Monday, May 30, 2011


I've been waiting to try out the Mega Ball Play & Freeze Ice Cream Maker, but Northern Utah hasn't had much ice cream weather.  This is the first Memorial Day that I can remember where it snowed!

Grandson Anthony Balducci with the ice cream maker.    Photo by Valerie Phillips
The weather forced us to call off our camping trip, and our family ended up having an indoor picnic Sunday afternoon.  So it seemed a good time to try out a new ice cream gadget.
Every so often companies will send me products to try out. About a month ago, I received a big blue hard-plastic ball in the mail. It reminded me of a space ship, or a soccer ball on steroids, but it's  an ice cream maker.  You put cream, vanilla and sugar in the middle cyclinder, and surround it with ice and rock salt. Then you're supposed to "play" with the ball, pass it around, let everyone roll it or shake it, until the cream freezes.  

Grandson Anthony with the ice cream maker.     Photo by Valerie Phillips
I gave it to my 9-year-old grandson, Anthony, and my son Lonn, to move around.  They first tried kicking it, but it's too heavy  -- about 9 pounds when full of ice and cream. And there's a warning on the box not to kick or throw it hard, because the ball could break. So could your toe!

Partially frozen ice cream.            Photo by Valerie Phillips

After about a 20 minutes, Anthony and Lonn had lost interest, so I opened up the canister to check.  the cream was thickening around the walls of the canister, but still soft in the middle.  I stirred it up as the directions advised, then resealed the canister.  We rolled and shook it around for about 15 more minutes, until it was the consistency of soft-serve ice cream. We could have waited longer to see if it would harden more, but everyone was getting hungry just to try it. It tasted great; more like a milkshake.

 This is a fun novelty and a conversation starter for a party, especially when the guests ask, "What can I do to help?" 
And it would be good for camping, when you need to kids to burn off some energy and stay busy.  But since it only makes a quart (four cups) of ice cream, it won't feed too many people.  In the future,  I'll use my electric ice cream maker as well as the Mega-Ball so we'll have plenty of ice cream to go around.  

Depending on where you buy it, the Mega-Ball Ice Cream Maker costs around $20- $25. There's also a smaller version, but it only makes 2 cups of ice cream. 

Saturday, May 28, 2011


 Deni Hill showed up in her Body Jam class Saturday morning in her pink Biggest Loser T-shirt, to a round of applause and hugs.
  Pretty impressive that the  59-year-old Bountiful mother of eight won $100,000 on NBC’s “The Biggest Loser” TV show last week. She lost the the highest percentage of weight among the previously eliminated contestants.

  She went from 256 pounds at the beginning of the competition, to 131 at the season finale. That's 125 pounds, or  48.83 percent of her body weight. She was only slightly bested by the $250,000 grand-prize winner Olivia Ward, who who went from 261 pounds to 132, for a 49.2 percent weight loss. 

Deni and Sarah at beginning.  

Deni and daughter Sarah at finale.

  I called Deni for an interview Friday afternoon as she was driving home from the exciting week in California.  
  She said one of the most exciting parts of the experience was seeing the other contestants, who were transformed by their weight loss.
“We all get along well and we were all so happy for each other,” Hill said. One of the most changed was Justin Pope of Logan, who went from 365 to 193 pounds.
“When he first came up to me and gave me a hug, I didn’t know who he was,” she said. “He looked fabulous. It was incredible.”

In fact, Pope came very close to beating Hill for the eliminated contestant prize. Pope partnered with Olympic gold medalist Rulon Gardner, who voluntarily left the show and didn't attend the finale.  Pope and Gardner are partners in a Logan gym, and Hill said that  Pope is also hoping to open a low-cost facility for kids and families. She plans to donate some of her prize money to buy spin bikes for it.

She’s especially proud of her daughter Sarah, who looked fabulous at the finale in a hot pink, size 4 knit dress.  And for those who have been asking about it online, she bought it at the Fashion Show Mall in Las Vegas for less than $50. Sarah actually brought it for her mother to wear.
“It looked good on me, but it looked fabulous on her,” Hill said. “The dress I wore was one that I brought with me from Nordstom.  I had a lot of neat comments that I looked very beautiful and modest, which was my intent.”
Sarah Nitta and her mom, Deni Hill, today.
Hill was also thrilled to find out her body fat statistics. “I went from 52 percent body fat to 22 percent. That’s an athlete. And I can’t believe my knees.  They were so bad before, because I was carrying an extra 125 pounds.  And my sleep apnea is gone.”
Hill’s exit from the show was a bit controversial. During Week 8, she and another parent, Jesse Wornum purposely "waterloaded" to gain weight and get sent home. “I drank a lot of water and ate really salty food,” she said.

