New Braunfels prepares to open branch of San Antonio Food Bank

By Zeke MacCormack   –   San Antonio Express-News

Photo: San Antonio Food Bank

Construction is nearing completion on the San Antonio Food Bank’s first branch location, a $6.1 million facility in New Braunfels that should allow the agency to help more people with expanded programs and improved logistical capabilities in the rapidly growing area.

To be called the New Braunfels Food Bank, the new facility also will enhance services the San Antonio nonprofit has offered there since 2010 at The Kitchen Table, a food pantry whose staff will relocate to the new digs from its current site in The Marketplace Shopping Center.

“Over the last number of years, community leaders in Comal County and New Braunfels have identified gaps in services for individuals in need of human and social services,” said Susan Filyk, San Antonio Food Bank spokeswoman. “One of the top priorities identified was access to food, particularly healthy food.”

The new branch, set to open in August, is being built entirely with donated funds, she said, including $1 million each from the McKenna Foundation of New Braunfels and the Harvey E. Najim Family Foundation and Kronkosky Foundation, both of San Antonio. About $500,000 has yet to be raised.

“We believe the San Antonio Food Bank is one of the best food banks in the country and we’re really excited about the new construction in New Braunfels,” said Dennis Noll, a trustee of the John L. Santikos Charitable Foundation, which donated $500,000. “While we traditionally don’t think of hunger being part of our rural communities, poverty and hunger do exist in significant ways in rural Texas.”

Beyond a commercial kitchen, food preparation area and large coolers, the new 34,000 square-foot structure at 1620 So. Seguin Ave. will include work rooms, classrooms an outdoor events area and more, all designed by CGM Architects.

“We’re looking forward to getting them up and running,” said Greg Vaughn of the F.A. Nunley Co., general contractor. “They do so much work in the area, and have proven to be an extremely efficient charitable organization.”

Each week the San Antonio Food Bank serves 58,000 individuals, with its fleet of 37 trucks delivering goods to 530 agencies it supports in 16 counties, then picking up donations of food — often left over, approaching its expiration date or mislabeled — from retailers who provide critical support.

While eliminating hunger is its first priority, Filyk said the agency also helps clients access local resources to stabilize their lives, including nutrition, health and wellness classes, demonstrations on healthy cooking and courses on exercise, diabetes prevention and management and gardening,.

Comal County Commissioner Donna Eccleston, who has volunteered to teach cooking classes at the Kitchen Table, called the new food bank “a really big deal.”

“I really don’t like the idea of anybody in our country going hungry,” she said Friday. “We have quite a few food pantries in Comal County… and we are incredibly fortunate that we partner with the San Antonio Food Bank to make the most of the resources.”

“With the New Braunfels Food Bank, it’s going to be far more effective in distributing food to Guadalupe and Comal counties and all the surrounding communities,” she said.

The Spirit of Sharing Food Bank in New Braunfels is one of the local pantries that relies on the San Antonio Food Bank to assist its monthly clientele of about 50 lower-income residents.

“It’s going to be very helpful (having the branch there) because we get a lot of our dry goods and other foods from the San Antonio Food Bank,” said Michael Ziegler, an SOS staffer. “There should be a lot more synergy, and it should be a lot easier to order food and to get it.”

Joemichael Hernandez, who was picking up food there Friday, has relied on its help for the past year due to problems making ends meet for his family of four doing construction work.

“I’m kind of struggling right now, so I’m just trying to help my family,” said Hernandez, 26. “They give us enough to get through the week. They help people out like us who are struggling. God is here for us.”

Chris Snider, owner of Texas Titos Inc., a food manufacturer specializing in pickles and peppers, said he began donating goods to the San Antonio Food Bank after hearing its chief executive, Eric Cooper, address members of the Texas Food Processors Association.

“I was really impressed with their logistical capabilities. They’re able to distribute a large quantity of food across a large region,” said Snider, who also volunteers at The Kitchen Table.

“A lot of the recipients are elderly, people who have been laid off, and people with low paying jobs,” said Snider, who joined the New Braunfels Food Bank Advisory Committee just as work on the new building was commencing a year ago.

“The food bank is getting closer to the client base it serves here,” he said. “They’re a major distributor, so at some point they’re going to achieve improved logistical efficiency by having more than one location. This will be both a collection and distribution point.”


