Warm, sweet, chewy, spicy gingerbread... What's not to love? Learn how to make Paragary Bakery's classic gingerbread cookies to share with friends & family this holiday season.

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Recipe by Laurel Sanders-Melchor for Paragary Bakery

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We’re kicking off Negroni Week with a Negroni Dinner. Chef Jason Azevedo will be presenting a 3-course menu inspired by classic Negroni ingredients paired alongside a flight of Negroni-inspired cocktails crafted by Paragary Restaurant Group beverage director, Brad Peters, and Hock Farm bar manager, Matt Gonzalez, featuring the portfolio of Bols & Fratelli Branca. This is sure to be a night you don’t want to miss.
Tickets are $60 and seats are limited.
Please RSVP to hf@paragarys.com.
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First Course

Ceviche

California rock fish, shrimp, grilled squid, tomato, chervil, tarragon, and lotus root chips

Second Course

‘Lamb on a String’

Seasoned with rosemary, juniper, and coriander. red lentils, and Campari glazed vegetables

Third Course

‘Peaches and Cream’

Grilled peache...

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Ceviche is a seafood dish that is sure to be a crowd pleaser at your next fiesta! Typically, it consists of raw fish, or shrimp, marinated in citrus juice, and mixed with avocado, tomatoes, onion and cilantro.
The recipe below adds some sweetness with mangos to combat the spice of the habanero chiles. Habanero chiles are well known for their heat but are sometimes underappreciated for their floral perfume and exotic, tropical flavor. This is a ceviche with the flavors of the Yucatan.

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Ceviche with avocado, mango, & habanero chiles
Author: Kurt Spataro, Executive Chef for Paragary Restaurant Group
Recipe type: appetizer, side dish, entree Cuisine: mexican, seafood
Prep time: 2 hours 30 mins Cook time: 20 mins Total time: 2 hours 50 mins

Ingredients

  • 8 oz fish or shrimp (choose the freshest fish you can find, one that’s suitable for serving raw)
  • ½ cup lime juice, fresh squeezed
  • ½ cup orange juice, fresh squeezed
  • 2 Tbsp red onion, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbsp cilantro, sliced into ribbons
  • 1 habanero chile, seeded, deveined, and minced (wear latex gloves if you have them)
  • ½ ripe avocado, cut into ½” cubes
  • 1 small, ripe mango, cut into ½” cubes
  • 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Trim fish of any bloodlines or skin.
  2. Cut into ½" cubes and place in a small mixing bowl.
  3. Mix the juices together and pour enough over the fish to completely cover, reserving 2-3 Tbsp.
  4. Let the fish marinate for about 2 hours.
  5. Drain the juice from the fish and return it to the mixing bowl.
  6. Add the reserved juices, onion, cilantro, salt (to taste) & about ¼ of the minced habanero chile.
  7. At this point, taste for salt, lime & heat.
  8. Add as much chile as you like.
  9. Add another squeeze of lime, if necessary.
  10. Gently fold in the mango, avocado, and olive oil.
  11. Serve with chips, or romaine leaves
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We have all heard of the common grains like wheat, rye, barley, rice, and corn (yes, corn is a grain, not a vegetable!). Maybe it is just because we all have a hard time pronouncing it, but ‘Quinoa’ (hint: keen-wah) is one grain that has taken the back seat to more commercially grown and processed grains, at least until now. With the rise of the big gluten controversy, quinoa is gaining popularity because, in addition to being naturally nutrient dense, it is also a naturally gluten-free grain. Whether you have a gluten intolerance or are just looking to pack as many nutrients into one sitting as possible, you should be taking notice of what the ancient Incas referred to as the “Super Grain of the Future”.We have ...

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Sacramento has an overwhelming amount of choices when it comes to planning a night out on the town. The thought of picking just one destination can be quite daunting. The good news is you don’t have to commit to just one when you plan a “progressive” night out.Progressive dinner parties allow guests to sample courses from a variety of cuisine. While they typically take place in residential homes, it would make for a fun night to create your own progressive dinner night on the town.We suggest starting in a place with a fun, laid-back atmosphere like KBAR on the corner of K and 10th Streets. This is a great spot to start with some bar bites such as a Burrata & Arugula Pizza with house-made tomato-basil sauce, garlic and o...

