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15 Tips on How To Start Cooking Healthy – From Nutritionists and Cooks

Healthy cooking often means a drastic change in eating habits, and as habits are our second nature, it might be just one of the most difficult things in the world to do. Many students in our Online Healthy Cooking School say that the most difficult thing for them was to start, to make that first step towards the healthier kitchen and better habits.

So, what do you do, where do you begin in that ocean of information about what is right and what is wrong on your plate? We asked 15 nutritionists and healthy cooks to share their best tips on getting started with healthy cooking. Here is the list of their practical advice, that can be helpful even if you are not a novice in healthy eating anymore.

1.Think “plus one” each time you are preparing a recipe or a meal

This reminds you to add at least one additional non-starch vegetable or beans to the meal or dish.  This simple technique is fast and can really help you boost your intake of vegetables that provide important micronutrients, feed the good bacteria in your gut microbiome, and fills you up on healthy foods. The great thing is it’s inexpensive, quick, and can easily be done with items you probably already have on hand if you’re trying to eat healthier.

Lisa Garcia  (MS, RDN, LD) is a registered dietitian nutritionist. She uses a coach approach and personalized, actionable steps to enable clients to address weight and gut health issues while still enjoying their lives and eating (follow Lisa on Facebook)

 

Easy green beans recipe:

2. Start with plant-based complex carbs and use the right oil

Start with a single-ingredient plant-based complex carb; my favorites include beans, legumes, potatoes, or any minimally processed grain such as barley or farro. Consider swapping butter and lard for liquid oils – my favorite being Avocado Oil, which allows for a high cooking temperature, and thus contributes a great deal of heart-healthy unsaturated fats!

Rachel Fine (MS, RD, CSSD, CDN) is a Registered Dietitian and owner of To The Pointe Nutrition, a nutrition counseling firm in NYC

(follow Rachel on Instagram)

 

3. Swap your ingredients for healthier recipes

For starters, cooking healthy does not need to be boring nor complex. One super easy swap is to start cooking with gluten free ingredients to make your dishes more nutritious. Swap out regular semolina drum wheat pastas for legume based pastas such as red lentil or chickpea pasta for increased protein intake, as 1 serving can have up to 14g protein. You can then add in your favorite vegetables and protein to make it a more well-rounded dish such as broccoli and grilled chicken. For flavor, you can whip up a plant based sauce in under 5 minutes such as a vegan pesto or a vegan cashew sauce.  Incorporating dairy free ingredients into your cooking such as using coconut milk or vegan cheeses have added nutritional benefits as these are anti-inflammatory and also a good source of healthy fats and proteins. You can use coconut milk as a swap for regular milk when baking or making pancakes, and swap out butter for coconut oil in all recipes as well.

Melissa Eboli AKA Chef Via Melissa is a certified Culinary Nutrition Expert (CNE), Nutritional Chef and wellness counselor based out of NY. Her services include event catering, dinner parties, cooking classes and recipe development (follow Melissa on Facebook and Instagram)

 

Gluten-free Strawberry Pie Recipe:

4. Start with sheet pan meals

People often overcomplicate cooking in their minds and when you add in a ‘healthy’ twist, it becomes even more daunting. From my experience, as a Food Business Owner and Health Coach, the best way to start is with whole food ingredients, prepared simply. And, don’t be afraid to take shortcuts to make it easier on yourself. For example, purchase pre-cut vegetables or mini-versions, like baby carrots and baby potatoes. This makes it so much easier to get food prepped and into the oven. I love sheet pan meals – where all the ingredients are cooked together on one sheet pan, making clean-up a breeze too. One of my favorites is organic chicken thighs with roasted baby potatoes and baby carrots. Use simple spices like salt, pepper and garlic powder to season the chicken, potatoes and carrots. Drizzle some olive oil on the pan and cook all ingredients at 400 F for 30 minutes. It’s easy to change up this simple meal with different proteins, vegetables, herbs and spices, like rosemary, sage or turmeric, for variety. You’ll be amazed at how simple this meal is to prepare and wow your family and friends!

Elizabeth Girouard is a Certified Holistic Health Coach and Certified Workplace Wellness Ambassador. She is also the Founder of Pure Simple Wellness and Zing Meals

(follow Elizabeth on Facebook and Instagram)

 

Baked potato wedges recipe:

5. Master 10 flexible recipe techniques

The best way to get started with healthy cooking is to first make a list of all the whole foods you love today (i.e., vegetables, grains, beans). It’s common to get in a food rut and forget about all the whole foods you already like. It’s best to start incorporating these “Personal Best” foods into your current meals before introducing new foods into your diet. The second tip is to make a list and master ten flexible “Recipe Techniques” that are aligned to your eating style and can easily incorporate whatever ingredients you have on hand. For example, a stir fry over quinoa or zucchini noodles, simple pasta dish, a frittata with meat and/or veggies, a vegetable soup with chicken or beans, and a meat/veggie chili are good examples of this. Keeping ingredients you love on hand and using simple but flexible recipes is a great way to get into healthy cooking one bite at a time!

Marissa S. Costonis H.C. is a health change guru and author of the Amazon bestseller, Change BITES, 5 Change Management Strategies to Transform Your Health

(follow Marissa on Instagram and Facebook)

 

6. Make half your plate fruits or vegetables at every meal

The recommendation for the general public is to eat at least 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day, with a serving equivalent to about 1 cup of produce. Most Americans find this difficult to do, but if you cook each meal so that half of the plate is filled with fresh, frozen, or canned fruits or veggies, you’re guaranteed to improve your health. Typically, you should shoot for 2 servings of fruit, as these are higher in sugar, and 3 servings of non-starchy veggies per day. Don’t count the starchy corn, potatoes, beans, or peas towards your vegetable servings. While they do provide nutrients, like fruit, they’re high in sugar and can make your liver work overtime to release insulin. Focus on the “rainbow” of fruits and vegetables to get all of your vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. This means eating greens, reds, oranges, whites, and yellows throughout the week, as each color contributes a small portion of your micronutrient needs.

Colleen Wysocki-Woods (MS, RDN) is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with a private practice in Colorado called ZEST Nutrition

(follow Colleen on Facebook)

 

7. Use as few ingredients as possible

Healthy cooking doesn’t need to involve all day meal prep, batch cooking and complicated meals or soggy dinners. Forget the idea of meal prepping and cooking for the entire week. This can get old, plus its tedious it involves a lot of work.  Focus instead on 5 ingredients, 20 minute meals, that involve little to no prep. Think pre-chopped veggies, fresh pre-made guacamole and sheet pan dinners!

Mariana Dineen is a Registered Dietitian and the founder of Pretty Nutritious, a virtual private practice and social media platform with a mission to help women find the confidence to ditch unrealistic diet rules and live a fun and delicious life

(follow Mariana on Instagram)

 

Two Ingredient Rice Bread Recipe:

 

8. Start with breakfast

Start small and pick one meal to transform at a time. Start with breakfast. Breakfast is easy to meal prep with homemade, healthy, and nutritious options, instead of all the processed sugar-filled junk, or worse, skipping breakfast all together before you run out the door.Easy options like overnight protein oatmeal, pancake bites, freezable waffles, vegan frittata bites, or classic baked goods like healthy muffins and quick breads.

