool that can help you sustain your healthy eating goals. It's great for measuring portions of lean meats, seafood and cheeses, so you can stay in check while whipping up recipes or prepping snacks.

Truvia Nectar: My favorite liquid sweetener is blended with stevia leaf extract and honey, and has 50 percent fewer calories than sugar,” says Alexander. “It’s twice as sweet so you only need half as much when you’re adding it to tea or drizzling it on yogurt. I also love to use Truvia Nectar in salad dressings, marinades and cocktails.” Learn more at www.truvia.com/nectar.

Oatmeal: Oatmeal isn’t just a morning food, but a healthy way to add texture to recipes. Use it in meatballs and baked goods for a tasty, whole-grain boost.

Cinnamon: Cinnamon is an extremely versatile pantry essential. Sprinkle the spice here and there to liven up your favorite beverages and recipes without too many added calories.

Cocoa powder: “I’m a huge chocolate lover! Using 100 percent cocoa powder, which has minimal calories and some fiber to boot, is a great way to get your chocolate fix while staying fit,” Alexander says. “You can add it to oatmeal and sauces, but the possibilities are endless.”

Instant coffee: Did you know instant coffee can be used for more than just your morning jump-start? It’s a quick and easy way to give your protein shakes a java-flavored makeover.

Stocking your home kitchen with these essential items is an important first step toward achieving your healthy eating goals.



Food for thought: What millennials want to know about their pork products

3/22/2017

(BPT) - Pulled pork, ham steaks, chops, tenderloin and everyone’s favorite, bacon — Americans love pork, and consume about 64 pounds per person every year, according to U.S. Department of Agriculture statistics. But Americans’ interest in pork goes far beyond what barbecue sauce to use on it, or how to serve the perfect holiday ham; they also care about where their pork comes from and how it was raised, a new survey by Cargill shows.

With the USDA forecasting demand for pork will increase in 2017, Cargill polled more than 2,000 people in the U.S. and Spain to get an idea of what people want to know about pork, what they think they know, and what they want to learn. The Feed4Thought survey found that 43 percent of American millennials say a pig’s diet influences their purchasing decisions and — no surprise — bacon is their favorite pork product.

Caring about food sources

“Many consumers, millennials in particular, are speaking loudly about the importance of knowing what is on the dinner table and where it came from,” says Patrick Duerksen, Cargill global marketing director, pork. “It’s important to them to know the pork they eat was produced in a healthy and responsible manner.”

While millennials cared the most about pigs’ diets, they also trusted the least (42 percent) that the pork they eat has been raised on what they would consider a healthy diet. In reality, pigs largely eat corn, soybean meal, vitamins and minerals. Swine feed, like products developed by Cargill, are precise formulations that can incorporate probiotics, antioxidants and essential oils to promote better gut health, digestion and metabolism.

Feed facts

Millennials, and Americans in general, also overestimated the amount of feed required to nourish a pig to market weight of 275 pounds, the survey shows. Forty-one percent of millennials thought pigs need more feed to reach market weight today than they did 50 years ago, 27 percent were unsure and just 32 percent knew less feed is required.

Improved nutrition and efficiency of modern feed mean today’s pigs require less feed to reach market weight, Duerksen notes. Fifty years ago, a pig would need to eat more than 1,000 pounds of feed to reach market weight. Today, it requires just over 600 pounds.

Similarly, only a third knew it takes less land and water to raise a pig to market weight today than 50 years ago, while 37 percent thought more was required and 30 percent were unsure.

The future of pork

Ninety-four percent of all consumers polled by Cargill say they eat pork, with bacon, pork chops and ham being the three favorite cuts. The USDA reports that the U.S. is the third-largest pork producer and consumer in the world.

Americans aren’t the only people who love pork, either. Pork represents 40 percent of all meat consumed globally, according to the National Pork Board. The U.S. is the largest exporter of pork and pork products, accounting, on average, for more than 20 percent of the world’s commercial pork production, the USDA says.

“With demand for pork increasing domestically and globally, a growing number of consumers feel it’s important to know how the pork they’re eating was raised and the nutritional value of the feed pigs consume,” Duerksen says. “They already know pork tastes great and is a good source of protein and other nutrients. They also want to know their pork came from animals that were raised responsibly.”




Top gardening trends for 2017

3/20/2017

(BPT) - Whether you have a backyard or just a few containers on the patio, sunny days are your cue it's time to garden. Growing your own flowers, herbs and vegetables is a lot of fun, and with some simple tips, it can be pretty easy to make sure your outdoor space is a showstopper.

