Sugars and Alternative Sweeteners

How fitting to be discussing sugars and alternative sweeteners on Valentine’s Day, a time when candy, chocolate, cake or some other sugary treat is the order of the day. But, in a recent article from Specialty Foods Association, Americans are not retreating when it comes to cutting back on the amount of sugar they consume. Where does that leave things?

There’s no substitute for taste. But with shifting attitudes towards a healthier  lifestyle, sweeteners increasingly leave a bad taste. The good news is new label laws on nutritional values are providing additional information as well as clarity. This move, too, is a growing trend in the food and beverage industry.

For the average consumer, however, it can be confusing deciding what’s good or even better for you, what product is natural, which ones are actually sugar-free, and so on. Attempting to figure that out as you shop is not as easy as it seems.

On this Valentine’s Day, I’m gifting you this handy resource to help educate you on the types of sugars and alternative sweeteners on the market. The next time you take a trip to the grocer’s you’ll be better prepared to pick the product that’s right for you.

Happy Valentine’s Day!

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Hire for the Holidays

janet-chef-coatDoing everything yourself is typically not a good idea. Add in the hectic pace of the holidays and you have a recipe for disaster.

In today’s marketplace, more companies exist than ever before to help busy consumers manage the times, seasons and events in their lives. This time of year in particular can be downright daunting. The triple crown of holidays as I refer to them – Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s – while filled with food, drink and merriment, might leave a bitter taste in your mouth when you consider all that has to get done. How then do you stop the madness from wreaking havoc in your life? You hire for the holidays!

Here are three great reasons why outsourcing is one of the best gifts you can give yourself:

Time

Simply put, hiring a service or company saves you time. And who doesn’t want more of that? The older you get you realize just how precious time is; you can’t stop it, you can’t reverse it, it travels at warp speed, and more importantly, no one knows how much of it they have. Free up time to enjoy the things that matter most and hire for the things you can.

Personalized Service

Any way you want it that’s the way you need it! This line is part of the lyrics from a song by the band Journey, but it is also the embodiment of personalized, experiential service. It’s catering to a client’s specific wishes. The date, time and place of your choosing, with all the accompaniments you desire in a special event. It’s like being queen – or king for a day. You can’t top that!

Elevated Experience

When it comes to going hire for the holidays, having a professional do the work takes things to a whole other level. Professionals bring more to the table – it’s what they do. It’s why you hire them. More expertise, more experience, more knowledge. And you get to tap all of that.

Calling on the pros also elevates the quality of the experience for both you and your guests. For attendees, it’s a statement that highlights the superior service that lies ahead. For you, it’s no more missing out on the actual event. Instead or running around like a chicken with your head cutoff, you get the best of both worlds; playing host while partaking in the festivities like any other attendee.

Think of all the experiential services that exist today? From a culinary standpoint, there’s food shopping, meal delivery, meal kits, private chef and so much more. Then think of all the moments you miss tending to things that would be better off in someone else’s hands. Being present, without being present robs you from truly enjoying the occasion.

Of course there are costs involved. But the value far outweighs the price tag. So, this season pay yourself first by paying a professional to serve you. It’s our labor of love.

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On the Road Again

Travel isn’t usually the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about a food and special events business. But, when you’re based in New Jersey with a region that spans New York to Washington, D.C., the miles add up fast. Trips to the Hamptons are all in a day’s work… a very full day. And you find yourself on the road again and again.

As Memorial Day ushers in the unofficial start of summer, for JADE it signifies the beginning of the summer entertaining season. Just as private dinners and cocktail parties are a lifestyle for many clients, traveling is part and parcel of how JADE operates; a specialized service that brings food and flavor to the comfort of a client’s home, or during this time of year, their home away from home. So, travelling the distance is our normal.

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This photo was captured recently in Water Mill, New York, a hamlet of Southampton. This Memorial Day weekend will find me heating things up on the eastern end of the south shore of Long Island in East Hampton.

There’ll be many more days like this one. A long drive; quiet time to think, plan my next adventure. It’s quite a trip but I think I rather enjoy it.

Happy Memorial Day!

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Dining In

Will you be dining in? How often do you hear that line? These days it doesn’t quite mean the same thing as it did before. Today dining in encompasses a new way of experiencing food.

There’s a difference between dining in and eating in. Eating in generally refers to eating what you yourself have prepared at home. It also refers to ordering in, or ordering takeout and bringing it home or having it delivered. Dining in is eating in compliments of a personal chef.

A number of companies offer this specialized food service. Each brings their own unique spin that differentiates them from the competition of course. But the premise is the same; a skilled chef, willing to travel to your location, to prepare a restaurant-style meal, complete with five-star service, then cleaning and leaving the space spotless as if they were never there to begin with. All this, so you can fully experience the occasion and your guests.

