I Love Touring Italy – Southern Veneto

If you are looking for a European tourist destination, consider the Veneto region of northern Italy on the Gulf of Venice. Venice is its best-known city and one of the most popular tourist destinations on earth. But the Veneto region is a lot more than this great city. There are excellent tourist attractions elsewhere, and you won’t have to fight the huge crowds. With a little luck you’ll avoid tourist traps, and come back home with the feeling that you have truly visited Italy. This article examines tourist attractions in southern Veneto. Be sure to read our companion articles on northern Veneto, on that Shakespearean city of Verona, and on the university city of Padua.

Our tour of southern Veneto resembles a circle; one that isn’t quite closed. We start our tour in the central Veneto city of Vicenza, one of the wealthiest cities in Italy. We bypass Padua and go southeast to the coastal town of Chioggia. Then we head back southwest to Rovigo, travel west to Lendinara, and then finish our tour by going northwest to Montagnana. We could continue north back to Vicenza. Or we could visit other parts of Veneto.

Vicenza, population one hundred twenty thousand, has had a checkered past. Over the centuries it passed from one occupier to another. Its heyday was in the Sixteenth Century as the home of Andrea Palladio, often said to be the most influential person in the history of Western architecture. He designed many of the city’s buildings and all over the Veneto region. About two dozen of his Veneto villas compose a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Palladio was a major influence on Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, and probably on half of the state capitol buildings in the United States. Don’t even think about touring Vicenza without visiting several of his masterpieces.

The Basilica Palladiana is a Fifteenth Century Renaissance building in the central Piazza dei Signori, finally completed thirty years after his death. Its most notable feature is the loggia, an open-sided, roofed or vaulted gallery, either freestanding or along the front or side of a building, often at an upper level. Put simply a loggia is like a veranda but built on the foundation and from the same materials as the building itself. In his honor a loggia is sometimes called a Palladian window.

The Teatro Olimpico (Olympic Theatre) is Palladio’s last work and one of his best. It is widely considered the first modern example of an enclosed theater. Actually he died six months into its construction but this magnificent building was completed from his sketches and drawings. The building includes five hallways designed to look like streets; each spectator has a view of at least one street. Unfortunately the theater was abandoned after a few performances. The Teatro Olimpico now hosts productions, but only in the summer because winter heating might damage its fragile wood structures.

Palazzo Chiericati is a Renaissance palace that took well over a century to complete. It was built in an area called Piazza dell’Isola (Island Square, now Piazza Matteotti), surrounded by two streams. It became the Museo Civico (Town Museum) in 1855 and, more recently, the City’s Art Gallery.

We have left arguably Palladio’s greatest work for last. Villa La Rotunda whose full name is Villa Almerico-Capra in honor of the Capra brothers who finished the building. This villa was inspired by the Pantheon in Rome and has been the inspiration for perhaps a thousand buildings across the globe. Strictly speaking Villa La Rotunda should not be called a rotunda; it isn’t circular but takes the shape of a cross grafted on a square. While the edifice appears completely symmetrical in fact it isn’t. No mistake here, it was designed to fit perfectly into its surroundings and the city of Vicenza on the horizon. Neither Palladio nor its owner lived to see it completed. Villa La Rotunda is in private hands and has belonged to the same family for over two hundred years. Its interior is open to the public on Wednesdays, except in the winter. The grounds are open to the public everyday.

Chioggia, population fifty thousand, was once the center of local salt production. Perhaps that’s why Genoa destroyed it more than six hundred years ago. Chioggia returned as a fishing port and a tourist attraction. It’s on the Venetian Lagoon about an hour’s boat ride from Venice that it resembles with its canals and Venetian architecture. You’ll enjoy strolling on the Corso del Popolo (the People’s Thoroughfare) with its cafes, restaurants and shops. Chioggia’s Cathedral is old enough to have been restored in the Fourteenth Century. Other sites of interest include the Campanile (Bell Tower) about two hundred ten feet (sixty four meters) high and the Fourteenth Century Gothic church of San Martino.

The town of Rovigo, population about fifty thousand, is rich in history and culture. Its most famous cultural institution is the St. Stephen Cathedral built prior to the Eleventh Century and rebuilt in the Fifteenth and the Seventeenth Centuries. Be sure to see its interior artwork. Other churches worth visiting include the Thirteenth Century Immacolata Concezione (Immaculate Conception), the Fourteenth-Fifteenth Century Gothic-Romanesque Church of St. Francis, and the Sixteenth Century Chiesa della Beata Vergine del Soccorso (Church of the Blessed Virgin of Soccorso) with a bell tower over ninety feet (55 meters high).

The Teatro Sociale (Social Theater) is almost two hundred years old. Its exterior has five statutes representing the arts. Inside are paintings of famous opera composers. The season is short from October to April but you need not know Italian to enjoy the performances.

Several Rovigo Piazzas (Squares) have maintained their historic character. The largest is dedicated to Emperor Victor Emmanuel II and is the site of several palaces. Palazzo Nodari has become the city hall. Palazzo Roncale has become Pinacoteca dei Concordi (Concordi Gallery), one of the most important art galleries in Veneto. The building dates back to the end of the Sixteenth Century and many displayed paintings predate the building itself. The Fifteenth Century Gothic Duomo (Cathedral) faces this Piazza. Given its many restorations and renovations Romanesque and Renaissance period features abound. The Piazza has a statue to the emperor and a Saint Mark’s lion.

