The Healthiest Breads

The Healthiest Breads: European Style, Wheat, Whole Grain, Sprouted or Gluten-free?

A staple of many of our diets, finding a healthy bread is an important factor in making healthy nutrition choices. On the shelves and bread aisle, there are a wide variety of breads to choose from. Below is our Paradise Foods Nutritionist’s guide to choosing a healthy bread for you and your family.

European Style – Prepared In-house & from Local Bakeries
Fresh baked bread once was nothing more than flour, yeast, water and salt. Today it is produced on a mass scale commonly with chemical or natural additives to improve the flavor, consistency and appearance. Chemical and natural preservatives are often added to extend the shelf life. Many local bakers tend to shy away from the use of chemical additives and preservatives. Grace Baking, Acme, Artisan Bakers, Metropolis, Semifreddi’s, Judy’s Breadsticks, Alvarado Street Bakery, Vital Vittles and La Boulange may use natural preservatives such as sourdough. Fresh local breads are available as both table breads and sandwich loafs.

Whole Wheat & Multi-grain Vitamins, Minerals & Fiber make Healthy Bread
100% whole wheat bread contains the whole wheat kernel (the bran, the germ and the endosperm). The vitamins, minerals and fiber from the whole kernel make this a nutritiously superior bread to that of white and brown or wheat bread. Multi-grain bread may use flour that has been refined, similar to that of white or brown and wheat, losing much of the nutritional value. 100% multi-grain bread is not refined and contains the vitamins, minerals and fiber from the whole grain kernel, similar to 100% whole wheat bread. 100% multi-grain bread with a combination of spelt, kamut, barley, rye, oats and buckwheat tend to be dense. They have been found to slow digestion, leaving a feeling of fullness and satiety shortly after eaten.

White & Brown or Wheat Nutritionally Inferior to 100% Whole Wheat or 100% Whole Grain
White bread uses flour with the bran removed. Brown bread, also referred to as wheat bread, uses flour with most of the bran removed, leaving enough for color. Depending on the baker, often coloring is added back in to create darker bread in color. The bran is where the many of the vitamins, minerals and fiber are stored. When these nutrients are removed many white and wheat breads are enriched with B-vitamins and iron in an effort to add some of the nutrition lost in the extraction process. Some brands may also add in the form of an isolated fiber such as oat or soy fiber. Isolated fibers may not have the same health benefits as intact fibers that are in the bran. Without intact fiber the body processes this refined form of flour quite quickly, similar to how the body processes sugar.

Sprouted Similar Nutrition to Whole Wheat and Multi-grain
Sprouted 100% whole wheat or whole grain may be easier for some to digest because the whole grain kernel is soaked in water which may activate digestive enzymes. This may improve the absorption and utilization of the nutrients, but the sprouted bread in of itself does not provide a greater source of nutrition.

Gluten-Free – Whole Grain Gluten Free is a Good Alternative
Gluten-free breads are increasing in popularity as many people are living with celiac disease, wheat allergy or gluten sensitivity.  Brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, millet, corn, potato, amaranth, sorghum and teff are gluten-free whole grain flours often used in baking. Nut, seed and legume flours are used as well, such as almond and garbanzo. Nutrient-for-nutrient gluten-free breads tend to contain less overall nutrients than 100% whole wheat and whole grain breads; however they do contain essential nutrients for those who cannot tolerate gluten.

Jen Martin

Jen’s Picks
Jen’s preference is for whole grain European style bread with sourdough to naturally preserve the freshness. She enjoys the nutrient-rich lovesticks by Judy’s Breadsticks. These breadsticks are whole grain, vegan and have added nutrients from sesame and sunflower seeds. Her sandwich bread of choice is Alvarado Street Bakery Ultimate Kids Bread. It’s 100% whole grain with sprouted wheat berries and molasses, a great source of iron. Jen recommends Canyon Bakehouse Mountain White Bread as an excellent gluten-free option that is 100% whole grain and seems to please even the pickiest of palettes.

For Customers of Paradise Foods by Jen Martin, RHN, Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Nutrition Consultant

Understanding Healthy Bread Claims

Low Sodium – A single slice of most bread contains no more than 250 mg of sodium, but when consumed regularly or in large quantities, the sodium level is something to consider. Lower sodium is of increased importance for a diet that is moderate-to-high in processed or packaged foods, increased blood pressure or at risk for heart disease and stroke. Labels displaying “low sodium” claim the product contains 140 milligrams or less of sodium per serving.