Options that can be made ahead, freeze well, transport well if you do need to eat “on the go” and work for everyone in the family will make your morning less stressful, fueled with nutrition, and lead you to have an easier time making healthy choices throughout the rest of the day.

Rebecca Pytell is the founder, content creator, and celiac disease and food allergy coach behind Strength and Sunshine, a gluten-free & allergy-free food and recipe website

(follow Rebecca on Facebook and Instagram)

 

9. Buy the rainbow

When going grocery shopping, try to buy produce in a variety of colors or choose a different fruit or vegetable every time you shop- think rainbow. This will offer a wide range of health-promoting nutrients because each fruit or vegetable is packed with its own set of vitamins and minerals that our bodies need. Many of the pigment compounds in these fruits and vegetables also act as antioxidants, which defend against cell damage. With the help of a bit of oil and seasoning, you can easily roast or sauté a mixture of vegetables and incorporate them into entrees or meal preps. Fruits can be sliced into salads or enjoyed as desserts. Having a variety of produce on hand gives you options when it’s time to cook, helping keep your meals interesting.

Ysabel Montemayor is the lead Registered Dietitian at the meal delivery service Fresh n’ Lean,

the largest organic ready-to-eat meal delivery service.

 

10. Choose healthy oils for cooking

From my clinical experience, what we input to our bodies through food choices has a massive effect on “mental illnesses” (Anxiety, depressive disorders). It’s important to remember that a majority of our serotonin is located in our guts, that’s our neurotransmitter that creates feelings of happiness, so we first need to make sure our gut health is OK. My best tip is to start making manageable steps towards changing how you cook and eat. If you’re cooking with anything other than coconut, olive, or avocado oil, please change that now. Try new ways to roast veggies and always make your own sauces. They’re so much yummier and most likely always better for you. Here’s a healthy dressing recipe for honey mustard dressing: 1 tbsp olive oil, 1 tsp apple cider vinegar, 1 tsp dijon mustard, black pepper & Himalayan sea salt, a tsp (or less!) of pure maple syrup or agave.

Erica Basso (MA, AMFT) is a Holistic Psychotherapist, who uses the power of food to heal and connect

(follow Erica on Instagram)

 

11. Add more pulses and vegetables to your diet and cook them with spices

If you want to get started with healthy cooking, you may want to incorporate more plant-based ingredients in your diets such as beans, pulses, vegetables and tofu. When cooking with these ingredients, I would really recommend stocking up on some spices and herbs as they add so much flavour which will make all the difference. One of my favourite easy ways to make something healthy is to make a curry using chickpeas or lentils and lots of vegetables. Using spices such as curry powder, cumin and turmeric and herbs like cilantro (coriander), paired with some creamy coconut milk will transform the beans and vegetables into a comforting, flavourful curry that you won’t be able to stop eating!

Rhian WIlliams has a food blog where she posts easy, undetectably vegan and gluten-free recipes, focusing on healthy comfort food and naturally sweetened desserts using plant-based ingredients

(follow Rhian on Instagram and Facebook)

 

Mung Bean Soup Recipe:

12. Plan ahead and invest in slow cooker

Make a plan and keep it simple! One thing I love recommending to beginner cooks is investing in a slow cooker. We have all been there; coming home from a long day at work and don’t have the energy or time to cook. Start the day off right and throw something into the slow cooker! It is very hard to burn, and the entire meal is already done before you get home. Bonus: Check your local grocery store to see if they have any slow cooker meals already prepped for you.

Laurel Deininger is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator located in St. Petersburg, Florida who loves cooking, yoga, and her dog, Reagan.

(follow Laurel on Instagram)

 

13. Keep frozen vegetables at hand

Getting started with healthy cooking can be intimidating, so I suggest starting with small changes instead of trying to go all-in at once. You’ll need time to build your cooking skills and for your body to adjust to the new way of eating. A great way to start incorporating more healthy ingredients into your meals is to keep frozen vegetables on hand. Items like frozen broccoli florets, spinach, peas, or cauliflower can be tossed into many recipes, like soups, stews, casseroles, and quick pasta dishes for an instant nutritional boost. Plus, they’re already washed and chopped, which means less work for you. And perhaps the best part, you don’t have to worry about frozen vegetables going limp in the back of your fridge if you don’t use them right away.

Beth Moncel has been creating simple, satisfying, balanced, and budget-friendly meals for ten years through her blog, BudgetBytes. She loves teaching people how to cook and watching them discover the joy and independence that come with cooking at home

(follow Beth on Instagram)

 

Savoury oatmeal with frozen veggies recipe:

 

14. Start slow and add one change at a time

So often people try to do too much as one time, cutting out entire food groups or macronutrients (carbs, protein, fat). Start by focusing on adding more veggies to your day and consuming protein at each meal.  Look for easy ways to make healthy swaps; one’s that take little to no effort. For example, instead of wheat pasta, try zucchini noodles or House Foods Tofu Shirataki Spaghetti. Instead of regular gnocchi, try a cauliflower based gnocchi. These are a few sneaky ways to increase your vegetable and protein intake, both of which keep you fuller for longer.

Lauren Cadillac is a Manhattan-based Registered Dietitian and Certified Personal Trainer, who’s approach focuses first on feeling good; improving mood, sleep, digestion, energy, performance in the gym and at work

(follow Lauren on Instagram)

 

15. Gradually build your healthy cooking habits

When getting started with adopting a healthy cooking regimen, the key is to start simple by choosing one meal that you want to focus on. From there you can start to seek inspiration and recipes from Pinterest, Instagram accounts or cookbooks for that one meal.  For example, if you want to start to cook healthier dinners, you can make a goal to cook one new healthy recipe a week. As you build up this habit, you can increase to two or three healthy recipes a week, until it some becomes a sustainable lifestyle. Then you can move on to looking at other meals or snacks to start cooking healthier options.  Don’t overwhelm yourself, take it one healthy meal at a time.

Allison Tibbs is a certified Personal Trainer & Healthy Lifestyle Coach who advocates for women to use fitness, nutrition, and self-care as a way to create more peace, joy, and balance in their lives

(follow Allison on Instagram)

 

Feel inspired? Check out our online healthy cooking classes:

Kombucha at home online course
Beans and lentils online course

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Why Eat Asparagus? Health Benefits and History

Asparagus, a delicate, spear shaped green shoot may not have a massive fan following like cacao or berries, but come summer, European foodies go gaga over the unassuming vegetable.

From being considered an aphrodisiac to its use as a diuretic, asparagus has had a long, rich and colourful past spanning more than 2000 years. Ancient Egyptian held it in high esteem as they offered it to their gods. (more…)

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10 Healthy Gluten-Free Flours

Who doesn’t like freshly baked bread or a homemade pie? Food blogs are full of tempting pastry pictures, but health and fitness experts are constantly warning us about the dangers of refined wheat and baked treats. Finding a way to enjoy your favourite foods and avoiding any health harms might not be easy, but it is possible – just give a try to alternative products, which you are not used to!

