2020 Food Trends and “Superfoods”

It is hard to believe we are already several weeks into 2020. I am just now taking the time to look into what some of the food trends were predicted to be for this year.

Some registered dietitians and nutritionists predicted popular food trends for 2020 would include coconut-based yogurts, puffed snacks, foods “stuffed” full of vegetables, and coffee “stuffed” with milk, cream and protein additions.

“Superfoods” predicted included beets, ancient grains, and avocados. “Clean eating” and the keto diet were also predicted to be popular.

So what is a “superfood”? The dictionary defines it as a food that is rich in compounds considered to be beneficial to a person’s health (i.e. antioxidants, fiber, fatty acids). Even though “Superfoods” are often nutritious it is important to not just focus on a few specific foods and forget about other equally nutritious options.

Grocery stores will be bringing in new trends for 2020. They are predicted to include fusing soda and beverage flavors, zero-waste cooking methods, speedy check-out, meat-plant blends, and more fresh produce from countries around the world.

Chefs will be looking to serve more healthy foods, whole grain breads made of ancient grains, and smoky flavors. Restaurants will be offering more vegetables including greens such as broccoli rabe, blue peas, and purple potatoes.

I think the bottom line is food trends will be dominated by better nutrition and food choices. It is interesting to see what the predictions are but also to remember variety in our diets gives us the benefit of getting a wide array of essential vitamins and minerals and helps prevent us from eating too much or too little of a particular nutrient.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Iowa Ingredient

One of my favorite TV shows to watch on Saturday morning is on Iowa PBS. It is called Iowa Ingredient. Each week they focus on a single Iowa ingredient and how it gets from farm to table. There are always guest chefs who prepare various dishes using the ingredient.

I have a few favorite chefs I like to watch on the show although one of the recent episodes I was watching introduced me to Iowa Girl Eats. Many of the recipes she includes in her blogs are gluten free as she was diagnosed with Celiac Disease a few years ago. I have several friends who are gluten-sensitive and just feel like they feel better if they limit the gluten in their diets and several friends who have been diagnosed with Celiac Disease. In addition to the gluten-free recipes she shares on her site she also has recipes for light-and-healthy and crock-pot.

If you are curious I hope you will take the time to search for Iowa Ingredient on Iowa PBS! I think you will find it very interesting!

Reference to any commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporate name is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or certification of any kind. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use and should make their own assessment of the information and whether it is suitable for their intended use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Hasselback Technique

baked potato stuffed with cheese, bacon and sour cream. loaded hasselback potatoes

If you have not tried the Hasselback technique it is really a fun and fancy way to dress up many vegetables, fruits and even poultry! It is a cooking method that involves thinly slicing the food about three quarters of the way through, accordion style, and leaving the bottom intact, before cooking. This creates more surface area and the cuts you have created can be stuffed or topped with additional flavorings. It also adds additional texture to the food. 

The Hasselback technique is typically thought of as being used on baking potatoes. The technique was introduced as a Swedish side dish at a Stockholm restaurant, named the Hasselbacken, where it was first served. Although potatoes are the most typical many other foods lend themselves nicely to the technique: eggplant (leave the skin on), sweet potatoes, apples, butternut squash (peel and seed), zucchini, chicken and tomatoes (leave raw and add a slice of mozzarella and a basil leaf in each cut before drizzling with balsamic vinegar and oil!).

You do not need a bunch of fancy kitchen tools when using the Hasselback technique. All you need are chopsticks or wooden spoons and a very sharp knife. Laying the chopsticks or wooden spoons on each side of the food really helps keep you from cutting all the way through and keeps the cuts a uniform depth. You may also want to lay a ruler beside the food so you can make evenly spaced cuts 1/8 to 1/4 inch apart. The thinner you make the cuts the faster it will cook.

Fat will be your friend with this technique especially if you try it on potatoes as it will help the edges crisp up nicely. If you are using zucchini however there won’t be as much crisping as the zucchini doesn’t contain as much starch. Using your favorite oil, or butter, will create a golden carmelized top on the food. Coat the entire top with the fat and use a pastry brush to add some in between layers. 

If you would like to try this technique the University of Tennessee has a great recipe using sweet potatoes . Hope you enjoy and experiment with other foods!

 

 

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Happy Galentine Day!

I have to admit – this was a new one to me. My sister was planning a Galentine outing for friends and I had no idea what she was talking about! Apparently this is a widely celebrated fake holiday invented by Amy Pohler’s character on the show “Parks and Recreation”. 

Galentine Day is recognized on February 13th and celebrates platonic friendships, usually among women. It’s a day for showing some of the most important people in your life how much you care about them.

Some Galentine Day celebrations center around brunch or a wine and cheese happy hour. Others celebrate by making a reservation at a fancy restaurant or going as a group to get manicures and pedicures. Whatever you choose to do, it’s a nice way to celebrate friendship.

