Our Last Minute Gift Ideas for the Foodie In Your Life

Can you believe it? Christmas is almost here! With the end of the Christmas countdown right around the corner, we hope you’ve had the opportunity to get all the gifts you need for your favorite foodie… BUT, just in case you haven’t, we still have a few hot picks available at thePlate Boutique now through December 23rd. To help you make your last minute decisions, here are a few of our staff’s favorites just for you:

Salad Dressing Shaker/Maker from thePlate Boutique on Square Market

Danielle, CMU dietetic intern and Mt. Pleasant store associate, recommends the Salad Dressing Shaker/Maker. “I chose this last minute Christmas gift because it is perfect for any individual who enjoys trying new and creative dressings. It’s small size makes it a great stocking stuffer and its inexpensive as well.” Danielle bought this as a gift last year and received lots of compliments, so you know its sure to be a winner!

Lodge Cast Iron Skillet
10″ Curved Cast Iron Skillet

If salad isn’t quite all the rage for the foodie you have in your mind, perhaps our Grand Rapids store manager and nutrition expert, Sarah, will have a better pick for you. Sarah chose the Lodge 10″ Curved Skillet Pan we currently have in stock. “These pre-seasoned pans offer a non-stick surface and offer some added iron into your meal plan. The curve of the pan would make the perfect omelette, plus, its made in the USA and the company has been around for at least 100 years!” We also love the cost point – only $25.99!

Microplane Spiral Cutter from thePlate Boutique on Square Market

Another fun and funky gadget? Kaitlyn, another CMU dietetic student and Mt. Pleasant store associate loves our Microplane Spiral Cutter! “It encourages people to eat more vegetables with a fun and creative method of preparing them. Plus, it creates a great substitute for noodles in pasta dishes.” Yes, the spiral cutter is a great way to add a little diversity to your meal plan AND get some of your more picky eaters excited about vegetables. Well… maybe! Your favorite foodie is sure to love this handy, easy to store tool in their kitchen!

Wusthof 2 Stage Knife Sharpener
Wusthof 2 Stage Knife Sharpener

All good foodies know that a dull knife is an awful knife. So this year, give the gift of sharp knives with a Wusthof knife sharpener. Its Kati’s pick because it makes food prep a breeze. After all, when it comes to kitchen essentials, a sharp quality knife is a must-have item. “The sticker shock of a high quality knife can often mean that the sharpener gets left behind. In my opinion its the perfect gift because its both practical and something one might not necessarily buy for themselves”. Retail price: $25.00

Epicurean Michigan Shaped Cutting Board
Epicurean Michigan Shaped Cutting Board

Our newest staff member, Amy, thinks the Epicurean Michigan Shaped Cutting Board is the must have gift this season. “It’s the perfect last minute gift idea. It would be great to use as as cheese platter – grab a gourmet cheese and chutney or honey and you’ve got a festive gift that can be used again and again!” Retail price: $26.99

Find thePlate Boutique near you!

Have a favorite? We’d love to know which of these items you’d like to find under the tree this year! 

Honey Mustard Baked Cod

“During the holidays, I’m always looking for meals that I can get out on the table as quickly as possible. If my boys like it, all the better! This honey mustard baked cod recipe is the best of both worlds! Plus, it serves as a great introduction to fish if your kids are a little leary of super smelly, fishy fish.” – Kati Mora, MS, RD, AroundthePlate.org

Honey Mustard Cod


Honey Mustard Baked Cod

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 15 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: 4-5 servings

Serving Size: 1-2 pieces of fish


  • 2 large Cod filets, cut into palm-sized pieces
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 2 Tbsp mayonnaise
  • 1 Tbsp mustard
  • 1-2 cups Breadcrumbs


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with tin foil and set aside (optional: drizzle with olive oil).
  3. In a small bowl, mix mayo, honey and mustard together.
  4. In a shallow bowl, place breadcrumbs.
  5. Using a pastry brush, coat one side of each cod fish piece with honey mustard mixture.
  6. Dip, honey mustard side down, into breadcrumbs to evenly coat.
  7. Place fish onto baking pan.
  8. Cook in oven for 15 minutes or until skin easily flakes with fork.
  9. Serve with a side salad and enjoy!



