Author Archives: nolito

Write a Compelling Restaurant Review Tips

Auditing an eatery? Nothing sounds as energizing as that for a foodie, isn’t that right? Envision the loftiness one feels to put down a decision around a place that has served one and numerous.

The Essential Ingredient

When you write a restaurant review, it is highly essential to add your personality in the writing style to make it all the more compelling. Your mood, your thoughts, how the ambiance of the restaurant and the food scintillated your appetite and taste buds―all this is what makes a good restaurant review.
Writing a restaurant review is very different from writing a food review. The entire process is like narrating a story that begins when you hear about the restaurant and ends when you eat, pay the bill, and leave its premises. A restaurant is not just about food, it’s about the overall ambiance, courteousness, comfort, and the satisfaction you receive as a customer.

You have to notice everything that comes along with the restaurant’s name. How did you end up knowing about the place? The things you’ve heard, the expectations you’ve had, the thoughts that filled your head when you entered the location and other things―setting, decor, staff, waiting time, serving time, billing time, price range, varieties in the menu, and everything else that is involved―that did or didn’t leave an impression on you. The following section gives you some essential points you must keep in mind to write a helpfully obligating restaurant review.

Essential Tips for Writing a Restaurant Review

When writing a review, that too of a place whose efficiency is marked by its ability to pamper its customers and compel them to associate the finest experience of dining with this place alone, you must ensure that you cover each and every aspect of this place sufficiently. You must begin with its background―what made you visit it? What was the vibe you got when you entered it; how was the staff and the crowd? Did the restaurant have a unique appealing factor to it, or was it as good as the other ones? Yes, there are a lot of things that you must cover, but there is no need to get intimidated by the process. The following points will help you get it just right.

Hide Your Reviewer’s Status

You don’t want them to get even the slightest idea that you’re here to scrutinize their place! A minimal doubt is enough for them to bestow some extraordinary services and gestures that an average customer will never be able to get, thus, making your review a total sham. To be more convincing, it is always better to go with a friend, preferably someone who knows his/her food and everything else that comes along with it. Let them think you’re on a date, while you’re busy remembering the events of this place on this date!

The Writing Order to Follow

Never ever take notes or do anything that warns the restaurant staff of who you are. But, it is also important to precisely remember how your experience is progressing throughout. This includes everything from the restaurant’s background knowledge to the present events.
How easily accessible is the location? Is the neighborhood friendly?
How did the ambiance and atmosphere of the place make you feel―warm, casual, opulent, or ordinary?
Were the tables booked? If no, how long did you have to wait to get one?
Was the staff courteous? Were the tables set properly, the linens clean and well-put?
Did the menu give you a lot of options, was it stimulating enough for a food lover’s appetite?
Was the staff well-dressed and well-trained? Did the server know of the food and ingredients in the menu?
How long did it take to serve the food? Was it sufficiently warm, or served cold? How were the portions? Were the flavors, ingredients, and presentation up to the mark?
The atmosphere, service, and the food combined, is it worth the money you ended up spending?
These were the basic steps on how to write a restaurant review. The next points will tell you what makes a review, a good one.

Use the Right Descriptive Words

A restaurant is like a story with characters, plots, and has the power to influence your mind to either love it or leave it. Therefore, your review should be a descriptive one. Understand that as a writer, you must be successful in putting across intangible feelings that a fine dining experience brings about. Use lots and lots of descriptive words, but in the right manner.
For instance, ‘flavorsome’ may be used for something delicious and pleasing to the taste, but also for something that is aversive to the mouth! Instead, using words like delectable, scrumptious, heavenly, toothsome, and the like―that too if used when the food has the power to actually make you feel that you’ve indulged in supernal cuisine―is more appropriate.

Keep It Real, Don’t Exaggerate!

Most reviewers tend to go overboard when it comes to criticism. Just because the waiter accidentally spilled a drop of wine while pouring your glass, doesn’t make it a bad restaurant! While you are not expected to give a neutral feedback too, try not to make it your prime motive to rip off the eatery’s reputation unless your words do not reflect sheer exaggeration! If you expected the waiter to refill your glass as soon as you consumed the last sip, and he came after a minute, don’t write that the waiters didn’t bother to keep a tab on your drink and that you had to call them and wait for 20 minutes to get a refill. Trust us when we say, exaggeration in any review is very easy to detect.

Personalize, Don’t Over-personalize!

We did mention this right at the beginning, didn’t we? Your review must have your personality in it. You’re not writing about shares; you’re talking about food and comfort, which is personal and emotional. However, make sure that you stick to the restaurant, and not yourself. Potential customers don’t want to know if you were underdressed or overdressed, if your perfume went well with the ambiance, or if your car broke out while reaching the place! Talk about the restaurant. How did it look from outside―friendly, spooky, or divine? The artwork, interior, music, hospitality―was it enough to make you feel like a royal? Remember, it is the restaurant’s review, not yours!

Enumerate the Pros and Cons

Every coin has two sides; even the not-so-good restaurants will have something good in their kitty. You need to balance out the events and divide them into the favorable and not-so-favorable section. For instance, if the food took longer than expected to reach your plate, but it tastes like something you’ve never eaten in a long time, purely gratifying and divine, stirring your senses and making each bite enjoyable, it is worth the wait, isn’t it? There are these places you see, where diners willingly wait to indulge in a cuisine they know is absolutely out of this world. On the other hand, if the delivery is super fast, but that doesn’t do anything else except for satiating your hunger with some ordinary flavors, you wouldn’t consider that to be unique, would you?

Evaluate the Value for Money

The best things in life are free … well, not always! While a divine dining experience cannot be measured in monetary terms, but at the end of the day, what you get should be worth what you spend. Evaluate it well so that you can help the future customers decide their budget accordingly.
Note every element, billed and unbilled―the complimentary drinks, chocolates, bread, cookies, sauces, etc. The staff’s efforts to make you feel special and appreciated, the band that did its best to relax your mood and enjoy the time spent―make sure all these things are taken into consideration before you move on to the next step.

