year-of-the-goat

Celebrating the Lunar New Year with Traditional Delicacies!

year-of-the-goat

At WT Café we’re excited to cel­e­brate the Lunar New Year with mil­lions across the world.  Food is sym­bolic of rich his­tory and tra­di­tion, and we love find­ing new and excit­ing rea­sons to expand our menu!  The Lunar New Year gives us good rea­son.  It is a 15 day cel­e­bra­tion that begins this year on Feb­ru­ary 19th.

Where did this hol­i­day orig­i­nate?  Born out of fear and myth, an ancient Chi­nese leg­end tells the story of a wild beast named “Nien” (which actu­ally trans­lates to “year”) that used to attack Chi­nese vil­lages at the end of each year. The vil­lagers turned to loud noises and bright lights to scare Nien away, and the tra­di­tion was born.

Today, the Lunar New Year is observed by mil­lions in not only China but also Indone­sia, Malaysia, and many other coun­tries. The fes­ti­val is filled with cus­toms intent on bring­ing peo­ple together. The first week of the New Year fea­tures the sec­ond day of the New Year when time is to be spent with imme­di­ate fam­ily and in-laws and the sev­enth day of the New Year is a time to throw par­ties in cel­e­bra­tion of everyone’s birthday.

Of course, what kind of event would it be with­out some delec­table edi­bles?  Tra­di­tional Lunar New Year del­i­ca­cies include: Gok Jai which are cookie pock­ets filled with peanuts, coconut, and sesame, Nan Gao (rice pud­ding), and Jau Goks (crispy dumplings). The fes­ti­val closes on March 5th this year with the famous and beau­ti­ful Lantern Fes­ti­val. The Lantern Fes­ti­val offi­cially marks the end­ing of the New Year fes­tiv­i­ties by illu­mi­nat­ing the night sky with mil­lions of lanterns.  Lucky you if you can catch one where you live.  It’s a mag­i­cal event.

WT Café can help you start your Lunar New Year off right with some excit­ing from-scratch choices such as our sig­na­ture Asian Salad made with romaine, edamame, shred­ded car­rots, and our tangy house-made Asian Gin­ger dress­ing.  Also debut­ing this month is our Chicken and Veg­gie Pot­stick­ers served with our WT soy dip­ping sauce and our brand new Won­ton Soup!   With WT Café, the cel­e­bra­tion can con­tinue through­out the month of Feb­ru­ary and your chil­dren can join the mil­lions across the world ring­ing in the Lunar New Year.  That’s what we love about food….if you do it right, there’s never a dull moment.

Happy New Year!

fastfood

New evidence that fast food is bad for kids’ learning

fastfood

Life moves pretty fast some­times, and we’re often left try­ing to play catch-up. One area fam­i­lies try to save time in their busy lives is meal prepa­ra­tion. Being able to skip mak­ing break­fast, lunch, or din­ner can be a huge time saver for par­ents. Unfor­tu­nately this usu­ally does more harm than good. For years fast food con­sump­tion has been linked to child­hood obe­sity, now new con­cerns are being raised about feed­ing our lit­tle ones fast food as opposed to healthy home cooked meals. A recent “study pub­lished in Clin­i­cal Pediatrics…suggests that chil­dren who eat reg­u­larly at McDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut, and the like don’t per­form as well at school as their peers.” The study mea­sured more than 8,500 Amer­i­can stu­dents at the age of 10 and then com­pared those results at the age of 13. What they dis­cov­ered was quite alarm­ing. For exam­ple, in Sci­ence “school­child­ren who never ate fast food scored 83 points, com­pared to an aver­age of 79 points for those who ate it every day.” The study sug­gests these results occurred because of the effect fast food has on brain chem­istry, “such as a lack of iron which leads to slower devel­op­ment…” What makes these num­bers even more dis­turb­ing is just how often school-aged chil­dren con­sume fast food. Researchers noted in their study that of the stu­dents they sam­pled, 52% of them had eaten fast food as much as three times in the pre­vi­ous week.

While we occa­sion­ally find our­selves short of time, stud­ies like this show us just how impor­tant it is to pro­vide our lit­tle ones with healthy eat­ing options. For more infor­ma­tion on the find­ings of the study, fol­low the link: http://bit.ly/13qWQLe

avacado

Super Food of the Month – Avocado

avacado

No big game party spread is com­plete with­out gua­camole! One of the rea­sons gua­camole is such a fab­u­lous game day option, is just how ver­sa­tile it is. It can be served as a condi­ment on your favorite burger or sand­wich, as filler in stuffed mush­rooms or dev­iled eggs, and of course as a dip for every­thing from your favorite chips to veg­gie spears. The key ingre­di­ent in gua­camole is of course the avocado.

