Queens Feast Continues…

rest week logo

Charlotte Restaurant Week Winter 2016 Queens Feast

Now in its 8th year, Charlotte Restaurant Week, affectionately, officially and appropriately known as Queens Feast continues to be a restaurant  promotional phenomenon that over the years has captured the attention and appetites of thousands of diners across the Metropolitan Charlotte area.

Charlotte Restaurant Week has grown into a multi-county promotion in which numerous upscale restaurants will offer a prix fixe, three-course dinner at a cost of only $30  or $35 per person (not including tax and gratuity).

This special 10-day long pricing, substantially less than what a typical three-course meal would cost at any of the restaurants involved, doesn’t mean “dumbed down” food or less than fabulous service.  In fact, it’s just the opposite.

The premise here is to give potentially new patrons, who might not otherwise ever step in the door of some of these high-end establishments, a chance to try out the eats and the experience at an easy-on-the-pocket book price tag. At the same time the promotion adds value to the dining out experience for restaurant regulars. Truth is, the restaurant week promotion helps the dining establishments, too, bringing in a broader cliental base at a time of the year that is generally slow for the restaurant industry at large.

In Charlotte Queens Feast has become an event patrons plan for, gathering groups of friends, making reservations well in advance to get in at all their favorite spots. With the ten day stretch of the event, and this round with over 135 restaurants participating, there is a lot of eating to be done!

snow man as chefThis year, news of Charlotte’s Winter Queens Feast spread far and wide. So good was all the promo, in fact that even Snow Storm Jonas came into town to celebrate the kick-off weekend.

Like an unexpected 15-yard penalty on the first yard line,  Jonas came in for the evening and covered the city in snow and ice making it next to impossible for patrons to drive for reservations.

Many restaurants remained open that first day or two, serving walk in neighborhood traffic with limited hours, hashtagging on social media #WeAintAfraidOfNoSnow; but the truth of the matter is the storm did affect many reservations and disappointed lots of Queens Feast enthusiasts.

Many a regal repast

The great news now is that as we now approach the last official weekend of 2016 Winter Queens Feast,  many of the participating restaurants are hosting what author and speaker Jon Acuff would call a Do Over.

Perhaps in this case, we could more cleverly refer to  it, as a Royal Redux  (a term I wish I had thought of, but I didn’t. I must admit I stole from the talented PR team at Vivace Charlotte, one of the participating Charlotte Queens Feast restaurants).

“There is always such excitement about Queens Feast  among diners,” said Vivace Charlotte’s Executive Chef Mike Suppa. “The icy conditions during the event’s first weekend were disappointing to a lot of people. We want to extend the concept – and the savings. We’re proud of the menu we developed for the occasion and are ready to wow our regulars and newcomers.” 

“In the restaurant business, you get very good at being flexible and innovative,” he added. “Adding another weekend was a no-brainer for us.” 

No matter what you call it – an extended schedule, a Do Over or a Royal Redux, the fact is that Charlotte area diners can look for many of the  Queens Feast restaurants to extend the 3 for $30 or $35 offer into the first week of February.

cute place settingThat’s right, the semi-annual Queen’s Feast: Charlotte Restaurant Week continues as originally scheduled through January 31 with 135 participating restaurants in 8 counties offering prix fixe menus of three courses or more at dinner for $30 or $35 per person (not including tax and gratuity).

And now, dozens of restaurants are also extending their Queen’s Feast menu offers for varying dates the following week to accommodate patrons whose dining plans were thwarted by last weekend’s winter storm 

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODHungry? You can make reservations for your choice of Queens Feast dinners directly from the Charlotte Restaurant Week website… if you haven’t done so already, take a moment to check it out, make a reservation or two and enjoy the last weekend of the Feast.  Then plan to enjoy the opportunity again at many of the participating restaurants as a part of  the Royal Redux !  

