Eat This, Stay Sharp

Heart_StrawsBlues2I was going through some back issues of AARP – The magazine recently, and ran across this article written by Monica Bhide in 2011 that sings the praises of berries for protecting against mental decline.  Enjoy!

Glorious blueberries, sweet acai berries, luscious strawberries — new research shows they may boost your aging brain.

As we get older, damaged cells accumulate in the brain, which can lead to age-related diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. That’s where berries come in. Polyphenols, which give berries their deep-red or -blue hue, activate proteins that “clean up” damaged cells, breaking down and recycling the age-related mental decline, says study author Shibu Poulose, Ph.D., a molecular biologist with the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging in Boston.

These berried treasures do more than help your mind: Blueberries rank first among fruits for their antioxidant powers, strawberries are tops in vitamin C, and acai berries contain high levels of omega-6 and -9 fatty acids, thought to play a role in cardiovascular health, says nutritionist Robyn Webb, food editor of Diabetes Forecast magazine.

So — ready to increase your berry intake? Add them to cereal, purée them into sauces, or just each them fresh.

Foodie vacations help travelers save money

foodwindjammersalmonThose who think food-focused vacation dining has to cost as much or more than the cost of accommodations may want to reconsider how they approach culinary travel.

Here’s a handful of my favorite ways to enjoy full-flavored travel experiences.

Charity: Fundraising efforts frequently provide ways to enjoy phenomenal local food for less.

One example is the annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked event in Florida, which raises money for a number of causes, including transitional support services for disabled veterans. Ticket holders get to enjoy gourmet food samples from the area’s top restaurants, as well as beverage pours from a wide variety of wine and spirit vendors. While a great value in its own right, further savings can be enjoyed by taking advantage of package perks with the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa. As the event’s host hotel, the resort offers discounted suites with full kitchens, living rooms, multiple bathrooms and walk-out balconies. Half-priced event tickets also come with the lower-priced room rates.

Cuisine: Cities with serious foodie scenes often host annual events to entice visitors and locals alike to check out a variety of restaurant venues.

In the state of New York, for instance, Taste of Buffalo offers a penny-pinching traveler a variety of options for full-flavored foodie fun. The event prices sample experiences in a way that mirrors many amusement park rides, with different restaurant offerings available for a set number of tickets, typically between two and eight. Individual tickets are 50 cents each, and must be purchased in $5 sheets. Not bad for a city-wide event, and the affordable starting price allows vacationers to customize participation according their budgets.

10 southern festivals you need to taste

asheville_food_and_wineThis article, written by Lynn Seldon, appeared in the Sun., February 3rd edition of The News & Observer. If you’re a fellow foodie, it’s a great summary of the top food and wine festivals in the Southeast for 2013. Although two of them have already occurred, there are still plenty to savor for the remainder of the year. Enjoy reading about them here:

Food and wine festivals in the Southeast are hotter than a cast iron skillet full of corn bread. “We are witnessing a proliferation of festivals in the South and across the nation,” says John T. Edge, director of the Southern Foodways Alliance in Oxford, Miss.

Of southern-specific festivals, Atlanta chef Kevin Gillespie says, “The food and wine festivals in the South give a rare opportunity to witness what we’re all about.”

Each weekend has its own flavor, but all of them have key ingredients that typically include a “grand tasting” with tapas-like tastes of food and beverages, special multi-course restaurant dinners (often with visiting guest chefs), seminars and tastings, and charity fund-raising through ticket sales. Events often sell out quickly, making packages that include accommodations and tickets—often including “sold out” events—popular and well-priced.

Here are ten top personally experienced and recommended food and wine festivals in the region. They are arranged chronologically for 2013:

Read the full article here.

What’s trendy for food in 2013

cruciferous_greensFrom kale to black bean chips, look for these hot trends in 2013.

Cruciferous greens: Members of the cabbage family, such as kale, chard, turnip greens and mustard greens, will start making regular appearances at restaurants. How about kale chips with your sandwich or burger?

Cupcake-dispensing ATMs: An ATM look-a-like dispenses freshly baked cupcakes 24/7. Other companies like Jamba Juice (JamboGo) and Seattle’s Best Coffee brands also have vending machines from which to buy their goodies.

Crackdown on food claims: In 2012, many folks were surprised to learn that chocolate hazelnut spread wasn’t as healthy as the ads and product labels promoted. A producer of Greek yogurt was also sued for using milk-protein concentrate in lieu of straining techniques used to make Greek yogurt.

Hottest fad diets: Both the Paleo and Wheat Belly diets are the trendiest around. Both have diehard followers with testimonials that’ll knock your socks off, though dietitians agree that neither is a healthy or safe eating plan to follow.

Artisan cocktails: Bar keeps are no longer just bartenders. They are creators of exotic cocktails using honey or vanilla syrup, fresh herbs from the local farmer’s market and infusing spirits (like rum and vodka) with kiwi or mango.

Your favorite food store: In addition to picking up Chobani Greek yogurt in the grocery aisle, you can also stop by its Greek-yogurt bar in SoHo, New York. Dannon also opened a store on Park Avenue in New York City.

Tea, not just for sipping: The use of tea in cooking will shine in the new year. Tea ca be used in rubs and braising liquids and in poached fruit, cakes and shortbreads.

Chips galore: Move over, potatoes: Rice, black beans, lentils and garbanzo beans are just some of the other foods used to make the ever-popular chip.

Source: Food Network Kitchens



6 Mood-Boosting Superfoods

Forget the candy, potato chips and ice cream—science shows that these are the real comfort foods.

