Saturday, February 5, 2011

New U.S. Dietary Guidelines: What Not to Eat

This is courtesy of Web MD. Go to their sight to read more. Mexican,Pizza and Burgers are all on their hit list. It is hard for a boy from Southeast Texas to give up Tex Mex.

So what should the new American diet look like? The new guidelines suggest:
• Eat more seafood -- at least 8 ounces a week
• Eat more fruits and vegetables
• Substitute healthy oils for solid fats (such as margarine)
• Lower your sodium intake
• Avoid fast foods
• Exercise more
• Read food labels
• Substitute whole grains for refined grains
• Eat more beans and peas
• Get plenty of fiber, potassium, and vitamin D
• Eat/drink more nonfat or low-fat dairy products
• Replace high-fat meats with lean meats
• For some Americans, drink less alcohol

Agave Nectar the new natural sweetener

I found a product at HEB that I feel can be as helpful as Splenda for those of us watching our glycimex levels in food processing. I tried it straight up as a sugar substitute in iced tea, not bad but not really that appatizing. May work better like honey in hot tea. Here is some information from
The raw agave juice is regularly harvested from living plants by Indian peoples native to central Mexico. To do so, they must slice off the top of the plant and hollow out its core. Then the plant is capped with a stone. The pineapple shaped agave plant secretes its nectar into the center of the plant, rather than into flowers like most plants do. It collects in the hollow center for several days, after which the milky white "juice" is removed by ladle, one plant at a time. In a way it is similar to tapping a tree for maple syrup collection.
Agave NectarAgave nectar is a newly created sweetener, having been developed during the 1990's. Originally, the blue agave variety was used. This is the same plant used in the manufacture of tequila. During the late 90's, a shortage of blue agave resulted in huge increases in cost and a sweetener based on this plant became uneconomical. Further research was done and a method using wild agave was developed. Overcoming the language barrier between the Indians able to supply the nectar from the wild agave on their land and the Spanish speaking local manufacturer was the key that finally unlocked a supply of raw material and has led to our bringing this wonderful new product to market.
Limiting glucose consumption is a contemporary concern for many people. The introduction of this new sweetener is timely as it has a relatively low glycemic index due to its higher proportion of fructose and lower levels of glucose. This fact should prove attractive to those with special diet considerations or who monitor glucose intake.
Agave Nectar has many other fine qualities as well. Foremost among them are the certified purity, both organic and kosher. Also of note is the flavor. The light variety's neutral flavor will not alter the taste of the foods in which it is used making it ideal as a sweetener for coffee, tea, fruit "smoothies", and other beverages. The amber variety's mild natural flavor will lend a delicious and mysterious hint of flavor to sauces or baked goods. This sweetener is also very convenient to use, as it has a long, stable shelf life and will not solidify. It pours quickly even when cold, blends and dissolves readily in or on all foods. For baking, its moisture retention properties are comparable to those of honey. Bakers also may notice a silky, smoother texture to their goods and better definition of other natural flavors.
This pure, unrefined sweetener is a great-tasting, economical alternative to all other sweeteners, granular or liquid, perfect for all around use. It has approx 1.4 x the sweetening power of white sugar. And, Agave Nectar's mild flavor doesn't vary widely which will lend a real consistency to recipes.
Madhava expects Agave Nectar to become a popular, everyday contemporary sweetener. In the short time since it was introduced, shoppers have discovered that it makes a wonderful addition to their kitchen cupboards. Having a jar along with the honey jar allows one to choose whichever is more suitable for a particular use. The unique flavors and qualities of honey lend themselves to many items and uses, while agave nectar compliments others with even broader potential due to its mildness and ease of use.”
Many households enjoy the qualities of both sweeteners for different uses.

Usage tips:
  • On fruit salad.
  • Add dash to vinegar + oil salad dressing.
  • In coffee or tea.
  • Cereal
  • Sweeten Lemonade
  • Add to BBQ sauce.
  • Suitable for any sweetening use.
  • Use in any recipe. To substitute use ¾ cup agave nectar per 1 cup other sweetener.

Look For a few recipes with the Agave Necture in the near future.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Hoppin John

This recipe comes from Kalyn@Kaylins Kitchen. It is perfect on a cold day like today.
Hopping John Soup

Hopping John Soup (Black-eyed Pea, Ham, and Collard Green Soup)
(Makes 6-8 servings, recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from The Gourmet Cookbook.)

1 onion, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 cup celery, chopped in fairly small pieces
1 T olive oil
1 tsp. minced garlic
2-3 cups diced ham (cut off the ham rind and save)
8 cups homemade chicken stock
(or use water with chicken soup base or canned chicken broth)
2 16 oz. packages frozen black-eyed peas
(or use 6 cups freshly cooked black-eyed peas or 4 cans black-eyed peas)
1/2 tsp. dried thyme
1 bunch fresh collard greens, chopped (about 2 cups when measured after chopping, but next time I would use more)
pinch red pepper flakes (optional)
2 tsp. apple cider vinegar, or more to taste
Optional: ham flavor base if needed (I like Goya Ham Flavor Concentrate if you can find it)

In large frying pan, saute onion and celery in olive oil about 5 minutes, until starting to soften. Add garlic and saute 2 minutes more, then add ham and saute over very low heat 10 minutes. (Don't skip this step, which concentrates the ham flavor into the vegetables.)