There are plenty of different types of flour, which can be used as an alternative to wheat flour. All of them have different properties and might give a new twist to your regular dishes, or even inspire you to try something completely new!

1. Bird cherry flour

Bird cherry flour is the most underrated of all flour types and it might be difficult to come by. It has a unique taste with the notes of blueberry and almonds and it is an irreplaceable ingredient for desserts. It is used for dough (you need to mix it with other types of flour), or as a part of pie fillings.

Bird cherry flour is nothing else but finely ground dry berries. It has three times less calories than wheat flour, but much more minerals and vitamins, including iron, magnesium, Vitamin C and carotin. It is used not only for baking and pancakes, but also for preparation of healthy drinks and light liquors.

2. Chestnut flour

Finely ground chestnut is a wonderful gluten-free alternative for wheat flour. It has a slightly sweetish taste which makes it a fantastic ingredient for healthy baked treats.

70% of chestnut flour are easily digested carbohydrates and it contains potassium, magnesium and phosphorus, and its nutritional profile is close to rice or potatoes. It works best for baking bread, cupcakes and pancakes. The most famous dish prepared with chestnut flour is an Italian Tuscan cake castagnaccio.

3. Sesame flour

Everyone knows sesame seeds and sesame oil, and a sesame brittle is a famous dessert around the world, but very few people are familiar with sesame flour. It has a slightly nutty flavour and it is packed with minerals: it is the biggest plant-based source of calcium after poppy seeds.

Sesame flour is widely used for coating, baking, preparations of porridge and salads, as well as a simple dessert with honey and jam.

4. Pea and lentil flour (green pea flour, chickpea flour etc.)

The health benefits of legume family are indisputable. It has a rich nutritional profile, with the high content of protein and healthy fats. The application of pea flour is extremely broad: it is used for bread, porridge, cutlets, pastry, and even noodles.

This type of flour is perfect for weight-conscious. It improves digestion (if cooked properly) and can serve as a great substitute for meat products. You can get more ideas for cooking legumes in our latest (free) lentil recipe ebook

5. Corn flour

Corn flour has been a staple ingredient in South America for centuries. Despite a high amount of calories and fats, it is easy to digest and it lowers cholesterol levels.

Corn flour can be coarse-grained or fine-grained: the first type is used for bread-baking, and the second type if the best ingredient for elegant desserts. It can also be used for thickening of porridges and cream soups, as well as for preparation of noodles.

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What to Eat in India: Healthy Foods for Yoga Students

Yoga isn’t simply a form of physical exercise but an entire philosophy.

While you focus on ethical aspects, including the practice of ahimsa (non-violence), non-judgement is equally valued. You’re free to choose a suitable lifestyle and eat foods you prefer.

You don’t have to be vegetarian to practice yoga. But, serious students embrace this food philosophy with roots in Ayurvedic principles, as they become increasingly self-aware.

Recommended yogic diet focuses on sattvic or enriching foods like whole grains, fruits, dairy, vegetables, legumes, nuts, natural sugars, spices and herbs, with sparing use of oil and ghee.

You’re expected to eat Rajasic or stimulating foods in moderation. These include vey spicy, sour, salty or bitter foods, onion, garlic, coffee, wine, black tea and chocolate.

You’re advised to sparingly eat Tamasic or passion foods like meat, eggs, seafood, alcohol, and artificially flavoured, deep-fried or processed foods.

Wholesome vegetarian food is said to promote mind and body harmony. This diet is nutritious, tasty and healing, when you combine various nutrient-rich ingredients with spices and herbs.

Here are 15 Indian vegetarian foods that follow food principles of Ayurveda and yogic diet. Note that some of the names can differ according to the part of India you are in. 

 

 1. Bajra/Jowar Roti – Millet/Barley Flat Breads

Bajra_Roti_and_Dal-min

These protein and fibre-rich grains were part of Indian diets before rice and wheat took over. Fresh millet or barley flour is transformed into a dough, rolled into rotis and cooked on hot tava or griddle. Plain or stuffed (vegetables spices or herbs) rotis are served with yogurt, curry or chutney.

Image source: Jay87.Mehta

2. (Masala) Khichdi

Dal_Khichdi-min

The comfort or soul food for many Indians, Khichdi is nothing but cooked rice and lentils with an aromatic tempering of spices. Vegetables like carrots, peas, green beans, potatoes are sometimes added to lentils. This versatile mini meal is considered the inspiration for English Kedegree and Egyptian Kushari.

Image source: Wikimedia

3. Palak (Spinach) Paneer

Cottage_cheese_in_spinach_gravy(palak_paneer)-min

This healthy side dish, served with rice or rotis, is made with spinach and fenugreek leaves. Boiled and pureed greens are cooked with tempered spices, besan (gram flour), paneer (cottage cheese) and garam masala (spice mix). You can make this dish with other greens and tofu.

Image source: Radhikamprabhu82

4. Rawa (Semolina) Upma, also called as Khara Bath

healthy-food-ayurveda-2

A low-fat and nutritious thick porridge with semolina, tomatoes, peas, onions. Mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chillies are tempered in oil and other ingredients added to form thick, semi-wet porridge. Variations contain broken rice, poha, bulgur wheat, broken wheat and oats.

A sweet pudding version is made with semolina or broken wheat, ghee, jaggery and topped with roasted cashews and raisins.

Image source: pc-myshots-at-photography

5. Dosa & Sambhar

masala-dosa

A classic breakfast dish from South India is rice-lentil crepe served with tamarind-lentil chowder or stew. Thin pancakes are made from fermented black gram-rice batter. Sambar is tamarind broth simmered with veggies, moringa pods (drumstick), curry leaves, cooked yellow lentil and spice tempering.

Image source: Nadir Hashmi

6. Dahi/Curd Rice

curde-rice

What khichdi is to others Indians, Dahi (curd) rice is to south Indians. This simple dish is a digestive and cooling agent as it contains fermented milk. Cooled white rice is mixed with dahi, salt and tempering of mustard seeds, split black gram (urad dal), green chillies and curry leaves. It is usually eaten plain or with pickles.

Image source: Veeresh Malik

7. Green Mung Dal (Green Mung Beans) Chilla/Pesarattu

healthy-food-india-1

Another Indian pancake, chilla or pesarattu is made with soaked mung dal/ beans and rice batter to which salt and asafoetida/ cumin seeds are added. Batter is cooked on a hot griddle, topped with chopped or grated vegetables, and served with chutneys or vegetable stews. Chilla versions contain wheat flour, besan or chickpea flour, oats or broken wheat and.

