Next-Level Barbecue Recipes to Try This Winter

The temperatures have dropped, the precipitation has increased, which means winter is on the way. Typically around this time, people pack up their grills for the season. Though it’s cold outside, that doesn’t stop your tastebuds from wanting some delicious barbecued foods. The good news is, no matter what the weather is like outside you can make some of your bbq favorites all year long. Check out these next-level barbecue recipes below: 

Barbecue Pork Belly

There’s something about the saltiness of pork and the sweet and tanginess of barbecue sauce that just pairs together so well. All you need is a slab of pork belly for sale, some salt, and your favorite flavor of barbecue sauce. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the pork, then smother them in bbq sauce and allow them to marinate for 2-4 hours. Then, head outside to your grill, throw it in the crockpot, use an indoor grill, or place the pork belly in the oven and allow them to cook until desired texture (at least 2 hours). You can pair this with a simple slaw or potato salad or eat it with warm sides like mashed potatoes and corn.

Slow-Cooker Barbecue Beef Brisket

Crockpots are really famous during the fall and winter months. The set it and forget it concept saves you a lot of time in the kitchen. If ever there was a meat to prepare in the crockpot, beef brisket is at the top of the list. After simmering in sauces and seasons for hours it falls apart so tender and pairs well with a ton of comfort sides like mac n cheese, baked potatoes, and even rice. For this recipe, you’ll need 3 tablespoons of light brown sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons of chipotle chile powder, 2 teaspoons of ground cumin, 1 teaspoon of celery salt, 1 clove of minced garlic, kosher salt, ground pepper, a nice size brisket, 1 ¼ cups of ketchup, ¼ cups of apple cider vinegar, and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. 

Take your dry ingredients (brown sugar, chile powder, cumin, celery salt, garlic, salt, and pepper) and combine them in a bowl to make a rub. Rub the mixture on the brisket then place it in the crockpot. Next, combine ¾ cups of water, Worcestershire sauce, and ¾ cups of ketchup in a bowl and pour over the brisket. Cover and allow to simmer for 8 hours. 

Grilled Pineapple BBQ Chicken

If you’ve never enjoyed the sweet taste of pineapple with the tangy combination of barbecue sauce, you’re missing out. This recipe is fairly simple and can be prepared on an outdoor or indoor grill. Choose your favorite flavored barbecue sauce, your favorite part of the chicken, and some canned or fresh pineapple. Sprinkle some salt and pepper on the chicken, then allow it to marinate for a few hours in the barbecue sauce. Place the chicken on the grill and place the pineapples on top. Grill the chicken and pineapple until meat is nice and tender then serve. This pairs well with grilled veggies like zucchini, asparagus, or broccoli. 

Barbecue Chickpea Burgers

Last, but not least, a great barbecue recipe for vegetarians and vegans – barbecue chickpea burgers. Again, choose your favorite barbecue sauce. You’ll also need 1 cup of rolled oats, 1 can of chickpeas (drained and cleaned), 1 small chopped onion, 2 cloves of minced garlic, and some oil (for cooking). 

Put the rolled oats into the food processor to grind into a fine powder. Then add the chickpeas, garlic, onion, and a ½ cup of barbecue sauce. Pulse in the food processor until everything is chopped and mixed together. Then, take the mixture and make 4 to 6 patties. If necessary, add oil to the grill to keep the burgers from sticking. Then, grill the patties on each side until they are light brown in color. Add the burgers to a bun, top it with cheese, onions, and lettuce with barbecue sauce to taste. You can pair it with sweet potato or zucchini fries. 

Yes, it’s cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you have to give up the delicious taste of barbecued food until the Spring or Summer. Barbecue tastes great all year long and can easily be made indoors or outdoors. Incorporate these recipes into your weekly meal plans for delicious meals you and your family will enjoy. 

