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Friday, August 31, 2012

California Strawberry Tea Kettle Giveaway!


Summer is slowly winding down and this also means the end of strawberry season. There's still a little time left to get some great California strawberries though! To celebrate the end of another great season, the California Strawberry Commission has partnered with Griffin Eats OC to give away a Copco Strawberry Tea Kettle! To enter the contest, wait for the Rafflecopter form below to load and then follow the directions to enter!

Did you know that in addition to being delicious, strawberries are EXTREMELY healthy?
Here is an excerpt from David Grotto's book 101 Optimal Life Foods with some great info about the health benefits of strawberries:

Strawberries are SUPER! Let Me Count the Ways
By David Grotto, RD, LDN
Author of 101 Optimal Life Foods
Spokesperson for the California Strawberry Commission

You may have seen the term “superfruit” associated with various fruits in the marketplace. It certainly has become a popular term tossed around quite a bit in the media lately. It prompted me to think, “What exactly qualifies a fruit to be ‘super’?”

When writing 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life, I researched the term “superfruit” and found that there wasn’t a legal definition for it. But as a registered dietitian, I knew that certain fruits had unique qualities and health attributes that made them different from others. In deciding what fruits to include as worthy members of the 101 Foods book, I looked for distinguishing factors such as nutrient density, which is a measure of how much nutrition is delivered in comparison to the calories provided.

Another important attribute was evaluating the health benefits of adding in a specific fruit into the diet. But as a consumer who also has an eye on taste and versatility, regardless of how healthy and nutritious a superfruit is, if it isn’t accessible, easy to prepare, and great tasting, then in my book, that fruit is less-than-stellar. Not surprisingly, strawberries are a perfect example of a superfruit that meets all “super” criteria!

Super Nutritious

And with such a low calorie and sugar profile they are a welcome addition for people who want to look and feel their best all year long – not just in the summer! Strawberries are packed with a variety of nutrients including vitamin C, folate, fiber and potassium.

They also contain important plant nutrients called polyphenols such as anthocyanins, ellagic acid, ellagitannins, gallotannins, quercetin, kaempferol and phenolic acids.

Super Healthy

Being nutritious is great, but what about the effect of those nutrients on health? Scores of studies exist that evaluate the health benefits of the nutrients found in strawberries.

Potassium helps control blood pressure and fight stroke.
Fiber helps control weight and relieve constipation.
Vitamin C helps repair damage in the body and is an important nutrient in promoting a healthy immune system. This is especially important during cold and flu season. Folate is a B vitamin that fights birth defects and helps control the inflammatory process associated with heart disease.

The plant nutrients found in strawberries, particularly polyphenols, have antioxidant capabilities that can reduce inflammation and oxidative stress. These two harmful processes have been linked to major challenges to our health, including cancer, cardiovascular and neurological disease, arthritis, obesity, diabetes, autoimmune disorders and pulmonary disease. Polyphenols help protect and repair cells.

Research on these and other nutrients found in strawberries have shown
promise in various studies in:

Improving cognitive decline,
Reducing damage that leads to aging,
Enhanced signaling between brain cells,
Reducing total and LDL cholesterol and preventing the oxidation of LDL cholesterol,
Reducing the requirement of insulin for glucose control, and
Protecting DNA from harmful mutations.

Super Accessible

Some superfruits are only available fresh at certain times of the year or not at all – not so super. Because California strawberries are grown year round, you can find them fresh or frozen at your local grocery store whenever you want them.

Super Delicious
Perhaps this is the one “super” trait that trumps them all. Who cares if a fruit is good for you if it isn’t delicious? In fact, strawberries are ranked #1 as kids’ favorite fruit and adults love them, too! They are versatile as an ingredient in salads, soups, sweet and savory dishes…you name it. And best of all, they are pretty super tasting all by themselves.

References
Willis LM, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA. Recent advances in berry supplementation and age-related
cognitive decline. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2009 Jan;12(1):91-4. Review.
Shukitt-Hale B, Lau FC, Joseph JA. Berry Fruit Supplementation and the Aging Brain. J Agric Food
Chem. 2008 Feb 13;56(3):636-41.
Basu A et al. Freeze-dried strawberry powder improves lipid profile and lipid peroxidation in women
with metabolic syndrome: baseline and post intervention effects. Nutr J. 2009 Sep 28;8:43.
Jenkins DJ et al. The effect of strawberries in a cholesterol-lowering dietary portfolio. Metabolism.
2008 Dec;57(12): 1636-44.
Zafra-Stone S. et al. Berry anthocyanins as novel antioxidants in human health and disease. Mol Nutr
Food Res, 2007 Jun;51(6): 675-83.
Weaver J et al. Strawberry polyphenols are equally cytotoxic to tumorigenic and human breast and
prostate cell lines. Int J Oncol. 2009 Mar;34(3): 777-86.
Cheplick S, Kwon YI, Bhowmik P, Shetty K. Phenolic-linked variation in strawberry cultivars
for potential dietary management of hyperglycemia and related complications of hypertension.
Bioresour Technol. 2010 Jan;101(1): 404-13.


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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Agora Churrascaria - Irvine


Agora's Passion Fruit Caipirinha

Agora Churrascaria
1830 Main Street
Irvine, CA 92614

949-222-9910
www.agoranow.com


Agora Churrascaria is a restaurant that I am sure many of you have heard of. It is known as Orange County's best Brazilian Steakhouse aka Churrascaria. Large skewers of fire-roasted meats are paraded around the restaurant and sliced directly onto your plate. It's a veritable all-you-can-eat meat-apalooza. Since every article written about this place is focused on the meat....the juicy, tender, succulent, flavorful, scrumptious meat....I have decided to talk a little bit about something different. The salad bar.

The salad bar at Agora Churrascaria is included in every meal. The idea is that you are supposed to go up to the salad bar to get yourself a salad or some side dishes before you gorge yourself on meat. Often times though, I see many people skip the salad bar altogether and just pig out on meat. Now, while this may seem like a good way to get your money's worth, you're really missing out on some of the best stuff that Agora has to offer.

Here are a few pictures of the salad bar.






The salad bar is filled with some of the most delicious, fresh produce you have ever seen. Red, ripe juicy tomatoes with fresh mozzarella and thick stalks of asparagus are laid out in a meticulous fashion. You will also find a nice selection of cured meats, like salami and prosciutto spread out near a giant platter of crumbled parmesan cheese. Large peeled shrimp are served chilled with cocktail sauce. One side of the salad bar is made of pre-made salads like pasta salad and potato salad and are among some of the best you will ever have.



In addition to the chilled salad bar, there is also a hot food bar that includes several different side dishes that would often be seen as a meal by themselves. On the hot food bar you will find selections such as black bean stew (fejioada), clams with olive oil and white wine, chicken stroganoff, garlic rice, salmon, mussels, sautéed collard greens and mashed potatoes.

So, while I would still highly encourage anyone to visit Agora when they want to pig out on meat, I urge you to give the salad bar a try. You will find some delightful treats that will nicely complement your meat feast. Perhaps you can even use some of the selections from the cold bar to cool yourself down after the meat sweats start...

Current prices as of August 2012:
Adult Lunch: $25
Adult Dinner: $43
Hot Bar and Salad Bar Only: $21 lunch/$31 dinner
Children age 6-10 are half price

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