Eating healthy & fresh – options & workarounds

26 Oct 2019

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Eating healthy & fresh – options & workarounds

So many people fight the traffic and come home from work tired and hungry. You want to feed your family well but the idea of chopping and prepping a real meal for your family is daunting. Add hungry kids to the formula and it’s a bigger challenge. Decision time. Few, if any, good options.

Restaurants on a weeknight? Pack the family in the minivan, wait for your table with hungry tired kids. Then you’re presented with a menu & it’s hard to stick to healthy options. You leave after eating foods you’d be better off avoiding, and likely paid more than you planned on spending. The evening is done & that homework still needs done. Or else, a green slip is headed your way from the teacher.

You could opt for home delivery like pizza, which is always a crowd pleaser. But you can’t feed your family pizza 4 times a week. Now there are options like Uber Eats, Doordash or GrubHub to help. Those help fill a gap on a busy night but it’s far from a long term solution. You’re going to blow your budget on delivery fees and once again your feeding your family less than healthy options.

Prepared meals are the go-to for a lot of busy folks. Many grocery stores offer meal kits or premade options. Although they are slightly healthier than pizza, you’re likely to get burnt out quickly on the limited menu options week after week. Most stores offer 3-5 options for this, and even if they are healthy and budget friendly and easy to cook, you’re going to find yourself dying for a little variety on your plate.

Of course, there are meal kit delivery choices. This eliminates some work, with less grocery shopping and expanded menu choices. But they tend to be light on the leftovers and they don’t really free up your time. The menu might be decided, but you’re still the one chopping and cooking after a long day of work. Not to mention the pile of dishes waiting for you after dinner. They also don’t eliminate grocery shopping all together. You’re still going to be heading to the store every few days for staples like milk and fruit. And those subscriptions don’t manage themselves make sure to set an alarm on your phone to set your menu every week, and don’t forget about when the auto withdraw comes out of your bank account.

Cooked & frozen meal delivery services are an option. But even though you might be ordering your food based on beautifully plated pictures on a website, what you receive is going to look more like something from a cafeteria. Of course, it’s still chef prepared and that alone might be a big step up if you aren’t yourself a culinary master. Just don’t forget to budget for delivery fees here too. And the meals are shipped from afar in bulky boxes. Who knows when they were cooked?

Grocery delivery services like insta cart are good way to keep your fridge stocked with all the healthy options you want to have on hand. But they can’t give you the motivation to cook at the end of a long day.

Give our Genies a try. Schedule an in home cooking session with them. They will shop, cook & clean up after themselves. You are left to enjoy fresh home cooked meals – except you don’t have to do the cooking.


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Eat less sugar 5 Quick Tips to Cut Down on Your Sugar Intake

27 Nov 2022

According to the American Heart Association, the average adult consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar per day, which is more than three times the recommended amount. High sugar intake leads to many health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Reducing sugar can be difficult, but making small changes is essential to improve your overall health. Why should you cut down on sugar? 

  • It is high in calories and can contribute to weight gain. 
  • It raises your blood sugar levels, leading to type 2 diabetes. 
  • It increases your risk of heart disease by causing damage to your arteries. 

How much sugar is too much?  

The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that women consume no more than six teaspoons (25 grams) of sugar per day and men consume no more than nine teaspoons (36 grams) per day. This recommendation is the equivalent of about 100 calories (about 8 minutes of running) per day for women and 150 calories (about 12 minutes of running) per day for men.  

When choosing foods and beverages, check the nutrition label for their sugar. You may also want to avoid foods and drinks high in “added sugars,” such as cakes, cookies, candies, and sugary beverages. 