Set Down the Final Verdict

In most cases, your final verdict would be the only thing people would actually pay attention to. It would be better if the basis of your decision is clear to the readers. For example, you could write something like, “If a good restaurant is all about atmosphere and décor, and not about exquisite food, this place is definitely bang on. However, not a compelling recommendation for those who drive in for delectable cuisines more than anything else.” Or, “It is a nice place to sweep your lady love off her feet, but it’ll also sweep off your entire wallet along.” Be as honest and transparent with the readers while passing your final judgment.

On a final note, don’t forget to mention what you ate, or if the place is known for a specialized cuisine. Remember, the reason you’re reviewing a restaurant in the first place is to help other food lovers decide if they should consider taking out some time to visit a place, which like every other place, claims to be the best. The fact that you arrange it chronologically just helps the readers relate to your overall experience, and associate with your verdict. We believe this task to be among the noblest tasks ever. Do it with all your heart and sincerity, and let the worthy eateries be the most crowded ones. Bon appétit!

Emergency Foods That Will Never Expire

unduhan-42Whether you’re hoping to survive the following characteristic debacle or essentially revamping your storeroom, it is fundamental to know the time span of usability of nourishment. In spite of the fact that there are various sustenance things that will outlive most common cataclysms, they ought to be put away suitably to build their life span. The best stockpiling is one that is cool, dry, dull, and sealed shut. A few nourishments may lose their taste over drawn out stretches of time, however they are still fit to eat.

Honey found at an Egyptian excavation site which was thousands of years old was apparently still edible.

White rice can last up to 30 years if stored in an airtight container. Brown rice, however, has a high oil content, and would spoil in a matter of months.
Uses: Food, alternative to wheat flour.

Honey can be called the one food that really lasts forever. It is very acidic and has almost no moisture; hence, it has the least chances of getting spoiled by bacteria and the like.
Uses: Food, medicine.

The hydrophobic or water removing properties of salt have been used for centuries to preserve food. Unfortunately, it isn’t the one you keep on the table. Addition of Iodine to salt apparently reduces its life to a couple of years. Technically, salt isn’t organic food, it is a mineral from rocks; hence, it can never get spoiled. It can however become moist and form a great big lump.
Uses: Food, preservative, medicine, making soap.

The shelf life of sugar depends completely on the method of storage used. It should always be kept in an airtight container. Apparently, moisture can be kept at bay by adding a few grains of rice in the container.
Uses: Food, sweetener for beverages, insecticide – apparently sugar and baking powder combined will kill cockroaches.

According to the Guide to Food Storage for Emergencies by the Utah State University, pure maple syrup can never get spoiled. Also, The Massachusetts Maple Producers Association claims that, due to their resistance to microbial growth, including mold, maple syrup can last forever. Even if there is mold on the surface, it can be neutralized by skimming the top and then boiling the syrup.
Uses: Sweetener.

Wheat in one form or another accounts for a large part of the daily diet for most of the population of the globe. It is a vital source of protein in the absence of meat. It also has vital vitamins and minerals.
Uses: Alcohol, food, animal fodder.

Corn is another vital grain widely used across the globe. Drying corn increases its shelf life drastically, allowing for it to be used all year round.
Uses: Food, animal fodder, by-products can be used as fuel, a paste can be used to treat some skin ailments.

This universal champion is a must for all.
Uses: Food, dental hygiene, cleaning agent.

This saturated fat is also known as clarified butter. It is made by evaporating all the water from butter, leaving separated protein and fat. The fat is the ghee. This does not require to be refrigerated, and can last forever.
Uses: Food, substitute for cooking oil.

Due to its extremely acidic nature, vinegar is immune to any biological spoilers. It has an indefinite shelf life.
Uses: Food, preservative, cleaning agent, disinfectant.

Save Money on Wedding Food and Drinks

Despite the fact that a wedding should be a great undertaking, you could scale down the aggregate use by restricting the nourishment and beverages being served. The tips said here will help you eat, drink, and get hitched without worrying about blazing a gap in your pocket.

Remember

A reception, simply put, is a fantastic way to thank your guests who have taken the time to attend your wedding.
A wedding, no matter how lavish or downsized, is incomplete without the customary lunch or dinner reception that often follows the official ceremony. Which just means food and drink play an important part of your wedding reception. After all, your guests will have fond memories of your wedding only and only if, they have had a good time. Which again points us to the importance of ensuring your guests are well fed and have had great cocktails at your reception.

One of the best ideas you can implement to downsize your food budget is to do away with the wedding ceremony. Opt instead for a registry at the City Hall followed by a dinner party for close family and friends in the comforts of your home.

Downsize the Guest List

Have a relaxed dinner reception in the comforts of your own home.
Instead of having a full-blown reception calling just about everyone on your contact list, it makes sense to have a small-scale reception with a handful of guests. Because your guest list will include only your dearest and best, obviously, you end up saving on the total amount you spend on the food and drinks to be served. It only makes sense to have a small reception as you get to attend to each of your guests making them a happy and a contented lot.

Opt for a Banquet Meal

Serve the dinner family-style with a banquet-inspired lunch or dinner.
Do away with the regular buffet-style dinner, instead invite your guests to gather at the banqueting table. Apart from getting all of your guests together at the table, you also get the opportunity of interacting with all your guests in one go. Besides, sharing a meal is way more beneficial than eating alone, and what matters most is that each of your guests get to interact with one another, making your event way more successful.

Have a Backyard Reception

Chuck glamorous locations, have a backyard reception instead.
You can do lots more with a shortened guest list. One―have a backyard wedding; two―have a barbecue session; three―interact better with your guests. If the idea of a barbecue session does not catch your fancy, you can always opt for a backyard cookout session. This way you cut down on costs both in terms of venue as well as the food cost.

Brunch Sounds as Good as Lunch

Eat light with a brunch menu instead of a full blown lunch or dinner reception.
The best way to limit your food bill is to have an early ceremony followed by brunch. The good thing about having a brunch reception is that you save a lot on drinks, and restrict it to just wine and champagne. In addition to that, you get to serve your guests with a breakfast-inspired menu instead of the full-course meal.

