April 13, 2015

Go For Full Flavor!

Taco Bowl

Taco Bowl
Crafted, Greensboro

When you’re throwing together a meal or choosing one on location, go for full flavor! Last Christmas I make some Cauliflower Taters to take to my mom’s house. Since Mom is a dialysis patient following a Renal Diet, I wanted to make sure that I avoided real potatoes, too much salt, and too much cheese. This wasn’t a problem. The problem was, I froze.

Instead of keeping the proportions within tolerance and still going for full flavor, I stopped myself when the flavors were balanced…balanced, but bland. I recognized in the moment that I was stopping myself from that one last pinch of salt and spoonful of Parmesan. I convinced myself, against my better judgement, that I should stop at that point.

When we got to the table for the meal and I took a bite, I was very disappointed in my decision. I hate bland. And I wasn’t the only one. My kids and their girlfriends are used to layers of flavor from fresh ingredients. They were highly disappointed too.Case1

I was reminded of those disappointing taters recently when I excitedly chose a quinoa and sweet potato cake, herb roasted chicken, and kale salad from a grocery case. Everything looked tasty and healthy. The combination made for a beautiful plate. I sat out on the balcony looking at the mountains anticipating that first delicious bite.

And then I took the first bite and cringed. With the exception of the salad, the food was simply devoid of flavor. Whether I’m on the balcony, at my mom’s table, or in a restaurant, bland food always leaves me feeling irritated and dissatisfied. Ben’s simple solution to this problem is to reach for the Sriracha. The processed food industry’s solution is to add chemical flavor enhancers. My solution in this case was to remake the leftovers into something else.
balcony meal
My most common solution is to use fresh ingredients, taste early, taste often, and avoid the temptation to back off on the flavor when preparing food for a specialized eating plan.

A meal that is kidney friendly, diabetes friendly, heart healthy, gluten-free, Crohn’s friendly, or colitis friendly can be infused with layers of flavor from onion, celery, carrots, garlic, shallots, scallions, basil, sage, rosemary, parsley, thyme, oregano, dill, cilantro, tarragon, chervil, marjoram, black pepper, red pepper, paprika, cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg, allspice, cumin, chili powder, curry, turmeric, fennel, lemon juice & zest, lime juice & zest, orange juice & zest, vinegar, infused olive oils, and a host of other herbs and spices. If you’re not sure which flavors enhance each other, check out a guide like “The Flavor Bible”.

Too often it seems that people associate healthy eating with tasteless food. That is unfortunate because healthy food can be delicious food as long as you go for full flavor!





Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

April 6, 2015

Relax…Gluten-Free is an Option Everywhere in Asheville

Relax…gluten-free is an option everywhere in Asheville! Want an easy-to-be-gluten-free vacation? Asheville, North Carolina is a great choice.
Grove Park
Set in a bowl surrounded by the beauty of the Great Smoky and Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville has a robust farm-to-table culinary culture. There are tailgate markets all over the city and restaurants serve delicious combinations of fresh ingredients. Imagine a salad topped with roasted peaches served over house-pickled beets or lobster nachos in which the rich flavor of the guacamole and slaw rival the lobster on the palate.

If you’re in the habit of ordering a salad without croutons to keep gluten-free ordering simple, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to discover that your waiter will usually offer you a side of bread. Don’t worry. He didn’t misunderstand. Gluten-free is mainstream here. Often from a local bakery, your bread may be slices of toasted loaf bread or it could be focaccia-style rosemary slices.

Rosemary Bread

Rosemary Bread
The Corner Kitchen

In the mood for a burger? Of course there’s a gluten-free bun available. Want a crepe? Oh look, all the crepes are gluten-free even if you’re not!

