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August 22: Favorite Foodem Posts

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No matter what aspect of the food industry you’re interested in, be it research, recipes, business or gardening, we’ve got you covered. Today we’re going to highlight some of Foodem’s most favored and shared posts. Remember, the Foodem blog has something for everyone.

1. Fast Food’s New Mystery Ingredient

2. Guest Post: Genetically-Modified Salmon – This is a Cool Science

3. Mix and Match Smoothie Edition

4. Are the Foods You Eat Putting You In Danger?

5. Cooking with Sunflowers

As always we encourage you to submit the link to your food-related website. We’d love to feature it on our Favorite Sites Friday post. Leave your URL below in the comments area or shoot us a tweet @Foodem.

Winterize Your Herb Garden

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As fall sits on the horizon, the productivity of home herb gardens are nearing their end. Annual herbs will die off and need to be re-planted after the last frost, while perennial herbs will quietly go dormant and wait for spring.

While perennial and annual are botanical terms, the home gardeners often refer to their herbs as “winter hardy” and “not winter hardy”. Perennials are almost always winter hardy, although in warmer planting zones some annuals will stick around all year long, not requiring re-planting. Moreover, some perennial plants will not survive the winter and will need to be re-planted. These are sometimes called “tender perennials” and include sage, rosemary, and lavender.  (By the way, if you’re not sure about your planting zone, the USDA has an interactivezonemap.)

One of the most important factors in over-wintering your garden is how you cared for it during the spring and summer months. Protecting your garden against extreme heat will leave it healthy and robust to face the colder months.

If you’re a home gardener growing herbs in containers, you can simply take the non-hardy plants indoors for the winter. It’s best to keep them somewhere cool, like a garage, rather than in the warmer parts of the house.

For your annual plants, fall is a great time to let some go to seed. You can gather the seeds once they dry and use them to re-plant your garden. An easy way to tell if seeds are dry enough to harvest is to crush the plant gently in your hand; dry seeds come away easily. Some plants, such as dill and fennel, produce seeds that are used as spices. Keep your gathered seeds in a dry location until spring and plant them after the last frost. Compost your annual plants after the first frost, but be mindful about tossing seeds into the compost pile to avoid sprouting before spring.

(Photo Courtesy: cocoparisienne)


Guest Post: Ice Cream vs. Frozen Yogurts: Who will survive?

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In spite of the brouhaha surrounding it, the frozen yogurt segment has held a very small portion of the market share in the dessert industry. Despite the random popping up of the healthy frozen yogurt shops everywhere, no ice cream brand is ready to surrender and many have launched variants along the line to counter the competition posed by the frozen yogurt market. The latter on the other hand, has also played in on the healthiness aspect to cater to the more health conscious among the consumers.

As per the food and beverage industry, the frozen yogurt streak may appear to threaten the mass melting favorite, however, the ice cream brands are searching for new ways to stay competitive including reintroduction of classic flavors and providing customizable products that will gain a loyal following. However some markets did see the ice creams take a beating from the fro-yos. Interestingly though the regularly surfacing reports of the fro-yos containing artificial ingredients has worked against it.

Twisting the flavors      

The food market research also revealed that the new entrants in the ice cream market, in the meantime are adding unique twist to the dessert by tapping into the local food movements, selecting from artisan quality ingredients and promoting healthier options. To cite an instance, the CVT Soft Serve launched by the USC alumnus Joe Nicchi reintroduced the soft serve ice cream to Los Angeles. While soft serve is a common ice cream, the majority of the vendors serving it have come up with a low fat version, while CVT offers creamy version that can be crowned with rainbow sprinkles, chocolate and even sea salt. All these shifts within the industry are expected to help in bouncing this variant back into the market. Moreover, many believe that frozen yogurt has finally reached its saturation point.

Switching to smaller portions

The various ice cream vendors are not denying the rapid boom in the outlets offering various treats. With the increased consumer spending and the awareness, the preferences have also undergone change. The industry is increasingly finding increased consumer demand for convenient single served portions and unique flavors. Others are being inspired and taking a cue right from frozen yogurt’s playbook. ‘Til date, the latter has survived by offering healthier portions with toppings of own choice, and being charged by weight, ice cream shops too are serving on the same model – without having a set standard for the portions or toppings.