Pickle-waving Aggie baseball team stands by superstition

Eagle File Photo
If anything negative happens to the Aggies during an inning each player takes a nibble off of the pickle spear they wiggle in their hand. If something positive happens, they leave the pickle alone.

OMAHA, Neb. — To the disappointment of Texas A&M baseball fans, signs outside TD Ameritrade Park warn patrons of prohibited objects that include “bubbles, bubble making materials and bubble making devices.”

It is the first time that those items have been banned by the stadium security staff, according to an NCAA official.

Sans bubbles, the jinx shouldn’t be on for the Aggies, for the team still has pickles to will runs across home plate.

“It’s just one of those things where, whenever we bring out the pickles, it seems to bring in runs,” Aggie redshirt freshman outfielder Coll Stanley said.

It’s a ritual that began during the Houston Regional.

After grabbing a pickle from his Firehouse Subs box lunch, Stanley formulated the superstitious rite that the team has carried through to the NCAA tournament, he said.

According to the “pickle president,” if anything negative happens to the Aggies during an inning — like a strike, foul ball or an out — each player takes a nibble off of the pickle spear they wiggle in their hand. If something positive happens, they leave the pickle alone. Throughout the inning, the team shakes the pickles toward the opposing pitcher, which is a true sign of intimidation, Stanley said.

“That’s definitely just to get in the pitcher’s head,” Stanley said. “If you look over and see that we’re bringing out the pickles, more than likely, it’s going to be a big inning.”

So far, it’s worked well.

Stanley busted out the original pickle in the first inning of the Aggies’ Houston Regional contest against Baylor, and the Aggies plated two runs in the 8-5 win. The pickles also were out in full force during the Aggies’ seven-run rally in Game 2 of the Super Regional against Davidson, which included a two-run error by Davidson’s infield.

“When we were playing Davidson that last game, there was a couple pickles that weren’t working,” Texas A&M outfielder Cam Blake said. “We finally got to that good pickle, and that’s when we had that seven-run inning. I know [Davidson] kind of helped us out a little bit, but we like to think it was the pickles.”

The snacks always have been available to A&M baseball players this season, thanks to team dietician Blair Hitchcock, who utilizes pickles for their nutritional benefits.

“They’re really salty, and so they help with preventing cramps and making sure they stay hydrated,” Hitchcock said. “They’re drinking a lot of water, and the salt helps it stick.”

Hitchcock said her work has never been so closely associated with a team ritual quite as the Vlasic spears this season. So, since teams aren’t allowed to bring outside food and drink into the dugouts, she put pickles on a special order with tournament officials to be placed in A&M’s dugout before the Aggies’ 1 p.m. bout with Louisville, she said.

Ironically, head coach Rob Childress isn’t the biggest fan of his team’s rally-inducing snack.

“I don’t like the smell of the pickles,” Childress said. ” I just try to stay away from them. They keep working, so I do my best to stay as far away from them as I can.”

“He takes one for the team, which is awesome,” Stanley said.

College baseball is a sport that will offer up any superstitious sacrifice deemed worthy by the baseball gods. Teams have been caught on camera doing anything from stacking as many hats as possible on one player’s head to making cardboard armor out of leftover Cheez-It boxes and drinking cups.

Pickles? Well, that’s a first, Stanley and his Aggie teammates said. And that is the draw, despite being the wackiest rally ritual they have ever performed, they said.

“It’s been pretty fun,” Stanley said. “My buddies on Twitter sent me tweets and said, ‘You’re a clown for doing that,’ but hey, if it works, I’ll be a clown.”

So, do the pickles actually hold divine, run-giving power, according to the players who attempt to channel it? Not really,”Vice Pickle President” Blake said. However, it serves a very important, realistic role with the team.

“I’d say the whole pickle thing is more to just have fun and stay loose,” Blake said. “We play so much better as a group when we’re all loose. If we’re playing the occasion instead of just playing the game to have fun, we’re not going to play as well. I think that’ what the pickles do for us.”

The numbers back the trend. A&M averaged 6.8 runs per game through the regional and super regional rounds of the NCAA tournament last year, compared to the 3 runs per game the team averaged in its final six games of the regular season.