Though avo­ca­dos are native to Cen­tral and South Amer­ica, thanks mainly in part to gua­camole, they have become a huge part of America’s big game tra­di­tion. Just a lit­tle over ten years ago only 8 mil­lion pounds of avo­ca­dos were con­sumed in the United States dur­ing the biggest game of the year. How­ever, in 2013 it was esti­mated that num­ber had risen to more than 79 mil­lion pounds. What makes the avo­cado such a pop­u­lar choice among many American’s isn’t just its ver­sa­til­ity as an ingre­di­ent, but its numer­ous health benefits.

Rich and creamy avo­ca­dos are a won­der­ful source of nutri­ents as well as healthy fat. Avo­ca­dos are high in Vit­a­min K and fiber, as well as mag­ne­sium, phos­pho­rus, iron, and potas­sium. In fact, accord­ing to the New York Uni­ver­sity Lan­gone Med­ical Cen­ter, avo­ca­dos actu­ally con­tain “even more potas­sium per gram than bananas…” They have also shown to help lower cho­les­terol, reg­u­late blood sugar as well as blood pres­sure, reduce the risk of can­cer, aid in diges­tion, and help to main­tain a healthy weight.

With the enor­mous num­ber of dishes that can be pre­pared using avo­ca­dos, their almost unri­valed health ben­e­fits, and the big game fast approach­ing, it’s should come as no sur­prise that avo­ca­dos are Whole­some Tum­mies Super Food for the month of January!

For unique ways to serve your favorite gua­camole recipe dur­ing the biggest game of the year, click the link: http://bzfd.it/1KfD9re

And to learn more about the incred­i­ble health ben­e­fits avo­ca­dos can pro­vide your fam­ily, fol­low the link: http://bit.ly/1o08PEL

pomegranates

Super Food of the Month – Pomegranate

pomegranates

While Decem­ber may not seem like a month to fea­ture fresh grown fruits and veg­eta­bles, that couldn’t be fur­ther from the truth.  Each month of the year brings with it deli­cious fruits and veg­eta­bles that are in sea­son. First grown in Per­sia, Pome­gran­ate is one of the old­est known fruits and packs a wal­lop of nutri­tion in every bite.

In the pome­gran­ate, the month of Decem­ber offers a delight­ful fruit that can be used in many of your clas­sic hol­i­day recipes. Hol­i­day favorites such as sweet pota­toes can be coated with a pome­gran­ate glaze, iced tea can be served hot or cold with just a hint of pome­gran­ate juice, and your stan­dard stuff­ing can be tweaked for the hol­i­days by adding pome­gran­ate to it. Pome­gran­ate is espe­cially use­ful in hol­i­day recipes because it stores so well. With proper seal­ing and refrig­er­a­tion, pome­gran­ate should keep for up to 2 months.

The savory taste of pome­gran­ate is only rivaled by its almost unmatched health ben­e­fits. Pome­gran­ate con­tains a pow­er­ful com­pound called puni­cala­gin. Puni­cala­gin is found only in pome­gran­ate and has shown to lower cho­les­terol as well as increase the speed at which heart block­ages go away. Pome­gran­ate is also one of the most pow­er­ful anti-oxidants of all fruits. These are just a few of the many health ben­e­fits pome­gran­ate pro­vides, and med­ical stud­ies are find­ing more and more every year.

While peel­ing off the tough outer layer of pome­gran­ate fruit just to get to the seeds and juices may seem like a lot of work, the end­less recipe uses and health ben­e­fits make it well worth it.  It’s easy to see why it’s Whole­some Tum­mies choice for Super Food for the month of December!

For more pomegranate-centric recipes, fol­low the link: http://abt.cm/1cQKnld

And for more on the won­der­ful health ben­e­fits pome­gran­ate can pro­vide you and your loved ones, click the link: http://bit.ly/11SbPgN.  Enjoy!

healthyholidays

Healthy Holiday Eating and Family Cooking Tips

healthyholidays

Just because the hol­i­days are here again doesn’t mean the days of healthy eat­ing have tem­porar­ily come to an end. While this time of year is full of delec­table treats, there are always healthy eat­ing options avail­able to you and your fam­ily.  You just have to look harder for them, or cre­ate them yourself!

For a start, you can try incen­tiviz­ing your child to snack on healthy good­ies like whole grain crack­ers, fruit, or raw veg­eta­bles before the big feast.  Try plac­ing these health­ier choices in front of your kids when they are first hun­gry, as that increases the like­li­hood that they will eat them!  Make a big deal out of these yummy “appe­tiz­ers” so your child is excited to try them. Din­ing on hol­i­day favorites such as fudge, cook­ies, and other baked goods is ok, but try to mon­i­tor con­sump­tion and encour­age your kids to eat them in small portions.