The American company Sloan, for example is trying its level best to set itself apart from the frozen yogurt arena, however, it is not only keeping itself limited to that. Trying desperately to move away from the congested dessert area, the new stores are sensory overload for both kids and adults. The decorated shops come with variety of ice creams, candy, chocolates, baked goods and even toys. According to the study of the global food industry, since no one else does everything together as this company, they offer the customer with all possible dessert options.

Healthier options anyone?

Also being considered healthier for its ingredients of mostly fresh fruits and curdled milk, ice cream manufacturers on the other hand are also coming out with versions that include vegetables and cater to the sweet tooth of the consumers. The recent company to join this bandwagon was Haagen Dazs that announced two ice cream flavors – tomato cherry and carrot orange. Containing healthy cherry juice and tomato paste, or carrot juice and orange pulp, peel and juice, the brand wants their customers to eat their vegetables while they enjoy slurping their desserts. While others are experimenting with bolder flavors and mixing in avocado and even bacon, others are using liquid nitrogen freezing that would spark new frozen fad – who can forget the dipping dots and their colorful flavors.

This competition is however not new to the ice cream companies. The first whiff was recognized in 1980s but brands like TCBY, then enjoyed explosive growth and overcame it. Market insiders however claim that today frozen yogurts success is stronger and it actually tastes different coming across as a healthy alternative to ice cream. The food market research revealed that the extent of the competition is such that brands are hand picking all the products like vanilla beans to cream from grass-fed cows to salted caramel cooked in-house. While others are venturing into the gourmet area by producing ice cream from fresh fruits.

On the other hand, food and beverage industry found that gelato concepts are also rapidly gaining momentum, which simply means that consumers are looking forward to innovative products, and brands that offers something different.

Despite all the fad about the ice cream, gelato, sorbet or even frozen yogurt, the ‘truth’ that matters is its taste. Trends have found that ice cream remains a winner among all other dessert options and people don’t mind paying a little more for their ice popsicles. The biggest drawback however, remains in the health quotient, but experts speculate that since both dessert caters to different clientele with unique demands, both the markets are different. We are yet to see whether frozen yogurt will ultimately rule the dessert market, until then, the easily accessible and affordable ice cream is always available.

About the Author:

Aditi Biswas is a market and communication specialist working with Research on Global Markets – a company that provides insightful reports across sectors like healthcare, food and beverage industry among others. Having done an extensive food and beverage industry research, she provides insightful content about various segments of the food and beverage industry.

(Photo Courtesy: JESHOOTS )

Cooking with Sunflowers

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If you are lucky enough to grow sunflowers or be neighbors with someone who does, this is a great time of year.  Sunflowers are currently in full bloom and ready for harvest.  I love to grow some for the beautiful flowers and others for the seeds.  Sunflower seeds are a great nutritious ingredient that doesn’t get enough attention.

Sunflower seeds contain lecithin.  Lecithin is a yellow-brown colored fatty substance which actually makes up nearly a third of the human brain.  Including sunflower lecithin in a healthy diet can improve brain function, lower cholesterol, and many other positive health benefits.  Here are several ways to enjoy sunflower seeds in your diet:

Crunchy Tuna Melt:  Add 2 tablespoons into your tuna mix the next time you are making tuna melts.  Sunflower seeds offer a great flavor and textural contrast.  If you want to make even a jazzier tuna melt try this one which uses provolone cheese and sesame sprout bread.

Warm Brussels Sprout Salad with Gorgonzola and Sunflower Seeds: The brussels sprouts will probably still the attention of your guests but that ok.  Even if your friends don’t now it they will be enjoying the healthy benefits of lecithin along with the tasty goodness of Brussels sprouts, balsamic, and gorgonzola.  (Recipe and photo)

Yogurt, peach parfaits: Start with a serving of plain Greek yogurt added ½ a diced peach, and a tablespoon of sunflower seeds.  It’s a great quick breakfast which transforms ‘boring’ plain yogurt into a delicious and beautiful morning starter. (recipe)

Cilantro Sunflower Pesto: Sunflower seeds make a perfect substitute for pin nuts in a traditional pesto.  You can take one more step away from tradition by using cilantro in place of basil as they did in this powered by plantz recipe.

Roasted Sunflowers: A list of sunflower seed recipes wouldn’t be complete without a in the shell roasting recipe. If you have never tried fresh (still warm) roasted sunflowers you are really missing out. The extra effort to make is definitely worth it.  If you like spice, dust them with cayenne pepper right after they come out of the oven.

