February 2012

Happy Pancake Day!

(Or Was It Last Week?)
There is some debate about what day, exactly, is Pancake Day. But honestly, whichever day you choose to celebrate is probably the right one!
Shrove Tuesday is probably the most traditional, and therefore most correct, Pancake Day. This is the day preceding Ash Wednesday, which kicks off the beginning of Lent. Traditionally, Shrove Tuesday has been a day to live it up before Lent starts, which is why it's also known as Fat Tuesday, a.k.a. Mardi Gras.

Doritos Dinamita: Chile Limon

Dinamitas are basically big Doritos chips, but rolled into a cylinder. Why reserve this technology for the Hispanic market?
Here is what it is like to eat Doritos Dinamita chips:
Chip #1: Mm, this is pretty tasty! And it's so much easier to eat a tube than the usual triangular chips.
Chip #2: These have a really great lime flavor, and a nice little spicy kick.

Substituting Spaghetti Squash for Pasta

When I was in Florida, my mom substituted the normal pasta used to make spaghetti and meatballs with spaghetti squash. I was surprised at how much my kids enjoyed eating it. I was determined to serve this for dinner at my house when I got back home.

Spaghetti squash takes a lot longer to cook than pasta, so you’ll have to keep that in mind when you are ready to prepare dinner. I like to place mild sausage links in my crock pot with Prego pasta sauce. I do this first thing in the morning and turn the heat setting to low.

The Atkins Diet: Bacon and Eggs for Breakfast

The Protein DIet: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

A few years ago everyone in the northwestern part of the United States over the age of 47 was on the protein diet; people loved the Atkins Diet. Why wouldn’t they? The basic diet consisted of a bacon and eggs breakfast, hamburgers without buns for lunch, and steak minus the potatoes for dinner.

I think the fad ended when Dr. Atkins died. Not necessarily because of the Atkins diet, but it did tend to make people wary of the diet. (Read this article from Snopes for the complete scoop on whether or not Dr. Atkins’ death was tied to a heart attack or not.)

McDonald’s Brings Back the Shamrock Shake

I still remember being a kid and wishing that McDonalds would have shamrock shakes year round, but alas they are only available for the St. Patrick’s Day holiday. This year, however, McDonalds decided to take the shamrock shake to a whole new level. They introduced the green milkshake nationwide.

Over 14,000 McDonald’s restaurants now serve the holiday shake, whereas only select restaurants had it available before this year. According to CNN Money, the shamrock shake was first introduced in 1970, and even had its own mascot-Uncle O-Grimacey.

(Don't) Become A Guerilla Chef

Please think of your coworkers!
I admit it, I enjoyed Brian Palmer's article in Slate about how you too can become a guerilla chef. As Palmer explains, this basically involves bringing a hot plate and an electric fry pan into your office, closing the door, and cooking yourself a proper lunch from fresh ingredients.
The first and most obvious point to be made here is, how many people actually work in offices anymore? How many people actually have a door that they can close, versus a cubicle? In my (completely off-the-cuff) estimation, only about 2% of America's total work force can bring in a hot plate and close the door. The rest are working in cubicles, restaurants, auto shops, industrial plants, driving trucks, etc. So this strategy is, strictly from a statistical standpoint, a tool of the cultural elite. 

How To Make A Basic Salad At Home

For a fraction the price of a salad bar or pre-packaged kit!
This may sound ridiculous, but as someone who was raised on a steady diet of pre-packaged prepared foods, I'll be honest with you: I had no idea how to make a salad for the longest time. My efforts were, shall we say, "unsuccessful." It took me a while, and a lot of trial and error, before I mastered the art of making a simple salad that I enjoyed eating.
And if the sales of those pre-packaged all-in-one salad kits are any indication, I'm not the only one!
Part 1: The Base Layer
Most likely, this will be lettuce. You might be tempted to buy one of those bags of pre-cut, pre-washed lettuce. I won't judge! But I will say that I personally prefer to buy a head of Bibb, Red, or Green lettuce. The texture is more tender, and they are usually less bitter than the pre-packaged stuff.

