If Lady Gaga says she’s obsessed with a certain food, we have to take her word for it. The singer has revealed that she loves the creamy chickpea paste and eats it almost every day when she’s on tour. This was enough for us to get in the kitchen, experiment with different hummus recipes, and start exploring all things connected to it, from hummus wipes to hummus wraps! Final verdict: the pop star is right, hummus is an obsession-worthy ingredient.
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What is Hummus?
“Even God eats hummus when he visits the Middle East, and you know how powerful he is when it comes to the public opinion.”
This Levantine spread/dip is made primarily of cooked and mashed chickpeas, also known as garbanzo beans, combined with tahini (sesame seed paste), lemon juice, olive oil, garlic, and salt. The word ‘hummus’ is an Arabic means “chickpea” (the complete name in Arabic is ḥummuṣ bi ṭaḥīna which means “chickpeas with tahini”).
Traditionally, hummus is beige in color and usually served on a large plate, often drizzled with some olive oil, lemon juice, and herbs, then stuffed in a fresh pita and complemented with cucumber, tomato, and onion salad. Some recipes also call for falafel in the serving combination. Optionally, this tasty paste can be served as an appetizer in a mezze-style or as a dip for vegetables on parties.
In Israel, however, hummus has been promoted to a main dish. The expression ‘hummus wipe’ also comes from this country. The Israeli always start the ritual of eating hummus with the phrase “Let’s go wipe some hummus.” Hummus wipe may also refer to the way in which hummus is eaten (yes, there is a right and a wrong way of consuming this creamy delight). This means that you must never ever use a knife and fork but wipe the hummus off the plate with pieces of pita (shaped like canoes).
Hummus is gradually becoming one of the Middle-Eats most successfully exported cultural-products, mostly as a result of tourists who tasted it while in the region and spread the word.
In fact, if two decades ago people in the US were unable to pronounce the word ‘hummus’, today it is found on the shelves of almost every supermarket and grocery store.
Numbers say that the sales of hummus have quadrupled over the past ten years, threatening to end the domination of guacamole and salsa as America’s two favorite dips!
This rise was accompanied by an increased production of chickpeas in the States – from 25 million pounds in 2009, it has reached 100 million pounds during the recent years.
To support this claim with even more numbers, compared to twenty years ago when annual hummus sales in the States were $5 million, today they are estimated at a whopping $725 million! In other words, while in 2006 only 12% of the US households stocked up on the chickpea spread, today this number is doubled to 25%!
The History of Hummus
The earliest recorded hummus recipes originate from cookbooks written in Cairo, Egypt in the 13th century. The invention of this creamy spread is often attributed to Sultan Saladin, who was the first to combine all the basic hummus ingredients.
However, given the fact that the two main ingredients, chickpeas, and tahini, have been used in the Middle East and Easter Mediterranean for thousands of years, experts believe that hummus’ origins go way back.
Today, many regions and countries around the world claim to be the place of origin of hummus, including Greece, Turkey, Jordan, Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Israel, and Lebanon. The last two countries on the list are especially persistent in their efforts to prove historic ownership of this creamy delight, engaging in a competition of preparing the largest batch of hummus. Currently, Lebanon has the largest serving of hummus. It was made by 300 student chefs and served in 2010 in Beirut. The serving weighed 23,042 lbs. 12 oz. and was served on the new largest ceramic plate, which over 7m in diameter.
As far as we’re concerned, it doesn’t matter who invented it, the very fact that there are so many national and regional hummus varieties makes us jump with joy! The major difference between these different hummus recipes is in the amounts of tahini used. Some varieties include cumin, hot peppers, and/or Greek yogurt; others, like the Turkish recipe, use butter instead of olive oil. But if you keep reading, you will find out that hummus is a versatile spread offers endless flavoring possibilities!
Health Benefits of Hummus
This beige-colored emulsion was further popularized by celebrity health promoters like Dr. Oz and the rising interest in the Mediterranean diet.
People are becoming more and more aware of how important food is to the overall well-being and they turn to healthier options. Nowadays, many modern Americans will choose a tasty and healthy spread like hummus over ranch dip, queso fresco, or mayonnaise.
Hummus is one of those rare foods that offer great taste backed up with amazing nutritive value. Here are the main health benefits of hummus:
- Chickpeas are very high in protein and dietary fiber which make you feel full. This means that, in the long term, hummus will help you eat less and stay slim. Furthermore, these nutty legumes regulate digestion and protect the heart. They are also packed with vitamin B6, manganese, and magnesium, three elements credited for relieving PMS symptoms. Garbanzo beans are rich in iron, zinc, magnesium, and potassium, minerals known to boost energy and aid sexual functions, making hummus an aphrodisiac. No wonder they’ve been consumed for more than seven millenniums!
- Tahini is a paste made of ground sesame seeds. These seeds contain high levels of vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that lowers the risk of chronic diseases like cancer and heart disease.
- The most important nutrients found in olive oil are the monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs), which are especially good for the cardiovascular system. To take the most advantage of its health properties, make sure you use extra virgin olive oil.
- Lemon juice is packed with vitamin C which strengthens the immunity, aids digestion, and stabilizes blood sugar levels. Furthermore, it acts as a powerful alkalizer and regulates the level of acidity in the body. (Skip the bottled, store-bought versions and use freshly squeezed lemon juice)
- Garlic is rich in flavonoids, sulfur, selenium and many other nutrients that give this vegetable its antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-inflammatory, and anti-viral properties.
- Salt. To keep your hummus recipe healthy, opt for healthier salt options like Himalayan, Celtic, or sea salt. Unlike the highly-processed, iodized table salt, these salts contain a large number of trace minerals which balance the fluids in the organism and facilitate nutrient absorption.
How to Make Traditional Hummus
Homemade hummus is much healthier and richer in taste than the store-bought varieties. You’re just a few steps away from the most delicious summer meal!
2 cups chickpeas
3 tablespoons tahini
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 lemon, squeezed
1 garlic clove, chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
Step by step preparation:
Step 1: You can use either raw or canned chickpeas for your homemade hummus recipe.
