Tasteful: Aunt Mary’s Pot Roast

May 15, 2017  
Filed under Food

tastefulBy Jan Kenney

At a time when paleo-eating and vegetarianism seem to be what every food writer is blogging about, I find myself more than a little embarrassed to offer up the following recipe, which features (gasp!) canned mushroom soup. Read more

Expert Offers Tips On Going Meat-Free Once a Week

August 18, 2016  
Filed under Food

While there are many diet fads and trends that have come and gone over the years that dietitians warn against, there’s a new trend that many registered dietitians can get on board with. A Baylor College of Medicine dietitian said that going meatless once a week can be beneficial to your diet, and she offers tips on how to have a successful meat-free day. Read more

Second Mobile Food Shelf to Arrive February 26 at UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center

February 19, 2016  
Filed under Food, News

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps staff member Clarice Cutler, left, works with UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center Health Care Share team members, Andrea Hazuda and Mike Kennedy to bag apples for people in need during the Vermont Foodbank’s Veggie VanGo mobile food pantry. More than 150 people turned out for free, fresh groceries during the first monthly event at the hospital in Berlin. The next mobile food pantry is scheduled for February 26 from 9 to 11 a.m.

Vermont Youth Conservation Corps staff member Clarice Cutler, left, works with UVM Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center Health Care Share team members, Andrea Hazuda and Mike Kennedy to bag apples for people in need during the Vermont Foodbank’s Veggie VanGo mobile food pantry. More than 150 people turned out for free, fresh groceries during the first monthly event at the hospital in Berlin. The next mobile food pantry is scheduled for February 26 from 9 to 11 a.m.

 

Berlin, Vt. –The Vermont Foodbank’s Veggie VanGo, a mobile food pantry, will deliver its second round of healthy groceries to the University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center in partnership with Hunger Mountain Coop on Friday, February 26. All families and individuals in need are invited to pick up free, fresh produce and other groceries from 9 to 11 a.m. in Conference Rooms 1 and 2 on the lower level of the hospital in Berlin, Vt. More than 150 people turned out for the first event in January.

 

The Veggie VanGo will continue to distribute food at the hospital on several Fridays throughout the winter and spring including April 1, April 29, May 27 and June 24.

 

The mobile food shelf is an extension of the medical center’s Health Care Share (HCS) program, a food assistance collaboration with the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps (VYCC) farm, created to bring healthy food and nutrition education to those in need. HCS fundraising efforts support summer “food shares,” which are distributed weekly to food insecure families and provide more than 10 pounds of freshly harvested vegetables for three months. Last year more than 150 families and nearly 600 people were helped by the program. The Vermont Foodbank’s Veggie VanGo allows the Health Care Share program to expand during the non-growing season to fill the gap for families when the VYCC farm is closed.

 

The University of Vermont Health Network – Central Vermont Medical Center is part of a four-hospital system established to deliver high-quality academic medicine to every community we serve. Our partners are: The University of Vermont Medical Center, The University of Vermont Health Network – Champlain Valley Physicians Hospital, The University of Vermont Health Network – Elizabethtown Community Hospital. For more information and to connect with us through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and our blog, visit UVMHealth.org/CVMC.

Vermont Offers Year-Round Freshness with Winter Farmers’ Markets

January 28, 2016  
Filed under Food

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MONTPELIER, Vt. – Vermont is a pioneer of the farm-to-table movement, and it boasts more farmers’ markets per capita than any other state in the country. Fresh produce, crafts, baked goods, meats, and specialty foods are available nearly year-round. If you’re visiting Vermont between November and April, check out these winter farmers’ markets. Find more exciting Vermont events at www.VermontVacation.com

 

BENNINGTON FARMERS MARKET

Through April 16

Baptist Church on East Main, Bennington, VT

First and third Saturday, 10am-1pm Read more

Cocktail Walks

April 28, 2015  
Filed under Feature Stories, Food

A representative of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey talks rye at Hotel Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Farm Tours)

A representative of WhistlePig Straight Rye Whiskey talks rye at Hotel Vermont. (Photo courtesy of Vermont Farm Tours)