Low Glycemic – The glycemic index (GI) measures the amount of blood glucose that is produced by the consumption of carbohydrates. The more glucose produced, the higher the GI. A GI of 55 or less is considered low. Whole wheat and whole grain bread has a naturally lower GI than white, brown or wheat bread. Sourdough bread has also shown lower GI due to the fermentation. 100% whole grain flour-less, or sprouted breads, containing no added sugar are the most nutritious of the low GI choices.

Light – Breads that indicate they are light commonly have about 50 fewer calories per slice. The whole grain versions tend to be smaller and airier.

High Fiber – Wheat breads that offer more fiber should be examined to see if the added fiber is in the form of bran or an isolated fiber such as oat or soy fiber. Isolated fibers may not have the same health benefits as intact fibers that are in whole grain.

All Natural & 100% Natural – While this may be true, read the ingredient label to know what the bread does contain. Natural does not mean whole grain and may have ingredients such as natural sugars that are not necessarily healthy.

Whole Grain – Many bread packages are marketed as “Whole Grain”, “Good Source of Whole Grain” or “Made with Whole Grain” – Be certain to read the ingredient label as these may contain only a small amount of whole grain.

No High Fructose Corn Syrup – There is a lot of controversy over whether or not high fructose corn syrup has a worse effect on the body than other forms of sugar. In addition to high fructose corn syrup, also look for other sources of sugar including dextrose, sugar cane, sugar beets, maple syrup, dates, agave and honey.

Additives and Preservatives

  1. Potassium Bromate – Strengthens the dough but may be remnant if the bread has not been baked long enough or under the appropriate conditions. It is classified as a potential carcinogen.
  2. Sodium Stearoyl Lactate – Gives the bread a lighter consistency. Those who have a difficulty digesting lactose may have harder time digesting bread with this additive.
  3. Partially Hydrogenated Oils – Read the ingredient label to be sure it does not contain any type of partially hydrogenated oil or fractionated oil as these are Trans fats. These fats may increase the risk of high cholesterol and heart disease, amongst other health problems.
  4. Calcium Propionate – Increases the shelf life. This preservative has been associated with sleep irregularity and hyperactivity in children.
  5. Food Coloring – Changes the appearance. Chemical food dye has been associated with hyperactivity in children.

(Size)mic Proportions

Many things in life come in different sizes: vehicles, houses, french fry servings, people.  But since this is a wine blog, you know where this is headed.  Wine bottles!  My wife and I were nearing the last of one our favorite wines at dinner recently and lamenting there wasn’t more remaining. Our discussion turned to all the wacky names and uses for each size as well as which one is the perfect size bottle. We’re all familiar with the standard three sizes out there (halves, regular 750s, magnums) and they all have their uses, but there are actually many more one never sees in your local wine shop. So, here’s a brief primer:

187s – The true “split”; these are half of a half or a quarter of a regular 750. Often seen on wedding reception tables or in those cute little four packs, they’re equal to about one glass of wine.

375s – The most common little bottle out there. They serve about a glass and a quarter per person and are great for one person if your companion is taking the night off or if each of you are ordering food in a restaurant that calls for a different wine.

750ml – The most common size, these serve about two and a half glasses per person and are usually more than enough to get the party started.

1.5L – AKA magnums, they are equal to two 750s. These are great for dinner parties or if you’re looking for a better price on your favorite value wine. They aren’t always cheaper than two bottles of the same wine, however, as the cost of the larger bottle and different labels often forces wineries to charge a bit more. Experts also believe this is the perfect size for ageing wine as the proportion of oxygen in the neck to the amount of wine in the bottle allows for a slow, mellow ride into middle age. And ever seen one of those German Riesling bottles in a magnum? With their slender, tall, lean shapes, soft shoulders, and standing about two and half feet tall, they’re the closest thing in the wine world to sexy.

3L – A double-magnum or Jerobaum. Here is where things begin to reach Biblical proportions. From this size and bigger each bottle is named after a Bibilical king or historical figure. I guess being royalty you could afford to throw big parties, so you needed a lot of wine to keep your guests happy. At about three feet high, it’s also probably the biggest size one can pour comfortably.  And if it’s white, how are you going to chill anything bigger? After selling a Jerobaum of Roederer Brut Premier Champgagne one New England winter and asked how to get it cold for a party, I suggested stick it in a snow bank for a couple of hours. A bit unwieldy, yes, but want to be a hit at your next dinner party? Pop for a double-mag. They’re actually not super-expensive and are way cool.  (ps. just don’t bring the Franzia!)