Tea Party, Anyone?

Skip the reception, have a tea party instead.
If the whole idea of a reception sounds too much for you, it makes sense to host a tea party immediately after the ceremony. Serve bite-sized meals to your guests immediately after the church ceremony. Alternately, you can host a cocktail-only party, and skip the main dinner. To save on costs further, you could prepare the eats yourself instead of having it catered. And remember to keep the menu simple.

Forget Cake, Choose Cupcakes

Cupcake tier instead of a regular wedding cake tier sounds more fun.
Undeniably, the wedding cake bites into a large chunk of the expenditure. Opting for cupcakes is not just a reasonable deal, it also makes serving the cake easier. You could alternately bake a fresh batch of cupcakes at home, and pool up a couple of friends to get the cakes decorated to suit your wedding cake. Another option you could implement is to cancel out the desserts from the menu, and serve the wedding cake post dinner.

A Single Complimentary Drink

Strictly no-drinks reception will spoil the fun, but a complimentary drink should save the day.
No fizz, no fuss, it’s all about keeping the reception as simple as you can. Skip the cocktail session altogether, and serve a complimentary drink to your guests. If this is not an option that you would want to try out, you can serve limited amount of drinks to your guests. Alternately, you could keep an open bar, wherein your guests purchase their own drinks. But do remember to tell them about the open bar well in advance.

Homemade’s Better than Buying

Serve homemade drinks at the reception.
Imagine how much you will end up saving if you opt for homemade drinks rather than purchasing them. Keep a barrel of your homemade wine or lager to serve the guests at the reception. Alternately you can ask a friend who loves to brew to cater for your wedding.

Cut Down Appetizers

Limit the serving of food with bite-sized meals.
The best way to cut your wedding food cost is to cut down or cancel out appetizers and concentrate only on the main course. Alternately, you can serve bite-sized appetizers, and opt for a minimal buffet spread.
One of the best tips to cut wedding food cost is to rope in your family if you have a large one and have a cookout. This will save you the trouble of going through the caterer, besides making your family members play a real part in the wedding. If none of these options find your fancy, feel free to discuss it with your wedding planner and caterer.

Tips to Stop Eating Fast Food

As more individuals are understanding the revolting repercussions of eating fast food, they wish to pick up data on the most proficient method to bar such sustenances from their eating regimen.

Junk food is not healthy food and it is all around us. So, giving up on these food items requires more than just having patience and self-control. In fact, majority of people feel that there is no way that they can stop themselves from consuming fast food. However, with few simple strategies, one can help reduce the consumption of fast food, and following these techniques ‘religiously’ may yield some permanent results in the long run. If you wish to stop yourself from eating junk food, you need to educate yourself about the negative impact it has on one’s health.

Tips to Stay Away from Fast Food

Keep a reminder in your calendar about shopping every week for groceries. It is better if you can make a list of all the healthy food items that you have bought, or are planning to buy for the coming days. This will help you to keep a track on the availability of food items in the house, and keep you from running out of food at the end of the week. This way, you wouldn’t be tempted into buying junk food.

Working people can opt for foods that are rich in complex carbohydrates. Complex carbohydrates are high-fiber foods that provide an even energy level to the body, and at the same time help you feel fuller for a longer time. So, there would be no need of ‘munching’ between meals. Some examples of food items that are rich sources of complex carbohydrates are

  • Asparagus
  • Artichokes
  • Buckwheat bread
  • Cabbage
  • Celery
  • Cauliflower
  • Greens
  • Lettuce
  • Muesli
  • Oat bran bread
  • Oat bran cereal
  • Oatmeal
  • Spinach
  • Turnip
  • Water cress
  • Whole barley buckwheat
  • Zucchini

When you think that you will be out for longer hours, it would be a good idea to carry some healthy snacks to fight off that hunger. Banana popsicles, granola bar, flavored popcorn, veggies and dip, yogurt parfait, baked potato fries, fruit salads, etc., are healthy snacks to ease those sudden pangs of hunger. This habit is especially beneficial for small kids, as they do not really know the difference between healthy and unhealthy.

Nowadays, all health-conscious people are turning to a habit of having smaller, frequent meals. This is a good habit as it keeps the body active and makes one feel more satisfied. Food cravings can be reduced by sticking to about 5 – 6 smaller meals each day to refrain from snacking between meals. However, one should not ‘at all’ avoid taking breakfast, as it is the most important of all the meals of the day.

Along with educating yourself, it is equally important that you also make your friends aware of the benefits of giving up fast foods, and importance of following a healthy diet. Most often it happens that due to peer pressure, people fall for such habits. So, try to avoid joining any ‘fast food party’ and the like, and stay away from any such tempting offers.

You can stay away from unhealthy food, if you take a firm decision. The aforementioned tips are only a means to strengthen your decision with time. Know that junk foods are not formulated for good health. So if you can fight the urge of eating such unhealthy food for the first few days, you can be sure of following this practice for the rest of your life.

How to Stocking Up Your Kitchen With the Basics

A well-stocked kitchen makes it easy to provide quick and nutritious meals for your family.
Keeping a stocked kitchen is a great idea if you love to cook. In most cases, you’ll want to go out and get fresh ingredients for your next dish. Vegetables, fruits, and meat are always best purchased the day you intend to use them. But a full trip to the grocery store simply isn’t plausible before every meal-and what about those things that you need, that won’t be completely used in one meal, such as flour, sugar, etc.? These are items that you can keep for longer periods of time, so to make your life easier and make sure that you have everything on hand to prepare your favorite dishes, it’s a good idea to stock up on the basics. Below are a few of the things that you can keep in your kitchen for a relatively long time without sacrificing the quality or taste of your next meal.

Flour

Flour is an important ingredient in many recipes-particularly those for baked goods. Keeping some flour on hand at all times is a wonderful idea, as you’ll be able to whip up your favorite muffins, breads, and more without having to make a trip to the store. But remember that there are different kinds of flour, and the type that is best for your kitchen depends on the kind of cooking or baking that you normally do.

