Meal Frequency and Calorie Intake

Friday, August 31, 2007

Posted by Helene


Summer has come to an end and before you settle into the mild weather of fall and sweater comfort of winter, you decide to make one last commitment to eating better and exercising more. Too many ice cream cones, too many barbecue parties and eratic eating habits over the summer have left you wanting for a little diet adjustment. Let's look together at the easy steps you can take to reset your food clock and calorie intake so you can shed those gelati pounds the healthy way.

First, you need to determine how much you need to eat in one day in order to maintain your current weight. There are very accurate textbook equations to do this, but they are quite involved and require more data then we usually have on hand. I have been using this calculator from FitSugar with my clients for quite some time now and with great success. It calculates how much water you need, your BMI (Body Mass Index), your target heart rate for your workouts and how many calories you need per day to maintain. I know, I know....some of us are maintaining but most want to lose. In that regard, look at the base number of calories you need for the day and substract 300-500, never letting your calorie intake fall bellow 1200 for women (1500 is a good number for most) and 1800 for men.

Once you have determined how many calories you need for the day, sit back and think about your own schedule, not what magazines and well-intentioned people say. Seriously, we read all the time that we should eat 5-6 small meals a day. What I encounter in reality is clients who tell me they don't understand that by eating "5-6 meals" a day like articles recommend they are still not losing weight. See the missing word..."small meals". Take you calorie intake and divide it into 3 main meals plus two snacks and you should end up with relatively small portions. This is more realistic than thinking that we have to eat 5-6 whole meals throughout the day. Here is what I suggest to my clients: eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and plan on carry-on or easy to access snacks for a mid-morning tie-over until lunch and an afternoon pre-workout snack. Don't eat the snack if you are not hungry or feel like you don't really need them. Distance yourself from food because it is there but use it to fuel your metabolism throughout the day. It's not because you don't eat your two snacks one day that your metabolism is going to come to a full slow down...it takes months so relax. Snacks are here to sustain your energy levels and prevent you from dipping too low into your blood sugar resources. Follow your activities and how much effort they require and make sure you drink before you eat...sometimes we are just dehydrated, plain and simple.

Allright, so you got your calories, you have looked at your activity level, you have divided your meals throughout the day to make sure that you don't run out of fuel (so to speak)....one more thing to do:
Divide your total calorie intake for the day into a balanced ratio of protein/carbs/fat for your day. If you want to follow a balanced diet (forget fads, they don't teach you healthy living in the long run), carbs should be 45%-65%, proteins about 20% and fat less than 30% of your daily intake. Now spread those numbers over 3 to 5 meals and you are set for the day. A good rule to follow is to have protein/carbs/fat at every meal, as the combination of all three really help you feel fuller longer and makes sure that you are served the right nutrients, vitamins and minerals to operate at maximum power throughout the day.

Here is a sample daily meal plan for one of my clients after we cleaned up her eating habits:
Breakfast: Choose one
1 cup whole grain cereal (with less than 6 grams of sugar)
1 cup skim milk
1 cup strawberries or one half banana
Or
3 egg whites
2 Tb reduced fat shredded cheese
1 slice whole wheat toast
1 Tb. light butter spread
1/2 grapefruit

Lunch: choose one
Turkey Sandwich:
4 oz sliced turkey breast
1 slice reduced fat cheese
1 Tb reduced fat mayo
1 Tb dijon mustard
3 lettuce leaves
3 slices tomato
2 slices whole wheat bread
Or
4 cups mixed greens
1/2 cup bell peppers, cored, seeded and chopped
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1/4 cup sliced onion
1/2 tomato, sliced
1 cup cooked chicken
2-4 Tbs low calorie dressing
1/4 to 1/2 cup canned chickpeas, balck beans, corn, peas, edamame,...

Dinner: Choose one
Pizza with side salad
2 slices thin crust cheese or vegetable pizza
2 cups mixed greens
1/4 cucumber, sliced
1/2 tomato, sliced
2 tsp. olive oil
Or
5 oz roasted chicken
1/2 cup rice or 1 small baked potato
1 cup steamed green beans
1 tsp. olive oil

Snack ideas: (have 2 ready for the day)
1 small container low fat yogurt + 1 medium banana
or
1 granola bar + 1 orange
or
4 Ry Krisp type crackers + 2 Laughing Cow Original swiss wedges
or
1 small apple, sliced + 1 Tb. peanut butter

These are just suggestions. It takes time, trial and error to know what works for you and how you need to balance all the ratios necessary for your body to work at its optimum capacity. My advice is to write down what you typically eat and see what calories you can scratch such as refined sugar, fat ladden dressings, useless croutons and extra butter, etc... Plan for a treat once a week and enjoy a small portion of it. Soon, these changes won't feel like sacrifices anymore and will become second nature. Trust me. You are worth it!




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Helen from Tartelette.



Inside a German Bakery: Wild Garlic Baguette

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Posted by Meeta K



This is not your ordinary baguette. The traditional French baguette would hide in shame at this soigné version. My baker has taken baguettes to a whole new level. He creates a few different varieties of the baguette and believe me each one is a whole different experience.

This one is a special one. It is flavored with wild garlic or ramsons and is made of 100% organic ingredients.



One pays a few cents more for this baguette but it is really worth every bite. Herr Becker bakes this with a mix of white and rye flour, which gives this a wonderful texture, not to mention making it healthier than it's French white counterpart. Then he adds fresh and dried wild garlic leaves to the dough mixture giving the whole bread an incredible flavor. We really enjoy this baguette with barbecued meat and vegetables. However, my favorite way is simply with a nice big bowl of mixed salad and a huge chunk of the baguette ripped off.