Get an inside look at Vermont’s emerging craft spirits scene

From soils to speakeasies, cocktails are a terrific representation of place, and some of the most evocative cocktails in the world are coming out of Vermont. Cocktail Walk introduces enthusiasts to the distillers and bartenders who are turning the Green Mountain State into a cocktail destination.
Chris Howell, founder of Vermont Farm Tours, created Cocktail Walk in 2013 to showcase the array of spirits produced in Vermont, as well as the bartending talent in Burlington and Winooski. Cocktail Walk now runs every other week. Each two-hour Cocktail Walk features a Vermont distiller and visits three restaurants for cocktails and food. The distiller is along to talk shop, and the bartenders discuss their creations and share recipes. The pace is relaxed, with time to eat, drink and catch up with friends.
It starts with dirt
A well-crafted cocktail may be the ultimate expression of terroir—the taste of place. And that taste is shaped first by the soil. Vermont is known as a cheese mecca, but the same soils that underlie the flavor of the state’s best cheeses also grow the grains, fruit, and botanicals that make Vermont’s finest spirits. In the hands of a talented distiller, a bag of rye—and the resulting whiskey—tells the story of the dirt and weather that shaped it.
An increasing number of Vermont’s 19 and counting craft distillers are embracing the notion of terroir and sourcing locally grown ingredients. Some, like WhistlePig in Shoreham, have even started growing their own (rye). Others, like Caledonia Spirits in Hardwick, are using local wood (white oak) for their aging barrels. Still others, like Vermont Spirits, harvest their own botanicals (juniper for their gin).
Ingredients matter
A good cocktail must have quality ingredients. Vermont sets itself apart not only with the sheer number of top-quality spirits made in state, but also with a cornucopia of locally produced herbs, tonics, and bitters—like Urban Moonshine, a medicinal bitters and tonic manufacturer in downtown Burlington.
Thank your bartender
If a cocktail is born in the soil, it is baptized at the bar. Cocktail Walk’s bartenders are assigned a different Vermont libation for each event. From there, the show is theirs. And they do impress—from Scott Christian’s (Bluebird Tavern) passion for prohibition-era cocktails to Mike Dunn’s (Misery Loves Co.) knowledge of the botanicals in Barr Hill Gin, Cocktail Walk’s bartenders consistently craft drinks as dynamic as they are delicious.

For more information, visit www.vermontfarmtours.com/cocktailwalk.html

Tasteful: Good morning granola bars

March 27, 2015  
Filed under Food

By Jan Kenney

I recently decided to re-think granola bars. They sounded healthy, they pack well, and they taste pretty good. However, after reading the nutrition information on the side of the box, and the price tag, I nixed that idea. But then I got to thinking, “How hard could they be to make at home?”
Turns out they aren’t hard or time-consuming at all. And the bonus is that I get to control what goes into them. I don’t need all of the preservatives that the packaged variety contain. I can control the sodium. Organic ingredients are an option. They can be gluten- and dairy-free. And I can cut them into whatever size suits.
I prefer the ‘squishy’ version of granola bars over the hard, crumbly kind, ones that were not too sweet and didn’t fall apart. Then I got out my cookbooks and searched the Web and began experimenting.
The homemade bar that I have based this recipe on is from the Smitten Kitchen (smittenkitchen.com/blog/2010/02/thick-chewy-granola-bars/. )
I have made some modifications to fit my taste and nutritional preferences. I added powdered milk because I figured I could sneak some calcium in. I also added a little bit of coconut oil for flavor, but also because it seemed to help the bars adhere together better.
The fun thing about granola bars is how flexible they can be. One can add crushed up pretzels, the last handful of Rice Krispies, cinnamon chips, pumpkin seeds, dates, dried banana chips – its your choice.
Now that I’ve made them a few times, I can make a batch in about 35 minutes, and 20 of those are baking time.
They’ve been a hit at our house. I hope they make mornings at your house easier, too.

Soft Granola Bars
(With thanks to the Smitten Kitchen for inspiration)
Ingredients
3 cups oatmeal (old fashioned or quick)
1 cup of oatmeal finely ground in blender or food processor
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 to 3 cups of add-ins*
2/3 cup of peanut butter or other nut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (or maple extract)
1/2 cup of honey or maple syrup
1/4 cup dry milk (optional)
3 Tablespoons water
1/4 cup of coconut oil

Instructions
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 9×13 inch pan with parchment paper.
Mix together the dry ingredients. Place the remaining ingredients in a microwave-friendly bowl and heat for 1 minute or until peanut butter is soft. Stir and pour over the dry ingredients. Mix until well blended. (If there is dry oatmeal still at the bottom of the bowl, add a little more honey/syrup.)
Spread everything into your prepared pan. Firmly press the mixture down and into the corners of the pan with a rolling pin or a wooden spoon. Putting a piece of plastic wrap that has been lightly sprayed with baking spray over top before packing can help if sticking is a problem.
Bake the bars for 20-25 minutes, until they are starting to brown around the edges. They can bake for another 10 minutes if you like them crisper.
Let cool to luke-warm. Cut into bars or squares. Let them cool completely, then wrap individually or store in airtight container.
*Suggestions: dried cranberries, dates, apricots, coconut, crushed pretzels, Rice Krispies, walnuts, sunflower seeds, pecans, dried apples, chocolate chips, dried pineapple, Bran Buds, flax, sesame seeds, raisins, wheat germ.

