How Do You Benefit From Eating Chocolate?

Chocolate is appreciated for a variety of reasons. Many of these reasons relate to the feel good chemicals contained in chocolate, such as tryptophan, tyrosine, theobromine and caffeine. However, the preferred chocolate is the dark type which has the highest concentration of cocoa, is high in antioxidants and is low in fat.

Let’s take a look at the benefits of eating a few pieces of chocolate:

Mood

Eating a small bar of chocolate as well as sticking to a healthy diet has the potential to boost the mood. It is a combination of the chocolate’s texture, smell and taste that helps to stimulate the brain and leave you feeling good. Additionally, chocolate is rich in the essential amino acid tryptophan, which can help to increase the amount of serotonin in the system. This is a natural type of anti-depressant.

Heart-friendly

Chocolate can help with heart health because it has an anti-inflammatory effect, thins the blood to minimize the risk of suffering a stroke and can lower blood pressure. The main reason to benefit the heart is because of the flavonoid content. This chemical is useful in encouraging the production of nitric oxide, which relaxes and widens the blood vessels

Artery help

A further benefit of the flavonoid content is the ability to stop the oxidizing of bad cholesterol (LDL). Over time this can lead to a build up of deposits on the artery wall, which is often referred to as occlusive disease. Also, the flavonoid content can include stearic acid, which is a unique type of saturated fat that can promote good cholesterol (HDL).

Soothes coughs

The theobromine content in chocolate can have an influence on the vagus nerve and help to suppress the episodes of coughing. The vagus nerve has the role of transmitting messages between the brain and the central nervous system.

Brain health

A further type of chemical compound found in chocolate is epicatechin, which is useful for its ability to protect the brain from the build up of amyloid plaques or sticky proteins. If they are left to develop over time there is the risk of Alzheimer’s disease developing. Additionally, this same chemical compound can be found in green tea.

Overall, in order to benefit from the chocolate eaten, you want to look for the dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cocoa. Ideally, you want chocolate with 70 percent cocoa to achieve the most benefit. Also, the high cocoa means there is more flavonoid content to benefit the all-round health.

Can White Chocolate Really Be Called Chocolate?

So white chocolate isn’t actually chocolate as it mainly consists of milk. rather than cocoa solids. Often it contains palm oil or other ‘fillers’ and lots of sweeteners. Cocoa butter gives white chocolate its creamy texture and colour.

So who first produced this white bar? It seems that it was Nestle. The company began producing the new bars commercially in Switzerland in 1936. The story goes that it was originally made in order to use up the excess milk powder that had been made during the First World War. At the end of the war, it was no longer in demand, so making the new white bars was one way of using up the surplus. This also uses up the cocoa butter that is extracted from the cacao bean when cocoa powder is produced. Cocoa butter is not only used in making white chocolate, but it can also be found in cosmetics and pharmaceuticals.

The cost of cocoa butter increased dramatically between 2005 and 2015, which led to many chocolate manufacturers using less of it and adding fillers such as vegetable oil to their chocolate.

Manufacturers of these white bars of our favorite confectionary are experimenting with new flavours. These include flavouring it with turmeric and pomegranate, mango, chilli and lime, rosemary and sea salt, and even Thai curry shrimp. Now white chocolate can be made with non-dairy milk as well as goat’s milk. You can also get a superior chocolate which has lemon oil and lemon salt in it. One German manufacturer puts kale and mustard in his, as well as combining it with broccoli and Sicilian almonds. Other producers add roasted blueberries, strawberries, and raspberries. This kind of white confectionary lends itself to enhancement. You can even buy bars that are flavoured with black sesame seeds, vanilla, and matcha, but this is grey rather than white in colour. Other combinations include za’atar (a spice blend from the Middle East) candied orange and pistachios.

If your chocolate bar is very bright white, it has been bleached, (cocoa butter is yellow, not white) and most likely deodorized. Read the label before you buy. You are recommended to buy bars of the stuff which contain just cocoa butter, sugar, milk powder or milk solids and perhaps vanilla and lecithin.

Yogurt Wars – What You Need to Know

An organic yogurt company recently had a TV commercial highlighting 2 competitors and their not so wholesome ingredients. Now, if you’ve followed me, you’ll know random chemicals shouldn’t be in your food. Yet, the competitors are stating that it’s perfectly OK.

