Category Archives: Healthy Diet Habits

Be a Man. Learn to Cook. The Road to Good Cooking

Learn to cook | Long Road to becoming a good cook

Photo by Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Road to El Chalten) via Wikimedia Commons – Modified by Carl Dunn.

Be a Man. Learn to Cook.

Me…I like immediate results. I want to go from novice to expert in 5 minutes. However if there is one thing I have learned is that rarely happens. Whether it is golf, fishing, car repair, or the computer, it takes time and practice to “master” a skill. Cooking is the same.

When I first started I was a complete novice in the kitchen. I could barely use a can opener and I regularly burned toast. Life dragged me into the kitchen kicking and screaming. Over time, I became a good cook. Not a world famous master Chef but a “damn good cook”. Here are the most important lessons I learned along the way.

Start Slow

Learn to cook by making small changes. Cook (I mean really cook) one meal a week. Chop fresh garlic instead of using garlic powder or salt. Buy one fresh vegetable every trip to the grocery store. The road to a healthier diet and being a good cook is not a super highway. Becoming a good cook is more like a dirt road with many ruts.

Embrace Your Mistakes

Human nature tells us to avoid mistakes and that mistakes are bad. However, as you begin to master the kitchen you will make many mistakes. Even as you become proficient in the kitchen you will make mistakes. Mastering the old “Learn from your Mistakes” adage is key to your success in the kitchen. Julia Child, first renown cooking show host, was famous for breezing over her on-camera mistakes.

Video 1 – The Omelette Flip      Video 2 – Learn to Cook Wisdom from Julia 

Remember Your Success

Remembering your kitchen successes is just as important as learning from your mistakes. Cook a great cheeseburger, perfect eggs, or a succulent chicken…Remember it. Decide what made your food great. Was it the ingredients? Was it the way you cooked it? Was it how you presented it on the plate? Remember the “good parts” and repeat them in other recipes.

Learn to Cook from Masters

We live in a media saturated world. The Internet, Cable TV, Streaming media and eBooks. Find cooking show hosts who intrigue you. Visit “foodie” blogs that interest you. Read cookbooks that relate to you. I started with “simple” meals and ideas. Cooking shows, blogs and cookbooks with elaborate recipes did not interest me. Here are a few suggestions:

  • Cooking Shows: 30 minute meals (Rachael Ray) and Simply Ming (Ming Tsai)
  • Food Blogs: The Pioneer Women (Ree Drummond) and Summer Tomato (Darya Pino)
  • Cookbooks: How to Cook Everything (Mark Bittman) and A Man, a Can, a Plan (David Joachim)

Practice, Practice, Practice

This is a “no brainer”. The more time you spend in the kitchen, the better cook you will become. In the beginning, you may feel like you are wasting your time especially when that microwave dinner or that can of chili is just a few steps away. What can I say? Cooking is a skill. If you want to master that skill, you can learn to cook with a little practice.


Men (and women too) love to adjust, modify and tweak many things. Recipes and cooking is the same. Experimenting with new recipes or new cooking techniques is by far the best part of cooking. Learn to cook by asking “How can I make it better?”. When the experiment goes bad, refer to the Embrace Your Mistakes section. When it works well, refer to the Remember Your Success section.

Learn to Cook Starter Kit


Do French Fries Have Gluten?

Many people suffer from Celiac disease; intolerance to gluten. Others have
difficulty digesting gluten. Others still, have discovered the benefits of a
gluten-free diet. Whatever the case, a simple question is often raised:
Do French fries have gluten?

do french fries have gluten - french fry junkiesFrench Fry Junkies

As a nation we have become addicted to French fries. We cannot stop at a fast food restaurant without ordering a big bag of fries. We cannot pass the frozen potato section without buying a bag of French fries. We have straight fries, curly fries, crinkle cut fries and steak fries. It was only a matter of time before the health conscious “foodies” focused their eyes on French Fries.

Do Potatoes have gluten?

French fries are made from potatoes. In their natural state, potatoes contain no gluten. So the initial answer to Do French Fries have Gluten is “No”. However, as with many foods, the path from fresh to your plate can take many directions. Often the potato is treated with flavorings or coatings that contain gluten. In addition, the cooking process can also add gluten to French fries. So, do potatoes have gluten? No. Do French fries have gluten? Maybe.

