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Robinsbite: March 2009

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Regardless of Your Feelings for Cloris or PETA

This is a beautiful photo highlighting the nutritious, delicious, colorful and apparently wearable cabbage family!

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This weekend, I watched my weekend hosts defrost a package of flank steak in the sink...all day long. Not wanting to insult them, but knowing how important proper thawing techniques are, I frequently asked questions about the meat-so that I could comfortably deem the food safe to eat.

Not a week goes by that I don't receive a call or an email from a friend with a food safety question. "Can I freeze tofu?" I have meat that has been marinating since Monday..can I still cook it and eat it?" "What is the difference between the sell by and use by dates?" I happily answer these questions and more. Now,, Your Ultimate Shelf Life Guide - Save Money, Eat Better, Help The Environment offers users sound advice on how to safely consume food items and stay healthy.

Keep it or Toss it, Your Questions Answered and Shelf Talk are the highlights of the site and Today's Question is one that is always applicable. Today's actual question is: Is it Safe to Reheat Meat that has already Thawed? Click here for the answer.

Other frequently asked questions include:

I Left Pizza Out Overnight - Is It Still Safe to Eat?

Do You Have to Refrigerate Opened Bottles of Mustard and Ketchup?

Is it Necessary to Rinse Raw Chicken Before Cooking It?

Is it Better to Store Bread on the Counter or in the Fridge?

If Raw Beef Gets Dark is it Still Safe?

Is it Safe to Leave Canned Food Leftovers in the Can?

Is it OK to Put Hot Food in the Refrigerator?

Is Bottled Water Still Safe To Drink After the Expiration Date?

How Long Can I Keep Thawed Meat Before Cooking It?

Does Olive Oil Last Longer if You Store it in the Fridge?

Bookmark this site. It is one you will refer to over and over again. Thanks to Chris Mohr, PhD, RD for sending this my way.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Asian Inspired Salad with Chicken or Shrimp

My sister-in-law, Gail has created this recipe many times over the 25 years I've known and loved her. When I visit and spy the plastic container on the counter filled with the delicious browned bits of sesame seeds, almonds and broken Ramen Noodles (yes, I said Ramen Noodles), I know that the family has been fed the delicious Asian inspired salad.

For some reason, last month was the first time I'd ever asked her for the recipe. Now, it is in my repertoire and has already become a family favorite. Even my husband requests it now!

For the Salad:
Green leaf lettuce or your favorite lettuce

Brown the following in margarine or butter (recipe calls for 1/2 stick)
1 packages Ramen Noodles (broken up and flavor packet discarded)
1 cup sliced almonds
sesame seeds

Watch carefully and keep heat at medium. Cook until mixture is golden brown. Stir often to prevent over browning.

1/4 cup white wine vinegar
2 T. soy sauce
1/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup oil

Boil for one minute and cool.

Wash and dry lettuce. Add chopped scallions (white and green parts), tomatoes and cucumbers. Sprinkle almond mixture over the top and drizzle with dressing.

I always add a lean protein to this salad to make it a complete meal. Grilled chicken or shrimp is terrific!


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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

From the Sports Pages..Minor League Concession Item of the Year

Darren Rovel of CNBC's SportsBiz with had this to report today:

For years, we've given the title of "Concession Item Of The Year" to the Gateway Grizzlies, whose executives seems to have a knack for coming up with the best idea year after year.

In 2006, it was a bacon cheeseburger with donuts as buns.

Then came the deep fried sliders.

Last year, it was the buffalo wing pretzel.

But the West Michigan Whitecaps have our eye this year with this — believed to be the single most caloric item ever offered at a ballpark.

Fifth Third Burger

Here are the important details on this absolute gutbuster. It's called the Fifth Third Burger, named after the bank [FITB 2.15 -0.23 (-9.66%) ] that sponsors the team's ballpark.

It's 5/3 lbs (1.66) of beef with lettuce, tomato, salsa, sour cream, chili and Fritos on an eight-inch sesame seed bun.

The team says it feeds one to four people and sells for $20, and if a person finishes the Fifth Third Burger in one sitting, the team will offer up a Fifth Third Burger T-shirt.

Mickey Graham, the team's director of marketing and media relations, told us that they came up with this burger because it's something fun that people can understand.

Graham added that he thinks it's possible that that the burger will be popular enough that people might show up to the ballpark, buy a ticket to get in, buy a burger and go home.

