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Vinegar

Spring Out My Window

The mercury is finally climbing higher here in Chicagoland and nature can feel it too. Today’s view out my home office window is a budding tree and blooming daffodils. Finding the daffodils in this picture is sort of like playing Where’s Waldo, but they are there!

Budding Tree

I had a great meeting yesterday with my Smart Eating for Kids partner in crime. We launched SEFK about 1.5 months ago and we’re just as excited as the day we first started talking about the idea. I’ve always been interested in nutrition, since before I formally studied it in school, but nutrition takes on a whole new meaning once you are feeding your own child. We’ve been so fortunate that Hailey doesn’t have any food allergies or intolerances and, for the most part, she is an adventurous and eager eater. But, even with those things on our side, there are challenges that crop up and SEFK is a place for me and my fellow contributors to share some of our research-based, tried and true strategies. You can also find SEFK on Facebook, Twitter & Pinterest.

SmartEatingSquareOrange

Lunch today was a yummy turkey & co-jack sandwich along with a spinach salad drizzled with a little bit of EVOO and cinnamon pear balsamic vinegar. I used to think of vinegar as an unpleasant, acidic ingredient that only tasted good when incorporated in to a recipe…that was until I started tasting really good quality balsamic vinegars. The cinnamon pear balsamic is from a local shop we love called Oh Olive. When I bought it, they included a recipe for the most amazing sweet potato fries – warning: they are seriously addictive. Also on my lunch plate are some Spicy Chili Pepper Hummus Chips. I spotted these at the grocery store on Sunday and they sounded intriguing. The flavor has a bit of kick and I love that a single portion (about 30 chips) feels substantial, but only costs you 130 calories.

TIP OF THE DAY: Some nutrients are better absorbed by the body when they are eaten with a small amount of fat. This is especially true for nutrients called carotenoids found in red, yellow, organge and some dark green fruits and veggies. You’ll probably enjoy eating your salad even more when paired with a drizzle of good quality EVOO or regular dressing used sparingly – and you’ll certainly get more nutrients out of it.

Lunch

Olive Oil, Spices & Wine…Oh My!

Thanks to the fabulous Brooke, I kicked off February (and now the rebirth of this blog!) with an evening of tasting olive oils, balsamic vinegars, spices and wine. I mean, is there a better way to spend an evening? Brooke organized a foodie networking tour in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood that included stops at Old Town Oil, The Spice House and O’Briens. My fellow foodie-tourists included a great mix of dietitians, chefs and people who love good food.

This blog is a place to examine and discuss health, taste, wellness, indulgence, nutrition and all-things-yummy. The tour, Olive Oil, Spices & Wine…Oh My!, was all those things rolled up into one with a shiny bow on top!

 

 

The evening started at Old Town Oil where the knowledgable staff gave great tips on how to select oilve oils and pair them with balsamic vinegars to make tasty dressings and marinades.

 

 

 

 

 

old town oil

 

 

 

One of my favorite pairings was the Garlic EVOO and OTO Reserve balsamic vinegar. Another really refreshing and tasty combo was the Blood Orange EVOO and Peach white balsamic vinegar.

 

 

 

 

bulk spices

 

We moved over to The Spice House where owners Tom and Patty Erd gave a interesting and informative presentation about the history of the spice trade and where various spices come from. Have you had any spices in your drawer or cabinet for more than a year? If so, it is time to toss them out. Whole spices can last for longer than a year, but anything ground won’t be fresh beyond a year. 

 

 

 

me with cinnamon

 

Here’s me with two different types of cinnamon. Did you know cinnamon is the bark of a tree? The one in my left hand is Ceylon cinnamon from Sri Lanka and it has a strong citrus aroma. The one in my right hand is Saigon cinnamon (I think…too much info to absorb at once!)

 

 

 

 

 

 

my haul

 

 

This is my haul from the night. I purchased some items, others were given as part of the tour and I won the bottle of wine for participating in the networking scavenger hunt! From Old Town Oil I have Garlic EVOO, OTO Reserve balsamic, Lemon EVOO and Pomegranate balsamic. From The Spice House I have Florida Seasoned Pepper, California Seasoned Pepper, Little Italy Herbs, Salt Free Cajun, Sunny Spain Seasoning, Bridgeport Seasoning and Ceylon Cinnamon. The door prize wine is Pacific Rim Sweet Riesling. and I also got a bag of Skinny Pop popcorn to try. (I think I’ll be sprinkling some of the Bridgeport seasoning on it!)