nina | February 25th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Snacking sometimes gets a bad rap, but snacking can be great for you when you choose sensible portions of nutritious snacks. For instance, snacks can:
Add good nutrition to your eating plan by providing important nutrients and filling in food groups you missed at meals.
Give you fuel to keep going through the day.
 Curb your appetite so you’re less likely to overeat at meals.

Try these secrets to make the most of your snacks:

Follow the five food groups. 
Choose foods that contribute to the recommended daily food group amounts in your eating plan. For example:
*  Whole-grain cereal, whole-grain crackers and popcorn from the Grains Group
Broccoli florets, celery sticks and radishes from the Vegetables Group
Apples, strawberries and raisins from the Fruit Group
Reduced-fat cheese sticks and low fat or fat free yogurt from the Dairy Group
Nuts, sunflower seeds and hummus from the Protein Group

Make snacks part of the plan
Include snacks as part of your eating plan, not as “extras” or you might get too many calories. Think about what food groups you’re missing and use snacks to fill in the gaps. For instance, if you didn’t have milk in the morning, snack on a serving of cheese or yogurt in the afternoon. If you missed fruit during the day, snack on an orange or a banana in the evening.

Prepare to snack
Put nutritious snacks on your shopping list so you have plenty of nutritious options on hand.

Practice portion control
A smart snack is big enough to take the edge off your appetite, but not so big that you eat too many calories. To control portions, use the serving size information on the Nutrition Facts label as a guide, put a portion of your snack on a plate or in a bowl rather than eating out of the bag or container, or choose snacks with built-in portion control. For many people, a snack with 100 to 200 calories is about right.

Pack a snack
Toss a bag of baby carrots, a yogurt cup or some grapes in your lunch bag to stow in the office fridge for an afternoon snack. If you’re on the go all day, bring along non-perishable items such as whole-wheat pretzels, nuts or dried fruit.

Choose nutritious quick picks
Choose vending machine snacks such as cereal bars, yogurt cups, small bags of nuts or trail mix, fresh fruit, fat free milk or 100% fruit juice. At the drive through, look for small green salads or fruit salads, bags or cups of fruit, or small cups or cones of low fat frozen yogurt or reduced-fat ice cream.

Time it right
Snack two or three hours before your next meal to take the edge off your hunger. You might be less likely to munch while you make dinner or overeat at your meal.

Skip distracted snacking
Break the habit of snacking while you watch TV or talk on the phone, or you might overeat before you realize it. Pay attention to what and how much you eat, so your snack is enjoyable and satisfying. And only snack if you’re hungry, not just out of habit.

Source:, 2.25.13


nina | February 21st, 2013 - 9:00 am

Egg yolks are high in cholesterol, but a new analysis adds to the evidence that they are not the dietary sin we once thought they were. The review suggests that for most people, eating one egg a day is not bad for the heart.

Researchers found no evidence that eating up to an egg a day increased the risk of heart disease or stroke. The results were the same for men and women and in all age ranges.

Diabetic patients were the only exception. For them, high egg consumption was associated with an increased risk of heart disease and a reduced risk for hemorrhagic stroke. But there were too few diabetics in the studies to draw reliable conclusions.

A co-author of the study, a professor of nutrition and epidemiology at Harvard, said that eating two or three or more eggs a day might be harmful, in theory, although there are no data on that.

But within the modest range of one a day, which applies to most people, there is no real danger!  So enjoy your egg!

Source:, helath/science; 1.28.13


nina | February 20th, 2013 - 9:00 am
How to Cook Brisket.

Good things come to those who wait. Such is the case with how to cook brisket–scrumptious smoked beef so tender that it practically falls apart. The prep work starts the day before, and then it smokes for 8 to 10 hours. If you don’t have a smoker, you can cook brisket on a charcoal or gas grill, though in smaller portions. Serve it up with your favorite barbecue sauce, and you’ll have a delicious meal that is well worth the wait.Beef Brisket. This is perfect for the summer if you’re feeding a big crowd, you cook the brisket low and slow on the grill and the result is juicy and tender. 
2  tablespoons  paprika
1  tablespoon  chili powder
1  teaspoon  ground coriander
1  teaspoon  ground cumin
1  teaspoon  sugar
1  teaspoon  salt
1/2  teaspoon  ground black pepper
1/2  teaspoon  curry powder
1/2  teaspoon  dry mustard
1/2  teaspoon  ground red pepper (cayenne pepper)
1/2  teaspoon  dried thyme leaves, crushed
8  to 10  mesquite or hickory wood chunk
1  10- to 12-pound  fresh beef brisket
2  cups  of your favorite barbecue sauce

In a small bowl, combine rub ingredients. The night before smoking, soak wood chunks in enough water to cover. Drain before using.
Do not trim fat from brisket. One day before smoking, remove 1 tablespoon of the rub mixture and stir into 2 cups of your favorite barbecue sauce. Cover and chill. Sprinkle brisket with the remaining rub mixture. Wrap meat tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.