How can you tell if a Veneto town is peaceful or not? The answer is quite simple; go to its Leone di San Marco (Saint Mark’s Lion) statue. Take a close look at the tail. If the tail points down the town is peaceful. If it points up watch out; there may be trouble. Rovigo’s lion had a tail that pointed down. This call for peace didn’t stop Napoleon’s soldiers from destroying the statue. The statue that you see today was erected in 1881, and its tail still points down.

We finish our tour of Rovigo with a quick look at two other Piazzas. The first is dedicated to the guy who got Victor Emmanuel II his job, so to speak, the Italian revolutionary hero, Giuseppe Garibaldi. The Piazza Merlin, known by locals as Piazza Roma, was built at the site of the city’s Jewish Ghetto, demolished in 1930. The stone inscription at the main gate is now illegible.

Lendinara, population about twelve thousand, sits on the Adigetto river, and boasts beautiful palaces along both banks. Be sure to see its historical center with monuments dating back to the late Middle Ages when the Lendinara was often at war with Verona. Stop in the municipal library to view rare illuminated manuscripts.

The Thirteenth Century Church of San Biago was first built in the Thirteenth Century and renovated in succeeding centuries. Its interior includes some lovely, historic artifacts. The Cathedral of Santa Sofia was built in the Eleventh Century on an existing chapel. Be sure to see its beautiful paintings and frescoes. You can’t miss the early Nineteenth Century bell tower; at 160 feet (100 meters) it’s one of the tallest in Italy. The Santuario Madonna del Pilastrello (Sanctuary of the Madonna of Pilastrello) was built in the late Sixteenth Century to honor some miracles. No matter how you feel about miracles, the buildings and the surroundings are beautiful.

Montagnana, population about nine thousand, is a medieval city surrounded by walls with four gates and twenty-four fortified towers resembling castles.

This city is really unique and you should see it from outside the walls when the sun is setting. Montagnana dates back to the Thirteenth Century when the town was rebuilt. Its highlight is the Castello San Zeno (Saint Zeno Castle) built by the infamous Italian dictator Ezzelino da Romano, who previously ordered the city burnt to the ground. Mister da Romano actually merited mention in Dante’s Divine Comedy where his soul was consigned to you know where. In a sense one has to thank him for one majestic castle, originally set inside a dry moat and built around a center courtyard. The moat, crossed by a drawbridge, was filled in during the 19th century. The Castle’s highest tower, the mastio or donjon, is open to the public and provides fabulous views. Castle San Zeno also houses the Municipal Historical Archive, the town Library, a Theatre Company, and a Study Center devoted to the protection of the castle and its surroundings, with quite a collection of books, maps, artifacts, and other items of historical significance.

The Sixteenth Century Palazzo Pretorio on the town’s main piazza, which is still the town’s municipal hall, was restored during the Seventeenth Century. The Palazzo Magnavin-Fioratti started out as a Gothic style building, but over the years the additions and renovations have given it a more typical Sixteenth Century Venetian Renaissance style.

What about food? In spite of the great variety of food available in this once poor but now fairly well off part of Italy many people often ate foods that we might find strange. I’m not talking about lamb and sheep’s milk cheese from the Rovigo area. Pigeon is a specialty both in Padua and other localities. Padua has a specialty made from salted, dried, and smoked horsemeat that I haven’t tasted. I draw the line at Stracotto d’Asino, a donkey meat recipe often served as a pasta sauce. Some say that you have to simmer this concoction for seven or eight hours to tenderize the meat. I don’t think I want to find out.

Let’s suggest a sample menu, one of many. Start with Risotto Nero (Risotto with Cuttlefish). If you don’t like Cuttlefish and its ink you won’t have trouble finding many other Risottos. Then try Baccalà Mantecato (Dried Cod with Nutmeg, Parsley, and Olive Oil). For dessert indulge yourself with Salame al Cioccolato (Chocolate Salami, Shortbread Biscuits, Figs, Butter, and Cocoa). Be sure to increase your dining pleasure by including local wines with your meal.

We’ll conclude with a quick look at Veneto wine. Veneto ranks 3rd among the 20 Italian regions both for the area planted in grape vines and for its total annual wine production. About 45% of Veneto wine is red or rosé, leaving 55% for white. The region produces 24 DOC wines and 3 DOCG wines, Recioto di Soave, Soave Superiore, and Bardolino Superiore. DOC stands for Denominazione di Origine Controllata, which may be translated as Denomination of Controlled Origin, presumably a high-quality wine The G in DOCG stands for Garantita, but there is in fact no guarantee that such wines are truly superior. Almost 30% of Venetian wine carries the DOC or DOCG designation.

Bardolino Superiore DOCG is produced west and northwest of Verona near Lake Garda from a variety of Italian and international red grapes. This wine is living proof that Garantita is no guarantee of high quality, some are and some are not.

Source by Levi Reiss

What Is a Taoist Diet?

To truly understand the Taoist diet you have to first understand a little bit about Taoist beliefs. Taoism comes from the core of East Asian and Chinese culture and has roots as deep as 2000 years, although it has only spread to the west in more modern times as people begin to reject materialism for deeper spiritual understanding.

