11.11.2014

Who wants FREE Beecher's Mac & Cheese?

Who wouldn't?

Okay, I am working to reduce blatant advertisements, but I couldn't help myself when this came through my newsletter inbox today:


I still love their product!
The Holidays are just around the corner, and it's my favorite time of the year for treats at my favorite stores. Whole Foods Market is running all sorts of great tastings for products they're selling, and my favorite popcorn source, Kukuruza Popcorn, is selling their holiday flavors.

This year, Kukuruza is bringing back the Eggnog Brandy caramel corn, which is absolutely addicting. When I first met the team in 2009, they had brought out several really great flavors, and one popular flavor was the Eggnog Brandy.

Behold:
Rich chocolate, cinnamon and other spices... what else could you want?

I like bringing popcorn to gatherings where you are fairly sure there will already be lots of food (Thanksgiving!) and just want to share a sweet nibble that is both handmade (by professionals) and easy (it's popcorn).

The popcorn is sold in different sized bags - 2 smalls are great for a smaller gathering of 6 people - and in bins. You can taste all of the flavors they're currently selling, so just go crazy. Savory and sweet flavors abound, so you'll likely find something you really enjoy.

The location I frequent is the Pike Place Market location, but they're all over the world now! Go to your closest one and happy shopping!



Happy Early Holidays!

11.03.2014

Adventures in California and Lundberg Family Farms


After two years at Beecher's Handmade Cheese and parent company Sugar Mountain, I have moved to the Product Innovation team at Lundberg Family Farms, a family-owned rice farm and mill in Chico, CA.

Chico is 90 miles north of Sacramento and is surrounded alternately by almond (and other nut) trees and rice paddies. It sits next to the Oroville Reservoir, which gets its water from the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Chico is home to a Smuckers plant, Sierra Nevada beer, Chico Bags, and Kleen Kanteen.

I accepted the position of Product Innovation Technologist with an emphasis of managing the relationships we have with current and potential co-packers, companies who use our recipes and products to make finished products that we don't have the machinery to make.

I joined the team at a really unique time. Both of the current team members left for other experiences, and I was looking for a food manufacturer who had products in food categories I haven't worked with. They were looking for someone with a culinary background who could handle the commercialization process - the steps that are taken to convert a recipe from a smaller size (think in servings of 20-50) to larger scale (think enough for grocery stores to carry). It has so far worked out really nicely.

Now, the unusual element of this new job is that Joshua has stayed in Seattle in order to continue his training as a sales person at REI, a premium outdoor activity supply company. The store's manager where he works invests in her higher achieving team members and helps develop their brand knowledge and leadership skills, with the hope that a few of them will develop into department and store general managers. He is in such a great store that it makes little sense to move him from that to an area with very little opportunity with the skills he has now. Assuming he is chosen to manage a store in the future, he will be able to take on a leadership role at a store close to my workplace. So, for the time being, Josh has stayed in our condo in Seattle, and I rent a room from a friendly and generous couple in Chico. I also fly back to Seattle as often as we can afford.

You might recognize Lundberg Family Farms. We started buying more of their products once Joshua transitioned completely to a gluten free diet. And we can probably blame my mom for my Rice Chip ADDICTION (yes, in caps). My mom had purchased LFF Rice Chips - Sesame Seaweed for us during one of our early Christmas visits, and we were pretty much hooked. Thicker and heartier than the average chip, LFF Rice Chips are made from a mixture of rice and corn flour and have rice kernels in the chips. They're really filling and have an enjoyable crunch, and I've eaten enough of the chips to make a meal on occasion.

Lundberg Family Farms was founded in 1937, when the original Lundbergs - Albert and Frances - moved their family of four sons from Nebraska to California. They founded their farm and quickly began developing farming practices that they felt were more responsible to their fields and less harsh than the use of pesticides and excessive use of fertilizers, practices that were common in post-war farmland. Eventually, they decided to open their own rice mill, because they didn't want their carefully cultivated rice to be mixed in with all the other rice. This really established their farm as a source for high quality, California-grown rice, and multiple farmers have joined the Lundberg farms because they also agree with the farming practices. Each farmer retains ownership of their lands and sell their rice in a cooperative setting.

