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Olé – Celebrate Cinco de Mayo Your Way!

Posted by Gail Moraski on Fri, Apr 15, 2016 @ 10:04 AM

As we shared in our “Embrace Your Cinco de Mayo Side” post, Cinco de Mayo gains more and more U.S. popularity each year, and many American citizens look forward to celebrating it, even though the holiday originates from Mexico! Who doesn’t welcome a festive excuse to break out favorite Mexican recipes after all? We don’t know many friends or family members whose mouths don’t start watering at the thought of tortillas chips, salsa, guacamole, black bean dip, enchiladas, margaritas, and other fare we all associate with Mexico.

We’re going to share with readers standard (and simpler) as well as more unique menu ideas for your Cinco de Mayo celebration, and let you decide what makes the most sense for you and your guests, based on the prep time, your love or lack thereof of cooking and baking, and the taste buds of your party attendees.

Raise the Bar Without a Lot of Heavy Lifting

If your schedule leading up to and around Cinco de Mayo looks to be a busy one with not a lot of time for cooking and baking, why not keep things simple by setting up a taco and/or burrito bar for your guests? Partygoers will love choosing their own toppings and making their own Mexican creation, and you’ll love how easy it is to throw together a fun, engaging event for friends and family.

Here’s some of the basics you’ll want to include in your Mexican bar -- presented in the order you’ll want to lay them out on the table that will serve as your bar:

  • Hard, corn taco shells and/or flour tortillas (burrito wraps) – buy these pre-made and follow package heating instructions, but just a few minutes on a baking sheet in your oven and these should be ready to serve.
  • Ground beef and/or chicken – use a bit of tomato sauce and chili powder, some pico de gallo, or salsa made from our basic recipe to season hamburger meat or small pieces of sliced chicken.
  • Refried beans – your easiest option will be to buy canned ones that you can heat quickly, and keep warm in a chafing dish, mini crockpot, or casserole dish with cover.
  • Black beans – ditto the above.
  • Chopped lettuce – dice up some iceberg lettuce or go less-traditional and serve up field greens or fresh spinach.
  • Tomato salsa – combine our salsa mixes with fresh tomatoes, and diced onion; make both hot and mild varieties, and label appropriately, so guests can decide just how spicy they want things to get.
  • Guacamole – using avocado and a variety of our guacamole mixes, mix up a mixture of guacamole dips – since some will like it hot, and some not.
  • Shredded cheese – we say, “go for the bright orange cheddar cheese” – it just looks festive!
  • Sour cream – snag a tub in the dairy aisle and you are good to go!

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Show Off Your South-of-the-Border Cooking and Baking Chops

For those whose schedules, skills, and desire allow for more elaborate and unique Mexican fare – and honestly, we believe all our readers have the potential to be great cooks if they set their minds to it, and we do keep our recipes simple so everyone can follow them – we’ve created a series of Cinco de Mayo recipes, from breakfast through dinner and dessert. Your guests will be particularly impressed when you offer up a Mexican dessert like dulce de leche rice pudding and/or coconut lime bars to top off your Cinco de Mayo lunch, dinner, or other get-together.

Need More Inspiration for Your Cinco de Mayo Celebration?

We think our readers will enjoy this wonderful Pinterest board that combines ideas for two Mexican favorites – enchiladas and tamales: https://www.pinterest.com/darlenekm/enchiladas-tamales/. And, if you and your guests are fans of quesadillas, check out this great Pinterest recipe collection. You can also get ideas for all of the aforementioned Mexican favorites – enchiladas, tamales, and quesadillas from our “Celebrating Cinco de Mayo” Pinterest board.

Share Your Sombreros and Sangria!

We’ll be talking about Cinco de Mayo using #mayfifth #cincodemayo #mexicanfare and #southoftheborderfare on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear about and see how you and your guests celebrated the fifth of May, so please do share!

Tags: Guacamole, Cinco de Mayo, Salsa, Mexican fare

Smooth Moves to Spring-Clean Your Home and Diet

Posted by Gail Moraski on Mon, Mar 28, 2016 @ 12:03 PM

Even though, in certain parts of the U.S. the weather may not make it feel so, spring is officially underway and it’s got us thinking about both the fun and chore-like activities that the new season brings. On the practical side of things, there’s something about spring that brings on the urge and need to engage in some heavy-duty home spring cleaning like washing rugs, curtains, and comforters, or to reacquaint our feather duster with parts of our home it hasn’t seen in a while.

With Easter now past us, there’s no reason to let dust bunnies linger right? So, why not check out these two great pieces from HGTV and Sylvane that provide tips and checklists for pointing all your spring-cleaning energies in the right direction. We think you’ll reap both mental and physical benefits from the breath of fresh air that literally and figuratively comes from having digs that are less-cluttered, and invigorated by the spring air that comes from opening windows to let winter aromas out!

Create a Spring Cleaning Checklist for Your Diet

All of our energies and reading around spring cleaning got us thinking, “shouldn’t we be giving our bodies and our health at least the same – if not a greater level of attention – than what we give our homes during the season of spring?” And, hey, if we’re willing to follow a checklist to get our homes in tip-top shape for spring, why not do the same to get our own and our family members’ health in glowing spring form?