Raw chickpeas: Raw, dried chickpeas need to be soaked overnight to soften. At this point, adding a teaspoon of baking soda will contribute to an extra velvety final product.
After the legumes have soaked overnight, rinse them and place in a pot filled with water. Cook at a low temperature until they’re soft (for about 1-2 hours; they’re done when they start crumbling under your fingers). Skinless garbanzo beans will produce the silkiest paste but peeling them one by one is a laborious task. The addition of baking soda once again in this phase will help separate the skins easily.
Note: Save the water in which the chickpeas were soaked. This liquid is called ‘aquafaba’ and can be added to the food processor together with all the other ingredients to contribute perfect density and some more flavor!
Canned chickpeas: If you don’t have the time or patience to soak and cook your chickpeas, opt for the canned version. Drain the canned chickpeas into a strainer, then rinse under running water.
Step 2: Place all ingredients in a blender or a food processor (including some aquafaba).
Note: Some recipes skip the olive oil altogether since tahini is fatty and flavorful enough. This, however, is a matter of personal preference.
Note 2: Having a great processing tool is crucial for obtaining a perfectly smooth and creamy emulsion. Food processors are a better option since they have bigger blades than blenders.
Step 3: Process the ingredients for about two minutes, until you obtain a smooth and uniform paste. Stop to scrape the sides of the food processor’s bowl from time to time.
Step 4: Adjust the taste and texture. Taste to see if you need to add more seasonings or, if the hummus is dry, olive oil, aquafaba and/or lemon juice.
Amazing Hummus Recipes
Just when you thought hummus can’t get any better, you realize that there are countless hummus varieties! This creamy dip gives you an opportunity to get creative and make it different every time. You can add practically everything you have in the fridge: spices, herbs, tired veggies to make it even healthier and more flavorful. Here are just a few suggestions to tickle your imagination:
Roasted Garlic Hummus
Spicy Chipotle-Lime Hummus
Cucumber Hummus with Dill
Smokey Sweet Potato Hummus
Bell Pepper and Mint Lentil Hummus
How to Consume Hummus
Hummus will keep for up to a week in a sealed container in the fridge. Note: the smear tends to thicken when stored, so you might need to add some more aquafaba or olive oil before each consumption.
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Transfer your hummus mixture into a bowl and serve it as a dip, along with raw vegetables or, make the best combination ever – hummus and chips. When we say hummus and chips, we refer to pita chips. And since this is one of our favorite game night and movie night snacks, here is how to make it:
Step 1: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and brush it with some olive oil.
Step 2: Take one pita bread with pockets or two without pockets. If your pitas have pockets, split them in half using a knife. If the pitas are without pockets, cut them into 8 wedges (like a pizza).
Step 3: Brush the wedges with oil on both sides, then season with at least salt (other spices and herbs are optional, feel free to use your imagination).
Step 4: Arrange the pita wedges on the baking sheet and bake for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven, turn the pita chips over, then return and bake until crispy and golden-brown, for another 5 minutes (thinner pitas need lower temperatures and, hence, a bit longer baking time, about 7-8 minutes).
Step 5: Make sure you let the pita chips cool completely before serving. Need recipes?
Hummus and Herbed Baked Pita Chips
Homemade Hummus with Spiced Pita Chips
Smear it onto your sandwich or on a pita and make a hummus wrap, combining it with various vegetables, meats, or even seafood.
Quinoa Hummus Wrap
Greek Grilled Chicken and Hummus Wrap
Egg and Veggie Hummus Wrap
You can also add hummus on top of meats and fish before roasting to add extra flavor.
Baked Hummus Crusted Chicken
Grilled Lemon Chicken Skewers with Yogurt Hummus Sauce
Hummus and Grilled Vegetable Pizza
Parsley Scallion Hummus Pasta
Summer is finally here! We have long been preparing for it by focusing on healthy foods like cucumber salad and tomato soups, as well as avoiding foods with added sugars. Turns out, we’ve been following the hottest trends all this time!
Even though the first association for food trends is probably Instagram attractions like cloud eggs or unicorn foods (we’ll get to them later), research shows that two-thirds of the people DO care about what they eat and how it affects their overall health, longevity, and cognitive sharpness. This means that no matter how good colorful foods ‘grams look, most people would probably pass on them.
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However, after a vast research, we have decided to include both categories of food trends in our summer trend report: healthy and unusual, alongside hot national cuisines and the most popular smart-eating trend at the moment. Give them a try, even if it means just taking a cool photo that will liven up your Instagram feed! Here are a few to start with…
Unusual Instagram Food Trends
We’re happy to announce that unicorn food will not be taking center stage this summer. But even though the amount of color is decreasing (slightly), the level of weirdness is still quite high and mythical creatures continue to appear. And you know what, we can roll our eyes as much as we want, but no one can dispute their prettiness!
Credit: Daria Khoroshavina
Cloud eggs have taken the world by storm! As sophisticated as they might look, these fluffy clouds are very simple to make by separating the egg whites and whipping them until thick and fluffed up. Then, the yolk is placed in the center. Their great taste can be further enhanced by including ingredients like cheese, bacon herbs, or spices into the white.
Cloud bread follows the lead of cloud eggs by looking, tasting, and (let’s face it) sounding great. But it also has one more important feature – it’s healthy. Unlike traditional breads, this cloudy delight is packed with protein and has no carbs!
Inspire yourself: Cheesy Garlic Cloud Bread Texas Toast
It all started with mermaid toast, a beautiful, ocean-inspired creation (relative to unicorn toast -there it is again 😊). Most varieties you see on your Instagram feed are probably not so good for you, made with food coloring mixed into cream cheese, then smeared on top of a toast bread.
However, with a few minor adjustments, your mermaid toast can be made healthier. Enter more food trends: use sprouted bread and color the cream cheese with turmeric root to obtain yellow and orange, beet juice for pink, chlorophyll drops for green, freeze-dried blueberry powder to get purple color, and spirulina powder/blue majik for blue.
Capturing this amazing aquatic look is much easier in mermaid smoothie bowls and, as of recent, the world can enjoy mermaid coffees as well. Cheers!