Sweeteners

Sugar is key in many recipes ranging from sweet to savory. If you pour your sugar out of its paper bag and into a container that seals, you can keep it protected against moisture and help it survive longer in your pantry or cupboard.

Many people use various sweeteners, depending on what they’re cooking or preparing. If you don’t use traditional sugar for all your recipes, you can keep substitutes (like Stevia and Splenda), honey, and agave nectar on hand, too.

Pasta

If you’re a serious cook and love Italian cuisine, odds are you’ll be making your own pasta from scratch. If not, though, this is something that you can keep on hand for simple, last-minute meals. Displaying a variety of pasta shapes in functional yet stylish containers is a great way to both stock your kitchen and decorate the space.

Grains and Cereals

Dry foods like rice, barley, oats, quinoa, etc., can also be stored for longer periods of time. Depending upon your family’s dietary needs, you can switch these dried foods out for one another to create meals that taste great and keep you healthy.

Seasoning and Spices

Seasoning and spices do go bad eventually, but it’s a great idea to have a variety of spices like cinnamon sticks, cumin, curry powder, cayenne pepper, cocoa powder on hand. This will allow you to try new recipes and experiment with variations of your favorites. By simply changing out one spice or seasoning you can create an entirely new flavor profile. For seasoning different dishes, you can use different herbs like basil, parsley, oregano, rosemary, etc.

Eggs and Dairy Products

If you have a well-stocked fridge, it always makes planning meals easier. Preserving dairy products is always tricky. But you can take the advantage of storing staples like milk, butter, cheese, eggs, yogurt in the fridge.

Fruits and Vegetables

You can store vegetables and fruits like spinach, broccoli, carrots, berries in the fridge. Seasonal fruits and vegetables make an exquisite addition to any fridge. Some of which can even be stored for off-season indulgence.

Frozen Food and Meat

Packaged meat, chicken, sausage can be kept frozen carefully in the freezer. While freezing, remember to wrap the food items tightly with heavy-duty foil and moisture-proof paper. Frozen ready-to-eat meals, ice cream, non-seasonal fruits and vegetables, etc., can be stored in the freezer for a longer period.

Extracts and Oils

Vanilla extract, almond extract, vinegars, sauce, olive oil, canola oil-the list goes on and on. Oils and extracts are key ingredients in many recipes, and if you love baking then you certainly need to have the right extracts and oils on hand at all times! Like the pasta, these ingredients can be stored in pretty yet functional containers to help decorate your kitchen.

Keeping your kitchen stocked up with the basics is essential to your ability to quickly make delicious, nutritious meals for your family. The goods that you can store in your pantry listed above are just the tip of the iceberg, and you can personalize the basics of your kitchen to fit your dietary needs and preferences.

Safe to Consume Irradiated Foods

Is it true that you are thinking about whether it is sheltered to eat illuminated nourishments? A developing group of logical proof has demonstrated that light does not bring on any observable healthful harm. Truth be told, it has been compelling in taking care of the threat of tainting of nourishment from pathogenic microscopic organisms.

Did You Know?
Quite a few vegetables and fruits imported into United States are irradiated before finally making them available to the general public.
Food irradiation is a technology that adds a new layer of protection against foodborne ailments. It is a method to prevent early spoilage of food and increase their shelf life. Although pasteurization is also useful to destroy disease-causing microorganisms, irradiation does not use heat, instead it depends on ionizing radiation to eliminate foodborne pathogens, including bacteria, fungi, mold, and insects. Ionizing radiation refers to the energy released in the form of electromagnetic waves.

In this method, the food is briefly bombarded with low-energy gamma rays, X-rays, or an electron beam. The energy generated penetrates through food, destroying the pathogens responsible for causing foodborne illnesses. For instance, poultry products are exposed to ionizing radiation to get rid of bacteria such as Campylobacter and Salmonella that not only reduce shelf life, but also cause food poisoning. Irradiation is also necessary for red meat, such as pork, to eliminate the trichina parasite. The dose of exposed radiation (expressed in kGy) varies depending on the type of food. In most cases, foods are irradiated with energy doses of up to 10kGy, which is found to be safe.

Usage of food irradiation is not just restricted to improving food hygiene. It is also found to be useful to slacken the pace of ripening. This ensures that fruit does not ripe to its fullest and spoil before it makes its way to the marketplace. Irradiation also helps to suppress the sprouting of onions and potatoes. The technology is especially useful for perishable foods that have a short shelf life.
Safety Aspect of Irradiated Foods

How safe is it to consume foods after exposure to ionizing radiation can be best answered by discussing some frequently asked questions:

Does Irradiation Make the Food Radioactive?

There is no scientific evidence that foods after irradiation are harmful to human beings. Therefore, it would be absolutely wrong to conclude that just because the food is treated with irradiation, it turns radioactive. The amount of energy that is allowed to infiltrate is too weak to cause energy imbalance within the nucleus of food atoms. In simple words, irradiation cannot make food atoms unstable and turn them radioactive. The dose of radiation is too low to induce any kind of radioactivity. Also, during irradiation, the radiation source is not near the food item under consideration. The energy waves target the pathogens and then merely pass through the food without leaving any traces of radiation residue. So, irradiated foods never become a source of secondary radiation. Microwaves and toasters also emit small amounts of radiation, but nothing is retained in cooked food. When you undergo a chest X-ray, you are exposed to a certain amount of radiation, but your body does not retain these energy waves and become radioactive.

Does Irradiation Affect the Nutritional Value of Food?

Results analyzed from several studies reveal that exposing food to ionizing radiation does not have any significant impact on its nutritional value. As food is exposed to low levels of energy, any change in their nutritional profile is marginal. A small amount of vitamin B loss, especially thiamine, is observed after irradiation. However, any loss in nutritional content by irradiation is more or less the same as observed in pasteurization and cooking. Irradiation also has marginal impact on the percentage of proteins, carbohydrates, and minerals present in food. So, one can say that the nutritional value remains largely unchanged in irradiated foods.

Does Irradiation Alter the Chemical Composition of Food?