Because we’re a food company, and that’s what we know best, we’re going to make the focus of our spring health and body checklist diet vs. exercise – we’ll leave the hard-core exercise suggestions to the experts! Below is the diet spring cleaning checklist we created, plan to follow, and will share with friends and family. We hope you’ll follow ours or create a similar one for you and your family!

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MY DIET SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST

1) Add 1 new fruit, plus 1 new vegetable, to my diet each month of spring

2) Start my day on a healthy note by including veggies, fruit, or both in my breakfast

3) At least 3 times a day, consume meals or beverages that include 1 or more forms of produce

4) Replace go-to snack of chips and dip with veggies and dip like carrots with guacamole or celery sticks with salsa

5) Replace usual dessert fare like ice cream, brownies, and cookies with fresh, cut-up fruit and yogurt dip

6) Serve meals that remind me of a rainbow because of the many and diverse colors of bright, beautiful fruits and vegetables I see on my and family members’ plates

How to Succeed at the Spring Six

So, now that we’ve detailed in our diet spring cleaning checklist above what we like to call the “spring six”, we’d be remiss if we didn’t provide tips and tools for achieving them. One of our favorite ways to ensure that we and family members succeed at the spring six is by drinking and serving daily smoothies. When you make a smoothie with one of our mixes, and include the one or several forms of healthy produce, as directed, you’ve got yourself a nutritious and delicious beverage that strongly supports your achievement of the spring six.

Another secret to succeeding at the spring six is to prepare dips that are made themselves of fresh fruits and veggies, such as guacamole or salsa. When you add veggies or fruit for dipping, you’ll be getting a double dose of healthy produce to help you achieve your spring six objectives. What’s not to love about a spring snack like that?

Check out our recent blog posts for more great ideas for fortifying your food and beverages with fruit and for planning beverages and meals that make you a pro at vegging out.

Please Do Join Us and Share

We’ll be talking about spring cleaning your diet and the spring six using #dietspringcleaning #springsix #healthyspring and #playitsmooth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear about and see your diet spring cleaning checklist – and how you achieved it! So, please do share.

Tags: Healthy Food Options, Spring produce, smoothies, healthy drinks, Vegetables, Fruit

Hop Into A Healthier Easter

Posted by Gail Moraski on Wed, Mar 09, 2016 @ 21:03 PM

To help our readers stay as physically and mentally healthy as possible during the most hectic and longest of holiday seasons – Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day – we blogged about how to make your holidays healthy ones. While no other American holiday season offers up the continuous, multi-month challenge to balance enjoyment of treats with healthy eating and exercise, each holiday has potential to derail efforts to get and stay healthy. Regardless of the reason for the season, every holiday requires keeping a watchful eye on what you eat and drink. And, making time in your schedule of holiday visits, errands, and preparations for some good old-fashioned exercise!

Since Easter is still a couple of weeks away, start planning for a healthier Easter now, so you don’t get caught off guard this year. Read on for our favorite ideas for making sure you continue to look and feel like the King or Queen of the Easter parade before, during, and after this special spring holiday.

Take Your Menu Cues from a Rabbit

Since our products pair with fresh produce, we’re aware that we’d all benefit at Easter by thinking a bit like a rabbit and including lots of yummy vegetables in our Easter-time menus and diets. That’s why we’ve created some great twists on classic Eggs Benedict that use delicious and nutritious vegetables instead of breakfast meat. Not only do our “Hold The Ham” recipes provide guests with healthy, tasty veggies, and the benefits of eggs, the vegetables’ bright colors will brighten any Easter brunch table!

We’re particularly fond and proud of a recent addition to our “Hold the Ham” recipe series. We asked local young chef and former Chopped Junior contestant, Chef Janie, to create and demonstrate preparation of a new meat-free egg recipe. As you’ll see when you watch the video found on our hollandaise sauce mix page – and why not inspire young chefs in your house by watching it with them – Janie whipped up an easy, delicious recipe that includes healthy and taste-bud-titillating asparagus. We so loved that she accompanied it with beautiful fruit to give her meal extra color and nutrition!

 

Switch up Basket Bounties and Egg Hunt Treasures

Why not reinforce the healthy menus you serve at Easter by re-thinking the goodies you put in loved ones’ Easter baskets or in the eggs you hide around your yard or bring to an Easter egg hunt? We think everyone will love and thank you when you use our suggestions below to fill Easter baskets and eggs.