The hol­i­days are the per­fect time to bring out those vin­tage fam­ily favorite recipes, and whip up some­thing extra spe­cial for a large fam­ily feast or even a late night snack by the fire. While cook­ing with kids in the kitchen can some­times be a dif­fi­cult task, there are some dishes the lit­tle ones can help with and make it fun for the whole fam­ily. Some recipes chil­dren should be able to help with in the kitchen include: appe­tiz­ers, side dishes, hol­i­day cook­ies, and baked breads. Help­ing to cre­ate their favorite hol­i­day sweets while spend­ing time together in the kitchen with mom and dad is won­der­ful way for fam­i­lies to make the hol­i­day sea­son extra special…and extra wholesome!

Fol­low the link to learn about some kid-friendly recipes you and your lit­tle ones can make together dur­ing the hol­i­day sea­son: http://bit.ly/1u9zmAo.  Bon appetit!

rootvegetables

Peak Season – Root Vegetables

 rootvegetables

While the sum­mer months are abun­dant with vibrant pro­duce, it seems most of us strug­gle to keep up the healthy eat­ing habits dur­ing the fall and win­ter because we don’t have as many options dur­ing the colder months. Dig just a lit­tle deeper, how­ever, and you will find that root veg­eta­bles are the per­fect answer to this culi­nary conundrum.

 Bright orange and sweet, crispy and fresh, spicy and col­or­ful; sweet pota­toes, jica­mas, and radishes are just a small exam­ple of the diverse tex­tures, col­ors, and fla­vors that roots can add to a win­ter meal. Sweet pota­toes are the epit­ome of com­fort food when they are slowly roasted in the oven with olive oil and salt and then driz­zled with honey while they are still warm!

 If you are look­ing for a crispy addi­tion to any salad, look no fur­ther than jicama. This tuber is abun­dant dur­ing the chilly months of the year. It has a crispy and refresh­ing tex­ture that will brighten up any salad. All you need to do is peel the thin outer layer and it is ready to eat — no cook­ing required.

 Radishes also become abun­dant dur­ing this time of year. The small root veg­eta­bles are bright red with a spicy white inte­rior but also come in bright green and pink col­ors! These are great paired with tacos and a splash of lime juice, and they can be a great addi­tion to sal­ads too.

 Don’t let the win­ter blues put a damper on your healthy eat­ing!  Eat fresh and in sea­son by fol­low­ing this great resource for sea­sonal pro­duce in your area — www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org

 

 

 

pumpkinbrittle

Pumpkin Seed Brittle

pumpkinbrittle

(This recipe is tree nut free & gluten free)

You carved your pump­kins and saved those pump­kin seeds, and we know just what to do with them! Of course, if you didn’t save them, you can sim­ply pur­chase a bag of shelled, raw pump­kin seeds (also known as pepi­tas) from the gro­cery store.

 

Ingre­di­ents

 

  • Vegetable-oil spray or 1 tea­spoon butter
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 ounces (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1/2 tea­spoon bak­ing soda
  • 2 tea­spoons to 1 1/2 table­spoons sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups of raw, unroasted pepitas

 

Pro­ce­dures

 

  1. Line bak­ing sheet pan with parch­ment paper and lightly coat it with veg­etable spray or butter.
  2. Put the sugar, but­ter, honey, and 1/2 cup plus 2 table­spoons water to a large saucepan, and stir together until all the sugar is wet. Cook over high medium-high, but mon­i­tor it care­fully until the mix­ture begins to thicken up a lit­tle bit.
  3. Once the mix­ture turns a medium golden (takes at least 10 min­utes) imme­di­ately remove from the heat, and care­fully whisk in the bak­ing soda fol­lowed by the salt (Caramel mix­ture will bub­ble quite a bit at this point). Switch to a wooden or metal spoon, and fold in the pepi­tas or seeds.
  4. Quickly pour the mix­ture onto the sheet pan, and spread it out over the pan using the back of the spoon before it starts to harden.
  5. Cool com­pletely, then break into bite size pieces and you are ready to enjoy.  Store in an air­tight con­tainer in the refrigerator.
pumpkinbread

Pumpkin Spice Bread Loaf

pumpkinbread

Pump­kin is not just for pump­kin pie any­more! Enjoy this deli­cious recipe with your fam­ily and fill your kitchen with the rich aroma of freshly baked bread.  Per­fect for break­fast with a dol­lop of cream cheese spread… yum!

