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Ali Arnold

Alicia Arnold is a current undergraduate student at the University of Washington who exudes a passion for life. She is active in many clubs and organizations in which she practices her leadership abilities. Alicia would like to carry the many skills she has learned in school to one day enter the business world. She is always in search of the next great adventure, filling her life with stories of her travels and the wonderful people she has met along the way. One way of engaging and bonding with another culture is partaking in their national cuisine, which Alicia finds herself sometimes overindulging in. Alicia is never one to deny a good bowl of guacamole with chips. To balance her love for food, she has become equally as passionate about nutrition and exercise.

Posts by Ali Arnold


Social Media + Restaurants

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food Trends

sometimes good food just isn't enough...

In today’s blogging, tweeting and status updating obsessed world, it takes a lot more for a restaurant to succeed than just the best cocktail or filet mignon. How a company connects with a customer and markets its brand has become just as important.

Would you step into a restaurant without seeing their menu online or hearing about it on Facebook, Yelp or some other online avenue?  Maintaining loyal fans and customers has become a real struggle for many restaurants. It is essential for a restaurant to have social media proficiency in this day and age. Below, I’ve listed some ways in which restaurants are getting up to social media speed and connecting with their customers.

  • Operating a Twitter account. Restaurants keep this updated consistently for their customers. They often use Twitter to promote giveaways, specials and announcements! Twitter is also used as a great tool to converse with their customers and generate feedback.
  • Blog, Blog, Blog! Maybe I’m a little biased, but blogging is a great way that restaurants provide a personal experience from their kitchen to you, the customer. Some restaurants have their employees write for the blog and share recipes, quick tips or even a funny story from the restaurant that day. People want more than a meal and blogging is a great way to engage them.
  • Running a business page on Facebook.  A Facebook page is essential as more and more customers use it as their primary communication and sharing resource. Like with Twitter, restaurants spend time keeping their Facebook page updated.  Sometimes restaurants will even provide special “treats” for anyone that ‘checks-in’ at their hot spot.
  • E-Newsletters are another way to keep their customers updated with the latest happenings, menu changes and specials. Some restaurants use these emails as an opportunity to reward their loyal customers with free or discounted items as an incentive to continue their patronage. Don’t forget to sign up  for the mailing list at your favorite restaurants.
  • Being featured on yelp.com, urbanspoon.com, and Tripadvisor.com and hoping for positive feedback from visitors. Sites like this can sink a restaurant or be the ticket to boosting customers. If you have a restaurant you love, tell your friends and write a great review.

The above tips and tricks are many, but not all, ways in which you as a restaurant owner can connect with the people stepping foot in their establishments. What other things have you seen restaurants do to boost their popularity?

cc image courtesy of andreavallejos on flickr

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Food in Fashion: It’s everywhere!

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food, Food Trends

A very fashionable hotdog

After reading this post, you’ll be sure to notice a lot more food at your favorite clothing store. Food has been seen on top celebrities, on graphic t-shirts, and even in many of your favorite cosmetics. Why is food seen all over our fashion palate? Is it, like many things, simply a fad?

I don’t think so. Fashion and food have been linked for years at retailers from Target to Neiman Marcus and, although it’s not always in the magazines, this food fashion is here to stay. One of my personal favorite shirts featuring food is this artistic Andy Warhol banana shirt, as seen on an Olsen twin. It’s difficult to find clothes with pieces of fruit on them that aren’t too fashion faux pas, but this piece pulls it off flawlessly.

Food on clothes can also be used as a branding tool for companies. Many companies allow businesses to use their brand on clothing to gain name recognition. Advertisers are hoping that a consumer will see, for example, someone wearing a shirt with Wheaties on it, and be more likely to grab a box next time they are in their grocer’s cereal aisle. This visual stimulus also leads to better brand recognition by consumers down the line.

The cosmetics market is full of items containing food and food ingredients. Many women find the aroma of pears intoxicating, causing perfume manufacturers to include it in their scents. Many foods also have properties that reportedly, or at least in the words of the companies selling the product, help a woman look more beautiful or wrinkle free. For example, cucumbers, those lovely fruits that no facial is complete without, are used in numerous products on the market today with promises of softer, tighter, younger looking skin.