Then things get way over the top:
6L – Methuselah
9L – Mordechai
12L – Balthazar
15L – Nebuchadnezzar

So, returning to the original question of what’s the perfect size, none of these crazy bottles fit the bill. To figure it out, let’s look at a typical evening’s dinner for two at home. You need at least a glass each while preparing dinner. Then one or two with dinner as well as one last sip to seal the meal.  A 375? Forget it, not even close. The tried and, supposedly, true 750? Close, but not quite.  There’s not enough left to wash down that last morsel of braised short ribs or shrimp scampi. The magnum? For two people, probably too much. Where does that leave us? To be honest, a rarity on your local wine shelf. A clue? The Austrians pegged it…Give up? It’s the one liter. There aren’t many out there. The only ones I’ve seen have been Gruner Veltliners and its companion red, Zweigelt, a tasty, juicy, and spicy red from Austria.

So there you have it folks. Everything you wanted to know about wine bottle sizes, but were afraid, or maybe too indifferent, to ask. Don’t worry, next time we’ll tackle another topic better suited to keep you on the edge of your wine bar stool. Wine closures!

Until then, cheers!






Erskine Gallant, Wine Manager, Paradise Foods

How to Pick the Best Yogurt For You & Your Family

Step 1: Pick the Milk Source – Cow, Sheep, Goat, Coconut, Almond or Soy Boy eating yogurt

The healthy bacteria added in the fermentation of milk may aide digestion assisting in the utilization of nutrients from other foods. Often people who have difficulty digesting lactose are able to comfortably digest dairy yogurt as much of the lactose has been turned into lactic acid as a natural occurrence of the healthy bacteria. Sheep and goat’s milk yogurt are reported to be even easier for some. Dairy yogurt is naturally high in protein, calcium, B vitamins and vitamin D and sheep and goat’s milk yogurt contain even greater levels of some nutrients than cow’s milk yogurt.

Plant-based yogurts such as coconut, almond and soy, are also highly nutritious yet dairy-free. Coconut milk contains fiber but is higher in fat than dairy yogurts. Almond and soy milk yogurts contain fiber but are lower in protein and calcium than dairy yogurts.

Step 2: Pick the Style – Traditional, Cream-top, Greek, Icelandic, Russian, French or Kefir

  • Traditional – Thin with a naturally sour taste
  • Cream-top – Made with un-homogenized milk and a layer rises forming a rich yogurt cream on top
  • Greek – Removes the whey through straining and leaves a thick consistency and a tangy taste with a higher protein content than other styles (be cautious as some marketed Greek style yogurts have added thickeners)
  • Icelandic – Similar to Greek style, the whey is removed through straining leaving a thick consistency and tangy taste with less sugar
  • Russian – Has a mild taste and gentle consistency while being a bit creamier and thicker than traditional yogurt
  • French – The ratios of the healthy bacteria are different than traditional yogurt leaving a milder yogurt flavor
  • Kefir – Contains more liquid and is a consumed as a drink

Step 3: Pick your Punch – Plain, Fruit, Flavored, “Smoothie” or Tube

Yogurt is a healthy food that is naturally high in sugar but does not taste sweet. The lactose that is fermented is actually a sugar represented on the nutrition label. On average, plain yogurt that has no added sugar has about 12 grams of naturally-occurring sugar in the form of lactose for every 6 ounce serving.  Adding sugar in the form of fruit, fruit juice or sugar can make this otherwise healthy choice a treat. Yogurt smoothies and tubes often contain fruit or flavored yogurt plus added sugar. When selecting yogurt know that fruit, flavored, smoothies and tube yogurt contain an average of 26 grams of sugar in every 6 ounce serving, approximately two tablespoons of added sugar.

Step 4: Pick Local – St. Benoit, Redwood Hill Farms, Bellwether Farms, Wallaby Organics, Clover Stornetta, Straus Family Creamery and Pavel’s


For Customers of Paradise Market by Jen Martin, RHN
Registered Holistic Nutritionist & Nutrition Consultant

Jen’s Picks – Plain Icelandic yogurt because it is high protein, low in sugar and has a thick and creamy consistency that tastes great with fresh fruit.  She also regularly uses plain Kefir from Green Valley Organics in smoothies and Greek Yogurt from Straus with raw pistachios and honey for dessert.

What to do with Plain Yogurt

Dressings: Yogurt adds flavor and creaminess to a dressing. Use it in place of buttermilk in your favorite recipes.  Choose a traditional or Russian style yogurt for thinner dressing.

Dips: Mix with any flavors, herbs or spices to create a delicious dip for vegetables, fruits and other party platters. Choose Greek or Icelandic style for a thicker consistency.

Trying to get your kids to eat more veggies? Try mixing plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt with a packet of Simply Organics Ranch dip. Even if they use the vegetable stick as a spoon for the dip you can feel confident that the snack is still a healthy choice!

Marinades: The acid in yogurt can tenderize meat making it a good ingredient for marinades. Traditional style and Russian style yogurt are thin and well suited. Depending on your recipe, kefir may be another good choice as it is contains the most liquid.

