February 2007

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In This Edition
Wise Choices – Making Them Last
Chocolates, Raisins and Your Heart
Recipe of the Month
Chef of the Month
Health and Nutrition
Step 1. Take Stock
Step 2. Keep a Journal
Step 3. Learn the Basics
Step 4. Learn to Read Labels
Step 5. Healthful Snacks for Kids (And the Whole Family)

Wise Choices – Making Them Last

Before you embark on your journey, choose your snack wisely

Choices for Healthful Eating

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Food and Drug Administrations Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition have just unveiled new consumer helps for reading food labels. Go to www.cfsan.fda.gov/labelman for a downloadable Nutrition Facts Label brochure and a Web-based learning program, Make Your Calories Count. These are just full of helpful tips and more information about our January topic.

This month, it’s all about planning snacks for kids and the whole family so that your Healthful Eating Program stays on track and Chocolate.

Step 5. Healthful Snacks for Kids (and the Whole Family)

A healthy diet sets the stage for a healthy mind. Snacks are not a whole meal, but just a bit of healthy eating to tide you over when you experience hunger between meals. They should be nourishing and filling but not so much so that they interfere with a satisfying next meal. A good rule of thumb for snacks suggests that they should be less than 120 calories with no more than 20% to 35% of calories from fat, less than 10% of calories from saturated fat, and less than 25% of calories from added sugars. When nutrition information is available, the easy way to figure percent calories is to multiply grams of fat and grams for saturated fat by 9 calories each and divide by the number of calories in each serving. To reduce calories from added sugar, try to avoid those foods where you find granulated sugar, high fructose corn syrup, maltodextrin, molasses and honey near the beginning of the Ingredients List.

For children older than age two, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends providing a diet similar to the diet recommended for adults with no more than 30% of calories coming from fat. Over the age of two, children can eat the same lower-fat foods as the other family members can. Just make sure to watch their weight. Children should not lose weight. They may need healthful snacks several times a day to meet their high-energy needs.

Remember bigger is not better! Even health foods can add up to excess calories. Learn how much is right for you and your children. Then, make healthy choices. Fresh fruits, dried fruits, pieces of vegetables, nuts, whole grain crackers, trail mixes, lowfat cheeses, cottage cheese, and yogurt are good choices, or choose some good healthy California Raisin recipes, often. Raisin and Chocolate Filled Cookies, Choco-Raisin Nuggets, Chewy Chocolate Drop Cookies, Country Raisin Gingersnaps in the cookie category, or California Raisins Squared in the trail mix area, and Sunny Honey Candy for a sweet and tasty peanut butter treat will keep everybody on track. Pack them up to take to school or work, along on walks, while shopping, to the park and everywhere you go to stave off those hunger pangs and avoid succumbing to the aromas of all those high calorie foods that just seem to be everywhere.

Chocolates, Raisins and Your Heart

Chocolate-covered Raisin Day will soon be here. So here’s the scoop on just how good California Raisins and chocolate can be. Did your sweetheart remember you with chocolates on Valentine’s Day? Perhaps, it was just as much to keep your heart healthy as to improve the romance in the relationship.

Recent research shows that dark chocolate and cocoa powder contain antioxidants that may increase “good'” (HDL) cholesterol and flavonoids that help prevent damage and inflammation to the arteries by increasing blood flow and reducing clotting. In another study, people who consumed 3.5 ounces of dark chocolate per day for two weeks saw a drop in blood pressure but they had to cut out other foods containing about 400 calories to make room for the chocolate each day.

The quality and quantity of antioxidants in chocolate are relatively high when compared to other high-antioxidant foods. Cocoa powder ranks the highest of the chocolate products, followed by dark chocolate and milk chocolate. Dark chocolate contains about 8 times the polyphenol antioxidants found in strawberries according to the Chocolate Manufacturers Association. Food scientists at Cornell University have found that cocoa has nearly twice the antioxidants of red wine and up to three times those found in green tea per serving of each beverage. Dark chocolate, per 100 grams, has twice the ORAC* of milk chocolate, four times the ORAC of raisins and about ten times the ORAC of raspberries. Imagine what happens when you combine them!

Eating a variety of antioxidant-containing foods, including fruits and vegetables as well as whole grains, is very important, but it is the combination of different compounds that is so beneficial. Treat yourself to something chocolate and know that it is good for you, but combining it with California Raisins and other high anti-oxidant foods is even better. If you are looking for an after-Valentine’s Day Chocolate treat, try No-Bake Raisin Chocolate Cherry Liqueur Balls, Chocolate Raisin Knackerly, or Chocolate-covered Raisins Clusters.

* Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity, a scale for comparing
antioxidant content of foods.

President’s Day Observed

Filled with raisins, chocolate and cherries to remind us of George Washington’s character-building deed Cherry Chocolate Raisin Towers or Little Raisin Logs made like logs to return us to the humble birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, should be included in this holiday. If cherries say it all, jump right into the Recipe of the Month, Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with California Golden Raisin-Dried Cherry Marmalade, too.

Recipe of the Month

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with California Golden Raisin-Dried Cherry Marmalade

Good by themselves for snacking, these jam-filled cookies make spectacular dessert sandwiches when filled with rum raisin ice cream.

Chef of the Month

Chef Geoff Southwick

As a member of the Omni Hotels’ Look Who’s Cooking with California Raisins team, Geoff Southwick brings years of experience in menu trends, food quality, upscale food presentations and kitchen efficiencies to the plate. He is committed to serving the finest quality foods, including California Raisins, from the most efficiently run kitchens at the Omni Hotel in Atlanta, Georgia. His raisin recipes are worthy of consideration for most festive occasions or any time in between.

Geoff Southwick’s Featured Recipes

Pecan Thumbprint Cookies with California Golden Raisin-Dried Cherry Marmalade
Put two of these filled cookies together with rum-raisin ice cream for dessert.

Sautéed Lamb T-Bones with Fresh Thyme and Creamy Raisin Grits
Creamy grits with raisins and spinach combine with lamb T-bones and mint sauce.

Asiago-Goat Cheese Tartlet with Golden Raisins and Cranberries
First course or dessert. It’s perfect any time!

Baked Peaches with Golden Raisins
A quick to make, light dessert to serve often.

Golden Raisin Peach Tart
Free-form tarts filled with golden peaches and California raisins.

Golden Raisin-Granny Smith Apple Chow Chow
A sweet spicy apple-raisin condiment for pork, ham and other meats.