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Atlanta Bread Cranberry Walnut Bread

Good Things Come in Pairs: Menu Pairings from Atlanta Bread You’re Sure To Love

As the saying goes, the best things come in pairs. At Atlanta Bread, we agree. In honor of Valentine’s Day, we’ve explored our menu to find our favorite everyday healthy food pairings you’ll fall in love with this season. Keep reading to join us in this journey of fresh flavors from your favorite local restaurant.

 

Cranberry Walnut Bread + Your Kitchen Table (And Our Delicious Coffee) – In the mood for something sweet? Our Cranberry walnut bread can satisfy your sweet tooth (and make a pretty nice centerpiece if we do say so ourselves). An ideal accompaniment to our gourmet fresh-roasted coffee, Atlanta Bread’s Cranberry Walnut Bread is available by the loaf so you can enjoy the same great Atlanta Bread sandwich flavors from the comfort of your home.

 

Chicken Salad Sandwich + Greek Salad –  An outstanding stand-alone dish, the Atlanta Bread Greek Salad features fresh romaine, sprinkled with feta, pepperoncini, kalamata olives, red onion and tomatoes, topped with Greek dressing. For a little oomph, pair this salad with our Chicken Salad Sandwich served on sourdough and we promise lunch won’t leave you disappointed.

 

Signature Coffee + Egg and Cheese Breakfast Sandwich – While you couldn’t go wrong pairing anything with our deep roast, signature coffee, we love this duo. The Egg and Cheese Sandwich is a delicious way to start your morning. Add turkey sausage, ham, sausage or bacon for a tasty twist!

 

Signature ABC Sandwich + Tomato Basil Soup – The Signature ABC Sandwich is a crowd favorite. Let your taste buds explore this blast of flavor featuring roast beef, turkey, ham, piled high with provolone, pepperoncini, lettuce, tomato, red onion, mayo & spicy mustard served on a fresh-baked French baguette. When paired with our delicious tomato basil soup, the flavors of this signature sandwich come to life.

 

As an added bonus, check out some of the other pairs we are looking forward to seeing in 2017.

 

Game of Thrones and Stranger Things + Our TV/Computer Screens – Rumor has it two of our favorites are retuning for new seasons this year. Will Sansa team up with Littlefinger and betray Jon Snow? Is Eleven alive, and if so, how? So many cliff hangers need to be resolved ASAP.

 

Spider-Man and Wolverine + The Big Screen – These two epic Superheros are returning to the big screen and are poised to be box office hits. We’ll be watching!

 

Atlanta Braves + Suntrust Park – Set to debut in April 2017, Suntrust Park will become the new home of the Atlanta Braves. What’s in store this season for the Braves? We’re not sure but we’ll #ChopOn all season long!

 

Mercedes Benz Stadium + Atlanta Falcons – Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta’s new state-of-the-art sports and entertainment stadium (and of course home to our beloved Atlanta Falcons) will open its doors in August, 2017. #RiseUp

 

New Atlanta Bread Menu Items + Your Dinner Table – Be on the look out for new menu items from your favorite restaurant! Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to stay up to date with new menu items, promotional offers and more!

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ABC---Chili---Blog

Atlanta Bread Blog Post 10 Reasons Chili and Football are the Perfect Pair

Chili has been a staple meal for the winter season for as long as we can remember. Cold winter nights are often made cozy with Chili and cornbread next to the fire and of course, a captivating football game. In honor of the Big Game, we’re taking you back to the beginning.

 

Also, known as Chili Con Carne, Chili is served best with a side of controversy. Its history has been long debated in parallel to debates about the ultimate recipe. If you asked New York author H. Allen Smith the core ingredients of chili, he’d tell you “fiery envy, scalding jealousy, scorching contempt and sizzling scorn.”

 

At Atlanta Bread, our recipe veers off this path a bit.

 

The Origin

There are just about as many stories about how Chili came to be as there are recipes for it.

