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Guest Post: FOOD Baja Barat – Importance of Food at Indian Weddings

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

Indian weddings are lavish celebrations, with a number of rituals that are considered essential to tying the knot. Every aspect of the Indian wedding is larger than life, and a huge investment of time and effort goes into picking out a luxurious wedding venue, gorgeous wedding outfits and of course, food!

 

Indian food is practically a form of worship in itself!

Delectable dishes are an important part of any wedding (not just in India), but it’s quite possible that the country’s obsession with food is unique. Food plays a huge role in Indian culture, both traditionally and in modern times, while some interesting traditions revolve around food at Indian weddings.

What’s Special about the Role of Food at Indian Weddings?

Like everything else about India, the weddings in different regions of the country take on a unique flavor. Some of the most common religious beliefs and cultural traditions associated with food include:

  • Sweets – In every part of the country, the ‘mithai’ or sweetmeats passed around to guests are more than just yummy bites. They are believed to sweeten the lives of the person eating them, not just their palates. At a wedding, the bride and groom are normally fed a little piece or gifted a box of sweets by everyone present. This is the same reason why sweets are included in every religious ceremony, special occasion and celebration across India.
  • Turmeric – Rather than just being a spice for cooking, turmeric is considered medicinal, spiritual and magical. A few days before the wedding, the ‘haldi’ ceremony is a fun ritual where the couple is coated with turmeric paste to cleanse and purify them, as well as ward off negative influences. This can be a lot of fun, since close family members and friends sing, dance and laugh while applying the yellow paste on the soon-to-be-wedded bride and groom!
  • Rice – While rice is a very important part of the menu at any Indian wedding, its significance goes beyond mere food. Grains of rice are showered over the couple as part of a symbolic ritual, to bless them with prosperity and joy and ensure that they never go hungry. In a post-wedding ritual, a new bride has to upturn a bowl of rice at the entrance to her new home before stepping over the threshold, since it is believed that luck and prosperity will follow.

Today, the nuptial ceremonies of Indian couples normally feature a blend of traditional and contemporary ideas, but the rituals remain important, even if they seem silly to some of us!

About the Author:

Prerita is a Marketing Specialist with LocalOye.com which is a marketplace for event and venue planning. LocalOye specializes in for wedding/ reception venues etc. Prerita is a digital geek and social media expert. You can connect with her on facebook or twitter.

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Fast Food’s New Mystery Ingredient

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Meatless Mondays just got a whole lot hotter for one city’s population. San Antonio is set to be the location of the very first Earth Burger, one of few Vegetarian and Vegan fast food restaurants in the country. This is an unexpected move on behalf of a city known for its astonishingly high obesity rate and the patented Texas-sized love of all things deep-fried and cholesterol-ridden.

But Mike Behrend, the founder, believes that people in San Antonio will surprise everyone and rally behind the chain. He cites the fact that they’ve embraced his other restaurant, Green Vegetarian Cuisine, as a good indication that they’ll be pleased with a better, healthier, fast food alternative to the traditional burger and fries equation.

The restaurant is being funded through kickstarter, and is already almost to their goal of $40,000 by next week. So it looks like The Lone Star State’s first vegetarian fast food joint is indeed coming to town. While there’s no telling how well they’ll do once they open their doors, it’s clear from the outpouring of funds on the fundraising site that people are interested and excited about vegetarian and vegan fast food choices.

Out of curiosity, I checked out their menu, and I have to say – the options look delicious! From the “Nacho Burger” to the “Chik-n” sandwich, it looks like a menu worth trying. And they have plenty of non-traditional choices too, including corn dogs, grilled cheeses, and fish sandwiches; all of which you probably won’t find at your local Wendy’s. The pricing ranges from $5-8 a meal, making it competition for other local chains like What-a-burger and McDonald’s.

For anyone tired of sifting through menus and “special ordering” every time your coworkers choose the restaurant for lunch, Earth Burger is like a beacon of hope. A Vegan dream come true – who knows, maybe they’ll convert us all.

About the Author:

Caitlin is a senior at The George Washington University, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in creative writing. She loves to travel, and when she can’t leave home to find adventure she’s more than willing to look for it in a good book. To read more from her visit her blog at http://toromeandbackagain.blogspot.com/.

