Monday, November 19, 2012

The Greek Salad - A Statistical View

There are a lot of things we know about Greece, but there are plenty of things we perhaps overlook. Take the Greek salad, for example. There are several ingredients in a proper Greek salad, but I want to bring your attention to just two of them, Feta and olive oil, and some interesting statistics on the two products.

First of all, to put things into perspective, according to the last official census available on-line, the population of Greece was 10,964,020 (2001 census). So, armed with this first statistic, let's take a look at goats.

We know that Greece is famous for producing Feta, but have you ever considered how many goats it takes to supply the Feta cheese making industry? Consider these numbers, taken from the Hellenic Statistical Authority (EL.STAT.), and before you say it, yes I do need to get out more. Here is a breakdown of the latest figures (from 2008) of the number of goats in Greece. It's available for download as a spreadsheet from the site, but if you can't be bothered, here are the interesting bits.

Firstly, the total number of goats in Greece was 4,779,409. Nearly 4.8 million goats! That means there is a goat wandering around for every 2.3 Greeks. Of course, not all of them produce milk. The number of female goats that had kidded was 2,930,556, with another 383,067 females still to produce offspring. Over 2.9 million goats producing milk, now that's a lot of milk! Also, assuming you could line all the goats up from nose to tail, and assuming they are on average a metre in length, and also assuming that they behave themselves and stay still for long enough, the line would stretch from Athens to London and back again (distance between Athens and London is 2389 kms)!

Moving swiftly on to olive oil production. In 2006, the latest on-line figure available, 396 thousand tonnes of olive oil were produced in Greece. Using a handy on-line converter, which provides you with the density of olive oil, this converts to 460,465,116.27907 litres of oil, or assuming an Olympic sized swimming pool can hold 2.5 million litres, then you could fill roughly 184 pools. It's not surprising that Greece produces so much oil when you consider that back in 2006 the number of olive trees recorded was 158,490,012, which works out to be over 14.4 trees for every man, woman and child in Greece.

I think that's enough statistics for now. Whatever you do, don't get me on to the subject of tomatoes or cucumbers. That's a statistical minefield! Anyway, the next time you are pondering over what to order in your favourite taverna, spare a thought for all those olive farmers and poor goats who work tirelessly so that you can enjoy what has to be my favourite Greek dish of all, the humble Greek salad.

It is my solemn duty to inform everyone in the world that there are lots of goats and lots of trees in Greece, and that finding out the exact statistics of said goats and trees is vital. Statistics can be fun, especially where food is concerned.

Fruit Salad - A Great Dish

Fruit salads are super healthy dishes. It can be as simple as just tossing a variety of fruit into a large bowl. You just can't get any healthier than that. I have relied on this type of salad as a quick dish to bring to a potluck or as a gift to bring along when you are a dinner guest. It's a very versatile dish that everyone can eat and it's great for vegetarians!

Fruit salads are very colourful and pleasing to the eye. Depending on the fruit you choose you can create quite a visual impact. I love to use the strawberries in all my fruit salads not only is the strawberry very tasty it also has a very vibrant colour. Other colourful fruits that look great in a fruit salad include blueberries, kiwifruit and green grapes. I love the look of a colourful salad that's almost too beautiful to eat!

You can use pretty much any fruit in your salad but be aware of fruit that browns and serve accordingly. Fruit such as bananas, pears or apples will start to brown so if you must have these make sure that the salad is served immediately. Better yet, you can make up the salad ahead of time and only add these fruits immediately before serving.

You really don't need to add anything to the salad as the fruit will release its own juices but there are many dressings that will add more flavour and/or texture. If your salad contains fruit that is already quite sweet you may want to add plain yogurt, some orange or lime zest, or a little sprinkle of powdered sugar. If you feel you need some added sweetness pour in a little citrus juice or stir in some honey. Balsamic vinegar with just a touch of sugar will give the salad a tangy sweet taste. Or just keep it simple with a squeeze of lemon or lime.