Smoker Directions: Arrange preheated coals, half of the drained wood chunks, and the water pan as directed in manufacturers directions. Fill pan with hot water. Place brisket, fat side up, on grill rack over pan. Cover and smoke for 8 to 10 hours until a fork can easily be inserted into the center of the meat and a thermometer registers 185 degree F. Add more coals as needed, but do not add any more wood chips after the first three hours. (Too much smoke makes meat bitter.) Remove brisket from smoker. Cover and let stand 15 minutes. *Read and follow the instructions that came with your smoker.

Gas and Charcoal Grill Directions: For a grill, prepare a 4-1/2- to 5-pound brisket as directed above, except use only half of the rub ingredients. At least 1 hour before grilling, soak 8 to 10 wood chunks in enough water to cover.

For a Charcoal Grill: Prepare grill for indirect grilling. Arrange medium hot coals around a drip pan. Fill drip pan with hot water. Test for medium-low heat above the drip pan. Add half of the wood chunks. Place brisket, fat side up, on the grill rack over the drip pan. Cover and grill for 2-1/2 hours. Turn brisket and continue grilling for 1-1/2 to 2 hours until a fork can be easily inserted in the center of the meat and an instant-read thermometer registers 185 degree F. Add coals (about 8 to 12 per hour) and wood as needed to maintain temperature and smoke. (Do not add any more wood after 2 hours of grilling.)

For a Gas Grill: Start with a full tank of fuel. Adjust heat according to manufacturer’s directions for indirect cooking over low heat. Add soaked wood chunks according to manufacturer’s directions. (Or wrap chunks in foil and place packets directly over heat on the lava rocks, ceramic briquettes, or metal heat-diffusing bars). Place a small coffee can or pan of hot water on the side of the grill rack over a lit burner. Place brisket, fat side up, on a rack in a roasting pan; set the pan on the grill rack over the unlit burner. Cover and grill for 2-1/2 hours or until meat is dark, dark brown. Wrap brisket in foil; return to grill directly on grill rack. Cook meat 1-1/2 to 2 hours more until a fork can be easily inserted in the center of the meat and thermometer registers 185 degree F.

 To serve: Heat barbecue sauce in a small saucepan over low heat. To serve brisket, trim away crusty outer layer, if desired. Starting at the brisket’s wider end, find the seam of fat running through the meat and cut along it, slicing the meat in half horizontally. Trim excess fat. Slice each section across the grain. Pass with heated barbecue sauce. Makes 15 to 18 servings using a 10- to 12-pound brisket or 7 to 9 servings with a 4-1/2- to 5-pound brisket.

Even though brisket takes a long time to cook, it doesn’t take a lot of effort. In fact, the hardest part about how to cook brisket may just be having to smell the mouth-watering aroma while you wait for the chance to taste it.



nina | February 20th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Chicken wing prices are at a record high and they’re cutting into restaurant profits. Some chains buy them from suppliers by the pound, then sells them to the consumer in fixed numbers of wings. The new method downplays the actual number of wings in each order. Instead, it presents variable-size portions based on weight. Because the […]


nina | February 19th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Officials Back Deep Cuts in Atlantic Cod Harvest to Save Industry Cod fishermen out of Gloucester, MA, face an uncertain future after the New England Fisheries Management Council voted Wednesday on painful reductions to cod harvests. Fishery management officials voted to impose drastic new cuts to the commercial harvest of cod along the Atlantic coast, […]


nina | February 18th, 2013 - 9:00 am

It’s during the ongoing development of a catering program that you begin to understand the cross-pollination marketing opportunities between channels to help reach customers who had never heard of your restaurant. These customers are new to you  and if you do a great job on catering, you will acquire new fans for the brand. You also build your brand awareness among consumers. As the days pass, you will continue to look for ways to improve your operations.

Growing catering revenues requires professional business-to-business selling skills. Of course, the consumption experience has to be great, but if your customers don’t know you’re in the business of catering, they will only think of your services as they are now, which might be limited to inside your four walls, your take-out program and/or your drive-thru operation.

Getting the word out about your catering program can be a difficult task. Your in-store employees may have little, if any, experience selling your catering corporate services. But if done correctly, your brand’s specific catering message will be used in every area of your business — making it easier for your employees to effectively communicate the differences between your service channels.

Eighty percent of your customer base lives or works within a 10-minute drive of your location and this means your store’s physical environment is a key marketing tool for your catering business. Here are 10 catering tactic that will help you grow your catering business on top of your existing business.