The experts at Ball Horticultural Company offer insight into the year's top gardening trends so you can plant with confidence and creativity:

Trend number 1: Create curb appeal

Your home's exterior will influence the first impression of anyone that visits. Give your entryway an instant beauty boost with begonias. They’re perfect for the time-starved gardener, grow well in sun or shade, and fill in fast and full. At the forefront of this trend are Megawatt begonias. New for 2017, they feature exceptional performance and a unique bronze-leaf color that is sure to be noticed by guests.

Trend number 2: Tablescapes

Bring the beauty of gardening indoors with tablescapes. Use your harvested vegetables as decor inside in display bowls; you'll give your interior design a fresh look. There are also non-edible potted veggies like Hot Pops Purple Ornamental Peppers. They mature in multiple colors to keep you in color all season.

Trend number 3: Fresh food fascinations

There’s nothing like pulling fresh food from the garden, but 2017 is trending toward more unique flavors. Replace your traditional pepper plants with specialty hot peppers like jalapenos or chiles. And you don’t need tons of space to enjoy multiple tomatoes. Try Take 2 Tomato Combos which give you a slicer and a cherry tomato in one pot, providing twice the flavor in half the space. Travel the globe through herbs: Plant a kitchen garden of different basils, lavenders and mints. Use them in your next cocktail!

Trend number 4: Customize with color

A great garden is more than just a food source, it’s also a thing of beauty. One of the hottest trends for 2017 will be accenting your garden with unique colors that reflect your style. If your favorite color is purple, pink or white, weave some petunias into your garden design. If you adore red, try Archangel Cherry Red Angelonia for a delicate texture that weathers any extremes. Fill your garden with plants to match your favorite team's colors for a fun customized twist. Whatever you choose, a splash of color is sure to get your space noticed.

Get started on your garden project today

The 2017 gardening season is just beginning, so now’s the perfect time to make friends with your local garden center for the best plant selection. Incorporate any or all of the top trends listed above and your garden will be beautiful and rewarding throughout the entire year.



Reorganize your kitchen to encourage healthy eating habits, nutritionist says

3/17/2017

(BPT) - More than half of Americans say they can judge how healthy a family’s lifestyle is by the contents of their refrigerator, and more than a quarter admit that they would eat healthier if they were better organized, according to a new national survey. They’re right to associate the state of their refrigerators with the healthfulness of their eating habits, says celebrity nutritionist and healthy cooking expert Keri Glassman.

“Practicing ‘mindful eating’ can be hindered by a disorganized refrigerator and a cluttered kitchen,” says Glassman. “When you’re preparing and eating meals in an organized environment, you’re more likely to pay attention to what you’re eating and whether it really does nourish your body and mind.”

And while Glassman says refrigerator organization is a first step in leading a healthier life, it’s sometimes easier said than done. In fact, independent consumer research of 1,000 adults, commissioned by kitchen appliance manufacturer LG Electronics shows that more than one-third of American families say fruits and vegetables are the hardest things to keep organized in the fridge.

Glassman offers tips to get more organized in the kitchen for a healthier 2017:

Take control of your refrigerator

“Keeping healthy items in your refrigerator front and center can actually affect the nutrition value of what you’re preparing for your family,” Glassman says. “Today’s refrigerators are making this easier with advanced organization features, like fridges with the new LG InstaView feature that makes it simple to organize your food in a way that puts the most healthful choices in easy view and reach.”

This feature, now available in more than a dozen models in a variety of sizes, styles, finishes and prices, has a tinted glass panel on the right door that illuminates with two quick knocks to allow users to see what’s inside without opening the door. “And when you see healthy choices right in front of you, you’re more likely to choose those first,” notes Glassman.

Additionally, transferring packaged- or bulk-foods into clear glass containers can help keep the fridge looking fresh, and keep your foods fresher longer – which in turn, allows the enticing colors of fresh fruits and veggies to draw your attention.

“A clean fridge with colorful fruits and veggies is key to healthy eating,” Glassman says. “My favorite weekend mornings are spent on color quests at the farmer’s market gathering at least seven different colored fruits and veggies. Not only does the fridge look gorgeous, it inspires fresh cooking and will improve your eating habits!”

Declutter your kitchen

Kitchen counters often become the repository for lots of clutter, from kitchen electronics and small appliances, to car keys and the mail. The clutter takes away valuable cooking space and can affect how healthfully you eat.