On of the ingredients, potassium sorbate, was confirmed by the CEO to kill bacteria and yeasts. They purposefully add it to destroy bacteria.

Wait, hold on… You eat the yogurt for the probiotic bacteria, right? So, why would you eat a yogurt that has a chemical designed to kill bacteria? It doesn’t make sense, until you realize that the company is more interested in money than providing a quality product.

The other has a chemical sweetener that was downgraded to ‘use with caution’ recently. Enough science made it through the bureaucracy to force the government to recognize it as something potentially unsafe. Why would you eat something that is needs to be eaten with caution? It’s directly saying that this poison is OK as long as you don’t eat too much of it.

You need to make healthy choices. One of those healthy choices is to avoid any food product with chemicals, colors, sugars, and things you just don’t know what they are.

Let’s face it, these things may make life easier now, but they will make life harder later on.

There are better alternatives. One is to make your own yogurt. It’s actually really easy. First, you need whole milk (not low fat or all you get is runny mush) and a good, organic yogurt starter. For me, I buy a starter from one of the several companies that put quality ahead of high CEO salaries.

As a side note, I purchased a starter pack with 6 different kinds of yogurt for less than $20. It will produce about 30 gallons of yogurt, maybe more if I carefully keep tending the base to produce new flavors.

Then, you add the yogurt starter to the milk, keep it warm, and wait. In a day, you have lots of healthy, delicious yogurt. You can add any flavor you want: berries, jams, maple syrup (odd, I know, but I know several people who do this), nuts, seeds, granola, and the list goes on.

You can make as little as a quart to several gallons at a time. Me, I make 1 gallon at a time and it lasts about a week for 3 people.

The best part is I don’t have to worry about chemicals, residues (I use organic milk), or unwanted things. When it is finished, with the yogurt starter, milk, and additions, I make 1 cup of yogurt for about $0.25. For me, it’s worth it. How much is your health worth to you?

Where Does Chilli Come From?

Okay many of us think we know all there is to know when it comes to chillies. “Small red-colored coloured peppers which are spicy”. Well essentially this might be true, however, chillies are a lot more than just spicy red-colored peppers. I wish to go much deeper which will help you realize precisely what chilli stands for and where it originates from.

Exactly how should we spell it? Chilli or chilli. The solution will stun you. The word can be spelt both ways. Typically it is dependent on which location or country you’re from. Individuals in the United kingdom and India use “Chill”, whereas in the United states people would prefer to use “Chili” in their punctuation. For that reason, you need to choose the which way of spelling you’d like to utilize in your writing. Personally I am inclined to write the “Chilli” variation.

Since a lot of us can accept the spelling now. Why don’t we investigate where chillies are derived from? This once more is an additional query exceeding merely a single solution. Certain individuals assume that chillies started in Mexico and go as far back as 7000BC. Although, there is another explanation as to where the chilli pepper originates. Conversely, some theorise that chillies in truth weren’t able to have come from Mexico as chilli peppers simply cannot be obtained in Mexico today (with the exception of traveller sites).

In my opinion, I feel as though chilli peppers got their start in either Peru or Bolivia. So if you happen to be extra fascinated I am going to help you investigate the roots and origins on your own because it is more fun! Having said that, an excellent place to begin might be by entering a search for chilli on Google. Truth be told there you will discover additional information that may connect you with additional sites as well as areas to find out more and read different accounts.

Alright considering that we’ve got a bit more knowledge, why don’t we discuss sizing. No not that size! chilli peppers vary from minuscule to modest. Enough jokes. In a nutshell, chilli peppers are commonly tiny and the smaller they are the a lot more hot and spicy they turn out to be.

Colours which include green, yellow and purple are typically considerably milder as compared to red and brown versions. Moreover, I would like to make certain I discuss the most spicy pepper on earth. “Ghost Pepper” (Bhut Jolokia) is in fact not the most spicy. The actual overwhelming monster chilli pepper is recognized as the “Carolina Reaper”. Be on the lookout for these particular unforgiving chillies.

Fast Ways to Eat More Fiber

Getting fiber in our body is very important it helps prevent constipation and manage our weight. It may also help prevent some diseases like high cholesterol, diabetes, heart diseases and some cancers.

The recommended amount of fiber needed a day is 25 to 38 grams. Most people eat less than 15 grams a day. The institute of medicine recommends men under 50 to eat 38 grams and women 25 grams. Adults over 50, men 30 grams and women 21 grams of fiber.

