Great information on Spices.

Food Democracy

The beginning of the year is a good time to go through and clean out your spice cabinet.

Spices and herbs are aromatic natural products. Spices are the dried seeds, buds, fruit or flower parts, bark, or roots of plants, usually of tropical origin. Herbs are the leaves and sometimes the flowers of plants, usually grown in a climate similar to the Mediterranean. After they are harvested they do not spoil, but they do lose their strength.

Shelf Life

Here’s what you can expect from your ingredients:

IngredientShelf Life
Herbs1 to 3 Years
Extracts4 Years, except pure vanilla, which lasts indefinitely
Ground Spices2 to 3 Years
Whole Spices 3 to 4 Years
Seasoning Blends 1 to 2 Years

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Know What You Are Eating

What nutrients did you put in your body today? You should know and if you have children you should always know what you are feeding them. By the end of today nearly 1/4 of Americans will have eaten at a fast food restaurant, some just go through the drive thru and use their lap as a table setting. So as you are enjoying this “family meal” do yo know what you are really eating? The typical fast food meals is a hamburger , french fries and a shake. So whats in that hamburger that you are eating? The hamburgers are not made from the restaurant you are eating at, they are  now made in gigantic factories. There was a time when hamburgers were made from beef from one cow. Fast food chains use to buy their meat from local suppliers in a local region. So fewer cattle were use to get the meat. The fast food chain had such a demand for hamburger meat that tasted the same they helped create factories to make ground beef. It’s all very scientific. Today a typical fast food hamburger has dozens or hundreds of strips of beef from different cattle, in different regions blended together. So, if you have one sick cow in the batch, then the risk of getting sick is greater. Just about all the food in a fast food industry is processed, so much of the flavor is destroyed. So flavor has to be added. For example chicken McNuggets contain different additives including beef extract, the French fries contain animal products and they won’t say which animal, and the buns and condiments also have artificial additives added to them.


The real cost of eating the food isn’t reflected in the price on the menu, it is the NUTRITIONAL VALUE OF YOUR MEAL. If you think the food you are eating from this fast food restaurant is good, read the nutritional content you are eating salt, fat and sugars. So when you look at the rise in the obesity rate of people and the rise in the success of the fast food chains they parallel each other. About 300,000 people die each year from being obese or overweight, this is second only to smoking. Fast food isn’t the only reason people are gaining weight, but it contributes to it.



Let Us Make Your Life Easier



Cooking Lessons from Home is a meal planning service dedicated to supporting families in preparing the healthiest meals, making sustainable dietary and lifestyle changes for your family to achieve a more balanced life in natural health and proper nutrition. With our team of chefs, nutritionists and health coaches, we will help you  navigate the world of contradictory nutrition and the overwhelming task of selecting the healthiest recipes for your family. I created Cooking Lessons from Home in 2008 when my kids left for college. Like most parents, I was concerned that my kids weren’t eating well, they seem to get sick a lot, they were tired and spent a lot of money on take out foods, well some of this is to blame on college life…but if your body does not get the proper whole food nutrition it needs, it simply cannot be healthy. One day my son Andrew called from the grocery store, he said he was tired of eating packaged foods and fast foods and asked me what he should make for dinner that was healthy… at that moment I knew I could help him and many other kids just like him. I began to send him healthy recipes, with easy to follow directions and ingredients that were within his budget, soon  my website began to evolve, family members and friends that work full time, even my tennis friends were asking me to help them plan healthy menus for their families, and here we are today. My hope for this menu planning service is to share the importance of proper nutrition and how to make real food a part of your life. So clean off the kitchen table we are bringing our families back home to eat and to enjoy each others company and to find balance and health in our lives.


Vanilla or Chocolate?

Teaching your child to make good choices is one of the most important elements of raising a well-behaved, empowered, and healthy child. Helping your children learn the difficult skill of making positive, appropriate choices is a big part of parenting and this skill will stay with your child through adulthood, it’s a part of being self-disciplined and taking responsibility for making life’s choices.

We are faced with choices everyday in our life, some are big important choices and others are less important, but a child who is skilled at consciously making choices will understand her own needs, and gain a sense of control over her own life.