Make Sweet Treats Flavorful Fruit:

  • Fill the very smallest-sized zip-lock sandwich bags (or use saran wrap and a pretty ribbon tie) with washed, fresh berries like blueberries and raspberries the night before or the morning when you plan to distribute Easter baskets or hold an egg hunt; simply place these berry packages inside large plastic Easter eggs that you hide or place in your sweeties’ baskets. You can also do the same with nuts (because of the predominance of nut allergies, you’ll want to somehow earmark any nut-filled eggs to be used in egg hunts via one color of plastic egg, or a sticker, to alert parents and hunters).
  • While you’ll likely still want to include a small number of Easter favorites like marshmallow chicks and jelly beans, keep the quantities of those treats small, and fill most of each Easter basket with healthy treats, like small pre-packaged pistachio nuts or whole fresh fruit like tangerines. When you include nuts or produce that basket recipients don’t get to have regularly, they’ll seem like an exotic, extra-special treat. Take your basket treats one notch further by adding one or more of our smoothie mixes to give your loved ones a refreshing beverage they can make using their produce gifts.
Be “In” By Vegging Out:

  • We don’t know if it’s the new U.S. dietary guidelines driving the trend, but vegetables are hot right now and eating them is considered quite cool! While it’s technically a fruit, since avocado has more of a savory vs. sweet taste, why not include this delicious and nutritious produce in Easter baskets? Despite the fact that U.S. consumption of avocados is at an all-time high, there’s something about the unique and smooth taste of avocados that still make them a very special treat. Include one or more of our guacamole mixes and you’re sure to get your recipients’ Easter eyes smiling.
  • Add some bright, beautiful and healthy goodies to your basket by including one or several red tomatoes. Then, add an extra special touch with one of our salsa mixes.

Take Your Healthy Easter Mission to the Streets

Many of us at Concord Foods have the tradition of corralling holiday guests for a walk in our neighborhood or local park to wear off large meals and to promote great conversation and camaraderie. Walking not your or your guests’ thing? Break out the whiffle ball, volleyball, or the badminton set!

Please Do Join Us and Share

We’ll be talking about Easter activities using #holdtheham #easter #eatlikearabbit #dietaryguidelines #producepusher #produceup on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you hopped into a healthy Easter, so please do share.

Tags: Recipes, Easter, Eggs

Add Merriment to March with St. Patrick’s Day Festivities

Posted by Gail Moraski on Wed, Mar 02, 2016 @ 10:03 AM

We’ve all heard the expression “we’ve all got a little bit of Irish in us” – and whether it’s true or not – we think there’s lots of good reasons to embrace that idea to add some fun to March on the days leading up to and including St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th! Plus, many Americans celebrate the day to honor and remember the U.S. journey of all immigrants, not just Irish ones. Hey, we all came here from somewhere! Whether you’d rather celebrate with several small activities, one big one, or both, we’ve got lots of ideas to make the eyes of those who benefit from your Irish activity smile.

Host a Green Get-together

Whether they’ve got relatives still living in County Cork, their grandfather’s grandfather was born there, or they’ve never even heard of the place, we think all of your friends and family would welcome a festive excuse to get together in mid-March – a time when Americans are so ready for winter to be over. In keeping with the Irish’s love of such events, why not host a party at your home that focuses on sharing great food and great music with friends and family? So, break out some modern Irish music like the Saw Doctor’s “Green and Red of Mayo”, or old Irish favorites like “Irish Rover” from the Clancy Brothers and use it for inspiration to plan your St. Paddy’s Day event.

Consider which your guests might enjoy most – listening and dancing to Irish music or watching an old Irish movie like “Finian’s Rainbow” and its sing-along opportunities like “How Are Things In Glocca Morra?” You know your guests best. Where we come in is with some yummy twists on the standard St. Patrick’s boiled dinner of corned beef, potatoes, carrots, and cabbage. We’re thinking some of the recipe tricks below might be just enough to turn those who most fear and steer clear of boiled dinners into guests who embrace and praise them!

  • Perked-up potatoes – sprinkle a teaspoon or two of one of our roasted potato seasoning mixes over your boiled potatoes to give them some punch! Or, pass on the boiled ones all together and make this delicious and traditional Irish potato dish known as Colcannon.
  • Green Irish soda bread – why not make this easy soda bread recipe, to serve with your boiled dinner, your own by adding a wee bit of green food coloring or lime zest for a little Irish whimsy?
  • Carat-like carrots – make your carrots sparkle like diamonds with our carrot glaze.
  • Captivating cabbage – we know the former terms don’t normally go together, but why not try topping your cabbage with a bit of our greens & kale seasoning mix to enhance its mild flavor?
  • Irished-up dessert – as with soda bread, many baked good items can be easily transformed into Irish ones by adding food that is naturally green, such as lime zest or other green fruit like kiwi, green grapes, avocado (yes, it’s a fruit!) or pistachio nuts. Why not make our cinnamon cranberry shortbread cookies, add in pistachio nuts, and a few drops of green food coloring?
  • Mint out – You can also use a bit of crème de menthe liqueur to add minty taste and green color to St. Paddy’s dessert fare, or to make a fun, alcoholic beverage.

And, if you want to forego the boiled dinner for other Irish favorites, check out our “St. Patrick’s Day and Other Irish Recipes” Pinterest board to get recipes for Shephard’s Pie, Irish Beef Stew, and more!kale_4160800x533.jpg

Blaze a Green Trail: Celebrate with a Series of Small Activities

Mid-March may not be the best time for you to pull together a big group get-together, but you can still celebrate St. Paddy’s Day with family and friends through smaller, sweet gestures and activities on the day itself or for several days leading up to March 17. Here’s some of our favorite festive ideas.