DIY Wedding Catering

Many people dream of the perfect wedding  — the dress, wedding rings, the reception, and everything in between. There’s no doubt about it though, weddings can end up costing quite a bit of money. If you’d like to find options that will help you save money whenever possible, the idea of catering your reception yourself might be something you should consider. It can be a big job that requires a lot of attention, but you won’t have to hire a professional catering company if you can handle doing it yourself. 

Create a Plan 

Catering your own wedding reception requires careful planning to make sure you have every detail ironed out. You’ll need to figure out how many people are planning to attend, what food choices make the most sense, and where you’re going to get the equipment needed to make this all happen. Start writing it all down as soon as you can, and edit and add to the plan whenever you think of new things. Creating a plan will help you stay more organized during this whole process. Keep in mind that you do not have to serve large elaborate meals. You can plan your wedding to occur in the afternoon so it’s between lunch and dinner. 

Serve Simple Foods 

You can keep the food as simple and as budget-friendly as you want. It’s your wedding, so you’re in complete control. If you know of guests with certain dietary restrictions, such as those who are vegan or gluten intolerant, you can try and make sure you have options for everyone. Some easy ideas for appetizers include: fresh fruits and veggies placed on skewers, pita and hummus, cheese plates, and chips and dips. For the main meal, you can have a buffet so your guests can serve themselves. Your buffet can include inexpensive but filling options such as mashed potatoes, steamed vegetables, casseroles, grilled chicken or eggplant, pulled pork, and stir-fry. 

Use Your Own Supplies

Reducing the costs of your wedding reception can start by using your own supplies rather than buying brand new just for this event. Make a list of everything needed and then check off what you already have. Whatever you don’t already own, you can ask your friends and family members if they’ll let you borrow theirs. If there are still some things you need, you can check out second-hand stores to see if you can find the remainder of the items for very cheap. The main things you’ll need are: 

  • Salad, dinner, and bread plates 
  • Salt and pepper shakers 
  • Silverware 
  • Water and wine glasses 
  • Tablecloths and napkins (paper or fabric) 
  • Food serving equipment such as serving trays, bus bins, and water pitchers 

If you’re cooking using your own cookware, make sure everything is in good condition and that you always heat the oil properly before cooking to avoid food sticking

Know How to Safely Serve Food 

Preparing the food is only one part of catering your own reception; you’re also going to need to know how to safely serve all of these foods to avoid anyone getting sick. Your hot foods should be cooked to at least 140 degrees Fahrenheit (or hotter, depending on the food). Cold foods should be stored and kept at less than 40 degrees Fahrenheit You should make sure the food warmers you have are capable of heating foods up to the safest temperatures. 

Catering your own reception is a lot of work, and it can be hectic at times. Doing it yourself when you have a lot of guests coming might be very overwhelming, but it’s definitely doable with a smaller crowd. It can make things a lot easier for you if you ask your closest friends and family members for help. Designating specific jobs for certain people can make everything go smoother.

How to Prepare a Romantic Dinner Date At Home

Whether you’re dating or married, finding quality time to spend with one another can strengthen your relationship. The only trouble is, going out isn’t as affordable as it used to be. A trip to the movies or out to a nice restaurant can set you back a bit if you’re on a tight budget. Rather than foregoing that quality time altogether, why not try having a romantic dinner date at home. 

Send Out an Invitation

As schedules can be busy you’ll want to make sure that your partner is able to make this romantic date night for two at home. You can quickly confirm this by sending an invite. You can send a quick email letting them know that you have planned a date night in. If you’d like it to be a bit of a surprise you don’t have to disclose many details. Just let them know the day, time, dress code, and anything you’d like them to bring. 

Plan a Special Meal

When planning a romantic evening for two at home, you don’t want to prepare something you’d have any night for dinner. The meal should be special so that you can feel as if you’re at a fancy restaurant for the evening. So, take some time to decide on the proper menu. You can go with your partner’s favorite dish or opt for something you’ve never tried before. If you’re a beginner chef, there are some easy dinner ideas you can try. There’s also the option to order meal-kit online in advance. This way, you’ll have all the ingredients you need ready to prepare a quick, delicious, but healthy meal for two. 

