Holiday Party Food Safety Tips

Photo: USDAgov The holiday season consists of numerous parties. Many where we’re called upon to make or take food to an event. Usually, people set out edibles on a buffet table, and people graze throughout the evening. However, when food is left out at room temperature for too long it starts to be a breading ground for bacteria, which could possibly cause illnesses. To ensure a safe and smooth holiday, practice these following tips to keeping the food at your celebrations innocuous. 

Food that has been left at room temperature for longer then four hours is spoiled. No ones like to throw away sustenance, but once food as been left out for longer then four hours it needs to be pitched. Keep hot edibles sizzling (140 F or warmer) by using chafing dishes, slow cookers, and warming trays. Also, keep cold noshes cold (40 F or cooler) by keeping them on ice. That way if you want to give your guests doggy bags you know that the food is safe.

Use a food thermometer. Poultry and stuffing needs to have an internal temperature of 165 F. Pork, beef, and fish need an internal temperature of 145 F. Take the measurement at the innermost part of the bird’s thigh and wing-and the thickest part of the breast.

Minimize temperature fluctuations. When taking meals from your kitchen to another’s it’s important to minimize temperature fluctuations during travel. First, remove food from the heat source just before leaving the house. Second, transfer it to a thermal container, wrap in a heavy towel for extra insulation and place in a thermal tote or insulated bag. If you are bringing cold foods use a cooler filled half way with ice.

Safely handle leftovers. Refrigerate all remaining food in a shallow container within 2 hours of serving. Properly stored leftovers can be kept for 3 to 4 days. However, if you are in doubt of the quality, throw it out. Lastly, reheat leftovers to 165 F before serving.

SMART University Educating Women Through Cooking Classes

  Photo courtesy of SMART University

SMART, an acronym for Sisterhood Mobilized for AID/HIV Research and Treatment, is a not-for-profit organization that works hard to create a safe haven where women living with HIV or AIDS in New York City can get support from their peers and gain education through hands-on classes. The organization’s SMART Body workshop couples nutrition education with hands-on cooking lessons. These tutorials provide the women of SMART a chance to try new foods and learn healthier cooking methods that can better the overall health of themselves and their families.

Photo courtesy of SMART University

SMART believes that health conscious, educated woman are the foundation to building thriving communities. Each nutrition class informs the participants of ways to stay healthy by eating proper foods, and ensuring that important health issues are addressed so that the women make educated decisions on what they eat and how they  cook in their kitchens. The entire group goes into the on-site industrial kitchen and prepares foods that exemplify the earlier lecture. Once all the recipes are prepared, the members and staff all come together to share the assembled meal. At the end of the class each woman receives a pantry bag that contains the ingredients used in each recipe so that they can repeat what they learned at home.

The difference this organization makes in people’s lives are staggering. A whopping 95% of all attendees have self-reported a decrease in eating fatty processed foods and an increase in healthier cooking methods. Recently, the women of the program constructed a delicious cookbook based on the recipes they assembled in class. This activity gave the women a chance to express their creativity and give back to the community what they acquired from SMART. You can download the compendium on the SMART website.

SMART is continuously looking towards the future, and was recently picked to receive city funding for a mobile cooking classroom. This sector of the organization will help broaden their vision and mission of improving the health outcomes for families in the New York City area by traveling from neighborhood to neighborhood bringing nutrition education and access to healthy foods to anyone who needs its.

“Our core mission,” says Susan Rodriquez, founder director, “has been to improve the quality of life for every woman we touch with our holistic health model. For some women," she says, "simply showing up has been a testament to resilience and courage." You can donate to SMART by visiting their website and clicking on the Donate to SMART button.

What's In Season? Fall Produce

Photo: Mrs. Magic As the weather gets chillier, the produce gets heartier. Autumn’s amazing fruits and vegetables are hitting their peak season right now and Marcus wants to make sure you experience fall’s bounty of super-foods available at your local farmers markets or grocery stores. 

Photo: art and lemons'

The aisle are full of apples, figs, pears, persimmons, pumpkins, sweet potatoes, and winter squash. There are a variety of ways to prepare fall's harvest; however, getting seeds out of persimmon or  getting squash soft and delectable can get confusing. In this season’s produce guide, here's a look at how to choose, store, and prepare this season’s crops. 

Apples. From sweet to tart, apples can be eaten raw or baked and added to sweet or savory dishes.  Add them to salads, eat with cheddar and blue cheese, or roast with cinnamon. Just be sure to eat the skin--it contains a healthy dose of flavonoids. Look for bright colored, hard, and blemish free outsides. Store on top of the counter, or if they start to get soft, put them in the refrigerator.

Butternut Squash. This bell shaped squash is the quintessential fall vegetable. It’s sweet when roasted and works great pureed in soups, mashed as a side, or cubed in au gratin. Look for blemish free, tan skins, and hard textures. Keep it on your window seal or on top of your counter until you are ready to roast or boil it.

Photo: SavvyChristine

Brussel Sprouts. These mini cabbages have a bad-rap, but don’t let their rumored taste keep you from enjoying them. Try brussel sprouts roasted with apples, cranberries, or bacon. The best way to prepare them is to roast for 20 minutes at 350 degrees. This will give these little guys a sweet caramelized flavor. Look for tightly wrapped green leaves, and store them in your crisper drawer.