Just in Time for the Holidays Table Manners & First Impressions

January 15, 2015  
Filed under Food

Etiquette is all about learning proper social skills — from how to make first impressions in interviews and during social events, to graceful dining habits that are vital signposts to success in today’s very competitive business environment,” says Fiona Cameron-Williams, International Protocol Consultant to the United Nations International School in Queens, NY, and President of FCW Hospitality and Private Residence Consulting, Inc.

Cameron-Williams believes that table manners play an important part in making a favorable impression, be it at a business meeting, on a first date or during a social gathering. “They are visible signals of the state of our manners and therefore are essential to personal and professional success. The point of etiquette rules is to make you feel comfortable, not uncomfortable.”

Here are some suggestions:
Simple table manners
Pass food from the left to the right. Do not stretch across the table, crossing other guests, to reach food or condiments.
If asked for the salt or pepper, pass both together, even if a table mate asks for only one of them. This is so dinner guests won’t have to search for orphaned shakers.
Set any passed item, whether it’s the salt and pepper shakers, a bread basket or a butter plate, directly on the table instead of passing hand-to-hand.
Never intercept a pass. Snagging a roll out of the bread basket or taking a shake of salt when it is en route to someone else is a no-no.
Always use serving utensils to serve yourself, not your personal silverware.
In a restaurant
As soon as you are seated, remove the napkin from your place setting, unfold it and put it in your lap. Do not shake it open. At some very formal restaurants, the waiter may do this for the diners, but it is not inappropriate to place your own napkin in your lap, even when this is the case.
The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal. Don’t clean the cutlery or wipe your face with the napkin. NEVER use it to wipe your nose!
If you excuse yourself from the table, loosely fold the napkin and place it to the left or right of your plate. Do not refold your napkin or wad it up on the table either. Never place your napkin on your chair.
At the end of the meal, leave the napkin semi-folded at the left side of the place setting. It should not be crumpled or twisted; nor should it be folded. The napkin must also not be left on the chair.

At a private dinner party
The meal begins when the host or hostess unfolds his or her napkin. This is your signal to do the same. Place your napkin on your lap, completely unfolded if it is a small luncheon napkin or in half, lengthwise, if it is a large dinner napkin.Do not shake it open.
The napkin rests on the lap till the end of the meal.
The host will signal the end of the meal by placing his or her napkin on the table. Once the meal is over, you too should place your napkin neatly on the table to the left of your dinner plate.
For more etiquette suggestions and information, visit www.fionacameron-williams.com.

Fit to eat: Fruits & Vegetables— Do You Wash Them or Not?

December 1, 2014  
Filed under Food, Places I’ve Played

Stuart-Offer---Headshot-CMYK

By Dr. Stuart Offer

My wife Leslie and I are traveling around the U.S. in our motorhome. Recently, we spent a wonderful day at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, Wash. The market was enormous with indoor and outside displays of every imaginable food. There were numerous fruit and vegetable stalls selling their produce, some of which was in the form of cut fruit sold in cups and fresh squeezed fruit and vegetable juices. My first impression was “Wow, what a beautiful and healthy display of foods.” However, knowing what I know I also had the thought, “Does the public know of the dirty little secret about fresh produce that could make you sick or even kill you, and yes even from organically grown produce?”

The dirty secret — much of this produce can be contaminated.

So, should you wash your produce? The short answer is an absolute yes. Let’s face it nobody likes to get a mouthful of sand and grit when eating a salad, however there are many more reasons to wash your produce than this. Many of us may just carry on the traditions that our families did from the past, washing or not washing. For those who never wash, here is some information that may make you reconsider.

There are three reasons to wash your produce: contamination from soil; microbes; and pesticides. As I said, no one likes biting into a gritty salad, and the problems connected with microbe-contaminated produce have been well publicized. Pesticides are designed to be toxic and their effects on people are well understood, so it’s best to avoid them when you can.

Federal health officials estimate that nearly 48 million people are sickened by food contaminated with harmful germs each year, and some of the causes might surprise you. Although most people know animal products must be handled carefully to prevent illness, many don’t realize that produce can also be the culprit in outbreaks of foodborne illness. In recent years, the United States has had several large outbreaks of illness caused by contaminated fruits and vegetables including spinach, tomatoes and lettuce.