The problem with a lot of sugar 

While sugar may taste sweet, consuming too much can lead to serious health problems. Here are some ways that sugar can cause harm: 

  1. Contribute to weight gain: When you eat sugary foods, your blood sugar level rises, and your pancreas release insulin. Insulin then helps to store the sugar in your liver through glycogen. However, your liver can only hold so much glycogen, and any excess gets stored as fat. Over time, this can lead to weight gain. 
  2. Triggers inflammation: Inflammation is the body’s natural response to infection or injury. However, chronic inflammation can cause numerous health problems, such as heart disease and arthritis. Sugar contributes to inflammation in the body. 
  3. Affects hormone levels: Consuming too much sugar can disrupt the delicate balance of hormones in the body, leading to problems such as insulin resistance and PCOS (polycystic ovarian syndrome). 
  4. Damages the liver: The liver is responsible for processing all the sugar consumed. Too much sugar can overload the liver and lead to fatty liver disease. 
  5. Shortens life expectancy: A large study that followed over 6,000 people for eight years found that those who consumed 25% or more of their calories from sugar had a significantly increased risk of dying during the study period than those who consumed less sugar.  
  6. Causes cavities: When you eat sugary foods, the bacteria in your mouth feed on the sugar and produce acid. This acid then breaks down the tooth enamel, leading to cavities. 

You might be consuming more sugar than you realize   

Many of us are unaware of just how much sugar we consume daily. Sugar is not just an ingredient in candy and desserts; a wide variety of processed foods contain sugar, from bread and cereal to peanut butter and salad dressing.  

In addition, many of us drink sugary beverages such as soda and fruit juice. While they may seem harmless, these drinks have copious amounts of sugar. As a result, we may be consuming more sugar than we realize. Here are some examples of common foods that contain high levels of sugar: 

  1. Breakfast cereals: Many types of popular breakfast cereal contain sugar, including those marketed as “healthy.” A single serving of some can have as much as 30 grams of sugar. 
  2. Flavored yogurt: Yogurt is a healthy food, but many commercially available yogurts have added sugar. A cup of flavored yogurt can contain up to 40 grams of sugar. 
  3. Granola bars: If you have been thinking of granola bars as a healthy snack, they can be remarkably high in sugar. A single bar can contain up to 15 grams of sugar. 
  4. Sports drinks: Marketers often tout them as a healthy way to rehydrate after exercise, but these can be high in sugar. A single bottle of sports drink can contain up to 34 grams of sugar. 

These are just a few examples of foods containing hidden sugars. To reduce sugar intake, you must be aware of the potential sources of hidden sugars in your diet. 

Added sweeteners in our diet 

The modern diet contains added sweeteners, from sugar and honey to corn syrup and molasses. While some sweeteners are natural, others are highly processed and refined. So, are they healthy or harmful? 

Natural Sweeteners 

Let us start with natural sweeteners. Sugar is made from sugar cane or sugar beets and is composed of sucrose molecules. It has been a sweetener for centuries and is safe in moderation. However, too much sugar can lead to weight gain, tooth decay, and type 2 diabetes.  

Honey is another popular natural sweetener made by bees from flower nectar. Like sugar, it is composed of sucrose molecules. Honey has fewer calories than sugar and contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. However, it can still cause weight gain if consumed in excessive amounts. 

Processed Sweeteners 

Now let us look at processed sweeteners. Corn syrup is made from corn starch and is composed of glucose molecules. It is often used in processed foods because it is cheaper than sugar and has a longer shelf life. However, corn syrup has been linked to obesity and type 2 diabetes.  

Artificial sweeteners are also widely used in processed foods. They are usually many times sweeter than sugar but have very few calories. While artificial sweeteners are a healthy alternative to sugar, recent studies have shown that they may cause weight gain and other health problems. 

Is it healthy or harmful? 

So, are added sweeteners healthy or harmful? The answer is that it depends on the type of sweetener you consume. In moderation, natural sweeteners like sugar and honey are safe, but you should consume processed sweeteners like corn syrup and artificial sweeteners with caution. 

Tips to cut back on sugar 

The added sugar in processed foods can harm your health, causing weight gain, diabetes, and other chronic conditions. Luckily, there are a few simple steps you can take to cut back on your sugar intake: 