Image source: Upendra Kanda

8. Tadka Dal

Tadka_Dal-min

A simple lentil stew with few ingredients. A dal of choice (green gram, red or yellow lentil) is pressure cooked with salt and turmeric. Add red chilli powder or garam masala, mustard and cumin seeds tempering, cilantro or fenugreek leaves, and you have a tasty side for flat breads or rice. Other dal styles have a mix of cooked dals with tomatoes, onions, greens, spices mix, and Indian yogurt or cream. You can find more lentil recipes here

Image source: SouthofIndia


9. Kosimbhir/Kuchumbar – Salad

healthy-food-yoga-1

The Indian salad – Kosimbhir, a Maharashtrian dish, contains vegetables like cucumber, carrot, onions, tomatoes, green chillies, coriander leaves, lemon juice, tempered spices (tadka) and salt. Variants contain raw mango, bean sprouts, desiccated coconut and peanuts.

Image source: Arvind Grover

10. Vegetable Curry

healthy-food-ayurveda

A must-have dish for vegetarians to meet their nutrients quotient. Sautéed or steamed vegetables are cooked into a thick gravy with spices. Sometimes leafy greens, cottage cheese and corn are added to the mix. Gravy base is usually tomato-onion paste, nut paste, tamarind broth or coconut milk.

Image source: Pelican

11. Poha

healthy-food-india

This breakfast dish cum snack is made with rice flakes. A tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves and green chillies followed by sautéed onions, salt, turmeric, and dry flattened rice makes a poha. Versions include peanuts, coconut, potatoes, cilantro leaves and lemon juice.

Some make a dessert using rice flakes, jiggery, ghee and roasted cashews or almonds.

Image source: Ampersandyslexia

12. Murmur or Bhel Puri (Puffed Rice) Chaat Mix

Mudhi-min

A light and low-cal snack with chopped tomatoes, carrots and bell peppers mixed with puffed rice. Black salt, ground black pepper, red chilli powder or green chillies, mint or cilantro leaves, lemon juice and crushed peanuts enhance the flavour. Other toppings include corn kernels, bean sprouts, raw mango slices, grated coconut, roasted peanuts or roasted brown chickpeas.

Image source: Subhashish Panigrahi

13. Idli with Chutney

Idli

These steamed rice-and-lentil cakes are a favourite breakfast option. Fermented rice and black gram batter is transformed into savoury cakes in moulded steamer plates. Some versions are made with semolina while Kanchipuram Idli has vegetable stuffing. These rice cakes are served with tomato or coconut chutney and sambar.

14. Vegetable Rice and Raita

Paneer_Curry_Rice_Raita_Thali-min

This wholesome meal consists of white rice cooked with vegetables like carrots, tubers, green beans, capsicum, green peas, cauliflower, squash, salt and spices.

The dish is usually served with vegetable side and raita made with dahi, salt, cucumber and green chillies.

Image source: Divya Kudua

15. Masala Dalia with Chaas

indian-food-ayurveda

This vegetable dish is made with daila (broken wheat) base. Tomato, carrots, beetroot, cucumber, cabbage, mint, cilantro leaves and greens are cooked into a thick gravy with salt and tempered spices. Serve this with cooling chaas containing buttermilk, rock salt, mint or cilantro leaves and jeera powder.

Image source: Akktapanwar

Do you follow the vegetarian yoga diet? Tell us about your favourite Indian foods.

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15 Foods to Try When Travelling in Japan (besides sushi)

Japan is an island which cuisine is known for its diverse seafood dishes. Being an east Asian country, love for rice can never be left behind as well! There is more to this cuisine than sushi. In fact, the average Japanese never eats sushi more than 2-3 times a week.

Many people mistakenly believe Japanese food is not for vegetarians, but the country has a rich tradition of using vegetables in cooking. Moreover, places like Kyoto with its Buddhist-temple cuisine or Ryokans (traditional inns) are perfect for vegans too.

Japanese food has given us the unique umami (broth or meaty) flavour with dashi and soy sauce. This cuisine has other distinct elements like the use of slimy but healthy (neba-neba) foods.

Like Vietnamese food joints, many Japanese eateries specialise in one type of food such as sushi, donburi or okonomiyaki. Despite modernisation, certain old food customs are respected and followed, including Omakase – letting the chef chose your order. While this option comes at an extra cost, the personalised service and quality of dishes make it a must-try experience.

Without further ado, this guide introduces you to 15 delicious and famous foods from Japan.

 1. Miso soup

miso soup in japan

The day begins with miso soup and a hearty dinner is digested with another bowl of this broth soup. It combines tofu, dashi (soup base with seaweed and fish flakes) and miso (cooking stock with fermented beans or grains). Variants usually contain udon noodles, local vegetables, pork guts, beef offal or ramen noodles.

Image source: akihito nakinishi

2. Tempura

tempura in japan

This 16th century dish was a culinary gift from Europeans living in southern Japan. Fish and vegetables are coated with light batter and deep fried at low temperatures. The locals enriched tempura by adding tentsuyu – dipping sauce made with dachi, soy sauce and seasonal garnishes

Image source: Su-May

3. Okonomiyaki

must try food in japan

This savoury pancake was traditionally made with leftovers. Each city has its own version, but the basic dish contains vegetables, meat and seafood topped with sauce, nori (seaweed), katsuobushi, ginger pickle and mayonnaise. You can grill the pancake yourself or get a customised one in speciality restaurants.

Image source: Lucas Richarz

4. Oden

food in japanThis hotpot is many things – winter and soul food, street food and konbini (convenience) food. A variety of meat, seafood and vegetables are simmered for a long time in light dashi broth. When you order oden, you’re served one item at a time with hot Japanese mustard as topping.

Image source: Jacob Levine

5. Onigiri

traditional japanese food

Onigiri basically refers to shaped rice balls that are meant to be eaten by hand. Some would call it the Japanese equivalent of a sandwich. Japanese short-grain rice is used in all variations from grilled and nori wrapped to flavoured and steamed.

Image source: Aaron Russin

6. Japanese Curry Rice

japanese food

A British curry adopted by Imperial Japanese navy in the 19th century, this is a popular everyday dish. The mound of shaped rice is surrounded by a mildly spicy curry containing vegetables or meat. Other forms of Japanese curry include katsu (pork cutlet) curry, udon soup curry, and kare pan (curry-stuffed fried breads).

Image source: Mokiko


7. Yakiniku

food in kyoto

Yakiniku is a Japanese style barbecue dish. You can order bite-sized pieces of raw meats and vegetables from the menu and cook them on your table grill in yakiniku restaurants.

Image source: Jonathan Lin

8. Sosu Yakisoba

noodles in tokyoThis common street food and is also sold in konbini or convenience stores. Wheat noodles are fried and served in a thickened sweet sauce containing soy sauce, ginger, Worcestershire sauce, oyster sauce, rice vinegar and sugar. Yakisoba is also served in bread or with an omelette wrap.

Image source: Ad Blankestijn


9. Tonkatsu

food in tokyo

Pork cuts are dipped in batter, breaded in panko (crystal-like bread crumbs) and deep fried. These cutlets are served with shredded cabbage and a thick, sweet sauce called tonakstu sauce.

Image source: George Alexander Ishida

10. Senbei

must try food in tokyo

Another popular street food, senbei is a type of grilled or baked rice cracker. These crunchy crackers come in various shapes with many flavours, both sweet and savoury.