Details on individual restaurant extension dates for the following week are also available in the Charlotte Restaurant Week website, or if you still have questions, simply call your favorite restaurant and just ask. #TellThemHeidiSentYou

Chefs give back for Soup on Sunday

Bowlfuls of good tastes served Sunday Jan 31 to benefit Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region

soup-on-sunday-logo_50Soup does a body good… true. I’m a soup lover any time of the year, but particularly when cold climes embrace us,  I find soup is the best warm up around.  Soup is the perfect starter to whet our palates for a bigger meal to come and the perfect accompaniment to sandwich or salad for a simple but satisfying lunch or dinner. Possibly the original comfort food, a bowl or cup of hot soup warms our stomachs and soothes our souls.

That said, I’d be hard pressed to think of a more appropriate food to feature at a benefit designed to raise money for Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region. Hospice professionals also soothe souls, providing comfort and care in times of physical and emotional pain and need. When no one else can offer a cure, the calm and caring nature of Hospice staff and trained volunteers enables patients with life threatening illnesses and their families to experience the end of life with dignity and grace, no matter the disease or the circumstances.  In addition, Hospice’s mission includes relieving suffering “and improving the quality and dignity of life through compassionate hospice care for those at the end of life, through palliative care for those with advanced illness and through community education.”

The annual Soup on Sunday event, is traditionally Hospice’s first fund-raising event of the New Year. This Sunday, Jan 31, 2016 marks the 17th year for the popular Charlotte event, which will take place from 11am to 2 pm in Central Piedmont Community College’s Philip L. Van Every Culinary Arts Center, 425 North Kings Drive, at the corner of Kings Drive and Seventh Street.

From soup to nuts

General admission for Sunday’s event is $30 per person and includes food and beverages. If you want to Souper-Size that (pardon the pun, I couldn’t resist), buy a ticket for the Soup Lovers’ Special which includes food, beverages and a beautiful handmade pottery soup bowl. Children ages 7-12 can enjoy the soup samplers from $10 and children 6 and under may attend and participate for free.

soup graphicDozens of different area restaurants, chefs, catering companies and three local culinary schools will participate offering sample-sized portions of soup.  Soup lovers who want to be in the know can find the entire list of Charlotte’s local participating culinarians at hpccr.org; but to share just a taste of things to come, chowda choices will range from Barrington’s Artichoke with Roasted Mushroom Soup (a stunning example of Chef Bruce Moffett’s soup karma) to the much loved Tomato Bisque from Fenwick’s; from the delicious New Orleans Seafood Gumbo from Gallery Restaurant to the oh so Southern Midwood Smokehouse’s Brunswick Stew; and from The Fig Tree’s classic Mock Turtle Soup to the local flavors of the Butternut Squash with Gorgonzola Bisque from the kitchens at 300 East, just to name a few. A complete listing of all the participating restaurants is at the end of this post – just you wait till you see who’s going to be there!

To round out the offerings my good friends from Great Harvest Bread Company will be there slicing as they have been every year and Nothing Bundt Cakes will have an assortment of little bites to tempt your sweet tooth and Bojangles will be on hand with their famous iced tea – the perfect pairing for any soup or stew!

The Soup’s a Simmerin’….

It’s a “don’t miss” culinary experience with all of the proceeds directly benefiting Hospice. The chefs or restaurant owners who contribute to the Soup on Sunday benefit  are there because they believe the work Hospice does is important to Charlotte’s well being. Many chefs have family members who have received care from a hospice organization see it as an opportunity to give back while helping to raise funds and awareness.

The helping hands of Hospice & Palliative Care Charlotte Region offer many services, including intermittent skilled nursing visits, 24-hour on-call emergency nursing, pain management and an in-home aide program that provides clients with assistance needed for many phases of personal care. Additionally, volunteers trained by Hospice are available on an as-needed basis for respite, companionship and emotional support.

For clients and their families, there are chaplain services and a medical social work staff. An expressive arts therapy program, available to children and adults, provides a safe and structured setting in which to explore and appropriately express thoughts and feelings about grief and loss.

Hospice’s Kids Path offers specialized health care and supportive services for families coping with a seriously ill child. Even after a client’s passing, Hospice continues to provide grief support as needed for family and loved ones, a service also extended to the community at large.

