I'm all about eating foods made with natural ingredients, but sometimes even "all-natural" foods contain unfamiliar ingredients on their nutrition labels. Here are the deets on some common weird ingredients. I want to know if you're game to eat them.
The other day my best friend asked me if I had a good butternut squash macaroni and cheese recipe. I was a little surprised because it's practically Summer, and I've got nothing but apricots, tomatoes, and corn on the brain. However, the squash came from her parents garden, so she wanted to make good use of it. Then I remembered looking at a seasonal restaurant's menu recently; I noticed a couple of butternut squash dishes. While I only use butternut squash in the Fall and Winter months, I'm wondering if it's becoming more of a year-round thing, like strawberries. Do you cook with butternut squash all year round?
Source: Flickr User missmeng
Unlike some chefs who don't cook at home, Top Chef head honcho, Tom Colicchio, often prepares quick and delicious dinners for his wife and two young boys. The key to throwing together a fast meal? Keeping your kitchen stocked with certain ingredients! At a recent event hosted by Electrolux, Colicchio and sous chef Kelly Ripa, fixed a tasty meal in minutes. Tom also shared his essential ingredients; to find out what he always has in his home kitchen, keep reading.
When grocery shopping, the majority of the time, I try to select the cheapest ingredients. However, there are some items that I splurge for. My dad introduced me to this local, organic, European-style butter and I've become obsessed with it! It's more expensive than regular butter, but I think it's worth it. It makes the best toast. Ever. Browsing the new food market on Gilt Taste has me contemplating another splurge: California caviar!
How about you? What ingredients are you willing to pay more for?
Besides stocking my pantry with party-ready items, I also keep several very important ingredients in my kitchen at all times. These are items that I use on a daily basis to make tons of different dishes. Read on to see what they are, and then share your must-have foods in the comments below!
My sister refuses to make a recipe if it has a long ingredient list; she can't be bothered with a dish that has tons of items. She swears that the simpler a recipe, the better the final result is. I, on the other hand, am not afraid of long ingredient lists and have been known to make dishes with tons of ingredients. How about you?
A well-stocked home bar should have two versions of vermouth, and trust me: you don't want to confuse the two. Dry vermouth, also called French vermouth (pictured), is light in color and often found in similarly shaded cocktails.
Dry vermouth mixes into a classic dry martini, as well as some of my favorite finds, including the Corkscrew and El Presidente cocktails.
Not surprisingly, Italian (aka sweet) vermouth shows up in the classic Italian cocktail the Negroni, as well as the all-American Manhattan. Some drinks use equal parts of dry/white and red/sweet vermouth and are often dubbed "perfect," as in a Perfect Manhattan. Once you've cracked open a bottle of either type of vermouth, it's best stored in the fridge. What are your vermouth cocktails of choice?
Source: Flickr User erin.kkr
You don't have to go drastic with your diet choices to up the health factor. There are ways to swap out ingredients in your favorite dishes without sacrificing them altogether. I've listed some of these ingredient substitutions below. Have any to add? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments!
- Agave nectar for sugar: While it should still be used sparingly, agave nectar is sweeter than sugar, so you'll be using less, plus it won't cause a spike in blood sugar levels like sugar.
- Avocado for butter: When baking, sub out half the butter with avocado for less calories, saturated fat, and cholesterol.
- Ground flaxseeds for eggs: Who knew flaxseeds could replace eggs in your baking recipes? One teaspoon of ground flaxseeds and 1/4 cup of water replaces a single egg.
- Parsnips for potatoes: Parsnips are just one kind out of many healthy veggies that can replace potatoes in a French fry recipe.
- Greek yogurt for whipped cream: Mixing in Greek yogurt with your whipped cream (or replacing it all together), cuts out fat, giving you more calcium, protein, iron, and healthy bacteria in the process.
- Turkey for beef: Try a healthy turkey burger instead of beef burger at your next BBQ.
Does the notion of using anchovy paste in cooking sound fishy? If so, perhaps it's time to reconsider your stance: Anchovy paste is a versatile, convenient method of enhancing flavor in everything from soup to nuts.
Widely available in specialty stores, anchovy paste is a potent, salty paste made from ground anchovy fillets, water or olive oil, vinegar, and sugar to mellow out the ingredient's fish flavor. (It can also be made from scratch by mashing cured anchovies with a drizzle of olive oil until smooth.) Because the paste can have an overwhelming taste and smell, it's best used in small doses. For this reason, it's often sold in multiuse tubes, which, once opened, keep for up to several months.
A touch of anchovy paste can be used to add a savory, umami quality to dishes — one that's not so much briny as it is piquant. Use it to boost stews, soups, and braises, or to perk up tomato sauce or a meat rub. Personally, I love using the ingredient to up the quotient in a Caesar salad dressing. What do you use it for?
There are so many skin care ingredients out there that it's sometimes difficult to keep up with what they're supposed to do. How much do you know about the most popular ingredients in skin care? Take this quiz to find out.Take the Quiz