Decide on Attire

There are a few ways you could go with a romantic date night in when it comes to what to wear. You could keep it laidback and casual by wearing loungewear or scale things up a bit by putting on a nice evening gown or suit and tie. It’s all about the type of mood you wish to set for the evening. 

Set the Tone

Speaking of mood for the evening, you’ll need to set the tone with a bit of creativity and decor. The environment can create an intimate vibe or a fun, light-hearted scene depending on what you’re going for. You might want to set the dining room table with a nice tablecloth, placemats, and your finest china finished off with a fresh bouquet of roses and a few candles. Maybe you want to watch movies while you grub, then set up a nice eating area on the floor near your television. Add a few pillows on the floor for you to get comfortable and set the scene just as you would a table. If the weather is nice, you may even decide to take your romantic date night outdoors and have dinner in your backyard. Some landscaping lights, a few comfortable lawn chairs, and a nice table setting will do the trick. You might even want to create a playlist to help create an ambiance. 

After Dinner

Most date nights include a shared meal and some form of activity when you’re done. After you’ve had your dinner, think about things the two of you can do together to get even closer. You can play cards or board games, you can watch a movie, you can turn on some slow music and dance, you can enjoy a nice conversation over a glass of wine, or maybe you just want to have a deep conversation over a glass of wine. Whatever activity you’re going to do, make sure you set a place for that as well so you can be comfortable. 

Life pulls couples in all different directions. While this is common, it is imperative to maintain your relationship by spending quality time together. If going out is more than you can afford, you can do something from the heart that’s also affordable like having a romantic dinner at home. If you use the tips provided above, your partner is sure to be blown away by all the effort you went through to make sure this moment was special for both of you.

Foods to Heal the Mind and Body

Though the number of people diagnosed with mental illnesses and life-altering diseases like diabetes, heart disease, high blood pressure, and cancer continues to rise, there is a silver lining. Now, more than ever, people are starting to take an interest in self-improvement. Realizing that the state of their health and happiness is within their control, many have committed themselves to healthy habits such as exercise and diet. 

What You Eat Affects More than Your Weight

Eating right is necessary to sustain a healthy weight, however, that is not the only reason it pays to be mindful of what you put in your body. What you choose to eat impacts your emotional and physical well-being in a negative or positive way. Those who opt to consume a diet comprised of mostly processed, genetically modified, salty, sugary, low or no nutrient foods increase their risk of developing diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, and cancer. As food can also impact your mental health those eating a poor diet are also at increased risk for mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. 

Switching to a Diet That Heals

While a poor diet can affect you physically and mentally, a healthy diet can help heal the mind and body. Whether you want to treat or prevent compromising health conditions the first step is to start with your diet. By consuming more organic, whole, foods that are high in nutritional value, it enhances your body’s ability to heal itself. Making a self-improvement journey such as this won’t be easy, if you stick to it, eventually, eating healthy will be second-nature.

Superfoods to Add to Your Diet 

An easy way to begin being more mindful of your diet is to incorporate the most nutrient-rich foods into your meals. By consuming more good foods each day (and slowly reducing the bad), you’ll start to develop a palate for things that are better for you. Here are some superfoods that you can add to your diet to begin healing your mind and body:

Quinoa

At the top of the list of superfoods you should be eating on a regular basis, is quinoa. This ancient whole grain is packed with nutrients including protein, fiber, and iron. It can help to manage your weight, regulate your blood sugar, and reduce your chances of developing heart disease. Quinoa is a soft yet seedy grain that can easily be incorporated into your meals. From smoothies to side dishes and salads, you can find the perfect recipes to consume this amazing grain a few times a week. 

Berries

Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, really any kind of berries are good for you. They contain a lot of fiber and are also rich in antioxidants which are necessary to prevent or reduce the damage to cells for a strong mind and body. Berries are another superfood that are very easy to consume on a regular basis. You can add them to fruit and veggie smoothies, eat them plain, add them to yogurt, or snack on a dried version for your daily dose of nutrients. 