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Consumers choose from fine dining, formal dinners with three or more courses, dinner buffet, family-style service or even a backyard barbecue. The date and time are determined, party style is finalized based on the client’s preferences, and the chef and host curate a personalized menu – taking into consideration dietary restrictions and allergies. Remaining details of the dinner party are hashed out. And a flawless evening of food, flavor and fun is on tap.

More and more people are opting for dining in to celebrate the many events in their lives; anniversaries, birthdays, bachelor and bachelorette parties, other wedding-related events and much more. These personal chef services are especially prominent in major cities like New York and San Francisco, as well as vacation destinations like the Hamptons.

I’ve been part of this personal chef service for a couple of years. Having done dozens of them, I speak for many when I say dining in on the right occasion is dinner done right.

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Tea Still Hot After All These Years

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Warning! The contents of this article may cause severe burn.

If you’re a coffee enthusiast you may be surprised to learn that next to water, Tea is still the hottest beverage around! That’s right. Not java, not joe, Tea. Ouch!

Outside of the United States and in many parts of the world people are partial to tea. British, Asians, Islanders and others regard tea as a staple, consuming it day and night. What coffee is in American culture tea is elsewhere.

The free ranging properties of tea for one thing make it plentiful. In essence, the ingredients used are simple and readily available. In the Caribbean for example, you can boil many “bush” to make tea. Where coffee constitutes some variation of coffee beans, tea can be made using tree leaves, flowers, herbs, spices, fruit, fruit rinds and other edibles. Therefore, anyone can enjoy tea time anytime and anywhere.

Still haven’t warmed up to the knowledge that tea is still hot after all these years? Consider the many benefits; it soothes, it relieves, it fights against, and it heals. It also comforts. And on a cold winter’s day doesn’t it make you warm all over to know that if Starbucks, Keurig, and coffee pots should suddenly evaporate you can still enjoy a hot cup of tea? Now, that’s refreshing!

Are you a tea lover? Share some of your best concoctions. Or EMAIL for recipes.

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A Fresh Start

Much like this salad, the new year brings with it a fresh start; an opportunity to do a new thing. Even if you’re pursuing the same dreams, going after the same goals, working the same resolutions, it’s your chance at doing it differently.

It’s been said, doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result is foolish. So, what better time to toss out the old?

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Here are the five steps I’m employing as I press my way to a spectacular 2016:

Go Organic

Strip away all the baggage, dirt, and junk of 2015 and leave it all behind. Take only the lessons. Garb a hold of that fresh start and forge ahead. That means no pollutants; only sustainable practices that will move you closer to your field of dreams.

Plant that Seed

Get out there and work that thing! Enough said.

Water It

What can you do to ensure that newly planted seed will grow? Water it, of course! Put in the time, effort and resources necessary to set yourself up for success. Follow-up, follow through, and repeat.

Build & Grow

As you work and water do so with the expectation that your seed will sprout. Before you know it your tree will be blossoming.

Root it Up

Sure you’ll pause to take it all in. We all want to enjoy the fruits of you labor. But, don’t get so enamored with the pretty flowers that you stop planting for tomorrow. Go back to the root, the source and keep planting, watering, building and growing so you can get to that full blown harvest.

I know it will be hard. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. But day by day, week by week, month by month…

What are you doing differently this year to ensure you’ll have your heart’s desire? Share it. Perhaps I’ll pick one or two to add to my mix.

Happy New Year and all the best for a bountiful and prosperous 2016!

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A Prosperous New Year

A heartfelt thank you for supporting JADE and FullOnFlavor this year. I could not have done it without you! Wishing you a year filled with peace, joy and prosperity.

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See you in the New Year!

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Making the Most of Small Successes

miTZyMUEverybody wants to win. We want to win in school, at home, on the job, in business and just about every aspect of life. No one gets in the game to lose. But how do you get to the winner’s table?

I’ve noticed that people do not relate in terms of winning when discussing their personal aspirations. They instead use words and phrases like succeeding if life, being successful, accomplishing my dreams, doing what I was meant to do and so on. But one must realize that it’s not only sports teams and politicians who set out to win. That thing you refer to as a goal, a dream, a destiny, or that expectation that consumes so much of your time and effort is you ultimately trying to win. Winning is the realization of your potential.