Fresh produce can become contaminated in many ways. During the growing phase, fruits and veggies may be contaminated by animals, harmful substances in the soil or water or poor hygiene among workers. After produce is harvested, it passes through many hands, increasing the contamination risk. Contamination can even occur after the produce has been purchased, during food preparation or through inadequate storage.

The FDA has some very good guidelines and recommendations when it comes to produce. Here is what they recommend: 

Buying Tips

Purchase produce that is not bruised or damaged.

When selecting fresh-cut produce such as half a watermelon or bagged salad greens, choose items that are refrigerated or surrounded by ice.

Bag fresh fruits and vegetables separately from meat, poultry and seafood products.

Storage Tips

Store perishable fresh fruits and vegetables (like strawberries, lettuce, herbs and mushrooms) in a clean refrigerator at a temperature of 40° F or below.

Refrigerate all produce that is purchased pre-cut or peeled.

Preparation Tips

Begin with clean hands. Wash your hands for 20 seconds with warm water and soap before and after preparing fresh produce.

Cut away any damaged or bruised areas on fresh fruits and vegetables. Produce that looks rotten should be discarded. The bruised and damaged areas are where bacteria thrive. 

All produce should be thoroughly washed before eating. Wash fruits and vegetables under running water just before eating, cutting or cooking. The more water the better here. 

Many precut, bagged produce items like lettuce are pre-washed. If the package indicates that the contents have been pre-washed, you can use the produce without further washing.

Even if you plan to peel the produce before eating, it is still important to wash it first. For instance, if your melon has bacteria on the outside of it and you do not wash it, then cutting into the melon will introduce the germs into the flesh of the fruit. 

Washing fruits and vegetables with soap or detergent or using commercial produce washes is not recommended. The effectiveness of detergents and commercial products have not been proven and can leave residue on the produce. Yuck, who wants detergent on their strawberries?

Scrub firm produce, such as melons and cucumbers, with a clean produce brush. 

Drying produce with a clean cloth towel or paper towel may further reduce bacteria that may be present.

Also, keep in mind that packaged fruit and vegetable juices are required to be pasteurized to kill harmful bacteria. Farm stand and cider mills that sell fresh juice by the glass are not required to be pasteurized or have a warning label. Also, make sure that fresh cut fruit, such as melon, is stored under 40 degrees or packed on ice. The FDA has recommended the young, elderly or people with weakened immune systems avoid any unpasteurized juices or cut fruit that has not been stored properly. 

One final piece of advice ­ be diverse. Eat a wide variety of fruits and vegetables. This is not only nutritionally beneficial but may help limit exposure to any one type of pesticide residue.

Fit to Eat: Don’t Cook for Two

September 18, 2014  
Filed under Food

By Dr. Stuart Offer
For many years, I have traveled to all corners of Vermont coaching and teaching people about nutrition. The area from which I get the most requests for help is meal planning.
I love cookbooks and over the last few years I have seen many new books appear with names such as “The Complete Cooking for Two Cookbook” and “Cooking for Two.” Personally, I think these books are the worst idea when it comes to meal planning and cooking for busy people, and who these days is not busy?
Instead, let’s talk about the benefits of cooking for four, even six, (let’s call it “cooking large”) when there are only two of you, maybe only one of you.
I love to cook, but I don’t love cooking seven nights a week. I feel a better idea is cooking once, then using the food to create a few meals from the leftovers. This way, I don’t feel so much pressure when I want to make a masterpiece dinner because I know I will get more mileage out of it.
I often cook and prepare one or two big meals per week that will later need only small amounts of put-together time for the remaining meals that week.
My wife Leslie and I are Kansas City certified BBQ judges — we travel to judge-sanctioned BBQ competitions. That being said, I enjoy grilling and barbequing big time. I love to cook massive amounts of food on my grill that I can eat all week long.
One of the big advantages when I cook large is I can shop once, often taking advantage of sales and specials, and prep and clean up once instead of multiple times. Although there is nothing like meat on the grill, veggies and fruit are some of my favorite foods to grill at very high temperatures and eat as leftovers. High heat from the grill will carmelize the sugars in the fruits and veggies (yes, even veggies) and give it a very unique and delicious flavor compared to cooking at lower temperatures.
I come from the school of thought that any grilled veggie can benefit from some salt, pepper and granulated garlic. I also believe any fruit cooked on the grill is better with a little sugar and cinnamon. Below is my favorite ratio of salt, pepper and garlic for veggies, as well as cinnamon sugar.
What I love about grilling produce is it is so easy. There is really no recipe, just a procedure that works for everything. I preheat my grill until screaming hot, then I coat each side of the food with a favorite cooking oil, sprinkle with a light coat of seasoning and grill for two to three minutes per side – the length of time will vary based on whether you like things softer (cook longer) or crunchier (cook shorter). Usually everything is done when you get grill marks on each side.
My favorite things to cook: corn on the cob (husk the corn and grill it naked); zucchini; yellow squash and onions cut in ¼ inch slices. Other favorites are cauliflower cut into ½ inch “steaks,” tomatoes, peppers of any type from sweet to spicy (cut these into large pieces so they lay flat) and avocado (cut in half, remove pit and grill the cut side down with the skin on then spoon out the flesh). Fruits include any stone fruit (peaches are my favorite), fresh pineapple and banana (cut banana in half the long way, coat cut side with cinnamon sugar and grill on both side until grill marks form). These fruits make a wonderful dessert, with a little low fat ice cream or in any savory dishes.
Once you have a pile of these, they can be used either at room temperature or warmed up. For the follow-up meals, try putting them into a salad, fill a sandwich, or think tacos and egg dishes such as scrambles or frittatas —great for breakfast, lunch or dinner.
As you know, I am always trying to get you to eat more fruits and veggies, so here is a great way to make that happen. By the way, this also works for meat, poultry and seafood.
Garlic Pepper Salt
1 cup salt
1/4 cup black pepper
1/4 cup garlic powder
Cinnamon-Sugar Blend
1/4 cup granulated white sugar
1 tablespoon cinnamon
Below is an incredibly simple dish that can be made in minutes for breakfast, lunch or dinner
Dr. Stuart Offer is a Vermont health coach and educator currently traveling throughout North America.