Although food can be a little odd to wear, if worn correctly and in moderation, it is possible to pull it off without looking like a Fruit of the Loom advertisement. Is food in your fashion?

CC image courtesy of istolethetv on flickr

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Dinner and a Movie

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food
Food Movie

You lost me at "Eat."

Have you ever seen a film that made you salivate because of its exquisite food? Throughout history, cinematic pictures have tantalized our taste buds with edible depictions. This options are endless, but we’ve compiled a list of the movies that best portray all things delicious.

Eat, Pray, Love: Although this movie, starring Julia Roberts, may have left a bad taste (pun fully intended) in the mouths of critics, it is undeniably scrumptious. “I’m having a relationship with my pizza” is just one of many statements that Julia makes as she searches for meaning through Italy, India, and Indonesia. Food culture from each of these countries is featured throughout, with delicacies like Spaghetti all’Amatriciana (Italy), Thums Up soda (India), and exotic fruits from Bali (Indonesia). I promise this film is sure to scratch your travel itch and tickle your palate as well.

Tortilla Soup: A movie about a Latino family held together by the fabulous meals created by a widowed father, played by Hector Elizondo, this film will have you drooling the whole time. This wonderful film is chock full of delicious dishes from cactus to the title food, tortilla soup.

Babette’s Feast: What could be more entertaining than a movie about a French woman who wins the lottery and spends all the money on a feast in memory of the man who took her in when she had no where to go? Not only is the dinner lavish and the preparation intense, but this story will warm your heart. The award winning Babette’s Feast is an oldie but a goodie.

Ratatouille: This animated flick, from Pixar studios, features a rat that happens to be a cooking genius. Crazy? Perhaps. But with Remy’s (the rat) skills and Alfredo Linguini’s (great name) connections, the two end up impressing a top Paris food critic and the entire city. Mouth-watering fun for the whole family!

Big Night: A lot of detail goes into creating a special feast and no movie showcases this better than Big Night. In this blockbuster, a pair of brothers owns a struggling Italian restaurant. To save what they love, they convince a famous celebrity to appear at their restaurant; success follows shortly after. With Italian dishes flying around and the brothers’ determination to stay authentic to their Italian roots, I dare one to watch this movie on an empty stomach.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory: I’m always a fan of classics and the original Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory certainly is that. As a candy addict, the idea of a land made of sugar sounds like my kind of place. From everlasting gobstoppers, to a full meal in a stick of gum to rivers of chocolate, this movie has something to satisfy anyone’s sweet tooth.

Chocolat: This is a story about a drifter who moves to a tiny conservative French town and opens an exquisite chocolate shop. Not just any chocolate shop, however. Juliette Binoche’s chocolate shop is filled with delicious chocolate from all over the world, combined with different spices and innovative flavors. Johnny Depp and chocolate is enough to make anyone melt!

We couldn’t list them all, so what movies make your tummy rumble?

CC image courtesy of coolinsights on Flickr

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Does Milk Really Do a Body Good?

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Beverages, Food, Food Trends

We can do it: drink milk!

Got Milk? This is the question posed by those celebrity driven advertisements that we all know so well.  The same question that helped shape America’s belief in the health benefits of dairy.

Have you ever wondered, though, what milk actually does for the body beyond simply providing delicious refreshment? Do the reported benefits of milk outweigh the potential negative effects such as weight gain? The research on this heavily debated topic remains confusing at best.

In the journal Nutrition Reviews, researchers concluded that consuming dairy products does not help people lose or even maintain their current weight. They even go so far as to mention that the only studies showing dairy consumption contributing to weight loss were funded by the dairy industry itself.

Another study of more than 12,000 children nationwide determined that more milk for a child equated to more weight gained. Even a single extra serving of milk per day, over the FDA recommended two, resulted in a 35 percent increase in the chance a child would become overweight. The researchers experimented with replacing a soda from a child’s lunch with milk, hypothesizing the change would be beneficial.  No significant weight loss was seen, however.