Avocado

Avocados are another superfood to add to your diet for a healthier mind and body. They are high in nutrients like vitamin C and E as well as folate, magnesium, Omega-3 fatty acids, and potassium (to name a few). They help to maintain healthy levels of cholesterol, improve your vision, prevent osteoporosis, improves digestion, reduces depression, and helps to naturally detox the body. Avocados can be enjoyed raw, toasted with a bit of salt, pepper, and oil to taste, made into guacamole, or added as toppings to salads and sandwiches. 

Salmon (Fatty Fish)

Last but not least on the list of superfoods that can help to heal the mind and body is salmon. This fatty fish is loaded with Omega-3 fatty acids, protein, B vitamins, and potassium. Consuming salmon on a weekly basis can help to reduce your chances of heart attack, stroke, cancer, and dementia. There are tons of delicious salmon recipes online you can add to your arsenal. 

On a daily basis, people are exposed to so many different elements that negatively affect the mind and body. This daily exposure puts them at risk for physical and mental conditions that dramatically alter their lives (and in some cases, end them). While all factors cannot be controlled, starting with things you can control such as your diet can make a significant difference. Consuming superfoods like those listed above on a regular basis can essentially help to renew the mind and body from the inside out. 

Ideal Foods to Eat When Trying to Fight Depression

Depression is a serious mental illness that plagues millions of people each year. It is essentially the state of feeling sad or hopeless for long periods of time. Those who suffer from depression are often down, causing them to isolate themselves from things that once bought them happiness. As depression is a complex illness, it can take a number of treatments to completely cure. 

It is always recommended that you speak with your doctor to have treatment options such as TMS therapy explained. Along with traditional treatments like talk therapy and medication, your doctor will also go over the importance of changing lifestyle habits like your diet. This is because there has been increasing information about how what you eat can impact more than just your body – but your mind. 

Unfortunately, many of the most popular food choices are overly processed or filled with sugar, salt, and artificial ingredients which throw off the body’s natural chemical balance. This imbalance, in turn, leads to a multitude of problems from weight fluctuations to mental illness like depression. Therefore, incorporating foods that improve your mood can essentially help to ease or even eliminate symptoms of depression. Below is a look at some foods to start eating on a regular basis to aid in overcoming depression. 

Antioxidants 

Free radicals are bad for your health. When present in the body in large quantities, it can cause everything from cell damage to rapid aging. To protect your mind and body, it is recommended that you consume foods containing antioxidants. They naturally help to reduce the production of free radicals. There are several types of food sources you can get antioxidants from. This includes foods that contain beta-carotene, vitamin c, and vitamin e. There are a lot of foods in these categories including broccoli, carrots, cantaloupe, blueberries, strawberries, nuts, and seeds.

Complex Carbs

Though studies are still new on this, it is believed that a person who is craving carbohydrates may very well be running low on serotonin (a chemical in the body attributed to happiness). Unfortunately, they consume the wrong types of carbs including white bread, rice, and white potatoes which gives them a temporary sugar rush. Consuming complex carbs, on the other hand, can provide a calming feeling. Start eating whole and ancient grains like wheat bread and quinoa. You can also eat sweet potatoes, fruits, and other veggies. 

Protein Can Improve Your Mood

Protein is good for more than just building strong muscles. It’s great for helping the body to naturally produce serotonin. Protein contains an amino acid known as tryptophan which can help increase serotonin levels. You can get your daily portion of protein from consuming things like tuna, salmon, turkey, chicken, or beef. However, if you’re a vegetarian or vegan, there are other sources like eggs, beans, peas, cheese, soy, and yogurt. 

Vitamin D

Did you know that low levels of vitamin D have been linked to depression? In fact, those who suffer from seasonal depression often feel better once the spring and summer come around. That’s because they’re able to increase their exposure to the sun’s rays (which have the most source of vitamin D). Try getting outside every day for at least 15-20 minutes to see if that improves your mood. You can also get vitamin D from certain food sources like dairy products and foods with vitamin D added like fruit juices. 

