Monthly Archives: January 2011

Debunking the Raw Food Movement

I love food. I love it raw when the occasions calls for it, like celery and carrot sticks dunked in blue cheese dressing,or crudites dipped in hummus. I even love a nice fresh tomato or cucumber with just a little salt on it, and I’m big on salads. But most food is meant to be cooked, and meat and bread are part of a healthy diet. (OK, back down, vegetarians, your diet makes sense and I’m not saying that not eating meat is unhealthy, just that eating meat in proper proportion is healthy too). Some raw foods in a diet are great too, I only object to those who propose that 90-100% of food ingested should be raw.

Here’s what some raw foodists claim.

1. Cooked food is toxic. http://www.dailypaul.com/node/94829

If this is true, then we would all be dead. Many many years ago. Ergo, not true. Cooked food, like Baby Clams With Linguini Marinara (sorry, couldn’t resist) is healthy, nutritious and non-toxic. So are fresh veggies. Eat them both!

2. Cooking kills needed enzymes in the food. Without these enzymes, the body cannot properly digest the food. http://middlepath.com.au/qol/enzymes.php

Wrong again. Scientists say, “Protein and minerals are not destroyed by heat. Some vitamins are lost in cooking, but you still get plenty if you have a reasonably varied diet. The enzymes in food that are destroyed by heat are of no use to you anyway; you make your own enzymes for digestion of your food.”  http://health.learninginfo.org/cooking.htm.

See, the whole detox diet is a marketing myth. Your liver detoxes for you. I believe we all buy too much of what’s put out there for us. Everything in moderation is the answer to everything. Moderate eating, moderate drinking, moderate exercise. A little of everything will keep you healthy and happy. Be happy!

3a. White blood cells flood the stomach after eating cooked food, because they’re trying to fight the poison that just entered the body. http://www.mypetcarnivore.com/cooked_food.html

3b. Actually, most raw food sites say  only that white blood cells increase in the blood after eating cooked food.

3a. “Under normal circumstances, a healthy body will not experience white blood cells entering the stomach – the stomach is simply not open to the vascular system.”
http://www.dietriffic.com/2009/02/17/raw-food-diet/

3b.  This was proven in one experiment by a scientist named Kouchakoff. The experiment was never replicated, because the scientific community didn’t think it important. ” In other words, the reaction of the scientific community to Kouchakoff’s research might have been, in figurative terms, a collective ‘so what?’.The naive interpretation of raw-foodists is that cooked food contains foreign substances that the body must fight; and in addition, since the body’s immune system is busy with cooked molecules, it can’t be fully efficient against germs. Efficiency of the immune system depends on a number of factors; it’s much more than a simple white blood cell count.”http://www.beyondveg.com/tu-j-l/raw-cooked/raw-cooked-1i.shtml

4. Animals in the wild don’t get sick because they eat a natural, raw diet. http://www.thinkandgoraw.com/GuideToEatingAnOptimalRawDiet.htm

In fact, disease is the major cause of mortality in wild animals. http://www.enotalone.com/article/8570.html

5. “Your body is actually sort of an alkaline battery, running on electrons. All life-giving chemical reactions only happen when electrons or energy flows between atoms. Cooking or processing causes food to lose electrons – the source of the energy your body needs.” (http://www.rawfoodlife.com/)

My response, other than WHAT?!?! which isn’t very eloquent, is this: Oh, nonsense. OK, that’s not any better, but really!

Anyway, this is all just my opinion- enjoy cooked meals, enjoy raw food, eat the occasional cookie.  Enjoy life!

Melody- MagicKitchen.com blogger

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They’re Here!

I’ve been unable to blog about our new meals until they were created and available, but they’re finally here and on the menu!

Our chefs, our president and our CEO have all been working hard to create some low-sodium, super healthy complete meals. Unlike so many “hospital meals” on the market, they wanted these to feature gourmet ingredients and to be as good as our regular homestyle meals.

Here they are, and we’re all really excited about them. These meals are fine for diabetics and most heart patients, although we as always caution you to check with your nutritionist, nurse or doctor before changing your diet. They are all low in calories and fat as well, so perfect for a weight loss regimen.

