Sweet Potato or Yam? What’s the difference?

shutterstock_177108227November 5 — Is it a sweet potato or a yam — it’s another great American debate. Here are the facts:

  1. What we are eating in America every day is a sweet potato, and they come in a variety of colors including the traditional orange, as well as white, or even purple.
  2. Yams are grown in Africa and Latin America — and they can get really huge, like 3 feet long.  They also have a scaly, thick skin and need to be pounded out and boiled for a long time to be prepared correctly.

At Thanksgiving, our students love to make delicious sweet potato fries. Click here for the recipe. Enjoy!

Do you cry when you cut an onion? You aren’t alone!

onions_flickr_Mike LichtNovember 4 — If you love the flavor of onions, but hate the tears that roll down your cheeks when you are chopping … here’s a tip.

Chew something crunchy when cutting — like a piece of French bread or a slice of gum.

Why does this tip work? Our Edible Education Chefs believe it’s because saliva glands and tear ducts can’t work at the same time.

But why do onions make us cry? Onions are made of a tunic of outer leaves (the brown layer), scales (the white firm juicy edible part), and the basal plate (often called the “hairy part” or the “root”). When you cut the basal plate or shoot, it releases an enzyme that creates a gas. And when that gas combines with water (such as the stuff in our eyes), it makes an acid that results in tears.

Celebrate National Sandwich Day today!

montecristo_flickr_torbakhopperNovember 3 — Would you believe that Americans eat more than 300 million sandwiches a day? That’s right, every day we consume about as many sandwiches as we have people to eat them.

And why not? The sandwich might be the perfect food: portable, open to any interpretation and as simple or as elaborate as your mood permits. The sandwich has a long history, but it hasn’t always been as embraced in America as it is now. It’s hard to imagine, but the sandwich was once thought of as un-patriotic!

That’s because the sandwich was popularized in England in 1762 during the Revolutionary War by a nobleman named John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. Food historians agree that Montagu had a substantial gambling problem, which led him to spend hours on end at the card table. During a particularly long binge, he asked the house cook to bring him something he could eat without getting up from his seat. Meat between two slices of bread appeared – and the sandwich was born. Montagu enjoyed his meat and bread so much that he ate it constantly, and as the concoction grew popular in London society circles it also took on the Earl’s name.

What’s the most popular sammie in the United States? According to menu research firm Datassential the favorite is the turkey sandwich (14%), followed by ham (11%), chicken (9%), and the classic sub (8%). The classic PB&J and the BLT tied with the grilled cheese (5%), and roast beef came in at 4%. Data from 100,000 restaurant menus showed the most popular sandwich ingredient trends: Barbecue, chipotle, and pesto. Those gaining in popularity are: kimchee, aged cheddar, and naan. America is going global!

This week at Edible Education, we are featuring another international classic: The Monte Cristo, served with applesauce. Click here to get the recipe.

Want to cut fruit — fast?

flckr_marioNovember 2 — To quickly cut fruit, slice off the bottom and top (of an apple, orange, pear, etc.). Then run the knife around the edges. Voila!

Remember: If it’s a kiwi you are cutting, use a spoon to scoop out the yummy insides. Enjoy!

Are you gluten free? Make oat flour

flickr_Justin SnowNovember 1 — If you are eating gluten-free, here’s a quick and inexpensive way to make gluten-free flour.

Take a cup of oats and pulverize them in the blender.

It makes a great gluten-free oat banana muffin!

Eat Halloween treats that are good for you

B0g8yllOctober 31 — Happy Halloween! At Edible Education, we like to play with our food — and we get downright creative. Case in point: Halloween tonight doesn’t have to be a candy-only holiday!

Eat a frog: Cut up a green apple, grab a handful of green grapes, a marshmallow, and two chocolate chips. Cut the apple so the frog can sit on the plate; slit the front so it has a smiling mouth, slice the grapes to form arms and legs, and mash the marshmallow into eyes. Give your frog some eyeballs with the chocolate chips. Adorable, right? Photo by chilledmyspine.

Make fun of your soup

thefoodieskitchen.comOctober 30 — Prepare for Halloween tomorrow night by topping your soup with a spiderweb! After whipping up a delicious bowl of tomato, pumpkin, or squash soup, top it with a spiderweb. Sound tough? No way. Simply grab a pastry bag and fill it with 3 Tablespoon of plain or vanilla Greek yogurt or sour cream. No pastry bag? Snip off one corner of a Ziploc bag and fill it with the yogurt or cream — it works great. Next, “pipe” four concentric circles on top of your soup (concentric circles are gradually larger sizes that all have the same center). Using a dinner knife, start in the center of the bowl and “cut” your way out of the circles to the edge of the bowl to create a web effect. Enjoy! Photo by thefoodieskitchen.com, flickr

You know you should eat an apple a day, and here’s why.

shutterstock_2261006711October 29 — Know your apples! Red Delicious is most popular variety of apple, and its best for making pies, applesauce, or just eating whole.

Did you know: 

  • Granny Smith is tart
  • Honey Crisp actually has larger cells to capture more sugar and thus are sweeter
  • Golden is for baked goods
  • Fuji apples grow near volcanic ash and have an earthier flavor

Love lasagna but want to cut some fat? Try this recipe tonight

shutterstock_280634852October 28 — To make lasagna that is as delicious as it is healthy, use 1 part ricotta cheese and 1 part firm tofu. Blend together with garlic, sea salt and fresh herbs, says Edible Education’s Chef Ann Butler.

Here’s why: “The tofu has the same consistency as the ricotta and it absorbs the flavors from the other ingredients. Plus it cuts down on fat and cost, and it adds protein!”

Make a heart-healthy snack in a jiffy

shutterstock_123723322October 27 — Have a hankering for a salty treat? Forget the chips and pop up some popcorn — the old-fashioned way. Not only does plain popcorn provides whole grains, fiber and antioxidants — the germ contains healthy oils, vitamin E, protein, many B vitamins and minerals.

Here’s how: Add 3 Tablespoons of oil and 3 kernels of popcorn to a 3-quart covered saucepan and cook over medium-high heat until all 3 kernels pop. Carefully remove the kernels — and add in 1/3 cup more kernels. Cover and let pop! Remove the pot from heat and count for 30 seconds. Next, remove the lid, and dump the popcorn immediately into a big bowl. (If you are under 12, be sure to have a grown-up help with the popping part.)

For more fun and flavor: While a sprinkle of sea salt is always delicious, experiment topping with your popcorn with different flavors — such as taco seasoning, Parmesan cheese, or Ann Butler’s favorite — drizzled honey with a dash of cinnamon and a handful of cranberries.

Did you know: Dietitians agree that while plain, natural popcorn is full of health benefits, microwave popcorn is usually packed with unhealthy oils, other additives and more calories. Kettle corn and caramel corn provide hefty doses of sugars. Source: healthyeating