Here are some tips about teaching choice to your child:

  • When a child is making choices about her      behavior, you can point out the choice and the consequences of it. We have      all seen in the movies the little angel on one shoulder and the devil on      the other shoulder, this is a great way to teach younger children to think      about the choices they have and the consequences of their choice.
  • You are a role model. Children learn how to      make big choices by watching you do it, and by gaining experience through      making little choices.
  • Never give a choice you aren’t willing to      follow through on. That means if you say, “Either you clean your room or      we are not going out to dinner tonight,” you should be prepared to start      cooking.
  • Food Choices: It’s your responsibility to keep      your child safe and healthy. Keep food choices healthy, and allow your      child to choose what to eat. If your kid chooses to eat only cookies and      ice cream, stop having them as a choice.
  • Choices teach how to prioritize. Older      children can use choices to learn how to prioritize. State what chores,      homework, or activities need to be accomplished by a specific tie and      allow your child to choose how to prioritize to get them done.
  • Once a choice has been made, be clear as to      when it becomes final. This can be a challenge to some parents, remember      you have a choice too!
  • Which brings us to the question, What if your      child doesn’t like her choice? That can be hard for a wimpy parent to      watch. It can even be hard for a strong, reasonable parent to watch.      Nobody enjoys watching a child be disappointed. But making a choice      entails learning to live with the choice that’s been made. Don’t “rescue”      your child from her experiences; it may make her feel better in the long      run, but it ultimately won’t teach her anything at all. Disappointment is      a good teaching tool, and discipline is teaching.
  • Choice Expands with Age: As an adult, you have      free choice about many aspects of life. You’ve earned that. Children start      out unable to handle anything but the simplest choices. As kids get older,      the choices become more complex, and they should.
  • Choice Builds Strength in Character. I      understand it tough to cut that umbilical cord of life with our children,      as parents we feel like we must always be there to protect our child from      of life’s pains. A child’s best defense is the ability to make safe, wise      choices, and this is a skill that takes practice. Help your child by      guiding her through the choice making process. That’s really all you can      do, and that’s often more than enough.

References: Family Education

Garlic is in Season Now!


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Dear Andrew, Addison Family and Friends,

Yes garlic does have a season and the season is now. Here are some facts you probably didn’t know about garlic.

Garlic is a vegetable, its in the onion family.

Garlic has been found to have antifungal, antiviral and antibacterial activity.

It dates back 6,000 years ago and it is believed to be from Asia.

Garlic is also claimed to have positive effects on high blood pressure, high cholesterol and certain cancers.

Don’t be lazy and buy the chopped garlic in the jars, that type of garlic taste horrible., your mom raised you better than that.  Buy the real thing.  You may see several varieties of garlic at the market. One variety is called Green Garlic. Green garlic refers to newly formed garlic heads still attached to their greens, usually a local specialty. Their cloves are milky and the flavor extremely mild and delicious. Green garlic should be refrigerated, but dried heads can be stored at room temperature on the counter or in a clay jar made for garlic. If you ever see garlic with the color purple at the tips buy that one, that is the French variety and it is very good, but it has a limited season too. At the market look at the garlic, if it looks too dry, don’t buy it, look for one that isn’t black, bruised or too dry. I buy at least 2 per week. One head of garlic I roast, then I cover it in olive oil and save it during the week to add to vegetables, salad and breads. The other head of garlic I add to meat,, sauces salads and soups.

Here is how to Roast a Whole Head of Garlic

Preheat the oven to 350*. Rub off the outer papery skin, but leave the cloves encased. (I love the way garlic is in little individual packages, its like a gift in every clove that you have to unwrap.)  Set the head of garlic upright on a piece of aluminum foil, drizzle with olive oil. Wrap the garlic up well so the oil won’t leak all over your oven. Bake for about 45 minutes. Remove from oven and let it cool. The cool thing about this roasted garlic is you can put this into your refrigerator just like it is and when you need some garlic, pull the head out and squeeze as much garlic as you need, then return the rest to the refrigerator for later use. This will remain fresh in your refrigerator up to 2 weeks, but I am sure it will be gone by then.

