The scratchDC Blog

July 08, 2014

WhyFoodWorks ›

#WhyFoodWorks - Chicken Lettuce Wraps!

“I’m on the no carb diet.” It’s a phrase I hear far more often than I’d like, since it illustrates that the speaker doesn’t have a clear grasp on which nutrients are found in various food groups.  The only people on a true “no carb” diet are those eating nothing but meat and eggs!  Carbohydrates are found in all other foods – grains, dairy, nuts, beans, fruits, and all vegetables.  They’re the body’s primary energy source, your brain’s fuel of preference, and aid the absorption of protein.  But it’s true that as a country, we eat a lot of carbohydrate-containing foods.  In fact, calories we eat from carbohydrates have been on the rise since the 1970’s, displacing some of the fat in our diets: this graph shows the trend.

Kind of crazy, isn’t it?  The low-fat movement was part of the reason for this shift, and while over-consuming calories from any source leads to weight gain, it’s much easier to over-consume carbohydrate.  Your body digests it first, and faster, than protein and fat, meaning that it’s harder to feel full for long periods of time on carbs alone.  Fiber, a natural component of all carbohydrate-rich food (except dairy), is mostly removed in processing flours, and sweeteners like cane sugar contain none (if you ever get to visit a cane sugar farm, see if they’ll let you taste the plant – it’s mildly sweet, but very tough and chewy!).

Eating carbohydrate in the form of veggies and legumes is a great way to get them without going overboard and starting a cycle of carb-craving!  Enter ScratchDC’s Chicken Lettuce Wraps – they are low in carbohydrate thanks to the colorful, fiber-rich carrots, peppers, and peanuts, are high in satiating protein, and balance it out with fat from the olive oil in the delish chili sauce.

Other highlights of this box:

  • Lighter fare – this is a lower calorie meal, which is nice on a hot summer evening (and the homemade cookie they give you for dessert definitely fits!)
  • Spicy foods are hard to eat fast, so you savor more bites
  • Garlic is a heavy-hitting antioxidant, and even has cancer-preventing properties
  • You can eat it with your hands, which offers another sensation level to the food experience
  • They’re gorgeous.  And delicious.

Order now – it’s the perfect meal for this humid week!

Sarah Waybright, MS, RD, LD is the scratchDC Nutritionist in Residence.  She is all things healthy and runs an amazing company called Why Food Works that provides dinner parties and healthy habit-reboots through cooking lessons in your home!

May 27, 2014

WhyFoodWorks ›

#WhyFoodWorks - Beef Bulgogi

As a dietitian, I hear a lot about what people eat – and what they don’t eat.  In fact, more people define their diets primarily by what they avoid rather than describing the actual content of their meals!  Think about it: even words like “vegetarian” “vegan” and “paleo” only tell you what a person refrains from consuming (meat, animal products, grains & dairy, in those examples respectively), not what they eat most.  The number one thing I hear from people who are telling me about a new-found healthy diet?  “I don’t eat red meat.”

So let’s talk about red meat.  It’s true that as a country, we eat more than enough.  From an energy and environmental perspective, it’s far more costly to produce.  Red meat tends to be consumed frequently, in large portion sizes, and is often central in meals that lack fiber, produce, and tend to be high refined flour (think burgers, hot dogs, ribs, and barbeque).  The problem isn’t with the meat itself, which is a great source of iron, B-vitamins, and protein, but with the preparation, portion size and the context we tend to consume it in!

Enter ScratchDC’s Beef Bulgogi, available for purchase tomorrow!  They complement the reasonable sized portion of beef (from Roseda Beef in Monkton, MD!) with nutrient-dense veggies like bok choy, onions, and carrots, and pair it with fiber-rich quinoa and mushrooms.  Because beef is an animal product, it contains cholesterol.  Although most of the cholesterol in our bodies is manufactured by our own livers, cholesterol we consume is absorbed less when fiber is included in the meal, and most Americans are getting less than HALF the recommended fiber (averaging around 11g instead of 25-25g!).  The combination of protein and fiber will keep you feeling satisfied, prevent blood sugar from spiking (white flour is a major spiker!), and ensure that things move along at a healthy pace through the digestive tract.