For more information about Soup on Sunday in particular and Hospice fund-raising and special events, in general call 704-335-3524. For details about Hospice’s  programs or volunteer opportunities, call 704-375-0100.

pointed fingerIn the meantime, if I’ve whet your palate soup, tickets for the 2016 Soup on Sunday event may be purchased online at hpccr.org/shop-hpccr.html; at the door or in advance by phone at 704-335-4312

As of Jan 28, 2016, Here is an update on the list of all the restaurants participating and what the Soup they will be serving on Sunday..yum! #TellThemHeidiSentYou

300 East – Butternut Squash w/Gorgonzola
Barrington’s – Artichoke w/Roasted Mushrooms
Beverly’s Gourmet Foods – Harvest Squash Soup w/ Pistou (vegan & gluten free)
Brick Top’s – Lobster Bisque
Brixx Wood Fired Pizza – TBD
Chuy’s Tex Mex – Chicken
Tortilla
Community Culinary School of Charlotte – Exotic Mushroom & Wild Rice
CPCC – Many Bean w/ Ham
CPCC – Corn Tortilla
eeZ Fusion Sushi – Shoyu Ramen w/Smoked Pork Belly
Dogwood Southern Table / Dresslers – Roasted Cauliflower & Chorizo Chowder
Fenwick’s – Tomato Bisque

Foxcroft Wine Co. – Tuscan White Bean and Sausage
Gallery Restaurant @ Ballantyne Hotel – New Orleans Seafood Gumbo

Global – Spice Coconut Sweet Potato
Good Food on Montfort – Curried Chickpea
Heart & Soul Personal Chef Service – Salmon and Sweet Potato Chowder

Johnson & Wales University – Shrimp Bisque
La Tea Da’s – Southern Veggie Chowder (sweet potato, collards, mixed winter veggies & ancient grains)
Mert’s Heart & Soul – Salmon Chowder
Midwood Smokehouse – Brunswick Stew
Newk’s – Lobster & Crab Bisque
Nolan Kitchen – Caramelized Onion & Parmesan w/Braised Short Rib Tortellini

Red Rocks Café & Bakery – She Crab Soup
Rusty Bucket Restaurant & Tavern – Texas Sirloin Chili
Sante’ – Roasted Butternut Squash

St. Mark’s Soup Kitchen, Chef Naomi Knox – Potato Cheddar
The Art Institute of Charlotte – Venison Stew w/Lime Cream Chives
The Art Institute of Charlotte – Succotash Chowder w/Pork Belly & Cilantro

The Fig Tree – Mock Turtle Soup
The Liberty – Roasted Tomato
Village Tavern – Potato Leek
Vivace – Smoked Chicken w/Roasted Tomatoes, Escarole, & Mini White Bean Ravioli

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOOD

 

Tickets for the 2016 Soup on Sunday event may be purchased in advance online at hpccr.org/shop-hpccr.html; at the door on Sunday, or in advance by phone at 704-335-4312

Planning The Best SuperBowl Party Ever

You Better Believe It!… The Carolina Panthers are Superbowl bound!

Now that we’ve all had a day to let reality sink in  that our Carolina Panthers are going to  Superbowl 50; those of us here at home will want to cheer on our home team  by celebrating in a big way!

superbowl party cooking class (2)
Despite my ” All Pro” looks of the photo here (the pink shoes make the uniform, don’t you think?), I really don’t know much about the game of football; but I do know how to throw one heck of a Superbowl Party, and I’ll be sharing all my tips and tricks and lots  recipes featuring all local produce, proteins and product at my January 31 On The Farm Cooking Class at Windcrest Farms in Monroe NC.

I started offering On The Farm cooking classes several years ago – teaching occasional classes at a half dozen plus Charlotte area farms. These classes are great fun and will really make you stop and think about the food you eat and where it comes from, and how it is grown. One talk with a local farmer and you’ll look at the phase, “You are what you eat, in a whole new way.”

windcrest LogoFor this class our hosts are organic farmers, Mary Roberts and her husband Ray. Mary  will kick off the class with a farm tour of her organic greenhouses, sharing her philosophy of organic farming and telling the story of how she went from corporate American back to the land.  