There are two types of fibers, soluble and insoluble and both are helpful to you. Insoluble helps the intestines and colon function properly, by hydrating and helping waste move through your intestine, which keeps you regular and less constipated.

Soluble fiber digest slowly and helps reduce cholesterol and assists in keeping the blood sugar levels stable. Both the insoluble and soluble fiber are important and most foods rich in fiber have both.

Lack of fiber in your diet can cause:

· Constipation; getting hard stools. fiber helps soften your stool and help moves waste along.

· Diabetes; fiber helps regulated unstable blood sugar

· Weight Gain; foods high in fiber helps you stay full longer, which prevents you from eating more food.

· Cardiovascular diseases; this may cause high cholesterol and heart diseases. Soluble fiber that’s found in oats, beans and fruits and vegetables helps.

· Hemorrhoids; hemorrhoids are inflamed veins close your anus and develop from pushing hard stools. Eating food high in fiber can solve the problem.

FAST WAY TO EAT MORE FIBER:

Adding fiber to your diet can be easy as 123, here are simple ways that you can add it in your diet.

1. Flax meal; they come in different colors, tan, brown and golden, they are a good source of omega 3- fatty acids and fiber.

2. Chia seeds; one ounce of chia seeds has 11 grams of fiber, it’s also packed with antioxidants, proteins, vitamins and minerals.

3. Hemp seeds; they are good source of both soluble and insoluble fiber and have many more benefits, they are good source of healthy fats and protein

4. Cereals; Ezekiel4:9 sprouted whole grain cereal, golden flax, Cheerios, Kashi whole grains, General mills fiber one etc

Other ways to add fiber to your diet:

The best way to get your fiber is through foods, fruits, and vegetables. Below are food that are high in fiber.

1. Oats; is one of the easiest ways to include fiber in your diet

2. Fruits; berries, avocado, pears, bananas, apples, oranges, papaya etc

3. Vegetables(cooked); kales, peas, green beans, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes etc

4. Beans and Legumes (cooked); soya beans, lentils, pinto beans, kidney beans etc.

Healthy Eating – Meal Prep Ideas

If you are like many people, you groan at the thought of doing meal prep. While you know it is something you need to do, it does not mean you like it! Meal prep takes time, but if you look at preparing say your vegetables just once for the whole week, then you will find it easier to eat healthy home-cooked meals each evening. Some foods, some vegetables are easy to prepare ahead of time and save well. There are steps you can take with your meal planning to make the task easier and then you will find you spend less time doing the meal prep and more time enjoying your food!

Let us look at a few meal-prep ideas…

1. One Recipe, Many Variations. Perhaps the most significant time-consuming task with meal prep is trying to figure out what to cook in the first place. You have to hunt down recipes, figure out what will work with your weight loss diet and then purchase all the groceries required. Time-consuming stuff!

Instead, look at finding one recipe offering several variations. For instance, you might make a vegetable stir-fry. You can just alter the vegetables you put in the stir-fry, swap out the chicken for beef as desired, and even change the sauce a little. It is the same meal overall, but with small changes that should be enough to keep you interested in continuing to carry on with your weight loss diet plan.

The more you become accustomed to preparing the same type of meals over and over, the easier it will be to plan your meal prep out for the week.

2. Two Words: Slow Cooker. Slow cooking is super easy, and a method of cooking everyone should get into doing from time to time. Just put all the ingredients in the slow cooker in the morning, turn it on, and by the time you arrive home from work, the food will be ready to serve. Plus, you can make a significantly sized batch, which means you will be eating healthy meals several times during your week.

3. Buy Pre-Chopped Vegetables. The last idea to consider is buying pre-chopped vegetables. Cutting up vegetables is often one job people dislike doing the most, so make it easier for yourself. Buy them ready to go, so there is little to no prep work involved.

While you will pay a little more for pre-chopped vegetables, it is money well spent.

There you have a few ideas to think about using to help make meal prep easier. If you follow these tips, sticking to your weight loss diet will be easier than ever.

Although managing your disease can be very challenging, Type 2 diabetes is not a condition you must just live with. You can make simple changes to your daily routine and lower both your weight and your blood sugar levels. Hang in there, the longer you do it, the easier it gets.