Ramsons or wild garlic belong to the Allium family and also goes by the name of bear's garlic. This is because bears dig out the ground to get to the bulbs of the plant.

Wild garlic grows mainly in swampy woodlands and the leaves are used in a variety of different dishes like salads, pesto, or as I do in a wonderful flavored butter - see recipe below.

In Germany it is known as Bärlauch which means bears' leek. This herb has become very popular in German cuisine and one can find so many exciting and very unique dishes using this herb.

A great way to enjoy the Wild Garlic Baguette would be to spread it with a wonderful thick layer of my fantastic Garlic Duo Butter.

Meeta's Garlic Duo Butter

250g butter - at room temperature
Salt
5-6 garlic cloves - crushed
20g wild garlic - finely chopped

Cut the butter in half and place one half in a mixing bowl. Add salt and the fresh crushed garlic to the butter and using a fork, incorporate well.

On some waxed paper spread the garlic butter in a rectangular about 1-2 cm thick.

Place the second half of the butter in another mixing bowl and incorporate the wild garlic leaves and salt as above. Spread this on top of the garlic butter on the waxed paper, giving you two layers.

With the help of the waxed paper roll both layers of the butter into a roll. Place in the fridge to cool and become slightly harder - about 3-4 hours.

This butter is perfect for fresh bread and any barbecued meat. It can be pre-prepared and frozen for up to a month.

Enjoy your week!





Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

How Does Your Garden Grow?

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

flower2

Today, parents and teachers face endless challenges in raising their youngsters: the threat of childhood obesity, the relentless onslaught of marketing to kids resulting in a sharp preference for junk food, a global environment that seems to be getting more and more toxic and unpredictable, and so on. One simple idea that can be a positive step towards addressing many of these issues is: School Gardens.

Keeping in mind the space and resources available, a garden can be set up in the schoolyard in the soil (if it is rich and nutritious enough) or in raised garden boxes, or even in small recycled containers. Plants (herbs, fruits, vegetables, flowers) that are appropriate to the region can be grown. Children can start digging and sowing and watching as their garden takes shape. Parents, teachers and gardening experts can lend a helping hand and enjoy the garden alongside the kids.

Imagination runs wild when it comes to school gardens! Themed gardens are very popular: some of the ideas I came across were a butterfly garden, planted with nectar plants; an herb garden with a selection of aromatic herbs used in different cuisines; a rainbow garden planted with flowers of the appropriate colors planted in rows or arcs; and my favorite idea of all- a pizza garden planted with all the delicious vegetables that go into pizza- tomatoes, garlic, basil, and perhaps some toppings like zucchini and eggplant!

School gardens have benefits that touch upon every aspect of the child's development. When a whole class comes together to create a garden, it arouses a sense of community and an understanding of teamwork. The physical activity involved in taking care of the garden provides some welcome exercise and outdoor time spent away from the TV and computer screen. Most parents complain of children who refuse to touch vegetables and fruits- but the school
garden experience shows that children are eager to taste the produce that is grown with their own hands, which could be the beginning of a lifetime of healthy eating habits. Eating a tomato fresh off the vine may well the first taste of "real food" for a lot of kids who live on a steady diet of processed food. From an academic standpoint, a school garden provides a unique hands-on learning experience in every school subject that one can think of: ecology (eg. learning
about the interplay of plants, pollinators and pests), geography (eg. learning about climate, weather, and soils), botany (eg. studying the birth of a whole plant from a seed), history (eg. learning about how the origins of plants and how they "traveled" across the world), writing skills (eg. keeping a gardening journal). Perhaps the most important benefit of school gardens would be to make the child a better citizen of the world by cultivating earth-friendly attitudes: by completing the gardening cycle with a compost heap, or by setting up rain barrels and learning about water conservation. Indeed, the Edible Schoolyard in Berkeley, California, started by Chef Alice Waters, has pioneered the integration of organic gardening into every aspect of the school curriculum. School gardens are a blessing everywhere,
but they can truly transform schools in communities that are troubled by crime. Here, school gardens can provide a safe and pleasing haven to children, teach them valuable life skills, and give them a green space of their own. Studies by the National Gardening Association depict the heart-warming results of having school gardens- read their evaluation here.

For parents and teachers who want to take the lead in setting up school gardens in their own schools, there are many resources that you could turn to. The Edible Schoolyard hosts a wonderful resource page that could be a good starting point. Of course, search engines will provide many other pages of useful information on the internet. One could also use local know-how by contacting the garden clubs,
botanical gardens and nurseries in the area. Libraries can be counted upon for books related to gardening and local flora.

Of course, if the idea of starting something on a school-wide scale in not possible, one can always start gardening with kids in the home. It could begin with a simple project such as planting flowers in window boxes outside the child's room in spring, or planting a kitchen garden in summer. On a big scale or as a small venture, gardening with kids is a fruitful activity that is sure to blossom into good times and happy memories!

flower1


A big THANK YOU to Meeta for inviting me to join the team at the Daily Tiffin. I'll be back next month with an article on Kids with Cameras. See you then!




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This post was contributed by Nupur from One Hot Stove

Tiffin Tuesday - Summer Salads!

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Posted by jokergirl@wererabbits



Summer salads! It's still summer because the calendar says so, and never too late to get your fresh veggies from the garden used up!