  • Go green – consider using seasonings, food ingredients, or food coloring to add green to lunch, dinner or snacks. For example, make extra-large batches to share with family, neighbors, friends or co-workers, and schedule four days of delicious and nutritious smoothies, beginning with the Monday that proceeds St. Paddy’s day. We’ve got a “green beauty” made with our kale & apple smoothie mix and you can get other “green” ideas from our “Playing It Smooth” , “Nutritious Smoothie”, and “Conquering Kale” Pinterest boards.
  • Potato up – in keeping with potatoes being a long-standing staple of the Irish diet, serve a variety of potato dishes at home for several days leading up to and including St. Patrick’s Day. Read our most-recent blog post and check out our “Potato Power” Pinterest board for easy, tasty recipe ideas.
  • Bring Irish tunes to your table – whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, consider playing some Irish music in the background. It’s sure to put a jig in everyone’s step and change an average winter week into a festive one.
  • Workplace potluck – ask your supervisor if you can organize a potluck where everyone makes and shares favorite Irish dishes – and perhaps, listen to Celtic Woman’s “Danny Boy”.

Please Do Join Us and Share

We’ll be talking about St. Patrick’s Day and Irish recipes, in general, using #marchmerriment, #stpaddysday, #march17th, and #irishrecipes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you got your Irish on and made March merrier, so please do share.

Tags: St. Patrick’s Day Recipes, Concord Foods Potato Toppings, Recipes, Entertaining, Potato Dishes, Smoothie Mixes

Show Potatoes Some Love This Month

Posted by Gail Moraski on Tue, Feb 16, 2016 @ 17:02 PM

February is National Potato Lovers Month and we’re glad to see this under-appreciated vegetable staple being celebrated. Because of recent-year focus on reduced-carbohydrate diets, particularly those asking followers to significantly limit or eliminate “starchy” carbohydrates, potatoes have gotten a bit of a bad rap. We think Americans should show potatoes a lot more love this month, and throughout the year, because of their many benefits, particularly health-related ones. And, hey, eating potatoes is just patriotic – think red, white, and blue varieties!

Don’t Judge A Potato by Its Skin

We’re guessing our above statement about potatoes’ health benefits prompted some mental question marks – health benefits? Potatoes? Even white ones vs. orange-y sweet ones? That’s right. While some potato varieties may not lead you to believe so because of lacking the bright colors that we often associate with foods offering big health benefits, when included regularly in your diet, potatoes support:

  • Improved digestion, sleep, and eye health
  • Reduced cholesterol
  • Better heart health and circulation; and lower blood pressure
  • Cancer prevention and a stronger immune system, in general
  • Reduced signs of aging/skin protection
  • And, when you eat the skins, you’ll get much-needed calcium, iron, phosphorus, and vitamin C; with sweet potatoes, you’ll get all the health benefits of beta carotene too!

Now, that’s a lot of great health benefits rolled up into one very-ordinary, low-key looking vegetable!

Live off the Land like Your Ancestors

Besides their many health benefits, one of the many reasons that we love pulling out, washing off, and serving up potatoes – in a variety of formats – is because they’ve just got so much history – potatoes have been grown and enjoyed for at least 7,000 years! When we make potatoes, we love thinking about how family members from generations way before us enjoyed the same simple pleasure. We also love the earthy look and taste of potatoes. In this fast-paced world of ours, it’s nice to think about farmers growing and plucking good, old-fashioned spuds out of the ground – using long-ago methods.

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Bake, Roast, Boil, Glaze, Sear, Slice, and Season It

Okay, enough history and health lessons. Let’s get to the fun and yummy spud stuff! We’re going to talk baked potatoes first. Like broths and salad greens, baked potatoes of any color/variety serve as a great foundation for layering on other delicious and nutritious food. Favorite “topper themes” include:

    • Vegging up – add more great veggie health benefits to your potato
      • Broccoli cooked with a little butter or olive oil
      • Steamed spinach cooked with garlic
    • Mexican/TexMex – add any and all of your South-of-the-Border favorites
    • Burger Brilliance – hold the meat, but enjoy all your favorite burger toppings
      • Grilled mushrooms, onions, and/or peppers
      • Any type of yummy cheese, including cheddar, mozzarella, blue, or brie
    • Pizza-tize it – forego the bread, but feel like you’re at your favorite Greek or Italian restaurant
      • Tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, and/or pepperoni
    • Crunchy – add some punch and crunch to potatoes’ soft texture
Why not bake up a bunch of spuds, set up a toppings bar, and invite friends and family to potato night?

Get Inspired With Our Many Potato Recipes, Including Crowd Favorites

Since we never met a potato we didn’t love – and that’s another of the many great things about potatoes, even the most finicky or non-vegetable eaters will likely eat them – we’re moving on to roasted and fried potatoes. Whether they’re white roasted potatoes you make yourself, or frozen sweet potato fries from the grocery store, you can easily “perk up” potatoes by sprinkling on a few teaspoons of one of our roasted potato seasoning mixes or glazing them with our sweet-potato-yam-glaze.

We couldn’t possibly close out this blog post without talking about two other crowd-pleasing favorites – mashed potatoes and potato salad. They’re as American as apple pie, and large get-togethers just wouldn’t feel right without them. Check out recipes for roasted garlic & herb mashed potatoes and blue potato salad.