So, despite the wacky image the act produces, the pickles will be wiggling Sunday at Louisville starting pitcher Brendan McKay.

“It’s only weird if it doesn’t work,” Stanley said, with a laugh.

What Does It Mean If You Crave Pickles While Pregnant? You’re Not Just A Stereotype

Pickles with fresh dill in jars


It’s the quintessential pregnancy stereotype, is it not? And yet you just can’t quit with the pickles. There is no shortage of myths that predict the sex of your baby based on what foods you’re craving, but there isn’t much scientific proof of the reliability of those claims. So what does it mean if you crave pickles while pregnant? It means your female body is rockin’ this thing.

Pregnancy, and in particular the second and third trimesters, is like one long wild rumpus for your taste buds as every flavor is heightened for better or for worse. Yet despite the depiction in movies and television of pregnant women going ballistic with cravings, not every gestating woman will experience them at all, according to OB-GYN and author Sherry Ross of Santa Monica.

In an exclusive interview with Romper, Ross says that food cravings are believed to be caused by the hormonal and psychological changes a woman is undergoing during pregnancy, in addition to her changing nutritional needs. The most widely seen pregnancy food cravings within the medical community, she reports, are ice, spicy foods, pickles, potato chips, fruit, and ice cream. Ross tells Romper that pickles in particular seem popular because they appeal to several different cravings: vinegar, saltiness, and “crunch.”

Research conducted by the University of Connecticut in Storrs, and reported in Parents Magazine, showed an increased preference for sour and salty flavors in pregnancy develops later, and an increased perception of bitterness manifests in the first trimester. It is believed that the appeal of sour foods in the last half of pregnancy helps ensure the woman gets a balanced diet and enough calories, while the craving for salt means that her increased sodium needs will be met to support her increased blood volume.

When it comes to gender prediction, keep in mind that unsubstantiated claims are really only accurate 50 percent of the time. But if you want to have fun with it anyway, Ross says the myth is that women who are carrying girls crave sweet foods, while women carrying boys crave sour and salty. So while you’re stocking up on newborn diapers, it might not hurt to pick out some boy names.


Papa John’s Now Sells A Pizza With Pickles On It

What a time to be alive.

The Bacon Cheeseburger pizza from Papa John’s is covered in PICKLES

BY    –   Delish

For anyone who’s ever debated whether to go delivery or hit up the drive thru for dinner, your endless “I don’t know, what do you feel like eating?” back-and-forth may be over. Papa John’s has merged both worlds with its latest creation, a bacon cheeseburger pizza.

At first, this may not seem too out of the ordinary. Cheese goes on pizza, ground beef’s been on pizza before — but the chain didn’t stop there. No, Papa J committed to the flavor, topping its dough with zesty burger sauce in place of traditional marinara, then sprinkling the whole thing with beef, bacon, diced Roma tomatoes, cheddar, and “real cheese made from mozzarella” (uh, what?!), according to the press release.

But the real crowning glory here is that the pizza touches on one of the biggest internet food trends: The whole thing’s topped with dill pickles. Yes, pickles.

The end result is like a pizza and a Big Mac on steroids. Taste testers were put off, at first, by the idea of warm pickles on pizza. And then they tried a slice. Before long, all six pies were gone, and the general consensus was that the pickles added a refreshing tanginess that cut through the heaviness of all the meat and cheese, much like banana peppers do on a more traditional pizza (that’s if you consider banana peppers a traditional topping, of course).

This pizza’s only being offered for a limited time and at a reduced rate — just $10 for a large or pan pizza. The Louisville, Kentucky-based chain’s also selling Bacon Cheddarsticks during this time. They’re breadsticks coated with Papa John’s Special Garlic sauce, then covered with bacon, cheddar and more “real cheese made from mozzarella.”

What Does It Mean If I Crave Spicy Food While Pregnant? The Need For Jalapenos Is Real

By    –   Romper

After experiencing nausea and morning sickness during the first trimester, it may feel like a blessing (and a curse) to want to eat all the things again during your second trimester. Pregnancy and cravings always seem to go hand in hand. While some women may crave the saltiness and greasiness of french fries, others may crave the sweetness of ice cream. And, of course, there are the women who fall into the spicy jalapeño and salsa category. After finishing a jar of pickled jalapeños, you may be asking yourself, “What does it mean if I crave spicy food while pregnant?