Blue Majik Foods
This vibrant ingredient doesn’t appear only in mermaid foods. Blue Majik is an extract of spirulina, blue-and-green algae that are full of protein. So, the feelings of satiety that protein produces, together with the great looks will have to be enough to persuade you to try fishy-smelling blue majik smoothies and desserts.
Activated Charcoal Foods
Maybe you’re more familiar with the term ‘goth’ popularized some time ago with the appearance of black goth ice cream. The name is much fancier but it refers to the same thing – activated charcoal, the social media’s new favorite ingredient.
This black ingredient isn’t just cool and unique, but it also offers some serious health benefits. To name just a few: it boosts the digestive system, removes toxins, reduces bad cholesterol levels, and decreases bloating. Besides ice cream, you can enjoy charcoal bread, kabobs, pancakes, cakes, macaroon cookies, and more!
Inspire yourself: Mickey Bento
Having problems detecting your food during midnight craving visits to the kitchen? Fluorescent foods are just for you!
After the huge success of neon foods like cotton candy and ice stream ramen, ‘glonuts’ are stealing the fluorescent show this year. Don’t worry, they are not radioactive. On the contrary, glow-in-the-dark donuts are 100% natural, the glowing glaze being made of vitamin B.
Inspire yourself: Vanilla Doughnuts
If you have seen Tastemade’s series Tiny Kitchen, you know what we’re talking about. It features various tiny foods including mini munchkins, M&Ms, McDonald’s happy meal, breakfast meal, pizza, potatoes… All of them made in a tiny little kitchen equipped with tiny little kitchen appliances, and with great precision. We don’t know about the taste, but they sure look cute!
It all began with the unicorn latte (here it is again), then came the avolatte, now it is carrot latte. What is it? Just a latte poured into a hollowed-out carrot. It was made as a joke and received quite a few negative comments, but it still managed to hit the ‘grams and become a huge hit.
Let’s look at the cons. First, we must assume that there are carrot bits floating inside the coffee (yuck). Second, the carrot probably doesn’t hold the coffee well so the chances of making a mess are quite big. On the positive side, “if it cuts down on the wastage from coffee cups why not?”, as one happy customer said.
If you don’t find carrots attractive enough to replace cups, there are also lattes served in apples or you can try tomato cortado, whatever that is.
Inspire yourself: Frothy Matcha Latte
Buddha Bowls are the perfect transition from attractive Instagram foods towards healthy foods. The name reference is from the book Buddha’s Diet: The Ancient Art of Losing Weight Without Losing Your Mind. In terms of ingredients, they include green veggies (fiber), whole grain (good fats), and protein. In addition, they are easy to make at home and contain almost no calories.
Inspire yourself: Chickpea Broccoli Buddha Bowl
Healthy Food Trends
Forget traditional summer barbecues. Plant-based foods are on the rise, especially plant-based protein as a substitute for red meat. So, instead of beef, opt for falafel, chickpea, and quinoa burgers!
Inspire yourself: Veggie Burgers
Chia seeds have been around for some time and their popularity doesn’t seem to fade away! It’s no wonder considering this seed’s nutritional values – it is gluten-free and full of proteins, dietary fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. In addition, it is quite versatile and can be used in various baked recipes, like breads, cakes, and muffins!
To unite healthiness and popularity once again, let’s mention another huge Instagram trend – chia jars, an amazing creation of alternating fruit and chia pudding layers. Chia pudding is very simple to make by putting chia seeds in a mason jar, then covering them with milk. After a while, the seeds will absorb the liquid and expand. That’s your cue for topping them with nuts, fruits, or whatever your heart desires.
Inspire yourself: Peanut Butter and Jelly Chia Pudding
Coconut is everywhere! With alternative milks made of nuts or soy gaining popularity at the expense of cow milk, coconut leads the way as one of the most popular ingredients to embrace this summer. Like chia, coconut is also considered one of the healthiest foods on the planet, especially in the form of coconut oil which is credited for preventing a large number of chronic diseases including cancer and diabetes. Besides oil, this tropical fruit-nut-seed (three in one!) also appears as coconut water, ice cream, chips, jam, butter, you name it!
Inspire yourself: Mango and Coconut Tartlets
While at the butter topic, alternative nut butters have really exploded in popularity. To translate this into numbers: The popularity of cashew butter has increased by 998 percent, pistachio butter – 348 percent, and almond butter has increased by 121 percent.
Inspire yourself: Candie Cookie Bites
White bread vs. sprouted bread. Despite statistics claiming that people have started favoring sprouted grains and bread made from them, Matt Preston, an English-Australian food journalist, restaurant critic, writer, and television personality, has shocked the world with his claim that humble white bread is making a big comeback. “Diners are getting tired of jellies and foams, and the fine dining market is saturated with chefs who forage, pickle and ferment,” he said. The question here is do you want to be trendy or in good health?
Inspire yourself: Herb French Bread
Hot National Cuisines
After looking at the summer trends throughout the net we have connected a few dots and united three hot trends under one name: Mexican wave.
First, we have discovered that there is a serious taco fever taking over the world this summer. Makes sense, since this dish is perfect for hot days – simple, spicy, and versatile. When it comes to fillings, feel free to use just about anything that comes to mind, from classic ingredients to yesterday’s leftovers. Or, if you want to stay in fashion, opt for pickles.
Pickled and fermented veggies are another food trend we have identified. They don’t just add flavor to your dishes, but they are also healthy (especially good for the gut). Pickle some sliced jalapeños for your summer tacos and you have the summer 2017’s winner dish!
Savory yogurts. Very simple, buy some plain, unsweetened yogurt and twist it with savory add-ins: feta cheese, grated cucumber, avocado, lemon juice & zest, paprika, mint, toasted pine nuts. Olive oil, salt, and pepper are a must for every combination! Chill your savory yogurt, grab a spoon and enjoy it directly from the bowl, or dollop onto your tacos for a refreshing note.