Blended: All styles of plain yogurt are great for blending. When making a fruit or savory smoothie, kefir is a good choice as additional liquid may not be needed. You can also make yogurt based freezer desserts using plain Greek or Icelandic yogurt.

To make yogurt popsicles, add 1 C plain yogurt with 1 C chopped fresh fruit to a blender and puree. Fill an ice cube tray with the mixture. Freeze for 5 minutes, remove and add the sticks, then freeze again for about an hour and serve.

Soups: Plain yogurt is an excellent alternative to other forms of dairy in many soup recipes. Substituting yogurt can often reduce the fat and calories and increase the protein while improving digestion, all without sacrificing the creamy texture and taste.

Baked: Muffins, cakes and breads bake well with a little added yogurt as it tends to add moisture to the mix.

Banana Berry Cupcakes

Ingredients: 2 C whole grain flour, 2 bananas, 1 C berries, 1 egg, ½ C honey, ½ C plain yogurt, 2 Tbsp avocado, 1 tsp baking soda, 1 tsp baking powder, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp vanilla extract.

Instructions: Preheat oven to 325. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and cinnamon in a large bowl. In a food processor puree the bananas, egg, avocado, vanilla, honey and yogurt. Mix in the puree with the flour and fold in the berries. Pour batter into a cupcake pan and bake for 45 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Snacks: Add a little plain yogurt to a bowl of fresh fruit with nuts and a natural sweetener such as honey, or sprinkle a bit of fresh granola on top to make a protein packed snack.

Desserts: Add a dollop of yogurt to a fresh fruit crisp or favorite baked treat to add a bit of creaminess.

Let’s Picnic!

Summer is finally here, and this means more outdoor activities and adventures. One of the best things about summer living is the picnic / BBQ. Whether with family or friends (or both!), a delightful summer picnic can be fun and easy to prepare and enjoy!

For ease and convenience, dishes assembled ahead of time (such as salads, slaws, deserts, etc) are always a good choice. Along with these classics, platters with assorted cheeses, sliced melons, chilled grapes, berries or nuts make an ideal arrangement. Prepared sandwiches are a perfect portable and packable offering and can be a great way to use up leftover meats and vegetables.

Other vegetables, such as carrots, celery, radishes & bell peppers pair well with a hummus, herb dip or other dip of your choice. Don’t forget that crunchy cucumber slices or spears work well with a dip, or even just plain!

When it comes to the grill, feel free to expand beyond the classic meats and corn. Have you tried grilled watermelon wedges? Just grill the wedges for two minutes per side, then drizzle them with a mixture of honey & lemon or lime juice for a delectable treat! Grilling extracts fruits’ natural sugar by caramelizing the surface, so feel free to experiment. Other ideas you might try: grilled peaches, bananas or even berries (although you’ll want to put the berries in aluminum foil so they don’t fall through the grill).

For refreshing summer beverages, your imagination is the limit. From juices to spritzers, wine, sangria, cocktails & beer, as long as it’s cold and tasty, it’s sure to be a hit. Classic lemonades can be taken to a whole new level with the addition of your favorite berries & fruits – you can even puree these and used as ice cubes – try honeydew, watermelon, cantaloupe, kiwi or mango. If you have any fresh thyme sprigs from your garden, try adding some fresh lime juice & crushed thyme, using a sprig of thyme as a garnish.

What’s on your picnic menu? Let us know – we’d love to hear your suggestions and ideas!

Enjoy folks!

Our Love Affair with Everything but the Wine

As Wine Manager of Paradise Foods and a wine enthusiast, I spend a fair amount of time researching, sampling and enjoying wine on an almost daily basis.   This exposes me to a wide variety of wines and wineries from all over the world.  Over the years, it has become quite apparent that many wines seem to have strayed from their roots.  The last time I checked Wikipedia or Encyclopedia Britannica (now free online!), the definition of wine was “fermented fruit juice, usually from grapes” or the “fermented juice of the grape.”  Whether it’s consumer demand or the winemakers playing with their juice a bit too much, there seems to be a preponderance of secondary flavors unrelated to this fermentation of said grape.

I hate to pick on one wine as it has certainly been beaten to death, but Chardonnay is the most obvious wine that seems to have strayed from its beginnings. Primary flavors like tropical fruit, green apple, or citrus have given way to vanilla, hazelnut, crème brulée, or toasty oak.  In the proper hands which allow the varietal to express itself, Chardonnay is beautiful wine.  When did it become dominated by other flavors, such as wood and butter?  Butter? Really?  That creaminess which is so popular comes from diacetyl, a by-product of a chemical reaction in the winemaking process and is the same flavoring used to butter popcorn.  Has Chardonnay just become a cocktail without the high booze levels?  Wine should be the expression of the varietal from which it’s made as well as the soil and climate from where it comes, what the French call “terroir”.  Sauvignon Blanc is known for its grassiness and grapefruit; Viognier its peach and honeysuckle; Gewurztraminer its lychee and spice; Riesling its lime and flinty minerality.  And these are pure flavors natural to the varietal, not unassociated secondary characteristics which just get in the way.