Because of alliances forged among some of the other players, Hill said she felt the need to sacrifice herself to save her daughter, Sarah, from possible elimination. But Sarah ended up being sent home two weeks later.
“Hindsight is 20-20,” Hill said. “At the time, I thought that was my only choice to keep Sarah. Now I wish I would have just tried as hard to lose as much weight as I could.  But it’s what it is.”
When Hill came home, she quit her sedentary job as an administrative assistant, and worked out 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours each day.  She used two different personal trainers — one at Four Pillars Fitness and another at the South Davis Recreation Center, and she also attended workout classes at the Skills Fitness Center.
She stuck to 1,200 calories a day, with fruits, vegetables and lean protein as her mainstays. She also received weekly deliveries of The Biggest Loser Meal Plan a gift from eDiets to all of the contestants. These are low-calorie, nutritionally balanced meals.
“I didn’t use them all the time, because I like to have a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables,” she said.  “But it really helped once in awhile when I didn’t have time to cook for myself and I was dashing out the door.”
Hill said she’s gotten some complaints on “The Biggest Loser” message board that not everyone can afford to quit their job to lose weight.  She pointed out that Ana Alvarado was able to lose a great deal of weight despite being eliminated the first week of the show. (And Ana would also be a shoo-in for the Miss Congeniality Award, Hill added.)
“But, Ana is a letter carrier with the Post Office, so she walks a route every day.  My job was sitting at a desk eight hours a day, and my goal was to win.  Now I will just maintain the weight I am at.”
Now the show is over, Deni's planning to keep that weight off. She's bumped up her calorie level to 1,600 a day and will get in two hours of vigorous exercise a day. On Saturday morning, she came to Body Jam at Skills Fitness, stayed for Zumba class, and did some time on the Stairmaster as well. 
 “I lost it fast, but if I can do it, anyone can do it,” she said.  “I was a total couch potato. You can find time in the morning or after work.  You just need to move to lose.”
And, don’t shy away from the gym because you think you’re too heavy, she advised.
“That’s what the fitness center is there for. I was so intimidated going to a gym, but they are for heavy people, not just people who are already in shape. Find one that will show you how to use the machines and give you a program to follow, so you don’t get intimidated.  A personal trainer is great, but if you can’t afford one, go to the exercise classes. There are all sizes in the classes.”
And now, she’ll be job hunting. She half-jokes that her ideal job would be at Costco, “because I would have health insurance and I’d be doing a lot of moving and lifting.”
She hopes to have an opportunity to do motivational speaking, and will be doing some work with NuSkin as well.
And although $100,000 sounds like a big payoff, after taxes and tithing (Hill is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints), and paying off debts, “It’s basically gone,” she said.  “But I will be out of debt.”

Friday, May 27, 2011


Grand Opening celebration of Heber Valley Milk & Heber Valley Artisan Cheese is taking place through May 28 at 920 North River Road in Midway, Utah. 

There will be daily and weekly prize drawings, as well as special discounts on ice cream and cheese all week. There will be a calf petting pen on Friday and Saturday, May 27 & 28. 

Heber Valley Milk & Artisan Cheese will be selling fresh raw milk, fresh and aged artisan cheeses, ice cream and other local products such as raw honey, jams & syrups.

In the past few years, Utah's artisan cheesemakers have come to the forefront, with places like Beehive Cheese, Rockhill Creamery, Shepherd's Dairy and Drake Family Farm leading the way.
“We bring a unique approach to our milk and cheese business. The entire process of raising and managing a dairy herd, bottling raw milk, and making delicious artisan cheese is self-contained right here on the farm,” said Grant Kohler, owner of Heber Valley Milk & Artisan Cheese.  

If you like knowing your cheese from cow to curd, this is your kind of place. 