“Keep a clear counter,” Glassman says. “Designate an area for keys and mail that is away from your cooking space. Don’t keep unhealthy snacks sitting out on the counter, where their high visibility will make them even more tempting.”

After a meal, and especially after dinner, clear plates and clean up in the kitchen right away. Leaving chores for later will only draw you back into the kitchen, where you might be tempted to snack even though you’ve already satisfied your body’s nutritional needs. In fact, Glassman says, consider adopting a closed-kitchen policy after dinnertime. Close the door to the room, if you have one, and if your home has an open floor plan, avoid making unnecessary trips to the kitchen.

“Organize your pantry and fridge with the motto, if you see it, you’ll use it,” Glassman says. “Rearrange so the healthiest choices are most visible, and the less healthy ones aren’t in easy sight.”



Why skip breakfast? 5 warm comfort foods that cook in 3 minutes

3/13/2017

(BPT) - In spite of the well-documented drawbacks of not eating breakfast, approximately 30 percent of Americans are still failing to fuel themselves in the morning, according to WebMD. And many of those moving through their days with empty stomachs blame a lack of convenience.

Earlier this year, the Washington Post pointed to research showing millennials consider even breakfast cereal too inconvenient. And research cited in the Huffington Post indicates Americans 18 and older who miss their first daily meal most frequently blame lack of hunger or an overly busy schedule.

However, several studies point to adverse health and cognitive effects from missing breakfast. Consumer Reports indicates eating within two hours of waking promotes the metabolizing of your glucose or blood sugar all day, in turn boosting your energy. “Don’t skip breakfast,” advises researcher Dr. Leah E. Cahill of Harvard Medical School. "Incorporating many types of healthy foods into your breakfast is an easy way to ensure your meal provides adequate energy and a healthy balance of nutrients."

Experts recommend those in the habit of skipping breakfast instead optimize ultra-easy and ultra-convenient comfort food meals. Most recipes can be made ahead and stored in your fridge for mornings when you’re short of time and energy. They’re made even faster via the latest microwaves by Panasonic that optimize inverter technology for even cooking that works from the outside in.

Below are a few easy microwave recipes for busy mornings:

1. Toasty banana bread oatmeal: In a microwaveable mug, combine 1/2 cup quick-cooking oats, 1 egg, 1/2 cup milk, 1/3 smashed banana and a little flax seed, cinnamon and/or honey. Microwave for 2 to 3 minutes, stir and eat.

2. Savory French toast in a mug: Just cube a slice of white bread and soak it for 5 minutes (press it down) in a mug holding a whisked egg, 5 tablespoons milk, 3 tablespoons grated cheddar, 3 tablespoons cooked ham and salt and pepper. Microwave for 1 to 2 minutes, then eat warm.

3. Warm apple muffin: Melt 1 tablespoon butter in a microwaveable mug. Mix in a beaten egg, 3 tablespoons flour (almond or coconut works well), 1/8 teaspoon baking powder and a little maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Top with finely chopped apple and walnuts and butter. Microwave for a minute. Grab and go.

4. Tasty breakfast sandwich: Add to a mug 1 teaspoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon milk, an egg and some chopped onion, green pepper ham and hot sauce to taste. Microwave about 30 seconds, then scoop out and add to a toasted English muffin topped with a slice of your favorite cheese. Grab, then enjoy the savory goodness.

5. Roll-ups to go: Slather the inside of a 6 inch tortilla with peanut butter, jam, half a smashed banana and dried unsweetened coconut. Roll it up like a burrito, wrap it in a loose paper towel and microwave it for half a minute before appreciating how the flavors melt in your mouth.

Panasonic’s two Microwaves with Inverter Technology (NN-SD372S and NN-SN686S) optimize a patented technique that cooks food quickly and evenly every time to ensure a yummy breakfast on-the-go.



Sell your great idea with practice, perfection and pitching

3/8/2017

(BPT) - In 2015, thousands of people filed more than half a million patent applications for their good ideas, according to the United States Patent and Trademark Office. That's a lot of ideas. Sadly, only half received patents, and fewer still made it to market. Anyone can have a great idea, but how do you sell it to the investors, partners and customers who will help turn that idea into a success?

Here are four tips to get you started:

1. Keep it to yourself ... until it's perfected.

Having a great idea can be very exciting, and you may be tempted to tell everyone about it before your idea is fully fleshed out. Don't. Instead, focus on developing your idea by asking and answering key questions like what problem does your idea solve, why is your idea an innovative solution, and what do you need in order to make a prototype or sample.