Image source: Travis

11. Donburi

food in osaka

Donbiri is the Japanese version of the brown-bag lunch. A simple rice dish served in a bowl and topped with fish, vegetables or meat. Donburi restaurants offer different types of this satisfying rice dish with multiple toppings.

Image source: Cecil Lee

12. Ganmodoki

authentic japanese foodGanmodoki is a fried fritter made with egg whites, tofu and vegetables. The dish’s name loosely translates to artificial goose, as the tofu and egg combo gives it a goose meat flavour.

Image source: Hideya Hamano

13. Chikuzenni

tokyo foodChikuzenni is essentially a thick vegetable stew with a broth base of mirin (low-alcohol rice wine) and dashi. The stew is simmered at low temperatures. In olden days, turtle meat was added to the stew. Now chicken pieces are mixed with vegetables like carrots, shitake mushrooms, edible burdock (gobo), bamboo shoots (takenoko), and lotus root (renkon).

Image source: Pelican

14. Uiro

famous food of japan

Uiro is a sweet tasting traditional steam cake with a chewy texture. The decorated cakes made with rice flour and sugar come in various flavours like strawberry, chestnut, red bean, green tea and cherry blossom (sakura).

Image source: t-mizo

15. Higashi

japanese dessert food

These multicolour candies are made with rice or bean flour and Wasanbon – local sugar. The dry candies come in different sizes and shapes including flowers and animals. The premium ones are made only with wasanbo.

Image source: takahito

Have you eaten more than one dish from this list? you tasted on your trip to Japan? Do you prefer traditional or modified sushi dishes?

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Champagne vs other Sparkling Wine Types: 4 Things to Know

Champagne must be the most famous sparkling wine in the world – it is always associated with celebrations and luxury. In a wine shop, however, you will always see other names next to Champagne: Prosecco, Sekt, Cava, Cremants, Franciacorta… It is natural to assume that they are inferior in quality comparing to Champagne and to choose the most expensive bottle of the famous French bubbly drink – but according to wine experts it is not necessarily the best choice!

If you are new to sparkling wines, choosing the right one can become a daunting task. Luckily, there are only a few things you need to know about the difference between champagne and other sparkling wines to understand the quality of the drink:

1. Region of wine production

The main difference between Champaign and other sparkling wines is the region where it is produced. As the name suggests, the sparkling wine by the name Champaign is produced in Champagne, in northern France, the North Pole of the wine globe.





If you happen to pass by the Champagne region you wouldn’t even think of it as a wine producing area. It’s a dull, windy place with frosts in spring. Nowadays no one would dare to plant a vineyard down there. But the Romans proved us wrong centuries ago as the climate may have been different. Today the temperature is never high enough to make the grapes ripen well. The limestone chalky soil with high concentration of minerals make Champaign simply powerful, generous and most sensual drink on the planet. The most exquisite samples are produced from 100% Chardonnay and called Blanc de Blanc.

Madrid Treaty 1891 gives France protection of the term Champagne. No other drink can legally have the same name. Some other regions, however, give birth to absolutely excellent sparking wines as well – they are just called differently.

2. Method of production of sparkling wines

The other major difference between cheaper and expensive sparkling wines (including Champagne) is the way it is produced.

La Methode Champenoise – Classical Method of production

It’s a complicated historical type of production but it gives birth to most beautiful and exquisite ones like Champagne, Cremants, Cava, Sekt, Franciacorta and some others.

It starts as per normal with an alcoholic fermentation when grape juice turns into wine. After that when the still wine is already in bottles they add sugar and yeast and close bottles with a temporary plug, leaving them in racks for at least 9-15 months to form perlage. After the 2nd fermentation is over it’s time to get rid of yeast sediments inside the bottles. For this purpose masters of wine caves use a traditional and mysterious trick called remuage. The famous widow Veuve Clicquot has contributed to creation of its modern look. The bottles are placed down to riddling racks and turned every day to several degrees until the sediments come down to the bottle neck, which afterwards gets frozen with a special freezing tool. Then they open the bottle, the iced sediment shoots out, the bottle gets corked and in several months we’re already enjoying it.

Reservoir method of sparkling wines production

Other types of sparkling are produced by reservoir method. The bubbles formation takes place in steel tanks under pressure. It takes little time and much more modest investments.




3. Alternatives to Champagne: world’s best sparkling wines

Some sparkling wines that are produced by classical method can easily compete with Champagne when it comes to its quality. Here is the list of the best and most famous of sparkling wines, including the region of production:

Cremant (France)

Cremant is a sparkling wine produced in other regions in France, from French varieties, aged from 10 months sur lie. Cremant d’Alsace, Cremant de Bourgogne, Cremant de Loire are the best examples. Very classical, elegant with a hint of buttered toast.

Franciacorta (Italy)

Franciacorta is considered the most “Champagne” sparkling wine outside Champagne which is reflected unsurprisingly in its price. Produced in a beautiful Lombardy in the North of Italy from Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Pinot Blanc it dictates her own rules, so no man in the area ordering a bottle can ever call her a sparkling or Champagne. The name Franciacorta means “a free from taxes land” from Lombard language. Lombards of today, however, believe that it is the main competitor of Champagne and refer the name to Francia Corta, implying that French Champagne glory is soon to fall.

Sekt (Germany / Austria)

Sekt is a German and Austrian version of Champagne produced mainly from Riesling variety, very elegant and crispy at the palate, it has clean aromas of green apples and pears. Aged at least 12 months sur lie.

Cap Classique (South Africa)

The new world gives us many decent samples, but the highest ranked sparkling is South African Cap Classique. It is aged from 12 months sur lie from Champagne grape varieties.

Cava (Spain)

Cava is one of the best sparkling wines where price meets quality. Born in 160 villages all around Spain it is apparently the only wine that is not linked to the particular area, though 90% of it is produced in Catalonia. It is made from 3 Spanish grape varieties: Macabeo, Xarello and Parellada. Chardonnay is a very important ingredient as well, it has only natural sugar (unlike Champagne) and is aged at least 9 months in a bottle sur lie. You can easily define its age by a sticker on a bottle – a black one indicates over 30 months of ageing, a green one stands for 15-30 months, and a white sticker tells us that Cava is young and fresh, between 9 and 15 months old.



4. Cheaper alternatives to Champagne

Sparkling wines that are produced by reservoir method will always have a smaller price tag. Here is what you want to look at:

Asti Spumante (Italy)

Asti Spumante is the best alternative for those who consider Champagne and Champagne-like sparklings too serious, acidic and expensive. Asti is a light, fruity and tender aperitif from Piedmont made of Muscat grape. This sparkling is sweeter in taste, so it’s best enjoyed when it is nicely chilled.

Prosecco (Italy)

There is nothing better than a glass of joyful and fruity Prosecco on a terrace on a warm summer evening. The famous Italian easy-going sparkling that is enjoyed by the Venitians and the rest of the world is born in Veneto and embraces a vast territory of Conegliano Valdobbiadene DOCG area. It is kept in the caves for several months before release. Some producers experiment with Champenois method as well.

