Tomato – The God Food for Nutrition and Human Health

October 6, 2017

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A recent study conducted at Ohio State University in the US reported that the dietary carotenoids, that gives tomatoes their colour, will protect the skin from ultraviolet (UV) light damage. With the number of people being diagnosed with skin cancer increases with each passing year, it’s a good news that the daily consumption of tomato may cut the chances of skin cancer.

This small, round, sweet, juicy, delicious red fruit is one of the largest consuming vegetables in the world, not only because of its culinary purpose but also due to its numerous health benefits and nutrition. Tomato for skin cancer was just the latest example for its infinite fitness blessings.

From the time immemorial, there exists a long love affair between man and tomato due to its capacity for better acclimatization to various environment. Today, it comes in a vast array of varieties differing in colour, size, shape and taste. Now tomato has emerged as one of the most desired vegetables in the world due to its unique taste and nutritional qualities. More than 100 new tomato varieties are being made available in the world market with each passing year.

The health benefits of tomatoes gave it the title “God food” and forms an integral part of cuisines all over the world. Tomato is also a good source of potassium, manganese, magnesium, phosphorous and copper. Organic compounds like lycopene also attribute to the health benefits. The criteria for selection of tomato varies with country and the culture. Asian markets for tomatoes are particular about lighter colours while in European markets, small shapes of tomatoes are preferred.
So how the “God food” dominate the seed market? A report by Market Intelligence, a market research firm, states, ‘The Tomato Seed Market revenue covers a whopping 829.8 Million USD of the 7.8 Billion USD revenue of Vegetable Seed Market’. The numerical figure clearly depicts the dominance of seed market by tomatoes.

Tomato is the most widely grown and consumed vegetable globally. China is the largest producer of tomatoes followed by India, United States, Turkey and Egypt. The food processing market occupies 30% of the destination market for tomato while 70% of it is consumed as fresh produce.

Nowadays, the main focus of leading seed companies all over the globe is to improve the yield, adaptability to various climatic conditions and developing varieties with disease and pest tolerance. High emphasis has been laid to developing disease resistance tomatoes because tomato is attacked by more than 200 diseases and pests. Some of the important diseases of tomatoes are bacterial wilt, Tomato Yellow Leaf Curl Virus (TYLCV), Groundnut Bud Necrosis Virus (GBNV), etc. Breeders from companies are also working on developing flavours for the final taste of tomatoes. The growth of tomato seed is heavily credited to the use of hybrid seeds and usage of high-value experimental varieties in developed economies. Although the investment in this industry is high, the return on investment is dramatically encouraging farmers globally to adopt hybrid tomato seeds for its production.

Tips on Managing a Business Lunch or Dinner

October 6, 2017

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An off-site business lunch or dinner goes a long way to ensure your guests focus on your business goals, without the distractions of the office. Early coordination with your caterer, banquet hall, or restaurant goes a long way towards a successful event. Here are some helpful tips to getting what YOU want out of the lunch or dinner meeting:

• Confirm the date, time, and exact address of your lunch or dinner meeting. Communicate this often and sent a calendar invitation. Nothing will work if people don’t know where to go. Even better – pick up your guests to make it easy for them. This is the most important thing you can do.

• Call the restaurant ahead of time. Pick up the phone! Have a real human conversation. This is faster than email and provides you an opportunity to have a relationship with the venue. You might even find out more options than are listed on the restaurant’s web page.

• Ensure you enquire about any special dietary needs from your guests during the invite process so that you are sure to have accommodated for them during the restaurant selection process and pre-ordering processes.

• Arrive early. Pick out your exact table and decide where you want everyone to sit. This helps ensure that the conversations are more likely to happen with the correct people next to each other or facing across the table from one another.

• Consider pre-ordering appetizers and drinks. Have them waiting at the table when your guests arrive. This accomplishes 2 things: 1. Hungry people can begin eating immediately. 2. You can start talking business even sooner. Consider getting platters of food that can be shared and your gets can pick out what they would like to eat.

• Do not order messy food. This impedes the meeting and can distract your focus from your guests. Take a little mirror or visit the restroom to ensure nothing is stuck in your teeth or on your clothing after eating! Look good start to finish!

• Drink only one or two drinks. Know your limit. If your guests leave early, have a dessert drink to rewards yourself afterwards as you are paying the bill.

• Instruct the restaurant to bring you the bill discretely. If possible, leave your credit card with the hostess/host and have everything taken care of behind the scenes. This will impress your guests.

• After the lunch/dinner meeting, thank your guests and send them a thank you email the next day to confirm what was discussed and next steps.

