Tips for Back to School

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…I know there are millions of parents out there feeling the exact same way I do. Why? It’s that time of year again, time for those kids to head back to school. In some parts of the country, school has been in session for several weeks already. Some even started the end of July.

College students, though aren’t quite so fortunate. The average start date across the nation is late August. Right now there are many college students buying bedding, laptops, and other electronic devices and accessories. Here’s a few tips for those headed back to class soon.

  1. 41oiFXyshXL._AC_UL480_SR480,480_Stay Motivated: It’s hard to stay motivated to study or go to class when the memories of Summer are still on the surface. Who wants to be stuck in a class room when the sun is shining outside and the thoughts of the pool are beckoning? How do you stay motivated? Here are a few suggestions. Use fun flags to mark the important items for tests or papers. These are super cute and you can find them on Amazon.Another great way is to make your notes look pretty with different colored pens and highlighters. Change colors every 10-20 minutes, or as your focus/topic changes. You’ll start to see a difference and it will make you want to study those pretty notes.
  1. organizedBe Organized: Organization is one of the best ways to get your act together and keep it together the whole semester. There are literally a ton of planners and organizational tools on the market right now. If you choose to start being a more organized person when heading to college this year, start with a planner. Get one that has plenty of room for keeping track of your activities. Write down the dates/times for those study groups, keep your goals in one place, and color code important items.
  1. college-sleepGet enough sleep. This is when you rest and recharge your body and brain. Something we all need. Late night study sessions…or parties…aren’t great for when you have class at 8 am.
  1. Resources: Know what resources are available to you and how to access them. I’m not talking about just the library and tutoring. You should have online access at this point, so don’t forget about the resources there…possible books (free?), local maps, check for discounts for being a student, transportation, and other opportunities available to you as a student. Don’t be afraid to ask.
  1. Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com, prefect for college kids
    Meals for One from MagicKitchen.com

    Food: You need some…make it healthy. The Freshman 15 (15 pounds added your Freshman year) are REAL! Parents of new Freshmen – (ok, even Seniors) we want to make sure our kids eat healthy. They will always be our kids, right? What better way for them to kick off the new school year than with a send off gift they can really appreciate? I’m not talking about a new laptop or cell phone. I mean healthy meals, delivered right to their apartment or dorm rooms. None of us want to see our kids spending either their hard earned money (or ours) on fast food. They need to eat much healthier than that in order to be able to soak up all the information they will be getting during the semester. So do them a favor and make sure they have a few healthy, “brain food” meals for the week.

Good luck this year to all college students, near and far. I wish you a happy, safe, and productive year!

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5 Food Myths Busted and/or Debunked (Your Choice)

I’ve never understood the use of “busted” and “debunked” when referring to the process of proving a previously held belief (myth) to be false.  In my youth, “busted” meant being caught by some authority figure in an act of wrongdoing, such as placing 47 “for sale” signs in the yard of a “friend” in the middle of the night while being observed by said friend’s neighbor who happened to be a local police officer.  And “debunked” sounds like the act of exiting a bunk bed, as in “When her boyfriend burst in I debunked in world record time.”…but that’s another story for another time.

Fresh produce is healthier than frozen.

wiltedActually, depending upon how long the produce has been sitting around, the exact opposite is true.  As fruits and veggies age, in a warehouse, the produce section, or in your fridge, their sugar content increases as their nutritional content declines.  So long as they are frozen soon after they’re picked, frozen veggies and fruits can actually have MORE nutritional value than those that have been languishing for days or weeks prior to being consumed.

Eggs, especially the yolks, are bad for you.

eggsActually, people have climbed out of their bunks (see: debunked above) on this one years ago.  Yes, egg yolks are high in cholesterol, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re going to raise your blood cholesterol levels.  Well, let me re-phrase that…studies have shown that eggs actually raise the levels of your “good” cholesterol (HDL).  They also are low in calories at around 75 and high in protein (6-8 grams).  They also contain essential amino acids as well as lutein and zeaxanthin which promote eye health, and choline which supports brain health.  So next time, go crazy and use the whole egg when making your omelet.