Need more spud inspiration? Get more great CF potato side dish recipes and check out our “potato power” Pinterest board.

Please Do Join Us and Share

We’ll be touting the many virtues of potatoes using #potatopower #spectacularspuds #potatoperks and #patrioticpotatoes on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you perk up your potatoes, so please do share!

 

Tags: Side Dishes

Schedule a Valentine's Day of Sweet Treats

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Feb 04, 2016 @ 13:02 PM

We don't know about you, but now that the month of February is upon us, our Valentine’s Day clock has really started ticking. Because of how the holiday perks up an otherwise quiet winter month, we always immediately – and gladly – associate Valentine’s Day with February. Whether you’re part of an “old-married couple”, newly married, engaged, dating, or single, we’re guessing there’s several people in your life you’d like to do something special for on Valentine’s Day – because hey, Valentine’s Day isn’t just about celebrating romantic love, it’s about reminding all the people in your life, whether it be friends, parents, grandparents, your children, nieces, nephews, or your favorite co-worker how important they are.

Identifying who you want to do something special for is the easy part of Valentine’s Day. The hard part is figuring out something really thoughtful to do to show your Valentines how glad you are to have them in your life. Regardless of the holiday or reason for a gift/giving action, we’ve always found that the gifts we’ve made ourselves are the ones that are the most appreciated and bring the biggest smile to our recipients’ faces. We know if we think back on the gifts we’ve received, the ones we cherish most are the ones that someone spent some good, quality time on – creating something special just for us.

So, in keeping with the “made with love” idea, and a holiday that’s so associated with sweets for the sweet, why not cook up, bake up, or stir up one or several tasty treats for your loved ones? Whether you want to make just one treat or keep them coming all day long, we’ve created a schedule of festive food for the whole day of February 14!cheesecake_photo_pinterest.jpg

6am – 10 am: Smoothie Time! Pour your sweeties a delicious and nutritious beverage like the blueberry banana with flaxseed smoothie recipe you can make easily with our mix. You’ll show your loved ones(s) how much you care by serving up lots of healthy nutrients along with yummy taste.

11am – 12:00pm: Belly-warming Bread Break! Even if your loved ones can’t be with you for a late morning break, you can still remind them they’re your Valentines during the day by packing up and sending them off with bread made with our easy, tasty lemon-glazed poppy seed loaf recipe.

1:00pm – 2:30pm: Savory Sweet Sojourn! So, we’re really talking lunch here, folks, but couldn’t pass on the catchy slogan. Keep the sweet Valentine’s treats going by packing this sweet & savory Mediterranean chickpea salad with lemon-herb dressing in your sweetie’s lunch pail. The onions provide enough sweet punch to make it feel Valentine-ish.

4:00pm – 5:00pm: Late Afternoon Nosh! Not only will your Valentines feel loved, but they’ll likely love you even more than they already do, when they open up and taste this sweet and Valentine-hued guacamole treat you packed with dipping carrots for them – cherry lime – hmmmm! Or, knock your sweeties out of their late afternoon slump with a festive candy apple that you made yourself. Make it simple and easy by using our candy apple kit.

6:30pm – 8:00pm: Dinnertime with Your Valentine! Dish out a main course whose sweet taste will remind them its Valentine’s Day – our honey lime chicken recipe.

9:00pm – 10:00pm: Semi-late Dessert Hour! Top off your sweeties’ day of sweet treats with a dessert that looks and tastes like Valentine’s Day! Use our glaze pouch to create a shimmering, strawberry-topped cheesecake like the mascarpone strawberry-glazed cheesecake in our blog photo – recipe brought to you by Dani at Food Recipes Headquarters.

Please Do Join Us and Share

We’ve already collected and will continue to collect some great ideas for special food treats you can make for your Valentines at https://www.pinterest.com/concordfoods/sweet-valentines-treats/.

We’ll be talking about sweet treats for sweeties using #cookforyoursweetie, #bakeforyoursweetie, #stirupsomethingspecial, #valentinesdaytreats, and #valentinesdaydinner on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you scheduled a day of sweet treats, so please do share!

 

Tags: Recipes, Valentine's Day

Host a Football-Watching Party That’s All Fun and Games

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Jan 21, 2016 @ 09:01 AM


You know what we love best about playoff and Big Game football? It gives us something to be excited about in January and early February – a time when we are missing all the fun and festivities of the holiday season, and particularly all the get-togethers with family and friends. We always welcome the opportunity that football-game-watching brings to gather loved ones for a simple-pleasure activity during the winter that includes serving up and enjoying delicious, comfort-food tailgate favorites.

Even if friends and family members aren’t football fans, we find we can easily entice them to join in the festivities simply by offering yummy football food and the opportunity for some great conversation, a little heated debate/team rivalry – when there’s fans of opposing teams present – and lots of laughs and discussion regarding the advertisements shown during the game. We’ve got lots of ideas for both great grub and for making sure both football and non-football fans enjoy your party, so read on!