7 Interesting Healthy Recipes for Kids

Imagine it is between 3 to 4 pm, your child is back from school and the many extra-curricular activities and is hungry. While you do want to keep them satiated until dinner, stop and think for a minute before you grab that conveniently packaged snack off the counter. Do you really want to give your child a snack of artificial food with additives? Certainly not!

Would it not be great if you could find some quick and interesting recipes to make for your kids, while resting assured that you are giving them something they enjoy eating and yet, nutritious?

The simple solution is – incorporate almonds!

These nuts are not only a great snack option but are also convenient and deliver a host of nutrients like vitamin E, riboflavin, fibre, protein and many others. In other words, almonds are a healthy alternative for a variety of unwholesome snacks, readily available. In addition, since these nuts are tasty and crunchy, they can also satisfy your child’s sensory cravings.

Here are some super yummy yet nutritious recipes that you could try out for your kids:

Badam Custard

Custard has always been a favourite with the tiny humans. With addition of almonds, you can add this to the list of wholesome snack recipes for kids!

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 20mins

Cooking time: 15mins

Ingredients

Almonds (roasted) – 200gms

Milk -500ml

Sugar -100gms

Egg yolk – 6no

Vanilla essence – 3ml

Corn flour – 25gms

Method

Blanch almonds and make a smooth paste, keep aside. Mix egg yolk and corn flour in a bowl, keep aside.

Boil sugar and milk. Then, add some warm milk to the egg yolks and whisk, keep aside. Keep milk at simmer, add the tempered yolk mixture and cook for 5 mins.

Keep stirring and pour the almond paste and set in a fridge. Serve cold.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

2530

Protein

76.8 gms

Total fat

174.7 gms

Saturated

28.6 gms

Monounsaturated

81.2 gms

Polyunsaturated

29.3 gms

Carbohydrates

163 gms

Fibre

21.4 gms

Cholesterol

1674 mg

Sodium

138.2 mg

Calcium

1216 mg

Magnesium

805.4 mg

Potassium

2255 mg

Vitamin E

53.1 mg

Almond Cookies

This quick and easy recipe not only gives you delicious cookies but will also leave your kids asking for more.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 20mins

Cooking time: 15mins

Ingredients

Flour – 1kg

Baking powder – 1/2 tsp

Lemon zest -2 tblspn

Salt – a pinch

Butter (unsalted)-700 gms

Powdered sugar – 300 gms

Almonds (finely crushed) – 200gms

Method

Mix cream, butter and icing sugar thoroughly. Fold in all the dry ingredients.

Shape it in small balls and roll it in crushed almonds.

On a greased baking tray, bake the cookies at 170 degree Celsius for 20mins. Serve.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

11093

Protein

151.6 gms

Total fat

693.8 gms

Saturated

252.2 gms

Monounsaturated

179.7 gms

Polyunsaturated

44.7 gms

Carbohydrates

1060 gms

Fibre

24 gms

Cholesterol

756 mg

Sodium

822 mg

Calcium

690 mg

Magnesium

1286 mg

Potassium

2700 mg

Vitamin E

49.8 mg

Badam Elaichi Shake

This is one of the easy recipes to make which gives you a whole of lot of goodness from ingredients like elaichi, badam, honey and cardamom.

Serves 2

Preparation Time: 10mins

Cooking time: 15mins

Ingredients

Milk – 3 cups

Almonds (peeled and chopped) – 1/2 cup

Honey – 1tbl spn

Cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp

Saffron – 5 strands.

Vanilla ice cream – 2 scoops (optional)

Method

Mix all the ingredients and blend in a blender. Froth it up and serve chilled, garnished with almond flakes.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

1216

Protein

38.8 gms

Total fat

82.8 gms

Saturated

22.7 gms

Monounsaturated

35.6 gms

Polyunsaturated

7.5 gms

Carbohydrates

78.1 gms

Fibre

1.25 gms

Cholesterol

108.4 mg

Sodium

317 mg

Calcium

1062 mg

Magnesium

355.9 mg

Potassium

1447 mg

Vitamin E

13.1 mg

Paneer Badam Ka Cheela

This Indian recipe, that pretty much every Indian household is familiar with, can be a great snack recipe for kids for mid-meal munching.