Transfer mixture to large soup pot, add chicken stock, black eyed peas, dried thyme, and ham rinds if available, and cook at very low simmer for one hour.

After soup has cooked one hour, taste for flavoring. Add more water and ham flavor base if needed. (It will depend on your ham, but I usually add a tiny bit. I added about 2 cups more water to the soup at this point.) Add chopped collard greens, stir into soup and simmer one hour more, or until black-eyed peas are quite soft.

When black-eyed peas are as soft as you want them, remove pieces of ham rind, then use an immersion blender, food processor, or hand masher to partially process about half the soup. You want a mixture of broken and unbroken black-eyes peas, with some thickening of the soup from the pureeing process. Be careful not to over process. Add red pepper flakes and vinegar and simmer 10 minutes more (or longer, I sometimes cook as much as an hour more at this point.) Serve hot.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Spiced Apples

There are advantages to living on the Gulf Coast.  Tonight and tommorow are not one of them. Lows in the 20's and Hot water pipes finally thawed at 6 o' clock this afternoon. But as I sit and eat  these spiced apples and write this intro it tastes a little like heaven. I added blueberries to mine.

Spiced Apples
o    3 -4 large granny smith apples
o    1/8-1/4 cup butter
o    1/2 cup cranberries or blueberries or  nuts
o    1-11/2 cups water
o    1 cup splenda
o    1/4 teaspoon salt
o    1 teaspoon cinnamon
1.    Melt butter in a 2 qt saucepan.
2.    Add and saute apples over med heat for 5 minutes.
3.    Stir in fruit, nuts, salt, and cinnamon.
4.    Add water and cook on high until mixture boils.
5.    Add splenda and reduce heat to med-low.
6.    Simmer for 10.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Spice up the New Year

 I thought I could come up with a new recipe daily ,then January came and almost went. I've been looking through my cookbooks to find something new and decided to be true to my "blog philosophy"-Texas  Healthy or Healthier. So over the next few blogs I would like to cover pantry items. Spices and their shelf-life was one of my concerns, so I did a little research.
 Spices don't spoil, per sey, they loose their flavor over time. Most cookbook writers would have you believe spices hold their flavor  for about 6 months but if stored in an airtight, cool, dry space away from light whole spices (peppercorns, nutmeg,cinnamon sticks,ect.) will last up to 4 years. Ground spices stored properly last  2-3 years but there is no way to know shelf life. Leafy spices(parsley,basil,cilatro,ect.) have a shelf life of 1-3years depending on storage.
 So when dealing with spices apply these  few simple rules and spice up your life. Don't shake spices directly into the food your cooking  because the humidity can break down your spices. Finally look at color, crush in your hand to release the oils and check for a good aroma.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Egg MacMuffins

      H.E.B. has been running specials where you get a free dozen of eggs
      lately. I had all the ingredients to make these. Yummy but in the future
      I will add green chiles. These would go well with a red or green sauce.


                                    8 Eggs
                                    4tsp.Green Onions
                                    6 Sausage Patties
                                    1/2 c. Mexican Cheese-2%
                                    1/4 c.Milk-1%
                                    2tsp. Salt
                                    1tsp. Pepper

        Mix well. Place in Greased Muffin Pan. Bake 350. 30 min.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Green Chile Tamales

Tamales making has been done a certain way in my home for years.Recently Sylvia@The Hungry Texan and Marcela Valladolid with Food Network each  posted tamale recipes. So I decided after all these years to revamp my recipe to include a smoother,creamier masa and a crock pot meat.
                         5 lb.Masa block
                         1/2cup of fat from cooled down meat
                          2 cups corn
                          2tbs. Agave Nectar or sugar
                          1 cup of meat broth
                          1/2 chile paste*
                  *chile paste is made from blending the onions, chiles and meat broth from crock pot with 5 chipotles in adobo sauce and corn till smooth. Be sure to remove Bay Leaves. 
                    Add fat, Nectar and paste to masa and mix well, May need extra broth to thin. Add salt and pepper to taste.
                   This is a fairly thin mixture and should slide slowly of the spoon.


                                                                         Pork Mixture

                                                          5-7lb. Pork Picnic
                                                          1 Onion quartered
                                                          2 Bay Leaves
                                                          12 Anaheim Chiles or other mild chile
                                                           1tbs. Salt
                                                           1tbs. Pepper
                  Place pork in crock pot and cover with water. Add rest of ingredients and Cook on low 8 hours. Remove meat. Pull off as much fat and bones and return to crock pot for 4 more hours.
                    Soak Husks in warm water.Place lid on top to keep submerged.
                     Mix meat and left over paste and salt and pepper to taste.Thinly spread masa on3/4 of smooth side of husk. Add3-4 tbs. meat mixture to masa side of tamale and roll and fold up bottom. Place tamales open end up in steamer. Cover and steam for about 1 1/2 hours until masa is firm and cooked through.  Tamales are done when husk pulls away with little resistance.
                                                                                                               Makes about 9 dozen

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cowgirl Spices

This is the label for Cowgirl Spices. It is an exciting line of spices. The only reason they are not out yet is because someone other than myself moved the recipes for safe keeping. These recipes are so safe we can not find where they were placed. And we can get close to the originals but they don't pop like the originals. When we locate the originals they will go into production. The first time I cooked with these spices was like showering with Irish Spring-- it opened up your taste buds and made you sing wow! If your old enough to remember the old Irish Spring commercials.

