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Steamy but not explicit spoof of "Fifty Shades" has romance, laughs, and my favorite recipes.

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100 recipes, 4 seasonal menus, 20-minute starter plan, tips, more!

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IACP highlights plus Un-Baked Beans recipe

What a conference! The International Association of Culinary Professionals brings together cookbook writers, food stylists, bloggers, photographers, techies, and even armadillos! Most of us swap tips and stories so we can get better at what we do. The armadillos were garnish to remind us that we were in Texas. Read below for conference highlights. Then stir up my super easy recipe for Vegetarian Un-Baked Beans. I've had a craving for molasses since coming back from Texas. These beans hit the spot without heating up the house.

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Mothers' Day menu, Strawberry Vinaigrette, Action!

Eating with the seasons brings many joys, including a constant source of inspiration for new recipes. For example, this week's recipe is a seasonal spin on raspberry vinaigrette. When you look at the recipe, you'll also get a preview of the new Cook for Good website, which includes a community discussion forum where you can post your own recipes and easy ways to comment on my recipes and the newsletter. Also in this issue, calls to action on two hot topics.

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The tea issue, including Good Iced Tea recipe

Whether you are sipping a British cuppa this week during the pre-dawn royal wedding or cooling off with a tall glass of tea Southern-style (ice assumed), you're enjoying one of the thriftiest, healthiest beverages known. In this issue, read about tea packaging, plants, and get my usual recipe for Good Iced Tea.

Why drink tea? Tap water is my first choice as the most thrifty and healthy of beverages. But I drink tea every morning to jump-start my day. Coffee just doesn't go with my usual breakfast of peanut butter on toasted homemade bread: the combination tastes bitter. Tea and peanut butter play nicely together.

A paper in The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition recommends plain tea or coffee as the best beverage after water. Dr. Popkin and his co-authors praise tea in their recommendations for beverage comsumption, writing that that black, green, and oolong teas are loaded with flavonoids, antioxidants, and micronutrients, including the amino acid theanine. Tea is good for your bones, teeth, and kidneys and may help prevent cancer and heart disease. But tea isn't perfect, as Lipton's website points out at the bottom of every page: "Tea is not a substitute for fruits or vegetables, which provide a wide range of nutrients."

Scrimp on tea. Store-brand tea tastes pretty good, although it may be a little weaker than more expensive teas. I stock up on Lipton and Celestial Seasonings tea during sales. With coupons, the cost of better tea is often less than store-brand. Look for family-sized tea bags, with each bag good for brewing three or four cups. Splurge on coffee if you drink it: cheap coffee comes from lower-quality beans and tastes like it.

Packaging. The best packaging is none, which you can get if you grow your own tea. My hedge of Camelia sinensis is finally taking off, so I'll be harvesting leaves to make tea in a few weeks.

But if you aren't getting your tea right off the bush, look for brands that use less packaging. Kudos to Celestial Seasonings for packaging bare tea bags, without separate wrappers, strings, and labels, in boxes made of recycled paperboard.   The tea bags are chlorine free, so dioxins aren't produced during manufacturing. Whole Foods wraps groups of ten individual tagless & stringless tea bags in cellophane and packs them into a recyclable box made of 35% post-consumer material, with no mention of bleaching the bags. Lipton says it uses unbleached hemp and non-chlorine bleached paper for its regular tea bags, but it does use paper wrappers and tags. Bigelow wraps each tagged bag in a foil package and offers even more packaging: plastic k-cups and tea chests. Bigelow says its bags are unbleached and boxes are recycable, though not made of recycled material. Its wrappers are not compostable or recyclable, although they are testing alternatives.  

But any home-brewed tea wins over any bottled tea. Don't ship water in plastic bottles!

Recipe: Good Iced Tea. I floundered for years trying to make iced tea Southern style. One day, I finally read the directions on the Lipton tea box. That gave me the right base to make my Good Iced Tea. Its spicy, satisfying flavor comes from a single bag of herbal tea: no sugar or sweetener needed.

Thanks for your interest in healthy food and drink!

Have a delicious day! 

Linda Watson


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