Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Its a weed! Kill it!

Yes, it is a weed now, but maybe 50 years ago or even 60 years ago, the Dandelion was grown for culinary use.  They are thought to have evolved into their present state 30 million years ago and most of the world has always used them as food and as an herb.

Now, what can you do with them?  Well, you treat it like any other green, like spinach, mustard, or collard.  In this bunch, I did two things.  First off, I boiled them all in water for about 15 minutes, to make them as tender and cooked spinach.  Still a bit crisp.  Then I took the first handful and added it to a hot pan that already had some garlic and oil in it.  I added some red pepper flakes and came out with a spicy and tangy dish.

I then took the next batch, the last of the greens, and threw them in a pan, that had already some black forest bacon, onions and garlic cooking in it.  I sauteed the greens with everything and even included some extra greens, some frisee'.  I then plopped it all on plate where I took that coveted bacon grease and made me a quick dressing with some red wine vinegar.  The dish was super tasty as the acid from the bacon grease went well with the tangy dandelion greens. 

For anyone that may be interested in any recipes or ideas, please let me know.


Thursday, May 26, 2011

which is the true America's favorite corn bread?

A few weeks ago I wanted to pose a true test: which of the following is America's best corn bread.  (Or at least, which is the tastiest).
All three of these boxes were about the same price, give or take a few pennies.  All of them were already simple to the point where you just add water or milk and maybe an egg and mix and cook.  How simple could this be?  Well, it was a good test.

First off, let's give a big round of applause to the Native Americans for coming up with cornbread.  I love it when it is cooked properly and tastes great.

Now, the first one I tried was:
The Flavorite brand was basically made to make the cheapest products using the cheapest ingredients at the most generic level.  Their cornbread, when mixed and placed within a pan and cooked, as instructed, came out so dry that I could only eat mine with some fresh jam I had made.
Flavorite gets a 2 out of 5 on their box cornbread.

I then went with this next one:

I think it said that the Martha White brand had this recipe from the early 1800's and passed it down to you and you know what?  It doesn't taste good at all.  There was almost no corn flavor in this.  It was as if they made the most bland tasting corn meal from mixing it with flour and making something dry and crumbly with no flavor.  Again, a 2 out of 5 stars for Martha White.

Last, I picked this one: America's favorite brand
America's favorite was perhaps the best of all three of these boxed concoctions.  Was it dry? Yes.  Was it so dry and crumbly that it was hard to eat in your hand? Yes.  Was it tasty?  Well......let's say that it tasted the most like real corn than any of the three.  So, between then three of them, it was the best.  A 3 out of 5 for me.

Now, for future reference, if you were doing any dish, like stuffing or a framers cookout and you needed a quick cornbread to be used as a component for other things, not to star as its own, but for other things, then use Jiffy.  I make better cornbread from my own recipe but for the 5 minutes it takes to mix it and the time it takes to cook it, it was a nice treat.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

No amount of health or energy is worth this...

Do not drink Solixir, it is not tasty at all.  The flavor of this all natural energy drink tasted like someone left a Corona beer outside and then added a bunch of chopped leaves and dirt into the mix.  I also know that it is filled with natural and most likely healthy things like ginseng, angelica and even turmeric root.  But, the flavor is quite awful and I could not finish the can.   Here is a picture as a warning and this is likely a 1/2 star out of 5.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Not food, but it is natural and sustainable...

Every once in a while, I decide to post something that is not about food.  (I am allowed to do that, right?)  So, anyway, here is what I have:

My wife has been doing a new hobby: felting.  To give you an idea, she buys natural wool, from animals such as sheep, camels or alpaca and then cleans it, and felts it together.  Essentially she makes felt, just like you can buy at the store, using natural animals fibers.  She then uses natural dyes and makes art from it, or clothing, or hair accessories.  For instance, here is a picture of some dreads she made:

I know, it is not only blue, but really cool looking too!  Here is the thing, other retailers, do use chemicals and artificial dyes or they use synthetic fibers.  Now, if you are a "green" person and you prefer to have your synthetic dreads because it doesn't have anything to do with animals, keep in mind what goes into your synthetic hair.  Most synthetic hair is made from nylon, polyester, acrylic and polyolefin; which are all plastics.  So, you may be a hippie or a green person but your fake hair is made using oils and other chemicals. 

If you want fake hair, why not go natural and clean and safe.  At this etsy store, you can find natural wool dreads dyed using natural coloring agents and worked using natural means.  That's right, no factories or bad chemicals.   I always find it funny how some people will say that they are green and then go out and spend $300 on a pair of synthetic dreads, only to be wearing something that is full of chemicals and nastiness.


