Monday, December 3, 2012


Over the past year, I’ve written a number of articles on eating and cooking as it related to health and wellness.  These articles included objective reviews of organic and natural food products, cookbooks, restaurants and cooking prep tools, as well as interviews with chefs and wellness experts. 

While we need food to survive, the quality and choices of food has an impact on our nutritional health and well being.  I sometimes recall some of my earlier food choices, often cringing at what I used to put on my plate, including portion sizes.  Maturity offers the luxury of reflective assessment and learning from it; and while I’m by no means an expert on nutrition or dietary, I’m at least making a more concerted effort to stay informed, ask questions, read labels and cultivate the discipline to take passes on food choices that aren’t necessarily the healthiest.  So, this has been my experience and yours may be different.

A few important things I’ve learned along the way about healthy eating and food choices ~
·       Have a strategy and focus on it, but never beat yourself up if you meander from it.
·       Be steady and consistent.
·       Portion control is key.
·       Less is more.
·       Quality always trumps quantity.
·       Consume moderately and modestly.
·       Have a varied and diverse diet.
·       Avoid diets that are a fad or trend.
·       Never jeopardize your health for the sake of a food fad or trend.
·       When in doubt, ask your doctor, especially if you’re taking medications, have a compromised immune system.
·       Go for better food choices that are fresh, seasonal, natural, organic and unprocessed.
·       Eating involves engaging all of the senses; they’re the key indicators.  
·       Your health is a work in progress and a process. 

Following are some recent healthy food-related discoveries I wanted to share with you. 

~ Food to Enjoy ~

Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt ~
According to the Dannon website “…what makes Greek yogurt different from regular yogurt? We make our authentic Greek yogurt with a centuries-old straining method that removes the whey (liquid) from the yogurt. Called "yiaourti" in Greece, Greek yogurt is thick and creamy, and its production requires about three times the amount of milk used to make regular yogurt…” I’ve actually tried making my own Greek yogurt a few times; it’s a good substitute in a pinch, but can’t compare to authentically prepared Greek yogurt.  Greek yogurt is THE yogurt right now and depending on which brand selected, the tastes will vary, as will the price.  Dannon Oikos Greek Yogurt has found a way to authentically prepare its varieties with all of the healthy bacteria in it, and also without the fat content, often found in other brands.  The consistency is extremely rich and creamy.  While the Fruit At The Bottom varieties are delicious, I especially enjoyed the versatility of the Plain variety.  Using the Plain variety as a substitution in recipes that traditionally call for mayonnaise, sour cream or cream cheese, was a no-brainer.  Any recipe I used the Oikos Greek Yogurt in tasted delicious, making them healthier versions.  Dannon has also teamed up with Chef Richard Blais, an esteemed restaurateur, chef, author, television personality and winner of Bravo’s Top Chef All-Stars.  He has created a number of recipes of holiday favorites using the Dannon Oikos Fat-Free Greek Yogurt that are healthier versions of traditional food-fare.

Ikaati Tea ~
Ikaati is a celebration of time, taste and tradition.  Its foundational philosophy, “…that our well-being is enriched by health, pleasure and beauty….”, is the basis of their three collections, Nourish, Savor and Heritage.  These artisanal white, green and black teas are harvested from tea regions in Asia, including the Himalayas and Fujian China.  Nourish is an herbal tisane collection for promoting health; Savor combines subtle infusions of fruit and flowers; and, Heritage offers single note estate teas.  No matter which variety I tried, I found them to be refreshing, pure and clean; the flavors were never over-powering and retained a consistent depth of flavor throughout the entire cup.  These varieties can stand on their own, without adding any lemon or sweetener and were perfectly balanced each and every time brewed.  I also liked each artisan-crafted silken tea pouch that was hand tied.  As I grasped my cup of tea and inhaled the warmth of its sweet and soothing vapors, I was reminded of how much I needed to step back, breathe deeply and relax.

One Degree Organic Foods ~

This company makes a variety of USDA Certified Organic, including high-fiber whole grain breads. I had the pleasure of trying their USDA Certified Organic Veganic Organic Breads in Lentil Grain, Ancient Whole Wheat, Flax and Spelt, and Sesame Sunflower.  What is also innovative about these products is that the company prints out on each wrapper an OCR (optical character recognition) code and a tracking number; the OCR is for smartphone scans and the tracking number for online queries.  This information can be then be used by the consumer to obtain further information on the specific bread that is unique to its manufacturer.  Consumers are directed to a web page that not only lists the ingredients and nutritional content of their bread, but it will also identified which of their farms the grain came from to make their bread.  I enjoyed all four varieties and found each one quite delicious, with a moist chewiness, versus a cardboard consistency like so many other “comparable” whole grain high-fiber breads.  Toasting brought out the individual sweetness of the whole grain ingredients and each variety made a hearty and tasty French toast.