Thursday, May 26, 2011


I'm sorry to hear when another store bites the dust.
Gardner Village's Christmas Shoppe has closed. Through Monday, shoppers will have a chance to buy what items are left for pennies on the dollar, according to Gardner Village's PR rep, Marcia Johns.  
Everything will be sold as is. Christmas is a long way off, but who knows? You might find something great to stash away until December. Gardner Village is at 1100 West 7800 South in West Jordan.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


Fennel Soup at McCrady's in Charleston, garnished with shrimp, croutons and olive oil drizzle.
While in Charleston last month, I had dinner at the historic tavern-turned-restaurant, McCrady’s. It was built by Madeira importer Edward McCrady in 1788.  When George Washington toured the Southern States in 1791, he ate at McCrady’s. (And if it was good enough for a president, by George, it’s good enough for me.) 

I was intrigued with the fennel soup that was one of the starter courses,  and wanted to replicate it when I came home. It was cream-colored and smooth, with a mellow licorice flavor.  Chef, Sean Brock, a James Beard Award-winner, had garnished each bowl with two plump fresh-caught shrimp, the feathery fronds and croutons. It reminded me of the garlic bisque I’ve eaten at Emeril’s restaurant, NOLA.  Like garlic bulbs, fennel has a strong flavor that mellows with cooking and cream.  
I couldn’t find a recipe on the restaurant’s Web site or that of chef Brock. So I experimented and came up with my own recipe. It was the first time I’d done much cooking with fresh fennel, which resembles celery or leeks in size and shape.  It has a white bulb at the bottom, green stems and feathery green fronds on the ends. The bulb is the main part that you cook with.
I used the same technique for a lot of other creamy veggie soups: saute and simmer the veggies, then puree them so that they’re smooth and thickened. And, they often use some type of cream. I used fat-free half-and-half. The soup was pleasantly creamy but probably lower in fat the the McCrady’s version.
The recipe took about a half-hour to make, from start to finish. 
3 bulbs of fennel, with stalks and feathery green tops (about 2-3 pounds)
2 tablespoons butter
1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cans (about 4 cups) chicken stock 
1  cup half-and-half
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat butter in a soup pot over low heat. Remove the green fronds from the fennel stalks and reserve. Coarsely slice the fennel bulbs and stalks. Slice the onion and garlic.

Turn the heat up to medium-high. When butter begins sizzling, add the onions and fennel and cook, stirring, about 5 minutes, until they become slightly softened. Stir to keep them from burning. Add the garlic and chicken stock and increase the heat to high. Bring soup to a gentle boil and cook, covered, until fennel is tender, about 10 minutes.

Puree the soup, in batches, in a blender until very smooth. If a very smooth soup is desired, strain through a strainer into a serving pot or bowl.  Add the half-and-half and season with salt and pepper. Serve with some of the fennel fronds and dots of olive oil as a garnish. Makes about 6 1-cup servings.


Since I posted about meeting Biggest Loser winner Deni Hill in my aerobics class, I've had a few people ask about it.  Deni and I are both members of Skills Fitness Center, 1525 North Main Street, Bountiful, Utah.  This morning I was talking to Paul Swensen, the membership manager at Skills Fitness Center. He said anyone who calls him and mentions they read about this on my blog can get a free three-day trial pass to Skills at Full disclosure: I pay a regular membership fee and I'm not getting any mileage out of mentioning this.  But, if you want to work out at the same place where Deni dropped all those pounds, give Paul a call at (801) 298-5050. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011


Congrats to Deni Hill of Bountiful, who won $100,000 tonight on NBC's "The Biggest Loser."  And, I might add, she is in my Body Jam class!

Here is my interview with her that ran in the Deseret News a couple of weeks ago, where she predicted that she would be in the final four at-home contestants.

Also, since I posted about meeting Biggest Loser winner Deni Hill in my aerobics class, I've had a few people ask about it.  It happens that Deni and I are both members of Skills Fitness Center, 1525 North Main Street, Bountiful, Utah.  This morning I was talking to Paul Swensen, the gym's membership manager . He said anyone who calls him and mentions they read about this on my blog can get a free three-day trial pass to Skills, Full disclosure: I pay a regular membership fee and I'm not getting any mileage out of mentioning this.  But, if you want to work out at the same place where Deni dropped all those pounds, give Paul a call at (801) 298-5050. 