Taoists are egoless humble people that emphasize compassion, humility and moderation – the latter of which is stressed through their minimalistic eating habits.

Although not known for their rule breaking because of their caring non active views, Taoism focuses on the human connection with nature and therefore they do not believe in the rigid and orderly ways of modern society, preferring to follow the natural flow of the Universe. The common Taoist term Yin and Yang refers to the positive and negative energies of the Universe.

The five colors blind eyes.

The five tones deafen ears.

The five tastes blur tongues.

Fast horses and breathtaking hunts make minds wild and crazy.

Things rare and expensive make people lose their way.

That’s why a sage tends to the belly, not the eye,

always ignores that and chooses this.

– Tao Te Ching, Part 12

Historically, the Taoist diet has consisted of mainly fresh fruits and vegetables, with little meat and no grain – as they thought during the digestive process demon like creatures would be released from the rotting grain and attempt to eat them from inside out. During more contemporary times, the diet has changed to be primarily based around the acceptance of whole grains, as well as the fresh fruits and vegetables of tradition.

The Taoist diet relates the five basic flavors with an element of nature: sweet (earth), salty (water), sour (wood), bitter (fire), spicy (metal). They believe that becoming greedy and putting one flavor on a pedestal above another causes you not to taste at all, so it is important to balance the flavors in order to reach internal harmony.

Taoism is all about the natural, and humans being part of nature. One of the most important beliefs is to ‘eat only food’ – meaning to avoid unnatural man made substances that the body cannot process and may contain unbalanced flavors, such as artificial additives, drugs etc. Heavily processed foods that contain little or no nutritional value, such as white flour, sugar and fast food are also considered inedible. These are not things that the body is designed to consume and do not grow from the earth, so are not really natural ‘foods’ fit for human consumption.


In much of the classic Taoist literature, a lot of mention is made of the sagacious men of old – or, people who existed in pre-history. Several of the texts talk about them existing only on breath, and not consuming food at all. They lived as they were born and only gained sustenance from the qi or Yin Yang from the Universe.

This practice, known as “Bigu” is sometimes employed within some of the Taoist hermit traditions and mythological ideas, but it’s not something that’s practical or even safe for modern people, living in normal society to try. Taoists believe that the human state has altered and the ancient state has since fallen, meaning it is perfectly acceptable to eat foods.

The earliest Taoists are believed to have had a diet that reflected this notion of sagacious and enlightened masters from before history – and also before the development of agriculture. Thus in the earliest traditions, grains were not to be consumed by Taoists.

The reasons for this could be many – from health concerns, to a reverence for some mythological, pre-agricultural past, and even other social factors. The minimalist approach is often used to explain it, stating that Taoists live off more than food alone and subconsciously gain energy from the cosmic.

However, as alluded to earlier the reason provided in many of the early texts for not eating grain is to not arouse the “Three Worms”.

-The 3 Worms

The early, mythological explanation for abstaining from grain is the 3 worms.

These are literally 3 demonic worms that were said to live in the intestines of human beings that were responsible for the decomposition of your body after death.

Of course, as their goal is to devour your body, it’s in their best interest that you die as quickly as possible.

Before death the 3 worms would live in a person’s intestines, feeding off the rotten bio-matter being digested.

Therefore, as your intestines digested the grain, the 3 worms would eat the waste that was produced. As they fed on the grains, they would grow stronger, and later be able to feed off of the rest of your body, causing you to die more quickly.

Since longevity for continued cultivation is one of the primary goals of many Taoist practices, the object of the diet was to “starve off” the 3 worms, by lowering your intake of grain, or eliminating it completely.

From a modern perspective, it could be that the earliest Daoist simply noted a correlation between caloric intake, and aging, or ill health.

Assuming that a cell has a finite number of possible divisions during it’s life cycle, it would be necessary to dramatically slow down the metabolic process in order to slow down the process of cell division.

Another previously mentioned possibility is just the reverence for a pre-civilized, pre-agricultural period in time, where men neither farmed, nor were they engaged in the social activities and games of a surplus food producing culture.

The Third Immortal King told the Emperor:

“You attain the Tao by avoiding all grains. You will never again have to follow the rhythm of the moon and plant or harvest.

“Now, the people of mysterious antiquity, they reached old age because they remained in leisure and never ate any grains.”

As the Dayou zhang (Verse of Great Existence) says:

The five grains are chisels cutting life away,

Making the five organs stink and shorten our spans.

Once entered into our stomach,

There’s no more chance to live quite long.

To strive for complete avoidance of all death

Keep your intestines free of excrement!”

While many ancient Taoists practiced abstention from grain, this is not absolutely true. There are many accounts of Taoists who ate, or who literally begged for rice.

It may be that grain abstention was more of a purification process, or a sort of fast, leading up to important rituals, ceremonies or rites, like taking long medications, fasting, taking elixirs, and so on.


In more recent times, the typical diet has radically changed to focus on being PRIMARILY grain based, rather than practicing a total abstention from grain. Although there are some radical people who claim to never eat, they are often ridiculed by the media and later found out to be “starving” for attention rather than being a true ancient style Taoist.

The modern Taoist diet essentially follows the basic yin-yang and 5 elements theory, and relies heavily upon un-processed whole grains, fresh vegetables (particularly root vegetables) and very little meat.