Designate a Snack Table and Room

We’ve found the best way to make sure your guests have plenty of room to spread out while watching the game is to create a designated snack table, preferably one that’s not in the same room as the T.V., and that doesn’t require guests to cross back and forth in front of it. Hey, when you’re hosting a tailgate party, it’s just tradition to have a designated snack table, and if you can place it where you’re not watching the game, it provides a place and reason for non-football fans to huddle about non-football topics without interrupting die-hard football fans’ concentration. It also leaves coffee table space for guests’ plates and cups that contain their choices from the snack table.

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Make It Grab and Go Food!

Okay, so now that we’ve discussed the critical-to-game-watching designated snack table, let’s move on to food. While your non-football-fan guests may linger around the snack table, your die-hard-football-fan guests are going to limit table trips to those made during commercial breaks or stoppages in play. They’ll want food they can grab and plate quickly. This means they won’t want to take the time to make their own sandwich or ice cream sundae. Who wants to miss a critical play because of putting together a savory or sweet treat?

To keep it “grab and go”, we suggest serving up food that doesn’t require a lot of assembly by guests. We think crowd-pleasing chips and dips are fine, but sandwiches, like meatball grinders or hot salsa turkey burgers should be pre-made and pre-cut into appropriate sizes, and desserts should be snach-able like a turtle brownie or a cinnamon cranberry shortbread cookie. You get the picture. We’ve collected a diverse group of crowd-pleasing appetizer, meal, and dessert recipes at https://www.pinterest.com/concordfoods/touchdown-tailgating/ as well as at http://www.concordfoods.com/football-tailgate-recipes#.Vp_Y30nSnwo. And, you can get more “grab and go” food ideas from our “How to Pack a Power Picnic” blog post.

Design and Play Your Own Games

Game winners don’t have to be limited to the team that wins their Conference title or the Big Game. Why not think up some fun games that will interest party guests of all levels of football-watching-interest. Sure, there’s no foul in offering the usual football squares, but why not introduce one or two new games that might engage all your guests – even the ones who have little or no football knowledge. For example, before the game starts, ask guests to jot down which companies they think will be advertising during the game, how many different ads a particular advertiser will air, and whether or not those advertisers will air the same ad more than once. Prizes awarded to winners can be small food-related gifts – of course, we think you can’t go wrong with our smoothie mixes or our guacamole and salsa mixes. As the host, we’re guessing you might welcome passing the party-hosting baton by giving the game winner(s) the foundation for food for the next football party.


Please Do Join Us and Share

And, here’s another great idea – thank you Hass Avocado – to ensure all your guests feel included and to break the ice among guests who haven’t met before, encourage guests to think of fun photo ops showing all of you eating guacamole recipes. Then, share them on social media using #guacgoal to help Hass Avocado achieve their goal of creating the largest online photo album of people enjoying guacamole. Learn more at http://www.loveonetoday.com/guacgoal.

We’ll be talking about tailgate party ideas using #gamechangingtailgating, #guacgoal #thebiggame, #afcchampionship #nfcchampionship and hope you’ll join in on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We want to hear and see how you pulled off the perfect tailgate, so please share!

 



 

Tags: Gamne Changing Tailgate

Hacks For Following the New U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Posted by Gail Moraski on Thu, Jan 14, 2016 @ 13:01 PM


 

With the busyness that the first weeks of the new year brings, we’re guessing you may not have heard that the U.S. government has issued new dietary guidelines for all us Americans – something they do approximately every five years using current nutrition science findings. Even if you have heard, there’s a good chance you haven’t been able to make the time to interpret the new guidelines.

We’ve done lots of clutter-cutting to provide a simple list of “do’s and don’ts” – accompanied by easy actions to address the 2016 changes to 2010 guidelines as well as carry-overs (behaviors to continue).


Tactics for Tackling Three Tough Change Challenges

Before we go to our comprehensive list of do’s & don’ts, though, we want to provide tactics for tackling three of the biggest recommended dietary changes that should improve health and reduce health costs.

  • Significantly cut back on the amount of sugar we consume
  • Reduce our intake of saturated fat; men and teenage boys, in particular, are asked to be watchful of the amount of meat they eat
  • Cut back on sodium – whether it be the salt we add to food or purchase of high-sodium foods

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We Americans consume way too much sugar on a daily basis and that’s contributing to a variety of wide-spread chronic illness in our country, particularly diabetes and heart disease – the latter resulting from sugar-caused belly fat and weight gain. And, even if we and our family members haven’t been affected by heart disease or diabetes, all our bodies would benefit from reduced sugar-associated inflammation.

One of the simplest ways to reduce sugar in your and your family’s diet is to cut out sugary soda or other sugary beverages. Make water your go-to beverage at home and when eating out. Other ways to reduce sugar: limit sugary treats to special occasions like a birthday party, don’t bring sugary treats into your home, and inform regular visitors about your mission to create a sugary-treat-free zone. That way, the sweetest thing that your family and visitors will encounter in your home will be each other!