A Midsummer Night Treat

Texas Department of Assistive and Rehabilitati...

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Dear Andrew, Addison, Friends and Family,

Here in Texas we have had temperatures in the 100’s for quite some time now. It is so hot I don’t want to turn the oven on or even stand outside over the grill. So we have been living off of salads and quick stir fry‘s. Every Saturday morning I head to the farmers market and support our local farmers. I don’t know how their produce is withstanding these hot temperatures, my garden is dead, more on that later.  So with my market basket full of fresh produce, here is a summer treat I think you all will enjoy.

Summer Fruit parfait

1 1/2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1/4 cup nonfat milk

1 cup low fat cottage cheese

1/3 cup low fat plain yogurt

1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla

pinch of salt

tablespoons organic sugar

3 ripe peaches

2 cups of any fruit you like, I am using raspberries, blueberries and strawberries

2 tablespoons finely crushed gingersnaps


A purée of cottage cheese and yogurt, makes a luxurious, low fat substitute for ice cream and whipped cream.

In a small pan, sprinkle gelatin over the milk, stir and let stand for several minutes to soften. In a food processor, combine cottage cheese, yogurt, vanilla, salt and sugar. Process until smooth. Place the saucepan with the softened gelatin over low heat and stir until the gelatin granules have dissolved, about 2 minutes. Cover and refrigerate about 2 hours. Slice peaches and combine in a bowl with berries or other fruit. Toss to mix. Assemble the parfait in glasses, alternating layers of the cheese and fruit mixture. Dust with crumbles of gingersnaps. You can refrigerate this until needed. Enjoy and stay cool.

All The Tea in China…(town)

Green tea

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Dear Andrew, Addison, Family and Friends;

Jonathan and I are going back to San Francisco this weekend, I can’t wait!   Jonathan is going for work and for me well I will see my publisher, then I’m off to the Farmer’s markets, and Chinatown. In Chinatown, we have discovered the most fascinating teahouses. On our last visit to Chinatown, Jonathan and I found this great teahouse and the owner was kind enough to spend an hour with us teaching us about teas.  Did you know that tea is the most popular beverage in the world next to water! Some people believe tea was first used by herbalist for medicinal purposes, today Eastern doctors still prescribe tea for specific ailments. I drink tea because I know it is good for me and I like the taste of green tea. There are more than 1,500 types of tea to choose from because over 25 countries cultivate tea as a plantation crop; China is one of the main producers of tea. Just like wine, the diversity of tea is a result of the differences in soil, climate, elevation, and other factors. Basically there are three types of tea: black (or red), green, and oolong. Each type is distinguished by the amount of fermentation that takes place in processing it. Fermentation is necessary to enhance flavor of the tea leaf.  The longer the fermentation process, the more caffeine it contains and the darker it becomes.  Tea is also classified according to regions or smaller districts, such as Chinese, Japanese, or Indonesian or Assam (India), Uva (Sri Lanka), or Enshu (Japan). Tea is also classified by the size of its processed leaf. As you can see there is alot to learn about teas and many teas to taste. Green tea is thought to be responsible fro the long-life helth of Asian cultures, green tea is filled with powerful antioxidants which have been linked with many health benefits including weight loss. The powerful antioxidant that is specific to green tea is called EGCG. During the past 40 years, thousands  of studies on green tea have been conducted around the world. This research has demonstrated that EGCG, could enhance the immune system functions by guarding against oxidants and free radicals that weaken the body’s natural defense system. Help regulalte chollesterol levels. Lower the risk of stroke by making blood platelets less “sticky”. Help control blood sugar levels, assist in weight loss, ward off viruses, fungi and food-borne bacteria, and slow the aging process down. 

I am going to go back to the tea houses and I am going to try out a “herbalist” too, I will let you know what I learned.  

Love From Home,

Kim Wechsler


Tea’s Wonderful History, L.K. Yee


Sunflower seeds, hulled and dehulled. Focus st...