This is a good start but you may have additional ideas.  I’d love to hear them.

About the Author:

Chris Wimmer writes about gardening, cooking, and juicing at  You can also follow him on Facebook and Twitter.

(Photo Courtesy: Chris Wimmer)


Nourishing Mondays: Raw Banana Cinnamon Chia Pudding

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To save time, why not make your dish ahead of time? This recipe for chia pudding is great for a nutritious on-the-go breakfast or snack.


1 cup cashew milk (homemade recipe below)
1/4 cup chia seeds
2 tsp. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. lucuma
1/4 tsp. vanilla essence
1/2 banana

Serves 1

Homemade Cashew Milk

Makes 4 cups

1 cup cashews (soaked for six hours)
1 Medjool date
4 cups of water
pinch of sea salt


1. Mix all of the ingredients for the cashew milk in a high speed blender for over a minute, until it’s creamy and has a milk-like consistency (this will make up about four cups, and the leftovers can be kept in the fridge).

2. In a bowl, combine the cashew milk with everything except for the chia seeds and mix well. A whisk is perfect for this.

3. Add the chia seeds and whisk for a minute or so to make sure the seeds are spread evenly and aren’t clumped up.

4. Let the mixture settle for a minute and whisk again. The pudding should start to thicken at this point.

5. Put into the refrigerator and let set for at least 30 minutes (sometimes, I will make this the night before to eat for breakfast the next day).

6. Slice up the banana and place over the top, sprinkle some cinnamon. Enjoy!

(Photo Source/Resource)

Sustainable Saturdays: Meat-Free, One Day

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If meat has always been a part of your every day diet, giving it up instantaneously will be quite difficult. Some people have the ability to make the commitment to lead a completely vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, while others struggle to say “no” to meat.

For those that find it tough to give up meat completely, there is a way to benefit from the many positive aspects of vegetarianism – eliminating meat one day per week.

Below are a few of the amazing benefits associated with going meatless for a day:

Improvements in Health

Reducing your meat intake, especially fattier cuts of pork and beef, can help prevent obesity and by extension prevent heart disease. Studies have also shown that meat can affect the growth of certain cancers. Finally, avoiding meat lowers exposure to the antibiotics and hormones that are injected into livestock raised in factory farms.

Stress on the Pocketbook

The next time you go grocery shopping, pay attention to the price of meat compared to other food items. Typically, meats are more expensive. Vegetables, grains, and legumes are much cheaper than meat, on average. Many dry grains and legumes will keep for a long time, as opposed to highly-perishable meat that sometimes has to be thrown away.

Alleviating Hunger

This goes back to the last benefit: meat is more expensive to produce. Livestock require food that could be used to feed people, which coincide with the expenses associated with meat. It takes 8 kg of grain to produce 1 kg of beef, to give you an idea of what these animals require. Those who cannot afford meat could benefit from a higher production of grains.

Happier Animals

I’m sure you’ve heard the horror stories about factory farms and the conditions in which the animals live. Guess what? They’re all true. Livestock are subjected to short and painful lives in overcrowded and unhygienic conditions, only to be eventually slaughtered. Less demand for meat might discourage the mass production of meat.

Less Environmental Damage and Pollutants

Livestock manure is responsible for 15% of greenhouse gases, such as methane and nitrous oxide, which are released into the atmosphere. Forests are destroyed to make room for raising livestock. Ultimately, this all contributes to climate change. Consuming less meat as a population would decrease these effects.

Remember, these are just a few benefits that can come from eliminating meat just one day per week.

(Photo Courtesy: istorywriter)

(Additional Sources 1, 2, 3)

August 15: Favorite Sites Friday

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

  1. Wise Bread: “You can have fun saving money!” is the motto of this website. Wise Bread is made up of a community of bloggers focused on helping you live large on a small budget. Visitors will discover: 1) Savvy shopping tips to keep you stylish, sassy, and solvent 2) Financial advice that is easy to understand and easy to apply 3)  Career and money-making ideas that will add zeros to your bank account and 4) General adulthood know-how your parents forgot to tell you.
  2. Root Simple: Created by Kelly Coyne and Erik Knutzen, authors of The Urban Homestead: Your Guide to Self-Sufficient Living in the Heart of the City (2008) and Making It: Radical Home Ec for a Post-Consumer World (2011), Root Simple is about back to basics, DIY living, encompassing homegrown vegetables, chickens, herbs, hooch, bicycles, cultural alchemy, and common sense.
  3. Compost Cab: Do you often end up with extra compost? Compost Cab is a great resource to handle your extra compost. Founded in 2010, Compost Cab is a Washington, DC-based company committed to building healthier, more sustainable, more productive cities.
  4. Wall St. Cheat Sheet: Named the #1 Social Media Influencer on Wall Street according to Forbes, Wall St. Cheat Sheet is one of the largest media companies in the U.S. with over 15,000,000 monthly unique visitors and 110,000,000 monthly page views. Their mission is to provide succinct, value-added analyses for busy news consumers in a mobile world. The site covers everything from business to autos.
  5. The Culinary Chronicles: Started in November 2009, Nam shares a common appreciation and fascination for food with her visitors.