It is important that vegetables are eaten in the right seasons and are either steamed or stir fried. Boiling takes out the natural goodness. Fruits tend to be dried or baked and eating tropical fruits is frowned upon as unbalancing the five flavors due to their strong, often citrus tastes. It is also important that they are seasonal, and free of any man made intervention.

Generally, all red and blue meats, including pork, rabbit, snails and the like, should be avoided. Poultry and game birds are OK to eat, as well as fish. However, fish and other seafood should only be eaten once a week because of their high Yin quantity. Some fish like salmon, shark, swordfish and mackerel, which are highly Yin should be completely avoided.

Consuming alcohol, caffeine and chewing/smoking tobacco is frowned upon because of their refined nature.

The Modern Taoist relies on moderation in their eating habits, and should try to avoid consuming anything too pungent (garlic, ginger, onions, etc,) and stay away from as many preservatives as possible.

Differences Between Taoist And Modern Western Diets

In the west, the life style and dietary habits have contributed to the dramatic rise in such problems as heart disease, obesity, stress, cancer, arthritis and so on.

The emphasis has moved away from the initial prevention (by eating naturally and healthily) towards drugs and surgery. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure however. Why try to fight a disease once it has taken root, when with some simple guidelines we can avoid it in the first place?

Taoists believe that what is of primary importance is natural health, not doctors and medicines, and this can best be achieved through eating natural foods. Remember that the body regenerates itself, the skin tissue and organs take about 2-3 years, even the bones are replaced after seven years, and it is all built from what goes into your mouth.

Nature can do its work but only if given the right tools. Ideally natural foods have been grown organically without the use of artificial fertilizers, chemicals or pesticides.

The Modern Taoist diet, in contrast to the modern western diet is:

Low Fat

High Energy

Vitamin and mineral enriched

Easy for the body to digest

Unrefined and processed

This means daily western items like bread and milk, which we think are perfectly healthy are considered almost toxic to strict Taoists. Instead rice and soya milk is used as a replacement and skimmed milk is generally accepted.

The “Ground Up” Approach

Qigong: refers to the set of Taoist exercises used to maintain and move with the qi (energy of the universe). Methods include meditation and focused physical movements. This helps to maintain physical and mental health.

Generally, in many types of Taoist Qigong, energy is drawn from the earth, upward. Similarly, the concept of “rooting” is the base of tai chi and many of the Chinese and Taoist martial arts, so historically, and within the Taoist context of power, from the ground upwards was thought of as the best way to get vital energy from food.

As with Taoist Qigong, Taoist diet also generally stresses a “ground up” approach to the consumption of vegetables. That is, that plants should be consumed in high percentage of total diet, especially those below ground (root vegetables) as opposed to those higher up, e.g. an apple.

The main reason for this was that the earth bound vegetables have more energy and the ability to deliver more qi to the body. Yams, all types of root crops, potatoes, carrots, turnips to name a few, were thought to deliver good earth energy, which helped the spleen (immune system) become stronger, and made jing qi more “rooted”.

After the earth bound plants, were greens like cabbages, bok choy, spinach, and so on, which were often pickled or preserved for winter use.

Next came the higher crops – peppers, tomatoes, eggplant, etc, which were used to deliver good energy, but in smaller proportions.

Source by Jonathan Semenick

Beginners Cooking Tip – Stocking Your Kitchen

If you enjoy cooking, want a healthier meal or simply save a few dollars, then a well-stocked kitchen pantry is your answer. The suggested items are kitchen staples and should be a part of your regular grocery list. Make this a routine and you’ll find making a snack or preparing a meal and more convenient.

In the “frig”…

If you want to enjoy a pasta dish, fancy salad, stew or simple stir fry, the have pre-cooked chicken and meats. They can come already grilled or steamed… frequently in the “prepared foods” section of your favorite market.

You can always find pre-cut vegetables and fruits in the produce section. The pre-cut veggies, particularly cauliflower, broccoli and squash, are perfect for toss in a salad or roasting. Tip for roasting… line a baking sheet with foil (for easy cleanup) and spread the veggies out… drizzle with olive… sprinkle with your favorite spice and bake for ½ hour @ 375*. The fruits are great for an easy, healthy snack or in a smoothie if you’re so inclined.

Fresh dips and salsas – found in cheese and meat sections of supermarket. They’re a great way to add flavor to raw veggies, pasta and assorted chips.

For a “last minute” fun night… prepared pizza dough. Everyone can prepare their favorite blend of toppings.

From the dairy section…

Based on the taste and health needs of the adults and children… while milk, skim or 1-2% low fat. Plain yogurt to use as is or add your favorite flavoring. Plain yogurt can also be used in salad dressings and as a heathier alternative to sour cream on potatoes and Mexican dishes.

A great way to save time when making your favorites Italian dish or a nacho snack is to put shredded cheeses on your shopping list.

Again, with the easy and quick meal in mind, eggs go on the list. Omelets, egg salad, hard boiled and part of a “chef salad”.

For the Freezer

Fresh is usually best for taste and nutrients, however frozen can be convenient stand-by. All varieties and combinations of fruits and vegetables can be found in the freezer section of your market. They can be a very convenient snack or finger food for babies, young children and adults. Frozen items such as peas and blueberries make convenient finger foods for older babies and toddlers. Frozen poultry, meats and fish can serve as the entrée for all kinds of meals.

