Saturday, May 14th marks the 24th anniversary of one of America’s great days of giving: the National Association of Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive.
Letter carriers walk through the community every day, often coming face to face with a sad reality for too many, hunger. So each year on the second Saturday in May, Letter Carriers across the country collect non-perishable food donations from our customers. These donations go directly to local food pantries to provide food to people in Sacramento who need their help.
Last year they collected over 71 million pounds of food nationally, feeding an estimated 30 million people. Over the course of its 23-year history, the drive has collected well over one billion pounds of food, thanks to a postal service universal delivery network that spans the entire nation, including Puerto Rico, Guam and U.S. Virgin Islands.
The need for food donations is great; currently 49 million Americans (one in six) are unsure where their next meal is coming from. Sixteen million are children who feel hunger's impact on their overall health and ability to perform in school. And over 5 million seniors over age 60 are food insecure, with many who live on fixed incomes are often too embarrassed to ask for help.
This food drive’s timing is crucial. Food banks and pantries often receive the majority of their donations during the Thanksgiving and winter holiday seasons. By springtime, many pantries are depleted, entering the summer low on supplies at a time when many school breakfast and lunch programs are not available to children in need.
Participating in this year’s Letter Carriers Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive is simple. Just leave a non-perishable food donation in a bag by your mail box on Saturday, May 14th and your Letter Carrier will do the rest. You are invited to join in America’s great day of giving and help fight to end hunger.
(BPT) - It helps you build muscle and tissues. You need it to make blood, antibodies and hair. It keeps you satisfied for longer so you can fight hunger pangs. Protein isn't just for athletes and bodybuilders - it's essential for everyone striving for a healthy lifestyle.
The amount of protein needed varies based on a variety of factors, such as body weight and activity level. In general, if you eat 2,000 calories each day, you should consume 5 1/2 ounces of protein daily, according to recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion.
Protein is in every cell in the human body, so it's important to be thoughtful of your protein intake. However, that doesn't mean you're stuck eating meat, beans and peanut butter. There are many surprising sources of protein that make it easy to enhance meals and snacks.
Edamame: Tasty edamame (soybeans) are a protein-packed snack. One cup contains a whopping 22 grams of protein, plus calcium, magnesium and more. Eaten alone, it will quickly become a favorite snack. Or, add to salads or sprinkle on top of soups to up the protein ante pronto.
Spouted grain flake cereal: Loaded with 7-8 grams of important plant-based protein per 55 gram serving, Ezekiel 4:9 Flourless Sprouted Grain Flakes are sprouted to maximize nutrition and digestibility. Try original, flax+chia, raisin and almond varieties to start your day with a complete protein source containing nine essential amino acids. You can also add to yogurt or crush the flakes and use as a delicious crispy, nutty, sweet breading.
Sundried tomatoes: Add zest to pasta and chili with sweet and savory sundried tomatoes. One cup contains 8 grams of protein, so it's the perfect addition to any meal. Reach for sundried tomatoes with cheese and crackers, on sandwiches or to add amazing depth in flavor to sauces.
Chia seeds: These tiny seeds are known for their healthy omegas, but they are also an amazing source of protein. Just 2 tablespoons have 3 grams of protein. This is the perfect crunchy addition to yogurt or blended into a smoothie.
Peas: They may be small, but they are mighty in the protein department. Once cup of raw peas contains 8 grams of protein. Peas are more than just a side dish - add this great green to soup, blend to create a delectable sauce or sprinkle as a colorful garnish.
(BPT) - What does oatmeal, beans and skinless chicken have in common? They are all heart healthy foods, yet don't do a whole lot to tantalize the taste buds. Fortunately, eating for heart health doesn't mean a life sentence of bland foods or boring flavors.
By thinking beyond the oatmeal box, you can reinvent your meals while keeping heart health top of mind. This is important for everyone because heart disease - which includes stroke and other cardiovascular diseases - is the No. 1 cause of death in the United States, according to the American Heart Association.