According to a survey conducted on Baby Center, almost 40 percent of moms craved sweet foods, 33 percent craved salty foods, 10 percent craved sour foods, and 17 percent craved spicy foods. So what causes cravings during pregnancy, and why do certain women crave certain tastes and not others?

There are many theories as to why women have such strong cravings when they are pregnant. Some experts say hormones are the culprit, since hormones tend to increase your sense of smell during pregnancy. The more delicious things you smell, the more your brain will tell your stomach you’re hungry and that you have to have it now.

Alternatively, licensed acupuncturist Kristen N. Burris, L.Ac., tells Romper in an email that your heightened taste and smell “has the benefit of protecting the pregnant woman and her growing child against harmful chemicals, poisons, and particular foods.”

Additionally, the stronger your sense of smell, the stronger your sense of taste — or your gag reflex. If you smell something stinky when you’re pregnant, it’s intensified, and it could create a food aversion. Foods with strong smells may cause nausea in early pregnancy, and unfortunately, can even last long after the baby is born. Kind of like how you can’t even stand the smell, much less the taste of Jägermeister without wanting to throw up, thanks to that horrible night your freshman year of college. Or is that just me?

Baby Center noted food cravings can be an indicator of something lacking in your diet. For example, if you’re craving a lot of meat, your diet may be lacking in protein, and you can either just eat some meat, or you can eat beans, fortified cereals, or tofu.  If you’re short on magnesium, that could be why you’re craving sweets and chocolate. If you want a healthier alternative to chocolate, try eating some whole grains or seeds to satiate that craving.

Burris warns, however, if you’re craving ice, clay, or dirt, you might have Pica, which means you have an iron deficiency and need to seek help from your acupuncturist, midwife, or OB-GYN. “This further proves the theory that pregnant women intuitively know what their bodies and babies need, because once supplemented with proper nutrition and iron supplements, most women can curb or ignore their cravings for these unusual non-food items,” she says.

You Should Seriously Be Putting This Topping On Your Pizza

The Daily Meal, Contributor   –   Huffpost

By Dan Myers, Editor

It’s a perfect flavor combination

It makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

Your average pizzeria can have more than a dozen standard toppings, ranging from sausage to bell peppers, but there’s one topping that works just as well, if not better, than all the others, and it’s usually nowhere to be found at your favorite slice joint. It’s pickles. Yes, pickles.

Think about the foods that already feature pickles as popular components: burgers, hot dogs (in the form of relish), Cuban sandwiches. For pickle lovers, it’s difficult to conceive of enjoying these foods without the indispensable accompaniment. Yet even the most ardent pickle fanatics never think to top their pizza with it, and that’s a darn shame.

Pickles work on pizza because, put simply, the flavors are complimentary. Plenty of people already top their pizzas with strongly-flavored salty and briny things, like banana peppers, olives, and sardines, and pickles definitely fit the mold. Melty cheese, crispy crust, tangy sauce, and briny pickles? A match made in heaven (especially if you also add some ground beef and turn it into a cheeseburger pizza).

As most pizzerias sadly still don’t offer pickles as a topping option, you’re going to have to DIY it if you want to try this flavor pairing out for yourself. We suggest you start with a whole pickle so you can use a mandolin or sharp knife to slice it as thinly as possible. Then you’ll want to blot the slices between two paper towels to remove as much excess moisture as possible. Then add the slices like you would pepperoni, and let it get hot with a few minutes in a 450-degree oven. We guarantee you’ll be hooked for life.

7 Fermented Foods That Need to Be on Your Radar

An excerpt from the new book “Eat Dirt.”

By    –   U.S. News

By now, you’ve probably heard that fermented foods like kefir and yogurt can do wonders for your gut health, but there’s so much more to explore in the world of healthy fermented foods.

Fermented foods likely don’t wind up on your plate every day, but these ingredients served as go-to meals for our ancestors in an age before refrigeration. In essence, fermentation was an old-fashioned way to extend a food’s “shelf life,” minus the harmful preservation ingredients used in many processed foods today.