What really drew me to Lundberg Family Farms was the high quality products and offerings. They
just completed a really large launch of new products and were showing zero signs of slowing down. I really liked the hiring manager and her boss, the VP of R&D. I also was drawn to the idea of working in California. It was also helpful that their primary product was naturally gluten-free, so Josh could finally eat some of the items I worked on.

I also have an insatiable interest in food manufacturing and factories. It's probably somewhat related to the factory work that my dad in China. Bible-printing factories are not the same as rice bagging machines, but the large scale and the beehive-like feeling is comparable.

There's also this connection through my grandfather, Charles King, who worked for General Mills and developed some of the products that are literally household items today. It's sort of like walking in his footsteps, but it's more like exploring the food industry from the inside. I feel that changing our everyday items - cereals, sides, and quick-meals - is a way to impact the nutritional health of our nation. It's one of the reason that I love doing what I do.

I've been with Lundberg since July and am loving it! I hope you get a chance to try some of the products - we have some really cool new items coming soon!

Photos and description of the brand have been taken from the Lundberg Family Farms website - www.lundberg.com.

10.29.2014

The Best Source of Meatless Proteins

Guest post from our friends at Kitchenbug, an online searchable recipe database that allows you to search for recipes based on nutritional requirements, such as "gluten free" or "vegan."

The Best Source of Meatless Proteins


Calling all vegetarians and vegans! You need to take care of yourself, and make up for the lack of meat in your diet. Finding a range of substitutes for meat can be an arduous task without even asking yourself if you are getting enough protein. This article can help you become aware of the variety of meat substitutes, give you healthy ideas and provide you with tools for eating healthy on a meatless diet.

Mixed Grains & Legumes

Mixing grains and legumes creates a complete, i.e. ideal protein.

Try mixing rice and lentils, chickpeas and bulgur, quinoa and black beans. Of course, feel free to throw in some roasted veggies or greens to add variety.

Delve into the traditional Arab dish Mujaddara for inspiration. This consists of rice/bulgur and lentils with spices and sometimes yogurt.



Meat Substitutes

  • Tofu

It is probably the best known and most popular meat substitute. However, it isn’t a natural or complete protein, so team it up with other protein sources. Marinade it, grill it, blend it with almonds to make ‘cheese’. Remember to add seasoning, as tofu is unflavored.

  • Soya Chunks

If you’re craving a meaty texture, this protein is the one for you! It is high in protein although industrialized, so can contain added preservatives and salt. Like tofu, it needs seasoning to make it tasty.

  • Seitan

This mock meat is usually found in Asian cuisine, and is often used as a replacement for duck due to its realistic ‘meaty’ texture. Seitan contains gluten and is therefore not suitable for celiacs. Like Soya Chunks, it is a manufactured product which contains added salt and preservatives.



Vegetables

While vegetables contain high levels of protein (particularly broccoli, sprouts, green peas and mushrooms), it is not possible to rely on them as a primary source of protein. For instance, 300g of cooked broccoli contains 9g of protein while 100g of chicken contains 25-30g of protein. Combine your veggies with another protein-rich source...stir-fry is a great choice.

Tips:

  • Eat protein throughout the day.

It is highly unlikely that you will consume your daily allowance in one meal. Spread out your protein intake throughout the day to give you a higher chance of ingesting the necessary amount.

  • Eat a wide variety of quality protein.

Scientifically speaking, you should be aiming to eat proteins with a high biological value. This basically means proteins that include all of the amino acids that are essential for us to keep healthy. Natural meat and eggs have the highest biological values of any protein, so veggies and vegans need to find other options.

  • Plan your meals.

Sticking to a vegan or vegetarian diet can be challenging, so find tools to help you. I recommend Kitchenbug: a useful online recipe platform which allows you to search for recipes on its database according to dietary requirements such as ‘vegan’ or ‘high protein’ or even both, just by placing a comma in the middle: 'vegan, high-protein'. It also instantly analyzes the nutritional value of any recipe you find online, and can help you to discover which proteins will benefit you. Use it to build up your own collection of recipes, organizing them in your personal boxes, to aid meal planning and ensure you never run out of inspiration.



 By Ilanit Fananes

About the author: Ilanit Fananes is a Registered Dietician who works at Kitchenbug as well as runs her own private practice. In her free time, she likes to play basketball. She tells her clients to toss the scale and use their clothes as the best measure of success!