 

Some enthusiasts will tell you the beautiful story of Sister Mary of Agreda, a Spanish nun in the early 1600s who never left her convent had out-of-body experiences in which her spirit was transported across the Atlantic to preach Christianity to the Indians. Legend holds that after one of the return trips, her spirit wrote down the first recipe for chili con carne: chili peppers, venison (deer meat), onions and tomatoes. Whatever tale you land on, it’s no secret that the American fame of chili con carne began to spread and the dish soon became a major staple of American culture.

 

Checkout the original recipe for Chili Con Carne, according to Betty Crocker.

 

A Steadfast Tradition

The Chili Cook Off has become a time-honored tradition in American culture. In 1967 the International Chili Society held its first World Championship Chili Cook Off in Terlingua, Texas and have continued the fun-spirited competition every year ever since. 3

 

Dive into the flavors of the 2016 Winning Recipe.

 

No Beans About it

Beyond the origin stories, there is also a heated debate regarding whether true chili recipes feature beans. In Texas, meat-and-chile-only chili (also known as a bowl of red) is a way of life. According to locals, to violate it should be punishable by law. Cincinnatians like to include beans in their recipe along with cheese, spaghetti, raw onions and…the kitchen sink.

 

There has been such a debate that in 2016, the International Chili Society’s World Chili Cook-Off included an additional division for — you guessed it — chili with beans.

 

Pass the Chili

Sans beans or not, every family has a chili recipe that stands the test of time, floating from generation to generation with a loving tale to go with it.

 

The Big Game

Over the years, chili and the Big Game have become an inseparable pair and no party spread is complete without it. Here are our 10 reasons why Chili is a must this Sunday:

 

  1. A Hardy Meal – Packed full of flavor and various ingredients, chili is always a hardy meal – beans or no beans. With various renditions including ground beef, pork and even rice, your chili can feed the masses.
  2. It’s Easy to Make, Perfect for Crockpot Cooking – if your chili isn’t coming together in a crockpot over several hours, is it really chili?
  3. Warms the Soul – Not all warm ups require stretching. You’re not a true football fan if you’re not tailgating at every game – no matter the weather. Chili is a hardy meal that can bring warmth to a chilly day (pun intended).
  4. Good for Dipping – Any game day side will do – chips, crackers, cornbread, you name it!
  5. Game Day Part 2 – Slap on your gear and get ready for a good one! Game Day celebrations are bound to end up in a head-to head-chili cook off. Pick your teams, ladies and gentleman – and we don’t mean #PatsNation or those #DirtyBirds.
  6. Goes Well with Beer And Cheese – Both a necessity while watching football – or for life really.
  7. They Belong Together – Pigskin and chili, both similar in color, both a Sunday favorite.
  8. Leftovers Make a Comeback – Cheese, crackers, beans, rice, lasagna, spaghetti, etc. You can put the kitchen sink in chili and it’s still guaranteed to be a hit – ask those Cincinnatians.
  9. They Both Feature All-Star Kickers – This isn’t fantasy football, but for a strong chili bowl, we encourage you to draft your best “kicker” to spice things up and bring a little heat to the game.
  10. The Red Hot Chili Peppers – As in the band who enjoys football championships and chili. It’s only right that the two are eternally paired. Who could forget that 2014 performance?


 

 

References

1 http://www.chilicookoff.com/history/history_started.asp

2 http://www.foodrepublic.com/2012/01/19/a-brief-history-of-chili-con-carne/

3 http://www.chilicookoff.com/History/History_of_ICS.asp

4 https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Chili/ChiliHistory.htm

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breadSized

Hip Holiday Breads – Not Your Grandma’s Fruitcake

You’ve probably heard the jokes and lore of the fruitcake:  fruitcake tossing competitions, fruitcakes as doorstops and the legendary story of one single fruitcake being passed around year after year. Grandma’s fruitcake doesn’t necessarily have the best reputation, nor does it delight the palate of foodies these days, but today’s inspired holiday breads sure do!  So what’s the difference, other than new flavors?

