Category Archives: Health/Nutrition

Umpqua — Oatmeal with a Funny Name and a Great Taste

Umpqua oatmeal contains a generous amount of custom-milled oats.

Umpqua oatmeal contains a generous amount of custom-milled oats.

 

Umpqua. Say it with me now, “ump-kwah.”

Not that you need to be able to pronounce it to enjoy this premium single-serve oatmeal product.

Named for the valley of the same moniker in Southern Oregon, it’s where this oatmeal product was developed by a couple of moms who were tired of feeding their kids mass-produced oatmeal packets that contained a whole lot more than good-for-you oats.

What makes their oatmeal different is that it’s made with custom-milled oats. So much so, that they’re actually groats — the whole hulled grain — that cook up more chewy rather than mushy and include more fiber.

Because the oatmeal is made in a manufacturing plant that also produces wheat products, it is not certified gluten-free. However, the makers say that the oats consistently test within the acceptable tolerance level for gluten-free certification.

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EXO — An Energy Bar With A Little Something Different

There are about 40 crickets in each bar.

There are about 40 crickets in each bar.

 

Unwrap an EXO protein bar and you’ll find something unusual lurking inside.

Crickets.

Yes, these bars have an unlikely ingredient — flour made from ground crickets.

Gabi Lewis and Greg Sewitz got the idea for these unusual bars when they were in their final year at Brown University after discovering the health and environmental benefits insects have. Indeed, according to them, insects are a source of protein in 80 percent of the world. Moreover, crickets are low in saturated fat and contain more iron than beef.

They figured the easiest way to entice people to eat insects would be to put them in a form they readily understood — a bar. So, they enlisted the help of Chef Kyle Connaughton, former head chef of R&D at The Fat Duck in England and former culinary director of Chipotle, to develop the bars.

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Take Five with Cheryl Forberg On Being the Nutritionist For “The Biggest Loser”

Nutritionist and chef, Cheryl Forberg, has had anything but a one-track life. (Photo courtesy of Forberg)

Nutritionist and chef, Cheryl Forberg, has had anything but a one-track life. (Photo courtesy of Forberg)

 

You may know Napa Valley resident Cheryl Forberg as the nutritionist for NBC’s smash hit, “The Biggest Loser.’’

What you may not know is how she got that coveted job, or how superstar Chef Jeremiah Tower played a pivotal role in her making a dramatic career change, or how Darth Vader’s creator played a part along the way, too.

A few months ago, I had a chance to chat with Forberg about all of that and a whole lot more.

Q: You were a flight attendant in 1986 when Jeremiah Tower happened to be on your flight – and that experience totally changed your life?

A: Yes, it was a flight from New York to Nice. I was working economy and he was sitting in first class. I was crazy about Stars. I had his cookbook and cooked all the recipes. He was my idol.

I heard through the grapevine that he was on the flight. When I went up to meet him, he was sleeping, so I didn’t even get a chance to meet him. I had wanted to change careers for so long. It planted the seed. I couldn’t sleep that night. When I got back to New York, I went to a pay phone outside customs at the airport and called the California Culinary Academy in San Francisco. And that was that. I quit my job to go to cooking school.

Q: Years later, you wrote him a thank-you note?

A: Over the years, I’ve been interviewed by so many people who ask why I became a chef. Every time, I tell that story. And each time I do, I think that I have to tell Jeremiah Tower since I never even really got to meet him. He wrote back that it was one of the nicest notes he’d ever received.

Q: After cooking school, you landed an impressive first restaurant job.

A: I was on the opening team of Postrio. That was before Wolfgang Puck had so many restaurants, so he was actually there. I trained with him on the sauté and sauces stations, before going to the pasta station, which was very, very busy, because we made everything in-house.

I learned a lot and he greatly influenced my style of cooking. But I had no aspiration to own my own restaurant. Instead, I started moonlighting for private clients in San Francisco who could afford a private chef.

Q: That led to you getting hired by someone quite famous?

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In Praise of Pistachios

Pistachios growing in California's Central Valley.

Pistachios growing in California’s Central Valley.

 

A pistachio is a wonder.

For much of its growth cycle, its shell is empty. Only later does the tiny, sweet, green edible kernel grow inside.

It’s a phenomenon that has even surprised many a first time grower.

This summer, I was invited by the American Pistachio Growers to Fresno to watch the annual pistachio harvest.

There are more than 650 pistachio growers in Arizona, New Mexico and California. The Golden State boasts the most with more than 98 percent of the total growers and more than 300,000 acres of pistachio trees.

The pistachio crop may still pale in comparison to California’s almonds, which make up 940,000 acres. But pistachios remain an important crop, bringing in $1.3 billion in revenue. Indeed, the pistachio crop is expected to double in the next seven years.

With its hot, dry climate and rich soil, the Central Valley became a natural place to plant pistachios, which hail from the Middle East. In the 1960s, plantings began in the Fresno area. Nowadays, you’ll find family farms that have grown pistachios for generations.

Although they’re one of the more drought-tolerant trees, this year’s pistachio crop, which just finished harvesting, is about 30 percent lower than usual.

Tasting a just-picked pistachio.

Tasting a just-picked pistachio.

Once the kernel forms inside the shell, it keeps growing until it gets so big that it splits the shell, the sign that it is ripe for picking. Hence, the naturally created slit that pistachios in the shell possess, which makes it easier for us to crack them open with our fingers. A real treat is getting to taste a just-picked pistachio. Unlike salted, roasted ones from the store, a fresh one is softer and even more buttery tasting.

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NadaMoo! Dairy-Free, Gluten-Free Ice Cream

"Gotta Do Chocolate'' NadaMoo! dairy-free ice cream.

“Gotta Do Chocolate” NadaMoo! dairy-free ice cream.

How cute is the name, NadaMoo!?

As you can tell, there is no cow’s milk in this ice cream.

Instead, it’s made with organic coconut milk.

That makes this ideal for friends and family members who can’t tolerate dairy. It’s also gluten-free and sweetened with agave nectar. If you need an easy, last-minute dessert for the holidays, just serve scoops in a festive martini glass.

A 1/2 cup serving has 130 calories and 7 g of total fat, both far less than regular premium ice cream.

But does it satisfy as much as the premium stuff?

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