Category Archives: food related

The Corned Beef Myth on St. Paddy’s Day

St. Patrick’s Day came and was gone before I could even cook corned beef or buy any St. Patrick’s Day Candy. Maybe it was because it fell on a Monday and it was gray and dreary and so winter like. Usually by St. Patrick’s Day, it is already feeling like spring and it’s sunny and warm. Not this year! This is what it looked like this year.

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Healthy Navigation of the Grocery Store

Cooking healthy family meals is really not that hard. The key point is COOKING. If you go through the trouble of cooking meals for your family instead of buying pre-prepared or fast food, you have already conquered half the war. Once you have committed to cooking for your family, the next is learning how to shop for the items that will enable you to do so.

Most tips on healthy eating and planning tell you to do most of your grocery shopping on the outer aisles of the supermarket and avoid the middle aisles where most of the processed foods are kept.

I don’t do it consciously, but my shopping pattern inevitably follows that idea. I almost always enter the store and start on the right where most of them keep their produce departments (have you noticed this?). I always start at the produce department so that I can pick out what’s in season, what’s fresh and what’s on sale that my family will eat. The fresh fruits and vegetables that I pick will influence what meats and other food items I pick as I start formulating meals based on what I had planned for and what’s available.

After the produce section, usually on the back wall of the store, is the fish and meat department. I like this order because then I can decide what meats to get that would go with the vegetables I already picked out and again depending on what’s on sale and what’s available. I keep going on the store’s perimeter, past the deli and processed meats section towards the dairy section which is where I get most of our staple items, mainly milk, eggs and bread. Yes, in my grocery store, they are smart enough of to put the bread section immediately next to the dairy. Because along with the three main items from this section, I also get butter, cheese, yogurt, and sour cream in their various forms. What forms? You know, unsalted and salted butter, different cheeses (cream, mozzarella, cheddar, etc), different yogurts… I think at least a third of my weekly grocery shopping comes from this section.

Immediately after the dairy section usually comes the frozen foods section which is not all bad if you know what you’re looking for. A staple item from the frozen section, which may not always be considered ‘healthy’ is Ice Cream. Well, it’s not diet food, but it still can be good for you. It’s made with milk, right? So make sure to pick the ones made with real milk or cream and you’ll be alright. The next thing from the frozen section that I get is a few frozen vegetable items. I try to get fresh most of the time, but when fresh is not available, frozen is my preferred alternative to canned. They just taste fresher and better.

After I have gotten what my daughter calls the ‘REAL FOOD’ from the outer perimeter of the store, we move into the inner aisles (which my daughter aptly calls ‘THE BAD LANDS’) picking up other things on our list. Even as we try our best to eat healthy, we still get a few junk food occasionally such as chips and cookies and yes, even sodas. We’re not monks after all. We indulge just like others, but I believe in keeping things in moderation. Junk food gets a very small real estate on our shopping cart.

The lesson is, if you do nothing else but stick to the outskirts of the grocery store, you are way ahead of the game in keeping your family eating healthy. Even if you don’t like to cook or are a novice cook, you can find food items in the perimeter that are healthy for you and are not laden with preservatives and other chemicals that could kill you.

And if you need ideas and recipes on how to prepare food items from the grocery’s perimeter AKA the real food sections, the National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA), whose aim is to  showcase the benefits of foods from the refrigerated dairy aisle and the frozen section, has partnered with chef and culinary expert Aida Mollenkamp, to show new and different ways to serve food from these sections of your grocery store. The focus is to create healthy, balanced meals from these ingredients. Visit for information, recipes and other fun stuff.

If you like getting ideas on social media sites like I do (Pinterest!), follow Easy Home Meals at the following:

The Dish Diary Tumblr


DISCLAIMER: This post is sponsored by The National Frozen & Refrigerated Foods Association (NFRA) and Global Influence. 

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The Holiday Pantry Basics

holiday snacks

‘Tis the season once again! Or haven’t you noticed? 🙂

If you haven’t, you must be under a rock because even in non-Christian countries, celebrations for one thing or another ramp up around this time of year.

At our house, it usually means the season for snacking. It seems that as soon as December hits, all the snacks and munchies start appearing, sometimes even replacing regular meals. It’s as if we’re saving up for the big meal to come at Christmas and New Year. It’s also that time of year when people drop by for visits more often, sometimes unexpectedly. So we’ve gotten to keeping a few staples around for the just-case-company-drops-in moments. Here’s a few ideas on what to stock up on and some recipes to keep in mind if you need fresh ideas.

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Smile for Ice Cream!

There are plenty of reasons to smile but nothing brings out a smile faster than ice cream on a hot summer day! Edy’s is one of our favorite ice creams and lately, we have become fans of their Slow Churned flavors too.

Well you know how we don’t like anything low-fat in this house. Our philosophy has always been, that we’d rather do without than eat artificially sweetened and low-fat foods. Everyone in this house claim they can taste a difference in the ‘diet’ stuff.

That is…. until we bought Edy’s Slow Churned Light Ice Cream by mistake. Hey, it was on sale and I’m a big sucker for sales. I didn’t notice the label. But guess what? No one noticed until the container was empty! My husband had scraped the bottom of the container and was getting ready to throw it away when he read the label. He was like, “HEY! did you know this stuff is low fat? WTH!”

Needless to say, this is the only low-calorie product that still enters our home because it just tastes too darn good! Yes, it still have that rich and creamy taste just like homemade but it’s half the fat and a third of the calories of regular ice cream!

