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Oysters RockefellerIf you haven't made Oysters Rockefeller and Bananas Foster, now is the time - Fat Tuesday and Mardi Gras are upon us! Besides, what's better than New Orleans food?

Laissez Les Bons Temps Rouler!

Mardi Gras, the colorful purple, green, and gold holiday, falls on Tuesday, March 4th. The city of New Orleans goes all out with parties, music, parades, costumes, masks, beads, picnics, and, of course, the delicious and colorful King’s Cake.

Originally, King Cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today's King Cakes are much more festive with a doll or baby inside the cake. The cake is then decorated with the traditional Mardi Gras colors of gold, purple and green in the form of colored sugar.

The two recipes below, Oysters Rockefeller and Bananas Foster, originated at Brennan’s Restaurant in New Orleans and a version came from a 1994 cookbook, Breakfast at Brennan’s And Dinner, Too.

In the 1950’s Owen Edward Brennan, owner of Brennan’s, created Oysters 2-2-2 or the Three Deuces, which offered customers a sampling of two each of Oysters Bienville, Oysters Rockefeller and Oysters Roffignac.

Oysters Rockefeller

  • 48 oysters in their shells
  • Rock salt
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 bunches scallions, finely chopped
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 lb. (4 sticks) butter
  • 3 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco
  • ½ to ¾ cup Pernod (according to taste)
  • 1-¼ cups seasoned breadcrumbs

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Shuck the fresh oysters. Throw away the top shells and clean the bottom shells. Each serving comprises 6 oysters in these shells. Line an ovenproof tray with about one inch of rock salt. Make 8 servings.

Add celery, scallions and parsley to the butter, which has been melted. Sauté before adding the Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco. Cook 10 minutes over medium heat and add the Pernod and breadcrumbs. Cook another 5 minutes before refrigerating for about an hour until cold.

When cold, use a stand mixer to aerate. Put this mixture in a pastry bag with a large tip. Pipe about a tablespoon on top of each oyster, bake in a 400 degrees oven for about 5 minutes, until heated through.

Brennan’s chef Paul Blange created Bananas Foster in 1951. It was named after Richard Foster, a civic-minded friend of Owen Brennan. Bananas came into the port of New Orleans from South and Central America and this new recipe was an instant success. It is the most requested item on the menu.

Banana Foster

  • 4 scoops vanilla ice cream
  • 4 bananas, cut in rounds
  • ¼ cup (1/2 stick) butter
  • ½ tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup banana liqueur
  • ¼ cup white rum

Put 1 scoop of ice cream in individual bowls that can go in the freezer. This can be done well in advance.

Cut the bananas and melt the butter, adding cinnamon, brown sugar, banana liqueur and white rum. Flambé the liqueur and rum. Put the bananas in the liquid to soften and spoon in each bowl of ice cream with part of the warm sauce.

For recipes and food tips from Sally, check out Sally's Place.

healthy-diets-more-expensive-study-shows-1There’s a cost to eating and living healthy and it’s higher than the dollar menu! Mom always said to eat your fruits and vegetables but mom never said that it was more expensive than that tasty cheeseburger you’d rather have! A recent study shows that healthy diets are more expensive than unhealthy diets. How unfortunate is that?

If you’re a healthy eater, did you know it’s more costly? It could even cost your family thousands of dollars more a year to cook healthy meals! Read more to learn the truth about healthy diets!

Being Healthy is More Expensive?

healthy-diets-more-expensive-study-shows-2The British Journal of Medicine Open conducted a recent study, which concluded that a healthy diet costs around $1.50 more a day than an unhealthy diet. Diets consisting of meats, junk food and other processed foods were $1.50 cheaper a day than a diet consisting of fruits, veggies and fish. 

If you are choosing a healthy lifestyle, you are spending over $500 more a year than if you went to the drive-thru. For the average family, it costs over $2,000 more a year to be healthy! Wow! The study also looked at varying options within certain food groups. For example, fat-free milk tended to be more expensive than whole milk. 

So, being healthy has a price but the end result is pretty valuable - great body inside and out, longer life expectancy, and much more. Check out our diet and fitness sections for tips on cutting costs with healthy food or how to work out, which requires time more so than money!

strawberries-in-champagne-recipeWe're got a fruity drink recipe that is quick and refreshing! Summer brings an array of fresh fruits that are in season. Fruits like apples and oranges are typically seen all year round, but strawberries taste best during the hot months. Their season is generally April through June, so don't waste any  time trying this strawberries in champagne recipe!