After the tour,  we’ll settle in to a cute makeshift kitchen and we will cook (eat and enjoy) 4-5 different all local Superbowl specialties using Mary’s fresh picked produce as well as proteins, produce and product from several other local farmers and producers –  all of which  will set your party apart. 

The class fee includes beverage pairings, recipe packets, farm tour and class as well as coupons to the Savory Spice Shop in SouthEnd and Pour Olive on East Blvd and special Superbowl surprises for all class participants.

I do hope you’ll join in all the fun! The “Plan Your Superbowl Party” Cooking Class is Sunday Jan 31,2016 from 1-4 pm. Cost is $85 per person.

Just email me – Heidi Billotto – at HLNC@Carolina.rr.com  to make your reservation and to get on my email newsletter list where you will recieve anemail every other week or so with updates on my cooking classes and culinary appearances. I’ll respond to your email immediately and we’ll get you signed up for class and the email newsletter list – your payment by cash or check will confirm your cooking class reservation.

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODLooking forward to seeing you soon – if not on Sunday then at one of my upcoming February or March cooking classes – this list will be out in an email  and up in a blog post this week. 

Cheers!

Heidi 

Hurry, Hurry…Read All About It

Lots to read about in the culinary sections in both the Fall and Winter issues of Charlotte Living Magazine – ICYMI ( In Case You Missed It), today I wanted to share links to my recent culinary, giving back , art and travel articles 

HEIDI BILLOTTO FOODIn between cooking classes and catering, articles and recipes on HeidiBillottoFood.com and posts on my Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, I write four times a year for a fabulous publication in Charlotte: Charlotte Living Magazine.
These perfectly bound glossy pages pair my words with wonderful photos and give me a chance to write in more detail about many of my favorite people and places.
You can pick up a copy of Charlotte Living Magazine at lots of places around Charlotte, including The Savory Spice Shop in Southend, EarthFare, Whole Foods, and The Atherton Mill Farmers’ Market, just to mention a few; or you can read it online in it’s flipbook format at CharlotteLivingMagazine.com.
The Food and Entertaining section online offers links to archived articles I have written over the past year on Kindred Restaurant in Davidson, The Fig Tree Restaurant, Bonterra Dining and Wine RoomPassion 8 Restaurant, Chef Bruce Moffett’s Trio of Restaurants: Barrington’s, Good Food on Montford and Stagioni , a piece about three ever favorites: The Heirloom, The Asbury and Fahrenheit Clt and more.
While a portion of the content in these archived articles may be dated by seasonal references,  the basic information is still current and it is important to note, that these restaurants continue to be places to put on your dining out radar.
over shot for fall recipesOn these pages you’ll also find stories about local product such as Charlotte’s own Cannizzaro Sauces.read more here…. and  a fun story on a new beverage category hitting bottle shops and grocery stores all over the southeast: Islander Ginger Beer.
What makes it new, is this is Alcoholic Ginger Beer and what makes is pertinent to you and Charlotte is that this Ginger Beer has North Carolina roots!
I won’t print any spoilers here – just…read more here… and then I know you’ll head out to buy a four pack for your next batch of Moscow Mules, Mimosas, or perhaps a Dark and Stormy or two. Islanders are available in Harris Teeter’s across the state and locally in Total Wine and Earthfare too.
2015 Fall issue of Charlotte Living
In the Fall 2015 issue we put an incredible dessert by Chef Ben Kallenbach, executive pastry chef at Ballantyne Hotel & Lodge on the cover and the cover story is about the hotel’s Gallery Restaurant and the talent Chef David Moore and his team bring to the table. Read more
This fall issue also includes a Three Day Weekend article all about Winston-Salem, the gate way to the North Carolina wine country and home to a host of great places to stay, eat and explore, such as Graze Restaurant, Atelier On Trade, Meridian Restaurant and more …Read More
2016 Winter issue of Charlotte Living
The culinary section in the Winter 2016 issue  is filled with places and products  you simply must try sooner than later if you haven’t already! Pick up an issue as you’ll want to devour each and every page. This issue is on newstands now, but until you have the issue in hand, I’ll tease you with a taste and a link back to my featured stories:
On Chef Tom Condron and his modern take on French cuisine at Lumiere French Kitchen in Charlotte’s Myers Park neighborhood… Read More

