Healthy eating is a top priority in many families today, but finding new ways to use ingredients to make dishes interesting and still taste good can prove challenging. The NY Motherhood Examiner had the opportunity to find solutions to this everyday issue at the Just Add OJ event featuring Food Network host Claire Robinson and nutritionist Heidi Skolnik.
A select group of media and bloggers were invited to The Kitchen NYC to participate in a friendly cooking competition to illustrate the healthful advantages and versatility of cooking with orange juice to create nutrient-rich dishes with sweet, bold flavors. Participants also learned about the latest food trends from a team of expert panelists.
Mocktails and Hors d’oeuvres
During the first part of the event, participants enjoyed mocktails and hors d'oeuvres. They sampled drinks like Orange and Nutty White Hot Chocolate and Ginger and Tart Cherry Sparkling Orange Juice. Guests noshed on dishes such as Browned Orange Butternut Dumplings, Spicy Orange Chicken Burgers, Citrus Hummus, Pulled Pork with Florida Orange Juice North Carolina-Style Barbecue Sauce and Maryland Blue Crab Cakes with Florida Orange-Tarragon Hollandaise. For sweets, they couldn’t get enough of the New York Chocolate Florida Orange Cheesecake and Orange You Sweet Sandwich Cookies.
The next activity included an expert panel. Claire Robinson, TV chef and host of Food Network’s 5 Ingredient Fix, discussed OJ in the role of cooking. Claire stated that her style focused on a “balanced bite” using quality ingredients to make simple recipes using fresh ingredients.
Heidi Skolnik, owner and president of Nutrition Conditioning, LLC, a New Jersey-based nutrition consulting practice, discussed the nutritional aspects of orange juice. OJ has 40 nutrients, including Vitamin C, potassium and folate. OJ is fat free, has no saturated fats, sodium free, cholesterol free and free of added sugars. One 8-ounce glass of 100 percent orange juice provides half of the USDA-recommended daily fruit intake for adults, based on a 2,000-calorie diet.
Mark Cotter, President and CEO of The Food Group, discussed the latest food paradigms. Ingredients and preparation are crossing global and social boundaries. Asian cuisines are a prominent example as they utilize infused styles. Trends are towards food preserving (pickling, canning), tongue-to-tail consumption (eating the entire animal), foraging (gathering food from the wild), non-traditional grains and oats like quinoa, local gardens and back to basics with home preparation like bread baking. Citrus is also trending not only in the kitchen, but also within mixology.
The final part of the event featured the exciting cooking competition. Participants were separated into groups. Based on the popular Food Network show Chopped, the groups were each given a “mystery” bag filled with ingredients, including kale, oats, quinoa, chicken and bitters. Along with a well-stocked pantry, each group needed to create an entrée dish and a beverage that included, as well as highlighted, orange juice.
An amazing amount of creativity delivered an array of healthy and exotic dishes, such as tilapia ceviche with orange-chamomile reduction and fresh tarragon, kale and beet green salad with candied citrus peel and toasted almonds and an OJ-inspired mocktail containing bitters and ginger ale with a cocoa, salt and paprika rim.
The winning entrée was a Moroccan-inspired dish titled “Moroccan Kale & Quinoa Salad.” It contained a Moroccan spiced chicken breast atop a citrus salad of kale and quinoa. The winning beverage feature OJ infused with Sriracha (Thai hot sauce), mint, and basil, along with the effervescence and refreshing kick of ginger ale.
Disclosure: NY Motherhood Examiner received a gift bag of cooking-related items during the event. All opinions expressed are solely those of the NY Motherhood Examiner.
Excerpts in this article were republished here from BiculturalMama.com with the permission of Maria Adcock, NY Motherhood Examiner, who is also the founder of BiculturalMama.com.