A bit about fruitcakes

Fruitcake has been around since well before your Grandma’s time…in fact, according to What’s Cooking America, fruitcakes date back to ancient Roman times.  Ancient hunters and crusaders were reported to carry fruitcake with them in order to survive their long missions away from home.1 Fruitcake became very popular in the mid to late 1800s as a must-have item at Victorian tea parties.  Traditionally, fruitcakes combined harvested fruits and nuts into a loaf form.  Today, you can tempt almost any palate with the concept of warm, fruity and savory holiday breads made in much the same way, but with today’s trending and tempting ingredients.

If you said you were dropping by a neighbor’s house to deliver a fruitcake, you’d likely find them hiding behind their door, but you’ll get a much warmer reception if you ring the bell bearing a gift of delicious holiday bread, with modern flavors like Cranberry Orange, Pumpkin Spice or Mocha Chocolate Chip.

Historical holiday breads across the globe

Holiday breads have a history too.  For thousands of years, many cultures have had their own interpretation of breads and cakes served to celebrate holiday seasons.  Breads like Italian Panforte or Panettone, Romanian Cozonac, Norwegian Julekake, and German Stollen are just a few of the traditional holiday breads you can find filled with spices, fruits and nuts. Today, holiday breads come in delicious new flavors with healthy, fresh ingredients and so many of them are just impossible to resist.

Here’s a great compilation of holiday bread recipes fromfood.com if you’re in the baking spirit.  It’ll be difficult to decide which to try first, Christmas Stollen, Sour Cream Apple Cardamom, Almond Cranberry Bread, or Spiced Anjou Pear Bread just to start…a difficult choice indeed!

Holiday breads – baked fresh for you

Obviously not everyone has time to gather fresh healthy ingredients for baking, but who wouldn’t want to enjoy these fresh baked breads.  If you’re scrambling around for last minute gift ideas and don’t have time to bake your own delicious, breads with healthy, fresh ingredients, why not bring home the holidays from Atlanta Bread.

We have a wonderful variety of fresh baked holiday breads to treat yourself to, or delight your friends and family.  Our Pumpkin Spice Bread is simply delicious and on trend with everyone’s favorite fall ingredient, and our Cranberry Orange Bread is sure to zest up your day with fresh healthy ingredients!  If you’re looking for something a bit more decadent, why not try our Mocha Chocolate Chip Bread.

You’re sure to be the favorite friend, neighbor, co-worker or dinner guest when you deliver the gift of delicious, fresh baked holiday breads from Atlanta Bread.  Come by and enjoy a quick lunch with a fresh, healthy twist and take some of our delicious fresh baked holiday breads with you, or visit www.atlantabread.com to order ahead.

1 https://whatscookingamerica.net/History/Cakes/Fruitcake.htm

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food, harvest, season and autumn concept - close up of pumpkins on wooden table at home

5 Ways to Treat Yourself to Pumpkin

I fondly recall carving pumpkins for Halloween as a kid. The trickiest part was cleaning out the “guts” but designing and creating the traditional Jack-O-Lantern and then eating the roasted seeds was a real treat. Back then I never knew about eating pumpkin in anything other than the traditional holiday pie. But now you can enjoy the flavor of pumpkin in a variety of food and drinks – it’s healthy, and it’s everywhere!

It’s not a commonly used ingredient so you may be unsure about what to do with pumpkin. While the jolly, round gourd provides a subtle yet distinct flavor to shakes, lattes, breads, and even healthy dinners you may want some suggestions about how to make it a part of this seasons fare. Let us be your tour guide and share our 5 favorite ways to enjoy the flavor of pumpkin this season. Many of these recipes came to us from Real Simple, and that’s the way we like it!

Pumpkin Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

Okay, I know it sounds strange, but this really is a great combo of new flavors. It may not be your traditional grilled cheese but it will become a healthy family favorite.

½ cup pure pumpkin puree

16 slices pumpernickel or white bread

Check 2 ounces Gruyere, grated (about ½ cup)

Check 4 tablespoons (½ stick) unsalted butter

Directions:

Spread the pumpkin puree on half of the bread, dividing evenly. Top with the cheese and the remaining bread to form sandwiches.

Melt ½ tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-low heat.

Cook the sandwiches, in batches and turning once (adding an additional ½ tablespoon of butter to the skillet for each batch), until the bread is toasted and the cheese is melted, 4 to 6 minutes.