I thought I would mention that this store uses things that are sustainable, not created in a lab somewhere.

Red Bull is my Guru...

While at a recent trip to Whole Foods, I picked up some "natural" energy drinks.  What is odd about the difference between natural and unnatural is almost negligent, since vitamins and other nutrients are now added as chemicals not found isolated in nature.  In this case, the first drink I tried is called Guru and it was the sugar free variety.
The Guru drink is interesting in that it tastes exactly like a Red Bull.  Unlike other more mainstream energy drinks, Guru doesn't list in their nutritional information that it has so much B vitamin %.  It also contains some strange things like luo han guo juice, which is the juice from the Siraitia grosvenorii plant.  Which is a fruit sought after for its longevity increasing properties.  All in all, the drink is okay, but without sugar or any real vitamins, it only has a purpose of tasting bad.  I give it a 2 out of 5 and it hasn't yet to wake me up.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

A whole new opinion

If you check through my posts, I think near the beginning of them, I posted that I really didn't like Whole Foods.  A few years ago, when I went to Whole Foods, the food, all of it, was expensive.  I don't make much money, and the thought of spending $50 for 16 items at Whole Foods, where that same $50 can get me more than 30 at another store like Dierburgs makes me question how good the Whole Foods items can really be.  I was disdainful of the smug people who drive their hybrid vehicles, complain about parking far from the store, and then complain inside and that much is true.


Some of that has changed.  This past weekend, my wife and I went to Whole Foods.  We were just going to look around and see what we could find, after we picked up some lunch and ate it in the cafe' area.  As we walked through we did need a princess and I'll tell you more about her later and she does seem to embody or represent how most of the people act at Whole Foods.  But the food prices were actually not expensive anymore.  I think the reason for that is that the normal food prices at other stores, have gone up, so now the organic prices are the same.  So, you get the same amount of food, roughly, but one is organic and pesticide free and the other is not.  So, anyways, the biggest good point of the night was the meats, which were on sale.  We picked up some chicken habanero sausage and some pork sausage.  Both sausages had no nitrites or preservatives and were in natural casings.  So, no bad stuff.

The best thing we picked up, well two best things, was the dandelion greens and the bacon.  The greens were huge and way better than the 2 inch long leaves growing in my yard now.  I can't wait to do something with them.  We also picked up some bacon, on sale as well.  The bacon was black forest bacon and has no salt and no preservatives.  Imagine a world where people didn't put harmful chemicals in their food.   :)

Now, that part was all cool and made me like Whole Foods again.  What made the trip bad, was the amount of smug and pretentious people that you meet there.  You have women complaining about the pesticides in their food and then after they spent $300 on food there, they light up a smoke as they walk out to their car.  You have the guys who act like they are doing a personal favor to the planet by shopping there and then get their groceries into their H3.  Finally, you have the housewives who appear to have been let out of their cage for the first time in their lives.  While money does create a class system in America, and anyone who tells you otherwise is full of it, it doesn't mean that you have to treat someone any different because they make less money than you do.

I really want to rant and rave about these people but that is not what I do.  Anyways, Whole Foods is back on my list, until, the local farmers get their stands out.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

What is that term "Antioxidants"?

We live in a great age now.  During the past 200 years is when we have first started to really notice these items, in food and in science.  Antioxidants are a very simple and easy to understand concept and I will make it easier for you to get. 

I used this analogy before:
Your body is like a glass shop.  In the shop of your body, you have several smaller rooms where you have different glass products from simple dishware to Chihuly type artwork.  When you take anything in your body, be it by eating, drinking, injection or even breathing, it goes to these cells.  So, you eat an apple and the apple guy goes into your glass shop and goes into a room selling artwork.  But then you take a puff of your cigarette and the smoke and tar and nastiness comes in and goes into another room as well.

Now, the apple has something in it, called an Antioxidant.  Antioxidants help reduce free radicals.  Free radicals are chemicals that are harmful to your body.  So, when you take a puff of smoke on your cigarette, the bad chemicals in that puff are brought into your body shop.  Those bad chemicals are a punch of emo teenagers who just came into your glass shop and think it is funny to knock things down. After they go into a room and brake the first couple of glass items, they keep saying that it is an accident and not their fault.

That apple that is wondering around in your shop, has antioxidants, and is an undercover cop.  Antioxidants attach themselves to free radicals, in your body, to prevent the free radicals from running around and breaking things.  So, Mr. Apple, who has 5,900 ORAC, which is the measurement of Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, can handle almost 6,000 of these teenagers.  So, Mr. Apple tackles them and cuffs them to a chair in the center of the room, and he sits in the chair.  Just like in your body, the antioxidants attach and tackle the free radicals and prevent any more injury. 