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.

SMS: Save Money Shopping

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Everyone is interested in saving money, right? Some do so by subscribing to daily deal programs such as Groupon, while others sign up for rewards programs. Every little bit saved, helps. This is why buying in bulk is such a great strategy.

Below I’ll explore the wonders of bulk buying.

The Pros of Bulk Buying

Buying in bulk can be extremely cost-effective for individuals and large families. If you pay close attention, price per pound and price per unit for bulk goods can be significantly lower than the standard retail price. This not only helps save money on actual products, it also helps save time; buying in bulk means fewer and less frequent trips to the store.

Potential Cons of Bulk Buying

Wholesale stores such as Costco and Sam’s Club require annual membership dues. Depending on the frequency of your visits, you may or may not see a return on your investment. Other issues that may arise are 1) Storage space after purchasing huge packages of food and home goods and 2) Food spoilage due to expiration dates. Plan carefully before making the leap.

Get Your Moolah’s Worth

In an effort to avoid wasting your money focus on the following items when shopping at a wholesale store:

  • Household items such as bulk toilet paper, paper towels, food storage supplies (aluminum foil, freezer bags…), and cleaning products. These don’t ever go bad, and chances are you will always have a find for them.
  • Cooking staples such as vinegar, dried herbs and spices, oil, sugar, and flour.
  • Dry, shelf-stable goods such as grains, pastas, dried beans, nuts, teas, and canned goods. Please note, while these are “shelf-stable” items, they still have expiration/use by dates. Also, once you open them, you want to make sure to use the contents fairly quickly.

Bulk Foods to Buy with Caution

The food items below can be tricky. There is no harm in purchasing them, but be mindful of the amount you buy vs. the amount you’ll consume over a period of time.

  • Eggs, milk, and cheese: You are likely not consuming monumental quantities of dairy and eggs, so you may want to consider buying these items from your regular grocery store. On the other hand, if you’re a baker or own a bakery, buying in bulk may be just for you.
  • Fruits and vegetables: Because these are perishable food items, again, you may want to consider buying your fruits and veggies from your regular grocery store in smaller quantities.
  • Meats: If you have the storage space and you plan to portion-out and freeze it immediately after purchase or if you’re planning to host a dinner party, then buying meats in bulk can be a great way to save money. Otherwise, head over to your regular grocery store.

Storing Bulk Purchases

Tupperware and freezer bags can be your best friend when it comes to storing your purchases. You may also want to invest in glass canisters to store items such as sugar, flour, and spices. Large storage bins are perfect for items like bulk grains and pastas, canned goods, bottles of detergents and soaps, and plastic eating utensils.

(Photo Courtesy: LouAnnClark)

Guest Post: How MSG Ruins Your Health

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You may have heard of food containing MSG as being potentially harmful. Linked to processed foods like those you would receive at restaurants and in boxes or cans on the shelf of the grocery store, MSG can be difficult to avoid, especially if you aren’t paying close enough attention to the labels you grab. However, by habitually consuming foods that contain MSG, many people don’t realize that they are continually putting their health, and the health of their loved ones, at risk.

What is MSG?

MSG, or monosodium glutamate, is a food additive that was discovered by Kikunae Ikeda in the early 1900s. Ikeda believed that the acid found in seaweed, from which MSG was made, was the main ingredient that gave seaweed and other foods more flavor. As the scientific name hints, MSG is full of sodium ‑ about 21 percent, according to Dr. Mercola from ‑ and is often used as a preservative in processed foods. MSG is most commonly associated with Asian cuisine, though it can be found in many different products, as well.

What Effects Can MSG Have on Your Health?