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10mins

Cooking time: 20mins

Ingredients

Besan – 2cups

Baking powder – 1/4thtsp

Salt – ½ tsp

Ajwain – 1/4thtsp

Red chilli powder – ½ tsp

Oil – 3 tblspn

For the stuffing

Paneer (mashed) – ½ cup

Badam (chopped) – 1/4th cup

Jeera roasted – 1 tsp

Salt – ½ tsp

Green chilly chop – 1 no

Ginger chop – 2 tsp

Green coriander chop – 1 tblspn

Method

Make a thick batter using besan, salt, ajwain, red chilli powder, baking powder and water. Keep aside.

Mix together all the ingredients nicely for the stuffing.

Heat a non stick pan and drizzle a little oil. Pour a little batter and spread around thinly. Allow to cook on one side and then gently turn it. Flash cook on this side and turn immediately.

Now spoon out the stuffing and place in the centre horizontally. Fold the cheela like a dosa or a cigar.

Remove and serve hot.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

1966

Protein

83.9gms

Total fat

99.5gms

Saturated

3.7gms

Monounsaturated

13.7gms

Polyunsaturated

10.9gms

Carbohydrates

184.2gms

Fibre

6.7gms

Cholesterol

4.2

Sodium

263.4 mg

Calcium

410 mg

Magnesium

462.9 mg

Potassium

2470 mg

Vitamin E

8.6 mg

Toasted Almonds and Tomato Uttapam Pizza

A western twist to a popular south Indian recipe can be all the excitement your kids can ask for, pre or post their play time.

Serves: 1 person

Preparation time: 8 – 10 minutes

Cooking time: 12 – 15 minutes

Ingredients:

Uttapam batter – 75 ml

Almonds cut into half(unpeeled) – 15 g

Tomato deseeded and chopped – 10 g

Chopped onion – 10 g

Chopped ginger – 2 g

Chopped coriander – 2 g

Pizza sauce – 5 g

Parmesan cheese grated – 3 g

Salt – to taste

Refined oil – 5 ml

Method

Pour the uttapam batter in the centre of a heated non-stick pan. Sprinkle chopped tomato, onion, ginger and coriander, evenly on top. Turn the uttapam upside down to cook it from top for about a minute. Then, turn it back and spread the pizza sauce. Add almond halves and turn it over, once again.

Then, remove from the pan and sprinkle grated parmesan on it. Cut it into 4 pieces like a pizza. Serve hot.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

393

Protein

12 g

Total fat

14.7 g

Saturated

1.6 g

Monounsaturated

6.2 g

Polyunsaturated

5.1 g

Carbohydrates

56.5 g

Fibre

0.5 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Sodium

967 mg

Calcium

76 mg

Magnesium

63 mg

Potassium

252 mg

Vitamin E

3.9 mg

Badam ki Kheer

This popular desert accompanies most Indian food preparations at home during festivals. However, since it is prepared so rarely, kids love it so much more.

Do not hesitate to make your kids happy every now and then by whipping up some kheeron regular days.

Serves 4

Preparation Time: 10mins

Cooking time: 20mins

Ingredients

Desi ghee – 2 tblspn

Almonds – 1 cup

Green cardamom powder – 1/2 tsp

Rice – 3 tblspn

Milk – 1lt

Raisins – 1/2 cup

Sugar – 150 gms

Almond slivers – 1 & 1/2tblspn

Method

Soak rice for half hour. Soak raisins in water for 15 minutes. Blanch the almonds, remove skin and grind to a paste adding little water.

Heat a pan and add desi ghee. Now lightly sauté the almond paste on low heat for 1 minute. Add milk and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat and add rice. Cook for 15 minutes or till the rice overcooks and thickens the kheer. Add sugar and raisins. Garnish with almond slivers.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

3000

Protein

70.6 gms

Total fat

169.4 gms

Saturated

34 gms

Monounsaturated

52.3 gms

Polyunsaturated

16.7 gms

Carbohydrates

298.7 gms

Fiber

3.5 gms

Cholesterol

99 mg

Sodium

173.3 mg

Calcium

1748 mg

Magnesium

778.9 mg

Potassium

2847 mg

Vitamin E

31.9 mg

Almond and Soya Milk Smoothie

A healthy recipe to serve your kids, anytime of the day, a glass of this smoothie can give them the goodness of soya milk and almonds which can provide essential nutrients such protein, calcium and many vitamins and minerals.