"We've had people come just for dinner," Graham said. "It actually happens pretty frequently. We take our food pretty seriously."

A shout out to Ben Hill's great minor league business blog, who had this meaty story first.

And a shout out to my husband for finding this gem.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Hungry for Humble Pie?

It was 11:45 and my stomach signaled me for lunch. I opened up the fridge, looked inside and mumbled "why does it seem like there is no food in here?" I found plenty of salad fixings, bread and an apple and satisfied my hunger as usual. When I returned to my computer, I found's latest hero. After I watched it, I realized that I also had plenty of ingredients for a humble pie in my refrigerator.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

Robinsbite Tweeting on Twitter Today

I've finally bit the bullet and joined the masses!
Please follow me on Twitter

Are you tweeting? Send me your address and I'll follow you, too.

Thanks to @katebyersrd for being my first follower!

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Tyler Florence-All Dressed in Green at the Plano Central Market

Read about my encounter with Chef Tyler Florence and Sprout, his new line of organic baby food here.

I tasted this and it was actually delicious! Not too sweet, but just sweet enough. All of the babies/toddlers who were waiting with me to see Chef Tyler seemed to enjoy it, too.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

DFW Goes Edible

The Edible Dallas & Fort Worth publication makes its much anticipated spring debut next week as the first local sustainable lifestyle magazine of the Metroplex.

From the Eats Blog at the Dallas Morning News, Kim Pierce writes:

Starting next week, you should be able to find fresh, free copies of Edible Dallas & Fort Worth, the newest member of the Edible family of magazines. Here's an excerpt from publisher Karen McCullough's press release:

"Edible Dallas & Fort Worth defines and honors the sustainable lifestyle of buying local. The magazine is brimming with engaging stories and enticing photography and advocates preserving food traditions, savoring food experiences, and pulling back the curtain on where our food comes from and how it gets to you."

The Edibles started in Ojai, Calif., and have spread like mushrooms to cities and areas across the country. The mags will be available at Whole Foods Market, Newflower Market, North Haven Gardens, Redenta's, Times Ten Cellars, plus other locations.

In the summer issue, look for an article on the Days of Taste Program ( by yours truly. I'll also be contributing to the fall issue with nourishing treats for kids focusing on fall flavors.

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Another Reason to Go Green on St. Patty's DAY

Going Green is easy to do today-but what about the other 364 days of the year?

If you are looking for ways to be eco healthy AND eco friendly, pick up Kate Geagan's Go Green Get Lean; Trim Your Waistline with the Ultimate Low Carbon Footprint Diet.

Here is the thing about Kate. I know her personally and she is as dedicated about helping you get lean the green way as she is about about keeping the earth healthy for the future of her kids-and yours. Her rhetoric is fresh, interesting and applicable to anyone wanting to lose a few pounds while taking their life long turn at going green.

I love her recipes-each of which she created herself. Check out her One-Minute Artichoke and White Bean Hummus recipe:

One Minute Artichoke and White Bean Hummus
1 14.5 ounce can artichoke hearts packed in water, drained
1 15 oz. can white beans (or cannellini or navy beans), rinsed and drained
1 clove garlic
¼ tsp salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
squeeze of fresh lemon wedge (about ¼ lemon)

1. Place all ingredients into a food processor.
2. Puree until smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings. Serve with veggie stix or whole
grain crackers.

Her website (where I lifted the above recipe-its okay-she said I could) is full of tips and ideas for the novice green eater to the advanced. Check it out at Sign up for her newsletter, too and tell her I sent you!

Find the book at

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Chef Tyler Florence...ooh la la! Oh! and his line of organic baby food, Sprout

From the Central Market press release:


Florence to appear in Plano on Tuesday, March 17

A Food Network star and a father of 3, Tyler Florence is debuting his new line of organic and delicious baby food throughout Texas in partnership with Central Market.

Sprout Baby Food is a line of healthy, organic and ecologically packaged foods with recipes developed by the chef, giving babies the nutrition they need and the taste they deserve.

Florence will be appearing at the CENTRAL MARKET in Plano, located at the northeast corner of Coit Road and Highway 190, on Tuesday, March 17 from 3.30 – 5 pm.