2. Get some practice selling an idea.

Luckily , some companies ask consumers to submit their own ideas for new products. Participating in an opportunity like the Lay's "Do Us a Flavor" contest can give you the chance to practice your idea-pitching skills and see your ideas come to life on store shelves.

Some of the most interesting chip flavors over the years have been created by everyday fans, and the popular potato chip brand is again asking consumers to suggest new flavor varieties for the latest installment of the contest - "The Pitch." Creativity is encouraged, and you can submit your flavor idea through a video, photo or written description. Submissions close on March 19, and three winners will have their flavor developed and brought to store shelves by Frito-Lay. A grand prize winner will receive $1 million, two finalists will win $50,000 each, and seven semi-finalists will win $10,000 each. Go to www.lays.com for complete contest rules and to submit your entry.

3. Know your audience.

For your pitch to succeed, you have to be sure that your idea will resonate with the people who matter. Something might sound like a great idea to you but it needs to benefit others as well in order to catch their interest. For example, you might think of a unique potato chip flavor idea for "Do Us a Flavor," but you need to be sure other people love that taste as much as you. Before you present your pitch, analyze the idea through the eyes of the person you're pitching it to and also through the eyes of the end consumers who would be using your end product.

4. Pitch perfectly and briefly.

Once you've perfected your idea and practiced selling it, it's time to perfect your pitch. Actually, you'll want to have multiple versions of your pitch, each one taking a different length of time to deliver - because you never know how much time you'll have when new opportunities arise to pitch your idea. For example, you should think about having 10-second, 30-second and three-minute versions. Each pitch should address basic selling points of your idea/product, including why people need it, what problem it solves, and what specific action you want the listener to take after hearing your pitch. And don't be afraid to get creative with how you deliver your pitch. Could be a rhyme, dance, or song, much like how Nick Lachey pitched his flavor idea earlier this year!



Get extra nutrition with these 5 food swaps

3/9/2017

(BPT) - Does it ever seem like a lot of healthy-eating advice is about “less,” “giving up” and “taking away?” Reducing fat and sodium intake, avoiding high-calorie foods and trimming portion sizes are commonly heard pieces of advice when you’re trying to lose weight or improve your diet. But health experts agree, good eating doesn’t just mean giving up bad habits, it’s also about adding foods with more nutritional value.

“Instead of focusing on what you shouldn’t eat, focus on making nutrition-packed swaps,” says registered dietitian and nutritionist Dawn Jackson Blatner. “A few easy swaps I tell my clients about include replacing white bread with whole grain, higher-fat protein sources with leaner ones, and upgrading your ordinary products like eggs or cereal with higher-nutrition varieties.”

Here are five better-for-you food swaps from Blatner that will jam-pack your diet with enhanced nutrition without making you feel like you’re giving anything up:

Instead of mayo

Try an avocado-based spread on your sandwiches and as a base for homemade dressings. A single tablespoon of mayonnaise has 90 calories, 10 grams of fat, 5 milligrams of cholesterol and 90 milligrams of sodium, but zero potassium or fiber, according to the California Avocado Commission. In comparison, 2 tablespoons of fresh avocado have just 50 calories, 4.5 grams of (mostly good) fat, no cholesterol or sodium, and 150 milligrams of potassium and 2 grams of fiber.

Instead of any old egg

Try eggs with superior nutritional benefits. While all eggs are high in protein, Eggland’s Best eggs contain double the omega-3s and three times more vitamin B12 than ordinary eggs — both nutrients associated with heart health. Plus, they contain 25 percent less saturated fat, five times more vitamin D, and 10 times more vitamin E than ordinary eggs.

Instead of white rice

While carbohydrates are necessary to fuel your brain and muscles, many favorite sources are stripped of nutrition, such as white rice. Cauliflower can be an easy substitute for rice. This white veggie packs plenty of fiber, protein, potassium and vitamin C. To replace rice, simply pulse the cauliflower in a food processor for a few seconds until you achieve the desired consistency.

Instead of fried food

The crunch of fried food is alluring, but you can get that same crunch in a much healthier superfood way. Instead of coating chicken or fish with breading and plunging it into a bath of hot oil, use chopped nuts. Nuts contain healthy fat, protein, and fiber and when baked in a hot oven (about 400-425 degrees F), nut-coated protein is crunchy and delicious. Try nut-covered chicken fingers today!

