Whole Grain Sampling Day 2014 {giveaway}

Happy Whole Grain Sampling Day!  Yes, it’s that time of year again (the first Wednesday in April) when we all take a moment to appreciate the chewy, nutty, heart-healthy deliciousness that is the whole grain.

WGSD_logo14dayOver the years, I’ve struggled with blood sugar issues (mostly low sugar crashes) and through trial and error, I’ve found my body functions at its best with balanced meals, meaning protein, fat, AND carbohydrates.  My carboholism is well documented, but even I can admit not all carbs are created equal.  That’s where whole grains, those slow-digesting, complex-carbohydrates, come into play.

Wondering what the heck a whole grain is?  Check out my post from last year’s Whole Grain Sampling Day:  “So, what’s a whole grain anyway?”

Incorporating whole grains into your diet is easy.  I like to cook a big batch of steel-cut oats on Sunday, and dish it out into single-serve portions for whole-grain grab-and-go breakfasts throughout the week.  Another quick option is tossing cooked grains on top of your lunch-time salad (quinoa is my salad-topping grain of choice).

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MORE whole grain packed recipes to try:

Jambalaya from ferventfoodie.com

jambalaya

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Mexicali Grouper plus a nutty giveaway {recipe video}

Last month, I teamed up with Tropical Foods to create videos for four AWESOME recipes, one of which was created by yours truly!  I posted the video for Buffalo Bleu Tailgate Bars last week, and today’s recipe video features Mexicali Grouper.  Take it from the girl who hates fish – this recipe makes for a delicious crusted fish with big bold flavors courtesy of the Mexicali Fire snack mix used coat the fillets.

Mexicali Grouper Recipe PDF

Speaking of BIG FLAVORS, Tropical Foods just rolled out their How Bold Can You Go site, which features all of their boldest nuts and mixes.  Check it out!  And don’t forget, if you see something you like, you can place orders online at The Nut House.

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Now onto the fun part! Tropical Foods has generously offered to give three lucky readers gift baskets, chock full of the bold nuts and snack mixes used in the recipe videos!  There are several ways to enter–check out the rafflecopter below!  The giveaway ends at midnight on June 15, 2013.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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What’s a whole grain, anyway? {plus a humongous whole grain goodies giveaway}

These days, as gluten intolerances become increasingly common and more folks are pledging the Paleo diet, the healthfulness of whole grains is a debated subject.  I cannot speak for a globe of eaters on this (or any other) issue, but I can share what works best for me.  Over the years, I’ve struggled with blood sugar issues (mostly low sugar crashes) and through trial and error, I’ve determined my body functions at its best when its has several small meals spaced throughout the day, each consisting of protein, fat, and carbohydrates.  It’s no secret I love carbs.  Say it with me: CARBS ARE NOT THE ENEMY!  (In fact, carbs are ENERGY.)  Not all carbohydrates are created equal though, and that’s where whole grains come into play.

 

What’s a whole grain?

WholeGrainKernel_WGC_0In their natural state, grains consist of three parts: endosperm, germ, and bran.  When a grain is processed or refined, it is stripped of its bran and germ, leaving only the endosperm.  This gives the grain a smoother texture and improves shelf life, but leaches nutrients in the process.  Food manufacturers often add fillers (thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, iron, etc.) to enhance the nutritional stats of the processed grains.  The resulting “enriched” products are grossly inferior to whole grains.

According to WebMD (and a million other sites and research studies), a diet rich in whole grains has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and some forms of cancer PLUS improve bowel health (thank you very much!).

 

Some common types of whole grains:

*starred whole grains are gluten-free

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  • Barley
  • Buckwheat*
  • Corn* (including cornmeal & popcorn)
  • Millet*
  • Oats

 

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  • Quinoa*
  • Rice* (brown, wild)
  • Rye
  • Sorghum*
  • Wheat (includes spelt, farro, bulgur, wheatberries, and more)

 

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What am I eating?! Navigating the nutrition panel

Shopping for whole grains can be really challenging.  It’s great to shop with intention and desire to purchase whole grains, but cryptic nutrition labels can easily confuse a buyer.  The Whole Grains Council chart below is an excellent tool to assist you in finding whole grain products.

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4 delicious egg recipes to make this weekend {recipe}

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The awesome folks at Oxo recently sent me a sweet set of kitchen egg tools.  The trio includes a 3-in-1 egg separator, hand-cranked egg beater, and a flip & fold omelet turner!  Since I make eggs for breakfast  e  v  e r  y     d  a  y ,  I’ve put these tools through the ringer.  Now, I try not to play favorites, but when it comes to these gadgets I’ve got two.  Favorite #1:  the egg separator.  This little guy hooks onto the side of your bowl, which is simultaneously simple and amazing.  Buh-bye hands covered in gross egg whites!  Favorite #2:  the egg beaters!  They’re super handy when making a big frittata or egg casserole, plus with the push of a button your can remove the (dishwasher safe!) beaters.

oxo eggciting

I’ve had a set of these Oxo egg beaters since I found them in my Food Blog Forum swag bag last year, so….

I’m giving away one set of Oxo Egg Beaters!  

Check out the rafflecopter at the bottom of the post to enter the giveaway.  And in the mean time, here are four delicious egg recipes to try this weekend!

Crustless Quiche (with Yogurt!)