Dietary Supplements

It’s not always easy to get the recommended dose of vitamins, nutrients, and minerals in your regular diet. This can cause some deficiencies which can lead to depression and other health problems. Therefore, it may be ideal for you to consider taking daily supplements to help pick up the slack. Be sure to talk with your doctor first to ensure you’re not consuming more than you should as too much of a good thing can essentially be bad for you. 

Overcoming depression takes time, patience, and discipline and may require a series of treatments before the best path is determined for you. Through it all, however, making healthy lifestyle changes such as the foods you eat, can greatly reduce those feelings of sadness and help the body to naturally produce “feel good” hormones and fight off free radicals which put you in a better position to beat depression for good. 

5 Unknown Health Benefits of Cinnamon

There are a number of reasons to use cinnamon in everyday life. According to an article by Healing Hands Chiropractic, cinnamon is not just used for cooking. To help with a variety of health issues, cinnamon can benefit everyone.

What Is Cinnamon?

Cinnamon is a commonly known spice that is usually used in baking. Cinnamon can frequently be found in lattes or dessert coffees in the fall or winter months. It is the bark from the cinnamon tree that has medicinal benefits. Once the inner bark is dried, it can curl into cinnamon sticks or quills. These quills are then either ground into powder or used in an extract.

Cassia cinnamon is from Southern China and tends to be reddish brown in color. This type of cinnamon usually has a rougher texture that can make thicker quills. Although it is generally considered lower quality, this particular form is high in flavor and has been used in cooking for generations.

Ceylon cinnamon can be found in Sri Lanka. This form of cinnamon is lighter in color and has a soft texture. It is more expensive and harder to find, but is highly sought after for its ability to create a strong oil for healing purposes.

The Top 5 Reasons to Use Cinnamon

Cinnamon is a commonly used spice for adding a sweet flavor to food. Found in South America and Southeast Asia, this spice can help with many health conditions.

1. Diabetes

Type 2 diabetes is a serious and chronic condition that affects over 30 million people in the United States. Symptoms can include feeling hungry and tired as well as experiencing blurred vision and itchy skin. According to a study in Diabetes Care, cinnamon can help improve both lipid and glucose levels for those suffering from type 2 diabetes. By using cinnamon on a daily basis, cholesterol and triglyceride can be effectively lowered. Cinnamon is not just used as a preventative method for various health conditions.

2. Multiple Sclerosis 

Multiple sclerosis (MS) can affect multiple parts of the body. The optic nerves in the eyes, brain and spinal cord can all be greatly impacted by this disease. Balance and muscle control are often symptoms that bother those diagnosed with MS. Since cinnamon can have an anti-inflammatory effect, the central nervous system is likely to improve brain function in the hippocampus. In addition to the anti-inflammatory benefits, cinnamon can help regulate the immune system.

3. Wound Care

Chronic wounds can be painful and even dangerous. Infection is likely to occur if wounds are not properly taken care of. Depending on the immune system and the individual, the typical healing process can take time. By using cinnamon supplements, biofilms that prevent timely healing can be eliminated.

4. Fungal infections

Fungal infections like Candida can be extremely dangerous if not treated. Candida is usually found in the mouth or intestines and can cause the infection known as candidiasis. Usually this type of infection is caused by either taking antibiotics, eating a high sugar diet, or having a weakened immune system, but anyone can acquire it under the wrong circumstances. Cinnamon oil can be used as a safe way to inhibit the development of this type of fungal infection.

5. Antioxidants

Antioxidants prevent the body from damage that free radicals can cause. By including more antioxidants into a diet, cinnamon can help with a variety of health issues including diarrhea, yeast infections, colds and even arthritis.

How To Use Cinnamon

Most people are familiar with the spice cinnamon. At the grocery store it can be found in small plastic bottles used for cooking. To experience the health benefits of cinnamon, it can be used in a variety of different ways.