This meal gets the dietitian stamp of approval for its balance of fiber and protein, inclusion of a serving of veggies, and keeping things to the right portion sizes!  Order now for your delivery tomorrow – beef is yours for (healthy) dinner!

Sarah Waybright, MS, RD, LD is the scratchDC Nutritionist in Residence.  She is all things healthy and runs an amazing company called Why Food Works.  

Thursday Is Bow Tie Day

Wanna rock a bow tie this Thursday? We thought so. How about a whole mess o' bow ties? Yup - we thought so to that, too. Get yo bow ties here. Of the roasted garlic, parmesan, white wine variety. The best kind, in our opinion. We think you'll agree.

Thursday we're offering farfalle pasta. Farfalle (singular: farfalla) mean "butterflies" in Italian, which are cute and all, but we prefer to think of them as bow ties. I guess we're showing our dressy side.

Farfalle pasta dates to 16th century Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna in northern Italy. It comes in several sizes and colors. It's made by pinching together the center of ruffled rectangular or oval shapes of pasta. The bow ties are perfect for cream sauces because of their nooks and crannies, which means they're well suited to hold our majorly yummy cheesy, garlicky cream sauce.

So get dressy this week and rock the bow tie(s).

French Fries in My Stir Fry? Read Why.

This Wednesday we’re dishing up Lomo Saltado, a beef stir fry with french fries. Unusual but awesome combination, no? Well, every dish has a story and this dish is no different.

Lomo Saltado translates from Spanish to “leapt loin,” referring to beef jumping in a hot pan or wok. Wok? In Peru? So begins the story of Chinese-Peruvian fusion - both in culture and cuisine.

Peru in the 19th century was a hotbed of activity. The Peruvians were among the first to mine gold in California during the Gold Rush, which meant major money. This shot Peru’s agricultural economy into the stratosphere. And thus a labor force was required. Chinese immigrants poured in to meet the need. Over time the cultures blended - including their foods. Enter saltados, or stir frys, of beef, chicken, noodles etc. The blending of Chinese and Peruvian food traditions is known as chifa, from the Cantonese words chi and fan, meaning “to eat rice,” really just “to eat a meal."

The Chinese imported a limited number of ingredients from their homeland; others they grew in Peru. But they didn’t have everything they needed to prepare their food authentically. And so they assimilated Peruvian ingredients like potatoes, explaining how Lomo Saltado came about. And good thing it did - it’s practically Peru’s national dish!

The first Chinese-Peruvian restaurants, called chifas, opened in 1920s Lima. Today there are 6,000 chifas just in Lima. But chifa food isn’t just in restaurants, it’s in the home. Soy sauce, ginger, and scallions have their place in every Peruvian home. In fact, Peruvians use the Cantonese words si-yau and kion for soy sauce and ginger.

Feeling educated? Good. Feeling hungry? Even better. Turn your home into a little neighborhood chifa for the night. Order now.

Salsa with Chocolate Chips: A Match Made in Heaven

The stars have aligned. All is right with the world. The scratchDC team is on cloud nine. May 15 is National Chocolate Chip Day AND May is National Salsa Month. What are the odds? Two of our favorite meal add-ons (and this blogger’s two favorite things PERIOD). I mean who doesn’t adore chocolate chip cookies? Who doesn’t have an addiction to scratchDC’s soon-to-be-famous-worldwide salsa?

More on that: I know I’ve mentioned here before my scratch salsa obsession. I believe I even said I’d do shots of it. Well, it’s true. Try it for yourself if you haven’t already. (Even though I want it all for me, ME, MEEEE!) Order it with your next meal.

Salsa has surpassed ketchup as America’s best-selling condiment, and it looks like it’s here to stay. It sure took long enough, if you ask me! Salsa’s been around for thousands of years. The chile was domesticated over 7,000 years ago and tomatoes about 5,000 years ago - both in Central America. They were combined into a topping the conquistadors called salsa, or “sauce.” Spanish missionary Bernardino de Sahagun, sent to Mexico in 1529, wrote extensively on the Aztecs. In what is now known as the Florentine Codex, he described salsas sold by food vendors in the Aztec markets:

“He sells foods, sauces, hot sauces, fried [food], olla-cooked, juices, sauces of juices, shredded [food] with chile, with squash seeds, with tomatoes, with smoked chile, with hot chile, with yellow chile, with mild red chile sauce, yellow chile sauce, sauce of smoked chile, heated sauce, he sells toasted beans, cooked beans, mushroom sauce, sauce of small squash, sauce of large tomatoes, sauce of ordinary tomatoes, sauce of various kinds of sour herbs, avocado sauce.”