National Pancake Day Means Free Pancakes

I never knew there was such a thing as National Pancake Day. Since I love pancakes, however, I was very excited to make that discovery. Apparently, Tuesday, February 28th is National Pancake Day. This year IHOP is celebrating by offering free pancakes to its customers.

Here is how the deal works. You show up at your local IHOP restaurant on February 28th between the hours of 7 am and 10 pm and order a short stack of the restaurant’s famous buttermilk pancakes. You will not be charged for the pancakes at all. Instead, IHOP hopes you will find it in your heart to donate any dollar amount to the Children’s Miracle Network of hospitals.

A Soup, Even The Scale, Will Enjoy

Although many of us are still anticipating spring time and the shift to warmer weather, reality is that winter is still upon us and cool/cold weather continues nipping at more than our nose.  On these cool days, nothing sounds better than a nice, hot bowl of soup to take the edge off.  Yet, finding a delicious, healthy soup can be a challenge for those of us, wanting to ensure we continue watching our waistlines.

Often times, soup is packed with sodium…which we all know, in excess, is not the healthiest option for us. I live in a city where all four seasons make their presence. Winter involves snow and fall involves cool weather and changing leaves. With that being said, I consistently keep my eyes peeled for healthy soup recipes.

Go-Go Juice: The Secret Recipe Revealed

Six year old "Toddlers & Tiaras" star drinks Mountain Dew mixed with Red Bull
A few weeks ago, a little girl named Alanna made such an impression in a new episode of "Toddlers & Tiaras" that even I stopped to watch her. My remote landed on the show as I was flipping through the channels, just long enough to see her grabbing her tiny six-year-old gut and exclaiming that "A dollar make me holler honey boo boo child." 
I was hooked. I watched the entire episode. And I wasn't alone: Alanna's wacky antics made her an internet sensation. 
One of Alanna's claims to fame is her "Go-Go Juice." The practice of doping toddler pageant queens with sugar and caffeine had been, up until that point, kept quiet. Apparently everyone does it, but only Alanna and her mother were frank enough (or artless enough) to admit it.

Foods You Can Turn Into a Heart Shape

Try challenging yourself this Valentine’s Day to see how many foods you can turn into a heart shape. Here are a few ideas to get you started, but I am confident you can come up with many more.


Pancakes: Pancakes are easy to turn into heart shapes. You can carefully spoon the dough onto the pan to create a heart shape, or carve the shape out with a knife.

Eggs: Scramble a few eggs and pour them inside a heart-shaped cookie cutter that has been set over a small frying pan.

Kick The Chain Restaurant Habit

Eat at independent locally-owned restaurants instead!
This article in Primer Magazine outlines all the reasons why chain restaurants are bad, and offers several suggestions for how to avoid the habit. 
I literally do not understand why Applebee's is America's most popular restaurant. Seriously, Applebee's is #1, top of the charts with a bullet. I have been there twice in the last five years. Both times the food was mediocre, too salty, overpriced, and the restaurant was far noisier than it had any right to be, given the number of customers. 

Cult Restaurants: Loving Hut And More

Come for the vegetarian spring rolls, stay for the brainwashing!
When I say "cult restaurants" I don't mean "an underground hit" or "a restaurant with a small but loyal following." I literally mean "a restaurant run by a cult." Throughout the ages, several religions and cults have decided that the path to Heaven starts with a full stomach. One such cult is run by Supreme Master Ching Hai, the leader of the cult that runs the chain of Loving Hut vegan restaurants.
The Supreme Master Ching Hai International Association operates out of Taiwan, and promotes a splinter religion based on Buddhism which requires strict veganism from its adherents. In this respect it is similar to the Jainism religion, an Indian religion which also promotes strict vegetarianism leading into veganism.