Oranges are the best source of vitamin C.

strawberriesLook, I’m not saying oranges aren’t a great source of vitamin C.  However, there are other, lower-calorie sources of this essential vitamin that we can’t store or produce and that supports our immune system and helps build collagen for healthier skin.  An average sized orange gives us 70 micrograms of vitamin C with 70 calories that tag along for the ride.  Compare that to these other sources that provide the same amount of vitamin C:  1 cup of Brussel sprouts (I know, they taste horrible and I cursed the Belgian city that they’re named after every time I was forced to eat them) at 40 calories; 7 strawberries at 40 calories; ½ stalk of broccoli at 25 calories; and ½ a red bell pepper at 20 calories.

Meat is bad.

brisket-saucedThis broad myth simply needs a qualifier: processed meat is bad.  Pork, beef and lamb offer complete proteins, as well as vitamin B12 which helps us build red blood cells and promotes healthy brain activity.  Studies have recently found that unprocessed lean cuts of meat present zero risk of heart disease or diabetes and in no way increase your risk of kidney disease unless you have a pre-existing condition.  So, to sum up, avoid processed meats, such as bacon, sausage, Slim Jims and deli meats such as bologna…my bologna has a first name…I’d never be able to spell it without that kid.  And consume lean cuts of meat such as eye of round and top sirloin (I dub thee Sir Loin of Beefshire) cuts of beef and pork tenderloin or loin chops.

Different types of alcohol cause a different type of “drunk.”

I swore off Southern Comfort way back in 1988 due to the fact that every time I consumed it I lost my mind (and memory) and usually woke up in a strange place with a strange person (or people) the next morning.  I was convinced that these varied humiliations had to do with neither the amount I consumed, nor the rate at which I consumed it.  It was simply the fact (myth) that Southern Comfort “…was some wicked stuff.”

As a former member of the United Kingdom’s Medical Council on Alcohol, Dr. Guy Ratcliffe, recently stated, “The effects of alcohol are similar, whichever form they come in.  Any difference is dependent on the rate at which it is drunk and the amount.”  Yes, by volume tequila contains more alcohol than red wine, but at crucial times we tend to forget that…usually to our lasting detriment.

So, don’t feel guilty about feeding frozen veggies to your kids, eat a yolk for God’s sake, realize there are other sources of vitamin C, enjoy some unprocessed red meat, and come to understand that the over indulgence of tequila or that fruity chardonnay can both cause you to awaken in a strange bath tub with all your clothes on backwards…but that’s another story for another time.

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Tomorrow is National Left-Handers Day!

Here are 5 Kitchen Tools for Left-handers

Are you a southpaw? Don’t you wish companies would take Left-handers into consideration when producing kitchen tools? Well, it looks like some have started doing just that. Some of the gadgets look pretty intriguing. The holidays are just around the corner, so making sure you have the proper tools to make your family meals easier for you to cook, is vital for kitchen success. in order to assist you a bit, here’s a list of some incredibly useful tools, toys, and gadgets – made especially for the southpaws.

  1.  4 Piece Bamboo Utensil Set – This set is from Lefty’s The Left Hand Store. I love using bamboo utensils. They are elegant and strong at the same time. There aren’t many things you can say that about. This set is specifically designed for the lefty. The ends are angled to have an ergonomic fit, making cooking easier on the hands. This set includes: 14″ Slotted Spatula, 14-1/2″ Pot-Sitter, 15″ Wok Tool, and 13″ Stir Spoon.
  2. LH Salt_Pepper  I couldn’t pass this one up. Everyone needs a salt and pepper shaker. Lefty’s has this quirky left hand that serves as a pepper mill and salt shaker. I know its not possible for these things to be specifically designated left or right handed. It’s just not every day that you see someone using a hand to season their food!
  3.  minnowHanging on for a moment longer to the odd and quirky gadgets for southpaws, I found a minnow cork screw. Yes, I said minnow. The fin even has a function. This little fish corkscrew will make opening a bottle of wine a pleasure.
  4.  Can openers…two words that used to send a left-hander running out of the kitchen pulling their hair out and screaming. Finally, there are several companies that make opening cans for southpaws a breeze. Check this one out here.
  5.  Some veggies just need to be peeled. Some fruits just need to be peeled. Now the left-handed community can do so in sheer comfort. This peeler has 3 different positions so your creative mind can peel as you please. They include vertical, horizontal, and one at a 45 degree angle.

Since I’m a right handed girl, I may have over looked an important tool that you use in the kitchen. If I did, let me know in the comments. Another thing I would love to learn about is the left handed knives. Do you use those or knives made to be ambidextrous? The comments below are open.

