Great Adventures in Food

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Each week this month we'll highlight excerpts from "Great Adventures in Food" by our founder and CEO, Ellen Haas. It's the book that inspired FoodFit! It comes out this week in paperback, so make sure to check it out for more healthy tips and recipes.

This is what the editors at had to say about "Great Adventures in Food":

Brimming with useful tips, food lovers' facts, and recipes from some of the country's best-known chefs, Great Adventures in Food is an indispensable source book for anyone who cares what's for dinner.

Whether you're a newcomer to the kitchen or a seasoned pro (pardon the pun), you'll find information and inspiration - along with 100 recipes from Alice Waters, Rick Bayless, Michael Romano, Eric Ripert, and others - in this lively, authoritative book. Get ready for bold flavors, fresh ideas, and Great Adventures in Food!

This week you'll learn how to choose the freshest produce and pick out the most nutritious bread in the aisles. Once you have your fresh and healthy ingredients, try one of the delicious recipes from the book—perfect for lunch or a summertime picnic.

Start shopping here to begin building healthy menus. Be spontaneous and let the seasonal displays spark new tasty picks. Organic fruits and vegetables are becoming more widely available, and consumers often prefer their taste. Organic farming has been a way of life for many small farmers for the past forty years, and there has been a fortyfold growth in the market since 1986. Sales total $3.5 billion yearly, and now, with the reality of national organic standards for produce, they are sure to grow even more and faster.

What to Look For
Favorites such as bananas, carrots, and broccoli are good in any season, but most fruits and vegetables are both cheaper and better tasking when bought in season. Also notice the many convenient packaging choices. Prewashed, precut salads in a bag save time, and so do the handy precut vegetables such as carrots, celery, and broccoli. They make snacks, soups, and salads into healthy fast food. Convenience costs more, so you decide whether it is worth it. For a terrific taste and no waste, try salad bowl mixes or mesclun salads. They're a bit pricey, but a little can go a long way.

Fruits such as watermelon and cantaloupe make easy summertime desserts. Buying them precut may double the unit price, but if you have a small family, there will not be any waste. In the fall you can try the many varieties of apples and pears.

Where to Watch Out
Amid the bounty of fruits and vegetables lurk some hidden marketing tricks. The creamy dips next to the cut-up veggies add more fat than nutrients. To avoid unneeded fat in the mix, check the labels of packaged salads. Salad dressing packaged with the salad can be loaded with fat, and so can the croutons and salad dressings on the shelves. Precut, prepackaged produce does lose some nutrients with extra processing, so use it quickly to avoid more loss.

Carefully check the packages of premixed greens if any family members are sensitive to preservatives such as sulfites. They must be listed. Think about storage and spoilage when you decide how much produce to buy at a time. Experience has taught me that if you ask, most produce clerks will be happy to split a large package for you.

Along with more servings of fruits and vegetables, we could all use more whole grains in our diet to boost fiber intake as well as get more vitamins and minerals into the diet. Here are some great tips from Ellen on how to pick the best breads. She also offers an adventurous idea that will get your whole family involved.

Supermarkets stock many different varieties of bread that go far beyond the traditional sliced white bread. Stop by the bakery counter and see the different whole wheat breads that are baked fresh each day. Smell the aroma.

Family Fun Around the World with Bread
Go globetrotting and enjoy some worldly experiences the next time you buy bread. Try pita bread from the Middle East, lavash from Russia, chapatis from India and East Africa, rye bread from Sweden, bread sticks from Italy, and baguettes from France. Tack up a map and mark the countries whose bread your family has tasted.

What to Look For
Products with whole grain and no added fat are best. Fat-free sourdough bread is a tasty option. Multigrain breads are a good source of fiber, but check the label because some do not have as much fiber as simple whole wheat bread. Bagels, in every flavor imaginable, are often fat-free or 98 percent fat-free. French baguettes and Italian loaves are crunchy and tasty while low in fat and high in fiber and nutrient content.

Where to Watch Out
Bread made from white flour has fewer nutrients and less fiber than bread made from whole wheat flour. Some breads are made with fat to make them softer and last longer. Some are also high in sugar. Even bagels are sometimes made with fat, so check the label. In bagel shops this information is sometimes posted on display bins. Not all bread products are labeled because of a loophole in the law. If there is no nutrition label, check the ingredients and take note if butter is high on the list; if so, it is high in fat.

Now that you've done your shopping, put those fresh ingredients to use in these fantastic seasonal recipes:

Bob Kinkead's Summer "Salad" Soup
Goat Hill Farm Tomatoes with Basil Vinaigrette
Spinach, Orange and Almond Salad with Soy-Lime Vinaigrette
Grilled Portobello Sandwich
Caramelized Onion Bruschetta


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