Flavorings and Coatings

Many eating establishments flavor or coat their uncooked French fries. These ingredients can contain wheat which turn our fries into small gluten bombs. Worse yet, many of the establishments cannot tell you if their French fries are gluten-free. Cooks, wait staff and everyday employees do not know what coatings may be on uncooked fries. Also, bags of frozen French fries in grocery stores need to be carefully scrutinized for gluten-rich ingredients. OreIda offers many gluten-free varieties of frozen potatoes. Read here.

The Cooking Process

do french fries have gluten - The Cooking ProcessOnce the coating obstacle is cleared, we need to focus on the cooking process itself. The cooking process is where most French fries become gluten-laden food. Not because the ingredients have gluten but rather the cooking oil has gluten. Think about it. Deep fryers at restaurants are used to cook many different foods. The gluten rich residue is left in the hot oil. When the French fries are cooked in the same oil, they collect gluten.

Do French Fries Have Gluten? – The Definitive Answer

Maybe. The potato is gluten-free. The flavorings may not be. The cooking process may not be. If you are looking for gluten-free French fries, then consider homemade French fries.

Do french fries have gluten - Try homemade

In an effort to be health aware, many restaurants publish a gluten-free menu. See below.


Baked Cheesy Mushroom Bean Recipe

Hearty Winter Food – Baked Cheesy Mushroom Bean Recipe

Winter in the northern states brings snow and cold temperatures. We always look
for good hearty recipes. Stew, soup, and chili are favorites. Our baked cheesy
mushroom bean recipe is a perfect choice for the coldest of days. Don’t let
the wintertime blues dampen your kitchen creativity. Try this recipe today.



Baked Cheesy Mushroom Bean Recipe
Serves 6
Baked Cheesy Mushroom Beans are delicious and healthy. Simple recipe that will delight your tastebuds. Good hearty winter food. Easy to make.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
35 min
  1. 8 oz package of sliced mushrooms
  2. 1 can of chili beans
  3. 1 can of diced tomatoes
  4. 1 8oz package of Mozzarella Cheese
  5. Jar of Italian Seasoning
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Wash the mushrooms.
  3. Divide the mushrooms between two meatloaf pans.
  4. Spread chili beans on top of mushrooms.
  5. Top with diced tomatoes.
  6. Top with Mozzarella cheese.
  7. Bake in oven for 20 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven. Sprinkle Italian Seasoning on top.
  9. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve hot.
Optional Suggestions
  1. • Add 1/4 cup of Vegetable Stock in each pan
  2. • Use Crushed Red Peppers instead of Italian Seasoning
  3. • Include chopped yellow peppers
  4. • Experiment with different sauces like Worcestershire
Cooking for Guys

Simple Ingredients

Baked-Cheesy-Mushroom-Beans-IngredientsOne of the best features of this recipe is the simple ingredients. They can be easily found at nearly every grocery store. And the ingredients are relatively cheap. In fact, many of us already have the ingredients in the pantry. Remember to read the labels on the can goods. You can find low sodium, low fat canned goods if you look hard enough.

Easy to Prepare

Baked-Cheesy-Mushroom-Beans-Easy-to-PrepareAnother great feature is how easy this recipe is to prepare. Beans on top of mushrooms, tomatoes on top of beans and cheese on top of beans. Throw it in the oven and you have baked cheesy mushroom beans! There is not many ways to “mess up” this dish. I am sure we will hear of a few colossal failures but I am confident many more cooks will enjoy this hearty recipe on their dinner tables.

Hearty Winter Food

Baked-Cheesy-Mushroom-Beans-Hearty-FoodIn our neck of the woods, winters are cold and harsh. We shovel snow, battle icy roads and survive bitter cold temperatures. We need our hearty recipes. We love our hearty recipes. And we continue to make our hearty recipes. Here is a photo of Chef ManCave himself waiting patiently for warmer weather.

Side Dish or a Meal?

The recipe is designed to be a simple side dish. However, incorporating meat into the baked cheesy mushroom bean recipe can instantly turn this into a tasty complete meal. Adding a few extra veggies and skipping the meat will satisfy the vegetarians in the world.

Leftover Factor

We love this dish for it’s leftover factor. You can use baked cheesy mushroom beans with almost any dinner or lunch. Serve it with beef, chicken, pork or fish. Heat it up at work. Eat it as a late night snack. Best of all, this is healthy food.

Related Links


High Fibre Foods – Canned Beans are Winners


If you are seeking high fibre foods, then consider canned beans. In Nature, beans of all types are high in fibre. Most varieties of beans will supply 25% to 50% of your daily fibre requirements in every serving. Unfortunately, fresh beans take an hour or two to prepare. Using canned beans makes it easy to increase your fibre intake.