Use 3-inch pumpkin-shaped cookie cutters to cut the sandwiches into shapes.

Pumpkin Spice Cookies

Not much of a baker but still love to enjoy a sweet treat? These easy to make, 3-ingredient cake-y cookies are perfection. Recipe from a friend:

 

1 box of spiced cake mix

1 15 oz can pumpkin puree

1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips

Directions

Combine cake mix and pumpkin and mix until blended. Fold in chocolate chips. Drop by spoonful on a greased cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15-18

Pumpkin w/ White Beans and Bacon

Looking for a healthy lunch or a dinner side item? Try this tasty dish. It’s light and packed with nutrients but still gives you a full-on pumpkin experience!

Sweet and Salty Pumpkin Seeds

If you’re carving a pumpkin and want to roast the seeds, don’t just pop them in the oven. I know that’s the traditional way, but as your tour guide, I suggest that you first cook them on a baking sheet at 300 degrees for an hour (until dry) then toss them with 2 tablespoons of melted, unsalted butter, 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar, ½ teaspoon kosher salt and ¼teaspoon ground cinnamon. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10- 15 minutes and you’ll have a sweet, salty, and crunchy snack!

 

Pumpkin Martini

If you’re looking for a liquid version of a pumpkin treat then consider this adult beverage. It’s sweet and rich and could be served for cocktail hour or even after dinner because it’s like a dessert in a glass.

 

1 tablespoon sugar

¼ teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

3 tablespoons vodka

2 tablespoons half and half

1 tablespoon canned pure pumpkin puree

1 tablespoon maple syrup

¼ teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions

Combine the sugar and ⅛ teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice on a small plate. Dip the rim of a chilled martini glass in water, then dip in the sugar to coat.

In a martini shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, half and half, pumpkin puree, maple syrup, vanilla extract, and the remaining ⅛ teaspoon of the pumpkin pie spice. Shake vigorously, then strain into the prepared glass.

Pumpkin Bread

Warm, delicious pumpkin bread is great for breakfast, dessert, or as a sandwich – just spread a little cream cheese in between 2 slices! You could bake it, or pick some up at Atlanta Bread and bring home the holidays!

Pumpkin isn’t a fall fad, it’s a real, healthy food that adds a unique and delicate flavor to various food and drinks – so enjoy it all season. You can also stop by your local Atlanta Bread location and try our new Pumpkin Spiced Chai Latte, it’s the perfect partner for your pumpkin bread.

Sources:

http://www.realsimple.com/food-recipes/recipe-collections-favorites/delicious-pumpkin-recipes

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Chinatown San Francisco

Searching for Dan Dan

I lived for a while in Chinatown, San Francisco. My 200 square foot studio apartment was squashed next to an opera school, an infamous tong1, a flower shop, and a small Szechuan restaurant called Spicy King. Spicy King was run by Truman Du, one of the first chefs to bring Szechuan cuisine to the forefront of San Francisco’s Chinese food scene. I would eat at his restaurant every week, as I didn’t have a kitchen. Spicy King introduced me to the world of spicy numbing, of egg yolk fried bitter melon, and of hot pot. The first time I ordered Dan Dan noodle, I put it to one side, my mouth completely numb. It was confusing, like I had just gone to the dentist.

Something, I assumed, had gone horribly wrong in the cooking process and there was a chemical reaction taking place in my mouth that clearly shouldn’t. Undeterred, I ordered it the next day, and the same numbing sensation returned, but this time, prepared for it, I realized how much depth and feeling it gave the dish. It was cooling after the fiery Ebe La (another Szechuan import by chef Chen Kenmin), it was invigorating, it was above all…different.

The spice that was providing this heat goes by many names — Szechuan pepper, prickly ash powder, dried prickly ash, numbing pepper, or spicy numbing pepper. There is no proper translation because there is no English word for a pepper, or even a flavor that makes your mouth numb. The Chinese word is Ma. Ma is spicy numbing flavor, so a ma-po tofu is tofu with Szechuan peppers. If a dish is La it is spicy in our sense of a rush of blood to the tongue. It has been hard to get these dishes in the United States, partly because Americans are weirded out by things that make their mouth numb, and partly because it was banned for import, probably because the FDA agents were just as weirded out as everyone else.