~ For Healthy Food Prep & Beyond ~

Knork Flatware ~
Eating implements are one of those things that people don’t pay too much attention too and treat as a mundane, albeit necessary component to dining.  However, Knork Flatware has found a way to elevate the eating implement to an art form.  Knork is ergonomically designed with sleek durability and proper balance to its shaft, making it intuitively natural to the eating process.  The curved head of the fork is designed for ease of cutting, where the edge functions like a knife, yet without any sharp angles; the inner tines are slightly scooped, making for effortless spearing, but also lifting.  Conventionally designed eating implements make eating clumsy, which also adds to putting stress to the wrist area in maneuverability.  The sleek design works well with formal and informal dining.  I found the big plus in its ergonomic design and ease of balancing the shaft of the implement while holding it; whether it was fork, knife or spoon, the mundane eating implement became the exceptional.

Microplane Kitchen Tools ~
Precision crafted Microplaning and Grating implements make healthy food preparation economical, efficient and effortless.  Use the whole food item with virtually no waste by making sure to use the proper plane and grater head to suit the task.  The tasks of ribbon planing and zesting/grating require two different heads to achieve the results.  Using a Ribbon planer is suitable for planing chocolate, carrot and soft cheeses.  Using a Zester/Grater (Premium Classic) planer is suitable for ginger, citrus, garlic, coconut and hard cheeses.  The tasks of coarse, fine and shaped grating also require different grates to achieve these results.  Using an Extra Coarse Grater is suitable for grating onion, potato, soft cheese, zucchini, carrots and cabbage.  Using a Star Grater (Gourmet Series), with its star-shaped grate heads, will yield fine and fluffy grates of hard cheeses such as Parmesan.  These lightweight implements have protective poly sleeves and non-skid easy grip handles.  The overall ergonomic design offers balance and stability; the Graters also have a non-skid end stabilizer strip.  No foodie should be without these implements.

~ Healthy Dining Options ~

Fresco 21 A Mediterranean Kitchen ~
Fresco 21 A Mediterranean Kitchen opened its doors a few months ago with a mission to offer the freshest food fare that embraced the healthy profile of the Mediterranean diet, the concept of farm to table and sea to table, local and sustainable.  Fresco 21 is located in the InterContinental O’Hare Hotel (Rosemont, IL), in close proximity to Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport and the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center.  What many love about Mediterranean cuisine is that it’s fresh, pure and healthy.  It uses the freshest of ingredients in their natural state whether its from land and sea, and doesn’t require any additives, preservatives or processing, thereby maintaining food at its most natural and healthy state.  The Mediterranean cuisine is also one of the healthiest known cuisines around.  Fresco 21 is an authentic and upscale Mediterranean restaurant, which continues the tradition of offering healthy cuisine, while catering to all dietary needs.  Fresco 21’s culinary wizard Chef de Cuisine Cameron Grant created a delicious menu that includes cold and hot tapas, wood-fire pizzas, whole grain artisanal breads, seasonal vegetables, fresh seafood, aged meats, free-range poultry, artisanal cheeses, and tantalizing sweets.  I recently had the pleasure of dining at this restaurant and enjoyed a sampling of menu items.  Each plate was distinctive and delicious and beautifully plated and visually attractive.  A few of the tastings included Seared Diver Scallop on Butternut Squash Puree, with Maple Syrup Gastrique, Brussels Sprout Leaves, Fried Artichoke and Black Pepper Accents, the Butternut Squash Ravioli with Wild Mushroom, Corn and Grape Tomatoes, Parmesan Cream; and, Lasagna Bolognese in a Red Wine, Veal Stock, Cream.  The flavors were fresh, vibrant, flavorful and delicious.

That’s it for this edition.  Until the next one, remember to take care of yourself and those you love.

By Terry Herman

Terry Herman is a recognized expert in the industry, and regularly covers issues that include business, management, operations, customer care, treatments, products, and trends. In addition to writing and reviewing, she is also a management consultant and motivational speaker.  She also serves on EXPERIENCE | PREMCHIT Journeys In Retreat To Wellness Advisory Board, which is comprised of ten international experts in various fields of wellness and spa.  She also serves as a Group Manager for the popular LinkedIn group, The Spa Buzz.  You can email her at


(Opening photo credit by; all other photo creditss as represented by the specific brand.)

N.B.  Google’s blog platform is incompatible with my Mac OS X and Firefox browser latest software versions, which is why some web links appear in different colors and why when attempting to have embedded images their sizing is consistent and/or can’t be sized. 

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