Writing Recipes

I thought I would  have every thing up and running by Jan. 1. Just bought a cheap Nikon and took pictures of tamales today. I have modified the recipe after the first batch of tamales were all eaten without getting pictures. First round tastes went well-considering they were gone in 2 days. Should be full swing on Monday. I have been reading quite a few blogs lately. Cooking with gooey duck-corn smut-how many of us eat this way. Not me!
What I hope to achieve is good clean as healthy as it can get real food from Texas and near surroundings as I can. I hope not to insult the foodies with just clean food that I have used catering and competition with a few new twists. I know we eat with all our senses but do we to go out of our way to find foods so weird or plates so small and expensive just to say we run with a certain sect. Truffles or Tacos---no brainer for me. A good taco truck and extra money in my pocket.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Thursday Night and I can't sleep

Its Thurs. night and I am bored, can't sleep yet. Reading about glycimic indexes(think that would put out the average joe-not me) and again you have to base the trials and experiments on products on how your own body reacts.I found my bloodwork numbers from last and will compare. Strictly Splenda, Agave Nectar, 1%Milk. Well see if there is a change in my numbers. I know some peoples sugars are affecting them in ways such as light headedness. But can you blame any of the characters above or is there something in our intake that could cause similar chemical reactions in our bodies. Look I am blabbering on about something that everyone has there own opinions on . I'll let my next set of numbers define which path I take grasshopper and report back. Starting Jan.1 I plan to blog a recipe adapted from my kitchen or other site recipes365. Starting with tamale recipe adapted by a lady in the blogging world I can't wait to read daily-THE HUNGRY TEXAN . I made a few changes to adapt to the peppers I had on hand.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Texas Pride..

 The other day topic of conversation was Texas Food vs. Southern.
It is a statement about Texas in general. Texas pride aside there are several rules that need to be abided after all we are from the state of Tejas-The Friendly State. First rule of Texas-The first one to a door opens it and holds it open till all have entered and exited. A Texas women will stop and wait for the door to be opened. It is common courtesy for the man to walk closest to the street in mixed company. In deep East Texas Texans drive right handed because the left is always waving at there neighbor. A wise man said Be Gracious and Grateful and your company should  have things the way they like them. You say yes ma'am.,no sir to a 6 year old or a 90 year old No Exceptions!
As far as food wars go it's cream gravy on CFS with the exception in some German communities that use brown gravy. We eat what animal is put in front of us(can't get past possum) but beef is king. All soda is Coke when ordered.The old Germans had a pitcher of sweet and unsweet tea-the sweet runs out first. BBQ is cooked low and slow on large pits ,sopped during the cooking process. But the only true Rule in Texas that can't be altered is THERE ARE NO BEANS IN CHILI!

Thursday, December 2, 2010

What to expect

As you may or may not know I live in Southeast Texas. 20 minutes from Louisiana,45 mins. from the Gulf,10 mins.from the bay. There is an eclectic gathering of nationalities and personalities-Cajuns,Creoles,Asians,Viets,Mexicans Latin Americans,African Americans and TEXANS. We have 2 growing seasons-Hot and Mild. Think Mediterranean.
Beef,Pigs,Chickens,Goats and Wild Game make up a majority of the proteins found throughout SETexas and Texas. The Gulf and Bay provide Snapper,Oysters,other species of Fish. The land provides Chiles,Tomatoes,Corn,Okra,Greens,Squash and many other seasonal vegetables. Basically it grows here.
As a caterer and competition cook ,we cooked food for the masses that made us fan favorites. 1500 people can not be wrong.I am not a foodie and not a chef a simple cook who enjoys simple food with simple tastes. I hope to teach and at times entertain with stories and food-soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010


It's tough to be by yourself on  holidays and even tougher spending time with people you generally do not socialize with. The children I raised all those years choose to finally spend time with their mother. Feel a little betrayed-yes, but there may be a silver cloud. I am a Fifty something  living with 2 Twenty somethings with 3 food philosophies. Food Hell. With one gone supper on the eve was Tempura Fish and Sweet Potato Fries. Thanksgiving Dinner will be Panko Shrimp, Fiery Sweet Potato Soup and a salad. This gives me the opportunity to eat items not generally eaten in our household. If you guessed fish,shrimp and sweet potatoes your right.
Starting the first of the year I plan to blog daily about food off our illustrious streets and the influences from surrounding states. The challenge will be to get Twenty somethings to try new things, I see many night of leftovers in my kitchen. Did I forget to mention all this while trying to be as true to the South Beach eating plan as I can.