Inspire yourself: Southwestern Beef Tacos
Another national cuisine to pay close attention to this summer is Filipino cuisine, thanks to top chef Anthony Bourdain. This food connoisseur claims that certain dishes from this underestimated cuisine will win the hearts of hipsters around the globe very soon. Bourdain has a particular dish in mind: pork sisg – a casual, accessible, and crispy dish made from liver and pig’s head!
Inspire yourself: Maple-Glazed Pork
Smart Eating Summer Trend– Sustainable Food
Millennials have paved the road for smart eating choices after making waste-free eating the hottest trend for 2016.
Food waste control is at the core of this year’s smart trend as well. Sustainable foods take into account environmental, health, social, and economic factors. This industry is focused on local, organic, and seasonal ingredients. It tries to reduce the use of animal foods as they’re among the most energy and greenhouse-gas intensive food products, as well as endangered fish species. In addition, it promotes healthy eating, fair trade, and food democracy. It’s worth thinking about it!
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If you want to be part of the sustainable food trend, have a sustainable coffee at the McDonald’s or a taco made with sustainable salmon at the Rubio’s.
Enjoy good food and create great memories this summer!
Have you been spending a lot of money on your office lunches? It is estimated that an average person spends between $10 and $15 a day on junk food while at work. Still, the damage done on the household budget is not the only downside that should make you consider switching to home-packed food; there are two more reasons why you should do it:
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– Health. There is no need to talk about how harmful fast food is. Changing the type of food you eat is the first step to creating a healthy lifestyle. Consuming homemade food on a daily basis provides variety and allows you to control portion sizes. Not to mention it tastes much better.
– Convenience. Even though the daily expenses related to food-on-the-go are significant, many people continue relying on fast food due to convenience – order and you have a warm meal in a matter of minutes.
However, packing lunch at home can be very simple and that is what this post is all about. It all comes down to two things: organization and routine. Keep reading and learn how to become a professional lunch box-packer that complies healthy and balanced meals for the whole family completely stress-free!
- Check Your Fridge and Pantry
Make sure your fridge and pantry are always filled with staples like sandwich bread, along with your family’s favorite ingredients. Stock such ingredients in a bulk to be sure you won’t run out at a critical moment. This will minimize the stress and speed up the whole process.
- Use up the Leftovers
By packing leftovers, you save any unwanted food from ending up in the trash (which is another way to save money), providing diversity at the same time. One option is to make extra dinner and pack the leftovers to eat at work. Another option is to re-purpose leftovers – for instance, if you had roast chicken for dinner, use the leftover meat to make a quick chicken salad, wraps, or sandwiches.
- Balance the Meals
When packing your lunch, make sure it contains a wide range of nutrients. Here is what you need to include in order to cover all daily needs:
– Protein to give you enough strength and energy for the day. Plan to include about 2 oz. of protein in the form of meat, cheese, hard-boiled eggs, nuts, or nut butter.
– Fruit and vegetables to be sure your meal is packed with vitamins and minerals. We recommend bananas, strawberries, carrots, and broccoli, but anything you choose is fine.
– Whole grains to provide fiber that will make you feel fuller for a longer period of time. Think whole grain bread or pasta.
– Don’t forget to include a bottle of water for refreshment and hydration and a coffee to keep you awake!
- Plan ahead. Make Sunday a day to prep the meals for the whole week. Draw up a weekly meal plan and shop for the ingredients accordingly. You can make bigger batches of meals and distribute them throughout work days or freeze part of them for future use.
- Another option is to prepare your lunch boxes the night before to prevent being late. You are probably groggy and in a hurry when you get ready for work, so forgetting certain items or even the whole lunch box is very likely.
- Line up. If you really must assemble your lunch box in the morning, the least you can do is arrange all the containers and ingredients you’ll need on the counter. This will save you plenty of time & nerves.
- Whole fruits are great to eat on the go, but veggies are a bit more complicated since they need to be washed and chopped. Do this they day you get them from the supermarket and store them is containers or zip-lock bags in the fridge until ready to use.
The first rule to go by when choosing your containers is: make sure they are high-quality and convenient. There is no need to have a whole cupboard of containers. Here are the essentials everyone needs.
- Lunch Boxes. Apparently, lunchboxes have evolved into portable electric heating containers, heat-resistant glass boxes, and complex stainless-steel vacuum lunch jars. These advanced lunch boxes allow you to heat your meals wherever you are, pack liquid foods without the fear of spilling or place them directly into the microwave, but we believe that there is nothing better than the simple, old-school plastic ones.
Choose a compartment lunchbox that will help control portions and prevent different ingredients clean (you don’t want your pasta spilled over the fruits!).
No matter what type of lunchbox you decide to invest in, you can rest assured that it is a far better option than plastic zip-lock bags. According to statistics, American families spend over $80 yearly on plastic bags, which makes them budget-unfriendly. In addition, plastic boxes are reusable and hence eco-friendly. And finally, they allow for minimum mess and waste.
If you still find it difficult to give up baggies, try reusable silicone ones. Unlike their plastic counterpart, these airtight bags contain no harmful materials such as PVC or latex. They are made of the best food-grade silicone and are safe to throw in the microwave, freezer, even the dishwasher.
- Drink containers. Everybody needs one reusable drink container. We prefer plastic over glass because it is unbreakable and over stainless steel because it is lighter. Plastic containers will enable you to replace store-bought juices full of added sugars with fresh ones but are also perfect for milk, sodas, and water.
Alternatively, you can opt for reusable blood bags. As creepy as these bags might sound, they are quite convenient since don’t take up too much space. Moreover, they are completely food safe and widely used for parties and decorations.
- Coffee thermos or travel mugs are the perfect choices for caffeine lovers. They are leak-resistant and heat-insulated, ideal for keeping your coffee or tea aromatic and warm for hours. These containers are perfect for soups, chili, and other meals that are served hot, but you can also use them for smoothies!
- Mini dip containers might seem too tiny and insignificant but you will soon come to realize how difficult life is without them. Use them for sauces, dips, dressings, and more!
- Lunch bags come in so many shapes, sizes, and exciting colors. Some of them have such cool designs, they can safely pass as regular bags that match your outfit! Besides great looks, lunch bags come with a specific function – they keep your food chilled until you are ready to eat.
