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The Times
  • Food for Thought: Solutions for a better lunch

  • Weekly Food for Thought with tips on packing better lunches for you and your kids, an Easy Recipe for Baked Eggs, a review of Ina Garten's new cookbook, "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof" and more.

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  • Tip of the Week
    With the busy morning rush to get everyone ready for work and school, sometimes getting anything packed for lunch is no small feat. But a little planning and few quick and easy ideas like these can make packing lunches a whole lot simpler:
    * Nuts - Nuts provide healthy fats, fiber and important nutrients. Measure out individual servings of almonds, walnuts, pecans or cashews, and keep them on hand so you can toss them in a lunch bag.
    * Fruits and veggies - You can always grab an apple or banana, but what about expanding your produce palate? Try packing snap peas with hummus; frozen grapes and kiwi chunks; grapefruit and orange segments with coconut flakes; or tomato and cucumber slices drizzled with a teaspoon of olive oil and a splash of lime juice.
    * Protein - Lean poultry, lowfat cottage cheese and tofu are good sources of protein. Eggs have protein, too - try jazzing up a hard-boiled egg with a little lemon pepper, or even chili flakes.
    * Yogurt - An easy way to eat right at lunch or on the go, yogurt is also a smart way to get protein and calcium into your day.
    * Pre-sliced and diced - Check your grocery store for snack-sized bags of pre-sliced cheese or crunchy pretzels. You can toss one into lunch bags or keep some at your desk for a quick afternoon pick-me-up.
    * Mix it up - Make your own trail mix or homemade granola. Pre-portion it into zip-top bags or single serving storage containers so you don't overdo it.
    * Make it crunchy - For a lower fat, nutritious and delicious crunchy snack, bake your own apple, sweet potato, kale or beet chips - they'll have fewer calories, less fat, and a lot more nutrition packed into each crunchy bite.
    * Spice it up - Herbs and spices add a ton of flavor and their own nutritional value to all kinds of delicious treats. You can find recipes for spiced nuts, roasted pumpkin seeds and seasoned popcorn, all of which make lunch time something to look forward to.
    Source: Muller/Family Features
    Easy recipe: Baked Eggs
    Prep Time: 20 minutes
    Cook Time: 15 - 18 minutes
    Makes: 4 servings
    3/4 cup Sabra Classic Hummus
    4 extra-large eggs
    1 teaspoon olive oil
    2 medium tomatoes, diced
    4 olives, diced
    1 teaspoon parsley, finely chopped for garnish
    Sea salt and pepper to taste
    Preheat oven at 400 degrees F. Oil four ramekins with olive oil. Spread hummus into ramekins, making an indentation in the middle of each. Arrange ramekins on a shallow baking dish.
    Crack an egg into the center, being careful not to break the yolk. Sprinkle with diced tomatoes and olives. Continue with the remaining ramekins.
    Page 2 of 3 - Place in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes, according to desired consistency of the yolk. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 5 minutes before serving. This can also be cooked in an ovenproof skillet all at once for larger gatherings.
    -- Sabra/Family Features
    Did You Know?
    Winter spices add comforting flavors to food, and researchers are finding they can be good for you. For example, scientists are studying turmeric – that yellow spice often found in warming curries -- for its potential to help prevent cancer and Alzheimer’s. And, a recent study from Penn State University found those who consumed two tablespoons of cinnamon in their meals had 30 percent lower levels of blood fats.
    -- CalorieKing.com
    Food Quiz
    Which French egg dish stumped legendary cook Julia Child during her final exam at Le Cordon Bleu Paris?
    A. Oeufs omelette (egg omelet)
    B. Oeufs en cocotte (eggs baked in a ramekin)
    C. Oeufs mollete (soft-cooked eggs)
    Answer is at the bottom of the rail.
    Wise to the Word: Marjoram
    Marjoram is oregano's calmer, sweeter fraternal twin. Oregano is zesty, peppery, lemony. Marjoram is delicate, floral and round.
    -- CookThink.com
    Number to Know
    48 million: The federal government estimates that there are about 48 million cases of foodborne illness annually  –the equivalent of sickening 1 in 6 Americans each year. And each year these illnesses result in an estimated 128,000 hospitalizations and 3,000 deaths.
    -- FDA.gov
    The Dish On …
    "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof," Ina Garten
    Millions of people love Ina Garten because she writes recipes that make home cooks look great; family and friends shower them with praise and yet the dishes couldn’t be simpler to prepare using ingredients found in any grocery store. In "Barefoot Contessa Foolproof," the Food Network star takes easy a step further, sharing her secrets for pulling off deeply satisfying meals that have that “wow!” factor we all crave.
    For Ina, “foolproof” means more than just making one dish successfully; it’s also about planning a menu, including coordinating everything so it all gets to the table at the same time. In this book, Ina shows you how to make a game plan so everything is served hot while you keep your cool. There are notes throughout detailing where a recipe can go wrong to keep you on track, plus tips for making recipes in advance. It’s as though Ina is there in the kitchen with you guiding you every step of the way.
    -- Amazon.com
    Food Quiz Answer
    C. Oeufs mollets was one of three dishes on Child’s practical exam at Le Cordon Bleu. She was asked to write down the list of ingredients for each dish, and failed to remember any of them for oeufs mollets.
    Page 3 of 3 - -- Delish.com
    GateHouse News Service
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