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The Solution for Those Who Hate Cooking in Summer

fireinpanThere’s a reason two of the more popular kitchen clichés involve the word “heat” (“If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen” and “That’s taking the heat out of a hot kitchen”).  And that reason is because it can get frickin’ hot in the kitchen, especially during the summer months.

Think about it…it’s 90 degrees out there with 87% humidity and you’ve got the stove cranking at 425° and two boiling pots going on the stovetop.  That combination tends to cause one to sweat their (fill in the blank) off!  The grill does offer a solution, but there’s only so much grilled meat, seafood, and veggies one can eat.  The solution, obviously, is to have some cooked meals delivered to your home via the magic of MagicKitchen.com.

Lasagna without using the oven!
Lasagna without using the oven!

Every so often, during the summer months, wouldn’t it be nice to have a delicious, non-grilled meal, already cooked, waiting for you and your family in the freezer?  You bet your a$$ it would!  No marinating, no firing up the grill or oven, no prep work, no time spent cooking in a kitchen that doubles as a sauna in summer, no worrying about over or under cooking the entrée…the “no” list goes on and on.

Beef Pot Roast dinner, just heat in microwave.
Beef Pot Roast dinner, just heat in microwave.

The only work required by you is to simply place your pre-prepared and cooked meals in the non-heat producing microwave, watch it spin for a few minutes, and then present the meal in a pleasing manner to friends and/or family.  You can then, if you so desire, simply brush off all the praise heaped upon you for spending so much time and effort in a hot kitchen to prepare such an awesome meal…or you could simply tell them our little secret… cooked meals delivered from MagicKitchen.com

Custless Spinach Quiche
Crustless Spinach Quiche

MagicKitchen offers quite a variety of foods not usually eaten during summer, but are still missed none-the-less.  Sure, August is a great time for summer salads and grilled salmon, but there’s only so many summer salads and grilled cuts of fish one person can eat.  How about a nice change of pace with an appetizing Stuffed Peppers with Marinara Sauce, or Chicken Marsala, or crab cakes, or lasagna, or crustless spinach quiche?  And best of all, they come right to your door, frozen and ready to enjoy after a few minutes in the microwave.  Simply check out MagicKitchen.com’s extensive cooked meals delivered menu, select what appeals to you and then wait for the FedEx truck to deliver your delectable dinners all while not sweating your (fill in the blank with a different body part from the first fill in the blank) in a tropical kitchen!

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Chef Francesco’s Secrets

soups
MagicKitchen.com Soups, Unbelievably Good.

If you are familiar with the, now defunct, classic television series Seinfeld, then you are familiar with one of the most beloved and hilarious single episode characters known only as the “Soup Nazi” (the Soup Nazi’s name was later revealed to be Yev Kassem for those interested in such things).

For those of you unfamiliar with the character, he was the creator of soup that was to-die-for.  However, if you wanted to enjoy his delicious soup you were required to go through a very strict ordering process and if you broke any of the Soup Nazi’s rules, well, then…NO SOUP FOR YOU.

So what does this have to do with our own Chef Francesco and his secrets?  Well, in the episode, the character of Elaine stumbles across all the Soup Nazi’s secret recipes and makes them available to all, effectively driving the recipesSoup Nazi out of business.

Needless to say, many chefs are very protective of their recipes and Chef Francesco, who is responsible for such MagicKitchen.com classics as beef stroganoff and lemon rosemary pork, is no different.  However, since many of you have asked for (demanded?) some of our recipes, we managed to “acquire” a few of Chef Francesco’s just for you…at great risk to our own personal safety.

Unfortunately, all we managed to abscond with were two sauce recipes (marinara and lemon butter).  However, since they are such versatile sauces, maybe it was actually quite fortunate that these are the first two recipes we’re publishing.

Lemon Butter Sauce

lemonsauceIngredients

1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
3 lemons, juiced
2 Tbsp minced yellow onion
1 Tbsp minced garlic
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
salt and pepper to taste

Directions:
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a nonreactive skillet over medium-low heat.

Add the onion and garlic and cook gently, stirring often, until the onion is translucent – turn heat down if onion and garlic are browning.

Add the wine and lemon juice and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil over high heat.
Cook until the liquid is reduced to a syrupy consistency. Use the spoon test. If it coats the spoon, it is thick enough.