Ponder this: Before humans domesticated cows, making milk easily accessible, there was no other animal on earth which consumed milk from another species. This fact leads one to question the purpose of milk.  Continuing with the cow example, a mother’s milk is designed to grow a 90-pound calf into a 200-pound cow within two years.  Sounds fattening!

People do drink milk for reasons beyond possible weight loss. Milk is great source of protein. It is about 80 percent whey protein, which is quickly broken down by amino acids and absorbed into the bloodstream. This makes it a wonderful choice for athletes after a hard workout to help with recovery and muscle growth.  Protein can help energize a tired body.  It is also a great choice those who may struggle to get enough protein in their diets.

In addition, milk is a good source of calcium and Vitamin D.  Calcium is widely associated with strong bones and the prevention of osteoporosis in aging individuals.  Vitamin D helps maintain a strong mind and is especially important for those of us who cannot always get our daily intake from sun exposure.

Overall, as with any diet or lifestyle, successful health is achieved through maintaining a well-balanced eating pattern along with a consistent exercise regimen. Is milk part of your healthy lifestyle or have you shunned it as a weight gainer?

CC image courtesy of DonkeyHotey on flickr

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Bison, the Other Other Red Meat

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food, Food Trends
Not Bison

Don't be sad, cow. Trust us, this is a good thing!

What comes to mind when you hear the word ‘bison?’ Does it conjure images of American Buffalo freely roaming the open plains of the west? Or perhaps you think of the Buffalo Nickel? But the real question is– do you think of dinner?

For those who have frequented local farmers markets for years, bison meat may not be anything new. Farmers have been raising bison in Washington for decades. However, to most, bison is just beginning to pop up on their radar as an alternative meal option.

More and more butchers including groceries, such as Whole Foods, Fred Meyers and even Walmart are beginning to carry bison products as it slowly gains in popularity. Bison burgers are also increasingly popping up as a gourmet choice at local restaurants such as Friesenburgers or Uneeda Burger.

A little over 100 years ago, bison were on the verge of extinction; there were less than 1,000 left on Earth in the 1880’s. As ranchers discovered increasing consumer demand for bison meat and hides, they made moves to bring the numbers back. Currently the American bison population is around half a million.

Much of the increased notoriety and consumer demand surrounding bison comes from the purported health benefits, especially when compared against the traditional option, beef. Additionally, many feel that bison meat is slightly sweeter than beef.

Bison is lower in calories, fat and cholesterol than beef. An average 3oz serving of ground bison contains 152 calories, 7 grams of fat and a whopping 40 grams of protein. Compare that to a 3oz serving of 15% fat ground beef which has 210 calories, 12 grams of fat and 21 grams of protein. Bison also has a higher omega 6/omega 3 ratio than beef which is important in the fight against inflammation.

You may not even realize how easy incorporating bison into your meals can be. Almost any recipe that calls for ground beef can easily be made with ground bison instead. Check out this chili recipe!

Have you tried bison yet? Do you have a favorite local restaurant you frequent just to taste their juicy buffalo burger? Share your bison experiences with us below!

CC image courtesy of Cathy, Sam, Max and Mai on flickr

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Dough I Go Nuts For

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food, Restaurants
Randys Donuts

This store looks good enough to eat.

Have you ever wondered what sort of planning goes into the simple things in life that we just can’t do without? What about a crisp, tasty, circle-shaped treat? Ahh yes, the doughnut.

This fried dough dessert is popular all over the world and can be homemade or purchased in bakeries. But who thought to fry a circle and cover it in sugar? The origin of doughnuts is quite disputed. There are theories they began with the Dutch bringing what they called “oil cakes” to the United States in the 19th century. An American, Hanson Gregory, claims he invented them on a ship in 1847 by punching a hole with a tin pepperbox into the center of dough. Although the exact origin is a little foggy, this treat is well known as an American tradition.

This treat became such a tradition when William Rosenburg started an Industrial Luncheon Service in 1956, whose operation was to deliver meals and snacks to workers around Boston. He later named it Dunkin’ Donuts and within four years, opened four more stores. It has since expanded to over 9,700 locations worldwide.