Mindful eating is one of the best ways to maintain heart health. With these 10 heart-healthy foods, you won't mind sitting down to a wholesome meal that supports the hardest working muscle in your body.
Munch on blueberries and strawberries - your heart will thank you. By eating three or more servings of these berries a week, women can reduce their risk of heart attack by 32 percent, according the journal Circulation.
Sprouted grain English muffins
Ezekiel 4:9 Sprouted Grain Flax English Muffins are made with heart healthy flax seeds loaded with omega 3 and 6 essential fatty acids. Just pop them in the toaster for a rich nutty taste that excites the taste buds! Sprouted to maximize nutrition and digestibility, each muffin provides an impressive amount of plant protein, too. Learn more at www.foodforlife.com.
Spuds get a bad rap for being a starch, but they actually are a positive part of a heart-healthy diet. Rich in potassium, potatoes can help lower blood pressure. Remember to avoid frying potatoes and try baking or boiling instead.
Looking for a great meat alternative? Because tofu is made from soy protein, it is believed to help lower levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), making it fantastic for heart-healthy eating. Explore new recipes or use it as a substitute in current favorites.
Say cheers to good heart health with a glass of red wine. The Mayo Clinic notes alcohol and antioxidants in red wine may help prevent heart disease by increasing levels of the good high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL) and protecting against artery damage.
Popeye was right - spinach is an amazing food that packs a heart-healthy punch. Full of vitamins, fiber and carotenoids that act as antioxidants, spinach is a mean, green superfood. Add to sandwiches, salads and smoothies regularly.
Have a sugar tooth? Indulge it while bettering your heart. A square or two of dark chocolate may be good for your heart, just make sure the bar is 70 percent cocoa or higher.
It's easy to cut down on red meat consumption with versatile salmon. Its meaty consistency is satisfying while offering endless options for grilling, steaming or baking. Loaded with omega-3 fatty acids, salmon will make your heart jump with joy.
Packed with lycopene, vitamin C and alpha- and beta-carotene, tomatoes are a smart addition to any heart-healthy meal. Eat them fresh or sundried to enjoy the many benefits. Plus, because they're low in calories and sugar, they make an ideal guilt-free snack.
(BPT) - You’ve probably heard the chatter around how a handful of unusual foods are must-eat nutritional powerhouses - and wondered how you’ll ever get your kids to try kale or chia seeds. But you don’t have to stress over how to incorporate the latest health food fads into your family’s diet in order to get powerful nutrition.
The truth is, those headline-grabbers aren’t the only nutritional powerhouses. Most vegetables are packed with vitamins and minerals, so quit worrying about how to pronounce acai or where to find seaweed in the supermarket. Instead, improve your family’s diet and save some money by growing nutrition-packed vegetables right in your own backyard. Keep these tips in mind:
Growing squash is easier than finding chia seeds. Many vegetables are easy to grow in any home environment, whether it’s a large garden plot or pots on your patio. Leafy greens like lettuce, spinach, arugula and kale are full of nutrients and simple to grow, even for beginners. Transplants, like those offered by Bonnie Plants, make it even easier by helping you bypass the work of starting from seed. Plus, you’ll harvest six weeks sooner.
Healthy benefits go far beyond nutrition. Growing your own vegetables and herbs means you’ll always have a fresh supply of nutrient-rich food at home. But gardening also delivers healthful exercise, time in the fresh air, and it’s a relaxing and satisfying activity.
Gardens are good for Mother Nature. The more food you grow at home, the fewer natural resources will be needed to grow veggies in far off places and ship them to your local supermarket. Your garden is also a great opportunity to recycle household food waste as compost. Plus, when you choose Bonnie Plants in biodegradable pots, you’re saving millions of pounds of plastic from landfills. The pots decompose, add nutrients to the soil and help prevent transplant shock.
Gardening could get your kids excited about veggies - really! When kids participate in gardening, they take ownership of the plants they help grow. And with their hands in the dirt, they’re not on their cellphones or playing video games. Kids who grow veggies are much more likely to eat them, and make gardening an ongoing, healthy habit.