Is it Better to Crush or Chop Garlic? We’ve Got Your Answer!

Let’s talk about garlic, shall we? Most people know and understand that garlic can add flavor and nutrition to their plate. But what’s the best way to prepare garlic? Should you throw it in whole, mince it, chop it, press it? A customer recently came into the store asking which was better. After hearing that chopped garlic was better than crushed or pressed garlic, it got my dietitian sense all a tingling. So I began to research the topic at hand.

3 Garlic Cloves

Here’s what I found out:

When it comes to garlic, there is a whole lot of “he said she said” going on. In reality, it probably doesn’t really matter which way you prepare your garlic, as long as you’re doing something to break it down.


Related: Recipe for Healthy Garlic: Crush Before Cooking

If you’re wondering why, it is actually pretty simple. When you crush, chop, mince or slice your garlic, you stimulate an enzymatic process that converts alliin, a phytonutrient, to allicin, a compound which many of garlic’s health benefits are attributed to. The real kicker? To get the health benefits of this conversion, you actually have to let your garlic sit for about 10 minutes prior to adding it to your dish. Being the impatient dietitian that I am, I can confess that I very rarely let my garlic sit at all. I usually just toss it right in to whatever I’m cooking. Whoops! Apparently my attempt at convenience comes at a price I’m afraid.

Luckily, there is a relatively easy way to incorporate this recommendation. Instead of adding your garlic at the beginning of your meal prep, add it towards the end. Not only will this improve the health benefits of the dish, but it doesn’t require you to sit around and wait for your garlic to breath.

Related: What’s New and Beneficial About Garlic

As for best garlic flavor, that’s probably up to you. I couldn’t find any research that really showed one method was better than the other. After doing a little digging, it seems as though some chefs believe pressing or crushing garlic allows for better flavor to be released while others think a press makes for lousy flavor. Its very inconclusive. In my opinion, crushing garlic may also allow for better release or stimulation of the enzymatic process needed, but that’s purely my own conjecture. Even if it is “better” its probably a very small difference than prepping garlic any other way.

So in the end, I’ll let you decide the best way to break down your garlic. No matter the route you choose, just remember to let it sit for a bit or consider adding it at the very end of your cooking prep.

How do you prep your garlic? Any studies out there that show otherwise?

thePlate Boutique Featured on Fox 17 News Over the Weekend

If you wanted a sneak peek of our newest brick and mortar location, you’re in luck! On Saturday Fox 17 West Michigan stopped by our Grand Rapids location to inquire about our thoughts over a proposed change in the way sales tax work for online purchases. Sarah, our Grand Rapids manager and dietitian,had some great responses and we’re super proud of how she handled her first interview!

Sarah at thePlate Boutique GR
Sarah in our new store location, still getting things set up!

Although this interview wasn’t really healthy eating or cooking related, we were excited to see such great coverage of our store! You’ll get a great glimpse of our layout and products. We’ve been working hard for the past few months to bring our store to the Grand Rapids area and we’re so excited to see it take place! We really REALLY hope you like what you see in the video.

One of my favorite parts is where Sarah shows off the Lekue Steam Case and how it can help you make easy, delicious meals. Not only that, but the reporter does a fabulous job showcasing how our price is the same as some of our bigger, online competitors. And just in case you’re curious… we do offer online shopping and pickup options at http://theplateboutique.com.

Enjoy the segment and let us know what you think of our sneak peek!

From Vine to Glass: The Journey of a Welch’s Concord Grape

With all the technical difficulties we’ve been experiencing over the past few months, I haven’t had the opportunity to share with you my most recent adventure! An adventure that took me through a vineyard, to a processing plant, and finally out to dinner. It was all in effort to see how Concord grapes become Concord juice, or as it is often better known, Welch’s® 100% Grape Juice.

Thanks to Welch’s®, I had the opportunity to travel over to Pasco, Washington and visit one of their Concord grape vineyards. Living in Michigan, I often drive by vineyards here when traveling to the West side of the state; however, the vineyards and climate are a lot different over in Pasco Washington area. Plus, I’d never actually walked through a grape vineyard before or rode through one. I got to do both on this grape adventure.

