Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Dying Easter Eggs

Dying eggs is a tradition that has been around for centuries. While you can go out and buy the packages made for dying your hard boiled eggs, you can also find many items already in your kitchen to dye your eggs. Before the invention of the convenient box of PAAS Egg Dye, people used vegetables, fruits, edible flowers, barks and roots to dye eggs. Going back to basics is enjoyable from time-to-time and here is how to do it:

During the dying process, you actually hard boil your eggs at the same time. So you will be dirtying a few more dishes this way, but inventing colors is a lot of the fun.

In the same manner that you normally hard boil eggs, you want to make sure your eggs are in a single layer of a saucepan. Then you cover the eggs with about a 1/2” of water. You may only want to add 3 or 4 eggs into each pan of water so you can create several different colors of eggs.

For blue eggs, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and shredded red cabbage or 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 cup of fresh blueberries.

For green eggs, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 1 cup of fresh spinach leaves.

For yellow eggs, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 2 Tablespoons turmeric.

For brown eggs, add 1 teaspoon white vinegar and 2 -3 Tablespoons of ground coffee or add several teas bags. Or try adding the outer layers of an onion (no vinegar necessary).

For red eggs, try adding fresh or frozen cranberries or cherries with 1 teaspoon of white vinegar. Or instead add some fresh beets.

Look around the kitchen and see what other items you can use. Once you have your pot ready, turn on the heat and boil for a minimum of 8 minutes. The longer you steep your eggs, the brighter the color. However, the eggs will not be edible if you boil them for much longer than 10 – 15 minutes.

Have fun, enjoy yourself and get your hands dirty!

Friday, March 14, 2008

Happy Pi Day

Pi, Greek letter (∏), is the symbol for the ratio of the circumference of a circle to its diameter. Pi = 3.1415926535... Pi Day is celebrated by math enthusiasts around the world on March 14th. http://www.piday.org/

According to the National Pie Council, ancient Egyptians show the first evidence of pie making and eating. The first pies were made with reeds to hold the fillings, but the reeds were not consumed. Meat pies were the first pies eaten and dessert pies were not seen until later.

So enjoy a slice of pie today. Share a pie with a friend - either homemade or store bought. Enjoy it with a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of caramel or chocolate sauce.

Saturday, March 01, 2008

March is National Nutrition Month

March is National Nutrition Month and quite fittingly I just finished a three week course on Nutrition. The course was very basic and laid out the fundamentals of nutrition. Some highlights:

Carbs are not bad. Recently there have been several diets that have led us to believe that foods high in carbohydrates are bad for us. I would agree that we as a society eat too many processed carbohydrates. Carbs also include fruits, vegetables and whole grains - all great for us. And we all know we need to eat more of those.

The Food Pyramid. The newer version of the food pyramid, although more complex, is a good model for structuring our eating guidelines. The website www.mypyramid.gov is a great resource for creating meal plans, tips and recipes. I also learned about the Dash Eating Plan in my classes. I had not previously heard about it and have not had time to look into it, but for more information visit www.nhlbi.nih.gov/health/public/heart/hbp/dash/new_dash.pdf . It is a low sodium diet designed for those with high blood pressure, but everyone can apply its principles and guidelines.

Read the labels. Eating well really starts with reading the labels. Look past the nutriton fact sheets and read the ingredient list. Avoid items with hydrogenated oil, partially hydrogenated oil and high fructose corn syrup. Other pitfalls are high sugar, high sodium and other highly processed items. Try to look for ingredients lists that are whole foods. For a good resource for reading the label, visit http://www.cfsan.fda.gov/~dms/foodlab.html.

Drink lots of water. A good rule of thumb is half your body weight in ounces each day. Many foods contain water (like fruit and broths) so you don't necessarily need to drink it all in water. Did you know that if you normally drink one regular soft drink each day and cut them from your diet, you could lose 14 lbs / year?

I think we all know what we are supposed to do, or at a minimum a few things we could be doing differently. The key is persistence. Start small and make changes when you can. If we do well most of the time, we can still splurge on the good stuff.

Visit http://www.eatright.org/cps/rde/xchg/ada/hs.xsl/nutrition_350_ENU_HTML.htm for some great links with additional information.