Because of the past popularity of high-protein diets like “Atkins”, and the fear of weight gain many Americans associate with carbohydrates, we’ve become a high-protein-eating nation, in addition to a high-sugar-eating one. As this piece from Harvard’s School of Public Health explains, even the healthiest forms of protein, e.g., nuts, seeds, and fish contain some saturated fat. You don’t want to eliminate these and lose out on health benefits, but why not reduce high-saturated-fat proteins like ice cream, meat, and cheese by replacing them with tasty, healthy proteins like almonds and wild-caught salmon!

Now to the last challenge – cutting back on sodium. Instead of viewing this as a negative, let it motivate you to do something you’ve always wanted to – check out new ways to flavor food such as spices, herbs, lemon and lime juices, and plant-based oils. You’ll bring a welcomed flavor variety to your cooking!

Do’s and Don’t’ To Meet New and “Carryover” U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Do!

  • Drastically reduce the amount of sugar in your diet by keeping bottled water in the house, signing up for a water delivery service/cooler, or keeping a cold pitcher of water in the fridge.
  • Eat “a rainbow” of vegetables (red, green, yellow, orange), and as many times a day as you like – unless, of course, too much of a good thing causes stomach upset or undesired weight gain.
  • Include fruit in your diet, but, because of sugar content, limit number of daily portions.
  • Continue to eat grains, particularly whole ones – learn more from American Heart Association.
  • Get more fiber (fortunately, this is an outcome of eating more veggies, fruit, and whole grains
  • Reduce meat-related saturated-fat in your diet. Meals need not include turkey, chicken, or beef. Pick 2-3 week nights where your meal’s protein comes from legumes (peas or beans), tofu (soybean), nuts, or fish.
  • Continue to eat dairy products (yogurt, cheese, and milk), but choose low-fat/no-fat versions.
  • Read food labels to determine sodium, sugar and Trans fat levels – guidelines ask you limit all.

Don’t!

  • Consume as much salt – consider removing salt shakers from the dinner table, along with our above suggestion to buy and explore herbs and other seasonings that provide great flavor.
  • Continue outings with family and friends that center around foods made with high-saturated-fat dairy, such as “going for ice cream or pizza”. Instead, how about a shopping trip for avocado, whole grain bread, and other healthy ingredients to see who can come up with the tastiest, healthiest, or most creative version of avocado toast like these ones? Or, a farmers’ market trip?
  • Use butter to coat every skillet or flavor every meal. There are so many great tasting and healthy plant-based oils to cook with – canola, olive, peanut, and safflower, to name a few – so test some out and see which you and your family like best.
  • Drink too much alcohol. Women should limit alcoholic beverages to one per day; men, two. And, of course, you and family members should only consume alcohol if you are of legal age.

The U.S. government recognizes that certain individuals have either personal diet preferences or health-related dietary restrictions that prevent them from partaking in all of the types of foods outlined above. They’ve shared vegetarian and Mediterranean diets that should be equally effective in ensuring that you and your family are eating in a fashion that best serves your health.


Let’s Be Sure to Support Each Other!

Throughout 2016, we’ll be sharing tips on how to successfully follow the new U.S. dietary guidelines. We very much want to hear your ideas for adhering to them too! So please do join us in using #produceup #producepusher #produceup #freshproduce and #dietaryguidelines to help other U.S. citizens interpret and follow the new guidelines to support optimal health.

 



 

Tags: New U.S. Dietary Guidelines

Brighten Up Winter Days With Soup & Salad!

Posted by Gail Moraski on Fri, Jan 08, 2016 @ 10:01 AM


As all the holiday fanfare fades, days become colder and darker – and let’s face it – life feels a bit boring, why not serve up “bright” meals that brighten spirits? Even if it’s not a day commonly earmarked for celebration, you can still make any winter day feel special when you serve, or bring food, that perks up body & soul. And, what’s a better meal combo for doing just that than soup & salad?


We were really excited to share both the benefits of eating soup & salad and our recipe ideas because it gave us the chance to talk about two of our favorite food items at once – fruit and vegetables. We can’t think of any type of dish that lends itself more naturally to pairing fruits and vegetables than a yummy, nutritious salad. Whether you use baby spinach, field greens/spring mix, romaine lettuce, kale, or some other lettuce as your salad base, greens are the perfect platform for piling on favorite fruit and veggies.

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Our salad recipes, like almond and blueberry salad with blueberry croutons and lemon & honey vinaigrette, provide great inspiration for making a salad that incorporates both vegetables and fruit – so you and your family get all the benefits of the vitamins, minerals, and fiber that a diverse group of produce offers. Plus, creating and serving friends and family a salad with bright, beautiful colors will lighten both your and your recipients’ winter mood. We think you’ll find that the experimentation and creativity alone involved in devising your own recipe is good for your soul.

In addition to the “creativity” benefit, we all love a good challenge, right? That’s why another favorite reason for making salads is that they encourage us to make use of whatever produce we might have in our homes on a particular day. So, don’t be afraid to add in those strawberries, banana slices, or last night’s roasted vegetables. Then, tie everything together with a healthy dressing like a quick, easy one made by stirring a few squirts of our lemon juice into a teaspoon or two of olive oil.