Happy Galentine Day!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom

A real perk of working for AnswerLine is that we are housed in the same building (MacKay) as the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom!

If you are not familiar with the Tearoom, it is run by students who take the semester long class. They plan, prepare and serve each meal. Once the semester gets going they are open for lunch Tuesdays through Fridays. Reservations are required to eat lunch at the tearoom but if you happen to be on campus and did not make a reservation they also have a grab and go option available as supplies last.

Getting to the Tearoom is easy. Free parking is available at the ISU Commuter Hub just south of CY Stephens Auditorium. From there you can get on the CyRide Free Circulator bus and it will drop you off right in front of MacKay!

It is a wonderful experience for the students and they take great pride in their work. If you are in the Ames area or are planning to be before the end of the school year I hope you will consider enjoying and supporting the Joan Bice Underwood Tearoom!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Vitamin D

We have recently been getting some calls about ways to boost Vitamin D in diets. It is especially hard during the Winter months to incorporate enough vitamin D in our diets without the help of the sun. 

Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin essential for bone health and helping the body absorb and use calcium in bones and teeth. It also helps build the immune system and regulate cell growth. It is naturally present in very few foods, added to others, and available as a dietary supplement. 

Foods that are good sources of Vitamin D include egg yolks, milk, cheese, fatty fish like salmon, tuna and mackerel, sardines and beef liver. Vitamin D fortified products include some cereals, bread, orange juice, yogurt and soy milk.

Vitamin D is often considered the “sunshine” vitamin. This is because a vitamin D precursor is produced in the skin upon exposure to the ultraviolet B rays of the sun. This precursor travels through the bloodstream to the liver and kidneys where it is turned into the active form of Vitamin D. Typically 5 to 15 minutes three times a week with exposure to the sun on bare skin is more than enough to get the benefits. Of course that effectiveness is affected by several things: geographic location, sunscreen use, and age being at the top of the list.

If you are not getting your daily dose of Vitamin D from foods and/or sunlight, you might want to consider taking a supplement. The current RDA for Vitamin D is 400 IU for infants up to 1 year of age; 600 IU for ages 1 to 70; and 800 IU for ages 71 and above. Because Vitamin D is a fat soluble vitamin, it is best to take the supplement with food. Always consult with your medical professional before starting a Vitamin D or any supplement.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Cast Iron Skillet

Cast iron has made a resurgence recently. As a friend and I were discussing it she mentioned she did not have a cast iron skillet but was interested in purchasing one. We were especially interested because King Arthur Flour’s  Recipe of the Year is a pizza made in a cast iron skillet! 

Cast iron provides a nonstick surface that’s free of synthetic chemicals and requires less oil. It has great heat retention and provides superior browning. It is the only cookware you can buy that can actually improve with age! 

As we headed out in search of a new cast iron skillet we found several options on the market. Neither enameled nor traditional is “best”. A lot depends on personal preference. Some people prefer to go to garage sales or auctions to find one that has been well used. The new high-quality cast iron you find on the market however still provides excellent nonstick surfaces that also only get better with use.

Cast iron skillets work well on either gas or electric stove tops and of course in the oven. If you have an electric stove, it may take a little longer to achieve the same results since the cast iron is slightly slower to heat on an electric heating element. My friend has an electric glass top stove. Cast iron will still work successfully on that but she is going to need to take extra care when moving it so it doesn’t scratch the glass top.

One drawback of cast iron can be it’s weight. We found skillets weighing anywhere from 6 and 1/2 pounds to 9 pounds. The really thick pans take longer to heat and could potentially get too hot making it difficult to brown food evenly. Cast iron skillets also do not cook as evenly until the cooking temperature is reached. Some people work around this by preheating the pan in the oven or on top of the stove.

Once you have purchased your cast iron skillet remember it needs to be seasoned to make cleaning easier and prevent sticking. Enjoy cooking with cast iron!

Reference to any commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporate name is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or certification of any kind. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use and should make their own assessment of the information and whether it is suitable for their intended use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Buttercream Frosting

For some reason there has been a lot of discussion surrounding different types of frostings in the office recently. I have been recommending Buttercream frosting recipes to both family members and callers.

There are seven different types of Buttercream Frosting. The ingredients used are similar, but the way each is prepared is different.

Traditional Buttercream is fluffy and creamy, easy to make, and requires no cooking. It is a great base for adding flavoring and it holds color very well if you want to tint your frosting. This frosting is safe to be out at room temperature but it does not hold up as well in very warm temperatures. Once the butter starts to melt, the structure collapses.

Flour Buttercream, also known as Ermine Buttercream is not as sweet as Traditional Buttercream and it holds up a lot better in warm temperatures because of it’s pudding type cooked base. It is made by cooking together flour, sugar and milk then letting it cool completely before mixing it together with beaten butter.

