Monthly Archives: July 2010

Gift Ideas for Grandparents Day

The impetus for a National Grandparents Day originated with Marian McQuade, a housewife in Fayette County, West Virginia. Her primary motivation was to champion the cause of lonely elderly in nursing homes. She also hoped to persuade grandchildren to tap the wisdom and heritage their grandparents could provide. President Jimmy Carter, in 1978, proclaimed that National Grandparents Day would be celebrated every year on the first Sunday after Labor Day.
When is Grandparents Day?
In 2010, Grandparents Day falls on Sept. 12th

Seniors  typically don’t eat as well as they used to. They lose interest in cooking, and if they live by themselves, cooking for one seems like too much of a chore.  If you are caring for a parent that lives far away, MagicKitchen.com chefs have created delicious prepared Senior Meals designed for today’s healthy senior lifestyle. MagicKitchen.com offers fresh, delicious prepared meals cooked by our chefs, with the unbeatable convenience of home meal delivery. Save time without sacrificing taste.

If your grandparent resides in a senior’s facility, they will welcome a change of dietary pace, and most of MagicKitchen.com’s meals can be heated in a microwave.  They would only need room in a freezer to store the meals. What could be easier than sending your grandparent our Senior’s Bundle:

  • Vegetable Stew, Cornbread Blueberry Toaster Cakes
  • Steak Soup, Potato & Cheese Pierogies
  • Vegetable Lasagna
  • Beef Bordelaise, Magic Mashed Potatoes, Brussels Sprouts with Bacon
  • Deep Dish Chicken Pot Pie

Desserts

  • Apple Pie
  • Carrot Cake

Looking for something to keep the kids busy while you’re visiting with grandma? How about the Doodlebook photo frame? This 4 x 6 photo frame is also an 80-page sketching pad. Budding artists and doodlers can draw all over the frame and then tear off the top sheet to create a new artwork.

Here’s an idea for a super-personalized gift- plak your poem (http://plakyourpoem.com/).  Write your own poem or select one of theirs, put it on one of their beautiful backgrounds, then let them mount it and laminate it.

How about a fun fishing photo frame for grandpa?  They say, “We will personalize our exclusive Hooked On You© Personalized Frame design with any name or title you choose along with each of his fishing buddies’ first names.”

Whatever you decide on, don’t forget to celebrate Grandparents Day! Without them, you wouldn’t be here, and you certainly wouldn’t be the person you are!

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Interview with a Chef

Francesco Avella has been cooking all his life.

He grew up in Naples, Italy surrounded by the bounties of the garden and the sea. For the last 20 years, however, he has been an Executive Chef running a commercial kitchen in the greater San Francisco area. In this interview, he talks about his culinary inspirations, and his passion for creating foods that fit the needs of the MagicKitchen.com customer.

What started your love for cooking?
I have been around food all my life. As a young man I was in love with my father’s home cooking. After school, I was right there in the kitchen with him trying to help, but the most he let me do was peel potatoes or slice carrots or onions. My reward at the end, though, was to taste the finished meal. I still believe that home cooking is the best.

Why do you enjoy working with MagicKitchen.com?
I love being part of a great company startup, seeing it grow and feeling proud of being part of it. I believe in using the best ingredients and putting them together and creating great dishes under no pressure is a great accomplishment.

People are becoming more familiar with how restaurant chefs lives their daily lives, but probably don’t know as much about a commercial chef. What are some of the differences?
There’s a big difference between a restaurant chef and a commercial chef. Restaurant chefs cook and serve the food right away while it is still hot. My job is to create and prepare dishes that have to be reheated in the microwave or the oven and while still preserving the freshness and the flavor. My MagicKitchen.com dishes require a lot of preparation and tasting in order to come up with the right texture and freshness. It takes a lot of patience!

What ingredients do you love to work with?
The ingredients that I like to work with are mainly vegetables and seafood; obviously, because it reminds me of home.