 

Ingre­di­ents

  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1 cup pure pumpkin
  • 1/4 cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup non-fat plain Greek yogurt
  • 1 tea­spoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon(s) bak­ing powder
  • 1 tea­spoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tea­spoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tea­spoon bak­ing soda
  • 1/2 tea­spoon salt

 

Pro­ce­dures

  1. Pre­heat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 8 1/2″ by 4 1/2″ metal loaf pan with non­stick cook­ing spray.
  2. In large bowl, with wire whisk, com­bine brown sugar and egg whites. Add pump­kin, oil, yogurt, and vanilla extract; stir to combine.
  3. In medium bowl, com­bine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, bak­ing pow­der, cin­na­mon, nut­meg, bak­ing soda, and salt. Add flour mix­ture to pump­kin mix­ture; stir until just com­bined. Do not overmix.
  4. Pour bat­ter into pre­pared pan. Bake 45 to 50 min­utes or until tooth­pick inserted in cen­ter of loaf comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min­utes. Invert pump­kin bread onto wire rack; cool completely.
  5. Serve warm with a glass of milk!
blog-boonanas

Halloween Treats — BOOnanas!

blog-boonanas

If you pre­fer a health­ier Hal­loween treat to serve at home, there are cre­ative ways to serve fruit that is also fun. The whole fam­ily can join in and help make these spooky Boo­nana Ghosts!

These Banana & Coconut ghost sticks are a great alter­na­tive to sugar loaded pop­si­cles.  They are also super easy to make, just pop them in the freezer and they are set to go!  We love bananas because they are the per­fect energy filled snack. They are packed with vit­a­mins and min­er­als that help the body main­tain lev­els of energy dur­ing phys­i­cal activity.

Yields — 4 BOO­nana pops

 Ingredients:

  • 2 large bananas
  • 1 cup of unsweet­ened shred­ded coconut — Spread out on a cookie sheet tray
  • ½ cup of cold orange juice
  • Choco­late chips — for ghost eyes
  • Raisins — for ghost mouths
  • Sev­eral pop­si­cle sticks

 

Pro­ce­dures:

  1. Peel bananas and cut in half. Stick a pop­si­cle stick start­ing on the flat end of the banana 2 inches up. Freeze bananas on a wax paper lined sheet tray.
  2. Once frozen, remove bananas from the freezer and brush them with ice cold orange juice. Imme­di­ately roll them on the shred­ded coconut.
  3. Stick choco­late chips on to the face area for eyes by press­ing firmly.
  4. Stick a raisin to mouth area.
  5. Now you have BOO­nanas to enjoy!
blog-halloweensafety

Halloween Food Safety

blog-halloweensafety

 

There isn’t a kid in the world whose eyes don’t light up at the thought of the trick or treat­ing frenzy on Hal­loween night. Par­ents, how­ever, have the great task of mon­i­tor­ing every treat that their child brings home and liv­ing with the inevitable sugar rush. Hal­loween trick or treat­ing can pose many threats for chil­dren; chok­ing haz­ards, unwrapped candy, home­made treats, and food aller­gies are amongst the top food safety con­cerns.  Not to men­tion an excess of empty and nutrient-void calo­ries.  But, as a rite of pas­sage in Amer­i­can child­hood, who are we to pooh-pooh all the fun?

 

Fol­low these safety con­cerns to enjoy a safe and fun Hal­loween holiday:

 

  • Feed your chil­dren a power din­ner before they ven­ture out in their cos­tumes.  Lots of pro­tein and fiber to fill them up, and plenty of veg­gies to coun­ter­act the inevitable choco­late over­dose at the end of the night.  Make it early enough so they can con­tain their excite­ment and the fam­ily din­ner isn’t inter­rupted by con­tinue door bell ring­ing of other trick or treaters!  What­ever you do, don’t send them out on an empty stom­ach or you know exactly what they’ll be eat­ing for dinner!
  • Chil­dren shouldn’t snack while they’re out trick-or-treating.  Urge your chil­dren to wait until they get home and you have had a chance to inspect the con­tents of their “goody bags.”
  • Tell chil­dren not to accept – and espe­cially not to eat – any­thing that isn’t com­mer­cially wrapped.
  • Par­ents of very young chil­dren should remove any chok­ing haz­ards such as gum, peanuts, hard can­dies or small toys.
  • Inspect com­mer­cially wrapped treats for signs of tam­per­ing, such as an unusual appear­ance or dis­col­oration, tiny pin­holes, or tears in wrap­pers.  Throw away any­thing that looks suspicious.
  • Con­sider toss­ing all candy the next day or at the end of the week.  There are many places that gladly accept dona­tions …. Hal­loween Candy Buy Back where den­tists “pay” for returned candy and then donate it to Amer­i­can troops over­seas (http://www.halloweencandybuyback.com/), Oper­a­tion Shoe­box (https://operationshoebox.com), and Oper­a­tion Grat­i­tude (https://www.operationgratitude.com) offer sim­i­lar options.  A great way to help your child feel good about giv­ing their Hal­loween treats away!