Sometimes, good organization is not enough to keep you repeating the same routine over and over again. Here is what you can do to inspire yourself.
- Do a research. Find an amazing cooking app and pack your smartphone with quick and easy recipes. Read through blogs dedicated to packing lunches (yes, such things do exist) to find ideas and resources. Don’t be afraid to experiment.
- Printables. To make things easier and far more interesting, print colorful weekly or monthly meal plans and pin them on the fridge. They will not only help you stay organized but will also make your kitchen more cheerful! In addition, print some cute notes to slip inside your loved ones’ lunchboxes and brighten up their day.
- Make your lunch containers cooler. If you are skillful, decorate them yourself by sticking fun handmade drawings or turning food into art. In addition to your vivid imagination, owning a few cookie cutters and some food coloring will come handy in this case. Less artistic souls can download some great lunchbox designs online. Not fancy enough for you? Buy a lunch box worthy of showing off.
Explore antique shops for vintage lunch boxes – you might just get lucky and find a hidden gem. But bear in mind that such pleasure comes with a price – lunch containers from the 1900’s are very popular collector’s items and real aficionados are prepared to pay between $1500 – $13000 for rarities featuring Superman, Mickey Mouse, or the Beatles.
However, this is nothing compared to the most expensive lunch box in the world. The Takashimaya Restaurant in New York serves Oscheriyori, the world’s most expensive lunch box meal worth over $230.000 made completely out of gold (of course we know this is crazy and impossible, just sharing a fun fact 😊)
- Partner up with a coworker to share recipes and ideas but also to eat lunch together. Having support when trying to maintain a healthy lifestyle is very important, especially if the rest of the colleagues stay loyal to fast food and sweet treats. You can also make an arrangement to bring food alternately, which will certainly reduce the pressure since you will only have to pack lunchboxes every other work day!
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In the end, remember: eating healthy is important, but treating yourselves to a guilty pleasure from time to time is definitely not a crime.
“I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone who’s close to you is about as nice a valentine as you can give.” – Julia Child
Valentine’s Day Traditional Foods
How February 14 became associated with love remains unclear. Most Historians believe that it was a physician by the name of Valentine who started the frenzy of sending love cards on this day. Namely, the poor man fell in love with one of his patients, the daughter of an emperor. Before being executed because of his religious beliefs, he sent his beloved a note signed with “Your Valentine.”
And while cards are a must when it comes to this holiday, food doesn’t fall behind either. When we think of foods associated with Valentine, most of us immediately think of the most popular love food – chocolate. Chocolates became a common gift during the Victorian era when people were greatly inspired by medieval courtly love and chivalry. So, if you are looking for a chocolate recipe, you’ll find it difficult to select just one. Our suggestion is Chocolate Pots de Crème. Looks good and tastes divine.
Still, there are a few more traditional foods used to celebrate love and for each and every one of them, there is a logical explanation.
Wine. The feeling that one gets when enjoying a glass of wine is often compared to the feeling of being in love. Don’t forget to buy a high-quality wine to serve on this day. If you and your loved one don’t fancy that euphoric feeling wine creates, use it in recipes like the one for Creamy Pistachio Chicken. This dish is made with white wine which gives it incredible depth and flavor and the alcohol evaporates during the cooking process so there is no need to worry.
Strawberries are heart-shaped and red colored so it’s no wonder they were considered a symbol of Venus by the ancient Romans. Dip them in melted chocolate, or even better, incorporate them into an amazing recipe like the Strawberry Cream Cake.
Honey. As a symbol of love, bees were associated with Cupid during the Renaissance and are often depicted stinging Cupid, the god of love, in paintings. Honey is a symbol of procreation and contains boron, which provides energy boost and helps regulate testosterone and estrogen levels. This natural aphrodisiac can be incorporated in savory recipes, but it definitely works best in sweet ones, like Honey Fudge Parfaits.
Herbs. There are three herbs often associated with the day of love – lavender, basil, and rosemary. With its scent and beautiful purple color, lavender relaxes the senses. Basil is a traditional symbol of fertility and boosts sexual desire by increasing the heart rate and improving circulation, whereas rosemary has been associated with wedding ceremonies since the Middle Ages and is often incorporated in wedding bouquets. Use lavender and rosemary in a single delightfully fragranced and delicate recipe – Scented Cupcake Trio.
Valentine Breakfast in Bed
Valentine’s Day is a perfect way to show your love, but also a great excuse to eat chocolate for breakfast. If love and devotion do not offer a sufficient justification for such a guilty pleasure, here is a little extra: Chocolate is absolutely sensual, from its aroma to its taste, but it has also been known to cause a spike in dopamine, which induces feelings of pleasure. This fact makes chocolate a powerful aphrodisiac which is sure to get you in the mood for love.
In addition, chocolate is really good for you – it lowers the ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, boosts brain function, and acts as a powerful antioxidant.
So, why wait for dessert? Feel free to start the day in a decadent fashion.
The easiest option is to make chocolate pancakes. However, in order to capture some of the love that is in the air, cook these fluffy flapjacks in a heart-shaped mold.
The beauty about pancakes is their versatility and flexibility; for instance
- you can stack them on top of each other, adding vanilla frosting in between the pancakes and on top, to create a delicious cake;
- you can pour the batter into muffin tins to create cute chocolate muffins; or
- slice cooked pancakes and incorporate them in various trifles and parfaits that look absolutely tempting!
Another option is to add some red food coloring into the batter and prepare luscious red velvet pancakes. They make use of cocoa powder as well, but for additional chocolatey flavor, serve them with Nutella cream.
Here are some other chocolate morning options:
– Chocolate Peanut Butter Smoothie
– Triple Chocolate Banana Bread
– Pecan Chocolate Chip Maple French Toast Bake
– Chocolate Waffles a La Mode
– Dark Chocolate Granola + Valentine’s Twist
– Double Chocolate Oatmeal
Valentine’s Date Night Dinner
As Jay Leno once pointed out, men call this day ‘Extortion Day’. So, if your significant half doesn’t feel like putting on their fancy outfit and leave the comfort and safety of your home on a chilly night, why not stay at home and cook? This decision has another upside – your joint bank account will remain intact, allowing you to save some money for a romantic weekend getaway once the weather decides to improve a bit.