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Dear Andrew, Addison, Family and Friends;

I know several of you have an allergy to peanut butter, well a friend told me about Sunbutter. I bought it and I have used it on toast, pb&j and even with granola, its great and it really taste good.  Sunbutter is sunflower seeds not peanuts. Sunflower seed are roasted then ground into a spread as a replacement for peanuts. It is peanut-free, tree nut-free, and taste really good. It available in natural, natural crunch, organic and natural with Omega-3. For 2 tablespoons there is 140 calories f rom fat, 16 grams of Fat; 0 mg of cholesterol, 120 mg of sodium, 7 grams of total carbohydrates. The shelf life is a lot shorter than most peanut butters, so be sure to look at the expiration date. I bought this jar from Kroger in the Organic section of the market.    

I will bake with it this week and let you know how it stands the test.

Try it you may like it.

Love From Home,

Kim Wechsler

Tilapia with Cucumber Relish

tilapia fish

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Dear Andrew, Addison, Family and Friends;

Tilapia is one of the mildest tasting fish. It is a pretty fish too, check out the picture.  Therefore it is easier to get kids to eat this fish than salmon. Tilapia can be  prepared in so many ways, earlier I gave you my fish taco recipe with tilapia and today I want to share with you Tilapia with Cucumber Relish. Its quick and easy to make and I saw tilapia on sale at the market for $5.99 a pound. Usually it runs around  $7.99-8.99.  You can buy several pieces and freeze the fish for later use. Or buy tilapia from the frozen food section. Remember if you freeze fish, and you let it thaw, it will have a slight fishy smell to it, but if you let it soak in milk or squeeze lemon over the fillet it will reduce the smell of fish.

Lesson from Home: Checking to see if the fish has been cooked enough.

Typically a good guideline is 8 minutes per inch of fish. But tilapia is less than one inch so you have to check by using a knife. Using the tip of   a knife, poke at the thickest part of the fish, you want to look at the interior part of the fish. Raw fish has a translucent appearance, (think of the color of sushi)  that turns opaque during the cooking process. You should see that it is slightly firm and opaque throughout. Remember fish like other meats will continue to cook 1-2 minutes after you take them from the heat.  

I decided on sharing this recipe with you because I saw on the Dr. Oz show, he was talking about the benefits of cucumbers and vinegar and it reminded me of this recipe.


1 (11-ounce) can mandarin oranges, drained and coarsely chopped

1 small cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely chopped

1/3 cup white vinegar

1 green onion, minced

1 Tablespoon minced fresh dill

1 1/4 pound tilapia


Combine first 5 ingredients in a small bowl; stir well. Cover relish, and let stand at room temperature 1 hour.

Place fish on a lightly greased rack; place rack in broiler pan. Brush 1 Tablespoon liquid from relish over fish. Broil 3 minutes from heat 3.5 minutes on each side or until fish flakes easily when tested with a fork. Transfer fish to plates and spoon relish over fish. This makes about 4 servings.

p.s. This relish is good on chicken too!

Love From Home,

Kim Wechsler

Chicken Salad

A chicken salad made from chicken used for sou...

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Dear Andrew, Addison, Family and Friends;

Spring is almost here, and spring is my favorite season. So just like the change in seasons my menu changes according to the season. So here is an easy, healthy and a quick dinner to make.

1 Roasted Chicken (buy from the market or roast a chicken)

Reduced fat mayonnaise

3 stalks of celery, finely chopped

small onion, finely chopped, (optional)

any chopped vegetable (peppers, cucumbers, tomatoes, carrots…)

dill weed

salt and pepper

Remove all the meat from the chicken, yes this is a messy job but in the end it is worth it. Add only enough mayo until the chicken holds together. Start with a little bit, you can always add more. Add the chopped  celery and onion, a few shakes of dill, salt and pepper. That’s it! This is such a wonderful dish because it makes a lot too and you can have it for lunch the next day. You can add cooked pasta to this dish, hard-boiled eggs, lettuce, you can serve it by itself or add a slice of multi-grain bread, tortilla, english muffin, bagel, crackers…the possibilities are endless. 


Love From Home,

Kim Wechsler