Wood is another component that is totally overused, especially with New World wines (any winemaking country outside of Europe).  I understand that for centuries wood has been a tried and true aging vessel, but how long is too long for a wine to sit soaking up all that oak?  This excessive woodiness leads to wines that are clumsy, heavy, and palate-fatiguing.  These days when assessing wines, the first thing I look for is wood.  Do I smell a lumber mill when I stick my nose in the glass?  Or do I detect just pure fruit?  It goes without saying there are oodles of terrific wines from the US, South Africa, and South America.  (As for Australia, the jury’s still out).  And don’t think that just because it’s European, it’s a superior wine.  Spanish wines often ooze excess amounts of cedar that is totally distracting from the wine.

So, if you’re interested in some wines that show off their true personalities, naked in all their glory, then try some my favorites.  I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

-Lenz Moser Gruner Veltliner Kamptal, Austria
-Domaine Pinson Chablis, France (Chardonnay!)
-Lucien Albrecht Pinot Blanc Alsace, France
-Cantina Terlano Bianco Classico Alto Adige, Italy
-Justin Sauvignon Blanc Paso Robles, California
-Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc/Viognier Clarksburg, California
-Botani Moscatel Seco Malaga, Spain
-Louis Jadot Macon-Villages Bourgogne, France (also Chardonnay!)
-Manifesto Zinfandel Lodi, California
-Henri Fessy Moulin a Vent Beaujolais, France
-Mencos Joven Rioja, Spain
-Planeta Cerasuolo Sicily, Italy

Erskine Gallant, Wine Manager, Paradise Foods

Marin Mama Cooks Recipe: Kale Salad

lacinato kale salad

I know this photo is not quote on quote “food porn” quality or pinterest worthy, but I guarantee it’s tastebud worthy.  It’s so tastebud worthy that I was literally licking the bowl after this salad.  I never thought I would be licking the bowl of a kale salad, but I was licking this one, seriously!  Who am I these days?  When did I start getting excited over kale of all things?  You won’t even realize that you’re eating kale as the garlic and lemon take away the bitterness of the kale.  You might surprise yourself and find that you just ate a whole head of kale with this salad.
I was interviewed the other day for the Marin IJ and the first question that the interviewer asked me was, “what’s your obsession with kale’?  I laughed, (you know that kind of snicker laugh that John Travolta does in the movie Grease) because I honestly didn’t think I was obsessed with kale.  I mean I have a few kale recipes posted, but nothing to over the top.  Do six recipes equate a kale obsession?
So, I did the phone interview the other day, and today the photographer is coming over to take the pictures for the paper.  He is going to photograph me while I make this salad and my sausage skillet pizza (see photo below).  I’m a bit nervous about being photographed cooking as I am not a pretty gal when I am cooking.  I get all flustered and crazy messy as I am constantly using my apron and clothes as a towel.  This time I have to look pretty and relaxed while cooking.  I’m not sure I can pull that off.
So let’s get back to this salad.  I made this for lunch on Monday because I had too much birthday cake over the weekend as we celebrated Zoe turning 12.  I wanted to do a mini Monday cleanse, so I made this salad for lunch and then paired it with some of my cauliflower soup for dinner.  I couldn’t have been happier and my body was thanking me for this mini cleanse.
This salad pairs with just about anything because the dressing is so simple.  It’s also a great make-ahead salad.  I made it in the morning and had some for lunch then refrigerated it and had some for dinner as well.  It’s the perfect bring to work salad because it gets better as it sits.  Do you hear this Yvonne?  Here is a salad you can bring to work!   Yippee!
Lacinato kale salad
Recipe adapted from Dr. Weil
  • 1 bunch Lacinato/dinosaur kale, large stems removed, thinly sliced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3  tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • pinch of salt & pepper, to taste
  • pinch of red pepper flakes, to taste – If you don’t like things spicy you can omit the red pepper.  I loved it though.
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese – you can use more or less here, it’s up to you.  I used about 2/3 cup as I love cheese!
Ok, I thought I would treat you all to some step-by-step photos for de-stemming kale as well as cutting it into thin strips.  Thank you to Cathie for photographing me 🙂
Grab a stalk of freshly washed and dried kale, holding it by the stem with one hand while placing the pointer or middle finger and thumb of your other hand around the stem just above the leaves.  Pull your fingers along the stem, tearing the leaves off.
 See how easily the leaf pull away from the stem?
Here is how to cut your kale into thin strips.  You can also use this technique for any sort of lettuce and herbs.  Take the kale leaves and lay them on top of one another and then roll them up tightly.
 Take your knife and slice the kale into thin strips until you get to the end.
Aren’t the kale slices so pretty?
Throw your kale slices into a large bowl.
This recipe calls for the juice of one lemon.  Now, if I was to hand squeeze the juice out of a lemon, I would not get ton’s of juice, but when I use my hand juicer below, I get an ample amount of juice. I would highly recommend picking one of a hand juicer.  You can literally find them anywhere from your local kitchen supple store to your grocery store.
Now lets move onto the dressing.
Whisk together in a small bowl or glass measuring cup the following:
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch (or more to taste) of red pepper flakes
Make sure to whisk the ingredients together well.
Pour the dressing over the kale and mix well so that all the kale absorbs the dressing.  I actually massaged my kale a bit so the kale really absorbed the dressing.  You don’t have to go crazy massaging this kale salad.  When I say, “massage” your kale, I literally mean, get your hands in there and massage it.
After your kale is well tossed, add 2/3 of the parmesan cheese and toss again.
Let kale rest for at least 5 minutes to an hour.  This salad can be made hours ahead of time, even in the morning.
I think my body and taste buds are both thanking me today, as this salad is uber healthy and uber delish! This is such a simple salad but sometimes it’s the simplest things that turn out the best.
If you’re a fan of kale or just want to try more recipes that include kale, then check out my other kale salad here and my kale smoothies here .
Please let me know how any of these recipes turned out for you.  I would love to hear what you thought of this salad as well. My friend Cathie tried this for the first time the other day (and she is not a kale salad fan). She was amazed that she was eating kale as it tasted so good.  She is now a kale salad fan!
I want to make you one as well if you’re not already!
Have a blissful weekend and please include some kale in your plans 🙂