Serves: 4

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: no cooking time

Ingredients:

Almond Flakes – 100 g

Soya Milk – 750 ml

Honey – 150 g

Whole almonds – 350 g

Banana – 200 g

Method:

In a mixer jar, take whole almonds without skin add soya milk, honey and banana in it. Blend it and garnish with roasted almonds flakes.

Tip: Add a berry flavour as per availability to enhance flavour.

Nutrient Analysis

Calories

3588

Protein

122 g

Total fat

240.6g

Saturated

17.4 g

Monounsaturated

144 g

Polyunsaturated

56.6 g

Carbohydrates

267.6 g

Fibre

40.8 g

Cholesterol

0 mg

Sodium

440.7 mg

Calcium

2154 mg

Magnesium

1407.6 mg

Potassium

4351 mg

Vitamin E

118.5 mg

The Secret Ingredient to a Healthy Life

While in college studying nutrition, my friend heard from a teacher that it is easier for a person to change their religion than to change their eating habits.

But necessity is the mother of invention. When my dad got sick and was hospitalized for cancer, I started researching to learn how to protect ourselves and heal from cancer. While watching “A Delicate Balance,” on Vimeo I heard nutritional researcher T. Colin Campbell describe the results from the largest study ever done on nutrition and cancer as detailed in his book, the “The China Study.”

A friend had given me the book years before but it had been a deal-breaker since it advocated a vegan diet, which meant giving up all animal foods including vegetarian food like cheese and eggs. But in the fight for my dad’s life I was willing to do what it took so I read the book and couldn’t put it down. My first thought upon finishing it was “knowledge is power.”

The premise of the book is that animal protein causes cancer cells to multiply while plant protein causes cancer cells to shrink. This research is backed by empirical scientific evidence and published in scholarly journals. It is detailed in Chapter 3 of the book and would be a compelling place to start your own research. But the research is silenced by lobbyists for the food industry who don’t want this kind of information available.

After reading the China Study and realizing how many ailments are caused by the “Standard American Diet” or SAD, I vowed to go vegan. Turning vegan seemed like an easy choice to protect my health from the dreaded cancer menace.

Although a seasoned vegetarian, I lacked skill making tasty vegan food without cheese and eggs. Committed to the health benefits of a vegan diet, I enrolled in vegan chef school and trained for three weeks with a master vegan chef.

Throughout chef school I lived exclusively on vegan food. The first thing you notice is the amazing energy gained from eating the fresh wholesome food. Antioxidants color the fruits and vegetables which fortify our own systems.

When people inevitability ask where our protein comes from one expert responds, “I get my protein from the same place your protein gets its protein.” Leafy greens, grains, nuts, legumes, beans, seeds are some “whole food plant-based” sources of protein.

And the best thing is that the food tastes magnificent. Cashew cheese, almond milk and coconut butter are staples. Toss tofu cubes with nutritional yeast, tamari and olive oil then bake for savory nuggets. Steam tempeh cubes for 20 minutes – mix with vegan mayonnaise, garlic, onion, basil and parsley. Place in pita for a “mock” chicken salad sandwich.

My passion is well-being and vegan food benefits human health, animal health, and environmental health. Looking for a place to start? Mark Reinfeld of Vegan Fusion offers a series of cookbooks on Amazon.

3 Top Vegetable Recipes For Slow Cooker

When one thinks of cooking using a crock pot, he would automatically think of making meats juicy and tender. But slow cookers aren’t only good for meats, they’re ideal for all types of ingredients including fresh fruits and vegetables. So if you’ve recently started a healthy diet, you can count on your trusty crock pot to make delicious meals!

Here are 3 top vegetable recipes for slow cooker that are a must-try:

Best Ever Crock Pot Mashed Potatoes

What you need:

  • 2 1/4 kilograms red potatoes, sliced into chunks
  • 3 cubes chicken bouillon
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 1 cup cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Fill a large pot with lightly salted water and boil potatoes with chicken bouillon and garlic until potatoes are tender but still firm. Drain potatoes in a bowl, reserving water. Mash potatoes with sour cream and cream cheese, spooning reserved water to achieve desired consistency. Transfer mashed potatoes to a slow cooker, cover and cook for 2 to 3 hours on low. Stir in butter, salt and pepper before serving.