Sparkling wine is a classic and most amazing aperitif. It’s a drink that no event should go without. Easy-going sparklings go well with fruits and salads. Champagne, Franciacorta, aged Cava make exquisite pairings with caviar, sushi, raw salmon, dry desserts. And a powerful structure of aged Champagne is capable of handling a nice steak.

Make up your mind and enjoy!

P.S . Drink responsibly: all wines contain alcohol and should be consumed in moderation.

Svetlana_Kasparova

This article was written by Svetlana Kasparova, a wine expert who has been working with wine estates across Europe for over eight years. She is a graduate of the famous wine school “Entoria” and a Wine Games medalist.

Svetlana runs an online course “Become a wine expert in 3 days”, you can learn more about it here:


Become a Wine Expert in 3 Days | Online Introductory Wine Course

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20 Traditional Christmas Foods Around the World

Have you ever wondered how people celebrate Christmas in other places?

Every country has its own traditional Christmas foods. Some celebrate in private while it becomes a community affair for others. Many of these activities are influenced by local customs and culture, particularly the food.

From Australia to Iceland, everyone give this festival a unique touch cooking traditional family recipes. From German Stollen to Cuban eggnogs, there are many delicacies prepared with care and served with love.
Discover some of these exotic treats with this guide on traditional Christmas foods across the world. You can add a new dish or two to your repertoire!

1. Australia – Pavlova

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Image Courtesy – Kimberly Vardeman

The warm and sunny weather in the southern hemisphere adds to the festive bonhomie. Traditional sweets include White Christmas slices made with copha or shortening and mixed fruit. Pavlova, a meringue dessert garnished with kiwi or strawberries, is enjoyed in both Australia and New Zealand. Main courses range from cold ham to mince pie.

 

2. Germany – Stollen

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Image Courtesy – Butaris

 

The tradition of Weihnachtsstollen baking goes back to the 15th century. The dried fruit cake contains walnuts, raisins, spices, rum, comes with a marzipan core and gets a sugar coating. Then there are foods like Lebkuchen, baked apples with walnut stuffing, cookies, and main course of various roast meats.

3. France – Bûche de Noël

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Image Courtesy – Distoplandreamgirl

The chocolate yule log (Bûche de Noël) is synonymous with Xmas festivities in France. The traditional lunch includes venison, roast turkey, oysters, foie gras, goose and smoked salmon. In Provence district, home cooks prepare 13 different desserts representing Jesus and his chief disciples.

 

4. Italy – Pannettone

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Image Courtesy – Jacob Montrasio

Panettone is one of the main treats among Italian food served during the festive season. This tear-and-share sweet bread is a Christmas delicacy packed with sultanas, raisins, candied peel and fruits.

5. Greece – Baklava

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Image Courtesy – Navin75

 

Baklava is the favourite sweet in Greece for festive occasions. This filo pastry contains chopped nuts mixed with syrup sauce or sweet honey. Christmas meals includes dishes like roasted pork or lamb and Avgolemono, a chicken soup with rice and eggs.

6. Jamaica –  Fruit Rum Cake

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Image Courtesy – Unleashthebeauty

 

Fruit and rum cake is a big Christmas tradition in many countries and this Caribbean island is no exception. Dried fruit is soaked in rum and red wine for months before being baked. Other favourites include oxtail stew and goat curry.

 

7. Cuba – Majarete

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Image Courtesy –Paula Zaragoza

This corn-coconut milk pudding is a common festive treat in some South American and Caribbean nations. Majarete is made with corn, coconut milk, regular milk, vanilla, cinnamon and sugar. Suckling pig or Lechon asado, eggnog and turron are other holiday dishes.

 

8. Brazil – Ceia de Natal

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Image Courtesy – Mateus Waechter

This is a chicken or turkey roast with a difference as the meat is marinated in spices and champagne. Other Christmas dishes include roast pork, ham, codfish, pork loins, mousse and crème caramel.

 

9. Poland – Borscht

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Image Courtesy – Liz West

Poland has a unique tradition as beetroot soup, Borscht is served as a starter on
Christmas Eve which is a meat-free day. Dinner consists of 12 dishes for the 12 apostles, and includes pierogi, pickled herring, cabbage rolls and uszka (stuffed dumplings).

 

10. Russia/Belarus/Ukraine– Sochivo/Kutiya

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Image Courtesy – Iryna Yeroshko

Fasting on Christmas Eve is common in Russia, followed by serving of Sochivo. This porridge is made of rice or wheat, nuts fruits, seeds and honey.

11. Spain – Turron

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Image Courtesy – Javier Escribano

This popular Christmas dessert is a mixture of sugar, egg whites, almonds and honey. Other foods include dry-cured ham, Jamón, roasted meats, churros, and crumbly cakes.

12. Canada – Tourtiere

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Image Courtesy – Paul Brady

This mince pie flavoured with spices and apple cider is a popular meal among French-speaking Canadians. Christmas in this country is incomplete without an assortment of cookies, gingerbread, pudding, shortbread and roasted turkey.

13. Ethiopia – Doro Wat

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Image Courtesy – Garett

The North African country’s traditional Christmas foods include a slow-cooked chicken stew with chillies, garlic, berbere, ginger and cardamom. The dish is served along with boiled eggs.

14. South Africa – Malva Pudding

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Image Courtesy – Jonathan Lin

Holiday tradition involves grilled or roasted meats including beef, turkey or duck. Malva pudding, a sweet sponge cake is the favoured dessert. Other main dishes include mince pie and yellow rice with suckling pig and veggies.

15. India – Plum cake

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Image Courtesy – Jon Roberts

While there are other Xmas-specific foods including kulkuls (coconut cookies), rum-soaked fruit cakes occupy the pride of the omst famous Christmas food. Rum soaked cakes have many variants from plum cakes to the Allahabadi cake. You’ll find anything from dried fruits, spices and nuts to marmalade and ghee in these browned treats.

16. Philippines – Bibingka

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Image Courtesy – Kabayanmark Images

Whole roast suckling pig and ham are centrepieces of the holiday table. Other savouries include Edam cheese, Pancit (Noodle dish), Chorizo, and Kadereta (goat stew). Desserts include Bibingka, a cake made with rice flour, sugar, butter and coconut milk and Puto Bumbong made with purple rice, sugar and coconut.

17. Iceland – Laufabrauð

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Image Courtesy – Brian Suda

Families get together to make this crispy flatbread from thin dough sheets. The leaf bread is cut with a special tool into geometric patterns and deep fried. The leg of roast lamb occupies the centre spot on the Christmas table. Then there is wild grouse served with a tart-sweet berry sauce.

18. Denmark – Ris á la mande

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Image Courtesy – Katrine Thielke

Rice pudding is one of the traditional Christmas foods in Denmark. The ingredient list includes rice, milk, almonds, whipped cream and vanilla. Other treats include spherical pancakes, caramelised potatoes, and roast pork or duck.

19. Norway – Julekake

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Image Courtesy – Rich Renomeron

Along with sausages and ribs, cakes and cookies are the mainstay of Christmas meals in Norway. Julekake is a sweet bread with cardamom, candied peel and raisins. Wafer cookies, Krumkakes and moulded ginger cookies, Peculaas are other desserts served during the festive season.