You can add a little crunch to your fruit salad by adding nuts! Great additions include pistashios, walnuts, shredded coconut and even crushed dry roasted peanuts. Be safe and ensure your guests have no allergies before you serve a salad that contains nuts.

Just use your imagination and your favourite fruits to come up with your own variations. Experiment with dressings and the addition of nuts to make a unique creation. Fruit salads are a healthy guilt free dish to enjoy!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Crunchy Chicken and Fresh Pear Salad With Dried Cranberries

When my grandchildren return to college, I will return to cooking for two. It isn't easy. I often mis-judge the serving size and usually have leftover food. This week it was leftover chicken. Originally, I baked the chicken in the oven with a bread crumb and Parmesan cheese topping. What could I do with the remaining two chicken breasts?

I decided to make chicken salad. The crumb topping was easy to remove and I cut up the chicken. But white chicken needs color, so I added green celery, red onion, dried cranberries, and green, unpeeled pears. Thanks to the onion, the salad had some "zing." Thanks to the pears and dried cranberries, the salad had some sweetness.

Though I love mayonnaise, I wanted thinner dressing for the salad. When I peered into the refrigerator, I found some slaw dressing and it proved to be just right. You may make this salad with turkey instead of chicken. If you don't have any chicken on hand, cooked chicken strips are available in the refrigerated section of the grocery store.

Dried apricots or peaches, cut into thin strips, may be substituted for the cranberries. Add some crackers or bread sticks and you have a satisfying lunch. With warm bread and dessert, this crunchy salad becomes dinner.


2 cups cooked chicken (grilled, roasted or poached), cut into half-inch cubes

1 large rib of celery, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons diced red onion

2 fresh pears, unpeeled and sliced

1/3 cup dried cranberries

Salt and pepper to taste (Omit if you're watching your salt intake.)

1 bag washed baby spinach (or torn butter lettuce)

16-ounce bottle slaw dressing, such as Marzetti

12-ounce package chow mein noodles

Combine the chicken, celery, red onion, pears, and cranberries in a large bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Pile some baby spinach on each plate. Spoon chicken salat in the middle of each plate. Drizzle with slaw dressing and garnish generously with chow mein noodles. Makes four servings.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Worldwide Popular Traditional Pickles and Murabba

The tradition of preserving fruits and vegetables in the form of pickles, jams and murabbas has been popular in the South Asian countries like India and Pakistan. Not only are these products tasty, but many of them are also considered as healthy preparations. A large number of Asian spices and fine quality edible oils are used in preparing pickles that add to their taste.

Some of the most popular items in these categories include amla murabba, mango pickle, apple murabba, lemon pickle, chilly pickle and carrot pickle. Many households in the North Indian states prepare these items at homes. In addition, there are many small-scale as well as brand manufacturers engaged in preparing these traditional products. The following sections discuss various popular categories of these food items.

Amla Murabba and Pickle

People suffering from stomach and digestive system disorders are recommended to have amla murabba, which is prepared from India gooseberry along with ingredients like citric acid and sugar. The product is a rich source of vitamin C and a number of minerals like zinc and copper. Pregnant women can be given the recipe because of its high nutrient values. The popular Indian treatment approach called Ayurveda recommends regular consumption of the murabba. The students can also consume the recipe to sharpen their minds and also to increase concentration.

The gooseberry also serves as a wonderful ingredient for amla pickles. Just like amla murabba, the pickle prepared from this Indian gooseberry is tasty and offers health benefits. Acidity and gas troubles are the issues that can be easily addressed with regular consumption of the recipe.

Mango Murabba and Pickle

Raw mangoes are extremely healthy, but it is not possible to consume them in the raw form. However, the murabbas and pickles prepared using raw mangoes are quite popular. The consumption of mango murabba maintains the value of hemoglobin and takes care of the issues like weakness and fatigue. Spices like fennels, saffron and fenugreek seeds are added to these preparations to enhance their nutritional worth as well as flavor.

Apple Murabba

Apples need no introduction as healthy fruits. Murabbas recipes prepared from apples are as popular as mango and amla murabba. It is admired as a healthy recipe for heart as it controls palpitations and relives mental stress and strain. This apple recipe is also considered for keeping the skin and hair healthy and also to postpone the signs of aging like wrinkles.