Chemical changes have been observed in foods treated with irradiation. Exposure to ionizing radiation does trigger molecular decomposition, resulting in production of radiolytic products. However, quite a few studies have analyzed these radiolytic products and found them safe. Also, the process of irradiation can lead to generation of free radicals, which resemble those produced during pasteurization, canning, and even cooking. So, production of free radicals and any changes in chemical composition of food during irradiation is not a cause for concern. Irradiated foods are also able to retain their original taste, flavor, and texture. No wonder, an irradiated apple or pear has the same taste and is still crunchy to eat.

Is Food Irradiation Approved by the FDA?

The USFDA has given a thumbs-up to the process of food irradiation, way back in 1963. To put it simply, the FDA deems this method as a safe way to control food contamination. It has given permission to use irradiation on a wide range of foods including vegetables, fruits, poultry, red meat, spices, herbs, and even wheat flour for pest control. Most fruits imported to United States are irradiated. Also, food irradiation in United States is strictly monitored by the FDA. Moreover, the American Medical Association and United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) also support the use of food irradiation. This certainly assures no harm from eating irradiated foods.

Is it an Alternative to Sanitation Practices in Food Preparation?

Absolutely not! Food irradiation does help to kill harmful pathogens and insects, but that does not mean one should ignore proper hygiene when cooking and handling food. One can still get foodborne illnesses by eating irradiated foods, if basic sanitary practices are thrown to the wind. In other words, irradiated food can become hazardous if poor sanitation practices are prevalent in your kitchen. Irradiation is not analogous to sterilization of food as not all pathogens are destroyed. So, safe food preparation and handling is also extremely important to prevent food poisoning.

Also, irradiation is no substitute for conventional preservation methods such as refrigeration. However, you can keep irradiated foods in refrigerator for a longer duration than non-irradiated foods. For instance, irradiated strawberries, when refrigerated, remain fit for consumption for around 2-3 weeks, but non-irradiated strawberries spoil after a few days of refrigeration. Buying irradiated foods also does not mean that cooking is unnecessary. You need to cook food properly before eating it. Remember, irradiation does not provide any protection from re-contamination, which can always occur from poor handling procedures.

Are Irradiation Foods Expensive?

Irradiated vegetables, fruits, and meat are priced higher than conventional foods. The additional cost is due to the additional processing associated with irradiation. However, that shouldn’t deter you from buying irradiated food as they have a longer shelf life and chances of spoilage from bacteria is minimum.

Do Food Labels Specify Whether the Product is Irradiated?

By simply looking at the food item, it is impossible to know whether it has undergone irradiation treatment, unless you check its label. It is compulsory that the labeling bears wordings like ‘treated by irradiation’, indicating that the food item has been irradiated. The label should also have a ‘radura’ symbol, which is internationally recognized as the symbol for irradiation.

Bone of Contention

Although the FDA has given permission for irradiation of eggs, the decision has not gone down well with some nonprofit healthcare organizations. It is observed that irradiated eggs tend to have a runny light-colored yolk, which is otherwise thick, firm, and bright. Moreover, it is not easy to whip up and cook irradiated eggs. Also, the vitamin A content of eggs drops by 24% after being exposed to irradiation. However, the FDA has justified its decision by pointing out the rising cases of foodborne illnesses in United States resulting from Salmonella contamination in eggs. Other public interest organizations have also expressed health concerns over the use of this expensive technology and claim higher nutritional loss from irradiation.

Some members from the medical fraternity have expressed fear over irradiation inducing mutations in bacteria and viruses, in turn making them immune to the effects of ionizing radiation. Also, some scientific journals have published studies that show the negative effects of feeding irradiated foods on animals. However, there is no scientific evidence that suggests food after irradiation is harmful to human beings.
On the whole, it is up to you to decide whether to purchase irradiated foods or not. With the FDA making it compulsory to have the ‘radura’ symbol on packages of irradiated foods, you always have the option of choosing foods that are treated with only conventional methods of controlling foodborne pathogens. Just don’t forget to follow proper hygiene when handling and cooking food.

Teenagers and Healthy Eating Tips

Appropriate eating regimen arrangements are thought to manufacture hinders for a sound living. Solid eating routine for adolescents can’t be ignored, for it assumes a significant part to remain fit and fine in today’s wild way of life. These weight control plans incorporate sustenances high in fiber and proteins. Barring quick sustenances from the eating regimen is important to turn away any wellbeing issues.

Today’s youngsters, especially teenagers are ignorant about long-term benefits of a healthy diet. Fast foods are very popular among teenagers and often a routine diet for them. But these ‘junk’ foods will affect overall health and aggravate nutrient deficiency. Making healthy food choices is the key to have a well-built physique and this habit of having a nutritious diet needs to be inculcated in teenagers for better health.
Diets for Teenagers
Following are the foods that cover the nutritional requirements of a teen body.

High Fiber Foods
Diet for teenagers must include foods high in fiber. These foods have a high nutrition value and are low in fats. Most importantly, high fiber diet promotes overall health as it is loaded with essential vitamins and minerals. Wondering which foods come under the list of foods high in fiber? Good diet includes foods such as vegetables (Brussels sprouts, carrot, boiled broccoli), fruits (raisins, bananas and apple) and whole wheat bread. Moreover vegetables like tomatoes are rich in antioxidants and provide anti-aging effects.

Dairy Products
Teenagers without fail should drink at least a glass of milk everyday. In fact, milk is regarded as a complete food and an elixir for good health. So as a parent you should ensure that your child takes a glass of milk everyday in the morning and evening. Milk is rich in nutrients like vitamins, proteins and minerals. Most importantly, it is high in calcium and as we all know adequate intake of calcium is crucial to build strong bones. Teenagers taking a glass of milk daily will definitely have good bones that will remain healthy for years to come. For optimal health of teeth and bones, having milk in sufficient amounts is necessary. Milk is rich in vitamin A and vitamin B12 that are essential to maintain normal eyesight. Diet for teenagers is incomplete without including other dairy products.