Jerk Chicken Crepes
Creperie & Cafe, Weaverville

The gluten-free options don’t end with the city limits. In nearby Weaverville, you can feast on appetizers like fried pickles, chicken nuggets, bagel chips, and sausage balls. There are other great offerings in Arden, Fletcher, and Hendersonville.
There’s no question you will eat well and can choose to eat healthy with no particular effort when in Asheville. That means lots more time to relax, and energy to enjoy the beauty, while you experience an abundance of recreational options. From outdoor choices that include hiking, biking, fishing, and rafting to indoor choices that encompass art or craft galleries, spa treatments, winery tours, outlet mall shopping, and touring the Biltmore Estate, there is ample opportunity for fun.

Have a place you find easy-to-be-gluten-free? Let us know below so we can enjoy it too!


Disclosure of Material Connection: I have not received any compensation for writing this post. I have no material connection to the brands, products, or services that I have mentioned. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

March 29, 2015

Condo Stew Warms You in a Pinch

Condo StewThis delicious Condo Stew warms you when unexpected snow caps appear outside your window. It may be March, almost April, but winter just can’t seem to quit. If you’re traveling about wearing every layer in your suitcase and still feeling a chill, throw together this stew using minimal ingredients for a warm, satisfying, hearty, and delicious meal.

Polish Kielbasa – I chose locally made, fully cooked
1 Large Yukon Gold Potato – washed
Baby Carrots – I had some left from my car snacks
Garlic Powder
Black Pepper

Stew Base
Cube the kielbasa and the potato and place in a large pot. You can eyeball the proportions and adjust them to your liking. Slice the carrots and add to the pot. Sprinkle with garlic powder, black pepper, and a pinch of salt.

StewinPotAdd water to just cover. Bring to boil over high heat. Simmer over medium high until potatoes and carrots are tender and most of liquid has boiled away. Serve hot.

When you’re warm on the inside, you’ll be ready to brave the elements outside for yet another adventure.

March 23, 2015

It’s March. It’s Madness. It’s Teamwork at its Best!

TWC Arena
It’s March. It’s Madness. A friend and I recently went to visit my sister, eat with Chef Matt McClure, and watch some college basketball. At one point, my friend spent a long, quizzical moment staring at my sister, my brother-in-law and me. I guess I understand why. We were standing in the middle of a world class art museum surrounded by walls full of art, and we were talking basketball. Yep, that’s how we roll – especially in March. We just can’t help it.
Of course we’re not alone. Your house may have been taken over by the madness of brackets, hoops, balls, and the cheers of the Big Dance. It happens. Amidst all the craziness, there’s sometimes a bit of Magic and always lots of lessons worth remembering.
magic johnson
March Madness is a series of battles on the court. The teams that win are always the ones that:
• Are strong and fit from their regular training program
• Remain aware of the position of all the players on the court
• Pay attention to the advice of the coach
• Stay aware of the time on the clock
• Play with heart
• Assist each other
• Rebound
• Tune out the circumstances and play their game
• Pass to the open man
• Foul only when necessary
• Never stop playing hard until the final buzzer
• Play as a team
• Believe they can win

coach k
Did you happen to notice that everything on this list also contributes to winning in life?

It is clear by the clapping and yelling I saw yesterday that an NCAA basketball crowd recognizes moments of great teamwork. I’m grateful that we have this sort of competition to remind us that teamwork can lead us to greater success than we can possibly achieve on our own.

I hope we will carry that awareness with us into our homes and places of work after the championship game. Perhaps it will help us as spouses, parents, and work team members to remain aware that:
• Each player brings value to the team
• All roles are essential to reach the desired outcome
• Each player needs to play hard when they’re on the court
• Each player needs to rest and regroup off the court
• When a player has an off day, the rest of the team can take up the slack
• The decisions we make affect the whole team
• Leadership brings strategy that moves the team past its obstacles
• It is good to acknowledge a great play
• All players need encouragement
• Not every player can be expected to go on to the next level
• Teams of character play by the rules

My team has already lost this year, but that hasn’t kept me from cheering on other teams. I know that we’ll have another opportunity. And that’s another great thing to remember. Some days we lose the battle, but there’s always another opportunity!

Keep playing hard and with heart until the final buzzer! That’s what I call thriving.