Following in stride, doughnut shops started popping up all over. In the 1960’s the Krispy Kreme chain started taking off in the Midwest. Around this same time Lary and Ron Weintroub opened their famous Randy’s Donuts, the taste LA just can’t get enough of. Open twenty-four hours, don’t miss this tourist stop, which is just as famous for its giant donut outside the restaurant as it is for the delicious donuts available at the counter. From here, independent donut shops continued to sprout up all over the U.S., many of them putting their own twist on the classic doughnut.

Take a step inside Portland’s own Voodoo Doughnuts and you’ll catch my drift. What Picasso did for art, Voodoo does for doughnuts. Among their masterpieces are my personal favorites, the “Memphis Mafia” (chocolate chips, bananas, and peanut butter) and the original “Voodoo doll” (shaped as a voodoo doll filled with raspberry jelly). Featured on The Tonight Show, Good Morning America, and the Travel channel I guarantee it’s worth the wait. Voodoo has a line around the corner block most hours of any given day.

Although doughnuts are typically known to be an unhealthy, guilty pleasure, one business in Seattle tries to tame your conscience. Mighty-O Donuts offers dairy, egg, and cholesterol-free doughy treats – the only thing that could make these doughnuts any more pleasing is that they’re organic to boot!

What are some interesting doughnut shops you have discovered? What is your favorite kind?

CC image courtesy of tylerdurden1 on Flickr

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The Art is in the Coffee

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Beverages

This cup has an "earthy" flavor

Have you ever had that perfect cappuccino? Or do you not speak the intricate language of the coffee world? A cappuccino is the perfect blend of espresso and milk in a light fluffy texture that some would describe as velvety.

Cappuccino is an Italian drink that was basked on the concept that as the “barista” (drink artist) was making one, she would be chatting to customers while the milk would froth up; this froth was then poured on top of espresso. This drink is known in Italy as the morning drink and is rarely ordered past 11 am. But here in the Pacific Northwest it is ordered throughout the day at coffee shops throughout the city.

How to order your preferred texture of cappuccino? Everyone has different preferences for that perfect cup so here are some variations to this delicious treat:

Cappuccino Chiaro (wet cappuccino) This drink does not have as much foam on top of the espresso shot as a traditional cappuccino. Although there are still micro foams in the milk, this drink has a texture that is similar to that of a latte.

Cappuccino Scuro (dry cappuccino) With much more micro foam on top, rather than steamed milk in the drink this beverage is at a consistency just lighter than the whipped cream on top.

Cappuccino Freddo (iced cappuccino) Although much harder to obtain in it’s original form as it is difficult to froth cold milk, this is a great summer treat. This drink is a typical froth of cappuccino over ice.

Making the best cup is all a matter of timing when frothing the milk. We live in a world of generic lattes and paper-cupped coffee, making it difficult to find these forms of a cappuccino.

Another part of the cappuccino world that has turned the drink into an artisan treat is the artistic shaping of the foam on top. With its recent popularity, many expert baristas now add an artistic flair to an already delectable drink.

Seattle, famous for having some of the best coffee shops in the country, provides many places for a cappuccino stop with friends. Espresso Vivace Roasteria owned by world renowned coffee innovator David Schomer claims to have such perfectly crafted cappuccinos that there isn’t even a need to add sugar. Another place to grab a great cappuccino is Caffe Vita. Located right next to the Space Needle and downtown, this café knows a good shot of coffee and their cappuccino art is astounding. There are many hidden places here in the city and you just have to discover one that makes a perfect cappuccino for you!

How do you like your cappuccino? What are your favorite coffee shops?

CC image courtesy of  pnoeric on flickr

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Acai: Superfruit or Just Fruit?

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food
Acai Berries

Tastes great either way.

Recently, there has been a buzz surrounding the mysterious acai (pronounced ah-sah-EE) berry. Historically a staple food of Brazil, the benefits of this fruit are just now being discovered by the rest of the world.

Claims by newly made weight loss pills and food supplements containing the acai berry claim that it can aid dieting and slow aging. Advertisers are selling acai in pills, powders, juices, and even facial creams. There are ads all over the Internet offering free trials to this fix-all-fruit. This has me wondering: is this fruit a scientifically proven superfood?