(Photo Source)

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Nourishing Mondays: Pan-Seared Wild Salmon & Sunflower-Dill Pesto

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Enjoy this nutrient-packed recipe for Pan-Seared Wild Salmon & Sunflower-Dill Pesto. Packing a punch, this recipe offers omegas, vitamins A, D, B6 and 12, essential minerals, proteins, and amino acids.

Ingredients:

For the Pesto:

1/2 cup unsalted sunflower seeds (lightly toasted)
1 bunch dill (large stems removed)
½ bunch flat leaf parsley (large stems removed)
¼ cup grated parmigiano-reggiano
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Kale and Quinoa:

1/3 cup pine nuts
2 bunches kale cleaned and rough chopped (I prefer lacinato, but any kind will do)
3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic minced
2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 cup quinoa
2 cups vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
Salt and pepper to taste

For the Salmon:

4 salmon filets (6-8 oz. each, boneless, skinless and fresh if possible)
2 Tbsp. grape seed oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized pot, fill with water, and bring to a boil. Add enough kosher or sea salt to make the water taste very salty. Fill a medium sized bowl with ice water. Plunge the pesto herbs into the pot, then immediately remove to the ice water. Toast the sunflower seeds on a parchment lined sheet tray, just until lightly toasted (about 5 min.) Remove the herbs from the ice bath and gently squeeze excess water off and dry. Put all ingredients for the pesto in a blender and blend until smooth (season with sea salt and pepper to taste, and can add more olive oil if desired consistency is to be thinner). Remove to a storage container and set aside.

Toast the pine nuts just as the sunflower seeds and set aside. In a small heavy bottom sauce pot, heat the vegetable stock, bay leaf, pinch salt and pepper to a boil, then add the quinoa, stir, cover and lower heat to a low. Cook quinoa for approximately 13 minutes, then let sit in pot to stay warm. Get two large saute pans (one for fish and one for kale dish). Add EVOO to kale pan and heat to medium. Add the garlic and saute for about 30 seconds then add the kale, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Stir and lower heat to medium-low and cover. Continue to stir occasionally, until kale is tender, but still has a little bite.

Season the salmon with salt and pepper. Heat the 2nd saute pan with the grape seed oil on high until the oil shimmers. Add the salmon flesh side down, reduce heat to medium, and sear for about 2 minutes, then flip and cook approximately 2 more minutes (depending upon desired doneness and thickness of filet).

Stir the quinoa (bay leaf removed) and pine nuts into the kale. Taste for seasoning balance. Spoon the kale mixture onto a plate, add a salmon filet and pesto over the filet like a sauce.

Serves 4

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Sustainable Saturday: Grow, Garden, Grow!

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Spring has [finally] sprung! It’s time to pull out those old blue jeans, roll up those sleeves, and get outside for some planting that will have you reaping big rewards all summer long! It’s okay if you’ve never grown a thing a day in your life. These five fruits and veggies are easy to care for and very rewarding – perfect for beginners and pros alike.

  1. Carrots. Plant these now for a pretty early summer crop. They don’t take much room, but they do take a little looking after. Make sure that they’re well watered and that they have plenty of mulch. The best part about carrots is that once they grow they stay good in the ground for a very long time until you’re ready to use them.
  2. Tomatoes. You may have to wait just a few more weeks to start planting these ruby red fruit/veggie hybrids, but they’re worth the wait. Just find a sunny spot and plop them in the ground. If you get a steady and normal amount of rain this time of year, you don’t need to worry about watering them. Just check on them now and again to pinch off any side shoots that are not carrying flowers – these hurt they’re growth. The best part is the variety – there are tons of different kinds of to try out – why not plant them all?
  3. Melons. These babies are perfect for picnics, so get to planting now, and you’ll be able to enjoy giant melons before too long. Watch them as they grow to know when to plant – cantaloupes will go from green to yellow and watermelons will get darker as they ripen, with their bellies becoming a creamy color instead of white.
  4. Onions. The ultimate beginners vegetable – onions don’t take any effort at all. Just plant sets (small baby onions) in the spring, and dig ‘em back up in a few months (July-August). Onions are, in my personal opinion, the spice of life – they make a great relish to add any dish
  5. Strawberries. Mmm. Who doesn’t love delicious, succulent, summer strawberries? This sweet little fruit can be grown in a garden or in a pot (perfect for all you apartment-renters like myself). You can buy them as young plants now, and enjoy fruit beginning in just a couple of weeks, as their harvest time is June-September. Not sold yet? They also produce beautiful fragrant flowers to delight your senses!