1.  Earn customer confidence with predictable and reliable services every time, across all service channels for your brand. Customers will only order services from your company if they are certain that ordering from any location will be consistent across locations.

2.  Placing orders must be easy for customers and must be predictable to keep your customers’ trust. Your team members must be knowledgeable, friendly and professional at all customer touch points.

3.  Centralized services are a necessity to the serious catering program. Consider managing or outsourcing a call center that receives all catering inquiries and orders. Having a centralized order entry point will ensure that your clients receive a consistent, controlled and positive experience from team members who know the subtleties of your catering offerings and services. Create “catering specialists” where possible. Order entry is the front line when it comes to catering orders.

4.  Follow up after each catering order with a call from your catering leader. Your customers will feel that you care about them. Any unresolved issues may be addressed and future business discussed. Follow up with every single order, every time.

5.  Conduct surveys. Incentivize your customers to take the survey while the experience is fresh in their mind. By asking specific questions you will get feedback on any part of the order process that might not be working as well as you would like.

6.  Keep in contact. No one likes to feel like a number and staying in touch with your customers on a regular basis keeps your service in the front of their mind. Hire a catering sales team to maintain relationships and pursue new ones. Active selling is key to growing a catering program.

7.  Don’t forget to look after sleepy clients. These customers order less than once per month. It can be easy to forget to touch base with them, but they will actually make up a good chunk of your revenue — especially around the holidays. You can contact them with special offers to entice them to order more frequently.

8.  Reward loyalty with a rewards program. Providing a designed catering rewards program is more effective than offering cheap catering services, it lets them know that you recognize how valuable they are. This program can sometimes be a determining factor when it comes to maintaining an ongoing relationship with your customers.

9.  Send hand-written thank you notes. Nothing speaks to a customer more about how much you care then when they receive a thank you card in the mail. Make sure you keep it personal and specific so it does not look “mass produced.” Personal touches are key to making your catering customers feel special.

10.  Turn a negative into a positive. If a customer does have a negative experience, make sure you thank them for letting you know, acknowledge that you have heard them, accept responsibility and then make it right. Make sure you write it up and keep it with your client records.

If done correctly, these simple tactics can help you score big points with new and existing customers. These results, if done each day, will change your restaurant economics.

Source:, 2.13.13


nina | February 15th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Driven by pressures like consumer demand and federal regulations that will require restaurants to post calorie counts on menus, restaurant around the country are adding more nutritious choices and shrinking portion sizes.

The smaller portions, which are not necessarily cheaper, are the first step toward reversing the practice of piling more food on a plate than anyone needs in a single meal, a trend that began nearly three decades ago. Besides making a contribution to customers’ health, restaurant owners are finding that the move is paying off financially, as the best merchant services for restaurants often have payment processing criteria revolving portion sizes.

Lower-calorie menu items have driven restaurant growth over the last several years, no doubt about it.

The Obama administration’s health care act, which was passed in 2010, included a provision requiring restaurants and food establishments with 20 or more locations to post the calorie counts of standard items on their menus. The final regulations are expected soon, with compliance likely to be required by 2014.

What restaurant owners are trying to do here is cut back on portion size, which is brilliant. Some people ask for a to-go container when they first order and then put half of the meal in it before they eat, but smaller plates  takes that step out of the process.

While the move by restaurants to more nutritional menu offerings is driven by external factors, many operators are finding that cutting calories, sodium, sugar and fat pays off.

A perfect example is the pricef chicken wings risingt. From a business perspective, when the core product and its price have an impact on profitability, you diversify the menu.

What has been found is if you limit yourself to the beef hamburger, there are certainly a growing number of folks who wouldn’t even consider that restaurants.   So some restaurants offer the choice of a 200-calorie turkey burger with fewer than 10 grams of fat on a choice of a white or whole wheat bun. You could include a black bean vegetable burger and sweet potato fries, a small portion of which is 255 calories, compared with 278 calories in the same size portion of regular French fries.

Still other restaurants are finding ways to highlight existing options on their menus that make a healthier meal.  A menu can help your customers build a meal with healthy options.

Thepublic is beginning to say it wants healthier options — and restaurants are hearing that — they have an obligation to help show you what that means in their restaurant and give you choices to help you achieve that.

Source:, 2.7.13


nina | February 13th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Restaurants are rethinking the bread basket.

And while bread – preferably free, warm and served with soft butter—is how many diners expect to start a restaurant meal, intense changes in the restaurant industry is changing what diners first munch on at the table.

Some restaurants are dropping the tradition to save money. Others are putting less bread in the basket, or bringing it only on request. Conversely, many high-end restaurants are working to raise the standard on bread baskets from a dining afterthought to dining experience, and sometimes at a charge.