Save money at the supermarket. Growing your own food means you’ll spend much less money in the produce aisle. Plus, you can grow a wide variety of vegetables and herbs, even expensive, restaurant-style “foodie” greens you may not have tried otherwise.
The plant pros at Bonnie recommend these nutrient powerhouses to jumpstart your garden:
Strawberries - Just one cup of berries contains 3 grams of fiber and more than a full day’s recommended allowance of vitamin C. Phenols are potent antioxidants that work to protect the heart, fight cancer, block inflammation, and they give strawberries their red color.
Sweet potatoes - Alpha and beta carotene give sweet potatoes their bright orange color, and your body converts these compounds into vitamin A, which is good for your eyes, bones and immune system. A half cup of sweet potato provides nearly four times the daily recommended allowance of vitamin A, plus vitamins C, B6, potassium and manganese.
Broccoli - This green nutritional giant delivers vitamins C, A and K (associated with bone health), folate and sulforaphane that helps stimulate the body’s detoxifying enzymes.
Tomatoes - Tomatoes provide vitamins A, C and B, potassium and lycopene - an important phytonutrient thought to help fight various cancers and lower cholesterol.
Spinach - Spinach contains more than a dozen phytonutrients, and twice the daily recommended allowance of vitamin K. These nutrients contribute to cardiovascular and colon health, better brain function, eyesight and increased energy.
Kale - Kale contains vitamins A, C and K. A cup of cooked kale gives you more than 1,000 percent of the daily value for vitamin K. It’s also high in manganese, which promotes bone density.
Cauliflower - Low in calories and carbohydrates, cauliflower is packed with a long list of nutrients, including phytonutrients. They say cauliflower is the new kale!
For more information on growing nutritional powerhouse vegetables, visit www.bonnieplants.com. Bonnie Plants is the largest producer and supplier of vegetable and herb plants in North America. You’ll find their plants at Home Depot, Walmart, Lowes and 4,700 independent garden retailers.
(BPT) - It’s not always easy for parents to remember what it was like to be a kid. It’s hard to understand why a bug can be so fascinating, or how toy trucks or dolls can entertain one for hours. But if there’s one thing that can take you back to your childhood, it’s food.
For example, imagine a grilled cheese sandwich — how the toasted, buttery bread dissolves on your tongue, while the ooze of the cheese cools in your mouth — everything about it has the unmistakable taste of childhood.
And just like you, the grilled cheese sandwich has grown up.
The grilled cheese is the type of sandwich that takes you from childhood to adulthood, and it’s the type of recipe that matures as you do. Gone are the days of American cheese and floppy bread. There are so many twists on the grilled cheese that it’s easy to indulge in the ooey-gooey goodness while still working in some healthier menu items like vegetables and more sophisticated flavor profiles for your grown-up palate.
The foundation of such a sandwich begins with the right kind of bread. Ideally, it should be thick sliced, have a soft texture and a rich flavor. Bread that meets these expectations can now be conveniently found in the grocery aisle with the new Sara Lee Artesano Bread, which has the distinct golden crust and creamy character found in bread made from scratch.
With two perfect slices of bread, a whole world of grilled cheese possibilities opens up.
To better illustrate what these sandwiches might look like, here are three tips to inspire your next grilled cheese adventure:
1. The veggie-centric grilled cheese. Leafy greens pair beautifully with an earthy, salty cheese like Gruyere. These veggie-based sandwiches are about to go mainstream this year, as showcased in the Farm-to-table Grilled Cheese that features arugula alongside a broken egg yolk, adding a veggie focus to an otherwise indulgent sandwich.
2. The Hawaiian grilled cheese. To really create a luau for your taste buds, combine a sweet, buttery cheese like Havarti with a tangy barbecued meat. Further tropical flavors of the Hawaiian Islands can be found in the barbecued-pork and pineapple magic of the Aloha Pork Grilled Cheese, which mixes sweetness and spice all in one.