Cultures around the globe relied on fermentation, and by doing so, people regularly consumed trillions of gut-healing, beneficial microbes with every fermented meal. During the fermentation process, bacteria and yeasts break down proteins into amino acids, fats into fatty acids and complex sugars into simple sugars such as glucose, making it easier for our bodies to absorb vital nutrients. Additional beneficial compounds are created during this process, including other probiotics that help feed the gut lining and maintain a healthy bacterial balance.

Whether you’re dealing with symptoms of leaky gut, looking into treating candida with fermented foods or simply want to eat a more traditional, healthy diet, consider working some of the world’s most beloved fermented foods into your diet.

#1. Coconut kefir

A nice stand‐in for dairy, coconut kefir is a fermented version of coconut water and kefir grains. Coconut kefir contains some of the same probiotic strains you’d find in traditional dairy kefir, but in smaller quantities. Coconut kefir has a great flavor, especially with a bit of stevia, water and lime juice.

#2. Sauerkraut

Real sauerkraut – chopped cabbage that has been salted and fermented in its own juice – has been around for thousands of years. A staple in ethnic German restaurants in this country, sauerkraut gets a lot of upturned noses because of its bitter taste. That’s too bad, because this fermented cabbage is high in organic acids, vitamin C and digestive enzymes. It also serves as a superior source of natural lactic acid bacteria like lactobacillus. I tend to buy some cabbage or cucumbers at the market and then make my own sauerkraut or fermented veggies at home.

Important note: Normally, I’d recommend pickles as a top probiotic food – but most brands of store‐bought pickles (as well as commercial sauerkraut) should be avoided, as both foods are not naturally fermented. Instead, they’re soaked in salt and vinegar to mimic the flavor of traditional sauerkraut and pickles. This processing technique is faster and cheaper, but results in the loss of many much‐needed probiotics.

#3. Kimchi

Originally from South Korea, kimchi the result of mixing Chinese cabbage with a mélange of foods and spices such as carrots, garlic, ginger, onion, sea salt, red pepper flakes, chili peppers and fish sauce. The mixture is then set aside to ferment for anywhere from three days to two weeks.

Koreans serve kimchi at almost every meal, crediting this zesty pickled cabbage with fighting off the entire culture’s infections and respiratory illnesses (a happy bonus of its being sky‐high in vitamins A, B and C, as well as boasting all that lactobacillus). Research shows that kimchi lowers risks of heart disease, diabetes and metabolic syndrome as well. A 2013 study in the Journal of Medicinal Food showed that participants who ate kimchi daily saw significant decreases in total glucose, total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol (or “bad” cholesterol) after just one week of eating kimchi daily.

#4. Natto

A common topping plopped over white rice for dinner or breakfast in Japan, natto is made from fermented soybeans that contain the extremely powerful probiotic Bacillus subtilis. which has been shown in various studies to bolster the immune system, support cardiovascular health and enhance digestion of vitamin K2. Vitamin K2 improves bone density by moving calcium around the body to where it’s needed most, especially the bones and teeth. The Bacillus subtilis in natto may also improve immune function, according to an animal study published in the Journal of Dairy Science.

You usually have to shop at Asian markets or well‐stocked natural food stores to find this Japanese import. Those on a vegan diet should strongly consider adding natto, since this probiotic‐rich food contains vitamin B12 and is one of the highest plant‐based sources of protein for those who don’t eat meat and dairy products.

#5. Miso

Made from fermented soybeans, rice or barley, miso soup is more palatable than natto but is more likely to be eaten at breakfast time in Japan because it’s believed to stimulate the digestive system and energize the body for the day ahead. The fermentation process produces a rich, complex flavor of umami, also known as the “fifth taste” (the others being sweet, sour, salty and bitter).

#6. Kombucha

The murky‐looking, trendy beverage with an exotic name is a combination of black or green tea, a dash of organic sugar or evaporated cane juice, and a fungus culture known as a “kombucha mushroom” – a pancake‐shaped mass of bacteria and yeast that often appears as a mysterious blob floating in a bottle of kombucha.

Chinese in origin and tart as a Granny Smith apple, kombucha is loaded with a long list of beneficial bacteria, amino acids, B vitamins, and enzymes that deliver a cider-like flavor with a kick of fizziness. Many claims have been made about kombucha, but its primary health benefits include digestive support, increased energy and liver detoxification.