High Protein Foods
Intake of proteins is recommended for proper muscle growth. Our muscles are primarily made up of proteins. Thus, protein rich foods are a tool for proper growth and maintenance of muscles. Well cooked fish, lean meat (skinless chicken) as well as boiled eggs are a great way to fulfill the protein requirements of our body. Besides being high in proteins, they are also low in unhealthy fats and hence are a key component of weight loss diets for teenagers.

Say No To Fast Foods
Teenagers love fast foods but as parents you need to make them aware of the fact that consumption of these ‘junk’ foods will not provide any nutrition to the body. Fast foods have a high calorie content, so eating them on a regular basis, can lead to excess weight gain. Now being overweight predisposes a person to obesity. Thus, one can say that obesity and fast food are related. Teenagers who are obese are indirectly put on the path that leads to various health problems. Eating a burger or fried chips, once in a while is OK but surely cannot be a part of diet for teenagers.
Tips for Healthy Eating

  • Teen years is a very important period of life and is typically marked by rapid physical growth. Giving healthy food a miss during this period can cause a lifetime of regret. To keep away health from declining and to ensure a good start to adulthood, parents need to inculcate the following eating habits among their children.
  • See to it that your child does not leave the home without having a healthy breakfast. This is because breakfast is the most important meal and should be nutritious enough to keep your child active and energetic throughout the day.
  • It is observed that teenagers have developed a fetish for fizzy drinks. Although adequate fluid intake is essential, it should not come from carbonated drinks. Fresh vegetable or fruit juices or simply water are some of the options to keep the body well hydrated.
  • Having meals in haste is one habit often noticed among teenagers. Instead of gobbling, giving utmost priority to chewing the food properly is very important and plays a critical role in digestion.
  • The habit of chatting or watching the idiot box (TV) during meals is not a proper way of eating food. This way, one unknowingly tends to eat in excess, which eventually leads to weight gain. Therefore, one should wholly focus on the act of eating and the enjoy the taste of every morsel food to the fullest.
  • Teens often feel like having a snack in between meals. As a parent, it is your responsibility that they do not indulge in processed foods but go for healthy snacks like almonds, protein shakes and slices of fresh apples and pear.

Although, these foods form an integral part of healthy diet, they should be eaten in moderation. Overeating and lack of physical activity are the main factors that has led to widespread occurrence of obesity among teenagers. So, whether you have a teenage daughter or a boy, make sure that he/she follows an exercise regime and good eating habits.

Microwave Cooking Tips

Microwave stove is a key some portion of our regular day to day existence. You will barely locate a home without this present day machine, which makes warming a breeze. Here are some useful tips which will streamline your microwave cooking and spare your time.

Microwave ovens have gained popularity primarily due to the fact that they are time efficient as well as use less electricity. Cooking in microwaves definitely has certain advantages to cooking over a gas stove, but you should be very well aware of the dangers of a microwave, so that you do not cause harm to yourself while using it. Here are some tips for cooking safely with a microwave.

Dos and Don’ts of Microwave Cooking

As the name implies, a microwave oven uses microwaves to heat food. Microwaves are electromagnetic waves with very long wavelengths. These waves get easily absorbed by the water, sugar, and fats present in foods. The moment they come in contact with the water or fat molecules, they get agitated, and this produces heat which cooks the food.

★ Always use microwave-safe containers for heating and cooking. Cookware that is specifically labeled as “microwave safe” can be used in the microwave. Some manufacturers may even print microwave safety cooking tips, or look for a microwave symbol of four parallel waves, a sign that the cookware is intended for use in microwave ovens.

★ Plastic containers should be avoided, unless labeled “microwave safe”. Harmful compounds from the plastic may leak into the food and pose a health hazard. Do not use newspapers and brown paper bags, they can catch fire. Even the use of aluminum foil is not recommended for use in microwaves, unless explicitly stated. Never use ice cream and margarine tubs or one-time use plastic bowls. Glass containers can be used only if they are labeled “microwave safe”.

★ Metal containers are a strict no-no. The microwaves are unable to pass through metal, and the food will never get heated. Moreover, there is a danger of the metal converting the microwaves into electric current, that may even cause a spark. This also holds true for metal wires, especially the ones used in Chinese take-away cartons. Transfer the food to a microwaveable bowl if you want to heat it.

★ Microwaves may cook food unevenly if it is composed of large chunks. If possible, cut the food into smaller pieces for even cooking. Arrange the food evenly in the container and not bunched up to one side to ensure it gets cooked properly.

★ Covering the container with a lid ensures uniform cooking. Do not close the lid tightly, leave a small gap to allow the steam to escape. You can use Saran Wrap to cover the food, just spike it in a couple of places to let steam escape. Stir the food, or rotate it, if it’s too chunky, at least once during the cooking cycle.

★ Preferably, use shallow containers to cook food. Food stored in them will get cooked uniformly as compared to foods in high-walled containers.

★ When heating packaged frozen foods, follow the instructions on how to reheat very carefully. Pierce the thin plastic wrap so the steam escapes, and once done, carefully lift the wrap with the opening facing away from you. Do not let the plastic come in direct contact with the food.

★ If you are heating foods high in fats, it’s better to stick to glass containers. There is a risk of chemical additives from plastic dissolving and contaminating fatty foods at very high temperatures.

★ Never run a microwave if it is empty. With nothing to absorb the radiation that is being produced, the energy can actually burn out the tube inside, posing a fire hazard.

★ Microwaves should not be used to sterilize bottles. Use your gas stove to boil water and sterilize baby bottles and jars, even though it takes a longer time.

★ Never let children use a microwave without adult supervision. Make sure they do not stand too close to the microwave when it’s on. Use the child safety lock if your microwave is equipped with one.

★ It’s equally important to clean your microwave to get rid of any stuck and burnt food particles. Do not attempt to repair the microwave on your own. If you notice any corrosive damage or unhinged door, stop using it and take it to a repair shop.