“Just as premium gasoline makes for a smoother-running car, brain-friendly foods can make for a smoother mood,” says Oregon-based dietitian Elizabeth Somer, author of Eat Your Way to Happiness.

That’s because food is the No. 1 source of the chemical building blocks that regulate emotions and increase well-being. Want to brighten your outlook? Add the following six ingredients to your diet.


The molecules that give this fruit its characteristic red, orange, or yellow hue are carotenoids, antioxidants that counteract the damage wrought by free radicals, which destroy mood-protecting fats in the brain.

A 2011 study from the National Institute on Aging found that older people who filled up on carotenoid-rich foods were 28 percent less likely to be depressed. And “people with high blood levels of carotenoids have lower rates of memory loss and dementia,” says Drew Ramsey, M.D., a Columbia University psychiatrist specializing in nutrition and coauthor of The Happiness Diet.

Happiness-boosting Rx: One serving (about a cup) of tomatoes a day—either fresh or in tomato-based sauces or low-sugar ketchup or salsa.

Whole Grains

Noshing on carbs promotes the release of insulin, a hormone that stimulates serotonin ­production, Somer says. (To avoid a blood sugar spike, choose whole grains over the processed variety.) Avoid eating carbs and proteins ­together; doing so can block the effects of serotonin, says Somer.

Happiness-boosting Rx: Two cups of air-popped popcorn or whole-grain graham crackers.

Fatty Fish

More than half of the human brain is composed of fat, and two types seem to be crucial to mood: the omega-3 fats DHA and EPA, found in fish such as salmon and mackerel.

Last year, scientists analyzed the blood of U.S. veterans who had committed suicide and found far lower levels of DHA than were found in veterans who reported no suicidal feelings. And in December 2011, a ­research review by the New York State Psychiatric Institute concluded that EPA can significantly reduce the symptoms of depression.

Happiness-boosting Rx: At least two servings of seafood, especially fatty fish, each week.

Dark Chocolate

Chocolate—particularly the dark kind, which by definition consists of at least 60 percent cocoa—is thought to increase the brain’s ­serotonin levels. Chocolate may also increase mental alertness: In a 2010 study, British researchers asked 30 people to drink cocoa drinks or similar-tasting ­cocoa-free drinks and then gave them a series of cognitive tasks, like solving arithmetic problems. Those who drank the cocoa performed significantly better and felt less ­mentally drained afterward.

Happiness-boosting Rx: One ounce of dark chocolate a day.


These leafy greens are loaded with folate, a B vitamin the brain uses to make several mood-regulating chemicals, including serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. (Other folate-packed foods include lentils and asparagus.) “Up to 50 percent of people with depression are folate-deficient,” says Ramsey. A 2010 report from the American Psychiatric Association even noted that folate may be effective in treating depression.

Happiness-boosting Rx: One to two cups of spinach, or another folate-rich food, each day.

Red Meat

We know, we know—red meat has its detractors. But it’s an incredibly good source of iron, which the brain needs to make mood-regulating chemicals like dopamine; in fact, people who are iron-deficient may be 50 percent more likely to become depressed than those with higher iron levels.

Ramsey recommends meat from grass-fed cows; it contains more happiness-promoting omega-3 fats than beef from conventionally raised cows. Stick to lean, unprocessed cuts—more roast beef, fewer hot dogs. (Vegetarian? Though it’s harder to absorb iron from non-meat sources, the best bets are beans, dried fruit, and whole grains.)

Happiness-boosting Rx: Two small servings of red meat each week—a total of 8 to 12 ounces.

Article written by Melinda Wenner Moyer for Parade Magazine.


Top 10 Food Trends

http://www.virtualme.bizThe Foodservice Research Institute, which tracks 12 American regional cuisines, reports that Southern, as well as American seaboard and barbecue, leads U.S. cuisines on restaurant menus in 2011.

This trend is one of 10 identified for 2011 by the Institute of Food Technologies, a nonprofit scientific society whose members are professionals engaged in yummy science.

The 10 trends are:

  1. The appeal of Americana. Americana, characterized by factions ranging from local and farm-raised foods to regional cuisines, will be among the most prominent food-industry trends over the next decade.
  2. Huge difference between young and old. Older than 50? You like familiar, home-cooked meals three times a day. Younger than 50? You’re expecting easy meals and snacks.
  3. But still cooking. Last year, more than half of grocery shoppers prepared more meals at home than in 2009, approaching a 20-year high. That trend is expected to continue.
  4. Foodie focused. Two-thirds of consumers consider themselves knowledgeable and interested in food.
  5. Getting real. Consumers are increasingly concerned about the contents of the food in their diets, believing that limiting things such as preservatives and artificial colors is a component of healthy eating.
  6. The new nutrients. Eaters are shifting away from getting nutrients via fortified foods. They’re turning toward products that are naturally blended with other foods to create even higher nutrient levels.
  7. Specialty treats. Despite the trend toward nutrient-rich foods, people are still demanding goodies. Chocolate candy, creamers, cookies and wine are among the fastest-growing categories in food, drug and mass merchandisers.
  8. Three squares. The number of adults eating three meals a day increased 6 percent during the past two years, with breakfast being the biggest beneficiary of that trend.
  9. Prescriptive eating. Consumers are very concerend about risk factors for disease, and they are turning to functional foods to aid in their health goals.
  10. Home rituals. The difficult economy forced Americans to alter their everyday eating practices. For example, 78 percent of all snacking now takes place in the home while home entertaining is huge.

Source: Carolina Woman, July 2011 Edition