20. Sweden – Julbord

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Image Courtesy – Evelina Ander

Julbord is the main feast on Christmas Eve. This is basically a buffer with assorted foods like cold meats, pickles, cheese and cold fish. The star of the buffet is undoubtedly Julskinka – boiled and crisp-roasted ham. No Christmas celebration is complete without saffron buns.

Have you tasted any of these traditional Christmas foods? Share your favourite holiday dish with us!

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How to Taste Wine: Do’s and Don’ts at a Wine Tasting

Have you ever wanted to get closer to the wine world but you didn’t know what to begin with? Start visiting wine tastings!  There you can learn more about wine in general and discuss the samples offered at the tasting in particular.

Would you feel shy or confused because you may think you don’t know wine at all and you’re afraid you may look silly, please leave it with us! In this article you will find useful guidelines how to avoid that puzzled look on your face when you don’t know what’s going on.


Types of wine tastings


We can split wine tastings into 2 types – professional tastings and amateur or client tastings. A professional tasting is normally a closed event for those involved into wine business. The 2nd type  should be more attractive for those who are at the beginning of their way to the wine downtown. At such tastings you are given a very good and clear idea of wines you’re trying, their origins, grape varieties, production method, history and cultural peculiarities of the appellation area. All questions (even if you think they are silly!) are answered by a professional sommelier or a wine expert. The beautiful experience of a wine tasting is always followed up by a nice non-formal conversation with a pleasant aftertaste! 


How to get the most of your wine tasting: Tips from a professional


Don’t use perfume before the wine tasting. Even antiperspirant with strong fragrances can be very disturbing to your sense of smell and taste buds. 

– Ladies, do not put on your lipstick. It can make your glass look unclean, and the smell of it can cause confusion while you taste the wine.

– Avoid wine tasting killers. And here are some of them: chewing gums, garlic, coffee, chocolate, all citrus fruit, cigarettes. Please don’t have them on the day of the tasting, and do not smoke right before it either. 

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How to behave at the tasting


You may have seen professionals at a wine tasting talking about aromas and tastes of a wine with a thoughtful conceptual look on their faces. You would probably think that they simply show off. Well, some of them certainly do. But in fact every stage of a tasting has a meaning behind it.

Normally, wine tasting starts with dry white wines, then it goes to reds and sweet ones. But in the end it’s down to the wine expert to set up the right order.

– Don’t miss the label. First, have a close look at the bottle label. It will give you most information about the wine.  Where it comes from, when it was born (vintage), its alcohol level.  The style of the label may even give you a hint about the style of wine.

 

 

We say that wine has an eye, a nose and a mouth, which refers to the way the wine looks, smells and tastes.

 

– Take a note of the color. Take a glass of wine and place it in front of a white surface. Use a napkin or a sheet of paper.  It will help you distinct the colour. Spin the glass and see if the colour has changed or not. How it changes from the centre to the sides. How transparent the colour is. If it’s more purple or brick red colour, the it witnesses the age of wine. Light yellow colour says to us that the white wine is young and fresh. Deep yellow usually appears in oak aged or sweet whites.

– Indulge in wine smells. Put the tip of your nose into the glass and smell the wine.  What do perfumes that you smell make you think of? Fruits, herbs, flowers, wool, leather gloves, cigars, animal farm, smoke, chemicals. Yes, all these types of aromas can be found in wine. Try to identify which aroma families you’re finding in the glass and then specify them. Your ability to catch the smells quicker will depend on your experience in tasting and ability to memorize fragrances.

– How to taste the wine. Now taste the wine. Take some wine into your mouth, don’t swallow it right away. Don’t forget to breathe through your nose as you normally do. Try to feel which tastes prevail on your tongue, how acid, bitter or sweet the wine is. Take a sip of air into your mouth to mix with the wine and feel wine aromas in your nose. Feel if they remained the same as you smelt them or if they changed. Swallow the wine. Think of the first impressions you had when you just took the wine into your mouth, how it felt while keeping it there and after swallowing. The aftertaste is the feelings of taste and aromas that remain in your mouth and nose after you have swallowed the wine.

– Take notes. You can use a notepad to write down your impressions and give wine a mark.

 – Don’t drink more than required. If you are at a tasting with many samples you can spit the wine into a crachoir, a vase used at tastings to spit the wine to. 


Where shall I find a wine tasting?


Whether you live in a wine producing region or not, in a city or in a small town it doesn’t matter. Nothing should stop you if you have a will to learn more about wine and your mind is set up for it.

Wine tastings are very often held by wine distributors such as wine caves/wine boutiques, wine shops etc.  You can take a look at a winery or a wine estate while travelling. It’s just another perspective to explore a region you are travelling about! Find and book a wine tour that suits you the best and get your chance to meet a wine maker and to listen to their wine story.

But if a travel is yet on your schedule you can always find some interesting events in your town- like our signature wine tastings in Moscow

Enjoy your next tasting!

PS. All wines contain alcohol that is bad to your health

 

Svetlana_Kasparova

This article was written by Svetlana Kasparova, a wine expert who has been working with wine estates across Europe for over eight years. She is a graduate of the famous wine school “Entoria” and a Wine Games medalist.

Svetlana runs an online course “Become a wine expert in 3 days”, you can learn more about it here:

 
 
Become a Wine Expert in 3 Days | Online Introductory Wine Course


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15 Best Gifts for People Who Love to Cook

Cooking has become a trendy hobby and more and more people recognize that kitchen doesn’t need to be a chore! The process of food preparation can be a fun social affair, or even a wonderful learning medium about our health, our cultures, and our environment.

Some people enjoy cooking as a way to express their love to their family, some brush up their cooking skills to improve their health and nutrition, and some simply enjoy the creative process. Regardless of their motivation, your loved once who take pleasure in cooking (and eating) will appreciate one of these unique items from our Gift Guide!

1. Gift voucher for a cooking class

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Nothing can be better than learning cooking under the guidance of a real chef! Cooking classes are not just a great way to learn a new skill, but also a wonderful way to spend a fun evening with friends and enjoy a very special dinner in a pleasant atmosphere!

buy here

 

2. Cookbooks

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One might think that cookbooks have become too old-fashioned, but trust us, nothing can replace a glossy cooking guide with beautiful pictures written by a professional chef. When choosing a book think of the interests of your foodie friend: there are plenty of options dedicated to a specific cuisine like Italian cooking, or to a particular diet like raw foods or Ayurvedic nutrition.