Happy planting!

About the Author:

Caitlin is a senior at The George Washington University, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in creative writing. She loves to travel, and when she can’t leave home to find adventure she’s more than willing to look for it in a good book. To read more from her visit her blog at http://toromeandbackagain.blogspot.com/.

(Photo Source)

(Resource 1, 2, 3, 4)

April 18: Favorite Sites Friday

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Here’s another interesting mix of food-related websites and blogs for your reading entertainment. #FavoriteSitesFriday

  1. Farming First: With the support of 131 organizations representing the world’s farmers, scientists, engineers and industry as well as agricultural development organizations, Farming First was developed as a joint call to action in response to the global challenges posed at the 2009 United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. It is a coalition of multi-stakeholder organizations, which exists to articulate, endorse and promote practical, actionable programs and activities to further sustainable agricultural development worldwide.
  2. The Cornucopia Institute: Engaging in educational activities supporting the ecological principles and economic wisdom underlying sustainable and organic agriculture, the Cornucopia Institute is a 501(c)(3) public interest group providing needed information to consumers, family farmers, and the media.
  3. Certified Naturally Grown: CNG is a Grassroots Alternative to the USDA’s National Organic Program meant primarily for small farmers distributing through local channels – farmer’s markets, roadside stands, local restaurants, community supported agriculture (CSA) programs, and small local grocery stores. The primary difference between Certified Naturally Grown and the USDA Organic program is cost to farmers, paperwork requirements, and the farmer-to-farmer inspection approach (CNG).
  4. Ecological Farming Association: Reaching more than 60,000 participants over 30+ years, EcoFarm nurtures healthy and just farms, food systems, communities and environment by bringing people together for education, alliance building and advocacy. EcoFarm is a non-profit educational organization founded in 1981, which is funded through our activities and projects, community contributions, business sponsorships, membership donations, and grants.
  5. Practice Greenhealth: A nonprofit membership organization, Practice Greenhealth is the source for environmental solutions for the healthcare sector and lends support to create better, safer, greener workplaces and communities. It was founded on the principles of positive environmental stewardship and best practices by organizations in the healthcare community.

Be sure to share your food-related site with us, we’d love to feature it in our next Favorite Sites Friday post. Leave us your URL in the comments area or shoot us a tweet @foodem.

Vermont Wants You to “Say no to GMOs”

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As of yesterday, Vermont’s senate has passed a bill that could make it the very first state in the country to require all foods containing genetically modified organisms to come labeled. The bill, approved by a 28-2 vote, wants consumers to have more purchasing power when it comes to the food they buy. This bill will help people determine what they put into their bodies, and keep any food product containing GMOs from labeling itself as “natural” or “all natural” as many of them do now.

The bill still has to go to the lower house before going to Vermont Governor, Peter Shumlin, for his signature, but it’s expected to pass with flying colors.

Other states in the Northeast have tried passing GMO labeling laws and failed – the bills in Maine and Connecticut require 4-5 other, neighboring, states to pass the same kind of labeling laws before they can be enacted – so this bill with make Vermont the first state with straightforward, no-nonsense labeling laws.

With GMO usage becoming more widespread, consumers are starting to demand the right to know what goes into the food they consume before they consume it. It’s estimated that 70-80 percent of all processed food in the U.S. has at least one genetically modified ingredient, with corn, cotton and soybeans being the most common GMO crops.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration does not regard GMOs as dangerous, and therefore refuses to demand that GMO foods be labeled, consumers believe they have the right to make that choice themselves.

Regardless of where you stand on the GMO issue there’s no denying that it’s refreshing to see the government putting buyer power back into the hands of food lovers everywhere.

I say “rock on” Vermont – let us know about those GMOs!

About the Author:

Caitlin is a senior at The George Washington University, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in creative writing. She loves to travel, and when she can’t leave home to find adventure she’s more than willing to look for it in a good book. To read more from her visit her blog at http://toromeandbackagain.blogspot.com/.

(Photo Source)

Guest Post: How to Eat Healthy While on the Job

Reported by foodem.com, the online wholesale food marketplace-

The good news? You’ve landed a dream job that leaves you fulfilled. The not-so-good news? That dream job is also leaving you filled – with the wrong kinds of food. When you’re working 9 to 5, it can be hard to eat healthy. Doughnuts in the break room? A co-worker’s birthday – complete with cake and ice cream? Tempting candy at the receptionist’s desk? These diet minefields can be hard to overcome, but these tips can help you navigate potential pitfalls with ease.