Invest your time and energy in really fancy dishes packed with aphrodisiac food that really spark the romance. By definition, an aphrodisiac is a food or drink that increases the sexual desire. Aphrodisiac foods reduce the stress levels, increase circulation, or affect neurotransmitters.
Do aphrodisiacs work? Try these 10 recipes with your baby and see if scientists are right:
#1 Chili Lime Tacos with Mango Salsa
Besides the passionate red color and the fiery taste, chili peppers stimulate endorphins which are responsible for good moods. Their hotness increases circulation and stimulates the nerve endings, making you feel more aroused.
This spicy dish can be served wrapped in tortillas or turned into a main dish salad by swapping the tortillas with romaine.
#2 Oyster Mushrooms, Garlic, and Green Onion Sautee
Besides being very easy to make, this recipe is also paleo and gluten-free. Oysters are one of the most well-known aphrodisiacs due to the fact that they are full of zinc and amino acids that support the production of sex hormones and increase the sex drive.
#3 Spicy Tuna and Avocado Sushi Bites
Avocado’ reputation as an aphrodisiac goes as far as the Aztec times. This silky and creamy fruit is filled with vitamin E, which helps the body produce sex hormones and stimulates vigor and energy levels.
#4 Creamy Chicken Alfredo Pasta with Bell Peppers, Asparagus, and Sun-Dried Tomatoes
Asparagus is rich in folate, which aids the production of dopamine, the feel-good neurotransmitter, and histamine, which is released in the body during orgasm. In addition, this green veggie contains B vitamins which have been known to boost the libido.
#5 Saffron Shrimp and Peach Rice Bowls
Studies have confirmed that saffron increases the sexual performance. Moreover, this tasty spice is very healthy; it is packed with Vitamins B6 and C, as well as minerals like manganese, magnesium, potassium, and iron.
#6 Pesto Pizza with Pine Nuts and Feta
If you are not ready to give up great pizza even on days like this, that’s OK. You can simply upgrade it to a new tastier and sexier level.
Pine nuts abound in energizing zinc, which is essential for producing testosterone. They have been popular aphrodisiacs since the Middle Ages.
#7 Mushroom Gnocchi with Arugula and Walnut Pesto
Arugula is yet another libido-boosting food that has been used for a long time; to be more precise, since the first century A.D. This green leafy plant is packed with antioxidants that prevent negative effects of contaminants on your libido.
This recipe contains another aphrodisiac – walnuts, which contain high levels of omega-3 fatty acids needed to boost the production of sex hormones.
#8 Asian Pan Seared Salmon Salad with Honey Sesame Dressing
Much like walnuts, salmon also contains omega-3 fatty acids that balance the hormones. Plus, it is combined with another powerful aphrodisiac in this recipe-honey.
#9 Spinach and Artichoke Quiche Cups
These tiny veggies come in handy to feed each other when you don’t have strawberries. Besides this convenient feature, artichokes contain antioxidants and vitamins needed for healthy blood circulation and overall health.
#10 Cashew Chicken Ding with Jicama, Celery and Red Bell Pepper
Celery is a crunchy, aromatic veggie that contains androstenol and androsterone, pheromones that are secreted by women and men when they sweat and serve to create sexual attraction. Consider replacing the cashews with another powerful attractant – almonds.
All of these amazing dishes can be complemented with libido-boosting spices, herbs, and add-ins such as:
– Olive oil
Valentine Lovable Desserts
No meal is complete without a dessert! Whether you are inspired by the infamous food scene in “9 ½ Weeks” or just want to share a tasty sweet treat, ask your boo to join you in the kitchen and prepare these delicious aphrodisiac-packed recipes together.
#1 Banana Pudding
It’s not just the phallic shape! Bananas also contain bromelain, an enzyme which boosts testosterone production, as well as vitamin B and potassium that increase the energy levels. This recipe also contains whipped cream…in case you want to recreate the above-mentioned movie scene.
#2 Mexican Coffee Ice Cream Pie
In addition to caffeine, which increases the heart rate and makes the blood flow, this recipe contains two additional feel-good ingredients – cinnamon, which heats up the body and normalizes the blood sugar levels, and vanilla, which stimulates the nerves, thus enhancing your sexual drive.
#3 Gingerbread Cookie Dough Truffles
Ginger is very similar to chili peppers in boosting the blood flow and body temperature. This fact was well known by French courtesans in the past, who gave ginger to their lovers to boost their pleasure and desire. The recipe also contains nutmeg, a spice that has been used as a libido-booster in Hindu cultures for centuries.
If you need a little something to boost your confidence and liven up the atmosphere, prepare these hot cocktails. Remember, consume in moderation – you don’t want to end up to stewed for love.
Watermelon White Sangria
Believe it or not, watermelon is said to have a ‘Viagra’ effect on the body! This is due to the high content of lycopene which relaxes the blood vessels and improves blood flow, which causes you to feel aroused very quickly.
Pomegranate and Orange Champagne Punch
Pomegranate is a powerful antioxidant which supports circulation. Studies have shown that these red gems also help with erectile dysfunction.
We hope that you have found a recipe that sparked your interest. All you need to do is find the perfect scented candles and create a sexy playlist.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
The Super Bowl Sunday is just around the corner and it has gained a reputation of a holiday. The fact that both football fans and those not so keen on sports are thrilled for the Big Game only goes to show how important the National Football League is to Americans.
And what is even more important? Well, one would say the good company and the positive vibes are what matter the most, but we say it’s OK to admit that it is the FOOD we love these gatherings for.
The Ultimate Nachos Recipe
On the very top of our Game Night’s list of favorite foods is a snack food dish that has captivated people from all around the world ever since 1943. The year when Ignacio “Nacho” Anaya created the very first version that included corn tortillas topped with jalapeño peppers, and cheddar cheese.
