(NAPSI)-Over the past year, millions of Americans have had to make hard decisions to navigate a faltering economy, and many are turning to relief agencies for help. Nowhere is this more evident than in the marked strain on the nation's food banks.
The nation's leading domestic hunger-relief organization, Feeding America, has seen a 30 percent increase in demand on its food banks nationwide, and one in eight Americans is struggling with hunger.
The Grain Foods Foundation and Food Network host Ted Allen have teamed up with Feeding America to help fight hunger-one slice of bread at a time. Consumers can take part in the Bread Art Project at gowith thegrain.org-and create a personalized piece of bread art by uploading a favorite drawing or photo, or create a new one using a slice of bread as the canvas.
For each piece of bread art created, the Grain Foods Foundation will donate $1 to Feeding America, up to $50,000. One dollar provides seven meals or four bags of groceries to the 25 million people served by food banks annually. The more bread art consumers create, the more meals Feeding America can put on the table for families across the country. Consumers can also view bread art and check out some of Allen's own designs as they take a virtual tour of the online gallery of giving.
"Bread and grains provide many of the essential nutrients our bodies need to stay healthy," says Judi Adams, MS, RD and president of the Grain Foods Foundation, "and this spring, they'll also help put food on our neighbors' tables."
For those families looking for help with their own kitchen cutbacks, Allen has developed some helpful tips and recipes that show consumers how to stretch their dollars at home.
"Remember, being frugal doesn't mean sacrificing taste or nutrition in your own kitchen. Bread and other grain foods are nutritious and affordable, and should continue to be an essential staple in Americans' grocery bags," says Allen. "Plus, they just taste good."
For more recipes or to make your own bread art, visit www.gowiththegrain.org. The Grain Foods Foundation's Bread Art Project can also be found on Facebook or Twitter at GoWithTheGrain.
Ham and Brie Sandwich With Herb Mayo
"I can't exactly lay claim to inventing the ham and cheese sandwich. But I can pass on what I think is an important concept for sandwich artists: It's about the sauce. Or, usually, the lack thereof.
"One really easy way to sauce a sandwich is to make an herbed mayonnaise. Just add a tablespoon of chopped fresh rosemary, thyme, parsley or tarragon to a cup of prepared mayonnaise, and you're the Earl of Sandwich."
2 slices of bread of choice, toasted
1 Tbsp. herb mayonnaise
1 Tbsp. Dijon or your favorite mustard
Several slices of smoked ham
Several slices of Brie or other cheese
1 leaf green or red lettuce
2 slices of tomato
Salt and pepper
Spread mayo on one bread slice and mustard on the other. Layer remaining ingredients on bread in order indicated, salt and pepper to taste, place second slice of bread on top, cut on the diagonal and serve.
"There is almost no easier dessert to make than bread pudding, and almost nothing more universally loved. Keep the crusts on for a cool checkerboard effect."
1 loaf, sliced bread of choice
1 cup raisins
8 large eggs
3½ cups whole milk
1½ cups heavy cream
2 cups sugar
1½ tsp. vanilla extract
Preheat oven to 350° and butter a 13-x-9-inch baking dish.
Spread butter on each slice of bread and cut into 1-inch cubes. Toss with raisins. Place in baking dish.
In a large bowl, lightly beat eggs. Add milk, cream, sugar and vanilla. Pour over bread chunks until they're completely soaked.
Bake, uncovered, until golden brown, about an hour and 15 minutes.
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