Szechuan Pepper

Chilled noodle dishes make a great light lunch in the hot summer months, so I knew we needed to have one on the menu. The obvious solution was to go to the now ubiquitous cold soba noodle salad – called American Style Soba in some restaurants in Japan due to our appetite for it. Soba dough takes years to master as buckwheat is notoriously difficult to work with since it is gluten free and, as such, has very little to bind it together. The dough will crack, and the noodle will dissolve in the hands of anyone who isn’t a master. By adding other non-buckwheat flours, these noodles gain elasticity and can now be dried and exported to America to slake our thirst for healthy but filling noodle salads. While the salad is normally dressed with fresh vegetables and some ginger dressing, it’s a dish that isn’t native to Japan. Like most of our imports, it has evolved to suit our palates. There is something about buckwheat’s texture that holds up well to being cold: the chew, the slight bite, the earthy quality.

ab-dandan-sesamesobaThe second most common cold noodle, at least in my mind, is the cold Dan Dan noodle. So it just made all the sense in the world to marry these two traditions into something that would be familiar enough in its form, but piquant in its spicing. The result was our Sesame Soba – our own combination of Chilled Soba, and Dan Dan. It is tossed with delicious fresh vegetables and the Ma should cool your palate in what is expected to be a long, hot, summer. As an added bonus, this dish is an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin D, iron, fiber, and calcium.

I hope you enjoyed this story. Stop by your local Atlanta Bread to try this delectable dish. We would love to hear your feedback so please visit our Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you would like to hear about in future blog posts.

Thanks
– John


John Hutt has been a chef all of his professional life and has traveled around the world to experience new cuisines and cultures. Based in New York and Atlanta, he is the head chef of Atlanta Bread where he is currently developing exciting new menu items while also refining many current offerings. He is also a writer, focusing mostly on contemporary art.

Chef John Hutt
  1. So you might wonder, what is a Tong? In North America, a tong is a type of organization found among Chinese living in the United States and Canada. These organizations are described as secret societies or sworn brotherhoods and are often tied to criminal activity.

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Tips to Banish the Winter Doldrums

Don’t Let the Cold Get You Down – Lift Yourself Up With Healthy Winter Fare and Fun

Have you ever felt that when the temperature goes down, so does your mood? I have heard this called the winter doldrums or, more scientifically, seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Yes, there really is a legitimate reason for the urge to curl up under a blanket and watch movies that make you cry, read books that tell a tragic story, or do nothing at all. It’s not simply that you’re adapting a leisurely pace in winter, it’s that you can feel a bit depressed when cold weather comes, especially when it sticks around for a long time.

After the bustle of the holidays it can feel like a welcome change when that more melancholy mood and leisurely pace set in. But after a while, sitting in your pajamas until mid-afternoon on the weekends and ordering take-out every night begins to feel a bit sad. So how do you put the spring back in your step and elevate your mood when it’s grey and cold? There are several things you can do such as enjoying new activities, new flavors, and increasing time spent socializing.

Food can have a big impact on your mood. When the blues hit and you down a quart of ice cream you may feel a temporary lift, but ultimately you will come crashing down. Healthy foods can help combat the winter blues. “Oh no”, you say, “how is eating bland, healthy food going to lift me out of the winter doldrums”? Because things like Omega 3’s are beneficial to emotional health, lean proteins are a great source of energy, and berries can inhibit the release of cortisol which impacts your emotional responses. You’ll want to cut sugars because they are more addicting than most drugs and if you’re already feeling blue, the crash from a sugar high is going to make you feel even worse. Try eating healthy dishes like salmon (lean protein and those Omega 3’s) but add new flavors in a sauce like maple-dijon or blueberry-cabernet. In winter your body typically isn’t getting as much vitamin D from sunlight so add vitamin-D rich foods like eggs and oily fish.

