Thursday, March 1, 2012

A look back at February

Looking over what February was in terms of food month celebrations, I didn't touch on all of them.  I also didn't update for the weeklong celebrations.  So I'll do a quick make-up here for all the food observances I missed.

Heart Healthy Month

While this isn't technically a food observance, I did feel I should mention it because one of the key components to having a healthy heart is eating a diet rich in fruits and vegetables.  The American Heart Association is a good resource for information on maintaining a healthy heart, including what food choices you can make to keep your heart happy and healthy.

National Cherry Month and Great American Pies Month

I lumped these together, since the cherry pie I made for National Cherry Pie Day basically covered these both. The Cherry Marketing Institute has put together to act as a resource for all things cherries.  I don't think I've ever cooked with cherries - I prefer to eat cherries fresh.

What are Great American pies?  I suppose my list would include apple, cherry, strawberry, pecan, key lime, and peach.  I seriously doubt any of those are strictly American, but they're on my list!

By the way, there's a Great American Pies Festival every year. 

Berry Fresh Month/Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State

This is another one that somewhat baffles me.  I don't really think of February as being the time of berries.  Although, "Berry Fresh in the Sunshine State" makes sense now that I know that Florida lays claim to the Winter Strawberry Capital of the World.  (I suppose the National Strawberry Day entry counts...)

National Hot Breakfast Month

Cinnamon roll and tea
I meant to post about this one, but... shoulda, coulda, woulda, right?  Breakfast is not for everyone, but has been found to be beneficial for people trying to lose weight and school children that get breakfast tend to do better in school. 

Too often, I'm short on time in the morning because I overslept or refused to get out of bed. As a result, I often just have a cold breakfast of cereal and soy or almond milk or grab a bag of trailmix to eat in class.

Miso soup, egg over rice with hot sauce,
kale wtih red pepper, and green tea.
A very good breakfast.
 Therefore, when I saw that it was Hot Breakfast Month, I tried to make a concious effort of having hot breakfasts.  The easiest of all hot breakfasts I had this month was hot oatmeal.  My roommate made some very time-consuming but very good cinnamon rolls that paired well with hot tea.  I also haven't had a traditional Japanese breakfast in a while, so I opted for a Japanese-inspired breakfast, seen to the right.  There were also a couple of omelettes over the course of the month.  One thing I learned from this is that if I want to have hot breakfasts, I'll need to start waking up earlier.  Or just save the hot breakfasts for weekend brunches.

Yeah, I like that last idea.

National Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month

I didn't know this at the beginning of the month, but Feburary is National Lactose Intolerance Awareness Month.  The National Library of Medicine has an excellent page explaining what lactose intolerance is and how to manage it.  I'm lactose intolerant, but I still manage to enjoy hard cheeses and some yogurt.  Unlike some other dietary restrictions, avoiding lactose isn't too hard and when I do want to have real ice cream or lots of cheddar or brie cheese, I take lactase enzyme pills.  I've found that some lactase pills leave a nasty taste in your moth, but others like Lactaid don't.  Lactaid is usually a bit pricey, unless there's a coupon and a sale, so I typically buy the Target store brand pills.  Still, buying and taking pills isn't cheap or fun, so I often choose to buy dairy-free products.  Or just take one bite of ice cream and stop.

Recently, I came across soy yogurt from Trader Joe's.  They only had the strawberry flavor when I stopped by so that's what I got.  It wasn't bad - it has a good flavor and it's very similar to regular yogurts with a very smooth, creamy texture.  Still, I doubt I'll buy this often or have it for anything other than dessert.  Why?  Well, I looked at the nutrition facts on the soy yogurt and did a double take on the amount of sugar the soy yogurt - 21 g of sugar in a 6 oz serving.  (In comparison, an 8 ounce serving of Pepsi has 28 grams.)  However, that's not all that different from normal strawberry yogurt - the one I looked at was 24g of sugar.  I guess I'm just so used to buying plain Greek yogurt that these numbers seem high to me.  So while it's  tasty and would make a good dessert, I wouldn't be buying it for breakfast.