Though studies surrounding MSG are still somewhat inconclusive, there are many who believe that the additive is incredibly harmful. The FDA only admits to hearing of small health problems connected to MSG, such as reports of migraines or nausea, but any other potentially long-term problems have not yet been formally identified. The FDA deems MSG relatively “safe.”

However, many others note the following health concerns related to MSG:

  1. Headaches and Migraines. Many case studies have cited this as being a cause of MSG intake. The FDA, too, admits to this potential side-effect.
  2. Difficulty Breathing.
  3. Extreme Fatigue.
  4. Excess Weight. Adam Marcus from Reuters suggests that the excess weight gain associated with MSG intake could be because the food simply tastes better, thus, we eat more of it.
  5. Stomachaches.
  6. Burning/Tingling in Arms and Legs.
  7. Poor Eyesight. cites a case in which MSG was tested on animals and researchers saw a decrease in vision. As the period of time that the animals were tested was relatively small (3-6 months), the idea does leave one to wonder what a lifetime of exposure to foods carrying MSG can do.

With all of the potential problems that can accompany monosodium glutamate, it’s a wonder that food companies who use the additive aren’t being sued by a products liability lawyer. Regardless, it’s important to read food labels and do as much as possible to avoid high intakes of the harmful additive.

About the Author:

Kayla Matthews is a passionate health blogger who enjoys tofu and juicing. You can learn more about her on Twitter, or at!

(Photo Courtesy:wEnDaLicious)

Farmer’s Markets: Eyes Wide Open

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It seems as if farmer’s markets are the norm these days. There’s nothing like immersing yourself in the sights and smells of a local market, not to mention the social aspect of the visit. You have the opportunity to meet other locals that care about sustainability, the foods they eat and their carbon footprint. Additionally, you have a chance to engage with farmers, growers, and other food producers.

What could be better than having your choice of fresh food items and meeting those who grow them? Well, you know as well as I, any good thing can be ruined by misconceptions. Due to the popularity of farmer’s markets, they are being co-opted by retailers, wholesalers, and farmers who may be local but, the dollar signs they see outweigh their commitment to you and our sustainable food supply. Additionally, people tend to think farmer’s markets sell good, wholesome, clean food. Sometimes this just isn’t the case.

Avoid being hoodwinked. Check out the list of fallacies giving farmer’s markets a bad rep.

  • Misbelief #1: Only local foods are sold at farmer’s markets.

There are two types of markets: farm markets and “real” farmer’s markets. Buyers resell produce purchased at wholesale markets at ‘farm markets’. To find genuine farmer’s markets, look for “producer-only” markets. These markets are specifically for farmers to sell food items from their farms. If you’re unsure about your favorite market, contact the director or market coordinator of the market.

  • Misbelief #2: “Local” vs “Organic”

Many use the words “local” and “organic” interchangeably. Be careful! Farmers who advertise their food items as “organic” must do two things 1) become certified by a USDA-accredited third party and 2) keep very detailed records regarding their farming practices. There is one exception to this rule, growers who earn less than $5,000 a year can legally market their produce as “organic”, but they must keep records in order to prove they are organic. It’s also pertinent to remember that local farmers who are not certified organic have the ability to use pesticides. Don’t take it for granted that your fruits and veggies are pesticide-free.

  • Misbelief #3: “Natural” = Organic

The food industry is flooded with confusing terms such as natural, chemical-free, no-spray, and grown using organic methods to name a few, but what do they actually mean? With no organic certification, they mean absolutely nothing. Executive director of Baystate Organic Certifiers, Don Franczyk, says, “There are no regulatory requirements for ‘no-spray’ or ‘chemical-free’ programs. The terms are meaningless.” If you come across a farmer marketing “no-spray” produce, be sure to ask them exactly what that term means.

  • Misbelief #4: Farmer’s market produce is clean and can be eaten right there.

No matter what, it’s always a good idea to give your produce a good washing. Think about all the people who have handled the produce from the time it was harvested to its arrival at the market. If you can’t wait until you get home to sink your teeth into your fresh fruit, why not make your own produce spray to take with you? All you have to do is mix 1 tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar, and 1 cup cold tap water. Shake the mixture well, spray your produce down and rinse with water before eating.

Don’t be bashful. Ask as many questions as you can think of. After all, you’re spending your hard-earned money on food that you and your family will consume.

(Photo Courtesy: PublicDomainPictures)

(Additional Resources 1, 2)