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In honor of the first day of spring, St. Patrick’s Day, and your health, let’s celebrate the abundances of March.
Once the danger of frost is no longer a worry, March in Sacramento is the perfect time to start planting herbs in your garden. Growing herbs requires little effort and adds aromatic flavors to your meals in addition to the many anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties beneficial to your health. Growing your own will also save you money as they are quite expensive when purchased in the stores.

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Although there will most likely be mandatory watering restrictions this year in California, growing herbs in a raised garden bed or pots requires little water, especially if you use a drip system. Try this water conservation tip. Collect water for your herb garden by placing buckets in the shower under the nozzle to catch the cold water while waiting for it to warm.
If you are lucky enough to have a bit of Irish in you (or not), celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with Corned Beef and Cabbage can also be a body boost. Green cabbage is a great low carb vegetable that has a whopping 16 calories per half-cup, 1.5 grams of fiber, and a respectable amount of vitamin C. The Corned Beef provides protein and fat for a complete and nutritious meal on this festive day.temp-post-image

Cabbage, like broccoli and cauliflower, is ranked high up the list for having cancer-fighting properties and is currently being studied for its phytochemical compound, indole, and its ability to specifically ward off breast cancer.
Go green this March and beyond. Enjoy low-carb cabbage year round in salads, soups, and wraps. Add fresh herbs to your meals for fresh flavor and to reap their anti-oxidant properties. And remember to protect, respect and nurture the environment – it is a precious gift for all of us.
Visit my website at hendricksforhealth.com to learn more about the health benefits of herbs.

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From laughter, walks in the park, love and chocolate, February is the official month for celebrating American Heart Health and that very special day, Valentine’s Day. Celebrate your heart today and every day with the following tips:

Your heart loves a good belly laugh. Laughter is great medicine by helping to reduce stress, improve oxygen flow to the heart and it even helps burn a few calories. Watch a funny movie and see how you feel afterward. Your heart will thank you.Exercise your heart with both slow and vigorous movements. Exercise promotes a healthier resting heart rate, burns excess stored fat from the body, which in turn will improve the heart’s circulatory capabilities. Get your heart pumping and it will help keep y...

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In celebration of Sacramento Bacon Fest this week, we’re sharing some bacon curing and smoking tips from Chef Scott Ostrander at Esquire Grill!

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What is bacon?
Bacon is a meat product prepared from the back and sides of a pig. It is first cured using large quantities of salt, either in a wet brine or in a dry cure; the result is fresh bacon. Fresh bacon may then be further dried for weeks or months in cold air, or it may be boiled or smoked. Fresh and dried bacon is typically cooked before eating. Boiled bacon is ready to eat, as is some smoked bacon, but may be cooked further before eating.

What’s the difference between a dry cure and a wet brine?
A dry cure is comprised of salt, sugar and pink curing salt. To dry-cure pork, you’ll need to press the dry cure into the pork and then let it sit uncovered in the refrigerator for about 5-6 days. Dry cures are ideal for pork belly and a drier finished product.

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A wet brine is basically a dry cure that is boiled with water. Once the wet-brine has cooled, you submerge the pork into the mixture and let it soak for about 3 days in the refrigerator. Wet brines are ideal for pork shoulders and a moister finished product.
To add additional flavors and aromatics to your pork, Chef Scott recommends that you add a variety of herbs and spices to the dry cure or wet brine. Peppercorn, thyme, garlic, bay leaves, parsley, and juniper berry are some of his favorites.