A Fishy Culinary History of Fish Tacos and Fish Taco Catering

October 6, 2017

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The historical roots of tacos are hard to track, but Baja Mexicans clearly invented fish tacos. Of course Americans commercialized the idea on a broad scale.

There is an uncertain history on the topic of tacos. While generally believed to have originated in 18th century Mexico, some say it was with the silver miners who first devised filling a corn tortilla with tasty ingredients. Others argue its history began before that in other regions of the country.

But what’s a bit clearer is the history of fish tacos. Turkey, chicken and meat may have been the more common ingredients in those early Mexican tacos. But the fish taco form – now popular among many taco catering companies and their clientele (now termed “fish taco caterers”) – skews west in its orientation to the Baja California region of Mexico. That is somewhat to be expected, given how no part of the 800-mile long peninsula is more that 50 miles from either Gulf of California or Pacific Ocean waters. Seafood is historically abundant there and a diet staple.

San Diego-based food writer Susan Russo wrote in a 2007 food blog for National Public Radio that “the fish taco is to San Diego what the cheese steak is to Philadelphia or the lobster roll is to Maine.” She says the obvious geographic proximity that San Diego has to Baja is the reason for this. But she adds the Baja delicacy is really the result of Spanish, indigenous Mexican and Asian cuisines. The peninsula is a crossroads of a sort, and that between the conquistadores, later East Asian arrivals in the first half of the 20th century, and the Kumeyaay, Cochimi, Cucapas and other tribes who historically fished the coastal areas.

Americans stumbled across fish tacos in the mid-20th century when they began to venture down Baja in search of adventure and, in particular, waves for surfers, writes Russo. The excitement and surf were there, along with crispy fish tacos. That once exotic food now caught the attention of entrepreneurial Americans who brought the idea back to the States and added them to menus of restaurants and taco caterers. The rest is history.

Of course there are many different types of fish, many different preparation methods, and even many different toppings that one can put on a fish taco. Which is why the offerings of no two mobile taco catering operations are the same. The lighter tasting white fish (tilapia, cod, perch) should be complemented with lighter fillings and salsas; the bolder tastes of salmon, mahi mahi and grilled shrimp might have more ancho chilis and other caliente sauces and seasonings.

What Are You Having For Breakfast?

October 6, 2017

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I was munching down my breakfast this morning and thought about the process of getting it from the kitchen to the tummy. So much of what we do in there is now by rote. In putting it all together in my mind, I realized what a production had occurred to make a simple eastern omelette and a toasted English muffin.

Now, I’m not going to go into how the English muffin is made. That is just overkill. Besides, it came from the market in a buy one, get one free purchase. But still, it requires some work just not much thought. Look at the knife that was used to cut it. Maybe the muffin was advertised to be fork-split. I don’t trust that. I want two pieces of equal size and width, and that requires a reasonably sharp, serrated knife. Then to toast it to perfection, a toaster or toaster oven is needed. I don’t own a toaster. The toaster oven has so many other uses that I chose to have one in my kitchen. I’m considering a change, though. Maybe it is the age of this small appliance of mine, but it doesn’t toast like I want it to. Anyway, all that to make a simple toasted English muffin. I bet you never gave it that much thought.

I like omeletes. And although an omelette is different from an Eastern, they have similar characteristics. Eggs and meat, and that is all that is required, but not all that is desired. The omelette has some veggies and some cheese in most cases. The variety is endless. The Eastern is more simple. Ground ham and an egg. If you want it to be a Western, then grate in some onion. It sounds so simple, but when deconstructed, it is not. The ham was something that was taking up room in the fridge. Hauling it out, some I chunked up for a casserole, I some left on the bone for pea soup, and some got ground up for ham salad, and Easterns and Westerns.

The grinding of the ham needs the help of a chopper of some kind. I used my food processor. Smaller batches do up well with the mini chopper, but this time it was a larger portion. Purists might put it on the chopping block and hand chop. I’m not so inclined. Rather, I’m lazy. I don’t mind when I can put the bowl and blade in the dishwasher. I hate to hand wash that appliance.

So once we have the ground ham and the soup is on to simmer, it’s time to make the Eastern. How much ham depends on the number of eggs. I simply mix the two in a coffee cup. It’s closest at hand. One egg is enough, and about an ounce of ham, but I was hungry today. I used two eggs and a heaping spoonful of ground meat. Melt a little butter in a fry pan or skillet and drop it in over medium heat. Give it a flip when you see the egg is starting to come together, but do not stir. If you stir, you have scrambled egg with an addition of ham. Our family puts this egg disc on toast with a healthy smear of ketchup. I opted to eat it on a plate with my English muffins. And yes, a little ketchup. I do not make my own ketchup but have thought about it.