Ground cinnamon can easily be consumed in food or drinks. By using powdered cinnamon, coffee and tea can both be enhanced. Cooking with powdered cinnamon is often recommended in desserts. To quickly consume cinnamon without baking or sipping coffee, try sprinkling some over buttered toast.

Cinnamon capsules are another way of ingesting the spice. These supplements vary in dose and should be used carefully. By following the directions and checking with a doctor, overuse can easily be avoided. Cinnamon capsules generally benefit those with type 2 diabetes.

No matter how cinnamon is ingested, its health benefits are well known. Cinnamon sticks, supplements or powder can help boost the immune system, create an anti-inflammatory treatment and provide nutrition. Taking the right dose of cinnamon can both prevent and treat certain health conditions. By understanding the benefits of this spice, a healthy lifestyle can easily be obtained.

Tips for Planning the Perfect Dinner Party

Hosting a dinner party is the perfect way to connect with friends, have a good time, and just relax. The key to throwing a successful dinner party lies within the preparation work. Setting everything in place prior to the party will make the night more enjoyable and stress-free. Here are some tips for planning the perfect dinner party:

Creating the Perfect Invitation

The invitation to your event is the first thing that guests will see. Invites will set the tone for the entire party. Invites sent on social media platforms will give a laid back, modern vibe, while hand-delivered invites will give the allusion of formality.

Typically, invitations will provide a brief overview of essential party information. The theme will be displayed as an element of the invitation itself, along with time, place, dress code, and RSVP requirements.

Conveying the Dress Code for Your Party

One of the first concerns many guests will have about your party is what to wear. While this should be included in your invitation, the location of the party will also set a tentative standard.

As the host, you will always want to amplify the dress code a bit compared to others. For example, it would be acceptable to buy a plus size little black dress for your holiday dinner party. Make yourself known, as the host of the party, by wearing a unique outfit.

Designing the Venue and Planning Decorations

One of the most fun aspects of planning a dinner party is involvement with venue design, set up, and decor. Whether you do all of this yourself or pay an outside entity, planning the theme and brainstorming ideas will help elevate your dinner party.

The formality of your dinner party will govern the level of decor that is appropriate. While place settings may be good for a formal event, a buffet-style dinner would be more fitting for a more casual setting. Suitable dinner party decorations can be purchased or rented, and oftentimes the rental company will set up and tear down at no additional charge.

Focusing on Food

If there is one thing all of your guests can bond and converse over, it is food. Whether you are planning a three-course meal or appetizers and hors d’oeuvres, creating a plan ahead of time can help simplify the event.

Food can either be made by the host (and a slew of volunteers, friends, or family) or catered in by a professional. If a professional is selected, a date must be chosen well in advance and a deposit paid. The caterer will want to know the layout of the venue, the expected presentation, and the available time frame for cooking/serving.

Preparing for a Fun Experience

Planning a dinner party can be fun and exciting. Getting all of your friends, family, and coworkers together for a night of good food, good conversation, and good wine is ultimately relaxing. However, creating a plan for the essentials of your party ahead of time has its advantages. Allow yourself to mingle with guests, partake in the delicious food, and dance to the music of your own dinner party with these aforementioned tips.

Eco-Friendly Eating Habits for Your Family

The way we eat often has a direct correlation with our environmental impact. The agricultural and food processing industry emit hundreds of thousands of tons of greenhouse gasses into the environment each year to ensure that your family has food on the table each day. While no one person or family can make sizable reductions to the entire industry, we can each begin to make more eco-friendly eating habits for your family on a smaller scale. So, what eco-friendly habits can your family adopt to help do your part in protecting the environment?

  • Plan Your Meals Before Going Shopping
  • Buy Local Whenever Possible
  • Ditch the Single-Use Containers
  • Make at Least One Dinner Per Week Meatless
  • Be Aware of Expiration Dates

Plan Your Meals Before Going Shopping

The food industry accounts for a large portion of emissions across the globe. This includes both the production of the food itself plus all of the wasted food that ends up in landfills each day. To help tackle the issue of food waste, attempt to plan out your meals before going to the grocery store. This will help you to buy only what is needed for the week and avoid overbuying. If you get home and have far more food than you can eat in a week, the odds of throwing some of it away are greatly increased. Planning out and prepping meals also helps to save money for your family by avoiding fast food runs on nights when there is nothing left at home to make for dinner.