The first package is great for people who are preparing for dialysis, as well as for those on dialysis, while the second is good for people on dialysis. This all has to do with potassium and phosphorus, and needn’t concern those of us who are thankfully healthy! The meals are available individually as well as in the packages.

7 Complete Meals – Pack #1

The meals are:

  • Chicken In Wine Sauce, Cauliflower Puree, Green Beans
  • Grilled Salmon with Cauliflower, Spinach
  • Braised Short Rib, Mashed & Green Beans
  • Baked Tilapia with Lemon Rice Pilaf, Peppers & Onions
  • Stuffed Peppers with Spanish Rice
  • Shrimp in Garlic Sauce over Vermicelli, Stir Fry Vegetables
  • Baked Tilapia a la Mushrooms, Cauliflower, Green Beans

grilled salmon
Grilled Salmon

7 Complete Meals – Pack #2

The meals are:

  • Chicken Marsala & Pasta Primavera
  • Braised Beef Brisket, Green Beans & Wild Rice
  • Chicken & Pasta with Red Pepper Sauce
  • London Broil & Vegetable Pilaf
  • Chile Colorado with Mexican Rice
  • Chicken Stir Fry with Rice & Asian Vegetables
  • Roasted Turkey with Cranberry Pilaf

Chicken Stir Fry
Chicken Stir-Fry

Hope you enjoy them!
Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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The Perfect Scallop Recipe

Again, two ideas, on and off the menu.

1. Scallops Sancerre from MagicKitchen.com: Fresh  scallops, sautéed in butter then smothered in white wine and heavy cream and spices. It’s divine.

Scallops Sancerre
Scallops Sancerre

2. Pan-Seared Scallops with Tarragon White Wine Sauce

Ingredients

1/2 pound scallops
2 tbsp cornstarch
1 tbsp vegetable oil
Tarragon White Wine Sauce:
1 tbsp  butter
1 tbsp minced shallotshallots
1/4 tsp each of salt and pepper
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup 35% cream
1 tbsp chopped fresh tarragon
1 tbsp tbsp chopped fresh chives

Preparation:

Pull muscle off each scallop; discard. Pat scallops dry; dredge with cornstarch.

In large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat; sear scallops until opaque and crispy brown on both sides, about 4 minutes. Transfer to plate. Wash out skillet.

Tarragon White Wine Sauce: In same skillet, melt butter over medium heat; cook shallot, salt and pepper until softened, about 3 minutes.

Add wine; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 2 minutes. Add cream; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Stir in tarragon and chives.

Return scallops to pan; heat through.

Enjoy! Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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Creating Gourmet Soups

Today, I’m going to give you a few soup recipes, both on and off the MagicKitchen.com menu. Here we go!

  1. Delivered Soups: They don’t get easier than MagicKitchen.com soups. Prepared by chefs and delivered to your door.
  2. seafood medley vegetable beef soup
  3. Au Gratin Soup– This is great, gooey with melted cheese.
    Soup au Gratin

    Ingredients

    1 large onion, chopped
    2 cloves garlic, minced
    1 tbsp (15 mL) butter
    1 large potato, peeled and diced
    5 cups  broth of your choice: tomato juice or vegetable, chicken or beef broth
    4 cups vegetables of your choice: sliced carrots, zucchini and celery or chopped broccoli, cauliflower and leeks or sliced mushrooms
    1 can (19 oz) drained lentils
    herbs of your choice: marjoram, thyme, ground cumin or bay leaf
    1 baguette loaf
    1/2 lb. sliced Provolone  or mozarella cheese, shredded

    Preparation:

    In a large pot, cook chopped onion and garlic in a little melted butter until soft. Add potato, broth, vegetables and herbs to taste. Simmer, uncovered, 10 minutes.

    Process half of the mixture in blender until smooth. Stir and pour back into pot.

    Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls, top with toasted slices of baguette bread and Provolone or mozarella.

    Broil until the cheese is melted.