If you aren’t actually depressed, but simply bored and feeling cooped up because of the weather – force yourself to go outside or socialize. Spending just a short amount of time walking outdoors will provide that much needed vitamin D from the natural light and will get your blood pumping. Enjoying new experiences with friends could also be just the boost you need. Never seen a play? Now could be the right time. Meet for lunch where healthy food is served, or serve others by volunteering or simply committing acts of random kindness.

I get it, it’s hard sometimes to shake that feeling of woe when the sky turns dark well before dinnertime, or when the snow is piled up at your door. But try enjoying new flavors, new experiences and a new attitude. It’s ok to maintain a leisurely pace, just do something!  And if that doesn’t help, crank up the heat, invest in a sunlight lamp and fool your body into thinking it’s spring!

 


 

Sources:

http://www.healthline.com/health-slideshow/10-food-tips-help-ease-winter-blues#2

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2009/01/04/12-winter-depression-busters/

 

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Exotic and local food

A Traveler’s Note – Embrace the Unknown

We are used to the sights, sounds, and pace of our own environment. But what happens when you’re thrust into the hustle and bustle of a completely different locale? As someone who’s fortunate enough to have traveled to some exotic places, I discovered it’s surprising how quickly you can adapt to local food, customs, and people if you are open to the full experience. What it requires, however, is an open mind and a willingness to release the expectations that your new location will be like home. As a traveler you may not know how to get around or exactly what’s on that plate the waiter just brought you.

Several years ago I embarked on a 24-hour journey from Atlanta to L.A. and then on to Hong Kong to visit a family member who was temporarily living there. Hong Kong is a crowded, bustling city with modern high-rise buildings packed in tightly amongst old apartment and office structures, rundown shops, and open markets. My first impression was that the place was an assault on the senses. Hundreds of signs were suspended above the street, lights were everywhere, and the shops were packed in side by side with bins of goods jutting out onto the sidewalk. The people were packed in as densely as the buildings. There was no strolling, no personal space, and at times it felt as if there was little room to breathe, especially on the Metro.

Mental preparation was needed each time we left the flat to take on the crowds. It was like New York City on steroids – louder, brighter, and with sights and smells that either tempted your taste buds or made your stomach turn.

As a traveler, all judgment should be suspended and a willingness to sample local foods must take over. After a visit to Mongkok Market and seeing the remnants of an animal head that had been scraped clean of meat, and watching a woman snap a chicken’s neck before stuffing it in a bag for a customer, I was quite hesitant to dine on local fare. But I trusted my family member to guide me through the meals and was more than pleasantly surprised by the fresh, local food. From Chinese to Thai, Japanese to Indian, sampling the truly authentic dishes of the region turned out to be the highlight of the trip.

It wasn’t long before I was navigating the crowded streets with comfort and looking forward to my next meal. Soon the cacophony of voices, cars,  and local music, the explosion of colorful signs, and the busy pace of the city began to feel more familiar…I was no longer the wide-eyed traveler. I found beauty in the raw, almost harsh street scene and I found pleasure in the fresh food being served, even if I wasn’t entirely certain of the ingredients.

I am no Anthony Bourdain or Andrew Zimmern of “Bizarre Foods” TV fame, but I was willing to order some unfamiliar and, yes, even weird dishes. The slippery noodles served with equally slippery ingredients (that I could only guess had been very recently fished out of local waters) and the dishes of more familiar meats and vegetables were an out-of-this-world experience. On occasion some gesturing and pantomiming had to occur just to order a dish or select groceries for home-cooked meals, but the fresh ingredients were worth the effort.

There is a transformation that comes from immersing yourself in local food and culture. You can resist the unfamiliar ways and long for the comforts of home, but then why travel? Or you can surrender to the reality that you are in another place and should soak up what’s being offered.

If you don’t have the opportunity to travel abroad, you can still embrace the mind-set of a traveler. Become more adventurous with what you eat, take note of the street scene, and view your own world with a new perspective.