Fun and Nutritional Facts About Strawberries

  • Strawberries are low in calories. One cup of unsweetened strawberries has 55 calories.
  • Strawberries are low in sodium, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
  • Just one serving of about eight strawberries provides more vitamin C than an orange.
  • Eat your strawberries fresh for better nutritional value. Berries won't ripen after they’re picked so eat them right away. 
  • There are many varieties of strawberries, such as Douglas, Pajaro, Chandler, Selva, Fraises de Bois (very tiny, red and white) and long-stem (any variety picked with a stem). 
  • 
California is the largest strawberry-producing state with 83 percent of the crop in the U.S. Florida is the second largest producing state. Other U.S. growing areas include Oregon, Louisiana, Michigan and North Carolina.
  • Strawberries are actually a member of the rose family. They grow in the ground from cuttings and need to be protected from snails and slugs.
  • There are "Pick Your Own" Strawberry farms across the U.S. and many Strawberry Festivals throughout the country.
  • Strawberries are the first crop ready for harvest in most temperate regions, usually in May or June.

Strawberries in Champagne Ingredients

  • 2 pints strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup brandy
  • Champagne
  • Mint sprigs

Directions

  1. Wash strawberries, drain and place in a shallow bowl
  2. Sprinkle with sugar and brandy
  3. Cover and chill several hours
  4. Spoon berries into coupe champagne glasses (shallow, stemmed glass)
  5. Fill with champagne and garnish with mint.

This specific recipe makes 4 to 6 servings. Enjoy! 

For more food, wine and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein!

difference-between-brown-vs-white-eggsBrown vs. white: What's the difference between these eggs?

An older man refuses to buy brown eggs every week from the grocery store. He thinks the difference between brown and white eggs is enough to make him buy white. Why? According to him, he thinks "brown eggs just aren't normal."

The younger health generation might argue the nutritional value in between the colors. Why are brown eggs more expensive?

Shopping for eggs no longer only involves opening the carton to make sure none are cracked. All kinds of labels, such as free of growth-hormones, free of antibiotics, cage-free, omega-3 and even organic eggs, are all stacked next to each other. Even some stores carry Aracauna hen’s eggs, which have a blueish tent to outer shell.

To solve some simple confusion between brown vs. white eggs, here are rumors about the shell’s color.

Myths About Brown vs. White Eggs

  • Brown eggs are healthier than white
  • Brown eggs are more expensive because they are better quality
  • Healthiest eggs come from hens who only eat a vegetarian diet
  • Brown hens produce brown eggs and white hens produce white eggs. This is due to genetics.
  • Brown egg yolks are more yellow.
  • More expensive eggs are the best quality.

Confessions of the Egg Controversy

  • Hens that lay brown eggs are larger and cost more to feed, requesting a higher maintenance
  • Heavy corn feeding for the hen results in a more yellow yolk
  • Brown and white eggs have nearly the exact same nutrition
  • Aracauna eggs (blueish color) have the highest cholesterol levels
  • The hen’s earlobes determine the color of the eggs. For example, white earlobes on a hen would produce white eggs. Brown, black, or reddish ear-lobed hens produce brown eggs.
  • Hens who eat worms with their regular grain feeding are considered the healthiest
  • Omega-3 eggs are more expensive on the shelf because these hens eat flax seed meals, which is a very expensive feed to supply

Now that you know the truth behind brown and white eggs, maybe this will sway your decision one way or another. Eggs are eggs, so don't waste money on brown when the nutritional value is the same as white! 

labels-on-food-for-kidsLabels don't lie, but they sometimes bend the facts. Each food's "nutrition facts" box should be studied before you make a purchase. And your kids should know that nutrition labels are there to inform you what's inside the food you're eating. The agency in charge of nutrition is the USDA (United States Drug Administration). They have switched from the traditional pyramid to a new symbol, a colorful plate called MyPlate. Michelle Obama is a big proponent of this change.

Reading and interpreting food labels isn’t just for grown ups. With today’s growing concerns about childhood nutrition and obesity, it’s never too soon to encourage your children to make smart decisions. Food companies are actually required by law to give you the facts about what you're about to eat. 

Reading Food Labels for Kids

You can teach your kids how to read labels by making it a game. Here's what you need to do:

  • Get green, yellow and red stickers or magic markers
  • Have individual tablets for each of the food categories you’ll be checking.
  • Start with the basics of label information such as portion size (often surprising), calories, fat, carbs, sugar and sodium.
  • Next, explain how ingredients are listed in descending proportion to the total contents. If sugar is one of the top three ingredients, you can be sure there is a lot of sugar in this product. 

Gather together three or four similar products. Teach kids to use their newfound nutrition knowledge to read the labels and rate the products. 

  • Use green for "go." Go ahead and enjoy these tasty foods that are also good for you.
  • Use yellow for "pause." Think about enjoying this food in moderation.
  • Use red for "stop." Don't select this food as an everyday choice. Include more of the green and yellow products for a healthier lifestyle.

Let your children design a healthy menu for a family dinner and take them grocery shopping with you. Older kids may want to help with the food preparation. For a little math practice, have your new nutritionist provide a total breakdown for the entire meal (calories, fat, protein, etc).

Then, the entire family can celebrate success with fresh fruit for a just dessert! For more food, wine, and recipes, check out Sally Bernstein

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