Tortillas, Tacos and Taco Cart Catering

October 5, 2017

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Yes, there are several choices for which shell to wrap around your taco. What’s important is it’s more than a taste decision: nutrients differ significantly.

It’s easy to make fun of all the consumer choices in food that are available in modern society. And while it’s true our grocery aisles, restaurant options and even what you can find on taco catering menus are full of an almost infinite number of selections, this is nothing new.

How? Note that all the heirloom varieties of produce were the choices our great grandparents had in their own gardens and at farm stands. Much of the trade that involving ships and desert caravans for millennia were about expanding food (and spice) choices.

An example is how when Jewish people were expelled from Spain many came to the New World to settle into Mexico (“New Spain” as it was then called). Already the indigenous people had corn tortillas, however the new arrivals considered corn to be non-kosher. They improvised with unleavened, water-based dough that could be pressed to look a lot like the corn cakes they rejected. The flour tortilla was born.

Today we have both corn and flour/wheat tortillas available, but there is variety within those as well with gluten-free and whole-wheat flour versions. While satisfying everyone’s taste at a fiesta might be the stuff of nightmares for mobile taco cart catering companies, we can leave that to them as we make our own choices as diners. Here are some things to think about when making a selection:

Corn tortilla – This is the original. According to Prevention magazine, a corn tortilla is preferable to the flour variety on several points: lower in calories, lower in fat (overall and saturated), more than twice the fiber, one-quarter the sugar, and three times the magnesium. If you are on a sodium-restricted diet, corn tortillas are very low in salt

Flour tortilla – Flour tortillas are the taste preference for many, which taco caterers know well. While their corn counterparts might win on some nutrition points, it’s not a slam-dunk. Flour tortillas have about 50% more protein, about twice the calcium (due to enriched flour) and about three times the iron.

Whole-wheat tortilla – The whole grain tortilla looks and tastes different from its refined flour cousin. In terms of nutrients, it has about one-third the calories, one-fifth the fat, and it features a lower glycemic index (i.e., it digests more slowly).

Gluten free tortilla – Yes, it’s possible to get these. They are a little more challenging to make at home but many of the tortilla manufacturers carry a gluten-free line. Note that corn tortillas are naturally gluten free.

Keep in mind the nutritional makeup of each type of tortilla is less than half the story. Whether you choose creams and cheeses, tomato salsas and avocadoes, or tofu versus beef, each has nutritional impact. Oh – and how much you hang out at the margarita bar can be meaningful as well.

Nutritious Vegan Diet

October 5, 2017

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The vegan diet consists of plants only. There are fruits, nuts, grains, and vegetables. All foods that come from plants qualify. Vegans do not eat animals or animal products such as eggs and dairy products. As a vegan, there is a need to maintain a healthy diet so as to ensure that your body gets everything that it needs. When you eat a varied diet, then you are bound to get all the things that are needed.

A healthy diet

So as to ensure that you are on a healthy diet, make sure that you eat about five portions every day. Include a wide variety of vegetables and fruits on a daily basis. Your meals should also be based on pasta, rice, bread, potatoes and all sorts of starchy carbohydrates. Wholegrain is also a great choice.

Since vegans do not take dairy products, you should make sure that you have some dairy alternatives like yogurts and soya drinks. Make sure you go for the lower fat and sugar options that are available. You should also try to pulses and beans as well as other types of proteins.

Cheese also oils that are unsaturated as well as spreads. These need to be consumed in small portions. Drinking a lot of fluids is also very important. Make sure you have 6-8 glasses of water on a daily basis. Avoid the drinks and foods that have a high sugar, salt, and fat content. If you have to take these, do so in moderation.

There are various things that apply to the vegetarians and it is suitable for all ethnic origins and of health height and weight. There are diets that are also ideal for people who are overweight. Children who are below two years of age shouldn’t take the vegan diet since they have a wide range of needs.

The right nutrients

When you do proper planning and if you truly understand what constitutes a healthy diet and then balance it out, you will be able to give the body all the nutrients that it needs. If your diet isn’t planned out well, you won’t get all the essential nutrients like vitamin B12, iron and calcium.

Pregnant and breastfeeding vegans

If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, there is a need to stick to a vegan diet so as to ensure that you get all minerals and vitamins that the child needs to develop in the most healthy way. If you also decide that you want your child to be brought up a vegan, ensure that they have access to a wide range of foods so as to get the vitamins and energy needed for their growth.

Calcium and vitamin D

We need calcium for the development of teeth and bones. Nonvegans source calcium from dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and milk. Vegans have to access it from other sources. A vegan can get calcium from dried fruits such as dried apricots, figs, plums, and raisins. They can also get it in bread, pulses, sesame seeds, tahini, and calcium-set tofu, unsweetened oat drinks, and so on.