Introducing Jalapeño Bacon Wrapped Totino’s Stuffed Nachos

I am so done with the Internet. 99.999% done. Not because there are all these miscellaneous memes featuring frogs and one-eyed characters in overalls popping up everywhere, or even the overwhelming amount of cat videos (for which, let’s be honest, the limit does not exist).

I’m done because there are just too many tasty, delish-ious, droolworthy food mash-ups and food-en-steins being produced and released out unto the world every second, yet not nearly enough time to take advantage of them all! Luckily, there are food creations out there that are both highly craveable and simple enough to make even during your toughest moments (aka, when you barely have enough energy to leave the couch).

Case in point: these Jalapeno Bacon Wrapped Totino’s Stuffed Nachos. It’s already convenient that you can pop the Stuffed Nachos alone into the oven at 10 and be snackin’ on ‘em by 10:15, but tastemaker and honorary Foodbeast Josh Elkin found a way to turn these hot new items into cute (and still convenient) little hor d’oeuvres!

The process is straightforward and requires only three ingredients, including the Totino’s Stuffed Nachos—they’re petite yet plump enough to fit snugly inside of a jalapeno, and that queso filling combined with the spicy pepper and savory bacon is gonna blow ya gosh-dang mind. Also doesn’t hurt that most of the method allows you to just sit back and wait while the magic takes place in the oven.

So that being said, perhaps I’ll continue my business with the Internet just a bit longer…

Endurance Athletes And Runners Are Drinking Pickle Juice

By Leigh Campbell   –   Huffington Post Australia

Just when we thought buzz ingredients couldn’t get any wackier, well, they do. Forget coconut water for a post-workout nutrition hit — long distance runners and workout junkies are now drinking pickle juice. Yep, the water in a jar of pickles.

The reason? It’s thought that the brine from a jar of pickles aids in treating muscle cramps.

“This has been an interesting new development, but so far we have limited research to determine the effectiveness of pickle juice. Anecdotally it appears that it may be helpful in preventing and treating muscle cramps,” Jemma O’Hanlon, accredited practicing dietitian, told The Huffington Post Australia.

“It’s thought that the vinegar in the juice stimulates receptors in the mouth, esophagus and stomach, and that this allows the receptors in the muscle fibers to relax where a cramp is occurring.”

Pickle water is mostly made up of vinegar. While some may find the tangy, acidic-tasting liquid nice, it might not be the best drink to skoll after a gym session.

“What we do know about vinegar is that it has an anti-glycemic effect. Essentially this means that it slows down the digestion of starches, meaning that blood sugar levels will not rise as high.”

“The juice from pickles can contain a substantial amount unnecessary kilojoules (from vinegar and sugar) and salt, not to mention being quite sour and unpleasant to drink. I wouldn’t recommend that pickle juice is something that Australians start drinking, unless it is under the guidance of a health professional,” O’Hanlon said.

If you do want to leverage the benefits of vinegar, it’s probably better to consume it in smaller doses, and in dressings instead of drinks.

“Vinegar is commonly used to make dressings and sauces. A good way to lower the GI of a salad is to add a vinegar-based dressing. You could make up a simple one from scratch using extra virgin olive oil, red wine vinegar and some wholegrain mustard,” O’Hanlon said.

In terms of what athletes should be drinking when they train, not surprisingly, water is the best. Specifically formulated sports drinks are also useful, in moderation.

Formulated sports drinks play an important role in many athletes’ diets as they provide the balance of electrolytes and hydration that athletes need. Although we’re starting to see some athletes using pickle juice to assist with cramps, this is not a not a replacement for formulated sports drinks. Athletes dietary needs vary significantly depending on the type of sport they’re involved in and their individual nutrient needs, so I’d always recommend consulting an Accredited Sports Dietitian to advise on which beverages are most suitable.”

“Water will always be the best drink for all Australians to enjoy. Sports drinks should be limited as they contain added sugar and can increase the risk of dental cavities and excessive weight gain, not to mention have a negative effect on our bone health. Sports drinks should only be consumed by sports people taking part in long duration endurance activities,” O’Hanlon said.