Food-specific Tips

★ If you use the microwave to defrost food, set the correct temperature and do not use foam and plastic trays to defrost, as they cannot withstand extreme heat. Poultry, fish, and meat items begin to cook during defrosting, and bacteria and germs can thrive in partially cooked food. So it is best to immediately cook them thoroughly once they have been defrosted. For best results, switch to low power settings and rotate the food at least twice during defrosting.

★ Invest in a food thermometer if you regularly use the microwave to cook and reheat poultry, beef, veal, lamb chops, and meat. Check to see if the internal temperature has reached 165°F. That is the safest minimum internal temperature that foods should attain before they can be consumed. You can continue to cook it further as per your personal preference. Let the food continue to stand in the microwave for three to four minutes before you remove it to check the temperature. Ideally, foods should be steaming hot before you eat them, whether it is poultry, fish, casseroles, ready-to-eat hotdogs, or leftovers.

★ Observe recommended standing times as per the manufacturer’s instructions when heating prepackaged foods. Even after the microwave is switched off, food continues to get cooked for a few minutes.

★ Do not heat stuffed chicken or other poultry items in the microwave. The stuffing inside might not get cooked thoroughly; it is recommended you cook the stuffing separately. If you are heating a roasted whole chicken, always leave it inside for at least five minutes after the microwave has been turned off, it lets the heat pervade deep inside and the food item gets cooked well.

★ Be cautious when heating food items which are layered, especially pies and pasties. The outermost layer might not feel too hot to touch, but the insides can be burning hot. Do not pop it right inside your mouth. Wait for a few minutes or cut it with a knife to allow excess heat to escape before you eat it.

★ Eggs should not be boiled in a microwave. Steam will build up inside the eggshell and the egg will explode inside the cooking chamber.

★ Be aware of foods that can cause arching. Arching refers to the sparks that are caused when certain ingredients in the food react with metallic elements found inside the cooking chamber. Hotdogs and carrots are known to cause arching. The salts present in hotdogs and minerals found in carrots can produce sparks when heated in a microwave. If that happens, immediately turn off the microwave and cook the food by other means.

★ Liquids can superheat in a microwave if heated for a longer duration than necessary. This can very well happen if you use a very smooth container or a squeaky clean bowl straight out of your dishwasher, fill it with a liquid and heat it in the microwave. The water or liquid will be perfectly motionless once the microwave stops, but the moment you disturb the bowl or agitate the liquid, it might explode causing serious burns. To avoid this, let the bowl stand in the microwave for a few minutes before you remove it so it cools down, or add a pinch of sugar or salt to it to prevent superheating.

★ If you are heating baby food, stir the food and taste it to check the temperature before you feed your baby to prevent scalding.

Microwave ovens are no doubt one of the greatest inventions of the last century, and studies have shown that food retains more of its nutrients and vitamins when cooked in a microwave as compared to other means of cooking. By adhering to the suggestions mentioned above, you can be sure that food is prepared quickly and safely, saving you both time and electricity.

Canned Food Brands

It wouldn’t be an astound if most canned sustenances in your storeroom are bundled in BPA-lined jars. While BPA-containing linings are utilized as a part of most canned nourishments, some sustenance brands have intentionally been free of them.

Canned foods are convenient, simply because they’re ready to use, with no washing, peeling, etc., required. However, the downside is that they have a component of polycarbonate plastic called bisphenol A. This estrogen-like chemical is present in the epoxy resin lining of tin cans, which is used to prevent bacterial growth in canned foods. However, this chemical leaches into the food and then enters our bodies.

Various laboratory studies have linked exposure to bisphenol A to breast cancer, prostate cancer, infertility, and a plethora of other diseases like diabetes, obesity, etc. This means your canned soups, juices, beans, cranberry sauce, tuna, etc., aren’t actually healthy. The red flag raised hasn’t quite managed to get the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to ban it from canned foods, which is why it is important for us to be on the lookout for the same. Consumer pressure and moral obligation have caused certain food brands to voluntarily do away with the chemical.

Canned Food Brands without BPA

With so many canned food brands out there, which are the ones that offer products in BPA-free can linings? Let’s take a look.

EDEN FOODS

EDEN FOODS (BPA free since 1999) has been the first brand to offer BPA-free canned beans. They replaced their bisphenol A containing can linings with an oleoresinous c-enamel to deliver BPA-free canned products. So, if you want to stock up your kitchen cabinets with canned beans for all those busy days, make sure you purchase EDEN ORGANIC KIDNEY BEANS. Besides their kidney beans, their rice and bean combos, and chillis are also available in BPA-free linings. However, their canned tomatoes are still packaged in linings with BPA. Tomatoes are highly acidic in nature, thereby, causing the tin to rust, which is why they are still canned in cans with BPA-containing linings.

Note: EDEN FOODS offers crushed tomatoes in amber glass jars, which can be a good alternative to buying canned tomatoes with BPA-lined cans. They have metal lids, but the amount of BPA leaching into the tomatoes will be lesser than that in the canned version.

TRADER JOE’s

TRADER JOE’s is a company that believes in modesty! Their canned corn, beans, pumpkins, fruits, meat products, fish (except oysters, clams, crabs, sardines, and albacore tuna), and even canned tomatoes are all packaged in BPA-free cans. However, you won’t find the proclamation on their labels, which can make it quite confusing. Even their website makes no specific mentions. Their canned soups, stews, baked beans, mandarins, chillies, etc., are still packaged in cans with BPA-lined cans. So, with no specific BPA labelings, choosing a TRADER JOE’s product can be difficult. Sometimes, too much modesty isn’t a good thing, especially when it comes to food safety.

Note: TRADER JOE’s LIGHT COCONUT MILK is also free of BPA. So, if you’re planning to make a healthier version of Piña Colada this summer, purchase this brand!

Bionaturae

Bionaturae, touted as Italy’s premier line of organic foods, offers a whole range of products from pastas to olive oils to tomato-based products. Their crushed, diced, and whole-peeled canned tomatoes have been packaged in BPA-free cans, making them safe for consumption. These products are clearly labeled as BPA-free, and a quick look at their website will also verify this for you. Bionaturae’s tomato products are known for their superior flavor as well. So, if you’re looking to purchase canned tomatoes, this is definitely the brand to opt for.