Don’t forget the treats… ice cream… frozen yogurt… freeze pops… etc.

For the Pantry

Pasta – any shape or size, so you’re ready to make spaghetti, lasagna, macaroni and cheese, and soups. Consider whole wheat pasta for healthier dishes.

Beans and legumes – these include lentils, red kidney beans, garbanzo beans, black beans, and white beans. Many recipes call for the dried version but the canned ones work just as well and are far less time consuming.

Breads – including the standard loaf of white..or preferably wheat or multi grain, pita, bagels, and tortillas. Create healthy wraps, sandwiches, “mini” pizzas and more.

Rice – brown rice is the healthier option over white rice.

Dried fruits – these are great healthy snacks alone, as well as good mix-ins for yogurt, granola, oatmeal, and cottage cheese.

Breakfast cereals – dried cereals, oatmeal, wheat germ. Be careful of the usual “kid friendly” box cereals with high sugar content.

Don’t forget…

Assorted can goods, spices and novelty items (chips, cookies,”kids treats”).

My intention was not to create an all-inclusive list as tastes and dietary needs can vary greatly in families but rather some basic guidance to organize your shopping thought process.

Hope you found these suggestions helpful.

Source by Stan Plytynski

Traditional Indian Cooking

Many people are mystified by traditional Indian cooking and cuisines and a little somewhat confused with the varieties of curries and spices used. Some may even think the traditional Indian cooking is mostly about vegetarian dishes and curries.

India has one of the finest and richest culinary histories. Contrary to popular belief, Indian cuisines are not complex or too confusing to cook. It can also be as elaborate as you want it to be. If you understand the diversity of the country, which is divided into four regions, north, south, east and west, you will appreciate the varieties of dishes, exotic spices, cooking methods, etc.

Two distinctions in many Indian recipes is the absence of beef and pork due to religious factors, as cows are sacred to the Hindus and pork is prohibited in the Muslim diet.

Indian cuisines are however generally characterized by exact combination of spices and flavours and the cooking method generally is to saute and simmer the dishes or curries over low heat. Tandoori cooking has popularised the oven-clay oven method which has produced tandoori chicken or naan bread.

Regardless of region, spices are key ingredients in Indian cooking. The Indians are also mindful of the healing properties of spices in their cooking. These are derived from plants's roots, buds, seeds, fruits and dried bark which produce the exotic aroma. It is released when the spices are heated up. All these spices are all readily available in supermarkets.

Spices can be grouped into five basic categories: sweet, pungent, tangy, hot, and amalgamating. The way these are used and the amounts used in cooking are governed by these characteristics. Examples of the different types of spices are:

Amalgamating: Coriander seed, fennel seed

Sweet: Cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, vanilla

Pungent: Cloves, star anise, cardamom

Tangy: Ginger, tamarind, sumach, kokam

Hot: pepper, chilli, mustard, horseradish

Most of the herbs such as thyme, sage, marjoram, oregano, bay leaves, mint and rosemary are considered as savoury. The herbs do have varying degrees of flavour intensity, however not as dramatic as with spices.

Northern Indian cooking is influenced by the weather which can range from extreme heat to freezing cold. The dishes are traditionally rich and heavy with cream and ghee, using breads, meats and tend to be less spicy. Yoghurt is widely used instead of coconut milk which is widely used in the south. They also tend to be drier as soupy sauces do not mix well as dippings for breads. Naan and chapati breads come from the north.

In the south where the weather is mostly hot, rice is widely grown and this makes the diet of south Indians rice-based that goes well with soupy curries. Spices are used heavily and the southern cusines tend to be spicier than the north. The roti-prata or dosai are typical southern breads.

Indian desserts are basically different forms of rice puddings, milk puddings, vegetables and fruits dipped in sweet syrup. Indian sweets or fudges are usually decorated or garnished with raisins, almonds, pistachios. Mostly made by boiling down milk to remove the moisture and then adding butter, flavour and sugar. The Indian sweets usually have high sugar content so use sugar in moderation when trying out Indian dessert recipes.

Source by Noraini Maskuri

Why Stay Gluten Free – Here’s The Reason

Everybody on earth can attain a healthier lifestyle when he/she tries to focuses on the content of food. It is always a piece of good advice from experts when asked to stay away from starchy products and processed options because they of its gluten content. When you make a habit of switching to this habit of diet always do try to stick to it. For this one must also ensure that they put the matter of health wellness as their first priority.

To dictate more about gluten it is the stickiness form or texture; for example a candy taste can be considered as normal gluten and this does not affect the taste. Nowadays you might see various candy brands offering lot more addition to clone the original products in order to change the appearance of the candy. As such to clear up as what gluten is, it is a mixture of proteins found in wheat and related grains like oat, rye, and barley and other related hybrids and species. Gluten has its importance because of its viscoelastic nature and has been born out to make most of the staple product such as pasta rise, cereal, and bread and is sticky.

Many people have no idea what or how this gluten actually works but it is a healthier option that one should go for Gluten free products. Even every nutritionists and experts would actually suggest you to put this thing and agree that gluten makes the dough elastic. As the world is turning fitness frenzy, it is meaningful to go with the current trendy fed and check out for reasons that help people produce weight loss as they go gluten-free. Few of the reasons are listed under:

– Gluten free makes the people go on a strict special diet.

– They avoid taking high calorie junk food.