  1. Focus on breakfast: It is no secret that most people consume too much sugar. The average American consumes about 22 teaspoons of sugar every day, which is far more than the recommended limit of 6 teaspoons. One of the best ways to reduce sugar intake is to focus on breakfast.
    Breakfast usually includes sugary items like flavored oatmeal, pancakes, and waffles. However, there are several ways to make a healthier breakfast low in sugar. For example, you could try plain oatmeal with fresh fruit or whole-grain toast with peanut butter.  
  2. Think before reaching for beverages: Reducing sugary drinks is one of the simplest ways to reduce sugar intake. When choosing a beverage, consider whether you need added sugar. Water, unsweetened coffee, tea, and milk are all great options to help you stay hydrated without loading up on sugar.
    If you choose a sugary drink, opt for a smaller size, or look for brands offering lower-sugar alternatives. With a bit of thought and effort, you can easily cut back on your sugar intake by making smarter choices regarding beverages. 
  3. Check your food closet: When cutting back on sugar, one of the best places to start is your kitchen. Look through your food pantry and identify any items high in sugar. Once you have made a list, see if you can swap them with healthier alternatives. For example, you could choose oatmeal or eggs instead of processed cereal. Or, instead of sugary snacks, you could snack on fruits and vegetables.
    By making simple changes like these, you can drastically reduce the amount of sugar in your diet. Consider reading food labels more carefully. Many foods that are known to be healthy contain substantial amounts of sugar. By being more mindful of what you are eating, you can make better choices that will help you cut back on sugar and improve your overall health.  
  4. Stealth sugar: One sneaky way sugar can find its way into your diet is through ketchup and other common condiments. While ketchup may not taste overly sweet, it contains a fair amount of sugar. The same is true for other condiments like BBQ sauce, honey mustard, and even some varieties of salsa.
    Instead of buying readymade condiments, you can prepare them at home. This way, you can control how much sugar goes into the recipe.
    Another option is to look for brands of ketchup that are lower in sugar. Some brands offer “no sugar added” or “reduced sugar” varieties. Or you could use less ketchup overall. Instead of smothering your burger in ketchup, try using it more sparingly as a dipping sauce or flavoring agent.  
  5. Alternative to desserts: Sometimes, it can be challenging to cut back on sugar when it is a ubiquitous part of our diets. One way to reduce sugar intake is to replace desserts with healthier options. For example, you could enjoy fruit instead of eating a slice of cake. Or, if you are craving something chocolatey, you could have a few squares of dark chocolate instead of a candy bar.

Conclusion 

Reducing sugar intake can be achieved by making minor changes to your diet and lifestyle. You can quickly reduce sugar intake by replacing sugary drinks with water or unsweetened alternatives, eating more whole foods, and limiting processed snacks and sweets. Additionally, watching portion sizes and being mindful of added sugars in foods can help you stay within your desired sugar budget. Making these changes may require some effort initially, but the health benefits are well worth it. So, take the first step today towards a healthier you. 

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Everything You Need to Know About Friendsgiving Celebration

04 Nov 2022

Friendsgiving is a relatively new holiday celebrated among friends, typically around Thanksgiving. The holiday originated in the United States but has since spread to other countries. Most people celebrate Friendsgiving with a potluck-style meal, where each person brings a dish to share. The holiday is also often marked by festive activities such as board games, football watching, and pumpkin carving. Friendsgiving is a time to come together and celebrate friendship and is often considered to be more low-key and relaxed than traditional Thanksgiving celebrations. Whether it is a potluck dinner party or a simple gathering of close friends, Friendsgiving is a time to come together and express gratitude for the role that friends play in our lives.  

Origin of Friendsgiving

Since there is no definitive origin story for Friendsgiving, the exact origins of this popular holiday remain a mystery. Some might say it was brought into the mainstream by a popular TV show, while others might point to social media trends. Whatever the case may be, one thing is sure, over time, Friendsgiving has become a beloved tradition for many people worldwide, offering a chance to gather with friends and family in celebration for expressing love and gratitude.  

Friends TV Show

Generally, the popular TV show “Friends is given credit for starting the Friendsgiving celebration. The show first aired in November 1994, wherein one of its episodes, many characters faced different challenges and obstacles that kept them from returning home for Thanksgiving, so they ended up spending the holiday together in Monica’s apartment.  

While there are no direct references to Friendsgiving in that episode, it is clear that it was a special time for these friends. They enjoyed each other’s company and shared a meal, bonding over their struggles and celebrating their friendships. Over time, this concept of coming together with loved ones to celebrate Friendsgiving caught on among people across the country, becoming an important tradition for many families.   

Twitter

Twitter has played an essential role in the rise of Friendsgiving, as it was one of the first platforms to popularize the term online. Through its viral nature and immediacy, Twitter allowed people worldwide to connect easily with each other around this new holiday. Furthermore, social media influencers could use their platforms to promote Friendsgiving and encourage others to celebrate in this way.  