Why Canned Goods are Unhealthy…

One word: SODIUM. Canned goods use salt to increase their shelf life. Using canned goods in your meals will increase your sodium intake. High levels of sodium in your diet leads to heart problems and high blood pressure. :-(

The processing of fresh produce into canned goods often strips the vegetable of it’s natural vitamins and nutrients. What is the point after that? The whole purpose of eating more vegetables is the necessary vitamins and nutrients found in the vegetable. :-(

Finally, canned good producers will add artifical flavorings and coloring. These chemicals are designed to make the food “LOOK” more appealing and have very little to do with a healthy diet. We suggest you spend some time reading the nutritional labels of canned goods. :-(

High Fibre Foods: Canned Beans are the Exception to the Rule

High Fibre Foods - Canned Beans

High Fibre Foods – No Salt

Like many other canned goods, canned beans are high in sodium. However, several producers sell No Salt Added varieties of beans. See Kuner’s Beans Also, “washing your canned beans” will reduce the amount of sodium. :-)

Canned beans do lose some of their vitamin content. Fortunately, Fibre levels are not sacrificed. Comparing “canned” to “fresh” reveals only a 2% to 4% decrease in Fibre. :-)

High Fibre Foods: Canned Beans are Quick and Easy

Spend a few minutes reading cookbooks or visiting websites. You will discover using fresh beans takes time. Most articles suggest one hour of cooking time. Unless you are chewing the lid off the can, opening a can of beans takes less than one minute. Washing the beans (suggested above) takes less than one minute. Heating the beans takes about 5 minutes. Healthy quick meals can be created in less than 15 minutes.

High Fibre Foods: Canned Beans are Versatile

Healthy quick meals are easy to make but often lack variety. Canned beans, on the other hand, can be used in many different recipes. Here are a few examples:

  • Salad with Beans – Add a can of beans to your favorite salad recipe. Use a dark colored bean to add a visual contrast in your salad.
  • Beans in Soup – Add beans to your favorite soup recipe. Soups should use similar colored beans. Chicken stock should use light colored beans. Beef stock should use dark colored beans. Again, all beans are high in fibre.
  • Beans and Rice – Beans and rice are a great compliment to almost any entrée.
  • Refried Beans and Tacos – Use refried beans when making tacos.

High Fibre Foods: Related Articles

Chart of High Fibre Foods – Mayo Clinic

Top High Fibre Foods – Today’s Dietitian

Spice Rack Ideas – List of Spices You Need

Spice Rack Ideas | List of Spices You Need

Spice Rack Ideas – The Essential List of Spices for your Kitchen

The best spice rack ideas for a beginner is to keep it simple. Eventually, you will expand your list of spices. More experienced cooks should use this guideline to organize their list of spices. The goal is simple: Create a Great Spice List. Your food will taste better.

Spice Rack Ideas: Where Do I Start?

Lets start with taking inventory. What do you have on your shelf now? Divide your spices into 4 piles: Spices with the word “Salt”, Spices with the word “Powder”, Spices with the word “Pepper” and Everything else. Inspect the containers for expiration dates. If any of your spices are near or past their expiration date, then throw them away. Generally, spices do not spoil but over time they will loose their potency.

😉 In some ManCaves the spice can become “rocks” of hardened mass. Throw these away or you can use them as practice golf balls.

Spice Rack Ideas: The “Salt” Spices

One of the best flavorings in cooking is salt. Many of the best recipes use salt. Unfortunately, Salt is also a major factor of a unhealthy diet. Throw out any jars of Garlic Salt or Onion salt. Choose to use fresh Garlic and Onions. Fresh spices deliver much more flavor to your recipes. Fresh spices eliminate Sodium in your diet. Try brands like Mrs Dash that are salt-free spices. Keep one container of standard table salt and a salt grinder with either rock salt or sea salt. Sodium is a leading cause of high blood pressure. :-(

  • Standard Table Salt
  • Salt Grinder with Sea Salt
  • Mrs Dash Garlic & Herb (instead of Garlic Salt)
  • Mrs Dash Onion & Herb (instead of Onion Salt)

Spice Rack Ideas: The “Powder” Spices

Powdered spices are essential in cooking. They will lend unique flavoring to recipes. Chili powder, Cumin, and Cinnamon are the “Big 3”. Again, rid your spice rack of Garlic and Onion powder. Always choose fresh Garlic and Onion. You may wish to explore a Cajun powder or a Tex-Mex powder. Be sure to read the Sodium levels. Powder spices often contain high levels of sodium.