The bentobox contains the leftovers:
  • Caprese: Mozarella, cherry tomatoes, fresh basil, extra virgin olive oil (I use "fruttato", which means that it has a very strong flavor, for my salads), balsamico vinegar. Salt and pepper. Pure and lovely!
  • Corn and pineapple salad with red onions, mayo (I stretched it with light creme fraiche to avoid becoming too fatty), herbes de provence, salt and pepper. And a bit of juice from the canned pineapple to sweeten.
  • Tabbouleh: Tabbouleh is a salad recipe from the middle east. It’s really easy to make and fresh and tasty in summer!
    There are some recipes online but I wasn’t happy with any of them so I’ll just post a short writeup of my own.
    First, cook couscous or fine bulgur by putting it in a bowl, pouring hot water on just so all is wet, but no excessive water is there, add a little flock of butter and salt, stir and let it rest for 10 minutes or until it has soaked up all water and is soft.
    Then mix it with crumbled feta, chopped tomatoes, chopped mint and parsley (you are supposed to add enough parsley to make the mixture mostly green, but I’m not such a big fan of parsley), and chopped salad onions or green onions (optional).
    Drizzle on lemon juice, olive oil, and freshly ground pepper. Salt to taste.
    Then the fun part starts: Wet your hands a little or put on rubber gloves, and start kneading the salad with your hands! It needs a nice massage so the flavours can mix and be soaked up by the couscous. If it’s nice and sticky, but not doughy, you did it right.
    Chill for a bit before serving, and enjoy!
  • and an experimental Brown Rice Sallad with brown rice, grapes, cauliflower and curry. I like to mix sweet and sour tastes in my salads, as you can see, and the grapes just give this thing the right kick!


In the middle some pieces of baguette, and I'll probably take another one which I'll toast in the morning (I have frozen readybaked baguettes in my freezer, for such emergencies).

Tips for packing salads in a lunchbox:
  • Use salad recipes that have little dressing at all (like tabbouleh or rice salads) or a thick dressing that sticks to the salad well (like mayo)
  • In any case, drain the salad well before packing. Use smaller containers (I used two muffin cups each) to hold in the moisture.
  • Consider wrapping anything that needs to stay dry like bread, crackers, croutons.
  • If you need extra dressing, bring it in a little bottle or side container.


Did I forget anything now?

Oh, right: If you pack leafy salads, best to put all the dressing on the side and toss it directly when you eat it, it gets least soggy that way!



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by jokergirl from Were Rabbits



You Say Tomato, I Say Delicious

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Posted by YumSugar


Summer means lots of great produce. Personally I always look forward to juicy ripe tomatoes. This year I've decided to plant a few of my own, and the first of the bunch (a few cherry tomatoes) have just started to ripen. The beefsteaks and heirloom "Mr. Stripey" varieties, as well as my baby baby super sweet cherry tomatoes — that is if they turn out like the ones at my mom's house — are green, but should be ripe soon.

Right now it seems like everyone is talking about tomato recipes. I personally like mine with just a little salt and pepper, or accompanied with fresh mozzarella, a few basil leafs and — if I'm feeling decadent — a slice of fried pancetta or bacon.

With all of this tomato talk, I thought it might be helpful to talk about the different kinds of tomatoes:


Beefsteak: The biggest of the tomato family with a meaty texture - good for salads, grilling, and burgers.



Plum: Also known as Roma tomatoes, these babies are oval shaped, good for cooking, and used frequently in both Italian and Mexican cooking.



Cherry: Small, round like a cherry, and bite sized, these are perfect for salads, roasting, and tossed with pastas.



Salad: Also known as vine or round tomatoes, these are excellent for eating raw in salads or sliced and used in quiches or gratins.



Grape: Like the cherry tomato, these are small, oval shaped tomatoes that are super sweet and kid friendly. Use in salads or for snacks.



Green: A tart, yet ripe variety perfect for frying or for adding color to a tomato salad.



Heirloom: A variety that has been grown for over 100 years with the seeds being passed down from generation to generation. There are many different heirloom varieties that come in many different shapes and sizes.

Image Source



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Sabrina from YumSugar



A Hot Stove on the Daily Tiffin

Posted by Meeta K

We'd like to share a bit of exciting news with you. We have a new regular contributor to the Daily Tiffin. A few of you probably already know her from her A-Z vegetable series and her fantastic blog One Hot Stove. That's right folks it's the gorgeous Nupur.

Nupur will join us on a monthly basis writing exciting articles focusing on family, school and kids. She's got plenty of great ideas and we are sure you will find each article full of valuable information.

So please welcome our Nupur.

I am an Indian currently living in St. Louis, Missouri, USA with my wonderful spouse and our handsome pooch. I write a regular blog at One Hot Stove, exploring my love for regional Indian cuisine and traveling the world, one recipe at a time. For me, blogging is a wonderful way to connect with people who appreciate good home cooking, and a learning experience on a daily basis.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

Lunchbox: Cake to Celebrate

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Posted by Meeta K



Soeren had his first day at school yesterday. A very exciting day and most probably I was the one who was more anxious and excited then he was. Routines and daily rituals will change slightly around here now, but we are all looking forward to this new phase in his life.


School for Soeren is the ThIS (Thuringia International School). A private school where lessons are taught in English rather than German. Saturday we were invited to the festivities of the German tradition of Zuckertuete - Sugar Cone, by the school. Here children starting school get a sugar cone made of cardboard and filled with a lot of goodies. As Soeren actually starts this year with Pre-School, and not 1st Grade, we decided to give him a small sugar cone.