Kati in the Vineyard
In the Vineyard!

As we traveled from vineyard to plant, we were able to follow the grapes in their own journey from field to bottle. It was a really interesting experience and I loved hearing all about the process from one of the family farmer’s who works daily to ensure quality exists among Welch’s® grape products. Farmer Jeff Grow shared all sorts of great insight. Everything from how the harvesting process evolves to best practices for pruning and shaping the grape vine. I learned so much that I probably could begin my own grape orchard. Okay, that might be a little of a stretch, but I did learn a lot about Concord grapes and where they come from.

Grape Harvesting
Observing the grapes being removed from the vine.

I also learned a lot about their nutritional properties. I already knew about the polyphenol content of grapes since I’m avid wine lover and tend to always be on the look out for ways to justify my favorite food consumptions, but it was interesting to hear about where the polyphenol content in grapes lie and the importance of releasing those compounds through the juice making process.

Although it may seem like the benefits of a Concord grape lie within its flesh, when it comes to polyphenol content, that is actually not the case. In fact, 21.6% of the total polyphenol content can be found in the skin of the grape with another 77.3% found in the seeds. This is interesting because in their natural berry state, the skin and seed of the fruit aren’t often consumed. Even if they are, most people don’t chew the skin or seed well enough to efficiently release the polyphenols present there. That’s why the juicing process is so important. By crushing the grapes whole, the polyphenols remain within the juice. Applying heat and utilizing enzymes in the process also help further extract the polyphenols from the seeds and skin.

If you have yet to hear about polyphenols, these components work as antioxidants and are relatively abundant in the diet. In addition to Concord grapes, wine, chocolate, tea, and coffee are often referenced for their rich polyphenol content. Most research has shown strong support for the role polyphenols can play in the prevention of cardiovascular diseases and some cancers.

After seeing the grapes on the vine, we were able to follow them to the processing plant. It was here where we watched the grapes become juice and took a tour of the entire facility. It was fascinating to see the various stations the grapes traveled through.

Its Grape Juice
Heating up the juice to further extract polyphenols

After seeing the process from start to finish, we even got to taste a glass of freshly made juice. It was delicious!

Fresh grape juice
Fresh grape juice at the end of our tour

It was overall an amazing behind-the-scenes experience. I really enjoyed learning more about the process and meeting members of the Welch’s® family.

And as any self-respecting group of dietitians would do, we ate an amazing dinner together. Our Welch’s® inspired dinner was amazing! I loved how each course had Concord grapes featured. What a creative way to wrap up the event! It also serves as a great reminder that the uses of juice go far beyond your glass.

Harvest Dinner Menu
Our Amazing Harvest Dinner Menu!

In fact, if you are looking for a few unique ways to add 100% grape juice to your day, here are a few ideas that were shared by fellow dietitian, Robin Plotkin, RD, LDat the event:

  • Cook your rice or quinoa in it!
  • Add a splash of juice to your favorite homemade salad dressing. Consider using 2 parts olive oil, 1 part vinegar, and 1 part juice.
  • Make ice pops!

Aren’t these suggestions great? I love that this not only allows you to incorporate a nutrient-rich ingredient into a dish you may already love, but it allows you to play around with the overall taste of such dishes. We often omit the importance of taste when we discuss healthy eating, but its incredibly important. After all, if a nutrient-rich food doesn’t appeal to your taste buds, it probably won’t be incorporated into your meal plan all that often. What a shame! Keep it healthy, keep it flavorful, and keep it fun.

For more information about Welch’s® or the health benefits of 100% grape juice, be sure to visit http://welchs.com. 

What do you think? Can 100% grape juice be incorporated into a well-balanced meal plan? 

Disclaimer/Disclosure: Although I was not compensated for this post, my accommodations for this adventure were provided and organized by Welch’s® and FoodMinds. The opinions expressed are mine alone. This is information we here at Around the Plate thought you should know. For a full list of our disclosure and disclaimer policies, please visit our legal page