What are some of the dishes you’ve created that are the most popular, or that you’re the most proud of?
I feel proud of my eggplant parmigiano, because it’s a recipe from home and we do it a little differently than most cooks. Also it is one of MagicKitchen.com’s top selling products. Typically when you cut basil, it turns black pretty quickly. So instead we create a basil pesto that we stir into the tomato sauce. You get a great basil flavor, and a good color. Also, we don’t bread the eggplant – just use egg and flour, fry it lightly in canola oil, and drain it well so it’s not oily at all. It’s time consuming and more costly this way, but we really want to create a flavor that lets the customer knows that a lot of time and care went into preparing the dish – even though it takes only a few minutes to heat it up!

Any memorable mistakes in the kitchen? Or a dish that didn’t quite work out?
Yes! I’ve made many mistakes in my cooking; sometimes to the point where I feel like giving it up all together. But my love for cooking always returns and there are always new challenges to come up with the best products.
In this business, you have to think about not only how you’re going to cook the ingredients, but how they’ll reheat as well. Water is the enemy of freezing and reheating food! For example, with vegetables that contain a lot of water like mushrooms and zucchini, we bake them with a little olive oil and garlic to get out the water. We also use a lot of crunchier vegetables like broccoli, cauliflower and carrots because they don’t have as much water. The same goes with sauces – we test our sauces many times so that they’ll reheat at the right consistency.

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Tips for Reducing Bad Cholesterol

There are two types of cholesterol. If you’ve been told you have high cholesterol, it usually means you have more of the bad type and less of the good type. This may put you at higher risk of having a heart attack or a stroke.

So what is a high level ? It is generally accepted that a total cholesterol level of over 200mg may cause problems in your cardio vascular system.

Low-density lipoprotein, or LDL, is known as bad cholesterol.

High-density lipoprotein, or HDL, is known as good cholesterol.

If excessive LDL cholesterol circulates in the blood, it will slowly build up in the inner walls of the arteries that feed the heart and brain. This, together with other substances can form plaque, a thick, hard deposit that narrows the arteries and makes them less flexible. Plaque narrows the coronary arteries and reduces blood flow to your heart muscle. It also makes it more likely that blood clots will form in your arteries. Blood clots can partially or completely block blood flow.

HDL cholesterol, or “good” cholesterol, appears to scour the walls of blood vessels, cleaning out excess cholesterol. It then carries that excess cholesterol — which otherwise might have been used to make the “plaques” that cause coronary artery disease — back to the liver for processing.

So: Lower LDL + Higher HDL= GOOD HEALTH!!

There are five food types that will help you lower your bad cholesterol, as explained by the Mayo Clinic:

1. Oatmeal, oat bran and high-fiber foods

Oatmeal contains soluble fiber, which reduces your low-density lipoprotein (LDL), the “bad” cholesterol. Soluble fiber is also found in such foods as kidney beans, apples, pears, barley and prunes.

2. Fish and omega-3 fatty acids

Eating fatty fish can be heart-healthy because of its high levels of omega-3 fatty acids, which can reduce your blood pressure and risk of developing blood clots. In people who have already had heart attacks, fish oil — or omega-3 fatty acids — reduces the risk of sudden death.

Doctors recommend eating at least two servings of fish a week. The highest levels of omega-3 fatty acids are in:

  • Mackerel
  • Lake trout
  • Herring
  • Sardines
  • Albacore tuna
  • Salmon
  • Halibut

You should bake or grill the fish to avoid adding unhealthy fats.

3. Walnuts, almonds and other nuts

Walnuts, almonds and other nuts can reduce blood cholesterol. Rich in polyunsaturated fatty acids, walnuts also help keep blood vessels healthy. Make sure the nuts you eat aren’t salted or coated with sugar.

4. Olive oil

Olive oil contains a potent mix of antioxidants that can lower your “bad” (LDL) cholesterol but leave your “good” (HDL) cholesterol untouched.

5. Foods with added plant sterols or stanols

Foods are now available that have been fortified with sterols or stanols — substances found in plants that help block the absorption of cholesterol.

Plant sterols and stanols are substances that occur naturally in small amounts in many grains, vegetables, fruits, legumes, nuts, and seeds. Since they have powerful cholesterol-lowering properties, manufacturers have started adding them to foods. You can now get stanols or sterols in margarine spreads, orange juice, cereals, and even granola bars. But check the labels carefully. While plant sterols are healthy, extra calories are not. Excess calories simply lead to excess pounds.

MagicKitchen.com indicates Low-Cholesterol foods with this icon: low cholesterol icon

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