Mixed Vegetable Pickles

Apart from fruits, vegetables too are popular as ingredients for making pickles and murabbas. A popular example of tradition pickle recipes is the one prepared from vegetables like cauliflower, carrot, radish and turnip and spices like ginger, garlic and peppers. Needless to say, the nutrients of each of these items can be enjoyed in the recipes.

Lemon Pickles

The digestive benefits of amla murabba and pickles can also be enjoyed with lemon pickle. One impressive aspect of this recipe is that the tradition lemon pickle recipes are not prepared in oil, which adds to its health quotient.

The modern approach of making pickles and murabbas doesn't produce as many health benefits as are available with traditional recipes. Fortunately, it is possible to obtain the traditional recipes from different parts of the world using the internet.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Easy Healthy Salad - Strawberry Lemon Salad

Eating right leads to a healthier life. While it is so simple an idea it not as easy as it sounds. Proper nutrition choices should be the main motivation for us home cooks.

This healthy recipe is fast, flavorful and nutritious and can easily be prepared within 30 minutes or less. Perfect when you get home from a long and tiring day at work and too drained to cook that big meal. This dish can be served as an appetizer or as a dessert. Strawberry-lemon salad is thoroughly refreshing with a balance of flavors that will surprise your palate: bitter, sweet, and sour. The rind of the lemon are sliced into thin strips and heated in sweet sugar syrup, then used to garnish the slices of strawberries. Lemon sauce is poured on the dish and a sprig of mint is used to decorate and add fresh flavor. It is also served with scoops of lemon sorbet making this ultra-invigorating. Add Macaroon pieces at the end of the recipe, which has already been prepared beforehand. You can also purchase macaroons in a pastry shop, create your own, or substitute it with other similar pastries. The starch will contrast to the fruits and give it a dry dimension.

Here is how to make this awesome healthy recipe.

Cooking Recipe Preparation time

• Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking Recipe Ingredients

• 6 lemons

• 0.55 lbs. strawberries

• 3.5 oz. sugar

• 0.33 lbs. pectin

• 4 scoops of lemon sorbet

• 8 macaroon pieces

Cooking recipe preparation instructions

1. Peel the 2 lemons.

2. Mince the lemon peels. Blanch in cold water and drain.

3. Preserve the lemon peels in a mixture of half water, half sugar.

4. Recover the lemon juice.

5. Add 0.33 lbs. sugar. Bring to boil.

6. Add the pectin, boil again, and skim (remove the mousse).

7. Wash and prepare the strawberries. Cut them into quarters.

8. For the presentation, spread the lemon sauce over the serving dish. Place a scoop of lemon sorbet on top of it and lay the strawberries around it. Decorate with some fresh mint leaves and preserved lemon peels.

This refreshing salad dessert can be combined with a sweet wine such as Maury's vins doux naturels, which is made of Grenache grape varieties. This kind of wine is extremely fruity and will complement well with the sweetness of the strawberry, the bitterness of the lemon skins, and the sweet-sourness of the lemon sauce. While it is very simple to make, this dish has complex and intricately layered flavors that can be savored unhurriedly for superior enjoyment.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Fish Salad - A Memorable Dish in Danang

If your Vietnam Tour adventure brings you to Danang, then you're in the right place. Not only was it an educational and commercial center of Central Vietnam, it also lies within 100 kilometers of the best sites and places you can visit in this country. Several UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the ruins of My Son, Hoi An Old Town and the Imperial City of Hue are easily accessible from this natural transportation hub which you will visit one by one on your booked Vietnam Tours.

But perhaps, the most memorable experience you can have in this fabulous city is a taste of their exotic dish called "Goi Ca" or fish salad. You might have heard of this when you have booked your best Vietnam Tours package and you might even have a taste of it back in your accommodation. But if you have tasted a fish salad that features sliced tomatoes all mangled with lettuce leaves that are already flaccid; and served with a few slices of tuna and some small prawns all swimming in mayonnaise, then you haven't tasted the real thing! Fact is you have tasted the commercial offerings which you can safely call the "Westernized" version. If you want to taste the real Vietnam Goi Ca, then go to Man Thai Beach along Son Tra Peninsula in Danang.

