Monday, 26 February 2018

Lamb Burgers

1⁄3 cup pine nuts
1 pound ground lamb
1 egg
1⁄3 cup raisins
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 ciabatta rolls
Fresh arugula
Feta yogurt sauce (optional)
  1. Combine all the ingredients except the rolls, arugula and yogurt sauce. Mix gently.
  2. Shape into 4 patties.
  3. Grill or cook in a skillet 4 minutes per side.
  4. Serve on rolls with fresh arugula and feta yogurt sauce.
Nutrition Information
Serves 4 (Serving size: 1 burger)
Calories 519; Total fat 26g; Sat. fat 8g; Chol . 124mg; Sodium 615mg; Carb . 46g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 10g; Protein 29g; Potassium N/A; Phosphorous N/A

Ginger-Teriyaki BBQ Chicken Meatballs

2 pounds 98-percent fat-free ground chicken
1 egg
1 tablespoon fresh ground ginger (or ginger paste)
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Ground pepper
Olive oil spray
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1/2 cup teriyaki sauce
1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1⁄3 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground ginger, dried
  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F.
  2. Spray 2 large 9×11-inch Pyrex pans with olive oil.
  3. To make the meatballs, combine the ground chicken, egg, ground ginger, garlic powder and ground pepper in a large mixing bowl. Evenly mix the ingredients together. Create 30 meatballs each the size of a table tennis ball.
  4. Place meatballs in the pans, spacing them evenly. Cover the pans with foil and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Remove foil and bake for another 15 minutes until meatballs are slightly browned and have an internal temperature of 165°F.
  6. Meanwhile, combine all of the sauce ingredients in the slow cooker. Add the cooked meatballs and coat evenly with sauce. Cover and cook on high for 1 to 1½ hours until meatballs are fully glazed.
  7. Serve meatballs as an appetizer on their own, or serve on a whole wheat hoagie roll.
Nutrition Information
Serves 15 (Serving size: 2 meatballs)
Calories 110; Total fat 2g; Sat. fat 1g; Chol . 46mg; Sodium 493mg; Carb . 9g; Fiber 1g; Sugars 8g; Protein 14g; Potassium 263mg; Phosphorous 123mg

A Dietitian’s Dream: Healthy Fried Food

Fried foods traditionally have been limited in healthy dietary patterns. But when you use small amounts of healthy unsaturated oils and the technology of an air fryer, fried foods can be back on the menu.

I tested the Philips Viva Collection Airfryer, equipped with “TurboStar” rapid-air technology that functions similar to a convection oven. The fryer’s air speed is what allows foods to cook quickly and crisply with minimal fat.  The fryer is easy to use and comes with a basket and rack, which are both dishwasher safe for easy cleanup. However, the bottom of the fryer, where fat collects, requires cleaning by hand.

Additional accessories are available that can turn the fryer into an oven or a grill pan, and a free app provides a wealth of information including tips for use, shopping lists and recipes. I was struck by the large size of the product, weighing about 12.8 pounds and roughly the size of a coffee maker.

Testing the Fryer
I experimented with chicken wings, Southern-fried chicken tenders, bacon and vegetables, including fresh and frozen potatoes. No preheating was necessary — a simple spritz of oil on the rack and the food was all it took to get started with the fried foods. My best results were with the vegetables.

I quickly learned that the trick to achieving fried foods that are crunchy on the outside yet still tender on the inside is not overcrowding the basket. Philips claims the fryer can be used to prepare food for a family of four, but my best results came when I used amounts to feed one to two people. When the basket was overloaded, despite shaking and turning the food, it resulted in foods that either did not brown or were overcooked to achieved proper browning, and wet-battered foods tended to stick to the rack even when both the food and rack were sprayed with oil. An additional double-layer rack can be purchased to double the basket’s capacity.

Bottom Line
If counter or pantry storage space is not an issue, the Philips fryer is a fun investment. It’s a bonus that this product can multitask for those living without a full kitchen, such as college students. The sweet spot for me was enjoying guilt-free French fries. Although other vegetables were delicious, I’ve achieved similar results with minimal oil and oven-roasting at high temperatures.