  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon

Spice Rack Ideas: The “Pepper” Spices

Pepper spices create bold flavors in recipes. Experienced cooks use “pepper” spices often. Crushed red peppers, Lemon pepper, Cayenne pepper and good old black pepper are necessary staples of your spice rack. A pepper grinder with whole pepper seeds adds even more flavor and appeal to your recipes. Specialty Pepper spices are available but are usually more expensive. I will buy them occasionally if I see them on sale.

  • Crushed Red Peppers
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Pepper Grinder with whole Pepper
  • Lemon Pepper

Spice Rack Ideas: “Everything Else” Spices

This pile will contain mostly flakes, seeds, and leaves. Basil, Bay Leaves and Parsley flakes will compliment many dishes. These types of spices are mainly used as last-minute toppings to add color and appeal to you recipes. Use fresh Basil or Parsley for cooking purposes. Oregano and Italian Seasoning will boost any Italian recipe. This spice category also contains your “Dry Rubs” used mainly for grilling. Our favorite is Grill Mates from McCormick.

  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Parsley Flakes
  • Oregano
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Mrs Dash Extra Spicy
  • Dry Rubs – Fish, Beef and Chicken

Spice Rack Ideas: Related Spice Rack Items

Many seasonings are liquid. They are often not treated as “spices”. However, you should make them part of your list of spices. Include some type of hot sauce like Tabasco Sauce or Frank’s RedHot Sauce. Balsamic, red wine and cider vinegar are common recipe ingredients.

  • Hot Sauce (Tabasco or Franks RedHot)
  • Vinegar (Balsamic, Red Wine and Cider)

Spice Rack Ideas: Our Full List of Spices

  • Standard Table Salt
  • Salt Grinder with Sea Salt
  • Mrs Dash Garlic & Herb (instead of Garlic Salt)
  • Mrs Dash Onion & Herb (instead of Onion Salt)
  • Chili Powder
  • Cumin
  • Cinnamon
  • Crushed Red Peppers
  • Cayenne Pepper
  • Ground Black Pepper
  • Pepper Grinder with whole Pepper
  • Lemon Pepper
  • Basil
  • Bay Leaves
  • Parsley Flakes
  • Oregano
  • Italian Seasoning
  • Mrs Dash Extra Spicy
  • Dry Rubs – Fish, Beef and Chicken
  • Hot Sauce (Tabasco or Franks RedHot)
  • Vinegar (Balsamic, Red Wine and Cider)

Spice Rack Ideas: Related Articles

The Well Stocked Kitchen

The 10 Essential Spices for Stocking Your Pantry

Basic Spice Checklist

Best Nonstick Ceramic Pans : Healthy Green Safe Cookware

What is the Best Nonstick Ceramic Pan?

Best Nonstick Ceramic PanHealthy Green Safe Cookware is the latest “craze” in the world of cookware. It is advertised as healthy, eco-friendly, chemical-safe cookware. But we want to know…
• A) Does it work as advertised?
• B) Is it really safer and healthier?
• C) Is it worth the extra expense?

The answers can be found in this article. You may be surprised at a few of them. Check out the reviews of the new Ceramic Nonstick  pans. Learn to buy the best nonstick ceramic pan. Make your kitchen a healthier safer place.

What is Ceramic Nonstick?

Traditional nonstick coating like Teflon has high levels of PFOA and PTFE. Both chemical compounds have been linked to an increased risk of cancer. At the very least, health experts agree PFOA and PTFE compounds are not good for your health. Enter Ceramic Nonstick! Instead of using materials like Teflon, the cookware manufacturers will use natural ceramic materials to coat their pots and pans.

Good News: Ceramics are 100% PFOA and PTFE free.
Bad News: Ceramic coating costs more and can flake or peel like traditional nonstick compounds.

A quick Google search will reveal dozens of manufacturers who claim to produce Ceramic nonstick cookware. Be careful when buying your “Green” pans! They are not all made the same. You may be disappointed.