– They even avoid eating cereal, biscuits, pasta, bread which is the staple gluten product.

– Prefer the gluten free low calorie food like fresh vegetables and fruits that are easily available and also been inexpensive.

– For people either or not suffering from Celiac disease, reducing the amount of gluten in diet improves the general digestive health.

– Many advocates claim that it helps to improve their mood that is perfecting their lifestyle and assisting to them to focus and concentration span as they suffer less from headaches and therapeutic diseases. This has been evidently proven through the scientific study.

– As the body absorbs lot more nutrients and minerals, it provides all these natural boosts to increase the energy.

– Once you start to go gluten free that means you’re avoiding all its content that include avoiding calorie-rich, carbohydrates and so there is a high chance that you will lose your weight.

Source by Robert Brown

Stocking Your Pantry – Spices

If you love to cook… and I do… then having the right spices on hand is essential to great food.

The list could be longer depending on your enthusiasm, but here are the “basics”:

Cinnamon-Mostly used in desserts, baking and drinks. But you can sprinkle it on buttered toast or in plain yogurt for some flavor… TIP… it has health benefits by helping to control blood sugar… so do sprinkle it on that toast or in your morning yogurt. Also a sprinkle is great on fruit..apples… bananas… vegetables… sweet potatoes… squash. Cinnamon is a staple in Mediterranean recipes.

Cayenne-Not for every taste bud if you don’t care for some “heat”… but a ‘must have’ if you’re cooking Mexican dishes… another health tip… helps stimulate digestion. Also I’m told (because I am one)..as you approach your “senior” years..you’ll prefer spicer tasting foods.

Chili Powder-Doesn’t have the heat of cayenne but does add that extra zip… made from hot peppers. Use it in barbecue sauces, chili and any other Mexican dish you enjoy.

Garlic (Powder or minced in a jar) – a true essential for Italian dishes. Sprinkle powder or spread minced on buttered bread, then toast in oven to go with your pasta dishes. It’s also great in dips, cheese spreads, stews and the always popular Bloody Mary! Another health tip… helps lower blood pressure.

Gloves-What’s a good pumpkin pie or baked ham without gloves. Obviously for your pies… powered glove. Be careful as cloves can be overwhelming so use sparingly.

Oregano-A spice with many uses… always used in pizza or pasta sauces..mix into meatloaf recipes. Add to vegetable soup or a fish stuffing.

Paprika-Use in soups, all types of chowders and on fresh vegetables. Frequently used as topping on deviled eggs or a garnish on any kind of salad.

Parsley-While a frequent ingredient in recipes, it is best known as a garnish. Use it in soups, fish and casseroles. Sprinkle on top of a good cheese omelet.

Rosemary-Has a very woody fragrance. Great in marinades for grilling meats. Fresh sprigs… the best way to get rosemary… can be use a garnish… very decorative.

Bay Leaves-Most common in soups, stews and sauces. Flavor goes along way so use sparingly… usually one or two in a recipe. Useful household tip..they make great bug repellent in your pantry!

Basil-Its best known for its aromatic appeal. Main ingredient in making fresh pesto. Also used to add fresh flavor in a variety of dishes from sauces to fish.

That’s a good primer on the “basic” spices to have on hand.

A couple tips…

Often you can use either the fresh or dried version of the spice.

When cooking with fresh and dry herbs, there is a general rule when it comes to the ratio of fresh to dry. Because dried herbs are generally more potent and concentrated than fresh herbs, you’ll need less — typically three times the amount of fresh herbs as dry. For example, if a recipe calls for 1 tablespoon of fresh oregano, you need only 1 teaspoon of dried, since 3 teaspoons equal 1 tablespoon.

Storage… Fresh-cut herbs can be wrapped in a paper towel, stored in re-sealable plastic bags, and then put into the refrigerator. Dried herbs should be stored out of the light and in a cool, dry place. Keep an eye on how long your herbs have been open — if they’ve been open for too long, they’ll smell and taste less potent.

Source by Stan Plytynski

Kitchen Tip – Utensils & Knives For The Kitchen

In a previous article, I gave some tips on stocking your pantry, frig, and freezer. Now some tips on getting the right utensils and knives to prepare your food.

You want to have good set of basic tools such as a spatula, ladle, tongs, flippers and assorted wood and rubber spoons. The spatula helps scrape mixing bowls when baking or saucepans from the stove. Ladles help serve the soups and stews you prepare. You may want to consider a large one and smaller one for sauces. A third ladle with holes is useful for serving food cooked in a liquid. Another option looks like a large spoon, somewhat flat, to remove pasta (small pasta like bowtie of elbow macaroni) or steamed/blanched vegetables. Tongs are useful for long pasta and turning foods in a sauté or frying pan. We all use flippers for turning over those sunny side eggs!

A colander is a normal essential for draining pasta or vegetables from boiling water. Many cooks turn to a multi-purpose pasta pot which has parts to steam, cook and drain food.

A set of nesting glass bowls in various sizes from very small to very large gives you the tools for baking, making sauces, tossing meats or vegetables in a sauce or marinade and other useful purposes… storage of leftovers, etc.

A good chopping board is also on the “essentials” list. They can be made of wood, plastic, glass and even granite or marble. Wood has the advantage of being the friendliest to sharp knives. Plastic and glass provide better cleanup for hygiene purpose. IMPORTANT REMINDER… whatever type of board you use… when working with raw chicken ALWAYS wash immediately after use before any other food is on the board.