Yesterday, he was bubbling with energy and was very confident. Joined the group with no fuss or tears. It was me with the pounding heart! His teacher is a South African lovely lady - Ms. Pienaar.

The lunch boxes for him will also be changing slightly. Instead of packing a breakfast and afternoon snack, he will only be getting a small breakfast snack. Lunch is eaten in a cafeteria where he can choose from 3 different warm meals and help himself to a "Vitamin Bar" - a buffet filled with salads and fruits - as much as he likes.

At the beginning of the month we get the menu and choose which one of the 3 meals he would like to eat. The menu is then handed to the school and they save the lunches we chose on a special chip card specially made for him. Throughout the month he simply needs to give in his chip card to the cafeteria people and they serve him the lunch he selected. The money for this lunch is then deducted automatically from our accounts at the end of the month. It's a high tech system for a 4 year old but he had no trouble with it yesterday.

I do hope at some point I can interview the cafeteria people and take a few photos so I can write a little article for you here. I love the types of food they serve - healthy, nutritious and fun. I was really impressed.

The lunch box you see here is one still from the KIGA - I have a few saved up and would still like to share these with you. So, in the next few Tiffin Tuesday issues (whenever it is my turn) I'll be showing you these.

Contents:
Half a bagel, slightly toasted, spread with herb flavored cream cheese and a layered with a slice of honey glazed ham. A couple of yellow fruity cherry tomatoes and a mini bell pepper. They taste amazingly sweet. For the fruits we have a few cut up juicy organic strawberries and grapes. The cake is a delicious chocolate cake from our baker.

Prep time: 7 minutes
While the bagel is toasting you can quickly chop up the strawberries, wash and pick off the grapes. Once the bagel pop out of the toaster take them out and leave them to cool slightly - otherwise the cream cheese starts to melt when spread on the hot bagel. This gives you time to de-seed the bell pepper and and add them along with the tomatoes to the box. Cut up a piece of the cake and then prepare the bagel. I simply spread the cheese with not butter and then layer with the ham.

Nothing extravagant - just a easy and simple meal that kids really enjoy.

Hope you have a great week! Take care!



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?



We think ...

Friday, August 17, 2007

Posted by Meeta K

We are so honored to receive the The Thinking Blogger Award. Manisha of Indian Food Rocks believes we as a team here at the Daily Tiffin deserve the award.

I think I speak on the behalf of the whole team here when I say we really, really, really appreciate this. It's not an easy task coming up with new, exciting and interesting topics to cover, but I think we're doing a lovely job.

Manisha we thank you for your recognition and yes ... we are quite chuffed!

The award is being passed on to:

Scribbit
Big Mama

Ladies, thank you for writing such lovely and thought provoking blogs.

Superfoods: Hot Peppers

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Posted by Meeta K



The term "peppers" encompasses a diverse group of plants, ranging from the popular sweet green or red bell pepper to the fiery hot habañero or the even more lethal Scotch bonnet. When Columbus tasted the small, hot red "berries" he found on his Caribbean voyages, he believed he had reached India—where Europeans obtained black pepper—and called them red pepper.


In truth, the native peoples of the Americas had been growing and enjoying sweet and chili peppers for an estimated 7,000 years. Soon after Columbus's ships brought them back to Spain, traders spread them around the world, transforming cuisines—and people's preventive health prospects—from Morocco to Hungary, and India to China.

Peppers—whether sweet bell or hot chili—are members of the plant genus "capsicum" (cap-sih-kum), a term that comes from the Greek word kapto, which means "to bite."

All peppers contain compounds called capsaicinoids. This is especially true of chili peppers, which derive their spicy heat—as well as extraordinary anti-inflammatory, analgesic, anti-cancer, heart-healthy effects—from very high levels of capsaicinoids, the most common form of which is capsaicin.

In addition to capsaicin, chilies are high in antioxidant carotenes and flavonoids, and contain about twice the amount of vitamin C found in citrus fruits. Almost any dish, from homemade soups, stews and chili to stir fries, salads, and salsas, can benefit from small amounts of hot peppers.

More reads:




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was contributed by Pintoo from Zaayka



Cassava and wild salmon lunches

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Posted by Biggie @ Lunch in a Box

Wild salmon & yucca lunch for preschooler

I'm gearing up for preschool to start in September, when I won't be right there to help my son with frustrating food in his meals. This means putting myself in his shoes when I'm packing his lunch, trying to imagine what'd give him problems if he were eating solo. Kids this age are still perfecting utensil use, so it's important to either cut things small or pack finger food. This month I'm going to try to pack his lunches as if he were already eating on his own, to get both of us into the swing of things.


We did have an eating milestone today, though: Bug successfully used real chopsticks for the first time! I'd packed both fork and chopsticks for him and figured he'd go for the fork, but last week he saw his little friend Maya using little chopsticks and wanted to be like her. He polished off all but a couple pieces of salmon using only chopsticks -- I was floored. I guess I should enjoy positive peer pressure while it lasts, right?

Contents of preschooler lunch: Mango and romaine lettuce with homemade vinaigrette, grilled wild salmon with a mustard seed glaze, and boiled cassava root (a.k.a. yuca, manioc or casava) with salsa Criolla (Creole sauce: a vinegary fresh salsa often served with grilled meats or vegetables). My husband and I had some outstanding roasted cassava and salsa Criolla last month at a local Peruvian restaurant, so I made a note to duplicate it at home. I took a shortcut by boiling the cassava instead of roasting or grilling it, but the vinegary salsa complemented the potato-like cassava nicely.

