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Paying Homage to America’s Favorite Sandwich

Grilled cheese. Even at first mention, you can already imagine the gooey crunch of this melt-in-your-mouth sandwich. It’s an American classic and deserves a celebration. So today, we recognize the popular sandwich on its special day, National Grilled Cheese Day!

 

A unique aspect about grilled cheese is its ability to satisfy children and adults alike. Its popularity with vast audiences has had chefs around the globe reinventing the classic and making it their own. Before it became a classic staple on menus across the country, it’s history tells us the story of how it came to be. Here are a few tidbits of information about America’s favorite sandwich.

 

  1. It’s the best thing since sliced bread! Grilled cheese sandwiches became the norm in American households shortly after the invention of sliced bread, because it was an easy and inexpensive meal for the whole family in the 1920s. The difference between our understanding of the sandwich then and now, though, is these sandwiches were open faced – a piece of bread toasted and topped with shredded American cheese.
  2. What’s in a name? The term “grilled cheese” appeared for the first time in print in the 1960s. Before that, it was called a number of different things, before it settled on its signature nomenclature.
  3. Make it your own! The grilled cheese may be a staple, but people are always finding new ways to make this meal fancy, fresh and deliciously original. Try your hand at adding in some new flavors like bacon, tomato or avocado. Or, keep it classic.

 

Pop by your neighborhood Atlanta Bread today to celebrate National Grilled Cheese Day with friends and family. Or, if you are on the go, grab a grilled cheese from us – it’s a perfect on-the-go meal! You can order ahead online or through our app.

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Atlanta Bread Selects.00_05_15_13.Still027

Shrimp Provide Balance Between Health Benefits and Flavor

Finding a meal that is simple, includes an abundance of health benefits and offers delicious flavors can be a challenge. With shrimp, individuals can receive this combination and much more. This protein option is packed full of flavor and plenty of health benefits. Don’t believe us? Check out the top four benefits of shrimp and why you should include them in your diet on a regular basis below (courtesy of Health.com).

 

1. Shrimp packs a punch…of protein. Three ounces of shrimp has 20 grams of protein with very little fat or carbs to boot. When you finish a good workout at the gym and need to find a way to feed those worn-out muscles, try something different and add shrimp to a leafy green or spinach salad.

2. Fighting shrimp are a real thing. Shrimp boosts your intake of zinc and selenium, activating enzymes that improve immune health, increase muscle metabolism health and build enzymes to fight cancer. Such a small addition can help improve overall health, and help ward off that cold you fear is coming on.

3. I Heart Shrimp! The omega-3 content in shrimp is important in cardiovascular and nervous system health. In addition to omega-3, shrimp are rich in omega-6, a great pair that is seen to decrease the risk of chronic diseases like obesity, type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure.

4. The more the merrier. With only 7 calories per shrimp, more doesn’t mean your caloric intake will shoot through the roof. So you can enjoy more of these tasty treats without the guilt.

 

This month, your local Atlanta Bread menu features two new, bold shrimp dishes, giving you a taste of the coast from your local bakery café. Take a trip beachside this Spring with our new Shrimp Po’ Boy, explore the vibrant city of New Orleans with the bold flavors of our Creole Shrimp Caesar OR put a twist on one of our classic salads with shrimp as an add-ons.

Stop in to your local Atlanta Bread this month and try our new fresh, healthy shrimp offers. To find a location near you, visit: https://atlantabread.com/locations/. These dishes are here for a limited time only, so hurry in! Don’t have time to wait in line? Grab and go when you order ahead online or through our app.

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Fresh Sandwich

15 Atlanta Bread Favorites Perfect for Your Spring Picnic

Spring is in the air. Celebrate the great outdoors while munching on some of your favorites from Atlanta Bread. Here are our top 15 items perfect for your outdoor adventure.

  1. ABC Signature sandwich. Roast beef, turkey, ham, provolone, pepperoncini, mayo and spicy mustard on a fresh-baked baguette.
    Signature
  2. Shrimp Po’ Boy. Here for a limited time only! Seasoned shrimp tossed with all-natural, sriracha mayo served with leafy greens and tomato on a fresh-baked French roll.
    ABC---Shrimp-Po-Boy---Facebook
  3. Caprese sandwich. Mozzarella, tomato and pesto on ciabatta.
    Caprese
  4. Bella Chicken sandwich. Chicken, pesto, mayo and provolone on Mediterranean focaccia.
    Bella Chicken Sandwich
  5. California Avocado sandwich. Avocado, provolone and dill sauce on tomato onion focaccia.
    California Avocado
  6. Chicken Waldorf sandwich. Chicken, dried cranberries, fresh apples, walnuts and mayo on cranberry walnut bread.
    Chicken waldor
  7. Turkey Bacon Avocado. Served on nine-grain bread with lemon basil aioli.
    Turkey Bacon Avocado
  8. Pacific Chicken wrap. All-natural chicken, tomatoes, avocados, sesame seeds, chili flakes and cilantro served with a side of Thai peanut sauce.
    Great Eats Pacific Chicken 600x400
  9. Steakhouse Roast Beef sandwich. Served with mushrooms and provolone on ciabatta, and a side of au jus.
    Steakhouse roast beef
  10. Chicken Pesto sandwich. Chicken, tomato, basil and pesto with Havarti cheese on focaccia.
    Chicken pesto

    Salads galore! Grab a fork and dive in. These delicious dishes require a few utensils, but we promise it’s worth a bite of your favorite Atlanta Bread salads.

  11. Balsamic Bleu. Mixed greens, walnuts, dried cranberries, bleu cheese crumbles, apples, tomatoes, red onion and balsamic vinaigrette.
  12. Chopstix Chicken. Chicken, tomato, romaine lettuce, chow mein noodles, mandarin oranges, almonds & sesame ginger dressing.
    Lo Mein
  13. Greek Salad. Romaine lettuce, feta, pepperoncini, kalamata olives, red onion, tomato and Greek dressing.
    Greek Salad
  14. Creole Shrimp Caesar. Here for a limited time only! Crisp romaine lettuce, topped with shaved parmesan, fresh-baked croutons, seasoned shrimp and all-natural Caesar dressing.
    Creole Shrimp Salad
  15. Cobb Salad. Mixed greens, bleu cheese crumbles, bacon, diced egg, tomato, parsley and avocado with sesame ginger dressing.
    Cobb Salad

No matter the season or the weather, Atlanta Bread has the perfect dish to top off your picnic basket. Planning a picnic soon? Skip the line and grab and go when you place your Atlanta Bread order online today!

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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/