Best Nonstick Ceramic Pan Reviews

OrGreenic Ceramic PanOrGREENic Cookware is heavily advertised on TV and sold in many stores such as Target and Walmart. Often OrGREENic is the first Ceramic cookware people see. They learn about the health benefits of ceramic coating from their infomercials and advertising. However, like many “Seen on TV” products, the OrGREENic product is poorly manufactured which is a nice way of saying that it is cheap. Before buying this pan, watch this video. OrGreenic Review
Our Recommendation: SKIP IT

Bialetti Ceramic CookwareBialetti Cookware introduced their “Aeternum” line of ceramic PFOA/PTFE-free products. Building on their quality aluminum pan manufacturing, Bialetti produced a ceramic coated set of cookware. They advertised heavily in popular magazines such as Bon Appetit and Redbook. Early on, the reviews were fabulous but as time wore on, many people became disenchanted with the quality of the pans. They cited the ease at which the coating scratched, flaked and peeled. Our Recommendation: SKIP IT

Zwilling Ceramic PanZwilling Spirit Cookware line of ceramic PFOA/PTFE-free products is made by J.A. Zwilling the famous German kitchen knife manufacturer. Their attention to detail and quality production make these pans some of the best in the world. These pans rarely suffer the same scratching and peeling issues of lesser quality pans. However, they are roughly three times as expensive as the lower quality cookware. Our Recommendation: BUY (if you can afford it)

Denmark Tools Ceramic PanDenmark Tools for Cooks is a relative newcomer to the ceramic PFOA/PTFE-free market. We first ran across these pans on a recent trip to Bed Bath and Beyond. We were intrigued by the high quality look and free of the pans and the budget price. (~$20) We thought it would fail in our kitchens but thus far it has held up well in all our testing. As a newcomer, you won’t find many reviews of this product.
Our Recommendation: BUY (Great Entry Level Pan)

Best Nonstick Ceramic Pan Review

Bialetti Aeternum Pan $29

Best Nonstick Ceramic Pan Review

Zwilling Spirit Pan $99

Best Nonstick Ceramic Pan - Emril All-Clad

Emril All-Clad $39


Hamburger Nutritional Facts – Is Ground Beef healthy?

Hamburger Nutritional FactsAll you have to do is drive down any Main street in the US and you will inevitably pass a fast food hamburger restaurant. Americans consume an amazing quantity of hamburger every year. Experts do not expect the numbers to decline any time soon. We make hamburger helper, tacos, and sloppy joes with ground beef. Yet, very few people ever look at the hamburger nutritional facts.

Because I love using ground beef in many of my recipes, I decided to explore the world of hamburger. I wanted to know what my options & alternatives were. I wanted create a  healthier hamburger.

Healthy Fast Food Options?

The fact is simple. Most fast food options are inherently unhealthy, especially hamburgers. We buy the hamburgers because they are fast, inexpensive and filling. But yet the fast food hamburger nutritional facts are appalling.  They are perhaps the least nutritious foods you can consume. And when you add the bun, the pop and French fries, you have a meal that makes nutritionists cringe everywhere. A documentary called Super Size Me highlights the health pitfalls of a fast food diet.

Is Fresh Hamburger Healthy?

Many people justify eating hamburger because they buy it fresh. And in the last few years, more and more supermarkets offer lean hamburger that features far less fat and sodium. We wondered if there was a nutritional difference between the different “cuts” of hamburger. Here is what we found. (see below)

Hamburger Nutritional Facts

Grade of Hamburger Fat Content Sodium Level % of Iron Approx Price USD
Hamburger 40% Fat 20% Sodium 0% Iron $2.50/lb
Ground Round 34% Fat 17% Sodium 2% Iron $2.75/lb
Ground Chuck 22% Fat 17% Sodium 5% Iron $3.00/lb
Ground Sirlion 13% Fat 12% Sodium 9% Iron $3.75/lb
Lean Sirlion 7% Fat 10% Sodium 9% Iron $4.50/lb
Hamburger Cookbook - Hamburger Nutritional Facts

Hamburger Recipes

Hamburger Press - Hamburger Nutrional Facts

Weston Hamburger Press

Is Ground Beef Healthy? – Talk to Your Butcher

We are not suggesting that you should become a vegetarian. Rather, we suggest that you focus your choice of hamburger cuts. Fast food places will always use the lower cost hamburger to help boost their profitability, as well as boost your waistline. However, when you are preparing to cook hamburger at home, we recommend that you buy the highest cut you feel you can afford. Ask your butcher for a “Quarter Inch Trim”. In other words, don’t buy your hamburger based on price alone. You also need to consider the nutritional facts. We are confident that once you look at hamburger nutritional facts, you will make better choices.