Whisk in the rest of the butter, in chunks, one at a time, until melted. Let each piece melt before adding another.

The sauce should be emulsified at this point. Strain through a sieve, taste and season, and serve immediately.

Makes about 1/2 cup.

Marinara Sauce

Franceso says the most important thing for a marinara sauce is the tomatoes. He uses Valoroso Pear Tomatoes , but use any quality canned Italian tomatoes.

MagicKitchen.com’s Stuffed Peppers in Chef Francesco’s Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

1⁄4 cup extra virgin olive oil
10 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 large yellow onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
a few red chili flakes
1 tsp dried oregano
2 bay leaves
3 (28 ounce) cans good quality tomatoes, blended to a thick consistency
1 cup fresh basil, coarsely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil gently in a large pan over medium-low heat. Add onion, garlic, celery and carrots and sauté until onion is translucent.

Sprinkle with chili flakes and oregano and cook 30 seconds longer. Add bay leaves, and pour tomatoes over. Stir well.

Increase heat and bring to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer, cover and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. When sauce is about halfway to being thick, add the basil and stir in well.

Strain the thickened sauce, pushing on the remains with a wooden spoon to extract all the flavor.

Use an immersion blender to make the sauce smooth, or put the sauce into a blender. Be careful with the blender; fill it no more than half way, and put a towel or pot-holder on top and hold down firmly. The hot liquid will make the lid jump!

Taste and season.

Makes about 5 cups.

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Best Summer Meal Pairings

The best thing about summer is eating easy meals. Nothing’s easier than MagicKitchen.com meals. Here’s our take on the best summer meal pairings for 2016!

    • Sliced Beef Brisket, for easy summer meals
      Sliced Beef Brisket- yummy!

      Try our sliced beef brisket, warm, on big rolls with hot mustard and coleslaw with potato salad on the side.

    • Here’s something summery: Warm our crab stuffed sole and serve with fresh-tasting barley vegetable pilaf.
    • In the mood for hearty? Try our corned beef inside toasted rye bread with sauerkraut and German mustard.
    • Grill our Bone-in Ham steaks and pair them with Scalloped Potatoes you can heat in the microwave.
    • A vegetarian option is to warm our stuffed baked potatoes as your main course, with a couple of your favorite salads.
    • Grill Bone-in Ham steaks, slice thin, and serve on corn tortillas with a pineapple salsa.
    • sliced-beef-tacoSpeaking of tacos, our Tritip or beef brisket would both be incredible inside a tortilla with some homemade pico de gallo.
    • Sliced Beef Tri-Tip Au Jus, served on a French roll, with the jus on the side. We’d serve this with oven fries and a side of coleslaw.
    • A website called It’s Yummy! has a recipe for a Reuben Salad that sounds like a perfect way to repurpose some delicious corned beef.
    • Love a lettuce wrap? So do we! Try putting out a variety of meats and veggies, with a couple of sauces, and let people help themselves. Suggestions: Beef Brisket, caramelized onions, sliced tomatoes with a smoky BBQ sauce. Or grilled prawns, rice noodles mixed with sesame oil, sliced jalapeños, and a smear of Hoisin Sauce.
Ham Steak for tacos, sandwiches and other easy meals
Bone-in Ham Steak
Ham Steak for tacos, sandwiches and other easy meals
Slow Smoked Corned Beef
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20 Easy and Healthy Summer Breakfast Ideas

Summer, of course, means more than just heat.  It also, for most of us, means a more, shall we say, relaxed pace to life.  And in this more relaxed lifestyle, we tend to sleep in a bit more whenever possible and then scramble (egg pun intended) around in the AM for breakfast…or brunch in some instances.

Well, here are 20 easy, light and healthy breakfast ideas and most do not require the use of a heat generating device, such as the stove top or oven.  We used the term “ideas” rather than “recipes” because we’d like you to experiment with the ingredients and prep methods in order to perfect them in your own, personal way.