On Chef Tim Groody and his farm to The Fork! fare in Cornelius… Read More…in addition to nightly dinners, be sure to check out Fork’s Sunday brunch, too!

elizabeth ave Charlotte Living story heidi with chefsOn the all new Elizabeth Ave corridor in Charlotte, The Queen City’s first streetcar in 77 years  and the chefs ( Luca Annunziata of Passion 8, Paul Ketterhagen of Carpe Diem, Marc Jacksina of Earls Grocery, Trey Wilson of Customshop, Jose Garcia of 1900 Mexican Grille and Tequila Bar and Sun Jae Kim of Elizabeth Creamery) that are making this two block stretch Charlotte’s newest restaurant row… Read More… A big shout out to all of these chefs who came to help a writer out when I called them on a cold and rainy November Monday to come out for a photo at one of the Elizabeth Ave street signs – they all happily obliged and I couldn’t have been more thrilled – here is one of the shots I jumped in for fun just before Jose got there!

And speaking of Charlotte chefs, hope you will enjoy reading a recap I put together on a great giving back effort coordinated by the Charlotte-based Piedmont Culinary Guild and lead by chefs, farmers and people who cared  when our neighbors in South Carolina were affected by the October 2015 flooding. They all pitched in, not for publicity, but because it was the right thing to do, but I wanted to give them a little love and tell the story…Read More

Looking for a great way to Eat Local at home? Don’t miss the detes on my new favorite with Take and Bake product: frozen scones from Charlotte’s own The Scone Shop ( and YES, there is a package in my freezer, even as I type this – so you now I practice what I preach)… Read More

Food is art they say and it was my pleasure in this issue to write about the very talented Loren DiBenedetto, a Charlotte artists who paints the food you love to eat ( You’ll see when you…Read more… that Loren also paints detailed pet portraits, so if you have four legged friends, you’d like have captured on canvas, you might want to reach out to Loren for details. We own 6 of Loren’s charming paints ( 4 cats, a pear and a study of figs) and we love them every one.

blossom shop logoFinally, I would be remiss if I didn’t share one link for an advertisement in this Winter issue – its the back inside cover ad for The Blossom Shop. The Blossom Shop is owned my my dear friends and family by marriage Ted Todd and Debby Sacra. It’s been my go-to florist for years ( even before I married Tom and info the family) and I can’t say enough good things about the work they do – always making every special event in life even more memorable.  Call them, you’ll be thrilled you did.

Heidi Billotto 2008

To see The Blossom Shop ad now, follow this link – which will take you to the  online flipbook, then flip over to page 83. Here you’ll see a wedding photo of my my niece and new nephew from their September 2015 nuptials. As you will see, the bride and groom, Kendel and Chad Parks, were dazzling and the flowers were stunning!

Cheers to photographer Critsey Rowe for capturing it all on film and to the talented staff at Charlotte living for transforming it all into the best ad ever!

Time To Get Cooking – Heidi’s January Schedule of Hands-On Cooking Classes

Jan 2016 cooking classesIt’s time to get cooking with Heidi Billotto’s all new At Home With Heidi and On The Farm January Cooking Classes

While life has been busy over the past few months catering for many of you and teaching private cooking classes for many others, I’m ready to get back to my regular schedule of classes.

Its important to me to use the best and freshest product in these classes, so I cook with all local produce, proteins and products in each and every class and on the rare occasion that I can’t find what I need from farmers or producers locally, I buy organic from local supermarkets.
I invite you to join in on the fun and register for any one of these hands-on classes listed below simply by emailing me at HLNC@Carolina.rr.com to make your advance reservation. Unless otherwise noted all of these classes at At Home WIth Heidi and take place in my home kitchen. Once you have confirmed your reservation, I will send you directions and any other details you may need to know.
Remember, there are never any hard and fast rules at my classes – if you would rather just watch, sit back, eat and drink and enjoy instead of trying your hand, that’s fine too – just come and have fun!   Looking forward to cooking up a storm with you real soon!
beer class

If my regularly scheduled class times don’t suit; but a topic is of interest or you have a special occasion coming up or a group of friends you’d like to entertain,  then perhaps you’d like to plan a private cooking class or team building event all your own!