Bailey’s Irish Cream Took It Further Up

The role of Bailey’s Irish Cream in starting the popular Friendsgiving celebration is significant, as this liqueur was one of the first to capitalize on the growing trend. Through its “Friendsgiving with Baileys” campaign, Bailey’s helped to bring much-needed attention and visibility to this festive holiday gathering.  

By tapping into the values central to Friendsgiving—including joy, togetherness, and community—Bailey’s played a substantial role in paving the way for this celebration to become a national phenomenon. The ad campaign encouraged people across the country to throw their potluck dinners, sharing food and drinks with their friends to build stronger connections and create lasting memories.  

Also Read: Winter Warm-Up: Cozy Dinner Recipes to Chase Away the Chill

How to celebrate Friendsgiving?

While there is no thumb rule to celebrate Friendsgiving or any special occasion, if your need some suggestions to make the day more special for everyone, here are 5 of the most popular:  

  • Potluck Style: One of the great things about Friendsgiving is that it is usually potluck style so that everyone can contribute a dish. A potluck-style celebration makes the party more affordable and lowers the stress of hosting a large gathering.  
  • Game Night: What better way to celebrate friendship than with some friendly competition? Board games, card games, and charades are all great options for a fun-filled evening.  
  • Cook-Off: If your friends are foodies, why not have a cook-off? Assign teams and give them an ingredient or dish to make. Then have everyone vote on their favorite.  
  • Movie Marathon: For a more low-key evening, gather blankets and pillows and have a movie marathon. Choose a theme, like holiday movies or romantic comedies, to make it even more fun.  
  • Scavenger Hunt: Another excellent option for friends who like to be active is to organize a scavenger hunt. Hide items around the house or neighborhood and see who can find them all first.   
  • Hire a Personal Chef: One of the best ways to make sure your Friendsgiving feast is extra special is to hire a personal chef. A personal chef can custom-tailor a menu to fit your taste and budget, and they will take care of all the shopping and cooking so that you can relax and enjoy your time with your friends. And because every good Friendsgiving includes plenty of time for catch-up and laughs, a personal chef will also handle all the clean-up so that you can keep the party going well into the night. So if you want to make this year’s Friendsgiving extra special, hire a personal chef and let them take care of everything.  

Food Ideas

While the menu for Friendsgiving can vary greatly, some dishes are sure to please everyone. Here are some of the top foods to serve at your Friendsgiving feast:  

  • Turkey: Turkey is the centerpiece of most Thanksgiving dinners and can also be an excellent addition to Friendsgiving. Roast turkey is always a hit, but you can get creative with your turkey preparation by deep frying, smoking, or even grilling it.  
  • Mashed potatoes: Mashed potatoes are another essential Thanksgiving dish, and they’re perfect for Friendsgiving too. Creamy mashed potatoes with plenty of butter and milk are sure to be a hit, but you can also get creative by adding shredded cheese, bacon bits, or green onions.  
  • Stuffing: Stuffing is another ideal dish that’s perfect for Friendsgiving. Whether you make it with traditional bread crumbs or add some wild rice or other grains, stuffing is always a welcome addition to the table.  
  • Green bean casserole: Green bean casserole is a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners and can also go well for Friendsgiving. This creamy casserole made with fresh green beans, mushrooms, and crispy onions is sure to be a hit.  
  • Pumpkin pie: Pumpkin pie is the quintessential dessert you can include in your Friendsgiving celebration. Serve this classic dessert made with rich pumpkin puree, spices, and a flaky pie crust, and your guests will ask for seconds.  

Also Read: Hiring a Personal Chef: What to Expect in Terms of Cost?