Oe more thing: I hope NBC isn't pulling another "Rulon Gardner" by putting tennis star Anna Kournikova into the trainer position vacated by Jillian Michaels. Does BL really need another celebrity athlete? 
This season started out with a lot of ads surrounding Rulon, but that faded when Rulon didn't go the distance. He was a no-show at the finale, and there was not even a mention of him when his partner, Justin, weighed in.  

As a tennis player, Anna was better known for her looks and glamour than her actual accomplishments on the court.  Although Jillian's rude rants got on my nerves, she proved that she could motivate, teach and really push the contestants.  I hope Kournikova will be able to do the same, and she's not coming on board merely as window dressing and celebrity hype.  


Utah residents are using a lot more herbs and spices than they did 20 years ago. But on McCormick & Company's list of the top 50 "Super-Spiced" cities, Salt Lake City only ranks 43, sandwiched between Cincinnati and Charlotte, N.C. 

McCormick, the Maryland-based spice and herb company, considers some seasonings as "super spices" for their natural antioxidant qualities. They ranked the cities that use the most of these, based on spice category grocery sales from Sept. 2009 to Oct. 2010. (So all those old jars still sitting in your spice cabinet didn't count!)

Ranked alphabetically, the "super spices" are:
Black pepper
Chili powder
Garlic powder
Red peppers (including paprika)

And which cities use the most of them?

New York, Chicago and Los Angeles are the top three "super-spiced" cities, which would seem logical, since these are big cities with large ethnic populations. But the great foodie city of San Francisco doesn't even make the top 20. It's ranked 23, just below Oklahoma City. Having visited Oklahoma City many times (and just returned from another trip there last week) I will say there seems to be a lot of interest in both barbecue and Mexican dishes. I was surprised to see New Orleans ranked below Charleston. Having done a lot of taste-testing in both cities, it seemed to me that Charleston's traditional dishes were just a tad more bland than the Cajun cuisine of New Orleans. 

The survey pointed out a few other surprises. For instance, Philadelphia consumed more than 176,000 pounds of garlic powder. Charleston, S.C., used nearly 9,000 pounds of oregano last year.

Los Angeles consumed more than 208,000 pounds of cinnamon — that's a lot of cinnamon toast. This sweet spice has been linked in studies to controlling blood sugar levels.

San Antonio, home to Tex-Mex, used more cumin than any other city in the nation — 98,000 pounds.

Here's the list of McCormick's "Super-Spiced" cities:
1. New York
2. Chicago
3. Los Angeles
4. Dallas/Ft Worth
5. San Antonio/Corpus Christi, Texas
6. Houston
7. Memphis, Tenn.
8. Philadelphia
9. Charleston, S.C,
10. Jackson, Miss.
11. New Orleans
12. Albuquerque, N.M,
13. Atlanta
14. St. Louis
15. Phoenix
16. Grand Rapids, Mich.
17. Sacramento, Calif.
18. Roanoke, Va.
19. Birmingham, Ala.
20. Baltimore, Md.
21. Raleigh, N,C.
22. Oklahoma City
23. San Francisco/Oakland
24. Hartford, Conn.
25. Nashville, Tenn.
26. Indianapolis
27. Norfolk, Va.
28. Springfield, Ill.
29. San Diego
30. Harrisburg, Penn.
31. Seattle/Tacoma
32. Cleveland, Ohio
33. Miami/Ft Lauderdale, Fla.
34. Omaha, Neb.
35. Detroit
36. Kansas City, Kan.
37. Louisville, Ky.
38. Tampa/St Petersburg, Fla.
39. Syracuse, N.Y.
40. Boston, Mass.
41. Toledo, Ohio
42. Cincinnati
43. Salt Lake City
44. Charlotte, N.C.
45. Jacksonville, Fla.
46. Spokane, Wash.
47. Portland, Ore.
48. Las Vegas
49. Knoxville, Tenn.
50. Pittsburgh

Monday, May 23, 2011


A few nights ago, my 20-year-old daughter, Amy, urged me to watch an episode of the reality series, “Extreme Couponing.” Pretty amazing how someone can load up their shopping carts with $400- $500 worth of food, and pay something like $4 or $5 at the register. 

How does it happen? Well, from what I saw, they clip a lot of coupons from newspaper inserts. They go online and download digital coupons onto their loyalty card, and get other in-store coupons.  In some cases they can use two different types of coupons for one item. Then they look for a really good sale or double coupon days at a grocery store. 