 

3. Knifes set

gift-guide-who-loves-to-cookEach chef, professional and amateur, knows the importance of the right knifes in the kitchen. For beginners chefs you can also give an instruction or a book on knifes as a special bonus!

buy here

4. Wine tasting

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Food and wine pairing is a real science, and luckily nowadays it is an accessible information, that is not reserved just for professional sommeliers any more! Of course it is always the best to visit a wine tasting at a vineyard itself, but fortunately there are a lot of fantastic wine seminars available in all major cities, and even online.

book here

 

5. Spice box or spice rack

gift-guide-chefsOne of the main weapons of a great cook is their spices. You can choose a cute and personalize spice box or a rack as a special gift to a special person!

buy here

 

6. Molecular gastronomy kit

gift-guide-for-foodiesMolecular gastronomy seems to be something out of this world, a unique culinary experience that you can only enjoy in a fine-dining restaurant. It is not true anymore – there is a number of available DIY kits for molecular gastronomy, that you can use in regular kitchen and create professional dishes.

buy here

7. Powerful blender

gift-guide-christmasMany current food trends call for powerful blenders that can process any foods and easily turn a nuts into milk or butter. This one is an absolute must for those who are into healthy nutrition, as well as raw and vegan diets.

buy here

 

8. Plating Spoon

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Everyone knows that taste of a dish depends not only on its actual taste properties, but also on how appetizing the dish is served. The right plating tools are necessary for anyone who want to present their food like a pro, and they make a wonderful gift for a hobby cook!

buy here

 

9. Food Tour

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Food tour is the best gift for a travelling foodie. Besides sampling unique and delicious dishes served in the best local food joints, your beloved foodie will also learn a lot about the local culture and see hidden gems that are not accessible for every tourist!

book here

 

10. Pasta machine

gift-guide-food-lover

We are yet to find a person who doesn’t enjoy Italian cuisine! Making pasta requires advanced cooking skills, but a good pasta machine can make the entire process a lot easier and fun!

buy here

 

11. KitchenAid Mixer

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There is a good reason why KitchenAid mixers are so popular – they can literally do anything! Besides, there is no need to assemble them at once, so even if your friend already has one, a special add-on to the mixer would be the best gift ever.

buy here

 

12. Fancy apron

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To make a foodie happy, you don’t necessarily need expensive kitchenware. A cute and funny apron, may be even with a customized text on it, can put a smile on anyones face!

buy here

 

13. Natural vanilla essence

gift-guide-cooksFew people know, but real vanilla is one of the mot expensive and exclusive spices in the world. An organic high-quality vanilla essence is like gold, and will be especially appreciated by those who love baking, or like to experiment with different aromas.

buy here

 

14. Mortar and Pestle

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In many traditional households mortar and pestle are passed down from generation to generation, and they are used daily for decades. Of course the quality of this crucial kitchen instrument matters – opt for the mortar and pestle made from stone.

buy here

 

15. Wine accessories set

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This gift would work the best for a person who appreciates good quality wines and probably has a good collection of them at home. The accessories may vary significantly and can be anything from a professional wine opener and a stopper to a set of professional wine tools.

buy here

Did you like our list or do you have more ideas? Share it with our readers in comments!

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Food in Buenos Aires: What to Try

Buenos Aires is a buzzing city and popular tourist destination in South America. No other place in Argentina reflects a diverse culture, the result of immigration over the centuries, better than the capital.

It goes without saying the local gastronomic scene is heavily influenced by culinary contributions from Spanish, Italian, Arabic, Asian and European migrants. Both porteños – an endearing term for the city’s residents – and tourists enjoy this multicultural environment.

While Buenos Aires is regarded as the world’s steak capital, it has a variety of dishes on offer with varied flavours and textures. From cheesy pizzas to scrumptious flans topped with dulce de leche, you get to explore classic recipes and innovative variations.

This mini guide brings you 10 classic dishes and street foods in Buenos Aires. Some are found all over Argentina while a couple are unique to this port city.

1. Media Luna

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Image source: Ivan Martinez

Breakfast is incomplete here without an assortment of breads accompanied by Media Luna. These crescent shaped croissants are sweeter and smaller than standard flaky pastry, and are served along with tea, coffee or yerba mate. This dish is also eaten as a mini meal before dinner – merienda. You’ll find bakeries at every street corner selling plain and filled versions containing ham and cheese or simply cheese.

2. Revuelto de Gramajo

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Image source: Jesús Gorriti

An authentic local food, Revuelto de Gramajo is a mix of ham, eggs and fried potatoes made and served on the spot. There are different stories on how this dish was created in 1879 and named after a Colonel serving under an Argentine President.

3. Armenian Mezze

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Image source:  sandy waddle

The small Armenian community has lent delicious meals to the city’s food palette. The mezze served at restaurants in Palermo have a distinct Middle Eastern touch and are a good option for vegetarians. You’ll find plant-based dishes like grilled eggplants with herbs or walnut with mashed red peppers, and feta cheese with peppers.   

4. Flan Mixto

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Image source: Su-Lin

This homemade dessert is basically made with eggs and milk. The Spanish version was modified by the locals who use dulce de leche (caramelized condensed milk) and whipped cream.

5. Matambre Relleno

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Image source: Valle del Jerte Asociación de Turismo del Valle del Jerte

Another classic recipe that finds its way into party menus, this is the stuffed version of popular Argentinean dish matambere. The flank steaks or thin cuts of beef are filled with stuffing including bacon, boiled eggs, dried tomatoes, bell peppers, barbecued sausage, marinated veggies or meat, potatoes, onions, and cheese. The filling is seasoned with herbs and spices and the steak is either rolled up or placed flat on the plate. Matambre relleno is usually served in restaurants as a cold appetizer with a Russian salad.

6. Pizzas and Faina

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Image source: Myrabella

Another gift from Italian immigrants, pizza shops are ubiquitous parts of the city streets. Pizzas here are cheesy and thick crust affairs. A classic version unique to the city is the fugazzeta with mozzarella and carmelised onions. This is usually accompanied by faina – a round, flatbread made with gazpacho beans.

If you bored of fugazzeta, there is always Neapolitana, with mozzarella, garlic and tomato, Calabrese, with chorizo and cuatro queso (4 types of cheese), Fontina with mozzarella, basil, sweet corn, fontina cheese and roasted peppers and basil, or pizza a la parrilla (barbecued pizza).

7. Ravioli

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Image source: Capitu (ou Marcela)

Italian influence on the food scene extends to pastas as well. Various fillings are served fresh in pasta shops across the city. A favourite street and home food version is ravioli stuffed with ricotta cheese, herbs and spinach or pumpkin.

8. Churros

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Image source: jennifer yin

That Argentineans have a sweet tooth is seen from their love for churros. These thorny stick-shaped doughnuts are crispy and greasy on the outside, and reveal a moist interior filled with dulce de leche or chocolate syrup. You’ll find street vendors serving the plain, fried version with a generous sprinkling of sugar.

9. Tortas (cakes)

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Image Credit: Amancay Maahs

If you love all things sweet, then give in to the temptation. Head to the nearest pastlerlia (bakery) and try some original postres or tortas. What makes them unique? These freshly baked cakes are tender, soft and very creamy compared to their European counterparts.

10. Facturas

dessert_buenos_aires-minImage source: Jean-Paul P.G.

This sweet dough recipe was introduced by European settlers. These pastries are found in bakeries (panaderias) across the city. Like media luna, these are either plain or stuffed with dulce de leche, quince paste or cream custard. They are covered in white or black sugar. You’re supposed to dunk them in your latte or cocido mate (yerba mate tea). 

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