Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Spice Situation

It's that time of year again, the time when the weather changes and the holidays quickly beckon us to the kitchen to prepare our time honored family favorites. Are you prepared?

How fresh is it? Do you inventory your spice cabinet on a regular basis or do you just wait until it’s time to bake and cook and then find out you are out of that one spice you only use at this time of year?

Going through all your spices annually at a minimum or semi-annually is ideal. If you haven't inventoried your spices in a while, fall is a great time to clean out your spice cabinet and toss everything that has expired or that you haven't used in over a year. But spices can be expensive, especially national spice brands bought at the local grocery chain. The bill of replacing all of one's spices could easily add up to the hundreds and often results in a lot of waste, which is why most people don't bother to clean out their spice cabinet at all.

For optimal flavor, opt for fresh herbs whenever possible. When fresh herbs are not available, dried is the only option you have. With many dried spices, the fresher the better. They can lose their flavor or even become toxic. If the expiration date has passed, it’s better to err on the side of caution and throw it out!

Are you one of the lucky few who've discovered a store, either online or locally which sells spices in bulk allowing you to buy just what you need? If you have, you've hit the mother lode and have learned you can save a fortune. Further, because there are some spices you know you'll never use up an entire bottle of, you can buy only what you THINK you are going to need for the season or the year. And, because the national spice brands usually are several months old before they reach the grocery store shelves, bulk suppliers usually have a fresher product.

Tip: Try to find a local distributor or buy them online from a reputable distributor that ensures freshness.

To save more money, you can opt to wash out your old spice bottles and re-label them, or you can do something really creative to add a touch of design to your kitchen decor to make your life easier. Consider a prepackaged spice rack organizer or refillable bottles or tins.

There are many spice rack organizer options available. If you have a space shortage, you can opt for magnetic spice tins. I found Kamenstein Magnetic Spice Tins at a local store for $1.99 each on sale. There are other types available for more and some tins as cheap as .59 a piece, but they do not have clear lids or magnetic bottoms to hang.

Clear lids are ideal so you always know when you are running low.  If you want to stack them in a cabinet, labels on the side, that will work, but the magnetic tins are very handy for accessing the spice you want quickly and can either be adhered to any appliance in your kitchen that is close to your stove or you can buy a magnetic sheet for them to stick to. Some chefs install magnetic sheets on the inside of a cabinet door, pantry door, or on the back splash in the kitchen.

Are you planning on cooking or baking this holiday season? Take some time before the season hits, go through your cabinet and make an investment that will pay in dividends of time and money with fresh new spices purchased by the ounce from a bulk supplier.

While you're at it, think about what spices you are going to need for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's recipes and get them now so you don't have to run to the store with a special trip which costs you more time and money. This is a case where an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It will cut your stress in half so you can spend more time enjoying your family and friends.  Happy spice shopping!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Kickoff

An idea is a powerful thing.

No matter how small it is, it can change everything.

Every idea came from somewhere or something that had a need. Today, our needs demand more from us than ever. But there is hope.

We can change the status quo with small and simple choices. Whether it be choosing to go left instead of right or choosing to prepare a whole food instead of going through the drive-thru or buying from the frozen food section of our local grocer.

We hold all the power if we simply will choose to do what is necessary to be healthy. We can, for the most part, choose for ourselves health or disease.

The kickoff can be the most exciting and pivotal play in football. It can set the tone for the rest of the game, establishing great field position for the offense with a good run back, or terrible field position if the returner bobbles the kick. Case in point, The Music City Miracle saw the Tennessee Titans snatch victory from the jaws of defeat (or the Buffalo Bills snatch defeat from the jaws of victory). The Titans were behind with almost no time left on the clock in the playoffs.

All that was left was for them to receive the kick from Buffalo. The Titans coaches and players decided to seize whatever opportunity was given them.

They decided that they wanted to win and found within themselves the will to win.

The game of football is a lot like the game of life. To the casual observer, it is chaotic. To the student of the game, it is an ordered and predictable mechanism. Rather than seeing 22 individuals running full speed, randomly colliding with each other, those who know the game are able to see every individual element interacting and harmonizing with each other.

Each small interaction builds upon the other and, while by themselves don't seem to change much of anything; together can have a very predictable outcome.

Likewise, each food decision we make works in the same way. We have to decide to win first, and then make conscious choices, no matter how small, to achieve the victory of health or the agony of disease.

Have you been looking for a reason to get healthy?

What has been holding you back?

Say "yes" to a healthier life and kickoff your new life today.

It starts in kitchens all over America, including yours.

Join our revolution to get healthy now.