 I have several groups doing just that I am happy to accommodate you all – just give me a shout and we’ll get a date and topic for YOUR class on the calendar.
wine glassesA private class at your home kitchen or in mine is a fabulous way to entertain friends, family, celebrate birthdays or get to know your co-workers better – plus we have a blast – so you’ll be the host or hostess with the mostess for putting it all together!
Check out this  list of  upcoming classes  and make your reservation today… I can’t wait to get cooking!

Sat. Jan 16 – 12:30-3pm – Gluten Free Gourmet – Cost $75 per person

With so many really great gluten-free ingredients in the marketplace now (many of the ones I feature are locally produced), there is no reason you can’t put together a really tasty glutenfree meal with all the things you love. Say yes to pizza, baked goods, stuffing for braised meats and more. In this class, a complete gourmet gluten-free meal for all – cheers! To register, email Heidi at HLNC@carolina.rr.com
spices

Wed. Jan 20 – 6:30-9 pm – Cooking With Winter Herbs and Spices – Cost $75 per person

Let the herb garden rest and winter over, for this class I’ll shop the spice tins at Savory Spice Shop in Southend and bring back all my favorite blends of herbs, spices and seasoned powders. Together well prepare an entire meal from appetizer to dessert. To register email Heidi at HLNC@carolina.rr.com

Sat. Jan 23 – 1-4 pm – Fresh from the Winter Market – Cost $75 per person

Who says you can’t shop local in the Winter months, local farms produce all year round and this day I’ll shop 3 or 4 favorite markets in the morning – Matthews, Waxhaw, Atherton and Yorkmont and come back to cook with you that afternoon. we’ll put together a great seasonal meal with all of our farmers’ market finds. To register email Heidi at HLNC@carolina.rr.com
Heidi cooking with Pour olive oil

Tues. Jan 26 – 6:30-9 pm – The Art of Cooking with Oil – Cost $75 per person

I simply loves all the flavors you find in all of the current harvest selections from Pour Olive, an artisan olive oil boutique on East Blvd. and excited that we in Charlotte can now get the same lovely olive oil we enjoyed so much on our Italian vacation with Nada Vergili from Nada’s Italy ( offices on East Blvd as well). For this class, I’l pick up a selection of nut, seed, and olive oils as well as some fabulous artisan Balsamic vinegars and we’ll cook 4-5 dishes (apps, entrees and sides) using them all.  To register email Heidi at HLNC@carolina.rr.com

Heidi's football shot

Sun, Jan 31 – 1-4 pm – On the Farm at Windcrest Certified Organic Farms for a Superbowl Feast – Cost  $85 per person

Who doesn’t love all the great game date eats Superbowl Sunday brings? In this class we’ll start with a farm tour of the Windcrest Certified Organic Greenhouses to see how its done; and then cook with lots of fresh from the farm to make a championship spread of all local fare your superbowl viewing guests are going to love. What Mary Roberts doesn’t grow on the farm, I’ll supplement with Saturday morning farmers’ market buys the day before. Score! To register, email Heidi at HLNC@carolina.rr.com  

Super Foods and Farmers’ Markets are the Recipe for a Healthy, Happy New Year


cropped-heidi-cooks-logo.jpgNothing sacred about the beginning of the new year, the beginning of a new month or a new week – you can start eating healthier anytime you want. Give yourself a break and remember that it doesn’t have to be an all or nothing deal, just do it a meal at a time, adding fresh and local ingredients as you can. Use a few of the tricks I’ve shared here to bring in a few super foods for more protein, less fat and lots of antioxidents, vitamins and minerals. Just do it and you and your family will be eating healthier  in no time.