3. The spicy and pickled grilled cheese. It’s true, you can pickle almost anything. Onions, cabbage and other items are pure magic after the fermentation process, as showcased in the Zesty Grilled Cheese sandwich that utilizes red onion and spicy, artisan pickles. Pair this with a mild, creamy Fontina cheese to mellow out that added zing.
Some people might think eating a grilled-cheese sandwich is a nostalgic throw back to childhood. In some ways it is. But with the right kind of bread, the possibilities for a grilled cheese are truly endless. All it takes is a couple of buttered slices of Sara Lee Artesano Bread and a little imagination to turn your favorite childhood meal into a bold, culinary creation.
(BPT) - What image does the word “grilling” bring to mind? Do you envision thick, juicy burgers or steaks? What about sauce-slathered chicken breasts sizzling over coals? Cooking out is one of the great joys of warm weather, but if you leave side dishes out of your grilling plans - or stick with cold sides like salads - you’re missing out on some great flavors.
Side dishes give you a chance to really show off your grilling chops, savor the farm fresh flavors of summer harvests, and indulge in wholesome, organic fare. Here are six summer side dishes that go great on the grill:
Corn on the cob - If you’ve always wanted to try grilling vegetables but weren’t sure which of your favorites would go well on the grill - take heart! Virtually any veggie can be prepared on a grill, but corn becomes a show-stopper when grilled. Remove the husks and silk and toss the cobs right on a preheated grill. Watch them careful and keep turning them to ensure they brown but don’t burn. The heat from the grill causes the natural sugars in the corn to carmelize, and you’ll end up with the sweetest sweet corn you ever tasted!
Fries - A trip to the grocery store or farmer’s market for fresh produce may not fit in your schedule if you’re grilling on the fly. There’s good news - frozen options like Alexia Organic Oven Crinkles with Sea Salt deliver farm to flavor taste when prepared on the grill or in the oven. Made from Pacific Northwest russet potatoes, Alexia’s organic fries are sprinkled with bright sea salt to bring out even more of the rich flavor that Mother Nature delivered. Make a tray out of aluminum foil, spread the Oven Crinkles in a single layer, and grill for about 20-25 minutes at 400-450 degrees F. Turn once or twice during the cooking process.
Tomatoes - If you’ve only grilled small tomatoes on a kabob, or never tried grilled tomatoes at all, this is your summer to discover grilling tomatoes couldn’t be easier. Start with large, meaty tomatoes - a variety that’s dense and has fewer seeds works best. Slice in half, brush with your favorite seasoned oil and place the halves cut-side down on the grill. Cook for 3-5 minutes on each side. Top with your favorite cheese when done.
Kale - Grilling greens like kale helps all those wonderful nutrients and flavor stay in the vegetable and don’t disappear into the cooking water - which is what can happen when you boil veggies on the stovetop. Grilling kale couldn’t be easier. You can adapt virtually any of your favorite kale recipes to grilling by tossing the kale with the recipe seasonings and some oil. Arrange the seasoned leaves in a single layer on the grill and they’ll cook to crispy splendor in just minutes.
Cheese - A slice of gooey melted cheese is the crowning glory atop your grilled burger, but cheese can also handle the grill on its own, and be a delicious, different side dish or appetizer. Many cheeses will work on the grill, and you can find recommendations for the best cheeses to cook on the grill with a simple online search. Slice your chosen cheese in thick pieces. Most grilling cheeses will need minimal seasoning and little or no oil. Generally, cheese takes just a minute or two to brown each side and allow the inside to melt.
Dinner rolls - Craving dinner rolls to go with that thick juicy steak, but in no mood to fire up the oven when it’s 90 degrees outside? You can make frozen dinner rolls on the grill. Choose your favorite variety, such as Alexia Artisan French Rolls or Artisan Focaccia Rolls, set your gas grill to the temperature recommended on the package’s directions, wrap the rolls in foil and place directly on the grill. Keep an eye on the rolls to ensure they don’t burn as they can cook quickly on a grill.