Instead of ground beef

Americans love beef and eat about 25 billion pounds of it every year, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. But depending on the quality and cut you buy, beef can be high in fat and cholesterol. Lentils can be a high-nutrition protein source that can go virtually anywhere you use ground beef, including burgers, meatloaf and taco filling. Naturally low in calories and fat free, lentils provide fiber, protein and potassium.

Food swaps focused on increasing healthful nutrients, rather than decreasing what you don’t want, can be rewarding and delicious. Try this recipe from Eggland’s best to get started on your new “more-is-better” lifestyle.

Sweet Potato Bowl

Ingredients

1 large sweet potato

2 teaspoons olive oil, separated

salt and pepper

2 Eggland' Best Eggs (large), poached

1 cup ground sausage

1/2 cup salsa

1 avocado, diced

Directions

Heat 1 teaspoon of olive oil in a medium pan over medium/high heat and brown the ground sausage.

While the sausage cooks, fill a large pot with a few inches of water and place over medium/high heat until it just starts to simmer.

Crack eggs individually into a ramekin or cup and create a gentle whirlpool in the water.

Slowly pour the eggs one by one into the water and leave to cook for three minutes.

Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towel.

While the eggs poach, spiralize the sweet potato using a spiralizer.

Heat the other teaspoon of the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat.

Add in the sweet potato noodles and cook until they just begin to soften, about 5-7 minutes.

Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer the cooked sweet potato noodles into a large bowl.

Drain the ground sausage and add to the sweet potato noodles.

Toss with 1/2 cup of the salsa.

Divide the noodles and sausage between two bowls, top each with diced avocado and a poached egg!



Hot cooking trends: 5 flavorful ways to prepare pork

3/1/2017

(BPT) - Tired of the same old casseroles and pasta dishes? As the seasons transition, you're probably looking for fresh and flavorful ways to prepare satisfying foods for your family and friends.

An increasing number of home and professional chefs are using pork to produce mouth-watering, palate-pleasing recipes. Pork is a satisfying, excellent source of protein that's packed with flavor. What's more, it's budget-friendly and versatile, which allows you to customize pork with your preferred flavors and cooking methods.

Want to know the hottest cooking tips and trends for pork this year? Consider these insights from five-time James Beard Award nominee Chef Jose Mendin. For more meal inspiration, visit PorkTeInspira.com.

Savory main dish, fewer calories

To prepare delicious pork without adding extra calories, use cooking methods like grilling or roasting that don’t add fat. Pork loin and ribs are great options for grilling or roasting. Look for lean cuts such as the pork tenderloin in the meat case. Many of these cuts meet USDA’s guidelines for “lean,” which means they have less than 10 grams of fat per serving.

Customize with spice rubs

Spice rubs are an easy way to customize flavors and infuse them into pork. Herbs and spices with heat are trending, so don't be afraid to enhance your rubs and give them that extra kick.

Embrace Cuban influences

Many of today's hottest cooking trends have Cuban influences. For example, try marinating a pork tenderloin in citrus, garlic and onions — also known as “Cuban-style.” Serve on top of rice and beans or place between two pieces of bread and enjoy a sandwich bursting with flavor.

Experiment with the traditional

Pork offers a fantastic base for expanding on the flavors you already know and love. For example, spicy teriyaki is reinvented with a touch of spice for a special meal any day of the week. Try this recipe to see for yourself:

Grilled Ham Steaks with Spicy Teriyaki by Chef Mendin for PorkTeInspira.com
Serves 4

Ingredients:
2 1-inch thick ham steaks

Spicy Teriyaki Glaze
7 ounces crushed pineapple
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon ginger, peeled and minced
1/2 cup soy sauce
1/2 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon red chili pepper, crushed
1/2 cup brown sugar

Directions:
For Spicy Teriyaki glaze:
In a small pot, combine all ingredients and mix. Heat and bring to simmer to thicken. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Heat grill to a medium high heat or 450 F. Place the ham steaks on grill and sear on both sides, approximately 3-4 minutes each side; basting with spicy teriyaki on both sides to achieve a caramel crust. Remove from heat and serve immediately with coconut rice or your favorite rice pilaf. Garnish with pineapple rings.

