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5 Jul 2010

Creating great food memories

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July 5, 2010 Category: Food And Beverage Posted by:



Your memory of real, flavorful, fresh food is a key tool for losing weight. At least that’s one of the intriguing claims in Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough’s new book, “Real Food Has Curves: How to Get off Processed Food, Lose Weight, and Love What You Eat.”


We find pleasure in what we eat because we stock up those good memories of past real food. “You don’t get a lot of flavor depth in the processed stuff,” Scarbrough says. “And so you don’t develop many pleasure memories from it.”


In fact, real food is the key to eating less, the authors say. For one thing, you’re satisfied more quickly with its big flavors. And more flavor means more good memories. And good memories lead us back to real food – a loop of health and nutrition.


Scarbrough’s mom’s mac-and-cheese is still in his recipe repertoire, all these years later. “She never made the processed stuff; she only made the real thing,” he says. “And so I crave it, want it – and feel wonderfully satisfied when I eat it.”


It doesn’t get much more real than dairy from California, a state with a rich heritage of producing and providing high-quality agricultural products for the whole country. What’s more, 99 percent of California dairy farms are family-owned, many for generations. “That’s so important to me, a child of family farmers,” Scarbrough says.


If you’re looking to make some real memories in your house, try this souped-up version of mac-and-cheese from Weinstein and Scarbrough’s new book. You’ll know you’re celebrating America’s rich heritage of real food with delicious California dairy products. Plus, this recipe is a simple, healthful way to start your journey to better eating – with good memories in every bite.


Skillet Macaroni and Cheese

This isn’t a baked casserole, but a skillet supper, quick and easy. It’s got lots of flavors

and textures, all enhanced by real California dairy products.

Makes 4 servings


6 ounces grated California Cheddar

2 ounces finely grated California dry jack

1 tablespoon unsalted California butter

1 small yellow onion, chopped

6 ounces cremini or white button mushrooms, sliced

3 tablespoons unbleached all-purpose flour


3 cups low-fat or fat-free California milk

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon minced tarragon leaves or 2 teaspoons dried tarragon

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

8 ounces dried, whole wheat pasta shells (not the large ones for stuffing), cooked and drained according to the package instructions

4 cups broccoli florets and stems




1. Mix the Cheddar and dry jack in a medium bowl. Set aside.

2. Melt the butter in a large, high-sided, oven-safe skillet. Add the onion and cook, stirring often, until softened, about three minutes.

3. Add the mushrooms and cook until they release their liquid, it comes to a simmer, and then reduces by about 2/3, about five minutes.

4. Sprinkle the flour over the vegetables in the skillet. Stir well to coat.

5. Whisk in the milk in a steady, thin stream until creamy. Then whisk in the mustard, tarragon, salt and pepper. Continue whisking until the mixture starts to bubble and the liquid thickens, about three minutes.

6. Remove the skillet from the heat. Stir in 3/4 of the mixed cheeses until smooth. Then stir in the cooked pasta and broccoli.

7. Preheat the broiler after setting the rack 4 to 6 inches from the heat source. Meanwhile, sprinkle the remaining cheese over the ingredients in the skillet. Set the skillet on the rack and broil until light browned and bubbling, about five minutes. (If your skillet has a plastic or wooden handle, make sure it sticks outside the oven, out from under the broiler, so the handle doesn’t melt.) Cool five to 10 minutes before dishing up.


For more California dairy recipes, visit

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