Don’t Skip Breakfast

When you’re in a hurry to get out the door, it can be easy to blow off breakfast. However, eating breakfast helps to keep your metabolism on an even keel and ups your energy. A good, quick option is Greek or plain yogurt, to which you can add your own ingredients. Stir in fresh berries or sliced fruit, and add granola or almonds for crunch. You can also have a quick bowl of cereal, just be sure to pick one that’s high in fiber and made with whole grains, says WebMD.

Have an important breakfast meeting? Order a vegetable-packed omelet with red peppers and tomatoes, or try some scrambled eggs for a good hit of protein. Another good option is half of a whole-wheat bagel, but skip the cream cheese and opt for smoked salmon instead for heart-healthy omega 3s.

Morning and Afternoon Snacks

You certainly don’t want a foggy brain during your web design company meeting, but just make sure to think outside the vending machine. Refuel with a yogurt smoothie, low-fat cheese stick or whole-wheat crackers. Stock up on grab-and-go options like power bars without added sugar, which will provide you with a needed boost of energy.

Raw vegetables and fruits also make a great snack. Smear natural peanut butter on celery sticks or apple slices, or dip carrots into hummus. Try some fresh tomato salsa with blue corn tortilla chips.

Lunch

Try making your own salad with mixed greens, cherry tomatoes and other vegetables of choice. Be sure to include a protein source, like chicken breast or chopped hardboiled eggs, and top it off with low-fat cheese such as grated parmesan if you like. Other great salad toppings include avocado and fresh herbs, says the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Stick with homemade dressings over calorie-laden bottled dressings. Try olive oil with balsamic vinegar or fresh-squeezed lemon juice.

Make a sandwich with whole-wheat bread or wraps, and use mustard instead of fatty mayonnaise. Fill with lean meats such as turkey or ham, skip the cheese and pile on the vegetables. For soups, avoid cream-based and go for vegetable or broth-based varieties. Think Manhattan clam chowder instead of New England clam chowder.

Drinks of Choice

Skip the soda. Regular soda is loaded with empty calories, and diet sodas are made with artificial sweeteners that trick your body into producing unneeded insulin. A better bet is to stick with plain or sparking water. You can always jazz up the taste with fresh lemon or lime juice. For something different, try some coconut water, which is lower in calories than soda but delivers that sweet taste.

Eating healthy throughout the day can help decrease your waistline and boost your energy levels, helping you power through your workday with ease.

About the Author:

Courtney Gordner is a passionate blogger who loves to share insight about living a healthy life. Read more from her on her blog, www.talkviral.com.

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A Food Truck Nation

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Who doesn’t love hot and delicious food that stops right outside, on a daily basis, if front of the office during lunch time? With so much to offer, it’s no wonder that food truck mania has been sweeping the nation. But now, it looks like these driving delectable will be swarming more than just the streets.

The next time you’re at the airport, why not forgo those soggy sandwiches and try some local food truck cuisine? Or at least, that’s the pitch airports are using as they’ve begun bringing in food trucks to their cell phone parking lots. LAX even has plans to build a structure that resembles a food truck in one of their terminals, stating that it will have a rotating menu with offerings from Los Angeles’ most popular food trucks.

Currently Tampa International has the largest collection of trucks – their program dates back to November, and was originally just a way of serving the massive amount of people waiting in the cell phone parking lot to pick up friends and family during the Thanksgiving holiday rush. Their first month in business was so successful that they’ve extended the program through August, with a different food truck every day. There offerings range from the Cheesesteak truck to Graffeaties, which serves global street food, and there are plenty in rotation so you never know what you’ll find.

Since airports are the first look you get of a destination city, it makes sense that they’d offer more local food options to serve customers and raise awareness and revenue for local businesses. And for now, it looks like the programs have been a rousing success, with more popping up every day.

And that’s not the only market food trucks are crashing – Royal Caribbean Cruises is adding a “food truck” restaurant on their newest ship, Quantum of the Seas. The stationary “truck” will serve hot dogs and sausage, and Royal Caribbean claims the new venue is a way to share the “food truck” experience with guests who live in smaller communities, sans food trucks.