And as if you need more reason to smile than ice cream, you’ll be glad to know that Dreyer’s/Edy’s Slow Churned Light Ice Cream is giving away free scoops of ice cream as part of their “A Reason to Smile” campaign to support Operation Smile. If the Slow Churned Light Ice Cream makes you or your family smile, capture that in a photo and upload it on the Dreyer’s/Edy’s Facebook page and they will donate $5 to Operation Smile.

Operation Smile is the organization that sponsors reconstructive surgeries for children with cleft palates and other facial deformities. Help spread the smiles!



Disclosure: I received coupons for the ice cream to fascilitate my review, but as I’ve said, we already buy Edy’s Slow Churned ice cream anyway. As a thank you, I will also be receiving a promotional item from Mom Central.

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corn casserole

Martha White Holiday Muffin Challenge

I have gotten pretty good at cooking Southern food but the one thing I haven’t quite mastered is corn bread from scratch. I have tried several recipes but just haven’t come up with one yet that my family liked. Thank goodness for boxed mixes! As you well know, there is a variety of brands available out there, but our favorite is the Martha White brand.

My husband has to have his corn bread with fish so I keep a supply of these mixes in my pantry. My girls and I though like to mix it up a bit as in this Corn Bread Casserole recipe which has corn, jalapenos and cheese in it. We’ve tweaked it some from a recipe we found online and we’re still tweaking it all the time as we are wont to do.

Martha White Launches Holiday Muffin Mix Challenge
So when I heard about the Martha White Muffin Challenge, I thought this might be a fun thing to experiment with especially as we still have some time before the September 12 deadline to play around with some ideas. The challenge is to come up with an original recipe that is suitable for entertaining at breakfast, brunch or for dessert which uses at least one pack of a Martha White Muffin Mix.

If you have never tried Martha White mixes before, they don’t just make the traditional corn muffin, they also have blueberry, strawberry, chocolate, banana nut and other flavors. The variety of flavors available is enough to get your creative juices flowing!

Get your recipes ready and enter the challenge to win a year’s supply of muffin mix and cash prizes.

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The Great Food Truck Race Returns

Last season’s winning food truck. Source: Food Network

Food Truck Hopefuls Hit The Highway For Third Season Of The Great Food Truck Race on Sunday, August 19th on the Food Network. It’s one of the few reality type food shows that I watch just because I have become so enamored with food trucks!

I remember a time when I wouldn’t go near a food truck! When I was growing up, food trucks only went to construction sites and their food was awful, not to mention unsanitary as my mother liked to point out. She used to say, “Look, most of the workers are usually men, and they can’t have a good supply of running water to wash with in those trucks!” Then you would hear on the news about people getting sick from food trucks. So for the longest time, I didn’t go near them.

After I got older and got more adventurous, I tried a few of them and learned, there could be some good grub off of these trucks! But it wasn’t until the recent craze about food trucks started that I really started paying attention to them again.

For my daughter, it started with Twitter. She found great fun in following local food trucks on Twitter, find out where they’re parked that day, then beg me to take her there. Genius marketing, if you ask me!

I soon discovered that with all the attention, food truck fare has gotten even better. The first food truck my daughter took me to was a burger & fries type of truck. Nothing unusual. But then we discovered the Korean bulgogi truck, the Indian food truck, the Mexican taco party bus, and so on. The one we haven’t found here yet is a Filipino truck. My daughter has tried the one in L.A. where she is now, and she’s raving about it. I’ll have to take note to find that truck next time I’m in California.

One of the regular shows I look at on the Food Network is the Great Food Truck Race and it is getting ready to start up it’s third season on August 19th with host, Tyler Florence. Based on the previews I’ve seen so far, it looks like the caliber of food truck fare will again be challenged and elevated. The race will start out in Long Beach, CA and end at the Quoddy Lighthouse in Maine.

Interestingly enough, I heard on the news this morning that NC food truck operations will now be required to display grade cards just like restaurants. That makes me feel good to know that they will now also be subjected to the same regulations and inspections as restaurants.


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Image Source: WikiNoticia

Lactose Free Cow’s Milk

Image Source: WikiNoticia

How do you and milk get along? Are you lactose intolerant? Do you get bloated, gassy and tummy aches whenever you’ve had too much dairy products? You’re not alone. It seems that I meet more and more people who claim they cannot digest milk.

I’m one. I am lactose intolerant.

However, I love dairy products too much to give it up. I have never been a big milk drinker, but I do love ice cream, cheese and creamy desserts. So I suffer the consequences during the times that I indulge.

My case is mild though and it’s quite tolerable. So I haven’t totally scratched dairy from my diet; I just try to not indulge too often. I don’t know how it is for the ones who are really sensitive though.

I do know that a lot of people are turning to lactose free products or dairy alternatives just to avoid the symptoms from cow’s milk. But… Did you know that lactose free milk also comes from cows? There are now quite a few milk producers out there who sell ultra pasteurized cow’s milk that is lactose free and still contains all the nutritional benefits.

Deion Branch of the New England Patriots found out first hand as part of the Fuel Up to Play 60 initiative when he visited a dairy farm. Click on that first link above to see a funny video of him milking a cow!

The Fuel Up To Play 60 initiative aims to get young people eating healthy and exercising. A great deal of eating healthy though, involves including dairy in your diet. The recommendation is to get at least three servings of dairy per day. However, that doesn’t mean only drinking milk. You can get your daily nutrient requirements in different ways such as cheese, yogurt, or even flavored milks like chocolate milk is usually tolerated better by people with lactose intolerance.

The point is, being lactose intolerant does not mean totally eliminating dairy from your diet. You can still take advantage of the high nutritional value of dairy even if you may suffer some symptoms from it by regulating the amount of lactose you consume and trying out other forms of dairy products.

Disclosure: This post is sponsored but all opinions are my own.

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