“Mom, we need to try it!” Amy urged.  But finding out that the shoppers spend 30 or 40 hours a week on couponing dampened my enthusiasm. I use some coupons, but I don’t want to spent much time on them.  And I don’t want to buy a lot of junk food or products we probably won’t eat, just for the sake of getting a good deal. 

I’m a little familiar with Web sites such as and, that offer lists of all the coupons being offered in specific areas of the country.  Couponsense also lists store sales so you can match them to coupons and bring the price down.  In Utah, MediaOne’s Grocery Guru, Ken Roesbery, takes people shopping to show them how they can apply coupon to sale items and save a significant amount.  
Avid couponistas pointed out that the first thing you should do is find out your grocery store’s policy on coupons. Some don’t allow you to use two coupons for the same item.  It happens that I got a press release today outlining Smith’s store policy. So if you’re thinking of couponing, here are some guidelines for the way Smith’s accepts them:
  • Store Management has the right to accept, decline, or limit the use of ANY coupon(s).
  • Store Management has the right to limit the quantity of coupons and /or items purchased in a single transaction, by a single Customer, or in a single day.
• An Electronic Digital Coupon and a paper Manufacturer Coupon cannot be
used on the same item.
• A Store Coupon and a paper Manufacturer Coupon may be used on the same
• An Electronic Digital Coupon and Store Coupon may be used on the same item.
• We do not accept expired coupons
 Doubling does not apply to the following coupon types:
  • Free
  • Kroger
  • Catalina
  • Store Coupons
  • Electronic Digital Coupons
  • Items prohibited by law
• One store coupon per item may be used. Store coupons are nontransferable and
duplication of these coupons is prohibited.
• Couponed items will not be sold to dealers.
• We do accept “free item coupons” from the Internet if all purchase
requirements stated on the coupons are met.
 • We reserve the right to reject any Internet coupon that is altered or does not scan properly.
 • Only one Internet coupon per item will be accepted.
 • Internet coupons that display characteristics below will not be accepted.
􀂃 Blurry
􀂃 Out of proportion
􀂃 Do no scan properly
􀂃 Appear to be altered in any way

Sunday, May 22, 2011



If you're planning to watch the season finale of  "The Biggest Loser" Tuesday night, why not whip up a recipe from the Biggest Loser Resort? You can slurp on this soup guilt-free while you watch to see how the final four contestants weigh in. and the eliminated contestants still have a chance to win $100,000. I’ll admit, I’ve taken a special  interest because of all the Utah/Mormon players this season: Deni Hill, Justin Pope, and Rulon Gardner are all Utah residents, and Sarah Nitta, Moses Kinikini and Kaylee Kinikini are also members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. 
I got this recipe in 2010 while doing a story for the Deseret News on the Biggest Loser Resort in Southern Utah. It’s a place where you can hike, work out, and enjoy spa cuisine to get in shape. Every so often, past contestants from the reality series spend time at the resort, much to the delight of fans. 
This is a very healthy, low-cal recipe. (Maybe that’s why I was tempted to add a dash of fat-free half-and-half as a garnish).  I adapted the original recipe a bit, because it didn’t offer directions for roasting the peppers. I included the easiest way that I know to roast and peel them. I included some shortcuts —  frozen chopped onions for fresh sliced onions, and dried basil and thyme for fresh herbs. I also cut the amount of thyme in half, because the first time I made this recipe, the thyme was overpowering and bitter to my taste buds. Use some restraint when you add the herbs. Then taste the soup, and add more herbs if you want. 
Agave is a natural sweetener that comes from a cactus-like plant. It’s popular with dieters because it doesn’t raise blood sugar levels. If you don’t have it, add 2 tablespoons of sugar. This will change the calorie and healthiness, of course.