Some have argued that for those who live in big cities, seeing a food truck on a cruise ship “won’t seem like much of a vacation,” but only one thing’s for sure. Food trucks are fast becoming a U.S. staple – stationary restaurants had better watch out.

About the Author:

Caitlin is a senior at The George Washington University, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in creative writing. She loves to travel, and when she can’t leave home to find adventure she’s more than willing to look for it in a good book. To read more from her visit her blog at http://toromeandbackagain.blogspot.com/.

(Photo Source)

(Resources 1, 2)

Nourishing Mondays: Red Lentil & Quinoa Cakes With Basil Cream

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Here is another great Nourishing Mondays recipe to start your week off.

Ingredients:

1 teaspoon salt plus a pinch of salt
1 cup (175g) uncooked quinoa, preferably sprouted
1 cup (200g) dried red lentils, rinsed
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1⁄2 teaspoon ground white pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cups (300g) chopped yellow onion
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 large eggs, whisked, or 1 large egg, and 2 large egg whites

For the basil cream:

1⁄2 cup (125ml) 2% fat Greek yogurt
1⁄2 cup (30g) packed fresh basil leaves
1⁄4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons crème fraîche

Directions:

1. In a medium saucepan, bring 1 1⁄2 cups (350ml) of 
water to a boil with a pinch of salt. Place the quinoa in a fine-mesh sieve and rinse. (Sprouted quinoa does not need to be rinsed before cooking.) Add the quinoa to the boiling water, cover, and cook over medium-high heat for 10 to 15 minutes, until all the water is absorbed. Remove from the heat, stir, cover again, and let steam for 5 minutes. Let cool to room temperature.

2. In a separate saucepan, combine the lentils, turmeric, ginger, cumin, pepper, remaining 1 teaspoon of salt, and 3 cups (750ml) of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are cooked down to baby food consistency and all the water has been absorbed. Let cool to room temperature.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil in large sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 minutes, until translucent. Transfer to a large bowl and let cool. Wipe the pan clean and set aside.

4. Make the basil cream: Combine all the ingredients in a blender or food processor and blend until creamy.

5. When the quinoa and lentils are cool, combine them in a large bowl and add the sautéed onion, flour, and eggs.

6. Heat the remaining 11⁄2 tablespoons oil over medium-high heat in the reserved pan. Add the lentil mixture to the pan in 1⁄4-cup (60ml) portions in two batches, flattening the patties slightly. Cook 5 minutes per side, until golden brown.

7. Serve 2 cakes per person topped with a tablespoon of the basil cream.

Serves 8

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Sustainable Saturdays: instagram Love

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Food photography is around for all those times you can’t leave your desk, but are in desperate need of a pick-me-up. It’s beautiful, so beautiful that you can almost taste it just look at it. But not all food photography is created equal, so I’ve compiled a list of the best Food instagram accounts to follow. Warning: prolonged exposure to food photography might induce the munchies.

  1. @loveandlemons. This graphic designer is from Texas, so it makes sense that she knows plenty about how to make food look (and taste) delicious. Follow her instagram to get yourself hungry, and then head over to her blog to find out how to make your own kitchen look that good.
  2. @joythebaker. Having followed her blog for years, I can personally vouch for the delicious recipes Joy the Baker is constantly whipping up. The desserts on her blog are always a hit at parties, and the photos will have your sweet tooth slobbering in seconds. The most inspiring part? She’s home-taught. That should give you amateur foodies some hope.
  3. @idafrosk. Norway’s Ida Skivenes creates food art that will make you smile on the worst of days. Not only does it look awesome, it’s also edible, which makes everything better. You might not have the time to play with your food, but now you can watch Ida do it for you.
  4. @ashrod. Not Without Salt food blogger, Ashley Rodriguez, posts dazzling photos of her latest recipes. There’s a good mix of savory and sweet, so no matter what you’re in the mood for you’re sure to find something delicious to daydream about during your next office meeting.
  5. @dominiqueansel. Yeah, he invented the cronut. But this chef isn’t a one-hit-wonder, and his instagram is here to prove it. These dishes are practically works of art.

About the Author:

Caitlin is a senior at The George Washington University, pursuing a degree in English with a minor in creative writing. She loves to travel, and when she can’t leave home to find adventure she’s more than willing to look for it in a good book. To read more from her visit her blog at http://toromeandbackagain.blogspot.com/.

(Photo Source)

(Resources 1, 2, 3)