Sunday, 25 February 2018

Fine-Tuning the Front End

Grocery shopping. Love it or hate it, one aspect of shopping that few people relish is waiting in line to pay. But change could be coming to the checkout experience, making stores' "front end" more enjoyable for shoppers and profitable for retailers — and a prime opportunity to promote good nutrition.
According to industry experts, several factors converge at the front end that cause consumers distress: After browsing the aisles and selecting their items, shoppers head to the checkout area to unload groceries onto a conveyer belt and part with their money — stressful tasks for some shoppers. A long line can foster feelings of boredom and frustration.
"Checkout is the most dreaded part of the shopping trip, and waiting simply exacerbates the problem," says Steve Zoellner, director of Shopper Merchandising Solutions at Mondelēz International. When there's a wait, shoppers go into "coping mode," often choosing to distract themselves with their mobile phones, for example.
Adding to shoppers' already negative feelings are cluttered displays of product selections they don't need or that aren't complementary. (Have you ever wondered why the lint rollers are hanging between the pantyhose and flashlight keychains?)
The checkout area is the retailer's last chance to make one more sale, so it's to their advantage for the front end to be inviting and encourage "impulse purchases." But only 18 percent of shoppers purchase an item from the checkout area, according to the 2014 Front-End Focus research study. Rather, 84 percent of consumers say looking at products at the checkout counter just gives them something to do while waiting in line, and 66 percent believe items at checkout are unnecessary purchases.
With the right product selection, the checkout area could be a significant source of impulse purchases — perhaps as a little treat for completing a shopping trip. Beverages, confectionery (such as candy, gum and mints) and magazines are considered "power categories" because they generate more than 90 percent of impulse sales at checkout.
They may be small-ticket items, but increasing checkout purchases by just 1 percent could boost a store's average front-end sales by nearly $300 per week, or about $15,350 annually. This sales lift is no small increase in an industry with razor-thin profit margins: In 2013, the average net profit for supermarkets was just 1.3 percent, according to the Food Marketing Institute.
Understanding that power categories dominate at checkout, some supermarkets are devoting lanes to health-focused items. An example is Hy-Vee, which operates more than 230 retail stores in the Midwest. Most stores feature at least one "Healthy Bites" checkout lane with a wide selection of "better-for-you" impulse items.
The Sycamore, Ill., location has two Healthy Bites lanes, says Hy-Vee dietitian Lisa Brandt, RDN, LDN. The lanes are stocked with fresh apples and bananas, fruit-and-nut bars, small packages of nuts and trail mix, fruit leather and "all-natural" peanut butter, and single-serving bags of multigrain chips, popcorn and crackers. Healthy Bites coolers are stocked with plain, sparkling and coconut waters, unsweetened teas and 100-percent fruit juice boxes.
"Moms especially like giving their kids a treat they can feel good about," says Brandt, adding that Hy-Vee shoppers appreciate the convenience and wholesomeness of Healthy Bites offerings.
Earlier this year, Elisabeth D'Alto, RD, LDN, a dietitian with East Coast retailer ShopRite, began pilot-testing more nutritious offerings at two checkout lanes at her store in Lutherville-Timonium, Md. The lanes are stocked with fresh fruit, nuts, bars, baked chips and popcorn, plus an endcap cooler with plain bottled water. More offbeat offerings include dry-roasted edamame with goji berries, single-serving packages of water-packed tuna with crackers, and dark chocolate-covered berries. D'Alto makes sure the lanes feature gluten-free, dairy-free, reduced-sodium and reduced-sugar selections, as well.
The pilot test came about after talking with shoppers and store associates during tours and nutrition consultations. "I see a lot of seniors, millennials and moms with kids who need or want to get healthier," D'Alto says. "I wanted to see how we might generate buzz around checkout with these offerings." She is encouraged by positive feedback, and if the lanes become permanent, D'Alto hopes to add non-food items such as exercise bands, water bottles and containers for packing nutritious lunches.
Meanwhile, innovations and new offerings may make checking out the most fun part of a shopping trip. Research that observes shopper behavior suggests several tactics to enhance the experience:
  • Look for opportunities to go high-tech, such as engaging shoppers through touchscreens to interact with product-related content.
  • Remove extra displays that block shoppers' movements and clutter their views of prime impulse products.
  • Create a cohesive experience with harmonious signs and product assortments.
"We need to improve the traffic flow and make it easier for shoppers to navigate the checkout area," says Zoellner. "The front end can be a unique and inviting shopping destination."

How Ethiopia Safeguards Its Native Ancient Grain

Visit any Ethiopian restaurant, and you’re bound to receive a generous serving of injera, a spongy, fermented flatbread commonly found in Ethiopian cuisine.

Increasing in global popularity due to the expanding diaspora and interest in ethnic cuisines, injera is arguably one of the most recognizable African foods on the international scene. Each day, thousands of ready-made pieces are exported from Ethiopia to expats and restaurateurs in the United States, Europe and other African countries. However, it is teff — the grain from which injera is made — that is making ripples in the international health food arena and poised to rival quinoa as the top healthy ancient grain.

Grown by both smallholder and commercial farmers in Ethiopia and some parts of Eritrea, teff is a relatively low-risk, sustainable grain that thrives in both wet sands and dry desert conditions. A staple in many Africans' diets, wholegrain teff is an essential source of calcium, fiber, protein and iron.

While the international food market recognizes whole-grain teff as a nutrient powerhouse, its versatility as a gluten-free grain has piqued the interest of foodies and fostered its expansion beyond East Africa. Recipes using teff as a nontraditional substitute for wheat range from gluten-free pasta and bread to cookies and porridge, and to thicken soups or add texture to salads.

In 2006, years before the rise of quinoa, the Ethiopian government sought to improve domestic food security in a country that, years before, had been plagued by severe famine. It placed an embargo on the exportation of teff grain and teff flour, both which played an important role in overall diet quality. Only cooked teff products (such as injera) could be exported. Despite the ban, traditional practices of growing teff could not meet the demands of the growing population and prices continued to increase.

Although Ethiopia is the largest producer by volume, the embargo has prevented the country from benefitting from the international teff trend, and most of the teff found in U.S. stores is from non-indigenous sources, such as U.S., India, Canada and the Netherlands.

Recognizing the opportunities teff can bring and to obtain much needed foreign currency to improve the overall infrastructure of the country and advance traditional farming procedures, the Ethiopian government lifted the embargo and implemented a pilot program to export teff. The first shipments of Ethiopian teff are projected to begin in January 2016.

In order to safeguard the grain for locals, the pilot will start with 48 commercial farmers commissioned to grow the crop while adhering to strict international standards. Once harvested and milled, the entire product from these farms is projected to represent less than 1 percent of the country’s overall teff production.

The remaining teff will continue to be made available to Ethiopians. Outside of commissioned farms, the ban on teff exportation will continue. As the pilot proceeds and overall teff production improves, the country plans to gradually increase the allotment for exports.