Al Fresco Summer Dining in Vermont

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Food

August 2014

By Phyl Newbeck

Summer in Vermont is fleeting so you’ll want to maximize your time in the great outdoors. One way to do that to go on a picnic! Whether it’s an afternoon on the beach, a hike to a scenic overlook, a family get-together or an evening at an outdoor concert, food just tastes better when it’s spread out on a blanket or a picnic table. Enjoy the summer. Dine out while you can!

If you know you’re going use a picnic table, you might want to bring an old plastic-coated cloth that’s easy to wipe down. That way you don’t have to worry about what previous guests – or seagulls – have left on the table. If you’re planning on staying at ground level, a good blanket will provide a little separation between you and the grass or sand. For an outdoor concert, you may want to bring a light, portable chair, but recognize that many venues ask those with taller chairs to sit in the back so they don’t block the views of others.

It’s beautiful outside,but you’re likely to be sharing your space with a few flying creatures, some of whom may think that you are the perfect picnic meal. Mosquitoes are fiercest in the early morning and late evening. Citronella candles can be very romantic, but you won’t want to carry them for long distances so bug repellent is probably something you should think about. For daytime picnics, you’ll also want to remember your sunscreen.

Glass containers aren’t recommended since they’re fragile, but if you do bring along some Chardonnay, don’t forget a bottle opener.

The length of your trip to the picnic site will obviously impact how much or how little you bring. If you’re not going far, a cooler will ensure that food doesn’t spoil and drinks stay cold. A hard-covered cooler has the advantage of doubling as a small table. If you’ve got farther to go, a big knapsack or Adirondack pack basket will do the trick. It’s best to avoid plastic bags unless you enjoy spending your time chasing after them as the wind blows them hither and yon.

Katherine Vanderminden of Village Roots Catering in Pawlet thinks a cold quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and maple balsamic is a perfect picnic dish for a day at the lake. She also favors homemade hummus or black bean dip with vegetable sticks and low salt corn chips. For longer treks, she likes to make venison jerky and will also pre-cut fruit for a healthier snack. Vanderminden cautions picnickers to avoid pasta salads, which dry out quickly, and mayonnaise based salads, which can spoil in the sun and heat.

It’s always safest to pack soft food like fruit or dessert in separate plastic containers. For sandwiches, there is reusable packaging made of cloth with one waxy side for the food and a Velcro clasp to cut down on the use of plastic bags and aluminum foil. One tip for avoiding soggy sandwiches is to put the driest material like meat or cheese closest to the bread with the lettuce and tomatoes in the center. If possible, buy sturdy, re-usable plastic utensils since lighter ones are more likely to break.

Not surprisingly, Director of Vermont State Parks Craig Whipple considers state parks ideal locations for picnics. A tab on the State Parks website even provides a list of prime locations. Whipple suggests the top of Mt. Philo as a great place to spread out a blanket and dine al fresco, but notes that many people prefer the shores of various ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Some parks have sheltered areas which are ideal for large groups of people and convenient for getting out of the weather.

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