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Can I smoke my bacon at home?
Smoking bacon inside your home is dangerous and will leave your house filled of bacon-scented smoke for days. The ideal place to smoke bacon at your home is outside in a covered barbeque. Once the pork has cured, rinse it and let it dry for 24 hours. Depending on the size of the meat, it will need to be smoked at 180 degrees for at least one hour. Remove the wire grill rack and place hot coals and wet wood chips on one side at the bottom of your barbeque. The combination of the hot coals and wet wood will produce smoke immediately, so quickly replace the wire grill rack and place the meat on the grill rack. Make sure that you place the meat on the opposite side of the coals/wood so that the meat is away from direct heat. Once the meat has completely smoked, let it cool and enjoy!
Bacon Curing & Smoking Tips & Tricks
For saltier bacon, increase the amount of salt in your cure
For sweeter bacon, increase the amount of sugar in your cure
For alternative sweeteners, try using molasses, honey, maple syrup, pomegranate juice or orange soda
To add more aroma to your bacon, try using different types of wood chips. During the summer, peach and nectarine chips are great, and during the winter, apple, citrus and hickory chips are best. For more complex aromas, try soaking your wood chips in fruit juices rather than water.
I want to make my own bacon. Where can I buy fresh pork in Sacramento?
Try visiting your local Farmers’ Market for fresh, local meats. Also, the Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op sells pork from Llano Seco Ranch in Chico, CA.

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Portion control will greatly improve your chances for successful weight control.

Everything is big in America: cars, houses, grocery stores, purses, and food portions. And we want it big! Americans have capitalized on this infatuation with everything big – it is called super-sized. Advertising tells us we get more for our money if we purchase the super-size. Such a deal! Many people won’t even frequent a store or restaurant if the servings are too small because they think they are not getting their money’s worth.

But the bottom line is “Portion control is out of control and bigger is not better!”

Is it a coincidence that Americans’ body sizes are growing in unison with super-sized foods? There are many theories to the growth of the American girth, but I am certain super-sized portions play a significant role; the food is often non-nutritious and will not help you control you...

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Brussels Sprouts

Like other cruciferous vegetables, Brussels sprouts are full of phytonutrients (natural plant compounds), which may help protect against cancer. They’re also a good source of:
• Vitamins A and C, which help fight against such ailments as heart disease, cancer, and cataracts (one half cup of sprouts provides more than 80 % of the recommended daily amount of vitamin C)
• Potassium, which helps lower blood pressure and maybe even cholesterol
• Folate, which is necessary for normal tissue growth and may protect against cancer, heart disease, and birth defects
• Iron, necessary for maintaining red blood cell count
• Fiber, which aids in digestion and helps lower cholesterol

Blood Oranges

Oranges are rich in antioxidants―vital for healthy cells―including vitamin C, which aids in healing, boosts your immune system, helps your body absorb iron, and even helps reduce the risk of cancer. This citrus fruit is also a good source of fiber, which helps lower cholesterol and, like vitamin C, reduce your cancer risk.

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Butternut Squash, Yams & Sweet Potatoes

Generally, most varieties are rich in vitamins C and A (in the form of beta-carotene), two antioxidants that help prevent cancer, heart disease, and some eye problems. That’s why color is important–the darker the color, the more beta-carotene and other nutrients it contains. They’re also good sources of iron and riboflavin.

Pomegranates

A study published earlier this year in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that pomegranate juice may help prevent fatty deposits from forming on artery walls, while another study conducted at the University of California at Los Angeles suggests that it might help prevent prostate cancer.

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Apples

Apples are firm and packed with fiber, so they demand a chewing commitment, giving your body time to register itself “full” before you scarf down too many calories. And the natural sweeteners in apples enter the bloodstream gradually, helping keep your blood sugar and insulin levels steady so you feel full longer — the opposite of many sugary snacks, which produce a quick rush followed by a hunger-inducing crash.
And thanks to two key components, pectin (a type of fiber) and polyphenols (powerful antioxidants), apples can take a bite out of blood cholesterol levels and prevent the oxidation of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol — the chemical process that turns it into artery-clogging plaque. The trick to maximizing the benefit: Don’t toss the peel; apple skin has two to six times the antioxidant compounds as the flesh.

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