Ditch the Single-Use Containers

One of the most common forms of waste is single-use containers which are most commonly made out of plastic. This includes, but is not limited to, plastic bags, disposable containers and food packaging that is thrown out after one use. To help reduce this waste, attempt to buy things from the outer aisles of the grocery store. These are typically the freshest and healthiest items in the store which come with very little packaging. Additionally, using reusable snack bags for school lunches is a great way to further reduce your food-related waste. Every time you reuse a container or bag is one fewer of those items that end up wither in a landfill or in the ocean.

Buy Local Whenever Possible

Food itself is not the only thing that has a negative impact on the environment. The transportation of food can also have a negative impact from vehicle emissions. By buying local food whenever possible, you can help cut these emissions out of the food buying process altogether.

Make at Least One Meatless Dinner Per Week

Meat cultivation and processing are highly energy and water-intensive. To help reduce your environmental impact, make a goal to go meatless for one dinner per week. As your meatless recipes grow in number, you can expand to two or three nights per week if you are seeking to make even more of a positive impact on the environment.

Be Aware of Expiration Dates

Expired food is often thrown away as soon as it is discovered in the fridge. To avoid doing this, make a conscious effort to take note of expiration dates. This way, when selecting what to make for lunch or dinner, you can select foods that are soon to expire as to avoid throwing them away thus reducing total food waste.

Cook Foods Native to Your Background

Today there’s a growing interest in finding our ethnic backgrounds. DNA testing, once used exclusively for identifying remains or in child support cases, is now also used to reveal your ethnic origins. Once a person uncovers their heritage, they may try to connect to their ancestors by expanding their diet to include foods that originate or are very popular to their hereditary nationality. 

Irish and Scottish Foods 

For instance, take the last name Miller. The Millers settled primarily in the eastern part of the United States and, according to recorded records dating back to 1840, the Miller last name origin actually comes from parts of Northern Ireland and Scotland. If you’ve always preferred your meat and potatoes to vegetarian or other ethnic dishes, there’s a reason. The Irish heritage is big on potatoes and bread. In fact, many of their meals include them. The Ulster Fry, for example, is a large breakfast with black pudding, Irish potato bread, eggs, bacon, and soda farl, and is a tradition in Northern Ireland. However, it’s also popular (in a varied version) in England and Scotland, too. Boxty (also known as potato pancakes), Lamb Irish Stew and Champ (a potato dish), are a few of meals that the Irish heritage enjoys. 

In Scotland, haggis is a traditional meat dish derived from sheep’s puck chopped up and combined with select spices, suet, oatmeal, and onions that are then wrapped in the lining of the animal’s intestine. Other iconic foods include neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes), and bangers and mash. 

German Foods 

If you recently discovered that you possess German DNA and you love to throw back a frothy cold one, your newly discovered German roots may help to explain things. Germans are known for having beer at their dinner table nightly, with smaller servings poured for the youngsters. Aside from their fondness of beer, traditional German foods are plentiful, and many are quite common in the United States. That’s because many of the Germans came to this country in the early to mid-1800s. When it comes to meat, pork and beef dominate with plentiful types of sausage–many of which come served with a hearty helping of sauerkraut (also native to Germany). And, similar to the Irish, they also enjoy potatoes with their meals such as Kartoffelpuffer and Kartoffelkloesse, also known as potato pancakes and potato dumplings. 

Italian Foods

When you think Italian food, the first thing that pops in is food with red sauce and cheese. While Italy does have a rich food history dating back to the early 1800s with familiar favorites like tortellini, spaghetti, lasagna, and pizza, those are not all the foods in their heritage. Italy is very diverse as a country and, as such, certain regions specialize in different foods. For instance, if you go on vacation with your family to coastal areas, you’ll find a menu with mainly seafood while other areas inland feature Ribolitta (peasant soup), Risotto, a thick steak, and Squash Blossoms. 

