Thursday, January 27, 2011

Granola Leaves the 60s

Though it is strongly associated with the 1960s, granola has been around for more than a century. In 1863, sanitarium owner James Jackson created a graham flour product for his patients. He called it "granula."

Forty years later, at another sanitarium, John Harvey Kellogg created a similar product substituting oats for graham flour. He, too, called it granula — until he was sued by Jackson. Kellogg renamed his dried cereal "granola."

Granola did not really catch on, however, until a century later. The healthful eating movement of the 1960s started, with young adults rejecting generation-old political views as well as processed foods.

With an emphasis on whole grains and organic ingredients, cereal companies such as Kellogg, Post and Quaker Oats decided to rebrand and remarket their whole-grain granolas. In 1972, Pet Inc. introduced Heartland Natural Cereal, with the other cereal companies following close behind. And in 1975, Nature Valley rolled out the first granola bar.

Today shoppers can find granola in any flavor: vanilla, peanut butter, chocolate raspberry, maple cranberry; and with a variety of mix-ins: sunflower seeds, cashews, chocolate-covered pretzels and shredded coconut. With so many options, it can be hard to find one product with all the preferred ingredients.

Some consumers like dried fruit, while others do not. Some want a sweeter, more indulgent granola, and others want the bare-bones oats. There are even websites where you can order your own custom-made granola.

Read the rest of the story and learn everything you ever wanted to know about granola here.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chefs Add Flavor to High School Cooking Program

Seventeen-year-old Marissa Diaz has a secret -- she loves watching Julia Child's old cooking shows.

She admits that viewing reruns of the late, warbly-voiced kitchen icon isn't the usual video-watching fare of teenagers. But the trailblazing celebrity chef, who made French cuisine accessible to many Americans, inspires Diaz.

"I recently watched her make a fish fillet," the excitable teen said. "She was adding scallops, lobster, eel -- let your imagination go wild!"

Diaz, along with a half-dozen classmates from Adrian Wilcox High School in Santa Clara, experienced all things cooking Saturday. They worked alongside renowned chefs Martin Yan and Sir Roy Salazar at the Art of Home Show at the Santa Clara Convention Center.

The Wilcox students, as well as several from Peterson Middle School in Sunnyvale on Friday, assisted the chefs and even gave their own cooking demonstrations. They are enrolled in the Santa Clara Unified School District's culinary arts program, part of the district's vocational education courses, which range from fashion design to automotive technology.

"It's a great way for kids to link into something they love," said Tabitha Kappeler-Hurley, spokeswoman for the district's career education program. "And maybe they'll make a career of it."

Read the complete story here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Sam Brown Comes Home to His Culinary Beginnings

Second Helpings is pleased to announce the addition of Chef Sam Brown as Director of Culinary Job Training.
Chef Brown's hiring marks a homecoming of sorts  - Brown is both a 1999 graduate of the program (Class #9), and previously lead the program for four years. A graduate of the Cordon Bleu Culinary Arts Institue, Chef Brown brings more than ten years of culinary experience and leadership. Chef Brown has held Executive Chef positions at Aramark Food Services, Centerplate Dining Services in the RCA Dome, and is an adjunct professor at Ivy Tech Community College. The American Culinary Federation of Indianapolis awarded Brown "Chef of the Year" in 2001, a "President's Award" in 2005 and a "Chef Professionalism Award" in 2006. Chef Brown most recently led food service at Fairbanks Hospital.
"I am very grateful and excited to come home to Second Helpings, where I received my first success in the food service industry," Chef Brown says. "I'm excited by the opportunity to help train unemployed and displaced adults, which is desperately needed in our community right now. We're going to help a lot of people get jobs."

Second Helpings' Culinary Job Training program is a ten-week, intensive training program, educating unemployed and displaced adults in the culinary arts. After graduation, we help them launch meaningful careers in the culinary industry. Since 1998, we've graduated 429 students. Graduates of the program work in positions all around Indianapolis, including the Colts Complex, Hilton 120 West, Levy Restaurants in Conseco Fieldhouse, Bravo and Lucas Oil Stadium.
 "Sam brings a truly unique perspective to our culinary job training program,"  says Jennifer Vigran, Interim CEO of Second Helpings. "As a graduate of our program, he remains the strongest role model we could possibly offer our students. His experience as a chef, employer and a culinary instructor makes him the ideal candidate for Second Helpings at this time."
Welcome home, Chef Brown.
Sam Brown 

Monday, January 17, 2011

For Healing, Meals Made to Order

JULIEN COLLOT, who is 8 and has had leukemia, has been on a low-microbial diet since his two bone-marrow transplants, in 2006 and 2007. When he developed diabetes last year, he had to go low-fat and low-sugar as well.