Keeping Fish Fresh in the Refrigerator

One of the most frequently asked questions at the Meat counter is:

“How long can I keep fish in the refrigerator?”

The answer is that if done correctly, your seafood will keep well for 2-3 days in the refrigerator.

The key to keeping fish in the refrigerator is to remember it has to be kept colder than the refrigerator.  This is because the water the fish were swimming in when they were alive is much colder than the air, so they need to be kept extremely cold. When you bring the seafood home, take the seafood out of it’s packaging, place it in a storage bag and then emerge the bag in a large bowl of ice.

Change the ice frequently and you’ll find that fish bought 2 days prior will be just as fresh. I do suggest that if your dinner plans change and the seafood has to be kept longer, place storage bag in the freezer after a few days.

Here at Paradise Foods we take great pride in the Seafood we offer to our valued customers.

Steve Emerson

Steve Emerson, Director of Meat & Seafood

Nutrition Blog Post – Minerals

Along with being a major structural component of our bones, teeth, skin, hair & nails, minerals play an important role in many metabolic functions in the body – essential for the functioning of enzymes, fluid balance, energy production and more.

Paradise Foods ProduceMy first choice for nutrition is always from the foods we eat.  No pill or tincture can replace the vitality of vegetables and natural, unprocessed foods.  I am convinced that the myriad of nutritional components, not yet isolated or named by scientists, still provide untold benefits.  Equally important is not consuming negative nutrition foods: the stripped-down, processed foods that actually leave a deficit of nutrients in our bodies.  That being said, there are situations where we may feel that our food sources are not able to provide the full amount of nutrition for optimal health, and this is where carefully chosen, high-quality supplements can be helpful.

Another factor to consider is that many of our foods are said to not contain the same levels of nutrition as they once did. The reasons for this are not entirely understood, but it is generally known that in the last several decades, levels of vitamins and minerals in our produce and meats have dropped significantly.   This is yet another reason for me to choose organic over conventional (more on that later), as the soils are richer in nutrients from the lack of chemicals and natural farming methods.

ConcenTrace Minerals Drops

Trace Minerals Drops - available at Paradise Foods

My recent discovery involves trace minerals, the micro-minerals we need in very small (trace) amounts.  These minerals are stripped from our water supply when we go through the trouble of purifying our drinking water.  Like antibiotics, the process of reverse osmosis filters the water of both good and bad components.  Along with chlorine and most of the fluoride (which I’m happy to do without), I’m told that 90% or more of the minerals are removed.  I have been drinking reverse osmosis for years, and do so primarily because of the purity of the water, as well as the superior taste.

