Wednesday, November 21, 2007

thanksgiving myspace graphics

In the first part of this article, we looked at how we can make stuffing that is not heavy and will not add weight. We also talked about how to make less fattening gravy. Let us discuss more.

Learn how to make especially delicious salads. To mixed greens you might add sliced pear, apple, beets, orange slices, nuts, sunflower seeds, dried cranberries, and dress the salad with a raspberry vinaigrette.

If you are going to serve rolls, try a whole grain roll.

Find side dishes that are both healthy and particularly delicious. Make larger batches of the healthy dishes and smaller batches of the less healthy ones. This will gently encourage you and your guests to want more of the healthy vegetable side dishes.

Eating a healthier holiday meal, even if you are not doing the cooking, is easier if you follow certain guidelines. Half your plate should be vegetables, no more than a quarter of the plate should be meat, and no more than a quarter of the plate should be starches and breads. Fill at least half your plate with salad, green vegetables, baked sweet potato, carrots, squash, brown or wild rice, cranberry sauce, and fruit. If you are eating meat, choose a lean portion about the size of a deck of cards. Select only a small portion of stuffing, mashed potatoes, casserole vegetables, vegetables in heavy sauce, cheese, or breads. Avoid butter, do not use extra salt, go easy on the gravy, and avoid cheese sauces. Wait on what might be second helpings for another small meal a few hours later.

There is no need to deny yourself dessert, just use common sense. Always eat healthy food before dessert, and then take a small portion if you see something you like. If you have filled up on healthy food first, you will be less tempted to overeat dessert.

On feast days, it's especially important not to skip a healthy breakfast. We tend to over eat and choose more fattening and sugary foods when we've gone too long without eating. A healthy breakfast might include two or more of a whole grain cereal or oatmeal, eggs, vegetables, yogurt or milk, and fruit. Try to eat healthy food every four hours throughout the holidays, but eat small meals. Make sure you drink a lot of water, particularly on feast days.

Often staying lean during the holidays is hardest on the cook. Here are a few tips for cooking a more healthy weight-friendly meal:

For a stuffing that is less fattening and even more delicious, start with whole wheat bread or whole grain rice. Use half or less of the amount of butter and oil. Double or even triple all the healthy ingredients such as celery, onion, mushrooms, nuts, and dried fruit. This will lower the fat and increase the fiber of your stuffing. It will also make it more flavorful. Your traditional recipe can be adjusted in this way.

Use a rack to roast meats. Domestic duck and goose should be pricked all over the skin prior to roasting, to allow the fats to escape. Cover your roasts until the last to keep them moist, instead of using butter. Then remove the cover for the last twenty to thirty minutes to allow the skin to brown.

Purchase an inexpensive gravy separator. These are small plastic pitchers with the spout located at the bottom of the cup, much like a garden watering can. Before making gravy, ladle the meat juices into the gravy separator and allow a minute for the fat to float to the top. Carefully pour the juices into the pan you will use to make gravy until the fat reaches the bottom and then stop. Then continue to make the gravy. Your gravy will be much more lean but just as flavorful.
And the music? That's playing at a big-budget Hollywood level, too.

The push to make games bigger and better doesn't just mean "next-generation" features like high-definition graphics, motion-sensing technology and online matchmaking.

Whether it's work licensed from recognizable names like The Rolling Stones, Foo Fighters or Timbaland - or custom-composed tracks, good music is essential if a game is going to be successful, experts say.

"We have come a long way in a short period of time," said Tim Riley, worldwide executive of music at Activision, which started its music division about five years ago.

"We had a struggle when we first started," he said. "It took a lot of convincing. We would talk to record labels, and it took a lot of conversation."

The worry, Riley said, was marrying mainstream music with any high-tech format the music industry wasn't comfortable with. But being able to promote new artists - or bring in extra revenue by licensing hits - in a fresh forum proved too tempting.

"You have a game that is going to sell millions of copies, and they are going to share it with friends," Riley said. "Let's say, 2 million copies played for 30 to 40 hours at a time - you are getting more spins for songs than you are going to get on radio.