Wild Planet

This California-based company is known for its sardines that have been ‘sustainably caught’ along the Californian coast. Besides being low in mercury content, their sardines are also packed in BPA-free cans. A quick visit to their online store will confirm their BPA-free seafood products.

Note: Wild Planet’s canned salmon, tuna, or shrimp products are free of BPA.

NATIVE FOREST

A brand of Edward & Sons, NATIVE FOREST is the first food brand to offer the canned version of Hearts of Palm. Their canned fruits like pineapple, peaches, mandarin, mango, and tropical fruit salad, etc., are packaged in BPA-free cans. Moreover, their smooth and creamy coconut milk cans are also BPA-free. Their baby corn, bamboo shoots, Hearts of Palm, asparagus, etc., are also packed in BPA-free cans. Again, their labels do not indicate so; hence, it can get confusing.

Note: NATIVE FOREST’s mushrooms do not come in BPA-free cans. So, be careful what you pick up!

Trident SEAFOODS

Harvester and marketer of Alaskan seafood, Trident SEAFOODS tout some of the finest seafood products available. According to the information obtained from the company’s website, no BPA has ever been used in their can linings, making their products naturally free of BPA. Their Alaskan salmon, albacore tuna, sockeye salmon, and other canned fish products are deemed free of BPA. Again, you won’t find a BPA-free label on their products.

Amy’s

As per the company’s website, from March 1, 2012 onwards, Amy’s has moved on to using BPA-free can linings to package their products. This includes their whole range of canned soups sold under its brand umbrella. However, random tests do indicate low levels of BPA in its food products, which according to the company is attributed to BPA from sources other than its lining. The company is still working on this issue.

FARMER’S MARKET

This food brand touts some of the freshest and superior-tasting canned fruits and vegetables available in the market. They confidently state that all of their products, including canned pumpkin products, canned butternut squash products, etc., are packaged in BPA-free cans. They also have ‘BPA Free’ printed on their labels, making it easier for consumers.

HENRY & LISA’S NATURAL SEAFOOD

Frozen within hours of harvesting, their seafood products are touted to be of premium quality. From the wide array of seafood products they have to offer, their Solid White Albacore Tuna is packaged in BPA-free cans. Since the tuna canned is of smaller size, it has less mercury contamination. Moreover, it also has no added salt, making it a healthier choice to consume. Their Wild Alaskan Pink Salmon also comes in BPA-free cans. This information is available on the company’s website.

The status of many food products may change with time. Since many food brands fail to clearly mention if their food products are BPA-free or not, deciding upon a canned food brand can be difficult. Stick to the ones that clearly state that they are free of BPA. If you really want to know, contact the company directly for first-hand information. The best way to ensure minimal BPA exposure is by consuming more of fresh beans, sauces, soups, etc. Avoid canned food, and opt for that which is stored in glass bottles, cartons, etc.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Freeze-drying Food

Solidify drying is a procedure to safeguard nourishment, while holding every one of the supplements and flavors. This procedure is extremely effective, however has its downsides also.

Science has made storage and preservation of food very easy. It is now possible to carry frozen food, and quickly heat it before consuming. Ready-to-eat meals are an instant hit, as they have saved our efforts and time.

It is also a huge advantage for astronauts, hikers, and campers; they don’t have to carry excess loads or worry about food spoiling. It has also helped to preserve certain seasonal fruits, and make them available all year around.

Two very commonly used procedures to preserve food are dehydration and freeze-drying. This Buzzle write-up describes the process of freeze-drying, or lyophilization, and lists its advantages and disadvantages.

What is Freeze-drying?

It is a process in which food is first flash frozen, and then placed in a vacuum. The food to be freeze dried can be cooked or raw. When it is placed in a vacuum, all the ice sublimes; thus the moisture is removed. Almost 98% of the moisture is removed, which significantly reduces the weight of the food. Then, the food is sealed properly and stored. Freeze-drying is not restricted to food only; it is also used to store pharmaceutics like vaccines or other injections.

Commonly freeze-dried foods
Instant coffee is the most popular freeze-dried food. Vegetables in soup packets or fruits in noodles are usually freeze dried. Herbs, spices, food-flavorings, fruits, and meat can be freeze dried as well. Astronauts eat freeze-dried food, when in space. Many campers and hikers prefer to carry it as well.

Advantages

✔ Since all the moisture is removed from the food, its weight decreases making it easier to carry or transport.

✔ All the nutrients and flavors are retained when food is freeze dried. Even the aroma is not lost.

✔ The food does not shrink or its texture does not change when it is freeze dried. This makes it a better option than dehydration.

✔ Since, the ice sublimes, it leaves small pockets in food. Thus, when the food is reheated, it hydrates evenly all over. It takes only 10 minutes to rehydrate.

✔ It has a very long shelf life and can be quickly rehydrate as well. This makes it ideal for backpackers or hikers to carry.

✔ Freeze-dried foods can stay edible for up to 25 years if unopened. Fruits or ice creams can be eaten without hydrating them. This makes it a very convenient food option.

Disadvantages

✘ The biggest disadvantage of freeze-drying is its cost. It is extremely costly, and may not be cost-effective for certain foods.

✘ The equipment required to freeze-dry foods is very costly, and obviously it’s not possible to freeze-dry food at home.

✘ Not all foods can be freeze dried, some may get spoiled when freeze dried; others may need pretreatment to retain color or flavor.

✘ Additives may be used when freeze-drying food.

✘ Canning or dehydration is cost-efficient compared to freeze-drying.

✘ Along with the water, other liquids like vinegar can sublimate, leading to spoilage of food or change in taste in some cases.

✘ Airtight and moisture-control storage is absolutely necessary to ensure that the food does not spoil. Even slight exposure to humidity can easily spoil the food.

✘ Dehydrated food is more common, freeze-dried food may not be easily available everywhere.

Freeze-drying food has many advantages and is very useful. The other disadvantages are minor, only the cost factor can be a problem for most people.