 

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Eat healthy this holiday season

Find a New Bliss Point – Eat Healthy This Holiday Season

It’s the time of year when parties and family gatherings are at a fever pitch. Whether you’re celebrating Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, the holiday season packs on the fun but also packs on the pounds. So why is it that people feel compelled to binge on unhealthy food this time of year? It may be to acknowledge that the days are special by doing something different. It could also be the notion that this is the time of year to “gift” yourself with a little something extra. Whatever the motivation to overeat, it is possible to thoroughly enjoy the festivities while consuming foods made from healthy ingredients without sacrificing taste.

 Consider this – the average American will consume close to eight thousand calories on Christmas day. Add to that the parties where it’s easy to take in thousands of calories in food and beverages in one evening, and soon you’re looking at a true case of overdoing it. So why do we want to eat so poorly?

The Cravings

There is a physiological reason we crave certain foods, particularly those that are high in sugar, fat or salt. Most of us have experienced the craving for one or more of these ingredients. Companies that manufacture food actually measure the satisfaction of their foods based on something called the “bliss point”. It’s the specific amount, or combination of these ingredients, that generates the most pleasure when consumed. Until that bliss point is reached, people will continue to eat foods that contain these ingredients.

 Combinations of certain flavors such as salty and sweet or crunchy and creamy can achieve the ultimate in satisfaction. The texture, chemical interaction, and base ingredients can all work to sabotage your desire to be healthy. It’s a challenge, but you can find a way to fight the urges to achieve that bliss-point through food.

Bring a Healthy Dish

How do you combat the assault of the fatty, sugary, salty treats that will be spread out in front of you at every turn over the holidays? Know what you’re eating. The best way to know what you’re consuming is to either make it yourself or purchase it from an establishment that routinely offers healthy, local food that isn’t loaded with sugar or fat. Most party hosts would be grateful if guests contribute to the food offerings. If you bring a dish, make it a healthy one that you can eat if there are no better options.

 Many appetizers and canapes don’t seem highly caloric, though they can be. Because they aren’t filling people tend to consume several. Prepare a dish made from healthy ingredients but with plenty of flavor. Generous use of seasonings and spices can take the place of the flavor provided by the fat or sugar content in many foods. Consider the texture and flavor combinations above and come up with a dish that will satisfy certain cravings in a healthier way.

Give Up the Guilt

Often people overeat at parties because they don’t want the hostess to feel bad that no one is eating. When someone goes to the trouble of preparing food for guests, we wouldn’t feel right about there being a lot of leftovers, or for them to feel that no one was enjoying the food. So, the solution is to gobble up more than we intended in order to make a show of support.

No one’s feelings will be hurt if you sample a few items and then compliment the chef on their spread. Find your holiday bliss in the company of friends, the sound of the music and laughter, and the beauty of what’s around you.

You may feel the best way to celebrate the holidays is to indulge, just this once, in caloric, sugar-laden foods. Consider this however, will you be celebrating after you’ve overeaten and feel guilty about what you’ve done? Allow moderation and healthy choices to be the gift you give yourself. Celebrate by remembering the reason for the party.

 


 

Sources: http://www.wellingtonresearch.com/whats-your-bliss-point/

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Amish Buggy

Sauerkraut – a Microcosm of Cultures

The early settlers to Pennsylvania were mostly from Germany. Colonial Philadelphia, one of the biggest cities in the British empire, is nowadays remembered as a hub of the American Revolution. It was thriving; Benjamin Franklin was printing leaflets while the city went up around him. But before all this there was a Quaker governor of the state who decided to let in persecuted Anabaptists from Germany. This sect of ultra orthodox conservative Protestants were called the Mennonites. The Mennonites had earlier split off into the Amish, forming their own communities; it was these communities that moved into Pennsylvania. Amish believed in isolation from the rest of the sinful world, cutting themselves off from modern conveniences. That may have been easier in 1800, but it’s an ethos that has persevered to this day.

The result is that a few hours drive from the glistening hub of sin, technology and progress that is New York City, sits a community of farmers who have changed little in the past 150 years.

Change, however, is inevitable. Culture and language will always develop. The German spoken by the original settlers has become a hybrid language called Pennsylvania Dutch, no relation to New Amsterdam to the west, but from the word Deutsche meaning German. The Amish have slowly been using washing machines, powering their farm tools with propane generators and slowly moving towards modern technology. Sharing the inherent ability of language to adapt, is food. As the Amish tend to decry visual arts as a waste of time, the best way to observe and experience the culture and understand its history, is by looking at its food.