Traditional Spanish Food 

People unfamiliar with different ethnic backgrounds may perceive Mexican and Spanish foods as one and the same. However, they are very different. Like Italy, Spain is a diverse country where, depending on the region, the foods change. If you were to compare foods by their use of their basic ingredients, spices and such, they are more in line with the foods of Portugal more than any other country. Some of the notable foods in Spain are croquettes, Gazpacho (cold tomato soup), bean stews and Paella (a rice-based dish that you can have with chicken, rabbit or even seafood). Discovering your roots is very exciting, and it may even explain your love for certain types of foods. Now that you know where you come from, you’ll have lots of time to learn new and exciting recipes from your native land.

Magnesium: It’s What (Should Be) For Dinner

It happens every year like clockwork: we get into December and just about every website publishes some sort of “Top [insert thing here] of [year]” list. Often these are purely for fun  — we all like seeing which movies did the best and which fashion trends came and went. Recently, though, a different kind of year-end list caught our eye. Over on Business Insider, Hillary Brueck published a piece called “Nutrition myths that we stopped believing in 2019, including the carnivore diet and ‘superfoods’”

Among the myths busted in the article, was the one that said that supplements and breaking down food into its individual nutritional pieces were pretty much the same thing as eating foods whole. Obviously nobody is going to argue that, for example, eating a bunch of junk and then taking a multivitamin is just as good as eating whole and nutritionally balanced meals. At the same time, though, for many people getting enough of the vitamins and minerals they need can only be accomplished via supplements. 

For example, let’s take a look at magnesium. Magnesium is an incredibly important component of a person’s overall health. According to the National Institutes of Health, magnesium is a “cofactor” in upwards of 300 of our bodily systems. Among those systems, magnesium is necessary for our nervous system’s health, the regulation of our blood pressure, our bones’ structural health, and is required for our body’s DNA and RNA synthesis. All of that is pretty important, wouldn’t you think?

In order for our body to maintain these (and more) systems, the average adult needs to consume between 310-420mg of magnesium every day. The average banana, for comparison, contains only 33mg of magnesium. A cup of sunflower seeds or almonds will get you over the finish line, but who wants to eat an entire cup of sunflower seeds or almonds every day? For that matter, who can afford to eat an entire cup of sunflower seeds or almonds every day. Those foods aren’t exactly cheap, even when you buy them in bulk. For people who aren’t flush with cash, getting enough magnesium naturally can be really hard.

This is why it is important that we not count out supplements. Magnesium powder, for example, can be stirred into your nightly glass of water and help you make up the difference between the amount of magnesium you’ve been able to consume naturally and the amount your body needs to function correctly. 

Another supplement we depend on (because it’s hard to get the required amount via whole foods and natural means) is Vitamin D. 

The best way to get Vitamin D is by exposing yourself to sunlight. Sunlight has a lot of Vitamin D. Unfortunately, too much exposure to natural sunlight puts you at risk for a bunch of other problems, not the least of which is cancer. Vitamin D is also contained in dairy products, fish, and orange juice, but you have to consume a lot of these foods–which can be difficult for vegans  — in order to get the amount of Vitamin D your body needs for proper functioning. This is why  — especially during the winter months when, thanks to your work-schedule you could go days without having any exposure to natural sunlight at all, taking supplements and looking for foods that have been synthetically fortified with the vitamin are your best bet. 

Obviously, all of this is dependent upon who you are as an individual person. Each person’s needs vary depending on their age, gender, medical history, location, etc. If you’re concerned about getting the right amount of vitamins and nutrients you should check with your doctor before you go crazy in the supplement aisle. 

At the same time, though, just because whole foods are best for you, that doesn’t mean they are your only option for proper nutrition. Just because supplements aren’t as awesome as whole foods doesn’t mean they should be counted out entirely! They could even save your life (but, like we said, check with your doctor first)!