Step one to eating healthier – find and farmers’ market near you

Its winter, but that doesn’t mean that local farms shut down till spring. On the contrary, winter crops abound and in many areas, like my hometown of Charlotte NC, local farmers markets go on a winter schedule but they are still open each an every Saturday morning and often during the week.  Shop on a Saturday and see how much of your regular shopping list you can get at the market – then supplement with missing items from the supermarket making organic choices when and where you can.

In Charlotte, I’ll see you shopping for vegetables, herbs, beef, chicken, seafood, eggs, milk, cheese and bread at the Matthews Community Farmers’ Market, The Atherton Mill and Market, The Waxhaw Farmers’ Market and the Yorkmont Road Regional Farmers’ Market!

Once you’ve bought everything you can at the market, introduce a couple of these “Superfoods” for more protein and less fat in your everyday diet.

Forget that “vintage” Chia Seed pet circa 1980chis pet – chia seeds aren’t just for indoor “gardening” anymore!

These are not your momma’s chia seeds. Now we realize that this ancient superfood is the next new thing. The consumption of Chia seeds boosts energy and increases stamina. They are high in protein, fiber and amino acids, and not only are they naturally gluten/grain free, but they are also rich in antioxidants and essential Omega 3 fatty acids.

You can also use Chia seeds as a real diet aid.  Chia seeds absorb about 12 times their weight in water, so a chia seed beverage can help to make you feel full and stave off the craving to snack between meals.

I won’t lie to you, in their liquid form Chia seeds tend to have a rather slimmy texture; and because of that, a beverage may not be the best Chia seed recipe for everyone. But baked you won’t even know they are there and your body can still revel in all the benefits. Use them in place of or in addition to eggs or as a supplement to almost anything you make from waffles and pancakes to salad dressings and energy drinks.

Chia Seed Whole Wheat Waffles

1 Coldwater Creek Farm locally grown and milled Whole Wheat Flour ( available at the Atherton Mill and Market in Charlotte on Sat Mornings or reach out to Donna and Brad via Facebook or Twitter)

¾ cup High Rock Farm chestnut Flour (HighRockFarm.com)

1 Tbsp. Baking Powder

1 Tbsp. organic Sugar

Pinch of Salt

1½ cup local or organic Milk

2 Chia “Eggs” (recipe below)

3 Tbsp. melted butter

Preheat waffle iron according to manufacturers directions.  Combine dry ingredients in a mixing bowl.

Add remaining wet ingredients to mixing bowl. Stir until well combined.  Pour waffle dough onto waffle iron and bake according to manufacturers instructions.  Serve with your favorite sweet or savory waffle toppings

To make one chia “egg”, combine 1 tablespoon of chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water. Let sit for 30 minutes until a gel forms. This is ONE chia egg.

Super Food, Super Grain

From seeds to grain. Now that the Quinoa trend has caught on and is widely embraced, its time  to mix  in some other ancient grains into your diet. Enter Hemp and Amaranth.

Hemp seeds are considered to be a perfect superfood as they are a complete protein. Eating raw hemp is touted to have positive affect with many health benefits including depression or anxiety; help with weight loss; providing increased and sustained energy; helps to insure a rapid recovery from disease or injury; lowers cholesterol and blood pressure; reduces inflammation and improvement circulation. Plus it is a grain high in protein.

Hemp seeds are a more digestible protein than meat, whole eggs, cheese or cow’s milk; they are Rich in Vitamin E and they add a sweet nutty flavor and crunchy texture for those unable to tolerate nuts, gluten, lactose or sugar. Interestingly there are no known allergies to hemp foods, so toss them on or in just about anything you’d like to add a little crunch and a lot of super health benefits.

Peanut Butter Protein Balls

1 cup rolled organic oats

dash sea salt

1/2 cup golden raisins

1/2 cup pitted Medjool dates

2 Tbsp fresh made organic peanut butter

3 Tbsp organic Hemp seeds

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp Ceylon cinnamon

Combine oats and salt in food processor. Process until finely ground.  Add remaining ingredients and process until blended. Add a few drops of water, if needed, to form balls.  If you would like, fold in 1/2 cup dark chocolate chips. Shape the mix into balls, roll in additional hemp seeds,  toasted coconut or finely ground nuts if you would like and enjoy!