Other utensils… a peeler is good for fruits and vegetables to remove the right amount of skin and maximize the good part of the food. Pasta recipes often called for grated cheese. Add a box grater to your essentials list. It usually has four sides of different degrees of grating. Small, hand held graters are fine if your needs are simple. An ice cream scoop, pizza cutter, bottle opener and cork screw should also be initial purchases.

Last but not least… knives.

Chef’s knife… a must have for all cooks. What a regular knife should look like. Chef knives have a large blade with a curved edge and pointed tip.

Paring knife… It is short and stout and the smallest of the basic types. Use it for more intricate work like small garnishes or removing seeds. Like a chef’s knife, it is considered an all-purpose knife.

Bread knife… can’t cut those bagels or crusty Italian bread without a cut bread knife. It has a serrated edge and slender and sleek blade.

Carving knife… for that Thanksgiving turkey. It has a very sharp and thin blade which makes it perfect for thin slice of meat.

To take proper care of a good set of knives you should invest in a good quality knife block. They come in a variety on very attractive styles.

Source by Stan Plytynski

Grocery Shopping in a Low Carb Weight Loss State of Mind

Once you have made the commitment to a low carb weight loss program, chances are that you have followed the most relevant diet suggestions, cleaned out you pantry and refrigerator of all those nasty foods that might entice you back to the old ways. When you are done with this process there will come a moment when you realize that its time to begin grocery shopping for replacement foods and beverages. To be successful you must go grocery shopping in a low carb weight loss state of mind. That entails a firm understanding of the foods and beverages that compliment your diet, menus that will encourage compliance with great taste and presentation and view of your grocery store isles from a new perspective.

There are many books and DVDs available that address the first two points. In fact, you will find a wonderful array of menus that rival the best restaurants you like to visit. Plus, what's not to like about beef, chicken and seafood, right? So go out and buy yourself one of the many recipe books. It will be fun and extremely useful. Just keep in mind that each phase of your program may limit either certain foods or the quantity of intake, so re-read a few chapters of your diet book if you must, to make sure that you comply with each phase. Also, educate yourself regarding acceptable alternatives to unacceptable foods. You will find that an experience low carber will have amassed a very large trove of replacement foods and cooking methods. A great example is the transformation of spaghetti squash into mashed potatoes. Delicious and looks exactly the same. Do not forget the butter, right!

Now, for the trip to the grocery store, we must plan in advance. Choose your menus for the week, detail the ingredients needed and be clear about you commitment not to impulse buy. Having a list is like having a GPS on a trip, the list will tell you where you must go in the grocery store, what to products to choose and when its time to leave. It also will get you into the right state of mind. Upon reviewing your menus and list of foods, you will come to realize that this week is going to be filled with dining adventures. Dinners without bread but with lots of beef and butter! Breakfasts minus your favorite boxed cereal but the eggs and bacon look great.

You are starting to feel good about this already. Maybe you can really do this. Not only can you do this, but you are going to be eating quite well.

How's your state of mind now?

OK, we are off to the grocery store. This trip is different than all the rest. Gone are the compulsory visits to the bread isle. Also gone are the frequent opening and closing of the refrigerated doors of the packaged frozen food section. But, hello fresh vegetable department, how do you do beef, chicken and pork sections and watch out dairy foods.

Look at the store differently now. Stay to the outer periphery of the building. You will find that most of the fresh foods, generally acceptable for a low carb weight loss program, are in these sections. Walking into the core isles of the store should heighten your resistance genes for there lays temptation, deceit, and just plain "junk" actually. I say deceit because in these areas low fat, low carb, and sugar free do not necessarily match your definition of the terms. Read each label thoroughly and you will quickly see what I mean.

Take advantage of the 'pre-prepared' areas of the grocery store which are becoming so popular today, but do not be enticed by looks and smell alone. Many of these areas are manned by actual Chefs. Take the time to engage in conversation. Become informed as to the ingredients used in each dish that interests you. Make sure that they are in compliance with your diet. If so, they are an excellent, ready to go meal for very busy low carbers.

Grocery shopping in a low carb weight loss state of mind is not very complicated and can be very enjoyable. This is especially true when you do so in that new red number that just happens to be 3 sizes smaller than the last time you shopped for bread.

Source by Gryphon B

Type 2 Diabetes – Lowering Your Blood Sugar in Four Steps

Given modern food choices and lifestyles, high blood sugar has become a concern for many people. There is a good chance you will have to look after your reading at some stage in your life if it is not a concern already.

The good news is blood sugar readings are something you can control. With proper care, the issues that surface with the presence of high blood sugar can be mitigated or prevented. Notably, this includes Type 2 diabetes. If you are aiming to lower or manage your reading successfully, here is how to do it in four steps…

Step 1: Optimize your nutrition. The first step to lowering your blood sugar is to maximize your nutrition. By making healthier food choices, you are going to soften the load on your insulin. Eating complex carbohydrates, for instance, is more conducive to lower readings as they are healthier and also digested at a slower rate than simple sugars.

As an example, it is better to eat sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes, and whole-wheat bread as opposed to bread made with refined grains. Junk foods and sugar-loaded beverages such as sodas should be moderated or avoided altogether.