Go for the garlic

Garlic lovers rejoice! A variety of pork cuts are the perfect pairing to those cloves you adore so much. Add garlic to rubs, marinades, side dishes and more for a flavorful dish even the most discerning chef will enjoy. In fact, try this easy roast recipe to see just how well garlic and mustard mingle with moist pork loin:

Garlic-Mustard Pork Roast by PorkTeInspira.com
Serves 5-6

Ingredients:
3 to 4 pound boneless pork loin
2 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 tablespoon oregano leaves, crushed
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon coarse grind black pepper

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine garlic, oregano, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Mix until blended into a paste. Using a spatula or hands, rub garlic mixture all over pork loin, massaging into meat. Place pork roast on baking pan and roast uncovered in preheated oven. Roast one hour until internal temperature reaches between 145 F to 160 F using a digital thermometer. Remove from oven. Cover loosely with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing. Serve with oven roasted potato wedges.

There is no better time than now to enjoy some delicious and flavorful pork recipes. Visit PorkTeInspira.com for recipe ideas and visit your nearest retailer for many budget-friendly pork cuts.



Tips for hosting a better brunch

3/1/2017

(BPT) - Love the idea of hosting a brunch, but begin to regret it the moment you’re toiling over a pan of bacon grease while your friends are chatting over mimosas? You’re not alone. Whether you’re planning a simple brunch for a small group or an Easter brunch to wow a crowd, these simple tips and ideas are guaranteed to get you out of the kitchen and into the action.

Prepare a game plan. Developing a checklist will prevent you from feeling overwhelmed with to-do’s. Once you know how many people will be attending the brunch, start planning the menu, gather recipes and make a grocery list. Take inventory of your cooking supplies, serving dishes and tableware. While cleaning the house, identify what decorations are needed.

Picture the scene the night before. Figure out how to serve the food, decide where to put the drinks, gather extra seating and put all the plates, cups, cutlery and napkins on the table. Also, don’t forget the mugs or cocktail glasses if you plan to serve coffee or mimosas. While it might seem obvious, these little details can easily be overlooked. Last-minute jobs are bound to happen, so conquering the planned details ahead of time will help keep you sane.

Create a menu full of make-ahead recipes. From drinks to dessert, make sure your menu allows you to spend more times with friends and family and less time in the kitchen. Sure, everyone loves a good omelet, but you're not a short order cook. Instead, opt for low-maintenance recipes that can be prepared the night before and popped in the oven the next morning. You can never go wrong with classic egg-based dishes such as quiche, strata and casserole. If your culinary skills aren’t up for the task of cooking for a crowd, don’t be afraid to choose store-bought or catered dishes. This will help alleviate any unnecessary stress and allow you to enjoy the event.

Ditch the pile of dirty dishes in favor of disposable tableware. Instead of standing over the sink cleaning, spend the extra time relaxing with family and friends. Try a line of products that offer the total solution for your tableware needs, including a variety of plate and cup sizes and a serve and store container of cutlery. The Chinet Cut Crystal collection makes entertaining easy with tableware that complement one another and also earn compliments from guests. All the dishes can be tossed once people are done eating, keeping post-brunch cleanup to a minimum. Plus, all Chinet Cut Crystal products are recyclable — leaving you to only feel guilty about that second scone.

Set the table in style. Make sure your brunch is as stylish as it is tasty. For a “hare-raising” reaction from your friends and family, fold Chinet Classic White napkins into the shape of bunnies and display in the center of each plate. A bunny napkin fold can also double as a place setting card. Simply write the name of the guest on one of the bunny ears. It’s a pretty and practical way to add personality to the table.



Thinking outside the coop: 8 common myths about raising backyard poultry

2/27/2017

(BPT) - From fresh egg production to natural garden fertilizer, there is no shortage of benefits in raising backyard poultry. But even as families become more familiar with sustainable living and keeping chickens, several poultry myths still exist.

Here to set the record straight for our feathered friends is poultry expert Lisa Steele, creator of the renowned Fresh Eggs Daily brand and author of three top-selling books on the subject. Steele is also a consultant with Tractor Supply Company, the rural lifestyle retailer.

Here are Steele’s eight most common myths surrounding backyard flocks:

Myth 1: Chickens are difficult to care for.

“There is, of course, a certain level of responsibility required to properly care for any living animal. However, when it comes to backyard poultry, the time commitment is fairly minimal — maybe 30 minutes daily,” Steele says. Here’s what you can expect: In the morning, chickens will need to be let out and fed; waterers will need to be filled. At some point, eggs will need to be collected. Then, around dusk, after the chickens have wandered back to the coop, the door needs to be locked to protect from predators.

Myth 2: Chickens (and coops) smell.