Now, for more information on the chemical process, you can read here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antioxidant

And for a short list of some antioxidant values, you can click here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxygen_radical_absorbance_capacity

If you look at the above chart, you can see why everyone says that dark chocolate is good for you.  These antioxidants have been shown to prevent diseases, cancers and even can delay the aging process.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Name one thing that is bad about high fructose corn syrup...

Do you remember that commercial?  The woman telling her nervous boy friend on their picnic that there was nothing wrong with high fructose corn syrup.  Of course the commercial was made and sponsored by the Corn Growers of America.  Now, I'm not going to go into the health problems associated with it, or the creation or how your body tries to deal with it.  Instead, I want to offer you a dare: try to live a week without and tell me how you feel.

I admit, that finding things that do not have HFCS in it is very difficult.  You may have to do without your favorite fast food meals, since the buns and chicken breading often has HFCS in it.  You may also have to do without your favorite soft drink or drink mix, since most of the time HFCS is in it as well.  It is in practically everything, from bread, candies, cookies, canned tomatoes, fruit juice, ice cream, salad dressings, popcorn, chocolate and even yogurt.  It is in everything, mainly because for manufacturers, it is cheaper to buy and use than real sugar.  So, what will come out of this is a few extra longer trips to the supermarket and a better health level.

Now, if you are lucky enough like me, to have a few International Food stores around, like Global Foods in Kirkwood, then you will notice that only the things from the United States have HFCS.  The ingredient is not in most of the other foreign goods.  It is odd that an ingredient that is cheaper than sugar and easier to use in products would not be in a Third World nation's exports, unless it has a significant effect on your health: as it does.  Have you noticed how many American products now advertise with big letters on the container that it has NO High Fructose Corn Syrup?  

Now, my family and I have been on a non-HFCS binge in our house.  We have noticed and furthermore, I have noticed, that without this awful item in our foods, I have felt less tired less often as well as had a better feeling, a higher pathos, or a better outlook on life.  My head has been clearer and I have had less headaches due to weather changes and such.  I do have to say that I was really tempted into buying that new chocolate creme stuffed Twinkie, but High Fructose Corn Syrup I think was the first or second ingredient and I really could use without it.

So, I know that there are a lot who read this and I dare you, try a week without High Fructose Corn Syrup for you or for your family and tell me how you feel afterwards.

Friday, May 6, 2011

I am ending the week with a Hydrive...

This is Hydrive. 
Hydrive energy drink seems a bit more tame, compared to the others I have tasted this week.  This triple berry flavor tastes like fruit punch flavored bug juice and is very sweet.  Almost like a cross between a Gatorade and a Monster drink, but it says that it has only 6 grams of sugar in the whole bottle, which is almost one tenth of the sugar amount of Monster.

Hydrive taunts you into trying it because all over the bottle it preaches the main reason for its energy: antioxidants.  Sure, antioxidants are great, in theory.  In fact, I don't believe there is any real, tangible evidence that shows that antioxidants do prevent diseases or can make you live longer.  Antioxidants are supposed to fight free radicals, which are often explained like a bull in a china shop.  The bull is a free radical, something you get that can be bad for your body, like a sugar molecule or even a carcinogen.  Antioxidants, are supposed to basically jump on and attach themselves to the free radical, thus creating a layer of padding to prevent the free radical from destroying your cells.  So, if the free radical is a big bull, the antioxidants are layers upon layers of bubble wrap that someone had placed around it to prevent it from damaging anything. 

Besides that. the drink is good. It is very sweet and as it gives half of the % daily value of B's and vitamin E that any of the other drinks does.If you are taking a normal supplement for your B vitamins, then this is good just to make sure you have all you need. I give Hydrive a 3 out of 5.

I'm a Rockstar because I drink nasty energy drinks

Okay, I try to look at the good in everything and unfortunately, this is not that good.  Let me start off straight by saying that the Rockstar: energy drink, is not that good.  Energy drinks are like beers, there are many kinds, many flavors, but some companies take the same flavor and just bottle it and change it ever so slightly as to think they are creating a new flavor.  For instance, Miller Genuine Draft and Miller Lite.  They taste the same and likely have one ingredient different, but that is it.

Rockstar tastes just like a Red Bull.  Owned by different companies but they taste the same.  Rockstar, wasn't all the way empty when I rinsed out the can to be recycled so I'm not sure I would recommend it to anyone.  I'd give it a 1 out of 5, mainly because if something is inedible, it gets a 1, sorta.