  1. Smoothies – of any variety.  Simply combine your favorites (berries, bananas, flavored yogurt, milk, protein powder, jam, honey, etc.) and blend.
  2. Fruit pizza on a bagel – Simply spread a bit of cream cheese (but not too much…these are “healthy” ideas after all) on a whole wheat bagel and add your favorite sliced fruit.
  3. Granola, yogurt and fruit – Mix…you guessed it…granola, your favorite yogurt and fruit together in a bowl or cup and enjoy.
  4. yogurtbananaYogurt granola banana popsTake half a banana, insert a popsicle stick in the end, role it in yogurt, then granola and freeze.
  5. Muesli – aka cold oatmeal (certain types of oats need to be soaked overnight in milk) mixed with yogurt, fruit, nuts, cinnamon, orange zest, some maple syrup…simply add whatever flicks your switch.
  6. Breakfast wrap – slice some banana and pineapple, add some granola, and cottage or feta cheese and then just wrap in a tortilla…breakfast on the go.
  7. Avocado toast – thinly slice some avocado and place on lightly toasted whole wheat indexbread and add a pinch of sea salt and pepper along with some lemon juice, olive oil, strawberries, goat cheese and/or honey.
  8. Breakfast salad – cube some watermelon and mix with chopped and peeled cucumber, add some lime juice, feta cheese and a bit of chopped mint.
  9. Raspberry cheesecake bagel – Simply spread some mascarpone or cream cheese on a bagel and top with fresh raspberries.
  10. English muffin egg pizza – Hard boil some eggs ahead of time, slice or crush and place on a toasted English muffin with a tomato slice and your favorite type of shredded cheese.
  11. The “works” bagel – Toast a bagel and spread on some cream cheese.  Then add diced tomatoes, capers, red onions, and sprouts…or whatever your heart desires.
  12. Farina with apricots and almonds – Bring some farina (think Cream ‘o Wheat) to a boil with milk, let cool and top with brown sugar, diced apricots and almonds.
  13. Cottage cheese crunch – Real easy one here…just mix some granola with cottage cheese and add some of your favorite fruit…peach slices work well here.
  14. Fruit kabobs with vanilla yogurt – Cube your favorite fruit (pineapples, melons, pears, etc.) and place on kabob skewers.  Place some vanilla yogurt on the side for a dipping sauce.
  15. English muffin with burled banana and peanut butter – OK, this one requires you to fire up your broiler, but only for a few minutes.  Slice up a banana or two and sprinkle with some brown sugar.  Broil for 3-5 minutes, or until the sugar is caramelized.  Spread some peanut butter on a toasted English muffin and top with the bruleed bananas.
  16. breakfasttacoBreakfast tacos – place some sliced avocados, tomatoes, and blueberries in a soft taco shell and enjoy.
  17. Fried honey bananas – Slice up some bananas and fry in some olive oil (1-2 minutes per side), drizzle with honey and sprinkle with some cinnamon.
  18. Savory oatmeal with an egg – Take some oatmeal (duh!) and add an egg that’s been prepared over easy.  Add a pinch of salt and pepper and some shredded cheese and you’ve got your new breakfast favorite.
  19. PB+J waffle sandwich – toast some whole wheat waffles and then make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with them.
  20. Avocado toast with egg – On whole wheat toast, spread some smashed avocado, top with a fried egg (over hard works best…less mess) and finish with a pinch of sea salt and pepper.
  21.  Bonus idea – Order in any of MagicKitchen.com’s Complete Breakfast Meals,  or some of our a la carte breakfast items, like Carrot-Zucchini-Walnut Muffins, or Corn Bread Blueberry Toaster Cakes.

Hopefully you find a few of these ideas appealing to your palate, and as stated previously, don’t be afraid to substitute ingredients as you see fit…live dangerously and bon appetit!

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Amazing, Inspiring Seniors

Aging isn’t for wimps. There’s some pretty tough stuff in the pasts of most senior citizens. When those of us who aren’t already in those Golden Years get there, we too will have gone through tough times. Given those tough times, today’s seniors aren’t taking aging laying down. They are embracing the age and are becoming involved in things the elderly of the past would never have dreamed of doing! They are accomplishing goals and achieving dreams imagined decades ago.

seniors-dancingSenior Citizen “Proms”

You may not be able to turn back the clock, but you can wind it up again!
~Unknown

The month of May has been humming with excitement of the impending prom. No, I’m not necessarily talking about the junior/senior high school prom, but the senior citizen prom! These festive, romantic dances are no longer just for the senior getting ready to graduate and move on to college. Retirement communities in many areas are hosting proms for the local senior citizens. Why shouldn’t they?