Gift Ideas

If you’re looking for the perfect gift to bring to your Friendsgiving celebration, you may consider these gift ideas:  

  • A festive bottle of wine or champagne: What better way to toast to friendships old and new than with a delicious bottle of wine?  
  • An assortment of festive desserts: Your friends will surely appreciate a sweet treat, from pies to cookies to cakes.  
  • A scented candle: Add some ambiance to your Friendsgiving dinner table with a scented candle. Choose a scent that reminds you of fall, such as pumpkin spice or cinnamon.  
  • A festive tablecloth or napkins: Help your friends dress up their dining table for the occasion with a beautiful tablecloth or festive napkins.  
  • A personalized Friendsgiving card. Express gratitude for your friends and all they’ve meant to you over the years. Let them know how much you appreciate their friendship with a heartfelt message inside a beautiful card.  
  • Give a CookinGenie gift card: Giving a CookinGenie gift card to your friend on Friendsgiving can be a unique and thoughtful idea. This gift card allows your friend to hire a personal chef from CookinGenie, who will cook a delicious meal for them and their guests on this special occasion. The customizable option allows you to choose the best denomination per your budget. Additionally, it is a great way to express gratitude to your friend for all they have done throughout the years and show that you appreciate their friendship on this important day.  

In conclusion, Friendsgiving is a great way to show your friends how much you care about them. By planning and preparing a meal together, you can create lasting memories and strengthen your bonds of friendship. And, of course, don’t forget the essential part of any Friendsgiving celebration: the food! Good food is essential to a successful Friendsgiving gathering, whether you’re preparing a traditional Thanksgiving feast or something unique to your taste. So get cooking, invite your friends over, and enjoy all the best Friendsgiving offers. 

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Halloween-Party-Meal

28 Oct 2022

At CookinGenie, we take pride in cooking up every out-of-the-box request our customers make. Because creating extraordinary dining experiences is our passion! So, we got creative when a customer requested we whipped up a Halloween party meal.   

Our Halloween menu for six has the spookiest American dishes with the scariest ingredients: bats, zombies, eyeballs, faces, and skulls. The perfect addition to an eerie Halloween meal!  

  • Flayed Man Cheese “Ball” with Dark Rye Bread  

A classic American appetizer, our Cheese Ball is made by whipping together the softest cream cheese and grated cheese until the mixture is smooth. We give the dish a scary twist by adding a flayed face. Eew!   

Carefully arranged with Dark Rye Bread, it is the perfect Halloween appetizer!  

  • Bat Toasts  

Bats are to Halloween what toasts are to every American meal – indispensable! So, we put together both these classic traditions. That’s right. We’re serving Bat Toasts!   

Another creative twist on the classic meal course, Bat Treats are made with rye bread and your choice of spread and filling. It’s the perfect serving as a side dish for a Halloween meal.  

  • Zombie Eyes  

Serving up some eerie delights is the menu’s main course. Tender, moist, and full of delightful flavor, this meatball and spaghetti dish is costumed for the occasion!  

This dish uses the meatball to look like eyeballs. We place halved black olives between slices of string cheese to make up the pupil and iris and put these on the “eyeball.” Ketchup is the glue to hold all these together (and to look like blood!). Spaghetti around each eyeball adds effect.  

  • Upchucking’ Halloween Pasta Salad with Crazy Caprese Eyes  

One of the most iconic Halloween symbols is a pumpkin. So, we can’t leave it out of our dining arrangements. But first, we mix pasta, fresh veggies, and flavorful dressing for a yummy Pasta Salad.  

Then we slice cheese and fresh tomatoes and layer the cheese on top of the tomatoes. We cut and lay out olives as the last layer and lay out these layers to look like eyes floating around, to make the salad “eerie.”    

For the final touch, we take a pumpkin, cut holes for eyes and a mouth and arrange it to look like it’s upchuckin’ the pasta salad. Yuck!  

It’s the perfect Halloween side dish!  

  • Horrible Face Hummus Dip with Black and Orange Tortilla Chips  

A creepy face that’s trying to claw itself out of a plate! What could be a better addition to your Halloween meal?  

Hummus made from chickpeas and seasoned with fresh spices makes an excellent dip. We also cleverly arrange Black and Orange Tortilla Chips to add even more Halloween color to your dining.  

Also Read: Hiring a Personal Chef: What to Expect in Terms of Cost?

  • Cheesy Broccoli and Chicken Stuffed Skulls   

We have cooked up a storm for Halloween, but this dish takes the prize. The ultimate Halloween dish is a plate of pizza crust skulls made using a unique skull-shaped mold. Creamy stuffing made from cheese, broccoli, and chicken adds flavor.  

These are great ideas for your own Halloween meal, even if it might taste different than a professional chef preparing it. Happy Halloween! 

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