Morning prep time: 8 minutes, using all leftovers from dinner.

Packing: Bug isn't a fan of mixed salads, so I separated out the lettuce from the mango and put his dressing in a cute sauce container. I cut the salmon and cassava into bite-size pieces and removed the salmon skin to head off eating frustration. There's a tough little stringy bit that runs through the very center of the cassava, so I removed that as well. Packed in a single 350ml container from a Lock & Lock lunch set.

Cookbook: I found the Creole salsa recipe in award-winning cookbook The Book of Latin American Cooking by Elisabeth Lambert Ortiz. From the book jacket: She "describes how the Spanish, Portuguese, African, and Middle Eastern influences have combined with the indiginous cooking of the Maya, Aztec, and Inca civilizations." An interesting read with extensive commentary on each recipe.

Wild salmon & yucca lunchMy lunch: Contents are the same as Bug's, but the grilled salmon is intact, the salad is mixed up, and the cassava is in larger pieces. Because I didn't have to cut things up, I was able to pack this in 5 minutes.

Packing: I rotated the cassava chunks in the box to create gaps in the corners for the fresh salsa. This saved me from using sauce containers or condiment cups, and the salsa was dry enough that it didn't leak sauce onto the salad. But if it had leaked, the vinegar of the salsa would have complemented the vinaigrette for the salad, so I didn't worry too much about it. Of course, after I packed this up, I shoved it unceremoniously into the diaper bag sideways, cassava-side first. Yes, I know Japanese books say you should carry your bento flat, but that's just not practical for our lifestyle. So our lunches are packed to survive rough treatment. Packed in a 500ml Leaflet bento box, which is actually a little small for an adult woman my height, according to the bento box size guidelines.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Biggie from Lunch in a Box: Building a Better Bento, recently featured in Boing Boing.

Inside A German Bakery: The Simple Stone Baked Bread

Monday, August 13, 2007

Posted by Meeta K




Looking at this bread you all might think it's not as spectacular as the other breads I have shared with you from my baker, in this series. But don't let the simple look fool you here.

As inconspicuous as it looks, this bread is pretty big in taste and flavor. What's so special about it? Well for one it's baked in a stone oven.


And that's where it gets it's name from - Steinofenbrot, which simply means stone oven bread. Almost every baker has his/her variation of this bread and after trying a few I really have to admit that Herr Becker's is truly the best.

In older days this type of bread was traditionally baked in large wooden stone ovens, which gave the breads baked in this oven a rustic and unmistakably distinct taste. Nowadays due to large production many bakeries have opted for a more economical method of making this bread - Herr Becker however bakes his bread in very much the same way as it was traditionally. He has a special stone oven laid out with firebricks, which captures the heat and saves it in the bricks for a very long time. This allows the bread to be baked on the stone for a longer period at lower temperatures.



The result is a wonderful moist crumb with the thick and crispy crust, typical for this type of bread. The crust is darker than most breads due to the longer baking and tastes more intensive than a regular bread.

Before it's actually baked the dough also goes through a longer rising period than most breads. This together with a special sour dough mixture all contribute to the distinct and aromatic flavor this bread offers.

Soeren enjoys the bread fresh spread with butter and a special forest honey. I enjoy it with a herb quark mixture and Tom likes his with butter and a little sprinkling of salt.

What I really love about this bread is that it can be used even after it's 2 or 3 days old. I hate the thought of throwing this delicious tasting bread away and so one day I came up with the most incredible tasting croûtons using this bread.

Meeta's Stone-oven bread croûtons

4-6 sliced thickly cut stone-oven bread - cut into cubes
3-4 garlic cloves - finely chopped
Olive oil
Handful of mixed herbs - finely chopped
Salt and pepper

In a large pan heat some of the olive oil. Add the garlic and immediately after that the bread cubes. Fry on a gentle heat until the bread has toasted and is crispy. The garlic might also turn brown, but this adds to the lovely flavor.
Shortly before taking the mixture out of the pan add the herbs and salt and pepper. Toss and allow to drain on some kitchen paper.

These croûtons taste incredible in salads and soups. Soeren actually eats them as a snack plain.

Hope you enjoy them however you eat them.

Have a great week!





Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Meeta from What's For Lunch, Honey?

Better Habits - Not A Diet

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Posted by Helene



When I needed to lose weight I hated the word "diet" and I still do as a matter of fact. Losing weight and keeping it off is a lifestyle, both in your workout routine and eating habits. After years in the sports nutrition fields I find there are easier ways to shake the scale than just to follow a rigorous diet.

Studies show that people who incorporate healthy daily food habits have better success at reaching their goals and keeping the pounds off than people restricting their eating too much.

1/ Forget fads: Low calorie and fad diets can have serious health implications: they do not provide insufficient vitamin and nutritional intake, they can leave you fatigued, slow down your metabolism, mess with your hormones, and might even leave you severely dehydrated. Dieters commonly experience feelings of hunger or deprivation, which can lead to "cheating" or bingeing.