Shoppers are invited to meet Tyler, taste Sprout Baby Foods, enter into drawings for chances to win baskets overflowing with baby goodies and have a copy of Tyler’s latest cookbook signed if they would like. Tickets are free and available to the public at the store’s INFO DESK or by calling (469) 241.8300 and asking to be put on the list.

Florence will talk with consumers about the company and its revolutionary packaging – a resealable pouch that uses less fossil fuel in manufacturing and transportation than traditional glass or plastic packaging. The package allows Sprout to better preserve all the natural flavors and nutrients inside – and with chef-developed flavors like Roasted Banana & Brown Rice, Baked Sweet Potatoes & White Beans, and Sweet Baby Carrots, Apples & Mango, babies will want every drop.

Sprout was founded by Tyler Florence and Max MacKenzie. Sprout baby foods are exclusively available now at HEB and Central Market stores in Texas. For additional information on Sprout, and the 18 different product offerings, please visit

Oh, I will be there. Believe me. I will be there.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Once In Love With Amy

Yesterday was my first taste of the goodness that is Amy's Natural Foods. Hard to believe that I've never tasted it before-wait, I take that back. Amy's was at a food show I attended several years back. They were serving up their delicious pizza and creating long, annyoning lines of people waiting to wolf down their mini slice of the good stuff.

I digress. It was a cold and rainy day yesterday and I had 2 big deadlines I had to meet. Lunch rolled around and the Amy's Tamale Verde with Black Bean frozen meal was calling my name. Purchased the day before, I had my eye on it and knew that it would be consumed in short's work related research, you know. Many a friend and colleague had waxed on about the deliciousness of the Amy's brand. Now I know why. These people know how to do frozen food.

My Tamale Verde was plump full of whole black beans and actually identifiable niblets of corn. The masa on the tamale was moist and substantial and the rice-which is something I usually do not eat-was tasty with the appropriate amount of spice and flavor. I was satisfied after I ate it (at 1:00pm) and stayed that way until about 4:30 when an orange called my name. This tells me that it had the right amount of calories, protein, carbs and fat for my body's needs.

The folks at Amy's have been doing this for years. Their products are all natural, organic, trans fat free and made with fresh ingredients. Over 50% of their ingredients are grown within a 200 mile radius of their "kitchen". They cater to those who are vegan, gluten-free, dairy free and lactose free as well as sodium restricted. Click here for more info on their comprehensive website. (

The Enchiladas with Vegetables and Black Beans is still in freezer..but not for long.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Waste Not, Want Not

It was called a Plate Waste Study in school. We had to stand at the garbage cans at our cafeteria and literally count the % of the items of food on each plate that had been consumed. It was done mostly as a food costing experiment-in other words, how much money turned into garbage after each meal.

Today, the plate waste study is being done virtually everywhere food is served today. Only now, it's become a necessity in the ongoing effort to be frugal with our food dollars. The website states that "Americans waste more than 40 percent of the food we produce for consumption. That comes at an annual cost of more than $100 billion." We know that our food costs are on the rise with no end in the near future. More people today are frugal at the store--cutting coupons, cooking at home and looking for deals. One deal we need to look at more closely is the one that could be in our trash can.

Jonathan Bloom, creator and chief waste official of created the site in response to his journalistic research on the topic. This site is a mecca for those of you who want refuse to acknowledge how much A. you throw away on a daily basis and B. others throw away on a daily basis. I will warn you, some of the pictures are enough to make your stomach turn--both of of disgust at the actual foodstuffs in the photos and the sheer amount of food that is wasted on a daily basis.

Bloom also offers an enlightening blog as well as ways to stop the waste. Trayless cafeterias lead the way in schools and universities and tips from regular ole consumers have their own tab on the site. Suggestions from passionate non-wasters include saving food bits and collecting them in the fridge/freezer for future dishes (i.e. leftover veggies turned into soups), collecting the last drops of wine in the wine bottle for future dishes, rehydrating "wobbly" vegetables, braising tired lettuce, etc.

This site forced me to take a look at what food I personally wasted yesterday. Luckily, it was a non-wasted food day. However, it forced me to take a serious look at how I treat food after consumption. It's was an eye opening experience-considering how many people in the US go without food on a daily basis and how much my food dollar is forced to be stretched these days. Take some time on this site. The wake up call potential is enormous.


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Monday, March 9, 2009

Are You a Food Voyeur?

For some reason, people love to know what others eat.

Know anyone like that? You do now.