Crustless Quiche with Yogurt! // FerventFoodie.com

 

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Cooking with Chobani {giveaway}

It’s NEW YEAR’S EVE!  Which means everyone’s focus has shifted from Christmas cookies and eggnog to carrot sticks and excessive exercise.  Well, that’s where our heads will be after one last night of cocktail wieners and glasses of bubbly, that is.

This past month has flown by.  I guess that’s typical for December, isn’t it?  From Thanksgiving to Christmas, it’s all about squeezing in time with friends and family and bouncing from one party to the next.  The end of the year always leaves me with a bit of PHD (post-holiday depression).  You too?

One of my favorite holiday get-togethers this year was a cooking event at the Chobani offices here in Charlotte.  Several local food bloggers and friends joined up for a night of wine, laughs, and yogurt-filled recipes cooked under the supervision of Chobani’s own chef, Tim Reardon.

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If you aren’t familiar with Chobani, stop what you’re doing and head to the grocery store.  Chobani makes some of the best Greek yogurt on the market.  I’m partial to the pomegranate.

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Charlotte Rock & Read 5K {giveaway}

As a kid I LOVED to read.  My ideal Saturday was spent curled up in bed with a good Goosebumps book, followed a couple years later by marathon Fear Street sessions.  Then I went to college, and my love of reading was overshadowed by the ominous presence of textbooks in my life.  I managed to squeeze in the Harry Potter series toward the end of college, just before the CPA exam invaded my life, leaving in its wake an intense repulsion for books.  I guess you could say I broke up with books for a few years.  I didn’t really feel like I was missing out on anything until someone introduced me to the Twilight saga…  and that old love came fluttering back ripping me away from that desolate bookless place.  I never looked back.  Next to work and home, the library is the place I visit most each week.  Memoirs, books on cd, cookbooks, books about chefs, books about learning to cook, books about anything involving food whatsoever—all of them have a daily presence in my life now, and I can’t imagine how I survived without them.

Since moving to Charlotte, my love of the library has exploded.  This could be due to their awesome iPhone app, or that I can walk there on my lunch break, or that when I tweet the Charlotte Mecklenburg Library, they tweet back.  (yes!)

Given this obsession, I’m very excited to participate in the 3rd annual Charlotte Rock & Read 5K on Saturday November 3rd.  All proceeds for the race benefit the books and materials budget of Charlotte Mecklenburg Library.  Besides the great cause, the Charlotte Rock & Read is an awesome race to run because there will be music at every mile and a festival at the finish line including FOOD and MIMOSAS!

ROCK AND READ

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The Fresh Expo – Ticket Giveaway

The Fresh Expo, Charlotte’s Healthy, Natural, and Green Living event, is happening October 13th!

The expo will feature healthy living presentations and cooking demonstrations plus healthy tastings, product samples, and swag bags chock full of fresh goodies.  Exhibitors will include Healthy Home Market, Edible Charlotte, Food Matters, Coconut Bliss, Earth Balance, Luna’s Living Kitchen, Earth Fare, and TONS more all with the common goal of making Charlotte a healthier city through foods, products, and health and wellness services.  I am super excited for this event, and I’m even more pumped to offer TWO FREE expo tickets to ONE lucky reader!

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Frugal Foodie Cook-off {Food Lion Gift Card Giveaway}

Last week, I channeled my inner Top Chef and threw down with ten other food and mom bloggers in a Frugal Foodie Cook-off hosted by Food Lion.

The competition:

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Prior to living in Charlotte, I’d never heard of Food Lion supermarkets, which was founded in North Carolina and has over 1,100 locations.

Don’t let the smile fool you–I came ready to compete!

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The challenge:  prepare a four-person dinner in under thirty minutes using less than $15 worth of groceries.  

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A Big Fatz Giveaway

I remember the first time I drove by a Fatz restaurant.  I’d never heard of Fatz, given the chain is central to the south, with locations in Georgia, Tennessee, Virginia, and the Carolinas.  Admittedly, the thought of dining at a place with “fat” in the name didn’t sound too appetizing, and I’d written it off without so much as glancing at the menu.  Who am I?!

Then I got an email from Fatz asking if I’d like to come in and try the new Fatz Lite Side menu.  I was more than intrigued.  A light menu?  At Fatz?  How could this be?!  I hit the web for details  and was completely caught off guard by the huge selection of food Fatz offered.  The new light options menu was like the fat-free icing on the chocolate cake.

Fatz (1 of 1)

This weekend we finally got to check out Fatz firsthand.

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NuGo Slim Bar Giveaway!

I’ve been on the hunt for a tasty low-sugar bar for months… strike that.  YEARS.  I am hypoglycemic, so I’ve been making a real conscious effort to regulate my daily sugar intake in an effort to avoid peaks and valleys in my sugar levels.  Every low sugar bar I’ve tried to date has come up short.  Quest Bars, Think Thin Bars, Atkins Bars… all absolutely horrible in my opinion.  The most common failures for these low sugar bars are the texture and that horrible taste fake sugars give things.  Blegh!  I hate that… just thinking about it makes my teeth hurt!  Not to mention that the sugar alcohols always seem to upset my stomach and make me regret eating the low sugar bar in the first place.

A few months back Shanna from Shanna Like Banana told me about a new low-sugar line of bars from NuGo.  I was super excited to try them out, but I was cautiously optimistic.  I’d had SO MANY failures that I’d kind of reached the conclusion that low sugar unavoidably resulted in an awful taste.

Enter The NuGo Slim line, which consists of three flavors:  Roasted Peanut, Brownie Crunch, & Raspberry Truffle:

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