2/ Don’t eyeball, measure: we underestimate how much we really eat each day and end up consuming too many calories without realizing it. Keeping a diary or log recording exercise and food intake is one of the most successful weight loss tools.
- record where you eat (tv, car, couch, counter, dinner table), how much you eat and what mood you are in when you do (boredom, stress, sadness,…)
- pay attention to food labels: at first glance, an item may appear to be 100 calories (juice, cookie, frozen meal) but a closer look will show that the package includes two or more servings, which defeats your trying to eat less. At a quick glance, a bottle of juice (or bag of chips, candy bar, or frozen entrée) may appear to contain 100 calories, but a closer look will reveal that the package includes two or more servings, which doubles the caloric content.
- get the measuring spoons and cups out of the drawer: get familiar with serving sizes of common foods by measuring them. Two tablespoons of peanut butter, mayo, or dressing is about the size of a golf ball. A serving of meat is the size of a deck of cards or the palm of your hand. A medium piece of fruit is similar to a baseball.
- Think mini: single serving packages of crackers and cookies are great for portion control. If you shop in bulk, measure out single servings and put them in ziploc bags as soon as you get home.

3/ Hold the fat: remember that not all fats are created equal. Certain oils (olive, canola), and nuts are nutritious and healthy to eat. Remember that fat does have more than twice the calories per gram than carbohydrates and protein (9, 4, and 4, respectively). So do not load up on trail mix with nuts on the pretext that it is “the good fats”. A serving of nuts is about 20, and a serving of olive oil is 1 teaspoon. Spray your dressing on your salad or use cooking spray at the bottom of your pan when cooking meats and vegetables, you might end up saving 200 calories a day. Use low fat sour cream and cheeses as much as possible and keep the real deal for a special meal. Add flavor to foods without excess calories and fat by using herbs, lemons, limes,…When cutting out high-fat and high-calorie foods, replace them with wholesome foods like fruits and vegetables. They are low in calories, but high in volume, fiber and nutrients, which can give you a feeling of fullness for minimum calorie intake.

4/ Drink water: limit your alcohol intake throughout the week and try to drink water as much as possible (add some lemon or Crystal Light if you don’t like straight water). Sometimes we think we are hungry when we simply are dehydrated. Drinking water throughout the day will give you plenty of energy, whereas alcohol can impair your self control when it comes to food causing you to overeat or make the wrong food choices.

Losing weight and keeping it off is about a healthy lifestyle, not a quick fix. We did not gain the pounds overnight, they are not going to melt off in a flash either. Think fresh, natural, wholesome and flavorful and reducing calories or eating healthier should get a little easier.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Helen from Tartelette



Healthy eating: the big outdoors

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Posted by Abby



Here in London the weather seems to have finally got back on track. The rain has stopped, the sun is out and temperatures are rising. Finally, it’s starting to feel like summer.

It’s at times like this when I wish that I had a garden. Warm afternoons, balmy evenings, outdoor dining and the freckles to go with it! Still, it’s not all doom and gloom as London is full of fabulous parks just begging you to visit and have a picnic. More excitingly (for some) there are also lots of fabulous beaches only a short train journey away.

Choosing what to eat is when it starts to get tricky. Most supermarkets are well tuned to the laziness that lurks within us all and offer a wide variety of picnic friendly foods. As well as the ubiquitous (aka boring) sandwiches there are tubs of tzatziki and taramasalata, nestled alongside pasta, bean, lentil and rice salads. Bags of vegetable crudités and the seemingly-endless variety of cheeses and cold meats complement the quiches and pies. So many choices, and all ours in exchange for a few folding green notes.

And it all sounds quite healthy too so what’s the problem?


Well, appearances can be deceiving and most of those tubs of delight are packed with salt, fat and a variety of additives and preservatives. If you can avoid them, it’s worth making the effort to do so. The good thing is that a homemade picnic is easy to put together, and much cheaper than buying everything ready-prepared.

There are a lot of great ideas already on the Daily Tiffin as many of the packed lunches that are featured contain things that can easily be adapted.

And if you need a few more ideas, my perfect picnic hamper would contain:

* Homemade hummus with (home-chopped) crudités - I like dipping cherry tomatoes; celery sticks; carrot batons; red, yellow and green pepper pieces; cauliflower pieces and cucumber circles. Actually I lied, I hate cucumber with a passion but many others don’t so why not some in the picnic hamper to divert people from the good stuff!

* A vegetable tart – there are some ideas here, here and here. Leave large tarts in the tin to make transporting it easy. If you make your tart with puff pastry you might have some pastry leftover. This is easily turned into cheese and mustard sticks – roll out the leftover pastry, spread the top with wholegrain mustard and grated cheese (a hard cheese with lots of flavour, like parmesan, is best), fold the pastry in half, roll it out again and then cut into strips. Twist these and bake on a tray until golden and crispy. Sprinkle them with sesame seeds for extra nutritional goodness.

* If you have meat-eaters in your party, some marinated and roasted chicken drumsticks will go down well. Don’t bother buying the ready-marinated chicken with its lurid colours that scream warnings of the artificial colourings and flavourings that they contain, instead try a simple mix of garlic, lemon zest and olive oil. Or sundried tomato paste thinned with a little olive oil. Or honey and mustard, again with a bit of oil. Leave the meat to marinade overnight if you can for extra flavour.

* Cupcakes or muffins are good for a treat - I find individually-sized cakes much easier to handle on a picnic. Also take along a selection of beautiful fresh fruit as a more healthy option.

* Cold drinks are always in demand. A bottle of cordial (or just use water) that has been frozen for a few hours will remain cold enough to see you through your picnic. Frozen berries, kept cool with an ice-pack, are a nice addition to sparkling white wine (or water for the kids) if you want to push the boat out!