I am always asking people what they had for lunch, what's for dinner, where did they eat out, what did they order...and so on. Oh, I'm also the one to ask nearby diners what they ordered when their food arrives at the table or ask the waiter "what's on her plate? The blond-two tables over".

I, however, chalk it up to research.

For you other food voyeurs, here's a glimpse into what I had for lunch today.

Lunch Today

Mixed greens ( a lot)
Leftover sauteed onions (about 1/3 cup)
Raw mushrooms (about 5, sliced)
Tomatoes (1 1/2 whole)
leftover guacamole (about 1/3 cup)
Ken's Lighthouse Caesar Dressing (2 T)

Exciting? Not really. Filling, tasty, satisfying and a good way to use up leftovers? Yes. The only thing missing was protein, although the fiber in the salad is doing its job and keeping me full. I'll incorporate protein into my snack this afternoon...I'm thinking Babybel Light cheese and some Triscuits.

Want to know what I ate for dinner? Stay tuned.....


Thursday, March 5, 2009

Cheap Eats from Clara

Are you looking to cut costs at the grocery store? In these Depression-esqe times, take a que from Clara, the 93 year old cook who is as savvy as it gets when it comes to pinching pennies. Thanks, Clara, for sharing your wisdom with those of us who only read about your plight in history books.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

LV's Turkey Meatloaf with Sun Dried Tomatoes and Basil

I had a hankering for Turkey Meatloaf today but no recipe. Where did I turn? Facebook of course! Many thanks to Laura, Allison and Marcy for coming to my rescue. I happily have a bevy of recipes to chose from for the next time a turkey meatloaf (or meatballs) craving strikes.

Tonight, I tried Chef Laura Vella's Turkey Meatloaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Basil. It was easy and delish. Note where I made my substitutions.

Turkey Meat Loaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes & Basil
1 1/2 T Olive oil
2 Eggs
1 lg Onion; chopped
2 t basil, chopped ( I used 1 teaspoon, dried)
3 each Green onions (include whites) chopped
1 t Dried oregano
1 1/2 lb Ground turkey ( I used 1 1/4 pounds)
2 t Salt
1 1/2 c Fresh breadcrumbs ( I used leftover croutons, finely ground)
2 t Ground pepper
2/3 c Chopped drained oil-packed sun dried tomatoes ( I used "dried" sun dried tomatoes)
Ketchup as topping-optional
1/2 c Milk or Red Wine ( I used low fat soy milk)

Instructions for Turkey Meat Loaf with Sun-Dried Tomatoes:
• Preheat oven to 375F.
• Grease 9x5x3-inch glass loaf pan.
• Heat oil in heavy medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion; saute 5 minutes.
• Add green onions; saute until vegetables are very tender, about 5-7 minutes longer. (can be made ahead and refrigerated)
• Transfer to large bowl.
• In separate bowl, whisk eggs and milk together. (if using wine, no need to mix)
• Add all remaining ingredients except ketchup to vegetables in bowl. Mix thoroughly.
• Transfer to prepared pan. Bake 1 hour.
• Brush with ketchup and bake until thermometer inserted into center registers 165F, about 15 minutes longer. Cool 5 minutes. Slice and serve. 6 servings

Made simple baked potatoes as a side. Winner dinner for certain!

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

The Octo-Butters

People are missing their peanuts.

While not all peanut and peanut products have been recalled, many people are experiencing the peanut moratorium. No need to suffer though-let's look at the alternatives!

Any nut can become a butter. Check out the photo to the left. Nut butters are a terrific source of plant protein, heart healthy fats and rank high in the vitamins and mineral departments. Cashew butter, for example, is a great source of folate, magnesium, potassium, Vitamin K and calcium. Creamy and satisfying, nut butters do carry the same caution as peanut butter--if calories are a concern, be warned. The aforementioned cashew butter is 94 calories per tablespoon and 8 grams of fat.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as of February 19, 654 people in 44 states had been sickened by Salmonella Typhimurium, with the most recent reported illness on Feb. 3. There have also been nine deaths in five states linked to the outbreak. Be sure to check the Peanut Product Recall List frequently at to see if your favorite peanut butter product is listed. Remember your energy bar may be on there as well.

What nut butter are you enjoying these days? Gotta recipe to share?

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Monday, March 2, 2009

Where do YOU get YOUR nutrition information?