Now, you’re probably thinking that all we’ve shared sounds great, but serving a salad on a dark, cold day just doesn’t cut it when bodies are calling out for warm, comfort food. So, that’s where and why soup comes into the equation. When you pair a delicious, filling soup with a salad, you’re giving your and your family’s bodies what they crave, while still making sure everyone gets the nutrients they need to function optimally in winter.

Winter, by its nature, can often make us feel sluggish. Doesn’t chicken tortilla soup combined with a field greens and raspberry salad sound energizing? As with salads, use our recipes for inspiration, and then experiment. Soup broths, like greens, provide a great foundation for being creative and making use of whatever produce you might have. We’ve often made our own soups by opening up a can of chicken noodle or rice soup and adding other vegetables we have in our kitchen. Or, we use a chicken or vegetable bouillon cube and water to create our own broth, add in vegetables, a starch like small pasta or rice, and lean protein like chicken or turkey.


Please do join us and please do share!

Throughout 2016, we’ll be introducing more great ideas and recipes that incorporate healthy, beautiful produce using #produceup #producepusher #produceup and #freshproduce, and hope you’ll join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We’d love to hear about and see your soup & salad creations at #sparklingsalads #slurpworthysoups #sensationalsoup&salad, so please do share!

 



 

Tags: Soup & Salads

Make Bigger Resolutions This Year

Posted by Gail Moraski on Mon, Dec 28, 2015 @ 09:12 AM


At this point in our lives, we’ve all read numerous online and off-line pieces that discuss the importance of setting personal new years’ resolutions. You’ve also likely read essays with rebellious-sounding titles like “Why I Refuse to Set Any Resolutions This Year” that tout the benefits of bucking this annual tradition. We’d like to throw out a third option for 2016. Instead of deciding whether or not to set personal goals for yourself, and then if applicable, creating a list of what those behavior-based goals will be, why not set goals that are bigger-than-you and your personal needs?


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We hope you’ll join us in our quest to outline and implement resolutions that are bigger-than-you – ones that will positively impact our loved ones, at a minimum, and maybe even our communities. We think you’ll find a lot more novelty in and energy for compiling a list of behavior changes – because, hey, changing behaviors is really what resolutions are all about – if those changes positively impact others, particularly those you love. In addition, we’re thinking that any resolutions we all come up with are more likely to be followed through on, when the welfare of others is at stake.

Let’s look at a couple of examples of setting resolutions under our proposed bigger-than-you resolution model. Traditional resolutions might be “I’m going to get to the gym more this year” or “I’m going to drink less soda.” Under our proposed model, those resolutions might look like “I’m going to get my friends, family, and neighbors exercising more, by regularly asking them to walk with me”, or “I’m going to serve less soda at and bring less soda to get-togethers”. You get the picture.

Now that we’ve set the bigger-than-you stage, we’d like to hone in on one resolution that is near and dear to our hearts – and we believe it will be to yours too – and that’s ensuring that we help and encourage others to get more fruits and vegetables in their daily diets. As a company whose mission it is to offer great tasting and easy-to-use products that pair well with a large variety of fruits and vegetables, we’d love to see 2016 become the first of many years in which Americans incorporate more produce in their food and beverages. Sure, it may sound a bit self-serving, but truly, we just want those we all surround ourselves with to enjoy the best possible health by taking advantage of the body-benefitting vitamins, nutrients, and fiber that diets rich in fruits and vegetables offer.

Wouldn’t it feel virtuous to be known as the one in your group who always shows up with or serves the fruit & veggie snacks aka “the produce pusher?” We’re big fans of Tom Rath, author of “Eat. Move. Sleep.” and “Are You Fully Charged?” We love how he encourages us to think beyond ourselves and to engage in healthy behaviors that help others, such as being the first to order healthy menu items when dining out, or by only serving friends, family, and co-workers healthy food. Be sure to check out his tips at http://www.rd.com/health/diet-weight-loss/how-to-start-eating-healthy/. You’ll come out with a different view of how your food-related behaviors impact others, and that’s a good thing!


 


 

Since we’ve regularly sung the praises of beautiful, healthy produce in 2015, we’re not going to reiterate its benefits, but rather, we’ll close both the year and this post by re-sharing favorite 2015 posts that reinforce why you should make 2016 the year to become your circle’s “produce pusher” and to set resolutions that are bigger-than-you. We’ll be introducing more great ideas and recipes using #produceup #producepusher #biggerthanyou, and hope you’ll join in the conversation on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest. We wish you and your loved ones a very healthy and happy new year!

2015 Posts That Reinforce Why You Should Both Become a Produce Pusher

and Set Resolutions Bigger Than You!

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/make-this-holiday-season-a-healthy-one

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/fortify-with-fruit

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/ape-over-apples

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/staying-strong-in-september

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/smoothie-love

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/lighten-up-to-slim-down-this-summer

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/become-a-pro-at-vegging-out

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/reap-the-benefits-of-playing-it-smooth

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/great-reasons-to-go-green-this-spring

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/conquering-kale

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/playing-it-smooth-part-ii

http://www.concordfoods.com/blog/be-dynamic-this-summer



 

Tags: Healthy Holidays, Healthy Eating, Holiday Eating, New Years Resolutions, Produce Pushers

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