“Chickens themselves don’t smell, nor does a well-maintained coop," Steele says. "On average, a chicken produces about 1.5 ounces of manure a day, which is far less than the average dog — not to mention, when composted, it makes wonderful nitrogen-rich fertilizer for a garden.”

Myth 3: Chickens are noisy.

“Despite what you may have heard, chickens are pretty quiet. In fact, a clucking chicken tends to be on par with normal human conversation (60–65 decibels). In other words, it’s a lot quieter than your neighbor’s barking dog, lawn mower or car alarm,” Steele says.

Roosters are a different story, and some areas prohibit them for that very reason. Be sure to check your local ordinances about keeping backyard poultry!

Myth 4: You need a rooster to get eggs.

Chickens will lay eggs regardless of whether or not there is a rooster in the flock. A male chicken is only needed to fertilize an egg, meaning eggs laid by hens in a rooster-less flock can never hatch into baby chicks. And while there are some benefits to having roosters, they aren’t necessary for your hen to produce a basket of delicious, fresh eggs.

Myth 5: A chicken lays an egg every day.

Fresh eggs to eat and share with friends are one of the best benefits of raising poultry, but Steele says not to expect your hen to lay an egg every day. “The average chicken will produce four to five eggs a week, but that will vary depending on the chicken’s age, breed, health and environment. Shorter days, extreme temperatures, molting (growing in new feathers) and other stressors, such as the presence of predators, can all affect egg production,” Steele says.

Myth 6: Brown eggs are more nutritious than white eggs.

“The nutrient content of an egg is based largely on a hen’s diet, not the color of its egg, which is determined solely by the chicken’s breed,” Steele says. According to a study conducted by Mother Earth News magazine, a free-roaming chicken that consumes grass and bugs will lay eggs with less cholesterol and saturated fat and more Vitamin A and E, beta-carotene and Omega-3s than a chicken fed purely commercial corn/grain-based foods.

Myth 7: Chickens carry disease.

“Chickens don’t carry any more risk of disease than a dog or cat. In fact, they love to eat ticks and other pesky critters known to transmit diseases like Lyme disease, tapeworm and heartworm,” Steele explains. “While salmonella can be transmitted to humans through poultry dander and feces, simply washing hands after handling the chickens keeps the risk of infection minimal.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also cautions against live poultry inside the home and against letting children younger than 5 years old handle poultry.

Myth 8: Chickens attract rodents and predators.

“Wild predators are not any more attracted to chickens than they are to wild birds, rabbits, squirrels and other small animals,” Steele says. “The truth is, predators are likely already living in your midst. The key to keeping them at bay is to keep your chickens safe in an enclosed pen or run area. Chicken feed should also be taken up at night and stored in predator-proof containers to reduce the possibility of flies and mice.”

When it comes to raising backyard poultry, Tractor Supply is a one-stop shop with coops, equipment, feed and the expert advice you need to successfully raise chicks into an egg-laying flock.

For more expert information on safe handling and care for poultry, starting a chicken coop and more, visit TractorSupply.com/Chicks.



5 clever hacks to simplify any family's morning routine

10/26/2016

(BPT) - Getting the family out the door on time every morning is no small feat. Seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed, packing backpacks and making breakfast can quickly turn into chaos. Before you know it, you're running late and the kids haven't even eaten as you dash to the car.

Stop dreading the stressful start to the day and start taking control of your mornings. A few simple tips and tricks will turn the morning craze into smooth sailing. Plus, when you have a stress-free start, the rest of the day just seems to go better.

Select a week's worth of clothes Sunday night.
Instead of choosing outfits the night prior, supersize your time-saving efforts by doing this task just once on Sunday night. Involve kids in selecting their clothes for the week so they feel empowered in their choices. Then hang entire outfits in the closet or stack in one drawer dedicated to weekday wear. When mornings come, kids know exactly where to find the day's duds. Bonus: you don't have to worry about midweek laundry.

Create a routine and set alarms.
Create a morning routine and stick to it. For example, kids wake at 7 a.m., eat breakfast at 7:15 a.m., get dressed and ready at 7:30 a.m., then out the door by 8 a.m. And if the kids need to share a bathroom, set a daily bathroom schedule with alarms to keep kids on track and avoid arguments in the morning.

Get ready before waking up the kids.
Trying to ready yourself for the day while helping the kids is a recipe for disaster. This is why waking before the rest of the family really makes mornings happier. Try getting up 30 minutes before the kids so you have time to get ready and enjoy a cup of coffee. You'll be fully awake, much happier and can focus on helping the kids stay on-task.