For noticeable freshness, restaurant chefs are making bread from scratch, adding flavors like bacon or serving it with unusual dips and spreads, like whipped ricotta with honey.  People have come to expect “artisan style” bread.  A higher-quality bread has become more common across the country.

Bread facts:
*  Restaurants say most people like soft, sweet butter. Some eateries use less expensive butter with less fat, then whip to add creaminess. 
*  Diners eat an average of 2.4 biscuits per visit.
*  Eating a piece of white bread on an empty stomach is like eating the same amount of sugar, which raises glucose levels.

While some chefs still make their bread from scratch, many mid-tier restaurants are trying to kick the bread-basket habit. Some are putting less bread in the basket, bringing it later in the meal or offering it only upon request to cut consumption.

Americans are attached to the bread-basket custom. Some restaurants became more casual as World War I approached. Many lowered prices to appeal to middle- and working-class diners. When some tried to charge about 10 cents for bread and butter, there was public outcry. 

Slightly fewer people are expected to visit restaurants in 2013 compared with 2012, after several years of weak restaurant visits.  Many restaurants don’t want to start to get them full of bread and they haven’t even had a chance to think about their entree. Usually warm bread arrives after orders are taken, an increasingly common restaurant practice.

Butter is generally the biggest bread-basket expense. Close as quality expectations rise, diners still prefer softer-style breads and sweet, creamy butter.  Most diners say they want hard and sourdough and multigrain, but in fact eat dinner rolls and bagels.

Airy whipped butter is loved by U.S. consumers, and it allows restaurants to serve less-expensive, lower-fat butter while maintaining a creamy taste. While whipping, many restaurants add herbs or salt.

Nutritionally speaking, eating white bread before a meal is like eating an equivalent amount of sugar. Glucose levels surge when a person eats highly processed bread, as opposed to stone-ground, whole-grain bread, on an empty stomach. Those glucose levels then crash, making people feel hungrier later in the meal. Eating less bread with more olive oil or butter, he says, is better than bread alone because digestion slows, limiting the crash effect.


nina | February 11th, 2013 - 9:00 am

Kitchen Basics: Beef Roast

Cook this roast on a Sunday and enjoy it throughout the week. We used no salt, just pepper for a truly flavorful roast.
Number of Servings: 12

1 2 1/2-pound top round
1 t cracked black pepper

Allowing the meat to rest for 10 minutes after cooking will give the juices time to redistribute. If you cut into the meat as soon as it comes out of the oven, all the juices will run out, and your meat will be dry.

1. Preheat the oven to 400° F. Remove meat from the refrigerator; allow to stand at room temperature for 20 minutes.
2. Pat meat dry with paper towels to remove any moisture. Sprinkle and then rub the pepper over the meat.
3. Place a cast-iron skillet or heavy ovenproof sauté pan over moderate heat. Do not add cooking spray or any oil to the pan. Sear the meat on
all sides, then move the pan to the oven.
4. Immediately reduce the oven temperature to 350° F and roast until the internal temperature reaches 125° F, about 50 minutes. Remove the
meat from the oven, cover loosely with foil, and let stand for 10 minutes before carving into thin slices.


nina | February 8th, 2013 - 9:00 am

February is Heart Month, and what better way is there to improve your heart health than with food?  There are so many foods which, when added to your diet, can help you improve your heart health each and every day.  introducing just a few of these superstars:

Flaxseed –A small but powerful and ready to fight for your heart health with a punch of omega 3 fatty acids (learn more about omega 3 from a recent article from  Grind it up and add it to everything from pancakes to smoothies to yogurt for help in reducing inflammation.  It has also been shown in some studies to reduce triglycerides.  Flaxseed is also an especially good choice if you’re not a fan of seafood.

Pomegranate – Has been loved and immortalized for thousands of years, but it’s only relatively recently that the powerful nutrition and health benefits have been discussed.  Like other brightly colored fruits, it is high in antioxidants, and studies have shown thatit can also help improve blood flow to the heart.  Enjoy pomegranate on its own, topping salads or sprinkled over poultry.

Oatmeal – Is steadfast, solid and the breakfast you come back to again and again.  It’s a champ at warming you up on a cold day and helping to lower your cholesterol with a healthy dose of fiber.  It’s fiber can also help you lose weight by filling you up with whole grain goodness.  Pair oatmeal with other heart healthy foods like Flaxseed and Walnut for flavor and added nutrition.

Black Bean – Like it’s Legume friends and Oatmeal, is a champ at helping to lower cholesterol with its high amount of fiber.  Add it to salads and soups or make it the star of your next meal to help reduce your risk of heart attack.

Celebrate Heart Month this February by adding these heart healthy foods into your diet both at home and when dining out at restaurants.

Source:  HealthyDiningFinder, 2.5.2013
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