First week of February: Shape Up With Pickles Time

I'm not even sure what this is supposed to be about.  Have I missed some news announcement that pickles help you lose weight?  Are you supposed to lift pickle jars for exercise?  (I've had one of my older classmates swear by the "soup can" lift, so this could totally be true!)

National Sweet Potato Month and National Snack Food Month

While I briefly touched on both National Sweet Potato Month and National Snack Food Month, I wanted to revisit both of these one more time.  Mainly because I bought a bag of sweet potato chips and wanted to talk about them. 

I bought a bag of Limited Edition Terra Sweet Potato Cinnamon Spice Chips.  While I won't deny that potato chips are the equivalent of a Siren's Song for anyone trying to be healthy, I love sweet potato and vegetable chips.  So I listened to the call of the limited edition chips (internal dialogue of justification: if they're limited edition, I won't buy them often, right?) and thoroughly enjoyed the sweet chips.  Yes, sweet.  While the ingredients list just lists "seasoning," I felt like you could make your own by frying sweet potatoes slices and sprinkling cinnamon and sugar on them.  But the time and effort that that would require makes me think it was worth just buying a bag.  So, if you like sweet potatoes and cinnamon sugar, these are the chips for you.

2nd week = Great American Pizza Bake, Jell-O week, Kraut and Frankenfurter Week

Well, pizza already had a week in January and gets the month of October, so I left this one alone.  I wasn't sure what the "Great American Pizza Bake Week" was actually referring to.  Is this the week where we American's are supposed to host a pizza making party?  I'm not sure.

Oh man, I missed Jell-O week!  I know Jell-O is a lot of food dyes, sugar and gelatin, but I still love slurping it up.  I'm not a fan of Jigglers because I don't like touching my food with my fingers (especially when its squishy).  I love Jell-O with mandarin oranges and pineapple chunks.  While some of my friends don't like the texture of Jell-O, so many of my friends enjoy Jell-O shots.  For those that fall into the latter category, check out Jelly Shot Test Kitchen.  That blog is truly enjoyable to peruse and the writers (Michelle and Intern Doug) are very creative.  (I especially love their Harry Potter inspired Chocolate Frog Jelly Shots.)

As for Kraut and Frankenfurter Week...  I like sauerkraut, I've said that before. Sauerkraut goes so well on just about everything.  So next year, I will definitely remember to celebrate Kraut and Frankenfurter Week.  But if I find myself at an Oktoberfest celebration, I'll celebrate then.  In the meantime, try one of these Celebrity Kraut and Frankenfurther recipes from Examiner.

4th week = National Pancake Week and Food Checkout Week

I'm not really sure how one would celebrate National Food Checkout Week?  Just go through the checkout lane at the grocery store?  If that's the case, I celebrate every week.  Or maybe it's the week we're all supposed to try a new food we've always been curious about?

The blueberry/Log Cabin pancakes
I did manage to celebrate National Pancake Week, though!  (I just never got around to posting about it - bad me!)  I convinced my roommate to make pancakes, too, but she wasn't feeling adventurous so she made blueberry pancakes using fresh blueberries and Log Cabin pancake mix.

Lot of ingredients waiting
to be turned into pancakes.
I opted to try a recipe from the American Heart Association's No-Fad Diet cookbook.  (This was partly due to my goal of actually using my cookbook.)  I chose the Pumpkin-Cranberry Pancakes recipe on page 376 (or online here, courtesy of the Journal Sentinal Online).  I did make a couple of changes - I used whole wheat flour instead of white flour and I used some homemade applesauce instead of unsweetened applesauce.

They were delicious.  Originally, I thought I would use jam on top of the pancakes, but no jam or syrup was necessary.  The pancakes are very light, fluffy and moist.  Best of all, they're full of flavor.  I finally found a recipe for pumpkin that I really like.  Definitely will be making the AHA's Pumpkin-Cranberry Pancakes again.

These pancakes were delicious!

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