The Ultimate Nachos Recipe is everything you ever wanted: crunchy, cheesy and slightly spicy. Not to mention that The Great American Recipes managed to pay homage to the very first Nacho recipe (with the corn chips, cheddar and jalapeños) while still keeping the innovative spirit on, by improving it.
How did they manage to do this?
By simply adding a few more ingredients that are both inexpensive and give this snack a whole new dimension. It is amazing how much something as simple as half a pound of ground beef can do when it comes to recipes like this. Your nachos will easily turn from a snack dish to a proper meal dish, and a very tasty one, too.
Be careful with the layering of the chips and the ingredients, though, people tend to take nachos recipes lightly and then nag when they end up with stuck-together chips.
If you follow the step-by-step instructions, though, your nachos will be the best nachos anyone has ever tasted.
Serve these tasty nachos with some sour cream and a salsa sauce. We recommend trying the Peach Mango Salsa.
The Ultimate Super Bowl Nachos Tip:
Since this February 5th the Atlanta Falcons and The New England Patriots will be the teams playing in the Super Bowl LI, why not get some colored restaurant style tortillas and put them on two separate plates.
Arrange one plate with red and blue tortilla chips, since the colors of the “Flying Elvis” are red and blue to represent the Patriots, and arrange the second plate with black and red ones, to represent the Birds’ logo.
Look at it this way: Even if your team doesn’t go home with The Vince Lombardi Trophy, at least you will have the title The Ultimate Nachos Master, so that’s ok.
Super Bowl and Food in Numbers
Nachos is not the only food that football fans love. Super Bowl Sunday ranks second in food consumption in the States, right after Thanksgiving.
The National Chicken Council reports that people across the country will consume more than 1.33 billion chicken wings while watching the game on Sunday, which is 2% more than last year. Chicken wings are by far the most devoured Super Bowl food. Four out of the five most ordered foods during 2016’s Super Bowl chicken wing varieties, namely:
- – Smoked wings
- – Buffalo wings
- – Barbeque wings
- – Boneless wings
Want more crazy Super Bowl Food numbers? This year, Americans will test their endurance by eating:
- – 120 million pounds of avocados
- – 29 million pounds of chips
- – 3.8 million pounds of popcorn
- – 2.5 million pounds of nuts
- – 4 million pizzas
In addition, they will drink a whopping 325.5 million gallons of cold and foamy beer.
The explanation for these insane numbers, at least partially, lies in – superstition. Besides holding on to their team’s lucky jersey, fiery football fans believe they help their team by ordering and eating ‘lucky foods’.
In Boston, the home of New England Patriots, the Indian spinach, and cheese dish called Saag paneer is considered the luckiest, whereas football fans in Atlanta, the hometown of the Falcons, place their hopes in chicken variations – chicken noodle soup and chicken salad. They also share their belief in Saag paneer with Bostoners, which ranked third in their city, according to the largest national online ordering database, Grubhub.
The other part of the answer to the question ‘Why Americans eat so much during Super Bowl?’ is… Well, Super Bowl is a major event and often a reason for throwing a party for family and friends.
Super Bowl Party Food Guaranteed to Score
No Super Bowl party would be complete without two things – football and food. The first part is planned and organized by the NFL, whereas the menu is up to you. And with so many fatty, flavored, delicious choices like the above-mentioned nachos, chicken wings, guacamole, pizzas, and sandwiches it is simply impossible to go wrong.
However, viewers seem to prefer certain foods over others. Knowing the ultimate Super Bowl Super Snacks will help you plan the perfect menu and the throw a party to remember. Here is a list of the 9 most popular Super Bowl foods besides nachos, which is ranked no.4.
What else would be number 1? Pizzerias work like crazy on Super Bowl Sunday, preparing for the busiest take-out day. To avoid the crowded pizza places and waiting for hours for delivery, make your own decadent version at home. I recommend the Tortilla Pepperoni Pizza.
This classic comfort food is favorite in three American states: Delaware, Minnesota, and Missouri. It’s no surprise, given the fact that chili can be adjusted to anyone’s taste – from vegetarian to protein-packed variations.
- Chicken Wings
We have already mentioned how popular chicken wings are on Super Bowl day. This food is favored in Nebraska and Washington. Why wouldn’t it be? Juicy, crunchy, and very easy to make, chicken wings can be prepared in countless varieties, from classic Buffalo to exotic fruity and sticky.
The classic Buffalo chicken dip is most popular Virginia and Wisconsin. Tennessee is a fan of the Buffalo Chicken Appetizers, whereas Utah and South Dakota like chicken casseroles.
Actually, nachos is number four on the list of most beloved Super Bowl foods, but since it was talked about elaborately earlier, here we will suggest preparing the most popular super Bowl food in Ohio – Pulled Pork Pita Nachos combined with guacamole. This creamy, fresh Mexican dip is the reason why football fans will consume millions of avocados on Sunday.
- Pulled Pork
Besides in Ohio, pulled pork is also the most popular Super Bowl food in Indiana. In addition to representing one of the American cuisine staples, barbecue meat, pulled pork sandwiches are very easy to prepare at home and flavor up to your taste.
- Devilled Eggs
Devilishly easy and delightfully zesty, all you need to make these stuffed eggs is mustard, mayonnaise, and seasoning that consists of ranch dressing, green onions, and minced chili peppers.
- Pigs in a Blanket
Make sure you prepare this dish if your party involves kids. Made with a hot dog rolled into a crescent dough, these miniature favorites are one of the easiest recipes to prepare – roll up a hot dog in store-bought dough, place into the oven, and dip in mustard or ketchup. If you have leftover pigs, put them in your kids’ lunch box on Monday.
- Jalapeño Poppers
These creamy and spicy poppers are loved in New Mexico, New York, and North Dakota. Deep-fried jalapeño poppers will take some time to be prepared, but once they are done, your eyes will pop open with delight. And they will be gone in no time.
- Potato Skins
This easy and simple dish unites all the ingredients that football fans love: bacon, melty cheese, and sour cream, complemented with rich and zesty seasonings.
Although we favor the Ultimate Nachos, all of the above-mentioned recipes (check out the video) are more than suitable to make Game night unforgettable.