March is National Nutrition Month. Sure, I could list a slew of common nutrition tid bids such as healthy snacking, feeding a picky eater, mercury in fish, how to cut 1o0 calories a day, etc. etc. But, I want to know-what do YOU want to know?

Clearly, people are getting their nutrition information from the Internet and I'd like to do my part to make sure that the information you are getting is credible, reliable and science based information. As a point of reference, someone sent me information today on the burrito diet. Yep, the burrito diet. I could even be a distributor for the burrito diet and make thousands each month.....

A 2009 study from the National Grocers Association Consumer Panel Survey, conducted by, found that when consumers were asked where they learn about nutrition issues on a regular basis, the top source was...drum roll please......

The Internet (70%)

Following that were:
Friends and Family-31%
Doctors 24%

Consumers were also asked which sources they TRUSTED the most.
Again, the Internet ranked highest at 26%
Followed by:
Doctors 17%
tied with
Magazines 12%
Friends and Family 8%
Books 6%
Newspapers 5%
Grocery stores 3%
Other 4%
Online Communities 3%

Certainly, some of the information people get from the internet is credible, science based, reliable information. Dietitians are interviewed daily for TV shows, articles, blogs, podcasts, news stories, consumer and professional publications and books. Many dietitians have their own websites, blogs, podcasts, books and have substantial internet followings as well.

Folks, let me just ask you this---does your mom, dad, brother, aunt, niece, sister, mother-in law or grandfather have this education to support their nutrition recommendations?

Registered dietitians (RDs) are food and nutrition experts who have met the following criteria to earn the RD credential:

  • Complete a minimum of a bachelor's degree at a U.S. regionally accredited university or college and course work approved by the Commission on Accreditation for Dietetics Education (CADE) of the American Dietetic Association (ADA).
  • Complete a CADE-accredited supervised practice program at a healthcare facility, community agency, or a foodservice corporation, or combined with undergraduate or graduate studies. Typically, a practice program will run six to twelve months in length.
  • Pass a national examination administered by the Commission on Dietetic Registration (CDR).
  • Complete continuing professional educational requirements to maintain registration.

Some RDs hold additional certifications in specialized areas of practice, such as pediatric or renal nutrition, nutrition support, and diabetes education. These certifications are awarded through CDR, the credentialing agency for ADA, and/or other medical and nutrition organizations and are recognized within the profession, but are not required.

In addition to RD credentialing, many states have regulatory laws for dietitians and nutrition practitioners. Frequently these state requirements are met through the same education and training required to become an RD.

For YOUR health and well being, its imperative that the sources you go to for nutrition are from credible, reliable and science based sources. If you need help finding that, let me know and I will find you the information you need from a vast array of nutrition professionals from around the country. Go to to find a dietitian in your area.

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

For the Love of the Tot

I mean really, is there ANYONE you know who does not overtly covet (or covertly) the Tater Tot? Such a food memory does this bring to makes me happy just to think about them. Healthy? Not so much. (just look at the label. I won't ruin it for you here) Tasty? Oh yes. This once in a while treat must be accented with (more) salt and a good dollop of ketchup. Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine using the Tot as an ingredient in recipe. These delicious morsels are meant to be enjoyed on their own. One-at-a-time. No forks allowed. Only fingers.

The Ore-Ida website offers mini Tater-Tots as well as onion Tater-Tot varieties. Me? I stick to the pure, unadulterated original. They also list a recipe (gulp) for something called Tater Tots Tuna Pie.

Tater Tots Tuna Pie
1/2 cup frozen Ore-Ida® Chopped Onions
1 cup sliced celery
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
3 tablespoons flour
1.25 cups milk (use reduced fat or skim to make it healthier)
chicken bouillon cubes crumbled
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon dill weed
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1 (7 ounce) can solid pack tuna , drained (packed in water for a healthier version)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
4 cups frozen Ore-Ida TATER TOTS®*

Preheat oven to 400ºF. In medium frying pan, sauté onions and celery lightly in melted butter. Stir in flour. Gradually blend in milk. Add bouillon cubes, salt, pepper, and dill weed. Cook over medium heat, stirring, until sauce boils and thickens. Stir in lemon juice. Fold crumbled tuna into sauce along with frozen vegetables. Turn into shallow 1.5 quart baking dish. Arrange TATER TOTS® over top. Bake 25 minutes or until TATER TOTS® are thoroughly heated.

Tell me, how do you take YOUR Tots?