Category Archives: Health/Nutrition

San Francisco Film Society Culinary Luminaries Banquet, New Anthony Bourdain Show & More

Alice Waters and Cecilia Chiang in a scene from "Soul of a Banquet.'' (Still courtesy of the San Francisco Film Festival)

Alice Waters and Cecilia Chiang in a scene from “Soul of a Banquet.” (Still courtesy of the San Francisco Film Festival)

Mega-Benefit Banquet by the San Francisco Film Society

If you’re an aficionado of Chinese banquet galas, you will not want to miss this stellar one by the San Francisco Film Society at Yank Sing in San Francisco, 6 p.m. April 10.

Among the noted guests who will be in attendance: Bay Area culinary legends, Alice Waters and Cecilia Chiang; acclaimed food writer Ruth Reichl; and noted film director, Wayne Wang, who will be showing a sneak preview of his newest film, “Soul of a Banquet,” his tribute to Chiang, who changed the face of Chinese food in America when she opened The Mandarin in San Francisco in 1961.

The event benefits Waters’ Edible Schoolyard Project.

Tickets, which include the reception, film screening and dinner, are $288 per person. A table for 10 is $2,500.

Avant Garden Food & Art Fundraiser in San Jose

Celebrate all things local in the South Bay at the third annual “Avant Garden event, 7 p.m. April 19 at The Armory, 240 N. 2nd St. in San Jose.

Enjoy live music, crafts, artwork and plenty of food and drink by vendors such as Little Bee Pops, Good Karma Vegan Cafe and Cafe Stritch.

Event tickets are $10 online or $12 at the door. Food and drink tickets are $3 each and available at the event site.

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Belcampo Ushers in A New Age of Sustainable Food

A butcher making porchetta at Belcampo Meat Co. in Larkspur.

A butcher making porchetta at Belcampo Meat Co. in Larkspur.


Belcampo Meat Co. in Larkspur may look like the latest trendy, farm-to-table butcher shop stocked with pedigreed meat for sale at sky-high prices.

But it’s so much more than that.

It’s part of a corporation that aims to start a new food revolution — by producing sustainable food on an unheard of scale. And at a profit, to boot.

It is the brainchild of Todd Robinson, a Wall Street veteran with deep pockets; and Anya Fernald, a California-native and long-time locavore entrepreneur. She may look familiar from her previous appearances as a judge on “Iron Chef America” and as the founder of the Eat Real Festival in Oakland.

The two founded Belcampo, Inc. in 2011, which consists of several operations spread across three countries. They include: a 10,000-acre certified organic, sustainable ranch at the base of Mt. Shasta in California, where cows, pigs, chickens, sheep, rabbits, goats, turkeys, geese and squabs are raised sustainably, organically and on pasture; another cattle ranch in Uruguay; and an eco-lodge and farm in Belize that produces coffee, chocolate and rum.

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New Gluten-Free Menu at The Counter, Pinkberry Goes Greek & More

Cranberry-Avocado Turkey Burger on a gluten-free bun at The Counter. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

Cranberry-Avocado Turkey Burger on a gluten-free bun at The Counter. (Photo courtesy of the restaurant)

The Counter Serves Up Gluten-Free Options

The Counter, with 33 locations including ones in the Bay Area, has added a new gluten-free menu.

The separate menu still allows you to build your own burger creation or to choose from pre-designed signature ones. The latter includes such offerings as the Cranberry & Avocado Turkey Burger with organic mixed greens and horseradish may on a gluten-free bun; the Spinach, Avocado & Salsa Bison Bowl with roasted corn and black bean salsa; and beef chili with Tillamook cheddar, red onion and sour cream.

Chow down on it all with a gluten-free milkshake or a gluten-free beer from Dogfish Head Craft Brewed Ales.

The gluten-free menu is available at all locations of The Counter, except airport ones.

Pinkberry To Serve Non-Frozen Yogurt

You already know Pinkberry for its tart fro-yo.

But now, it’s introducing a new yogurt — all natural, thick, nonfat Greek yogurt that’s fresh, not frozen.

Pinkberrygreek boasts 15g of protein per 5 ounces.

