Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Tools to achieve better living through better eating in 2010

A new year, a new decade. A new opportunity to be a better eater, diner and cook. If you truly are what you eat, why not be more conscientious? Feeling good can be as simple as paying attention to what goes down your gullet, and devouring your very favorite foods athome may be easier than you think.
Plenty of local experts can help you improve the ways you consume food. Develop some smart, new habits and see if you wind up with more energy and a better outlook. Here are 10 ways to better foodism in 2010.
1Please your palate. Fond of fish but fear cooking it? Take the Seafood 101 class at Central Market Southlake on Jan. 13 ($55). Love the cuisine of New Orleans? Fort Worth chef Jon Bonnell teaches Taste of the Big Easy at Central Market Fort Worth on Jan. 21 ($70). If you’re crazy about bonbons but have no idea how to tackle them, Dish Event at Market Street Colleyville offers a chocolate class by the Mansion on Turtle Creek’s pastry chef, David Collier, on Feb. 8 ($40). Calendars at all area cooking schools are bursting with opportunities for you to indulge passions you thought out of reach.

2Master making healthy food at home. Look for classes that focus on nutrition. At Whole Foods Market on Preston Road in Dallas, the free cooking demonstration series Marvelous Food Mondays will feature grain-based burgers Monday; healthy, hearty soups Jan. 11; beans and legumes Jan. 18; and lower-fat comfort foods Jan. 25. Food for Life Nutrition and Cooking Class is a series offered this month at Cancer Care Services at the Fort Worth nonprofit Cancer Project. On Wednesday, it’s Introduction to How Foods Fight Cancer, followed by Fueling Up on Low-Fat, High-Fiber Foods on Jan. 13; Discovering Dairy and Meat Alternatives on Jan. 20; and Cancer-Fighting Compounds and Healthy Weight Control on Jan. 27. Classes are at 5:30 p.m., and the series costs $30. At the Dish Event Culinary School at Market Street in Colleyville (, classes on gluten-free baking are offered Jan. 23 and Feb. 21 ($30 each); on Feb. 18 and March 30, classes deal with health issues and proper nutrition ($20 each).
3Get kids in the kitchen. The Young Chefs Academy in Fort Worth caters to children between ages 3 and 16, with a variety of classes each week. In addition to food preparation, the school promotes kitchen safety, table manners, self-confidence and creativity. Parents and kids can bond while cooking together at Central Market’s Mommy & Me class Jan. 13 (Fort Worth, $45 per team) and a Little Kitchen on the Prairie class Jan. 23 (Fort Worth, $75 per team). At Market Street’s Feb. 6 class, the Moms & Tots class covers Valentine’s Treats ($20 per duo); on March 17, kids ages 7 to 11 cook Italian ($25); and in a series from January through March, teens learn a variety of cooking methods ($35 per class).
4Cooking and courting. Fire up your romance with a cooking class for sweethearts. Sur La Table in Dallas is among a handful of stores offering a Date Night cooking series. One such class is For the Love of Cooking, a Feb. 5 event where you and your special someone will make flatbread with grapes, arugula and gorgonzola; roasted rack of lamb with fig relish; wild mushroom risotto and roasted brussels sprouts with bacon and lemon; and chocolate soufflé ($150 per couple).

5Be adventurous. When shopping, pick up something new. Central Market is one of the stores where fishmongers and butchers can tell you exactly how to prepare some of those foods you may not know well. Fresh bison from Colorado, which is low-fat and high in proteinand omega 3s, is always available in rib-eyes, filet mignon and ground meat. Seafood cooked en papillote (in parchment paper) is surprisingly easy and requires no butter or oils to moisten the fish, which steams inside the wrapping. If you love chicken, look for the all-natural, air-chilled variety, a cleaner, more flavorful bird. In January, the best seasonal fish include wild Yukon River Keta salmon and sable fish, also called butter fish, from the Pacific Northwest.
6Explore ethnic foods. You’ll save money and make new food discoveries by shopping at ethnic groceries. The ubiquitous Fiesta Mart, specializing in Latin American and Asian foods, has seven of its 23 Metroplex stores in Tarrant County. You’ll find an astounding diversity of produce, cheese, meats, fish, spices and herbs at good prices, and Fiesta’s Web site also offers a host of how-to cooking videos and a wealth of recipes to try. Saigon Taipei in Haltom City and Arlington lures with a vast selection of exotic and familiar produce, fish, meats and condiments at low prices, and Asian cooking tools that can improve your stir-fry and steaming methods. If you’d like guidance through the Asian grocery maze, cooking teacher Carol Ritchie offers the occasional walking tour of Hong Kong Market Place in Grand Prairie.
7Shop at the source. Every Saturday (and on Wednesday, too, in summer), the Cowtown Farmers Market brings produce, baked goods, coffee, goat cheese, honey, jelly, tamales, salsa and other foods directly to you from the local growers or makers. You can root for the home team, as well, by going to the tours and tastings at Rahr & Sons Brewery on Fort Worth’s south side and at Times Ten Cellars, a new winery in the Cultural District. In Dallas, Food Roots tours are led by registered dietitian Mary Kimbrough, who takes you on adventures to meet artisanal food producers and taste their products. Cooking classes (usually $25 each) at the Dallas Farmers Market feature popular area chefs creating dishes using whatever’s fresh in the market.
8Forget processed food. You need to eat clean simply because there’s a direct correlation between the way you feel and food’s distance from its original state. "So many people have indigestion and bloating because their stomachs are deficient in enzymes that process food," says Garlyn Mayo, a certified natural therapist who works in nutrition, herbology and hydrotherapy at Natural Therapeutics in Fort Worth. She says that broccoli salad makes your body much happier, for instance, than broccoli cooked to a limp state. You can give that digestion a big boost by eating yogurt with probiotics; if you have issues with cow’s milk, look for goat’s milk and sheep’s milk yogurts at higher-end grocery stores and health food stores. (For those looking to avoid animal products, there are also dairy-free, rice-based yogurts.) Bear in mind that vividly colored, organic produce (dark greens, blueberries, oranges) carries the most nutrition, too. And if the price of organic produce — always a better choice than the alternative — scares you, buy a vegetable and fruit wash to rid your produce of pesticides. Need guidance in finding certain products and recipes for specific dietary needs? Download the new Whole Foods Market iPhone app, http://m.
9Ask for help, and save money in the process. Your grocery store should be a source of guidance. At Whole Foods Market, in Arlington and Dallas, you can take the store’s Value Tour to find out how to stretch your food budget. One way is to buy by the case; at Whole Foods, there’s a 10 percent discount for such bulk purchases. At Central Market, in Fort Worth and Southlake, talk to the Foodies, the store employees in aprons seen at cooking demos around the store. They dispense helpful information, tips, recipes and samples — at no charge.
10Support local restaurants. Rediscover your hometown’s dining-out origins by revisiting grassroots eating establishments that remain in the hands of founding families, serving their neighborhoods for generations, through thick and thin. On Fort Worth’s north side, the original Riscky’s Barbeque Deli is good for chili and hot links, and visit Joe T. Garcia’s Mexican Restaurant for fajitas, combo dinners and margaritas. Close to downtown, it’s Angelo’s Bar-B-Que for brisket, ribs and two-fisted schooners of beer. On the south side, there’s none better than Paris Coffee Shop for chicken and dumplings, and pies. On the west side, you’ll still find a fiercely loyal clientele at Kincaid’s, famous for burgers. If you haven’t visited these recently, you’ll be reminded why mom-and-pop outfits rule. And it’s just the right thing to do.


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