Although we do take in most of our minerals from foods, the quality of our drinking water is, or should be, an important  consideration.  My solution to ensure that I’m not short-changing my bones & teeth, and all the other important functions in which minerals play a role, is to continue to filter with reverse osmosis, then add the liquid concentrated drops of trace minerals from Trace Mineral Research.  Our Paradise Foods locations now carry the liquid drops, which are easy to add to your drinking water (I have started with 20 drops / gallon –that’s just 1 ¼ drops per cup).  This is a new regime for me, so I’ll keep you posted on how it goes.

Tama Weidner

Tama Weidner, Store Director

From Marin Mama Cooks: cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

cheesy baked tortellini & homemade marinara sauce

 Want an easy-peasy weeknight meal your whole family will enjoy?
I bet your saying yes, yes, yes!  
Well, read on, because my whole family loved this meal and I loved it because it was so quick (under 45 minutes) and easy to make.
This is definitely a family and kid friendly meal.  It is cheesy, hence the title, cheesy baked tortellini.  My kids rated this a 10+ dinner, so I am definitely adding it to my list of go-to weeknight dinners.
Life is getting busy around our house, and during this busy time I have to prepare my weekly dinner menu in advance.   Zoe now has lacrosse, dance and cotillion 4 nights during the week so goodbye (for now) to sit-down family dinners, and hello make ahead and easy meals.
On Sundays, I put together a list of potential weekday dinners and also try to cook a two-nighter meal that night.  When life is busy, I don’t want to compromise on eating nutritionally nor do I want us eating takeout every night.  I want to offer my kids their veggies and a fairly balanced and nutritious meal.  To accomplish this, I try and find recipes that I can either make ahead, or that will provide dinner for 2 nights or ones that can be put together in a flash.  I saw this tortellini dish and was excited.  You can throw it together in less than 45 minutes.  You can also make it earlier in the day and re-heat later that evening.   Oh yeah!!!

NOTE:  This recipe called for smoked mozzarella and I topped John’s and mine with that, but I used regular mozzarella on the kid’s dishes.  I had the kids try our pasta with the smoked mozzarella and they preferred the regular mozzarella.  John and I preferred the smoked version, but would of been happy either way.  Regular mozzarella is easier to come by and generally something you would already have in your refrigerator, so feel free to just use that.  

cheesy baked tortellini:
Recipe from Giada De Laurentiis Everyday Pasta
Serves 4 to 6

  • 2 cups marinara sauce – store bought or homemade – I made a homemade version from Giada the day before- Recipe to follow below
  • 1/3 cup mascarpone cheese
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 pound cheese tortellini
  • smoked mozzarella, thinly sliced or shredded – or you can use regular mozzarella cheese- I shredded mine.  The recipe called for 2 ounces, but really, who measures out their cheese?  Just top your dish with the amount of cheese you want.  
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese – I also did not measure this.  I just topped each casserole with some parmesan cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for the tortellini.  Lightly oil an 8x8x2-inch baking dish or 4 individual gratin dishes.
Below is what mascarpone cheese looks like.  It resembles a soft cream cheese.
In a large bowl, whisk together the marinara sauce, mascarpone cheese, parsley and thyme.
Stir all the ingredients together. Once you mix all the ingredients together, it goes from this beautiful red color above, to this not so pleasant orange color.  I’m not even going to go there an tell you what it reminds me of.
Cook the tortellini until just tender, about 2 minutes.  Drain.  Add the tortellini to the sauce and toss to coat.
 Transfer the tortellini mixture to the prepared baking dish or dishes.  Not a great photo, but you get the step involved.
  Top with the grated parmesan cheese and smoked mozzarella or regular mozzarella cheese.
Cover the dish or dishes with tin foil and bake for 20 minutes, then remove the foil and bake uncovered until the sauce bubbles and the cheeses melt on top, about 10 minutes longer.
My kids like brown and crispy cheese, so I put the dishes under the broiler for a few minutes. 

That is it folks!  How easy was that dish to prepare?
I paired this up with a salad for John and I and some broccoli for the kids.
This dish was a two-night meal for my kids and I (not the hungry hubby).  I just covered their leftovers in their gratin dishes and re-heated them in the oven the next day.
I’m actually re-heating up their leftovers as I write this post.
Here they are eating their leftovers!  Happy as clams!

If you want to make your own marinara sauce then you can follow along with me below!

This sauce is great because it can be made day ahead of time and it’s fairly easy to whip up.    The only thing that really takes time is chopping up all the veggies.  This is a wonderful marina sauce that you can use as a base for just about any Italian meal.
Basic Marinara Sauce:
Makes about 2 quarts
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 small onions, finely chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled & finely chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more to taste
  • 2 – 28 ounce cans crushed tomatoes
  • 2 dried bay leaves
Prep your ingredients.  Chop up your onions, garlic, carrots and celery.