"It's a very niche demographic, but it matches up with who the record companies are trying to reach. Those players are going to be glued to that game for a long time. We look at it as a huge promotion."

Now big game publishers have divisions dedicated to acquiring music, and major labels have staff assigned to the "game space," Riley said.

These days, it's typical for Activision games such as "Tony Hawk's Proving Grounds," which was released last month, to have 50 tracks or more, Riley said, with popular songs from artists such as Nirvana, the Sex Pistols and the Beastie Boys.

"We like to mix the genres - the punk, the rock, hip-hop, electronic - so we are offering a good spacing," Riley said. "We mix the catalog - it's taking a serious look at what we have and making sure it matches the game."

Old tunes, new sounds
Then there are games that are all music, like the rhythm-based title "Guitar Hero III: Legends of Rock," which went on sale late last month and requires a guitar-shaped accessory controller to play it.

"This is the flagship of music gaming," Riley said.

A competing game called "Rock Band" from MTV Games comes out in December and uses guitar, drum and microphone peripherals.

Although licensing music for games is common, publishers also invest in original work.

Games coming out this fall, such as the first-person shooter "Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare," the role-playing game "Hellgate: London" and online game "Tabula Rasa," all have carefully crafted, original scores.

"Game soundtracks are a tricky kind of business - you need to make sure it serves the functions in the game," said Tracy Bush, a sound designer for NCsoft, which is publishing "Tabula Rasa."

"If you think about movie soundtracks, they serve as an emotional balance," Bush said. "As a soundtrack, they need to set the mood and tone and say what the game is going to be creatively and emotionally

"It's one of the things in our industry: You can take music out of a game and have it be a piece of art," Bush said. "The music needs to be artistically valid."

Curse Mackey, an industrial musician who composed almost 40 pieces of music for "Tabula Rasa," said making music for a game means working with the designers almost from the outset, meeting brutal deadlines and playing the game while it's under construction.

"For me, the work starts by obtaining as much fiction as I can, be it storyline or screenshots or videos of game play," Mackey said. "From there, I take that as the stimulus to create a sound that represents what I see and what I experience, and then do a musical translation."

Mackey, a well-traveled performer with a global fan base and more than 30 CDs and soundtrack credits, said crafting music for a game is "a much more personal form of creation, and I really like that."

Occasionally, a game's soundtrack will take on a life of its own.

The Xbox 360 shooter "Halo 3" went on sale in September, but the soundtrack is due by Thanksgiving.

To promote the soundtrack's release, Microsoft, which published the game, sponsored a contest through MySpace in which the work from one artist or band will be included on the album.

Game tunes to iTunes
The collector's editions of games often include audio CDs of their soundtracks.

As competition in the game industry continues to grow, designers are devising creative ways to leverage the music in their creations.

For example, publisher Take-Two Interactive released an extended play remix of some tracks from "BioShock," the popular first-person shooter the company released this summer.

Three tracks from the game - "Beyond the Sea," "God Bless the Child" and "Wild Little Sisters" - were remixed by star producers Moby and Oscar The Punk into darker, gloomier dirges matching the game's post-apocalyptic motif.

Electronic Arts, best known for its "Madden NFL" football games, uses the soundtracks for the series as a launching pad for new artists across several genres.

Music for sale
The Madden game soundtracks have helped introduce many now-popular groups over the years, including Good Charlotte, OK GO, Fallout Boy, Chamillionaire and Franz Ferdinand.

The publisher also launched a program called EA Trax - at - to promote and sell the music in all of its games.

Last month, Activision launched a series of musical compilations from its "Guitar Hero" franchise on Apple's iTunes Store, gathering all of the music from those games in one place for fans to download.

With the latest game systems all able to connect to the Internet - through services like Microsoft's Xbox Live service and Sony's PlayStation Network - the next step is letting players buy music directly through the games, for listening on a home entertainment center or transferring to a portable player.

"That is something we have wanted to do for a while - the technology exists," said Activision's Riley. "But there are a lot of people involved. . . . We keep researching it. It makes sense."


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