The land in Pennsylvania is hard, it requires work to get vegetables out of the soil, and the staple crop is corn. This is in harsh contrast to the Rhineland vineyards and the fertile soil of the Palatinate. The Amish food system had to adapt. German recipes were pared down to their simplest form, and the ingredients were substituted with what was at hand. The result is a fairly typical rural cuisine but with the twist of a German culinary tradition that never made its way into the age of refrigeration.

The hams and salted beef are combined with sauerkraut and oatmeal, the scrapple of pig’s head is mixed with cornmeal and made into fritters. In a community where refrigeration was a relatively recent turn of events, curing and preserving food remains incredibly important to the cuisine. As the rest of Pennsylvania took their cue from the smoked meats of the south as a method of preservation, the Pennsylvania Dutch gleefully piled salt and sage on their beef or pork, mixing it with innards to create sausages that, while not entirely German, were entirely American.

Typical Amish cooking completely inhabits natural approaches to health. No artificial chemicals are used, only what they can make themselves. This incorporates pickling, salting and preserving. The most common pickle is, of course, sauerkraut. The difference in pickling various vegetables all comes down to the ratio of vinegar, salt, and water. Vegetables that have a fairly thick structure need to be broken down, things like cucumbers are mostly water, so the ratio of vinegar to salt would be much more vinegar to much less water. Things like cabbage, as for sauerkraut, can use heating to break down fully, or time and salt but this was not common in Europe. As an example:

The Amish Version of Sauerkraut from Cooking with the Horse and Buggy People is as follows:

Shred cabbage like for slaw. Press tight in quart jars. Fill jars with boiling water. For 1 qt. add 2 t. vinegar, 1 t. salt and 1 t. white sugar. Cover and let set for 6 weeks.

The German method is slightly more involved. The typical recipe would go something like this:

Shred cabbage. Toss with salt and allow to sit for 45 minutes or until a large amount of water has been drawn from the cabbage. Massage the cabbage, squeeze it and get as much liquid from it as possible. Then place the cabbage and brine into an airtight jar and allow it to ferment for a week or two.

What is the difference in these recipes? Well, the Amish method adds vinegar and sugar instead of allowing the liquid from the cabbage to do the pickling. In essence the Amish are creating a brine of salt, sugar, vinegar and hot water then adding it to the cabbage and allowing the bacteria to grow and ferment over time. The heat is the main catalyst for both bacterial growth and breaking down the tough cabbage. In the German version the cabbage is broken down with the addition of salt, which draws the moisture out. Note the huge difference in preservation time. The Amish let their cabbage sit for 6 weeks before eating it, whereas the more typical German recipe simply waits for, typically, a week. Based on these recipes we can assume, correctly, that the Amish sauerkraut has a milder flavor than its German cousin.

Why did the Amish start boiling the water to add to the cabbage? The Amish sauerkraut method is quicker to do, the time from cabbage to jar is much less, and the shelf life is extended considerably. The German method has a more time consuming prep process, and is better suited to the world of refrigeration and shorter patience. The Amish recipe is an adaption of a classic to better suit the needs of a place without refrigeration and a real need to preserve the crop in a more efficient way. They may refuse modern technology, but the Amish are evolving and adapting, creating better ways to do things, finding new solutions to almost obsolete questions.

I hope you enjoyed this story! I am developing a delicious reuben with the sauerkraut I told you about in this blog, so stop by your local Atlanta Bread and check it out as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, we would love to hear your feedback so please visit our Facebook and Twitter and let us know what you would like to hear about in future blog posts.

Thanks
– John

John Hutt has been a chef all of his professional life and has traveled around the world to experience new cuisines and cultures. Based in New York and Atlanta, he is the head chef of Atlanta Bread where he is currently developing exciting new menu items while also refining many current offerings. He is also a writer, focusing mostly on contemporary art.

Chef John Hutt

Main photo taken by Konstantin Sergeyev.