Entrepreneurs, business owners, innovators, creators and visionaries especially, understand that there is a process to everything. But more than that, they recognize that rejection is part of that process. We hear the word “No” a lot. No, it doesn’t make sense, no, I don’t think it will do well, no, I don’t think the market is ready for that, no your price is too high, no, you’re not the right fit, no, I’m not interested, No, No, No! Eventually however, you get a yes. And it doesn’t have to be a life-altering, breakout yes that catapults you into global recognition. It can just simply be a yes. The size however, is a minor point. The power lies in the win itself. The validation signals something is working. Here’s how making the most of small successes can work for you:

Showing Gratitude

Begin by being grateful. Gratitude is the all important first step to realizing your dreams. It creates the right attitude and the right approach. It is a gentle acknowledgement in your spirit that says you appreciate where you are in the process. It’s that drop of oil in your lamp that sparks the flame that lights the fire in your belly that powers you to take your next step. When your approach is in alignment you are on a path to success; the very thing you’re trying to achieve. Gratitude is a force all its own.

Sweet Inspiration

Once you’re outfitted with the proper disposition you are ready for business. When you’re feeling good about where you are, who you are, what you’re doing, it unleashes a wellspringof inspiration. And we know when someone is inspired, truly inspired to do, to be, to create, watch out! History is the greatest teacher of what truly inspired people can be led to accomplish. Using small victories to empower and embolden you breathes new life into the every day. Inspiration is one of the greatest motivators you can have. It’s organic and it comes from within.

Motivation makes you word harder, take bold steps and make bold moves. Think of the last time you were really revved up. What happened? You went on to do that task that you’d been putting off, make that phone call that you’ve been dreading, or something else along those lines. The bottom line is when you became inspired it motivated you in such a way that things that were larger than life no longer seem daunting. Suddenly there were no fears, no hesitation and no hang ups.

Unleash Your Creativity

Inspiration breeds creativity, and creativity sets passion on fire, transforming ideas and vision into tangible results. When creativity flows momentum happens. Your labor begins to bear fruits. That no becomes yes. And that yes, even a small one, can move you closer to that goal line. So, take time to celebrate your small successes by giving yourself a virtual pat on the back.  Celebration shows approval. It says, yes, I want more of that. Here’s where the true power lies:

  1. When you accomplish even the smallest of tasks, it affirms that it can be done. How? Because you just did it!
  2. It tells you it can be done again. Why? If you did it once before it stands to reason you can do it again!

Suddenly the unreachable, unattainable and unachievable, no longer is.

Moving with Purpose

When you are close to the goal line you must be purposeful; purposeful with your time, your money, any and every resource at your disposal.

Too often in life and in business, we get caught doing things just because. We do it for a myriad of reasons. Perhaps someone else has done it, we’ve been invited to do it, or we simply had an opening in our schedule. But in order to make it to the winner’s circle you have to brush away the fluff.

Celebrating your small successes helps you do that. It acknowledges and reaffirms that you’re heading in the right direction. I did this and that happened. And why wouldn’t you want more of what actually works? When you’re focused you are more strategic, you move with intention and with purpose. It’s worth remembering everything has a season and seasons change.  Let one small victory lead you to the next and ultimately to your destiny. Here’s to small successes!

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Spring Cleaning Your Pantry (Radio)

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Spring has sprung and you know what that means! Time to clean the pantry! I know cleaning isn’t the most fun, but it’s gotta be done.

On part two of my Spring Has Sprung segment with Jennifer Lewis Hall on “Life Advice” on Magic 98.3 FM, I share tips on staple pantry picks, checking food labels, organizing the cupboard for ease of use, plus infusing oils, vinegar, mustard and more for innovative culinary creations.

Take a listen (Scroll to Show #382).

For shopping tips, recipe ideas or help with a special event visit me online at www.JADEGRILL.com! And be sure to post your comments here. I look forward to reading them!

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The Green Goddess of Cooking Oils

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Move over Olive! There’s a new girl in town. And she’s not just any ole gal. She’s rich, refined, smoking hot, and best of all, she’s real good to ya.

Avocado is a super food. And its sleek, smooth, buttery oil is heating up the culinary cosmos. But this tropical fruit is not just for Mediterranean diets and health nuts. With lots to love,everyone should be digging it. Get a load of some of what this green goddess has going on:

  1. Good source of antioxidants like vitamins E and beta-carotene
  2. High in monounsaturated fatty acids (good fats that help lower cholesterol)
  3. Packed with protein
  4. Lots of potassium – more than that of a banana
  5. No cholesterol, no trans fat and no sodium
  6. Offers more benefits than olive oil

When fired up Avocados leave nothing to be pitied. With a high smoke point, Avocados are perfect for high-temperature cooking like frying and searing. But don’t be fooled. This versatile oil comes dressed to impress, and adds her own brand of flavor to salads, seafood and more.

Avocado oil does dishes well. But it does the body even better. As far as edible oils go, this virgin girl has got the competition beat. Eat your heart out!

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