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Abby from eat the right stuff

>

A healthy cake in 15 minutes

Posted by Saffron Trail

A no-bake, no-eggs, no-sugar cake and it is delicious

Whenever I see a dessert recipe whose ingredient list does not feature sugar and a gazillion calories worth of butter, I almost try it out on the same day...firstly to see if it would taste good after excluding the 'evil' ingredients and secondly, it is quite difficult to resist such a recipe. When I chanced upon a steamed 'rava' (semolina) - banana cake, it seemed too good to be true. When my newly married cousin in Bangalore tried it out and gave me a really bright green signal, I had to try this out. Shilpa of Aayi's Recipes has something similar on her blog, an authentic Goan recipe sent to her by a reader, but her recipe uses sugar instead of jaggery.
I've made slight modifications to the original recipe, in terms of microwaving the batter instead of steaming, and I did it on a trial and error basis, because my kitchen doesn't have a big enough steamer to take the whole batter in one go.
Using the microwave for this recipe did seem to have its advantages:
1. Lesser cooking time (7 minutes as against 25 minutes of steaming)
2. Lesser cleaning up - just one microwave safe dish other than the wok used to mix ingredients
3. Even your kids can handle the recipe from the assembled-ingredients stage

Semolina-Banana-Coconut Cake (No bake)
Time taken - Under 15 minutes
Serves 6-8 people or more
Category - Healthy dessert



Ingredients
1-2 tbsp ghee (clarified butter, see notes) If you don't have this, use unsalted butter
1 1/4 cup semolina (buy the finer of the varieties)
3/4 cup jaggery (see notes)
3 bananas - medium sized
1 pack thick coconut milk (I used Dabur's 200 ml pack)
1/2 cup water
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder

Directions
1. Grease a 9" or so microwave safe flatware with some ghee on your fingertips. Keep aside.

2. In a blender / mixer, place the 3 peeled bananas with the jaggery, make a smooth paste and keep aside.

3. Heat the remaining ghee in a heavy bottomed wok, put in the semolina. On medium to low flame, constantly stir it around until it turns lightly golden. This part requires your full attention for 5-7 minutes and the slightest burnt semolina will spoil the taste of the cake.

4. Once the semolina turns golden, turn flame to lowest possible, pour in the banana-jaggery paste, stir till it is nearly absorbed by the semolina. This will take 30 seconds to a minute. Take the wok off the flame.

5. In a jug, whisk well the coconut milk, water, salt, baking powder, cardamom powder and pour it into the semolina mix in the wok. Stir well till ingredients are blended through.

6. Pour this mix into the greased microwave safe dish. Garnish with any nuts /dried fruits or candied fruit to make it more appealing to kids.

7.Microwave at 100% for 5 minutes. Check the degree to which the cake is cooked and then depending on that microwave at 80% for 2 minutes or so. Remove, cool and cut into squares /diamonds.
(For steaming - pour this in a greased 9" diameter tin and steam for around 25 minutes until the top is dry and a tester comes out clean. These are the directions from the original recipe. I haven't tried this method personally, but it should work well for those who do not have /use a microwave.)

8. Serve warm.

Health tip:

This cake needs to be refrigerated because of its coconut milk content which may go rancid if left out for longer time. You can warm it by nuking it for 20 seconds or so. It makes an excellent dessert idea for the tiffin box for your kid or your spouse.
Jaggery is known to be rich in iron because of the huge iron vessels in which it is processed, hence better that sugar which is just empty calories. Diabetics, please be informed that eating jaggery does nothing better than sugar for your blood sugar levels as they both have the same glycemic index - calorie-wise and carbohydrate-wise, both are nearly the same. If you have to choose between the two, jaggery is just a slightly better choice because its more natural and nutritive than plain sugar.

Notes:
1. You will find jaggery, rava and ghee in any store selling Indian groceries.
You can also make ghee at home from unsalted butter - instructive posts here, here & here.
2. In case you do not have a microwave, you can surely steam this cake as per original recipe's instructions.
3. A lighter coloured jaggery will yield a paler cake and a dark brown jaggery will give you the rich brownier one. If you do not find jaggery, by all means use brown sugar or even white sugar.
4. My cousin tried this with whole wheat flour instead of semolina and said the results were as good. Just increase the baking powder a tad bit.
5. Try it out with spices of your choice. I love the taste of cardamom and hence it found its place in this recipe. You could try out cinnamon or clove powder or even all spice powder.
6. This quick recipe can also fit into the 'Neivedyam' category, which is the offering to Gods made in most Indian homes for festivals and auspicious days as it has no eggs. And from what I hear, most Indian Gods and Goddesses love jaggery as well as bananas :) , and we love them for that.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Nandita from Saffron Trail


Going To a Potluck? Bring This Simple Stuffed Date Appetizer!

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Posted by YumSugar


When I was a growing up, one of my parent's friends grew dates. She would constantly bring us bags of them and I hated it. I hated the way they tasted, I hated the texture and didn't understand the big appeal. Fast forward to my college years when a friend, who was a big date fan, had me try one. It was amazing! As in, "Waaaaah!? I've been passing this up all these years" amazing. Ever since then, I've gone absolutely crazy for dates. My favorite way to eat them is plain (I prefer Deglet Noors to Medjools), however when they're stuffed with a creamy goat cheese, toasted walnuts and covered in cracked pepper they're simply fantastic.