German Buttercream is similar to Ermine Buttercream but it uses a custard type base instead of a pudding type. It turns out to be more like a whipped cream icing. This type of buttercream has eggs in it so it must be kept cool.

French Buttercream is rich and creamy. It is made by heating a sugar syrup until it reaches soft ball stage then whipping it into beaten pasteurized egg yolks and soft  butter. It will have a yellow tint to it due to the egg yolks but is easy to spread and makes a great filling between layers.

Italian Buttercream is similar to French Buttercream but you pour boiling syrup of sugar and water over pasteurized egg whites instead of just the yolks. This buttercream is best the day it is made.

Swiss Buttercream uses egg whites and sugar to create a warm mixture that is then whipped into frosting. You will want to make sure your sugar/egg white mixture is cool before adding your butter or the butter will melt. This buttercream is soft and fluffy and spreads nicely for filling layers and icing.

The seventh type of buttercream is Vegan Buttercream. You can substitute a vegan butter spread for the shortening but some spreads will produce a softer frosting so you may need to experiment with how much liquid to add if you are using a vegan spread.

I enjoy the ease and safety of the Traditional Buttercream but occasionally it is fun to experiment with some of the other styles.

Reference to any commercial product, process, or service, or the use of any trade, firm, or corporate name is for general informational purposes only and does not constitute an endorsement, recommendation, or certification of any kind. Persons using such products assume responsibility for their use and should make their own assessment of the information and whether it is suitable for their intended use in accordance with current directions of the manufacturer.

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Pears

December is National Pear Month with December 8th designated World Pear Day. Pears are one of my favorite fruits. Because of overlapping seasons of availability pears are in season nearly year round but I find are especially good this time of year.

Pears are a good source of fiber especially if you eat them with the skin on. One medium pear supplies around 100 calories and 24% of your RDA. Pears are also a good source of potassium and vitamin C. They contain no saturated fat, sodium or cholesterol.

There are 10 major varieties of pears:

Green Anjou: sweet and juicy with a hint of citrus flavor

Red Anjou: juicy and slightly tangy

Bartlett: probably the best known; sweet flavor

Red Bartlett: super juicy and sweet

Bosc:crisp, sweet, brown skinned

Comice: sometimes known as the Christmas pear; succulent and creamy

Concorde: crunchy and sweet

Forelle: tangy and crisp

Seckel: bite size; kids usually enjoy eating these

Starkrimson: bright red with a floral essence

When choosing pears, look for those that are firm to the touch and free from bruises and blemishes. Pears ripen from the inside out. Allow them to ripen at room temperature. Most pears will show little change in color when ripe. To test for ripeness, gently press on the neck of the pear. It should give a little to the pressure if it is ripe. If your pears are already ripe and you want to slow the process down a little bit you may put them in the refrigerator.

Pears may be eaten raw or cooked. The best varieties for poaching, baking or grilling are Bosc, Anjou, or Concorde. They have a denser flesh, hold their shape better, and keep their flavor. Pears will turn brown once they have been cut. To help alleviate the problem brush the cut surfaces with a solution of half water and half lemon juice.

If you find your pears have gotten overripe they can still be used in smoothies, sauces, soups and stews.

Spend Smart Eat Smart has a delicious recipe for a Crisp Fruit Salad using pears, apples and raisins.

I hope you will enjoy eating some pears during National Pear Month!

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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Pumpkin Pie

Many of us will be making pumpkin pie during this Fall season. And many of us have favorite pumpkin pie recipes that have been in our families cookbook for many generations. Whether your recipe uses evaporated milk, sweetened condensed milk, a milk alternative,  is a “lighter” version or gluten free there are some tips for helping make a pie with better results and keeping the pie safe.

Pumpkin pie is considered a custard-based pie so it must be refrigerated to keep it safe to eat. Do not leave the pumpkin pie at room temperature for more than two hours. Custard-based pies do not freeze very successfully. If you want to make the pie ahead of time you  might want to consider freezing the crust and filling separately then after thawing in the refrigerator putting the pie together and baking it. When you are baking the pie be careful not to overbake it as that will cause the pie to crack. Remove the pie from the oven before the center is completely set. The internal temperature of the pie will help it finish baking.

You may want to mix your filling ingredients together the day before you are planning to make the pie to give the spices a chance to blend. For a twist on the crust, one site I looked at suggested replacing 1/4 cup of the flour with 1/4 cup cornmeal to add an interesting texture to the crust since the filling is so smooth. To make your own pumpkin pie spice at home combine 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger, 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves. This will substitute for 1 teaspoon of commercial pumpkin pie spice.

Pumpkin pie is a delicious dessert addition to a special Fall meal. Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

Marcia Steed

Marcia Steed

I graduated from Iowa State University with a degree in Home Economics Education. I enjoy spending time with my family and friends and traveling.

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