Sugar free Lightning flavor...?

Yeah, lightning really is a flavor and it does taste pretty good.  The drink, Amp: Sugar free lightning, tastes like a sweet and tasty soda, like a mix between a 7-up and an orange soda packed with good stuff.  But as I see more and more of this stuff, what are these things?

I understand what ginseng is and guarana, caffeine and taurine, and the B vitamins, which it is nearly impossible for you to OD in.  I have had people ask me about this and like so many things, B vitamins are water soluable.  This means that if you have too much in your body, your body removes the excess in water: you pee it out.

As I said, Amp: sugar free, doesn't have the sugar which is great so you don't have to worry about those added calories.  It does really taste like a good citrus soda and that helps make up for the fact that it is technically good for you.  Despite what I have seen others say, about how energy drinks are bad or addictive, I am trying to look at as much as I can to see if there are really any that are pretty good for them.  I mean, what is so bad in one of these drinks?  It may have no sugar and it may have twice as much caffeine as a cup of coffee, but I think that is about it.
Amp: sugar free lightning is good and perhaps better than the Monster drinks and as good as the Venom one.  I'd give this one a good 3 out of 5.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

What does venom taste like?

Here's another one, this energy drink is called Venom.  I have a thought on this, again with the naming schema, why would anyone want to ingest venom?  The list of energy drinks that I review is a small one.  Yesterday while buying one of each at the grocery store, I noticed that a few of the other energy drinks have high fructose corn syrup in them.  How is placing things that are considered unhealthy, into an energy drink, considered a good idea???  So, no NOS or anything else.

Venom, is Black Mamba flavor, which is the name of one of the most poisonous snakes in the world.  The mortality rate of one who gets bit with the venom is 100%, so I guess I shouldn't have taken that first sip of this drink.........

However, like so many other companies, I am willing to bet that the average person who drinks Black Mamba flavored Venom energy drink, has no idea that if you get venom from a Black Mamba, you die.  I'm sure there are a bunch of rednecks sitting around a fire somewhere saying "yeah, black mambas are super deadly and we want to be like them so lets drink this up."

So, what does it taste like?  I have to say that it is tastier than a Monster, has about as much sugar as a regular Monster, has more calories than a regular Monster and has something different: extra vitamins.  With a regular Monster, per can, you get 200% of your B3, B6 and B12 along with 200% of your daily Riboflavin.  With Venom:Black Mamba, you get 210% of each of the above mentioned.  Is it enough to switch? Probably not.  The one thing to look out for in energy drinks, besides high fructose corn syrup is corn syrup and sugar.  People don't understand that sugar, by itself is actually relatively harmless.  People have eaten sugar in sweets and so forth, in moderation for thousands of years.  What is bad, is when you start making mutant sugars like corn syrup, which is a more concentrated sugar and high fructose corn syrup, which is a plant sugar that your body doesn't recognize mixed with corn syrup.  All of these three will give you energy, but the real sugar one, is the least likely to cause the worst damage to your body.  Overall though, the Venom: Black Mamba tastes like some ninja dropped a strawberry Jolly Rancher into my regular Monster energy drink.  The fruitiness is unexpected and does taste good.  I would be interested in seeing if they are able to pull the same flavoring off using their sugar-free brand.

 I'd give this drink a 3 out of 5 and would buy it again if I needed a buzz....

Time to unleash the Khaos?

No spelling mistake on my part: Khaos is the name of another flavor of energy drink from the brand Monster.  This energy drink is different than the other Monster drinks in it that this one is mostly made up of Juice. This tastes like a mix of soda and OJ.  It says, in the ingredient list, that it contains apple, orange, peach, tangerine, pineapple and white grape juice.  Boasting vitamin A and C, this drink has more energy in it, or at least more vitamins than a normal Monster drink.  I give this one a 2 out of 5 as well as the fruit mix doesn't taste that good to me.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Prepare for an assault on your sleepiness...

Today I tried some Assault.  Why do energy drink companies come up with these names?  Really, do the honestly believe that the caffeine and sugar will assault my body with those extra B vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants?  When I think of the names of most energy drinks, I think of this interesting video:

Seriously, companies are claiming the strangest things in order to get people to try their thing, which in most cases, is nothing more than a high mix of sugar, caffeine and vitamins.

Monster Assault is the same chemical mix, except instead of tasting fruity or citrusy, it tastes like a flat cola drink.  Wow, a less carbonated Jolt, in a can.  It is isn't that exciting and the drink doesn't taste that good either.  2 out of 5 for me.