Crock Pot All-Veggie Chili

What you need:

  • 2 zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 can whole peeled tomatoes with juice
  • 1 can garbanzo beans, drained
  • 1 small can chopped green chile peppers
  • 1/3 cup chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt

Mix together zucchini, carrots, celery, green bell pepper, red bell pepper, onion, garlic, tomatoes, garbanzo beans and green chile peppers in a slow cooker. Stir to combine ingredients well. Season with chili powder, oregano, cumin and salt. Cover and cook for 6 to 8 hours on low or for 3 to 4 hours on high.

Slow Cooked Creamy Potato Soup

What you need:

  • 10 red potatoes, sliced into cubes
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 3/4 cup real bacon bits
  • 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped green onion
  • 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons chicken bouillon granules
  • 1 tablespoon ranch dressing mix
  • 2 teaspoons dried parsley
  • 1 teaspoon seasoned salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, toss potatoes in all-purpose flour to coat. Place coated potatoes, onion, garlic, chicken bouillon granules, ranch dressing mix, parsley, seasoned salt and black pepper in a crock pot. Stir to combine ingredients well. Add the water to the mixture. Cover and cook for 7 to 9 hours on low. When ready, add half and half to the soup, stir and cook for 15 minutes more. Sprinkle with Cheddar cheese and garnish with green onion to serve.

Food Trucks: The Real Movable Feasts

From the basic chuck wagon fare of stews, beans and biscuits, we have come a long way and expect far more than the old cellophane wrapped sandwich of the 50s and 60s, along with stale coffee. Ethnic cuisines and made to order hot foods are now commonplace for harried on-the-run office workers, and we’re wiling to pay top dollar for the convenience.

In the 50s, mobile canteens serviced U.S. Army troops on bases and maneuvers, but they were little more than regulation chow. Americans have come to expect far more and creative vendors gladly answer the call. From early ice cream trucks to the hot dog vendors with their Vienna Beef umbrellas, thousands tumble out of offices, factories and stores, headed to that truck down the street where they know what they’ll find and don’t mind standing in line for it. Who needs stale vending machine foods or fast food burgers when we can get fresh falafel packed into pita bread, a plate of nachos or an authentic fish and chips wrapped in newsprint. What has evolved from the “roach coach” of the past to a venue that launched the career of many executive chefs, food trucks now even cater at special events, college campuses,conferences and weddings.

Let’s examine the most popular and latest offerings from these meals-on-wheels across the country. Most of these truck operators also have restaurants multiple locations, and many are culinary school graduate and chefs:

The Grilled Cheeserie – from basic to designer grilled cheese sandwiches, Nashville

The Taco Truck – a variety of tacos and toppings, as well as burritos, Hoboken, NJ

Fukuburger Truck – the actual last name of its Japanese owner, burgers feature unusual Asian toppings and sauces, Las Vegas

Mac Mart Truck – takes mac and cheese to a new level with creative ingredients, Philadelphia

Luke’s Lobster – lobster, crab and shrimp rolls for about $17 (clearly not for those on a budget) New York City

The Cow and Curd – cheese curds, batter dipped and deep fried, with dipping sauces, Philadelphia

Kogi BBQ – creative and diverse Korean cuisine, Los Angeles

Ms. Cheezious – more designer grilled cheese sandwiches, one of America’s favorite comfort foods, Miami

Cinnamon Snail – vegan food for the more health-conscious and non meat-eating crowd, with not a snail in sight (go figure) NYC

Oink and Moo BBQ – award-winning pork and beef BBQ with all the trimmings, NJ

If you venture into ethnic neighborhoods, such as a big city Chinatown, obviously you’ll find a preponderance of their native cuisines dotting the streets, but overall these are the most common menu items across the country:

Barbecue
Hamburgers
Hot dogs
Coffee and coffee drinks
Smoothies / healthy drinks and juices
“Grown-up” grilled cheese sandwiches
Sliders
Cupcakes and desserts
Street tacos and burritos
Sushi
Lobster rolls
Mediterranean menus / Gyros
Crepes with special toppings
Vietnamese Banh Mi sandwiches
Pizza
Ice cream and soft serve
Shaved ice / Italian ice
Indian food
Hawaiian food
Chicken wings

In the US, food trucks are a $1.2 billion industry. Despite the obvious challenges such as lack of hot running water, strict regulations, licenses and health laws, food trucks serve an important role in our society and provide a vital service to thousands of workers everywhere. Although chuck wagons may simply be nostalgia, the concept lives on. Food trucks. When you just can’t wait to eat.