Celeriac Root. This gnarly white root taste delicious mashed with boiled potatoes, butter, milk, salt and pepper. Look for a firm medium sized root. Celeriac root retains for about two weeks as long as you keep it in a plastic bag in the refrigerator.

Cauliflower. A cousin to broccoli and cabbage, cauliflower can be found in green, orange, and purple. This slightly nutty flavored vegetable is delicious boiled with white wine, garlic, bay leaf, and all spice, roasted for 15 minutes, then served with a blue cheese cream. Look for uniformly colored florets with few blemishes. This versatile vegetable keeps well in the refrigerator.

Sweet Potatoes. Don’t reserve this root vegetable just for Thanksgiving, More nutritionally dense than its white counterparts it is delicious julienned then baked, mashed, or added to a variety of casserole dishes. Look for blemish free skins, and store on a counter top.

Pears. The sweet and juicy taste of a pear only gets better when cooked. Try them baked or poached for a quick dessert. For a savory recipe of this dish boil pears with potatoes and onions, add spices, then puree for into a smooth soup. Look for blemish free skins. Store pears on the counter until they become soft, then put them in the fridge.

Gypsy Brewers Don't Let Anything Stop the Brew

  Photo Courtesy of Evil Twin

Beer brewers no longer feel the pressure to be coerced by rules, location, or even brewery walls. In a world were business can be conducted through smart phones anywhere in the world, a new band of brewers, coined gypsy or nomad brewers, can make beer anywhere they please without having to worry about owning an entire brewery. Here's how it works: brewers rent a space for a day or two, make their own creations, then market it to the public. These one off specialty suds set themselves apart from more traditionally brewed beers because the people that concoct these beverages have a deep passion for what they do, and love formulating unique recipes that stand apart from the rest.

Photo Courtesy of Stillwater

Jams, pickles, mustards and relishes are being produced out of apartments and farmhouses, so it only makes sense beers were going to be next. The criteria for these particular beers varies, but one thing is certain, this way of preparing brew takes finesse, imagination, a love for the craft, and connections. According to nomad brewer Brian Strumke of Stillwater Artisanal Ales "It's a creative outlet and it's more of an artistic endeavor, as opposed to a business venture. It was a way for me, originally, to express my creativity." But, quite simply it's a great way for taste makers to get their products out to the masses without having to make the financial commitment of investing in a large scale brew house.

Established breweries depend on signature beers to pay bills, but with no obligation to pay rent, or return loans. Gypsy brewers like Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergs of Evil Twin Brewing or Brian Strumke of Stillwater are free to brew, in essence, whatever they like. If Brian Strumke finds a new spice at an international market, it could end up the secret recipe in his next farmhouse ale.

If you frequent beer bars or high end specialty alcohol beverage stores, you mostly likely have come across these specialty brews, but just like the brewers themselves, these beer can be hard to pin down. My suggestion, if you see one, buy it, because you my never see it again. Plus, if you do run into the brew again, it might be a little bit different. Here is a short list of Gypsy Brewers to Look For:

-Evil Twin Brewing

-Grimm Artisanal Ales


-Stillwater Artisanal Ales

-Pretty Things Beer & Ale Project

Q&A: Dee Charboneau of Juice Served Here

Juice Served Here. Photo courtesy of Dee Charboneau Three weeks ago, the juice scene in Los Angeles just got hotter. The fashion forward juice bar, Juice Served Here, opened on West Third Street bringing cold-pressed juices, nut milks, tonics, coffees, and raw dessert to the toothsome neighborhood of West Hollywood. Last week, I sat down with Head of Operations Dee Charboneau to talk about her ever ambitious entrepreneur spirit, and the opening of the much anticipated store front. Here’s what she had to say. 

Juice Served Here. Photo courtesy of Dee Charboneau

You’ve owned a variety of different businesses from owning an artist space, being a private yoga instructor, raw food coach and now the juice business. What drives your entrepreneur spirit?

I’ve always been a hustler! But honestly, I wanted to work for myself, but in a way that enriches peoples lives, and helps them transform the way they look at living a healthy lifestyle.

What brought you to the realization that you wanted to start a juice business? 

I pay a lot of attention to trends developing not only in LA, but across the states, and when Sarah Evans and I  first started our juice delivery service, Juice Maids, about three years ago, I could see that the cold-press juice business was going to be huge.

Tell me about the store opening. 

The whole idea of our location is health coupled with style. We want to bring people an amazing 100% organic product, but at the same time we want to remove the new age, granola vibe, that goes along with health and yoga businesses. We appreciate that stuff, but it’s just not who we are as a brand.

What does Juice Served Here have that makes you different then other juice stores in LA?

We have a raw bake shop that launches in the coming week. Our incredible chef, Gregory Manitsas, specializes in raw juices and desserts. We’ll have raw Tiramisu, coconut kefir pudding, and raw chocolate truffles. Everything in our store is 100% organic and 100% raw.

Do you have a cleanse program? 

D.C. We have an amazing cleanse program! Most people don’t know that we offer much more then just a storefront. Our cleanse program includes 8 drinks: 3 tonics, 3 cold-pressed juices, a green milk, a raw soup, and a super food bar for $85 a day; however, the more days you book the less it costs, a 5 day cleans is $375. That comes out to be about $75.00 a day.

If you live in the Los Angeles area be sure to stop by Juice Served here, 8366 West Third street, between Orlando and Sweetzer Avenues, West Hollywood. (323)-944-0409 or