So Pnina Peled, the executive chef at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, makes Julien his beloved shrimp scampi with Promise, a butter substitute, and eggplant Parmesan using egg whites, whole-wheat bread crumbs and soy cheese. When Julien told Ms. Peled about his love of pumpkin spice cake, she presented him one baked with egg whites and applesauce. After he rejected the hospital’s whole-wheat ravioli, she hauled her pasta maker on the subway from Brooklyn to roll out a handmade version.

“She came in on her day off with a stack of cookbooks and sat with us to come up with a menu for him,” Julien’s mother, Jacqueline Collot, said the other day as her son relished whole-wheat spaghetti dressed with sesame oil and topped with green beans minced fine to look like scallions — Ms. Peled’s response to his stated craving for “unspicy spicy noodles.”

“What Pnina offers Julien is a combination of love of food and the freedom that was taken away for so long,” Ms. Collot added. “To see him interested in meals gives us great comfort.”

Ms. Peled, who came to Sloan-Kettering a year ago after working in some of the city’s finest restaurants and winning an episode of the popular Food Network show “Chopped,” is part of a revolution in hospital food.

Bland broths, neon Jell-O and unidentifiable white-meat products are slowly becoming scarce. Instead, hospitals like the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center have extensive room-service-like menus and give patients the freedom to order meals whenever they are hungry, while the kitchen staff at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis is happy to duplicate recipes provided by parents.

Sloan-Kettering patients, too, order meals from one of 75 room-service menus — kosher, halal, vegan, low-sodium, etc. But Ms. Peled said that when she started, she saw that patients who did not find anything appealing on the menu often would not eat at all, which motivated her to make the food service more flexible.
She has a team of 35 chefs from diverse backgrounds catering to the special requests of patients, particularly the younger ones, who come to the renowned cancer center from around the globe. In recent months, one chef has been serving dal, curries and rotis to a 16-year-old patient from India; another has made yellow rice for a 3-year-old Latino boy who wanted the version like his mother’s; and a third devised a menu of low-microbial foods for an 8-year-old girl from Italy who wanted dishes that reminded her of home, like fish Francese (it has a lemon sauce).

“There’s no substitute for a good diet, and appetizing food can make all the difference,” said Dr. Susan Prockop, a pediatric oncologist at Sloan-Kettering, noting that eating well can speed recovery and keep patients off intravenous nutrition.

Dominique Symonette, the registered dietitian in charge of pediatrics at the hospital, said that cancers, and chemotherapy, often result in mouth sores, nausea, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. Low-sodium, low-sugar and low-microbial diets — which limits raw and fresh food because of the risk of infection — are common for patients with compromised immune systems or those who are taking steroids or other medications long term.

Enter Chef Peled or one of her three sous-chefs, who spend an hour each afternoon meeting with pediatric patients and their parents to discuss food preferences. (Adult patients at Sloan-Kettering can also make personalized requests, but as the mother of a 2-year-old, Ms. Peled, 37, has a soft spot for sick children.)

Veronica McLymont, director of food and nutrition services at the hospital, says the customized approach has not increased costs because when the children get what they want, less food is wasted.

Read the complete story here.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Vegans No Longer Just an Oddity

You've come a long way, vegan.

Once mocked as a fringe diet for sandal-wearing health food store workers, veganism is moving from marginal to mainstream in the United States.

The vegan "Skinny Bitch" diet books are best-sellers, vegan staples like tempeh and tofu can be purchased at just about any supermarket, and some chain restaurants eagerly promote their plant-only menu items. Today's vegans are urban hipsters, suburban moms, college students, even professional athletes.

"It's definitely more diverse. It's not what you would picture 20 years ago, which is kind of hippie, crunchy," said Isa Chandra Moskowitz, author of vegan cookbooks like the new "Appetite for Reduction." She says it's easier being a vegan now because there is more local produce available and more interesting ways of cooking.
"It's not just steamed vegetables anymore and brown rice and lentils," she said.

Veganism is essentially hard-core vegetarianism. While a vegetarian might butter a bagel or eat a cake made with eggs, vegans shun all animal products: No meat, no cheese, no eggs, no honey, no mayonnaise. Ethical vegans have a moral aversion to harming animals for human consumption, be it for a flank steak or leather shoes, though the term often is used to describe people who follow the diet, not the larger philosophy.
In a 2009 survey, advocates at the not-for-profit Vegetarian Resources Group reported about 1 percent of Americans are vegan, roughly a third of the people who reported being vegetarians. A separate survey released last year by the same group found a similar breakdown for Americans aged 8 to 18.

Read the complete story here.