Activities such as this are good for both the physical and mental health of the elderly. Even during the Golden Years it is important to maintain a fulfilling social life. Proms are perfect for encouraging new friendships as well as bringing different generations together. Many times the volunteers serving drinks and helping the physically limited seniors are actually high school students! Proms are no longer just a rite of passage for the young…the young at heart have the opportunity to experience this magical time once again.

Back to School

Asenior-schoolnyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.
~Henry Ford

A lot of senior citizens never had the opportunity to go to college for one reason or another. Right out of high school they entered the workforce or got married without continuing their education. Many are picking up the school books and going to class in person and online. They have discovered since they are now retired that they have time to get their degree.

Not only are they showing amazing strength, but they are also encouraging younger generations at the same time. Going back to school can also revitalize the memory, rouse the cognitive ability, and allow for some great socializing. All of these are vital for improving your quality of life.

Healthy Living

seniors-exercise2You must keep active, or you will just wither away. Always be involved in some activity.
~Miriam Henson

Many people in their 70’s and 80’s are adopting a healthy lifestyle. They are eating clean and exercising regularly. Some are eating vegan and look incredibly young. Fitness has become important and for many, the 70’s and 80’s can possibly be considered the new 50’s!

Working out and lifting weights tones elderly bodies just as it does for the younger generations. Physical activities such as skateboarding and sky-diving aren’t off limits to this age group. One of the most amazing and inspiring senior has to be 104 year old Robert Marchand. He continually gets on his bike and races! He holds the speed record for people his age, riding 100km in 4 hours 17 minutes 27 seconds. Pretty impressive.

gardeningMy Inspiration

Age is whatever you think it is. You are as old as you think you are.
~Muhammad Ali

Another inspiring person that has reached the Golden Years happens to be someone I know personally, my Mom. She has had a pretty tough go at things, suffering burns from a house fire in her late 30’s, moving around the country multiple times, and raising two daughters on her own.

In spite of many surgeries and medical issues, she still has the gumption to keep living life to the fullest. She will be 70 this year, and nothing seems to keep her down. She travels to multiple states to visit friends, family, and places she used to dream about. She loves to tend to her garden, growing beautiful fruits and veggies that we all reap the benefits of. None of this sounds extraordinary to begin with, but when you take into consideration her history it’s pretty astounding. I hope to be as active and full of life when I reach her age.

Do you know seniors who amaze you? Let us know!

Valerie, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Here Comes Shark Week: Your Fears can be Delicious

shark-surfThere’s a commonly held belief…rule, really… held by surfers that one should never eat shark.  It’s a karma kinda thing…why tempt fate by eating what might someday eat you out there on the waves.

However, the vast majority of us do not surf, therefore, we are in no way bound by the surfing rule regarding sharks.  And since the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week is upon us once again, we thought this week would be the perfect time to confront your fear of the ocean’s greatest predator head on…with your teeth, in fact.

So, as you violate Bruce’s (the great white from Finding Nemo) rule of “Fish are friends, not food,” there is one important rule that we would like you to follow.  And that rule is when you’re in search of the shark for your Shark Week viewing party, ensure that it’s a sustainable species as the horrible practices of shark finning and factory fishing have decimated many species of sharks.

makoThe Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program recommends the spiny dogfish shark from California, Oregon or Washington or the common thresher or smallfin mako sharks from California or Hawaii.

If you’ve never eaten shark, most find it lean, mild and meaty.  It tends to be denser than tuna or swordfish and doesn’t flake as easily.  Most recipes call for the meat to be marinated prior to cooking to add some flavor, tenderness and to prevent dryness.  As one might expect, steak is the most common and easiest way to prepare shark.  So we thought we’d give you two variations on this method: shark tacos and shark kabobs.

Shark Tacos

 Marinade

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tbsp. ground turmeric
  • ½ tbsp. crushed mustard seed
  • ½ tbsp. minced ginger
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1-2 tbsp. chopped cilantro
  • Cracked black pepper and sea salt
  • 1 lb. shark steaks, 1 inch thick
  • 8 flour tortillas
  • 1 cup finely shredded cabbage tossed with 1 tbsp. chopped cilantro and a pinch of sea salt
  • Tomatillo salsa (either prepared or purchased)
  • sriracha

Mix the marinade ingredients together in a shallow bowl, sprinkle steaks with sea salt and marinade for 20 minutes.
Grill, broil, or pan fry the shark steaks until they flake easily with a fork, usually 5-6 minutes for each side.  Roughly flake steaks with a fork.