Now onto chocolate chips. I bet you think the chips came before the cookie. I did. Turns out the cookies came first. Ruth Graves Wakefield of the Toll House Inn in Whitman, MA, invented chocolate chip cookies in the late 1930s. She added cut-up chunks of a bittersweet Nestlé chocolate bar to a cookie recipe. The cookies were a huge success, and Wakefield reached an agreement in 1939 with Nestlé to add her recipe to the chocolate bar's packaging with the Toll House name in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate. Initially, Nestlé included a small chopping tool with their chocolate bars. In 1941 they started selling chocolate chips. Here’s a detailed history.

If your mouth's watering now (like mine), place an order for eight decadent chocolate chip cookies with your next dinner purchase.

In the Know: Cinco de Mayo

We thought you’d want to know the story behind Cinco de Mayo while you’re munching on your scratchDC fajitas with all the fixins. Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

To boil it down, Cinco de Mayo celebrates General Zaragoza’s unlikely triumph over the French army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. To flesh it out, several wars in Mexico in the mid-19th century left the country bankrupt. Mexican President Juarez issued a moratorium on paying foreign debts, which angered Britain, France, and Spain. Britain and Spain negotiated a deal with Mexico, but France took this as an opportunity to expand its empire. Late in 1861, the French fleet landed in Veracruz; forced President Juarez to retreat; and moved towards Mexico City, meeting along the way a much smaller Mexican army (about half the size actually) at Puebla. Despite France’s clear advantage, the Mexican army won decisively. Victory was short-lived, however, because the French eventually defeated the Mexicans and installed an emperor. After the American Civil War, the United States stepped in and aided Mexico. France withdrew and the emperor was captured and executed. The Franco-Mexican War ran six years.

The battle at Puebla was significant for three reasons: 1) the Mexican army beat the odds; 2) the French had not lost a battle in over 50 years when they lost at Puebla; and 3) since the battle, no country in the Americas has been invaded by Europe.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not an official national holiday. It’s really solely celebrated in Puebla and neighboring Veracruz, where it’s known as El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla ("The Day of the Battle of Puebla”). Cinco de Mayo is primarily a U.S. holiday. It originated in California during the early years of the American Civil War as a tribute to freedom and democracy. Mexican-Americans were proud of Mexico's victory at Puebla. The holiday has been celebrated continuously in CA since 1863, spreading throughout the rest of the U.S. beginning in the 1940s as a tribute to Mexican heritage. Marketing the holiday began in the 1980s. Beer companies were among the first to promote the 5th of May.

(Don't confuse Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day, which marks the beginning of the war of independence against Spain on Sept. 16, 1810.)

The 22nd Annual National Cinco De Mayo Festival on the National Mall takes place May 4 from noon to 6. It’s free and open to all. Wear your red, white, and green!

April 29, 2014

Meet the Team: Travis Mitchell

Next up in "Meet the Team" is Travis Mitchell. He runs the scratchDC kitchen on a day-to-day basis. This includes:

  • Ordering fresh, local food

  • Managing the food prep process

  • Tracking cost and availability of local products

  • Finding ways to produce less waste and making scratchDC as "green" as possible

  • As our resident saucier, making the best salsa you've ever had.*

Some Travis tidbits:

  • Favorite scratchDC Meal: Beef Wellington w/ Red Wine Reduction

  • Favorite Food from Back Home in VA: It's a tie: My dad's pancakes and my Mom's fresh picked strawberry pie

  • In my spare time I like to... play drums, golf, play with my dogs, and homebrew beer!

  • Something interesting about me is... I was the drummer in a blues/rock band in college (JMU) called Dirty And The Mudflaps. My nickname was Styx Jr.

*I can attest to our salsa's greatness. It's a magical elixir. I could do shots of it.

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