Encour­ag­ing an appetite is hardly the worry for most healthy indi­vid­u­als. Too many of us are try­ing to squash our food crav­ings.

For oth­ers, it can be quite a chal­lenge to coax eat­ing for sus­te­nance and nour­ish­ment.

Nearly every­one knows a friend, neigh­bor or fam­ily mem­ber who suf­fers from lack of inter­est or desire to eat or drink.

Typ­i­cally, this is due to a tem­po­rary set­back, like hav­ing the flu or recov­er­ing from den­tal work. The con­di­tion is short term and nor­mal eat­ing pat­terns will resume.

Dimin­ished appetites from chronic con­di­tions (aging and dis­ease) jeop­ar­dize opti­mum health and often indi­cate some­thing more seri­ous can be at work. Depres­sion, sad­ness, grief and health dis­or­ders are all on the table when the will to eat goes south.

Read more: Heal­ing Kitchen →

A mid-​winter slump begs for more choices in the week night meal rota­tion. Soup and sand­wich riffs take some pres­sure off any­one respon­si­ble for putting food on the table.

Afford­able and sat­is­fy­ing, a grilled cheese sand­wich and tomato soup combo are pretty hard to beat.

Their warmth and com­fort goes past those Campbell’s Soup com­mer­cials. Think of other nat­ural pair­ings and get into the spirit of a lunch or din­ner that don’t require much home­work.

Explore cream of cel­ery, French onion, Thai aspara­gus, veg­etable, potato — leek and mine­strone soup pro­files. A vast cat­a­log of recipes are avail­able to assist.

Spicy ver­sions of tor­tilla, Mul­li­gatawny and pho take us to great exotic tastes from around the world. Chile pep­pers, curry, lentils, gin­ger root, mush­rooms and gar­lic make for excep­tional soup starters.

Read more: Soup Plus Sandwich →

Nearly any­thing stuffed will con­vince us that there is a cel­e­bra­tion in the mak­ing.

That could mean an easy week­night din­ner party if the vehi­cle used for stuff­ing is a por­to­bello mush­room.

In North­ern Italy, this over­sized mush­room is called “cap­pel­lone” which means “big hat”. It makes sense as the shape resem­bles a large cap or top­per (just right for stuff­ing).

To be clear, once a cri­m­ini mush­room reaches between four to six inches in diam­e­ter, it is offi­cially called a por­to­bello or porta­bella. Yes, they are one in the same vari­ety, with a dif­fer­ent matu­rity level dic­tat­ing its name.

A porta­bello is rec­og­nized by it’s open, flat sur­face (cap). Because it’s left to grow larger, the gills are fully exposed. This means that some of the mushroom’s mois­ture has evap­o­rated. The reduced mois­ture con­cen­trates and enriches the fla­vor and cre­ates a dense, meaty texture.

Read more: Good Stuff →

Tulips carry a very sto­ried past. They have the abil­ity to cap­ture hearts (and break them), make for­tunes (and lose them), inspire poetry and art and influ­ence cul­ture.

The tulip orig­i­nated cen­turies ago in Per­sia and Turkey, where 80 or so wild vari­eties were grown in very arid regions.

The tulip in Iran (Per­sia) rep­re­sents par­adise on earth and of hav­ing divine sta­tus. Euro­peans gave tulips their name, mis­tak­enly, derived from the Per­sian word for “tur­ban”.

As Euro­peans began tak­ing to tulips, the flower’s pop­u­lar­ity spread quickly, par­tic­u­larly in the Nether­lands where a phe­nom­e­non dubbed tulip mania set in at one point dur­ing the 17th cen­tury. The Dutch use a tulip to rep­re­sent a human’s brief time on earth.

Tulips became so highly-​prized in the 1600’s that prices were sent soar­ing and mar­kets crash­ing. Tulips are now grown through­out the world, but peo­ple still iden­tify cul­ti­vated vari­eties as “Dutch tulips.”

Read more: Per­fect Love →