 

Amaranth may be consumed as a grain or a vegetable (it is often used as a microgreen as well). It can be popped like corn, cooked similar to rice or pasta, or ground to flour. The amaranth grain is cooked like rice but has 15x the iron of rice and nearly twice the protein. Cup for cup it also offers more protein than oats as well. It’s low in carbs but high in calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, and potassium. use it in this next recipe as you would bulgur wheat.

“Taboulied” Amaranth

1½ cups water or broth ( I like to keep it vegetarian and use water mixed with 1 Tbsp. tomato powder and 2 Tbsp powdered Herbs in Duxelle Seasoning, both from the Savory Spice Shop – my go to location is in Charlotte’s SouthEnd neighborhood at 2000 South Blvd. in the Atherton Mill and Market shopping area)

½ cup uncooked whole-grain amaranth

2 cups chopped local or organic cucumber

½ cup thinly sliced organic celery

¼ cup chopped organic fresh mint

¼ cup chopped fresh organic flat-leaf Italian parsley

¼ cup pine nuts, toasted

2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Zest of one lemon

Zest of one orange

2 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

sea salt and crushed red pepper to taste

½ cup cooked or canned organic chickpeas (garbanzo beans), drained

1 cup local Uno Alla Volta or Bosky Acres feta cheese, crumbled

2 chopped local firm but ripe tomatoes ( in the winter, when local hot house tomatoes are gone till summer,  I turn to canned pomodorini tomatoes (These are available in Charlotte at Pasta & Provisions on Providence Road)

Bring 1 1/2 cups cold water and amaranth to a boil in a medium saucepan; reduce heat, cover, and simmer 20 minutes or until water is almost absorbed While amaranth cooks, combine cucumber and all the remaining ingredients.

Place amaranth in a sieve or cheesecloth or coffee filter lined fine colander, and rinse under cold running water until room temperature; drain well, pressing with the back of a spoon. Add to cucumber mixture; toss to blend.

Are you Coo Coo for Coconut Milk?

All kinds of health benefits here – Selenium found in coconut milk is an antioxidant, which relieves arthritis symptoms and decreases the risk of joint inflammation.

Though coconut milk contains saturated fat, it can actually reduce cholesterol levels in comparison to butter and dairy based creams, so its the perfect falvorful substitute to use to make a “Whipped Topping” for your favorite desserts.

Coconut milk is a rich source of good-for-you magnesium, providing around 89 milligrams per cup. This miraculous mineral helps to calm the nerves, lessen the frequency of headaches and can help a body to maintain normal blood pressure. If you have sore muscles or have muscles that cramp a lot, the addition of magnesium to your diet can help to alleviate the problem.

Coconut milk  is also rich in fiber, which makes you feel full for a longer time, so used in moderation, in place of dairy full milk and cream and other milk substitutes coconut milk could  help to control weight gain as well.

For more great recipes using coconut milk and for the differences between coconut water and a variety of coconut milks on the market - watch this - Heidi Billotto Cooks with Coconut Milk as first seen on Charlotte Today July 2015

For more great recipes using coconut milk and for the differences between coconut water and a variety of coconut milks on the market – watch this – Heidi Billotto Cooks with Coconut Milk as first seen on Charlotte Today July 2015

For Dairy-free whipped cream:

1 (14 ounce) can full fat Thai Coconut Milk, chilled in the refrigerator overnight

1 Tbsp (or more to taste) coconut sugar or local honey, optional

Chill  mixing bowl and whisk attachment in the freezer for 10 minutes before making the coconut whipped cream.

When bowl is chilled, remove the thick and hardened coconut cream from the can and transfer to your mixing bowl, leaving any excess moisture/coconut water in the can.

Using a whisk attachment, beat on medium high for 2 minutes, until light and fluffy and soft peaks form. Scrape down the bowl. If adding sweetener, add coconut sugar or honey, then continue beating for another 2 minutes.

You can serve the whipped coconut cream immediately, or transfer to an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week. It will harden up in the fridge. Just whisk for a few seconds before serving again.