America is defined by versatility. Be it its nature that goes from ragged to lush, its people that come from all around the world, or the many cuisines that were brought by them, diversity is what makes America great! This is why we are revealing the tales of how some of America’s most famous foods came to be.
This traditional American breakfast dish, consisting of two halves of an English muffin, each one topped with poached eggs and (Canadian) bacon, and covered with hollandaise sauce is still a staple in American households as well as luxurious restaurants.
When it comes to the origins of this dish, there have been many variations of the story, but here we offer you the most interesting one.
In 1984, the Waldorf Hotel at Fifth Avenue and 33rd Street was visited by a flamboyant, and slightly hangover stockbroker named Lemuel Benedict. Although we don’t specifically know whether he frequented the restaurant, one thing that is certain is, on this historic date he placed his breakfast order and it was as follows: two poached eggs, buttered toast, bacon, and a pitcher of hollandaise sauce.
As luck would have it, this momentous order was witnessed by Oscar Tschirky, more famous as Oscar of the Waldorf, the then maître d’hôtel, who decided that this dish was worthy of being put on the hotel’s menu. As we know from what we today call Eggs Benedict, he substituted the toast with an English muffin and secured Eggs Benedict a place in history.
If you thought that the dice-resembling pieces of sautéed or re-baked bread, also known as croutons, had anything to do with Julius Caesar’s “Alea iachta est” (The die is cast) and it is how this salad got its name then you are very wrong!
Although it was invented by an Italian man called Caesar Cardini, the salad was actually invented in Mexico. Who would have thought, right? The story traces back to a Fourth of July weekend in 1924, when in lack of supplies, the resourceful restaurateur threw together whole lettuce leaves, coddled eggs, Italian olive oil, topped everything with parmesan cheese and dressed with Worchester sauce. This concoction soon became one of the most sought for salads that made its way to America.
Boston Cream Pie
Regardless of whether you are a New Englander, live in Massachusetts (where the Boston Cream Pie was proclaimed the official State Dessert in 1996), or come from the Pacific Northwest, you are bound to love this “hybrid dessert”.
Actually, it is the name of this dessert that people cannot wrap their heads around, because clearly, this pie is in fact, a cake! The reason behind this is simple: the two-layer yellow cake, filled with cream or custard, and topped with chocolate glaze, was first prepared in pie tins, which were much more popular than cake tins in that period, hence the name.
As to its origin, the very first appearance of the Boston Cream Pie can be traced down to 1856, in The Parker House Hotel (now the Omni Parker House Hotel), where their French chef, Sanzian, hired for the opening of the hotel, prepared the very first Boston Cream Pie. (At the time known as Parker House Chocolate Cream Pie).
This American grilled sandwich consists of corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and Russian dressing, placed on rye bread. And while its deliciousness and popularity are certain, the story of how it came to be is not that straight forward.
There are many legends surrounding the creation of the Reuben Sandwich, but there are two that can be considered as the soundest ones. We will let you be the judge of which one is more likely to be true, but we are going to give them both the same attention.
According to the first story, told by Patricia B. Taylor, the daughter of the late Arnold Reuben, the founder of Reuben’s Restaurant and Delicatessen, it is her father that we should thank for the existence of this scrumptious sandwich. The scene is set in 1914, when an actress, Annette Seelos entered the restaurant and ordered a sandwich that will be enough to satiate her hunger. Reuben took a loaf of rye bread and stuffed it with sliced Virginia ham, roasted turkey, sauerkraut and Swiss cheese. The funny part is, we could have been ordering an “Annette Seelos Special”, instead of a Reuben Sandwich, if it came down to the actress’ wish.
The second story doesn’t include actresses, but is equally as interesting because it involves poker! A voracious poker player and wholesale grocer by the name of Reuben Kolakofsky loved fixing sandwiches for the poker group games that took place weekly sometime between 1920 and 1935 in the Blackstone Hotel in Omaha, Nebraska. One of the fellow players, Schimmel, the hotel’s owner paid homage to his friend by putting the Reuben Sandwich on the hotel menu.
This now American classic traces its root down to the fourth or fifth century AD. It was in a Roman cookbook that the recipe for patties made of chopped meat, bread, peanuts, and wine was first introduced. But, meatloaf, as we now know it, first came to be in America in the 1800s, when the invention of the meat grinder spurred manufacturers to be inventive in order to sell their product. And then, in the 1930s, the Depression set in, and meatloaf gained in popularity due to the fact that people were able to put as many add-ins as they could think of and reduce the amount of the expensive meat. This went so far as to inventing the now known “vegetarian meatloaf”, or the meat-free meatloaf in the 1940s when World War II was in its full swing. In the aftermath of the war, that is in the ’50s and ’60s many new takes on meatloaf came to be and its re-invention is still ongoing.
While on the topic of dishes that were introduced or popularized during the Great Depression, this American staple cannot go unmentioned. This quintessential American dessert/breakfast came to be as a result of people’s resourcefulness and their unwillingness to throw food (in this case ripe bananas) away. Of course, the recipe has been upgraded ever since, resulting in varieties like the Triple Chocolate Banana Bread, or even Reese’s Banana Bread.
You can find amazing banana bread recipes in our collection!
Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich
If the fact that “the average American will have eaten 1,500 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches by the time they graduate high school” isn’t enough of a proof that this sandwich is a total hit among Americans, then nothing is!
The first mention of peanut butter paired with jelly in the United States was in 1901 in the Boston Cooking-School Magazine of Culinary Science and Domestic Economics.
But, although this is the first mention of them being paired, there were no advertisements or mentions of a sandwich before the 1940s. This, in turn, means that PB&J wasn’t popular by then. Many assign the increased popularity of PB&J to returning GIs, who depended on the peanut butter and jelly combination during WWII. One thing is for certain, a postwar hit, or not, PB&J will be America’s favorite for centuries to come!
We hope that you found this to be an interesting read and that it made you more appreciative of the foods and dishes we tend to take for granted, and whose existence oftentimes is connected to the hardships our land had to go through to become what it is today.