Step 2: Exercise. The benefits of exercise in not only lowering your blood sugar levels but also improving your health cannot be overstated. A combination of cardio and resistance training physical activity is ideal, as each offers their unique benefits.

Step 3: Weight Loss. Most health goals will involve weight loss at some point: most of us are carrying more body fat than we like to admit. While we are not all obese or grossly overweight, as far as reducing blood sugar levels, losing a few pounds does make a difference. Various degrees of hyperglycemia come along with higher amounts of body fat – especially when inactivity is involved.

Step 4: Rinse and repeat. Lowering and maintaining healthy blood sugar levels requires time, effort, and patience. More importantly, it needs a routine. Repeat the steps above, and continually strive to do a little better. If you care about your health, you will ensure you will do a little better every day. After all, commitment is essential, and you cannot succeed without it.

Lowering your blood sugar has many benefits. You could argue the most noteworthy is the peace of mind that comes with knowing hyperglycemia is not destroying your body from the inside out…

  • if you can avoid developing Type 2 diabetes, you will be dodging a” bullet.”
  • if you have already received a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis reversing your condition could save your life.

No matter your case, it is imperative to keep your blood sugar stable and within a healthy range so you can reverse your Type 2 diabetes diagnosis.

Source by Beverleigh H Piepers

What’s Wrong With My Waffles? Here’s How to Make Great Waffles

Do you love waffles, but the ones you cook at home are…well…blah and tasteless? Do your waffles turn out limp and chewy? Help is on the way. You can make great waffles. All you need is a good recipe (pretty simple, actually) and a few tips on waffle making procedures.

Most all waffle recipes contain the same basic ingredients. Flour (or pancake/waffle mix), sugar, salt, milk, eggs. The many varieties of waffles comes from the additives to the batter, or toppings added when served. Other than that, they are basically the same.

So what makes some waffles bad, some good…and others great? Technique and a few little secrets. There are only a few tips you need to know. But, they will make a difference in your waffles.

The Batter

Tip 1:

Many recipes call for a little oil in the batter. Some do not. You should always put about 1/2 tablespoon of oil (cooking oil/vegetable oil) in your batter. It helps develop the outer crust. It does not matter if you make your waffles crisp and crunchy or if you like them soft like pancakes, the oil is needed.

Tip 2:

Do Not Beat The Batter Vigorously! This make tough, chewy waffles. Gently stir the batter only long enough to thoroughly moisten the dry ingredients. Do not worry about small lumps in the batter. You will never know they were there after the waffles are cooked.

Your Waffle Iron (Griddle):

Tip 1:

This may seem to be a “no brainer”, but I have seen so many people pour their batter in a waffle iron that they turned on 2 minutes earlier. The batter will not rise properly in an iron that is not fully up to temp. You will get heavy, flat waffles. So, always turn on your waffle iron before you start making your batter. Allow at least 10 minutes before you pour in the batter. I once saw the cook at a restaurant (know for it’s great waffles) do exactly this. It was right after opening and he chose to serve flat waffles rather than wait for the griddle to get hot).

Tip 2:

Do not use cooking spray on your waffle iron. Yes, I know it is so convenient and it seems to work well to prevent sticking, but every manufacturer of waffle irons I have checked with advises against it. They maintain that it will ruin the non-stick surface of your griddle over time. Instead, you should use a vegetable oil (solid Crisco works best). Just take a basting brush or a paper towel and cover the surface lightly with oil. Your waffle iron will last much longer and, in the end, you will have less problems with sticking. Also, I believe it produces a better crust on the waffle.

Vanilla and Sugar:

Tip 1:

Unless you are making some exotic jalapeno, salsa sauce waffle, always add a touch of sugar and a little vanilla to your batter. Many recipes do not list sugar or vanilla in their ingredients. But it will add that little extra “something” you can not identify…and it is so good.

Tip 2:

No matter what kind of waffles you are making, always add beaten egg whites. You can add the yolks or not, but beaten egg whites are essential to light waffles. The egg whites should be beaten until stiff (like whipped cream). Then gently fold the egg whites into the batter. Your goal is to incorporate the eggs without deflating them.

Here’s a simple, basic recipe that will produce good waffles. You can, of course, add ingredients to make blueberry, pecan (like Waffle House), strawberry, peanut butter or a dozen others.


2 cups flour

2 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 cup milk- Plus additional as needed

3 egg yokes, beaten

3 egg whites beaten stiff

2 tablespoon sugar

2 tablespoon cooking oil

1/2 tablespoon vanilla


1. Heat Waffle Iron and grease liberally with cooking oil (Crisco)

2. Combine all other ingredients except eggs. Mix well

3. Beat egg yolks and pour into flour mix.

4. Beat egg white in separate bowl until stiff peaks form (looks like whipped cream)

5. Gently fold beaten egg white into flour mixture. Do NOT over mix

7. Add additional milk, as needed, to obtain proper thickness of batter. Should pour easily, but not be watery. About like syrup except a little thicker.

8. Pour 1/3 to 1/2 cup of batter into center of hot waffle iron and bake until steam stops coming from edges of iron. Amount of batter depends on the size of your waffle iron (you will have to experiment)

Makes 6 nine inch waffles

Use these tips and watch you’re family rave about your great waffles.

Source by K. A. Miller