4-5 red bell peppers 
1 cup sliced yellow onions (or about 1 1/3 cup frozen)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic
3 cups vegetable stock (or use 2 14-ounce cans)
1/4 cup chopped basil (1 tablespoon dried; add more to taste)
1 teaspoon dried thyme (add more to taste if desired)  
2 tablespoons agave syrup (or 2 tablespoons sugar)
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
To roast the peppers, cut each bell pepper in half lengthwise, clean out seeds. Place each half skin-side up on a cookie sheet. Place in the oven on the top rack, and turn the oven to broil on high heat. Broil for 10-15 minutes, until skin blisters and forms black, charred spots. You may need to move the peppers around with tongs to broil more evenly. Turn off the broiler and let the peppers sit in the oven an additional 10 minutes. Then, with tongs, place them in a zip-locking freezer bag or plastic container with tight lid.  Seal the bag or lid, and wait a half hour or more for the steam to engage the peel. Grasp the peel next to one of the charred spots and pull it off.  
In a pot, saute  onions and chopped garlic until soft. Add vegetable stock and roasted bell peppers. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Fill a stand blender half full. Add the agave and herbs; blend until smooth. Taste the soup and add more herbs if desired.
Repeat blending until all soup is blended. Reheat soup and serve hot. Makes about 6 1-cup servings. 
Nutrients per serving: 59 calories, 1 gram fat, 3 grams protein, 12 grams carbohydrates, 1 gram dietary fiber.
— The Biggest Loser Resort

Friday, May 20, 2011


A few days ago, I caught the last half of the "Independence Day," shown in my gym's Cardio Theater. It reminded me how much I liked Bill Pullman's acting back in the '90s.  Pullman's role as the U.S. President reminded me of real-life candidate Mitt Romney. Did Romney mold his "presidential image" with that never-out-of-place hair by watching Independence Day? Just wonderin.'

And as my family can attest, "While You Were Sleeping" is one of my favorite chick flicks, with Pullman and Sandra Bullock. But it's been awhile since I've seen him in a movie.  Now I find out that he is, indeed, one honey of a guy — busy keeping bees, growing fruit, and raising cattle.

Out of the blue I was sent a  press release about Pullman's latest acting gig. It mentioned that he has two homes. He splits his downtime between his 100-tree fruit orchard in Los Angeles where he harvests rare fruit, and his cattle ranch in Montana where he cultivates honey from his bee farm.

The press release said that Pullman’s fascination with food goes back to his Dutch heritage and his relationship with his mother, who taught him about the world of greens. Like his mother, Pullman is a skilled craftsman in the kitchen, taking pride in his homemade sorbet and marmalades made from produce from his own backyard. Through the years he has become an expert on how to grow and cultivate everything from pomegranates to rare loquats (which he helps preserve to avoid extinction).

Pullman’s next project is as Oswald Danes, a former school teacher and convicted child murdered who escapes his death sentence, in the upcoming STARZ drama series, “Torchwood: Miracle Day” (premiering July 8 at 10 p.m.). Sounds like quite a switch from the good-guy roles I remember him in.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


  When you have so many choices at a buffet, do you usually pick the best ones? Or do you pick the "good-for-you" things  -- the fresh fruit, the baked seafood, the steamed veggies -- and then throw in some onion rings and fries, and polish it off with  pie a la mode?
  This month's Shape magazine mentioned that the more food choices people, the more they tend to overeat.  I'm a prime example.  Last week I spent several days  visiting at the National Post Office Education Center where my husband is taking a three-week class. The thing I enjoy most about this place is the well-stocked gym, with just about any piece of body-building equipment, treadmills, bikes, and so on. My first day here, I did five miles on the treadmill, and went through all the weight machines, then hit the yoga class.
  The second thing I love is the Olympic size salt water pool.  I love swimming lap after lap, and then collapsing in the sun to dry off. And the weather was sunny and warm — what a relief from the Utah rain!
  And the third thing I love is the food court where the meals are all served.  Despite the stainless steel, "cafeteria" look of the place, the dishes are a far cry from the old-time "institutional" chow lines of limp veggies, gelatin salad and mystery meat.  Somehow, the chefs manage to make nearly every seem freshly cooked, even though it's mass-produced. At every meal, there's a variety of veggie dishes -- a sauteed turnip/sweet potato medley, corn spiked with a little nutmeg, orange-flavored carrot coins, sauteed broccolini with garlic cloves, crisp-tender green beans and asparagus.  There's also a salad bar.  Every day there's at least one type of seafood, such as  teriyaki glazed salmon, Mediterranean-baked swordfish, spice-dusted barramundi.  There's an herb garden in the courtyard of the dining area, and it's a good bet that the dishes benefit greatly from a sprinkling of fresh chives, cilantro and thyme.
But in addition to all the tasty "healthy" food, there are also french fries, onion rings, bacon, burgers, pie and Blue Bell ice cream.  Too often, instead of making a choice between the healthy and the not-healthy food, I end up taking a little of everything.
  So, it's back to the gym in hopes of cancelling out my calories.