(BPT) - As a kid, it didn’t get much better than grilled cheese: the buttery toast, the molten cheese and the savory satisfaction from that first bite to the last. Fast-forward to adulthood. Somehow throwing together two pieces of white bread with a slice of processed cheese simply doesn’t have the same appeal.
Fortunately, chefs around the country are reimagining the kid-approved favorite and gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches are popping up on the menus of restaurants everywhere. Their secret: Mix up the ingredients and cooking methods to reinvent this classic comfort food into a palate-pleasing meal for all ages. Here are our secrets for recreating a gourmet grilled cheese in your own kitchen.
Think beyond the slice
The heart of any great grilled cheese sandwich is the cheese itself. Don’t limit yourself to plastic-wrapped options. Taste buds will dance when you blend different flavorful varieties. Some of the best options for a simply better grilled cheese include:
Havarti: Has a light buttery, creamy taste with a mellow aroma and is semi-soft, so it melts perfectly. Pair Havarti with fruit, jam or honey in your next grilled cheese for a sweet surprise.
Gouda: Has a rich buttery, slightly sweet flavor and a smooth, creamy texture that’s irresistible when melted. Savory flavors complement Gouda - try it with prosciutto or tomato.
Muenster: Has a mild flavor and smooth, soft texture that stands out alone or is the perfect complement when melted alongside other cheese varieties. Match Muenster with sliced avocado for a sandwich that’s a smashing success.
Fontina: A semi-soft cheese with a slightly sharp edge that is the perfect upgrade to any melty dish. Add fresh basil or pesto to a Fontina grilled cheese for a refreshing twist.
Get decadent flavor without the guilt
Classic comfort foods like grilled cheese will fill the belly and warm the heart, but they don’t necessarily have the healthiest reputation. A more wholesome grilled cheese doesn’t mean sacrificing flavor. Elevate your grilled cheese with these healthful tricks:
Get choosy with cheese: Not all cheese is created equally. Try Arla cheese - a better-for-you cheese from a farm-to-fridge company. The naturally delicious cheese is made without any artificial flavors or preservatives and follows traditional recipes that have been handed down from generations.
Veg out: Fresh fruits and vegetables can be the perfect addition for a nutrition and flavor boost to grown-up grilled cheese recipes. Add in avocado, amp it up with apple slices or get a little crazy with cucumber. The sky is the limit. A bonus tip is to stack your veggies inside the slices of cheese to lock in every bit of gooey, delicious flavor.
Pack in the protein: The average person should get approximately 30 grams of protein at each meal, according to the Journal of Nutrition. You can get a jumpstart with Arla cheese, which has between 4 and 6 grams of protein in each slice. Visit www.ArlaUSA.com/GrilledCheese to learn more.
Opt for whole grain: Say goodbye to the pasty sliced white bread of your youth and instead select a lovely whole grain bread from a local bakery for a tasty sandwich with a more wholesome crunch.
Banish butter: Traditionally grilled cheese is made with butter or margarine, but you can still grill a mean sandwich when you select a lighter option. For example, swap in coconut oil or olive oil, which feature nutrient-packed fats and omegas, so you feel good as you munch on grilled goodness.
Polish your cooking strategy
The final step in creating a better grilled cheese is to revise your cooking strategy. Some ideas to try:
Skip the spread: Put down that butter knife entirely and instead add oils directly to the skillet rather than spreading it on bread. Warm up the pan, melt your oil and then get ready to grill to a golden brown.
Grill both sides: The perfect pairing to that awesome Havarti or Gouda is lightly toasted bread. To get a decadent crunch, try grilling both sides of the bread. Start by placing the plain bread slices on the skillet in oil to toast, then flip and add the cheese. Both sides get grilled and the cheese melts quicker.
Cook low and slow: Have patience! You’ll get better results when you use medium-low heat rather than rushing. If you use too high of a temperature, you’ll burn the bread without thoroughly melting the cheese.