Pinkberry's new, fresh Greek yogurt. (Photo courtesy of Pinkberry)

Pinkberry’s new, fresh Greek yogurt. (Photo courtesy of Pinkberry)

As with any Pinkberry yogurt, you can customize it with your choice of an array of toppings. Or take the suggestions from Pinkberry for sweet and savory creations such as: Chocolate Berry (blueberry, raspberry, dark chocolate granola, chocolate shavings, cinnamon honey), Tomato Basil (grape tomato, fresh basil, olive oil, sea salt, balsamic glaze), and Sunflower Cucumber (cucumber, sunflower seed bites, olive oil, chile powder).

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Spaghetti with Calamari Sauce and a Food Gal Giveaway

A tangle of noodles and calamari.

A tangle of noodles and calamari.


This bowl of pasta is chock-full of tender calamari.

That much, you can see.

But did you know there is also one serving of vegetables hidden within that is not visible?

Yes, there is corn, carrot and squash — a half cup’s worth — incorporated into each 4 ounces of the dried spaghetti noodles.

Golden Grain has launched a new line of pasta, Hidden Veggie, that comes in spaghetti, thin spaghetti, small penne and twisted elbows. The pasta cooks up just like any other dried pasta. It also looks and tastes the same as any other. In other words, your spaghetti isn’t going to all of a sudden taste like Bug Bunny’s favorite snack.

What you get, though, is 150mg of potassium per 2-ounce serving compared to the company’s regular spaghetti that contains none. The Hidden Veggie spaghetti also weighs in at 200 calories per 2-ounce serving, 10 calories fewer than the company’s regular spaghetti. The total fat, cholesterol, carbohydrate, dietary fiber and protein amounts are the same with both, though the Hidden Veggie has 5mg of sodium, compared to 0mg for the company’s regular dried pasta.

If you’re worried about your family getting enough potassium, Hidden Veggie pasta is one way to up that nutrient quotient. Each 12-ounce box is about $1.99 and available at Safeway stores.

New Golden Grain Hidden Veggie dried pastas.

New Golden Grain Hidden Veggie dried pastas.

I used the Hidden Veggie spaghetti in this recipe for “Linguini with Calamari Sauce,” swapping out the slightly wider, flatter noodles called for originally. The recipe is from “Williams-Sonoma The Pasta Book” (Welden Owen) by food journalist Julia Della Croce, of which I received a review copy when it was first published three years ago. What’s great about this book is that it truly spans the world of pasta, including recipes not only for making fresh Italian pasta and dishes with dried noodles, but also for making Asian noodles and dumplings. Find recipes for everything from “Fresh Herb Pappardelle with Veal and Lemon” to “Pork and Cabbage Gyoza.”

The calamari pasta sauce cooks up quickly, in only about twice the time it takes to cook the dried spaghetti. Shallots, garlic, rosemary and pepper flakes are sweated gently in olive oil, before adding tomato paste, red wine and bottled clam juice. The calamari is added in for the final five minutes of cooking. I used calamari bodies, already cleaned and scored, purchased from my local Japanese market to make the process even easier.

The tangle of noodles absorbs the briny sauce that’s a little sweet from the tomato paste and a little spicy from the pepper flakes. The tender calamari add just enough chew.

It’s a dish that’s a classic at Italian restaurants. Try your hand at it to realize just how easy it is to make at home, too.

CONTEST: One lucky Food Gal reader will win practically a year’s worth of Golden Grain Hidden Veggie pasta — 24 coupons, each good for one free package of the new pasta varieties. Hidden Veggie pasta has rolled out in these markets: San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Oahu, Seattle and Portland, Ore. So, entries should be limited to those folks who live in those markets or have friends in those regions you want to give the winnings to. Entries will be accepted through midnight PST March 23. Winner will be announced March 25.

How to win?

If a fairy with a magic wand could make it so, what else would you want a year’s worth of? And why? Best answer wins the pasta.

Here’s my own answer:

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A Soup or A Side: Curried Parsnips

Curried parsnips star as a side or the foundation of a soup.

Before spring is sprung, I had to get in one last fix of my favorite parsnips.

An often overlooked root veggie, they have a lovely nutty, vanilla taste, making them ideal for using in so many ways.

Take these “Curried Parsnips.”

As is, they make for an easy side dish. But mixed with two cups of stock, then pureed, they also make for the base of a comforting, velvety soup.

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