So does someone from Utah  become one of the "Real Women of Philadelphia?"  (And, no, this isn't one of those silly "Real Housewives of Wherever" TV shows.)
You enter a recipe contest using Philadelphia brand cream cheese, which is what Carmell Childs of Provo did.  She is one of 16 finalist in the “Real Women of Philadelphia” recipe contest, sponsored by Food Network star Paula Deen and Philly cream cheese.  
Cooks had to submit a short, creative video of themselves preparing either an appetizer, side dish, entree or dessert. 
Childs and the other 15 finalists will travel to Savannah, Ga. in June to compete in a live cook-off and a chance to win $25,000.
Here is Childs' recipe:
Coconut shrimp poppers with chili mango cream
1 large sweet ripe mango
1 canned pineapple ring
6 ounces Philadelphia whipped cream cheese at room temperature, divided 
3 to 4 tablespoons sweet Thai chili sauce
2 cups medium, raw deveined shrimp
1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs
Zest from 1 lemon
1 cup Panko bread crumbs
1 cup of sweetened flaked coconut
4 to 5 cups vegetable oil for deep frying (enough so oil is 2 inches deep)
Dice mango into chunks. Place mango and pineapple ring in blender and puree until smooth. In a medium bowl, combine 4 ounces of cream cheese and fruit puree. With the mixer on high speed, beat until thoroughly combined. Add desired amount of chili sauce; mix to combine. Chill.
Rinse and pat dry shrimp. Pour flour in a deep bowl and season with salt and a few twist of ground pepper. In a separate deep bowl, combine remaining 2 ounces cream cheese, eggs, and lemon zest. Mix until incorporated. In a third deep bowl mix together Panko crumbs and coconut.
Toss shrimp in flour; shaking off excess, dip in egg, then lightly press and cover entire shrimps in coconut mixture; set aside on large platter.
In a deep saucepan, heat 2 inches of oil to 350 degrees. Fry shrimp, 4 to 5 at a time, for 30 seconds to one minute or until golden brown. Place on a paper towel-lined plate and immediately sprinkle with sea salt to taste. Serve warm with chili mango cream.
Serves 6.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


That's what Harmon's is doing at its new store in Farmington.  There's an upstairs mezzanine that overlooks the store, nicely set up with nice tables and chairs and even an area with sofas and a fireplace. Since I was at the store today around noon, I noticed that the area attracts a lot of diners during the lunch hour. They  buy a meal in the deli area, and go upstairs to eat it.  There's also a cooking classroom, where culinary classes are taught by chef "J" Degenhardt.  
But Bob and Randy Harmon — Utah's independent grocers — are taking it a step further with Friday night "Date Nights." You get a four-course meal cooked by chef J Degenhardt.  There's usually live music, and heck, what could be more romantic than watching your neighbors load up their shopping carts down below? And of course, you don't have to stop somewhere on the way home to pick up that gallon of milk. It's $35 per person. Info at


Healthy tomato gazpacho   Photo by Valerie Phillips
The search is on again for Utah’s healthiest and tastiest recipes for the “Heart-Healthiest 2011” contest. The Utah Department of Health (UDOH) Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention Program (HDSPP) is asking the public to submit their favorite heart-healthy recipes–-with a focus on reducing sodium intake.

The contest runs until June 30, and heart-healthy recipes can be submitted at The “Rules and Guidelines” for the “Heart-Healthiest 2011” recipe contest are on the “Discussion” page.

Throughout the contest the site will feature “Healthful Recipe of the Week” selections. Weekly winners will receive a Papa Murphy’s gift certificate for a free deLITE pizza. The contest will conclude with three grand prize winners who will each receive a cooking prize basket and a copy of “Heart-Healthiest 2011,” a collection of all the submitted recipes.

So what makes a recipe “heart-healthy?” 
·         Emphasizing fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fat-free or low-fat milk and milk products
·         Including lean meats, poultry, fish, beans, eggs and nuts
·         Including little or no saturated fats, trans fats, cholesterol, salt and added sugars.

Other guidelines for healthful eating can be found at and

For more information about HDSPP, visit