Create morning rules.
Just like you don't let kids eat dessert before dinner to ensure they eat well, set rules for the morning to keep things moving. For example, no TV until all morning tasks are completed. For teens, smartphones and other mobile devices must remain on the kitchen table until they are ready to go.

Sundays = meal prep.
Make a week’s worth of PB&Js on Sunday and put them in the freezer. This way lunch items are ready to go and the sandwiches will be thawed and ready to eat by lunchtime. For breakfast, make it easy for kids by setting out shelf-stable items they can make themselves. New Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread keeps mornings interesting. Set out a jar by a loaf of bread and kids can quickly make a tasty sandwich they'll devour. Learn more at jif.com.

Want to up the ante for breakfast without spending any extra morning time in the kitchen? Try this recipe for delicious overnight oats that can be made in the evening and customized for each family member.

Protein Power Packed Overnight Oatmeal Recipe
Courtesy of WhipperBerry.com

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 8 hours
Serves: 1-2

Ingredients:

1/2 cup old fashioned rolled-oats
1/2 cup vanilla yogurt
1/4 cup pecans
1/4 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries
Large spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread (or Maple if you prefer!)
1 to 1-1/2 cups milk (basically cover what's in your jar)

Optional:
1 teaspoon chia seeds
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon honey

Instructions:

1. In a large jar, layer your ingredients starting with about a 1/2 cup of old fashioned rolled oats.

2. Then add about a 1/2 cup of your favorite yogurt, your favorite nuts and fruit.

3. Next, add a spoonful of Jif(R) Peanut Butter and Naturally Flavored Cinnamon Spread

4. If you want, add chia seeds and a drizzle of honey and vanilla extract.

5. Cover with your favorite kind of milk. You can use cow, almond, coconut or soy milk.

6. Gently stir your ingredients, top with a lid and place in the fridge overnight.

In the morning, you'll have a jar full of yummy oatmeal ready and waiting for you. Choose to eat it cold or warm it up in the microwave.



Farming program helps neighbors in rural America fight hunger

10/26/2016

(BPT) - Although the United States produces much of the world’s food, 48 million people in the country are food insecure, lacking access to enough food to sustain a healthy, active lifestyle. What's even more surprising is that many of the counties with the highest rates of food insecurity are located in rural communities, the very places growing the bulk of this food.

According to Feeding America’s study Map the Meal Gap 2016, rural counties are more likely to have high rates of food insecurity than more densely populated counties. In fact, 54 percent of counties with the highest rates of food are in rural areas. Rural areas also account for 62 percent of counties with the highest rates of child food insecurity.

While shocking to many, these numbers don't surprise Michelle Sause, Assistant Director of Network Relations at Food Bank for the Heartland in Omaha. Her work with the food bank covers more than 78,000 square miles and spans 93 counties.

"The majority of our counties are rural communities," says Sause. "We serve over 530 network partners that include pantries, meal providers and backpack programs, Kid’s Cafe and summer feeding programs."

Some of the challenges in providing food to food-insecure families are unique in rural locations compared to metropolitan areas. These pantries often have limited resources, supplies and volunteers, which makes it difficult to secure meals for people struggling with hunger.

"We have two main challenges — transportation and establishing partnerships with donors in our rural communities," she says. "With a service area that spans over 78,000 square miles, transportation can be a challenge."

Sause adds, "Another challenge is finding and securing relationships with donors. This challenge is partly because our communities really want to take care of their own and when a large agency from a bigger city is coming in, it can feel threatening."

There is a tradition of helping your neighbor in rural communities, including Sause’s. Invest An Acre is a program working hard to uphold that tradition.

Invest An Acre is a program of Feeding America, the nation’s largest domestic hunger-relief organization, designed to engage farmers, agribusiness, and rural communities in the fight against hunger in rural communities across America. Farmers can donate a portion of their crop proceeds at their local grain elevator, by check or online. Donations are doubled by matching partners, and the full amount is distributed directly to eligible local food banks and pantries. This means 200 percent of what a farmer gives goes back to the local food back of that town, and the people who need it most.

Food Bank for the Heartland — just one of many organizations working with Invest An Acre to fight rural hunger — has received more than $50,000 through the program.

"At Food Bank for the Heartland, we have found the best support is locally sourced," says Sause. "Thank you to the generous farmers who have donated through Invest An Acre and who have encouraged fellow farmers to participate too. You are making a difference in the lives of hungry children, families and seniors."