  4. Roast Beef Soup -With this recipe you can use leftover MagicKitchen.com Short rib roast or Prime Rib roast. I got this from a great blog I follow: http://kalynskitchen.blogspot.com
    Leftover Roast Beef Italian Stew
    (Makes about 2-3 servings, recipe can easily be doubled. Recipe created by Kalyn with inspiration from a magazine at Rand’s but she can’t remember what it was.)1/2 onion chopped
    1/2 green pepper chopped (or more)
    1 T olive oil
    8-10 oz. leftover roast beef or steak (about 1 1/2 cups diced beef cubes)
    2 cups beef stock (or 1 can beef broth plus a little water)
    1 cup slow roasted tomatoes (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
    1/2 T dried oregano
    1/2 T dried basil
    1 cup mushrooms, cut in large chunks
    1-3 T chopped fresh basil (or frozen chopped basil.)

    Cut onion and green pepper into 3/4inch pieces, and roast beef and mushrooms into 1 1/2 inch pieces. In heavy dutch oven type pot, saute onions in olive oil for 3 minutes, add green pepper and saute 3 minutes more. Add beef, stock, tomatoes, oregano, basil, and mushrooms, reduce heat to very low, and simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally. Taste for seasoning, add salt and pepper if desired. Add fresh basil when stew has cook to desired consistency and cook 5-10 minutes more. Serve hot.

Hope you enjoy these soups!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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My Favorite MagicKitchen.com Dining Experience

As an employee, I sometimes get to take home new products to sample. I’ve sampled many over the years, but this is my favorite dining experience.

We had friends over for dinner, usually not a horrifying experience for me as I’m not a bad cook. This time I decided to heat up some MagicKitchen.com meals and get their reaction.

Beef with Bordelaise Sauce
Beef with Bordelaise Sauce

The menu was:

  • Beef with Bordelaise Sauce
  • Magic Mashed Potatoes
  • Fresh Cut Corn Medley
  • A baguette from this great little bakery down the street
  • Raspberry Rhubarb Pie

First, the meal was so easy to put together. I heated up the four portions of potatoes and corn in a preheated oven. One said at 350 and one said at 325, I went for 350 for both. I just kept checking them, and took them out at about 15 minutes, when they were really warm to the touch.

Meanwhile I heated up each individual portion of beef in the microwave one at a time, on separate plates. I covered the beef and sauce with wax paper. Here’s a tip- this comes with a lot of really good sauce, I took most of the sauce from each bag and poured it into a measuring cup and heated it separately. Then I served it in a gravy boat at the table.

I took the vegetables out of the oven, increased the heat to 425, and brushed the 4 pies with egg .

I cleaned up the plates a little with a paper towel to make them look good, added the potatoes, made a well and filled the well with sauce. Then I arranged the corn on the plate, sliced the baguette and dinner was ready! Amazingly easy. I put everything on the table then popped the 4 pies in the oven and set the time for 30 minutes.

The meal won raves across the board. The beef came as a large piece for each portion and was fork tender, but still moist and with a ton of flavor. The sauce was incredibly good, rich, meaty and delicious. The baguette got finished off as everyone shamelessly mopped their plates with it.

Beef Bordelaise, one of many frozen dinners delivered. May there be many more.

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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8 Healthy Lunch Ideas on a Budget

Ok, it’s the New Year, resolutions are in place and we’re ready to start 2011 right. But how do we keep that commitment to weight loss when we have to go to work, and fast food restaurants are so handy, quick and inexpensive?

Here are eight ideas for quick, healthy lunches that won’t blow your budget.

  1. Pastas are easy – Our Baby Clam Marinara is a healthy meal delivered to your door.  Just 18% fat, but it’s a hearty 10-oz serving of tasty pasta. I’m adding a second pasta to this first recommendation. Our Portabella/Shiitake Mushroom Ravioli is also a low-fat meal at 26% fat. These are both tasty pastas that will keep you going all afternoon. Or bring your own!

