Tuesday, November 29, 2016

EASY FEEDING: Holiday Entertaining For Foragers

Post Thanksgiving-even the dedicated (or suffering) foodie cooks need a break-so whether one is 'over' preparing elaborate meals, switching to healthier eats to void the average 7lb(!!!) holiday weight gain, or just prefer the company of humans vs the food preparation chores...easy entertaining can be tasty, practical, budget friendly-and a breeze to clean up.

This is the answer to our soup prayers...as delicious as homemade-and in our case-waaay better! Hearty winter offerings by easily found IMAGINE SOUPS...are made from real ingredients-with  organic selections (NO PRESERVATIVES, NON-GMO ingredients or PESTICIDES-also selections that are vegetarian, vegan, gluten free-kosher etc) and come in sealable  conveniently packaged cartons though we doubt there will be left overs, once open. Plus-add a few ingredients -spices of your own-to any of their organic creamy or chunky soups--- or organic broths/stocks like the richly flavored vegetable one- we sip like tea-throughout the day-and one has a tasty new meal for every day of the week, (recipes for crowd pleasers like fragrant Pumpkin Corn Chowder-are available online).  What we tried...our all time fav is the Natural Creamy Portobello Mushroom Soup-fusion of smoky-ish-woodsy portobello and white mushrooms...with herbs/garlic...and itty bitty additions of celery and potatoes for richness. Recently we tried the organic White Bean and Kale Soup (reduced sodium) -pictured above... and yes- prepare your tastebuds for transport to the Tuscan countryside-wth carrots and celery, chewy fresh superfood kale and protein/fiber packed white beans-in this election-that is as yummy as it is nutritious (4 grams protein/per serving and only 110 calories!). New flavor Cauliflower&Potato is a sophisticated- full bodied flavor-we can see this shelf stable selection as a base for curry sauces...with cauliflower, organic potato, onions and parsnips...as well as smooth coconut cream+spices in this stomach+taste bud pleaser. Nice! Creamy Tomato--Imagine's organic version is authentic tasting -with hints of onion/garlic for a more grown-up take on this childhood classic-still worthy of burying in crispy saltine crackers. No doubt-all Imagine soups are amazing-and perfect vessels for those holiday left-overs too. And so much easier than starting from scratch...perfect affordable goodness.


AN awesome cheese plate-full sized hunks/wheels-or snack sized --- one-three types of aged, soft-ripened-fresh cheeses makes a statement!
Pair with some fresh/dried fruits, crispy bread (slice it-it's easier for guests), crisp crackers---add one or two satisfying thick tasty hot soups=the best combo appetizer/entreés ever...ready in minutes!!!!
Mini Babybel...smooth-mild-with cheddar like flavor-comes in original or light 2-3 bite-sized sizes-one satisfying serving is def a healthier addiction than handfuls of fatty chips... 

fav sources of cow/goat cheeses include California's Cypress Grove  (ships via flat rate) and Vermont Creamery-(latest award winners)  IMHO-any of their offerings-guarantee crowd pleasers... available locally.

strong buttery firm authentic Gorgonzola--- a veined Italian cow's milk blue cheese pairs really well with stout, darker beers+red wines, port, scotch and tequilas! Widely available at stores like Trader Joe's-or retail institutions like Murray's Cheese-who ships to other states.

Ditch the too much already-sweet eats...for bites of better for you bars...
even non-cheese types love Jarlsberg- nutty-semi-soft/part-skim cheese-a 22b wheel  guarantees enough to feed a crowd

Give guests a more world alternative to the usual snacks...by bumping up the inhale-able crispy treats with  Soy Vay spiced up Popped Rice Clusters-finger licking-non-greasy-equally addictive alternative to fatty chips. The Spicy 'N Sweet (hot, and more mild choice)...packed with a bit or a lot but not fire breathing- heat -depending-and garlic. We like that whole grain brown rice is used- getting it all right-flavor wise-and a good base for the seasonings- including sophisticated winning salty-sweet balance of tamari soy sauce, sesame seeds, sea salt, paprika, and vinegar-fyi-no artificial ingredients either-and duh-kosher of course. 
Ditch the fast food snacks-spring for these POSITIVELY addictive-William Poll Potato Thins-crisp buttery crackers-chip hybrids-substantial enough to pair with spreads or cheeses, though we inhaled our sample their own-available-multiple flavors---from a Manhattan institution. FYI-all tasty take -out offerings are made in-house -using no fake ingredients. PLUS many of their delicious prepared foods- can also be shipped!

Holiday treats-sure don't last long-crunchy and imo-desert like---but offering more nutrition per bite-easy to slice up Clif Bars -that come in limited holiday flavors (iced gingerbread, hot chocolate), ...that have chocolate in them. Pictured-LUNA BARS -our fav=Chocolate Peppermint Stick-festive combo of rich chocolate our version of dessert-for casual gatherings-...fill up a large bowl with these...guarantee to disappear faster than usual cookies...PLUS-gluten free, non-GMO, 8 grams of protein/bar as well as vitamins+minerals...crispy chewy texture with organic rolled oats-organic unsweetened chocolate and real deal organic vanilla extract.

 the Nut Butter filled Energy bars-creamy smooth on the inside (options include almond, hazelnut or peanut butters)-crispy on the outside-for multi-textured bites that lean sweet-but not headache inducing. Easy to slice up too...rid of the wrappers---though crunched up wrappers... our cat's preferred toy for at least five minutes.