In a large pot or dutch oven, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sauté until the onions are translucent, about 1o minutes.

Add the celery, carrots and 1/2 teaspoon each of salt and pepper.  Saute until all the vegetables are soft, about 10 minutes.

Add the tomatoes and bay leaves, and simmer uncovered over low heat until the sauce thickens, about 1 hour.

Remove and discard the bay leaves.  Season the sauce with more salt and pepper to taste.
Let the sauce cool, and then refrigerate or freeze it.  This sauce freezes very well so I saved 2 cups for the above recipe and froze the remaining amount for a later date.
The sauce may be stored frozen for up to 3 months.

If you don’t want to make your own sauce, use your favorite store bought brand.  I love this one below from Dave’s gourmet.  I use this one when I make my chicken parm.

Easy-peasey family approved week-night dinner!What are your favorite go-to week night dinners?

Stickies, Sweeties & Bubbly, Oh, My!

Sweet wines conjure up images of bottles resembling German towers, candy-corn white Zinfandels, and pineapple wines, but dessert wines have come a long way since these cloying times. So just in time for Valentine’s Day I feel I must shout it from the rooftops: “Sweet wines are delicious!” (ahem, when made well, that is). Yes, for those of us who only enjoy Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Grigio, these wines with their residual sugar can be a bit of a jolt. Most are meant to be enjoyed in small quantities as they tire out the palate quite quickly, but good winemakers balance the sweetness with acidity that gives the wines lift and keeps them refreshing.  So with Valentine’s Day in mind, let’s do a virtual sampling of some of my favorite sweeties you may want to pop for your sweetie.

Riesling – As they come in all sorts of flavors and styles, Riesling is perhaps the most complex of all grape varieties. They are often produced in a dry style where all the grape sugar has been fermented out, but Riesling is most known for its sweeter examples. From drier to sweeter, look for these names: kabinett, spatlese, auslese, beerenauslese, and trockenbeerenauslese. These last two are unctuous, rare and quite pricey; the first three are actually not considered dessert wines, but table wines meant to be paired with food. For the palate not used to a little sweetness, they can certainly be substituted for a sweeter wine as an after dinner nip.  What makes these wines so unique is their balance of sugar and acidity, the latter of which sets the mouth alive and tingling. Without it, the wine would certainly be cloying and tiresome. Good bottles classically produce flavors and aromas of creamy lime, green apple, and even petrol (yes!), all bundled up that lovely acidity.
St. Urbans-Hof 2010 Riesling Kabinett Ockfener Bockstein, $19.99/750ml
Ersnt Loosen 2010 “Dr. L” Riesling Mosel, $13.99/750ml

Sauternes – Long considered the greatest dessert wine in the world, Sauternes comes from the town of the same name near Bordeaux, France. What makes these wines so special is a fungus (botrytis cinerea) that forms on the grape skins during perfect climactic conditions combining heat and humidity. This growth actually feeds off the water inside the grape, thereby shriveling the berry and concentrating its juices and flavors. When the grapes are ultimately pressed, what flows is a sweet and concentrated nectar. When ultimately fermented, the resulting wine oozes apricot and honey notes, is full-bodied, somewhat viscous, and the botrytis even gives the wine a distinctly musky, earthy aroma that is just divine.
Chateau Haut Mayne 2009 Sauternes, $19.99/375ml

Ice wine – Often sweeter and richer than Sauternes, ice wines are beauties produced by picking the grapes in winter when the berries are frozen. During crush, the frozen water stays behind and only sweet juice flows, which is then fermented into the wine. Full-bodied and richly textured, these wines literally coat the mouth with apricot and jammy fruits along with bright acidity.
Jackson Triggs Vidal Ice Wine Niagara, $19.99/187ml

Moscato d’Asti and Brachetto d’Acqui – These last two are sparkling siblings originating from the Piemonte of northwest Italy.  Moscato is the wonderfully fresh and spirited white frizzante offering that is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face. Musky and sweet on the nose, these wines show off notes of green apple, pear and spice. Brachetto is Moscato’s sparkling red relative. Pair this frizzante with chocolate mousse; being a red/rose, it boasts notes of sweet strawberries, raspberries and rose petals.
Saracco 2010 Moscato d’Asti Piemonte, $18.99/750ml
Banfi Rosa Regale Brachetto d’Acqui, $21.99/750ml

For the wine lover, these are wines that are not to be ignored. They’re not only delicious, they’re festive treats AND very romantic! Enjoy!


Erskine Gallant, Wine Manager