    Portabella Shiitake Ravioli
    Portabella Shiitake Ravioli
  2. Leftovers are great! – Make last night’s healthy dinner a little bigger, and bring leftovers for lunch. For instance, I like to roast a whole chicken with garlic, herbs and  potatoes, carrots, and any other root vegetables in season. Pop a serving  into one container and reheat in a microwave.
  3. Salad Additions – I love grilling chicken breasts and then slicing leftovers to throw into a salad for the next day. Chop your favorite veggies, then bag the chicken slices, some diced low fat cheese and bring along a bottle of no-fat ranch dressing.
  4. Cook Big! – Over the weekend, cook up a big pot of stew or soup, and freeze it in individual portions for the week. Do two the first weekend so you can swap them out over the week. Then you’ll have extras and will always have a selection.
  5. Baked Potato – Here’s a versatile and satisfying lunch. Bake a potato in the microwave, and bring in some lowfat toppings. Good choices are steamed broccoli, a small portion of low-or-non fat sour cream, salsa, low fat cottage cheese,  low fat flavored cream cheese (how about a smoked-salmon flavored one?) and lowfat cheddar.
  6. Go Gourmet! – If you don’t need to lose weight, but want to eat gourmet frozen meals, you could try our One Serving Meals Bundle #1 or One Serving Meals Bundle #2.  The main courses are individually packaged but sold in pairs, so you can eat one of the pair and leave the other in the freezer. We also have single-serving side dishes to go along with the mains. Desserts optional!
  7. Pita Pocket – Stuff half a pita pocket with anything good– beans, lettuce, cabbage, radishes celery, cucumber, chicken, avocado, coleslaw, chopped nuts, feta.
  8. Lettuce Wraps – Bring in anything that you would normally have in a sandwich- tuna or egg salad, lunch meats, leftover chicken, curried food, sliced bratwurst. Wrap it in some nice fresh lettuce leaves with your favorite condiment.

There you go, eat healthy!

Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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My Favorite Celebrity Chefs

I got hooked on Guy Fieri’s “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives” soon after it debuted. His high-energy presentation was a big draw (although “Minute to Win it” take that high energy to an unwelcome edge). But the food he presented in his show was the big reason for my attendance. These places created meals fit for a king, on a pauper’s budget. Big taste, big portions, and great meals

Every show made me want to go on a road trip. A lot of people did go on road trips to visit the diners he presented, taking along his book, “Diners, Drive-ins and Dives: An All-American Road Trip”. There  have been Google maps built, spreadsheets created, and photo essays posted.

You may not be able to get to the diners, but I can tell you how to get the meals delivered to your door. Here are my ideas.

Rocco’s:

Mouth watering at the thought of the Clam Linguine or Chicken Marsala? Try ours.  Our ready made meals delivered are definitely comparable, and they are froaen and delivered meals.

Another chef I adore is Andrew Zimmern of Travel Channel’s “Bizarre Foods”.  While I admire his audacity and courage at  eating the things he does (snake and iguana are regular dishes), his style and food knowledge win me over. And as a travel devotee, I love seeing the places he travels to.  In a recent episode he traveled to Mongolia, the harsh and cold country north of China. This is the land of Genghis Khan, a nomadic and marauding people who the Great Wall of China was built to repel.

The show is so great to watch, combining the history and current culture of a fascinating country with the foods they eat and the ways they cook them.  Although sometimes the foods are indeed bizarre and sometimes repulsive to think of, Andrew taste them all with equanimity and delivers his verdict.

Ina Garten, the Barefoot Contessa on Food Network, has an engaging style. She provides lots of tips on making some of the delicious meals she served out of her Gourmet Food store in Westhampton Beach, NY.  She taught me a better way of making broccoli florets, as an example. One of the more interesting things about her is that she wrote  the nuclear energy budget and policy papers on nuclear centrifuge plants for Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford. I guess she thought running a gourmet meals store, writing bestselling cookbooks and having a television show would be a lot less stressful.

Ina published a recipe for Chicken with Herbed Goat Cheese. Try it out, or order our Chicken Breast Montrachet, which I can almost guarantee will be just as delicious. I’ve personally tried this one recently. It’s delicate, creamy, with a fresh taste of herbs. Truly delicious.

She also has this Beef Bourguignon recipe which looks delicious. We can deliver a Beef with Bordelaise Sauce that will stand up to hers in flavor. You get about a cup of sauce with each of our hearty servings, so open the package carefully – you won’t want to miss a drop!! The beef is so melt-in-your mouth tender, but still moist and not overcooked. The sauce is rich and meaty, and simply incredible over mashed potatoes.

Enjoy!! Melody, MagicKitchen.com blogger

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