To serve: placed flaked shark meat in warm tortillas and top with cabbage, chilled salsa and sriracha.

Shark Kebabs

Marinade

  • ½ cup rice wine
  • Lemon juice
  • ¼ tsp ground ginger
  • 3 tbsp. peanut oil
  • ½ cup dry sherry
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 ½ lbs. shark steaks cut into 1 x 1 inch squares.
  • Large mushrooms
  • Onion wedges
  • Red and yellow pepper wedges
  • Bamboo skewers

shark-kebabsMix marinade ingredients in a bowl large enough to hold shark meat and allow to marinade for two hours in refrigerator.

Alternate meat, onions, mushrooms and peppers on kabob skewers and grill or broil 10-15 minutes while marinating liberally and often with remaining marinade sauce while rotating a quarter turn every 3 minutes or so.  Shark meat should fake easily with fork when fully cooked.

Kabobs can be served on a bed of rice of your choosing.

Tbruce-sharkhus you can see, there’s no need to get a bigger boat, fish CAN be food rather than friends, and unless you plan on carving up a wave any time soon you can certainly enjoy some shark without the fear of the roles being reversed.  So fire up the grill and enjoy!

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Why Isn’t Dad Eating? Senior’s Changing Nutritional Needs

elderly-handsIt is estimated that there are over 3.7 million malnourished seniors living in the United States at the current time and even more with various vitamin deficiencies. The reasons for this are varied and range from loss of appetite due to medications to depression to dental issues.

Whatever the cause, not eating properly as we age can become more serious due to the changing nutritional needs of seniors. Thus, determining exactly why the seniors in your life aren’t eating properly as well as knowing what they SHOULD be eating can go a long way to getting them back on the road to proper nutrition.

lemon-herbsAs we age, we suffer from (among other things) appetite loss due to diminished taste buds and sense of smell. Add to those two causes the side effect of loss of appetite from medication and it’s easy to understand why some seniors have lost the interest they once possessed in food.  One way to combat this is cooking with lemon juice, vinegar and different herbs rather than butter and/or salt. These tastes will often be discerned where more subtle ones won’t.

depressed-senior-manSome seniors tire of cooking for one and eating alone and, therefore, do less of it. Depression, especially after the loss of a loved one, can also cause many seniors to eat less. Finally, dental issues, such as tooth loss and the pain associated with it or ill-fitting dentures can be the reason some seniors avoid eating certain foods.

Now, once you’ve figured out why the senior(s) in your life aren’t eating the way they should, the next task is to determine what they need to be consuming to meet their unique nutritional needs. Generally speaking, a proper diet can aid in preventing or treating heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, osteoporosis, constipation and certain forms of cancer.

Essentially, just about everything seniors eat should provide some nutritional value…no empty calories! Of course we all immediately think of fruits and veggies, but there’s one simple rule to remember: when it comes to fruits and veggies think “color.” Yes, color. There’s a reason they come in a variety of hues. Their color is derived from the fact that they’re packed with a variety of vitamins and antioxidants. So don’t just think leafy greens, think yellow peppers, orange carrots, red raspberries, blueberries, red apples, white asparagus, and blackberries. It’s a simple way to ensure seniors get a variety of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants.

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Lean Roast Turkey from MagicKitchen.com
Lean Roast Turkey from MagicKitchen.com

Also, seniors need plenty of lean protein, vitamin D and calcium from varied sources such as seafood, poultry, legumes, nuts and fat-free or reduced fat dairy, while avoiding red meats and fried foods. They also require plenty of whole grains (think quinoa, brown rice, popcorn) and fiber (which can be derived from fruits and veggies) and they should stay away from trans and saturated fats as well as sodium. Just remember, when it comes to eating, food consumed by seniors should provide nutritional value. If it doesn’t, they shouldn’t eat it. (Although an occasional piece of dark chocolate wouldn’t go amiss.)

MagicKitchen.com provides Senior Meal Plans and individual senior meals, so if you’re worried about your older parents eating right, visit us.  Order a la carte or see our complete meals. Either one provides good nutrition and great taste, wrapped up in a convenient package.

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