Not quite yet. In fact, the effects of this “superfruit” currently only have merit in studies involving rats and flies. While the acai berry tastes great, there have been no proven tests on humans that it aids in rapid weight loss or decreased aging. Although acai may not be a diet miracle, it still has many beneficial qualities.

Just like many fruits, when balanced with the combination of great nutrition and exercise, acai can be a valuable part of a healthful lifestyle. So what are some of these benefits?

This berry, similar to raspberries, blueberries and blackberries, is antioxidant rich. Antioxidants are known to aid in preventing damage in the body from free radicals. Free radicals are produced through digestion, respiration and many processes crucial for our body to maintain itself. They are also produced by environmental factors such as radiation, smoke and pesticides. Free radicals are unstable molecules that damage other molecules in our body, such as DNA, in an attempt to become stable. Antioxidants can provide stability to free radicals and neutralize their damaging effects.

Acai also contains healthy mono-saturated fats, including Omega-3 fats, which are known to reduce risk of infections and aid brain development. Acai contain other beneficial fats as well, such as oleic acid, a monounsaturated omega-9 acid, and linoleic acid, a polyunsaturated omega-6 acid, which are believed to help lower bad cholesterol levels. These fats also increase the absorption of fat-soluble vitamins like vitamins A, E, D, and K, which are essential to good health.

Consider this: a 100-gram serving of acai contains only 90 calories, just two grams of fat and no cholesterol. Plus, it delivers 3.5 grams of dietary fiber, something we could all benefit from in our diets. Even if it is not a proven superfood, there is no doubt that acai is a very health-forward snack. Just remember, most of the products that advertise acai typically contain only five percent of the actual fruit so be sure to check your labels or buy it fresh to reap the full benefit.

We’re curious; do you believe all the claims about Acai? How has Acai affected your life?

CC image courtesy of Breno Peck on flickr

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The Importance of Sleep

Posted by Alicia Arnold under Food, Tips

Sleeping Tiger

This tiger doesn't have to go on a diet.

We’ve written several articles giving you tricks and tips to avoid over-eating and to eat less. Today, Ali tells us about some recent studies that may put dieting on the back-burner.

Lately, many researchers have been studying the benefits of sleep, and have found that a good night’s rest not only aids in weight loss but also helps maintain the overall health of a person.

In December, two major studies were released with the final conclusions on this groundbreaking research. Scientists have discovered that sleep deprivation increases your level of hunger hormones while also decreasing the hormone that makes you feel full. This in turn may lead to overeating and weight gain.

Perhaps this explains why our sleep-deprived country is becoming increasingly overweight. It could also be a factor in why college students, new parents and shift workers have a hard time keeping weight off. How much can these fast paced lifestyles affect your health?

Researchers found that women who slept approximately five hours per night, weighed 5.4 pounds more than those who got 7 hours or more. These same studies also showed women who slept less also gained 1.6 pounds more per year. Although less than 2 pounds may not appear significant, multiply by 10 or 20 years and this amounts to a hefty amount of extra weight. It was also found that sleep is a greater factor in determining a person’s long-term weight than dieting.

If this research holds true, it could play a vital role in developing a solution to our nation’s continuing obesity problem. Is there a coincidence that sixty-five percent of Americans are either overweight or obese, while 63% of American adults do not sleep the recommended eight hours each night?

Scientifically, how does deprivation link to weight gain? Sleep deprivation affects the hormone levels in your body, which in turn alters the regulation of appetite in your brain. Two of these hormones: Ghrelin and Leptin are critical on regulating food intake. Ghrelin is an appetite-stimulating hormone released by the stomach. When these levels are up, which happens with lack of sleep, you will start to feel hungry. Leptin is just the opposite. Considered a fullness hormone it is released by fat cells. When Leptin levels are high, this tells the brain the body has enough food while lower levels increase appetite.

These recent studies show that the people who were sleep deprived, were those who had the largest hormonal change and craved the most carbohydrate-rich foods, which in turn leads to weight gain. Rather than watching that late night Dexter finale, try getting to bed earlier.

Who can argue about getting more sleep?

CC image courtesy of onkel_wart on flickr

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