This simple appetizer is put together in no time at all (unless you count the pitting of the dates, that can take a little while depending on your knife skills). To pit the date, slice it open and use the tip of the blade to pry the pit out. Once pitted you stuff with goat cheese (if you can find a cheese with a thinner cream cheese consistency that works even better). Toast up some chopped walnuts, sprinkle on top (or better yet, mix into the cheese before stuffing) and finish the whole thing off with some fresh cracked pepper. Super delicious and super simple! Whenever I bring them to a potluck people always ask for the recipe, it's so wild to me because there's not much to do. If you give them a try let me know what you think!



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Sabrina from YumSugar



Legumes to the Lunchbox Rescue

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Posted by Glenna



I'm new to the Daily Tiffin, so by way of introduction, I'm Glenna of A Fridge Full of Food blog. By career, I'm a former convention/meeting planner and cake decorator. Currently, I am a respiratory therapist for a city hospital by evening and a freelance writer working on her first novel by day.

Because I work an odd-ish shift, 2pm-11pm, I eat dinner at work. I've found, over the last two years through trial and error (mostly errors at the vending machines and at the cafeteria grill) that I'm a happier, healthier, thinner (relatively speaking) women when I pack a lunch...er...dinner. Sure, there are salads and some steamed beyond life vegetables available in the hospital cafeteria, but amazingly, none of them ever seem to make it onto my tray no matter how many mornings I vow to myself that today I will ignore the chili dog and tater tot special or the grilled ham & swiss with potato chips. On the other hand, when I pack my dinner at home, none of those "bad" foods ever make it into my bento and yet I never feel deprived or yearn for them.

Tonight's dinner is the perfect proof of the point: lentil/orzo salad with fresh veggies. Chilled and refreshing for a hot August evening and packed with vitamins B-12, A, C, and carotene, lunch (Dinner) boxes don't have to be boring and neither does healthy. It feels good to take my cute little bento box in it's pretty fabric carrier and even more fun to open my dinner under the envious eyes of my coworkers.

The lentil salad is a simple combination of 1 cup lentils cooked with onion and carrot, and then cooled, along with 1 cup of cooked and cooled orzo. The salad is seasoned with one chopped green onion, one chopped rib of celery, 2 Tbsp of expeller-pressed walnut oil, salt and pepper.

The salad was combined and dinnerbox packed in under fifteen minutes since the lentils and orzo had been pre-cooked and chilled in the fridge. And there's enough left over to take to work tomorrow. Yum, something to look forward to.



Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Glenna from A Fridge Full of Food



Big rolls of paper art fun

Monday, August 06, 2007

Posted by Amanda at Little Foodies

Our home would be missing something if we didn't have a huge roll of paper that we can call on at a moments notice when there isn't very much else going on.



Read more for some ideas on what we do with ours. What do you do with yours?


1. We roll it out and then one of us lies on the paper and another draws around whoever is lying down. The person lying down then gets up and we all draw the details on - hair, eyes, nose, mouth, ears, clothes, etc, etc. When we're feeling a bit mad we also draw imaginary details on like alien antennae or very large clown shoes, you get the idea. If you have children who like to do their own drawing then just draw around each person and that person can then decorate however they wish. (Excuse the poor pic.)



2. We do landscape scenes with a theme, e.g. The sea or the time that land forgot with lots of dinosaurs. We stick these to the walls for a few days, but then they come down and are either folded up and put away or binned (in the recycling bin of course).

3. We make up a story and then start drawing at one end. We all get to have a go at making up the story and adding to the picture. We quite often end up with something completely different to what we started with.

The RULES are that nobody is allowed to criticise what somebody else has drawn or any ideas that anybody has. All ideas and drawings are praised! Quite important when you've got children of mixed ages and abilities.

We have used rolls of lining wallpaper but our current role was bought at IKEA, for not much money at all.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was written by Amanda from Little Foodies.

Quick Weekend Recipe: Chickpea Spinach Pockets

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Posted by Meeta K


The weekend is here and the weather is great. Don't want to spend too much time in the kitchen? Well we've got the perfect thing for you.

Bee and Jai of Jugalbandi have sent in a fantastic idea to share with all of us.


These veggie pita pockets are an easy after school snack or a lunchbox item that older kids can prepare themselves, with a little help. This can be made entirely in the microwave. Use tortillas to convert them into burritos.

Chickpea Spinach Pockets
(serves 6)

Ingredients

3 pita breads, sliced in half
1.5 cups canned chickpeas (rinsed and drained)
2 cups baby spinach leaves, washed
1 cup chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons coriander leaves, finely chopped
3/4 cup grated cheese (any kind. we used gruyere)
¼ teaspoon cayenne powder
¼ teaspoon cumin powder
¼ teaspoon coriander powder
½ teaspoon chaat masala (or lemon pepper)
2 tsps lime juice
salt to taste

Method
Put wet spinach leaves in bowl, cover, and microwave on high (about three minutes). Let the leaves cool, squeeze the water out, and then chop up the spinach.

Combine garbanzo beans, spinach, spices, salt, and cheese. Microwave on high for one minute until the cheese starts to melt.

Add the tomato, limejuice, and coriander leaves. Mix gently.

Spoon into pita pockets and top with ketchup, salsa or dip of your choice.

If you would like us to post your great recipes on The Daily Tiffin, simply send them to us per mail with a picture of the dish. We'll be glad to share your wonderful ideas and tips with our readers. Send to blogmeeta@gmail.com.




Are you interested in contributing to The Daily Tiffin? Drop us an email: blogmeeta@gmail.com. We look forward to hearing your ideas.

This Post was contributed by Bee and Jai from Jugalbandi