Lined along the beach front where the fishing boats are moored, on the brick side walk itself are several vendors of real Danang style fish salad. These vendors only sell "Goi Ca" and it will taste a lot better than the one you can order at most restaurants lining the beach in Danang. The first reason is that it's the only thing they do. The second one is they only use the freshest ingredients available.

True to Vietnam's style of food preparation, local ingredients that Danang fish salad vendors use are fresh mint and herbs in abundant quantity, onions, carrot, galangal, green mango and squids; and fish newly caught by local fishermen. With this variety of natural ingredients, prepare your palate on a complex taste of Asian salad that is anything but bland. The color of the fresh ingredients is really enticing. No fancy food garnish is needed to make your mouth water with anticipation. Just imagine the arrangement of lush green mint leaves, yellow green of fresh sprouts, red of pepper and yellow galangal. Set it on the white of the squid and fresh fish meat and what you get is a festival of colors. The texture of the taste is incomparable, spicy pepper and galangal, sour green mango, salty sweet seafood and the bittersweet taste of fibre on the leaves makes for some real mouth-watering indulgence. Don't forget to wrap them in rice paper and dip in locally prepared sauce before you take a bite to have that mouth full of bursting flavors that no words can describe.

If you want to also feast your eyes as well as your taste buds, grab a couple of fish salad and head down south on the beach road towards My Khe Beach. As you continue your Vietnam Tours adventure this way, you will be amazed at the fantastic view of Son Tra Peninsula as you glaze at the Big Buddha situated on the opposite side. And as you savor the lingering taste of "Goi Ca" in your mouth, take a couple of pictures of you and your friends with the magnificent East Vietnam Sea in the backdrop.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What Are the Benefits of Eating a Salad Every Day?

Salad recipes with chicken is a popular type of salad at home and in restaurants as well. Eating a salad a day could be a simple thing to do but it can change your life dramatically while enjoying the rich menu of salad choices.

To start with, a salad normally contains vegetables and it does not matter which salad you prefer, you will find this as the best way to provide your body the veggie and fruit that you need. There are lots of people who are not comfortable eating vegetables and fruits. To solve this issue you can create salads recipes with chicken that may contain these vegetables and fruits which can really help boost your health.

Being part of your total health a salad can likewise help lower the danger of having cancer. Because there are lots of vegetables that has antioxidants a salad a day can essentially help lower the possibility of having this life threatening illness.

Another great benefit of eating salads recipes with chicken a day is weight loss. Are you aware that those who include salad in their diet will feel hungry less frequently? This is because of the high fiber content of the salad. These high fiber foods do not only help to improve the function of the digestive tract that can aid in lowering your weight but it may also help boost your metabolism while acting as a natural colon cleanser. Because most individuals do not have enough fiber in their diets a salad every day could be a great help in your bowel movement.

Naturally, salads recipes with chicken are low in calorie that helps you complete your plate with lots of other healthy foods. Of course it is best to eat a low-calorie dressing and make sure that you use it with moderation. It might look like as a healthier alternative but fat free dressing blocks some of the best benefits of consuming that salad. It is best if you choose a dressing which has at least some fat for best health benefits.

If you are thinking of making some healthy changes in your lifestyle and are not actually certain where and how you will start, eating salads recipes with chicken for lunch every day is a good start. By doing this you will have a better chance to get a healthier body and likewise gives you lots of choices for the ways that you will be satisfied and a chance to eat out at various restaurants. Consuming a salad a day could simply beat out the apple as the best way to keep the doctor away.

I'm a health conscious individual. But I always try to follow a very moderate approach to what I eat and drink. As I build the right habits for my diet I make sure that I'm not trying to create a habit that is only good for few month but for a life time instead. I know that success is achieved when I keep doing the right thing. I believe salads and chicken are a great choice especially when combined together.