A radical diet with beef, butter, and carbohydrates

It’s not very popular to take the middle ground when it comes to recommending a dietary pattern in America, but I’m standing by it.  We have a tendency to swing the pendulum too widely, with unintentional results. Continue reading

Improving on Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Cornbread Mix

cornbreadplateI make cornbread for us about once a month. A 12″ cast-iron skillet and one bag of mix yields a giant skillet of cornbread. We use ¼ to 1/3, and I freeze the rest for later (which can be mighty convenient on a 100-degree day when I’m only up for tossing a salad). I’ve made a few amendments to the mix, and I think they really help. First, and I know sugar is a villain so feared that, like Voldemort, we dare not to speak its name, I add it anyway (I really like to live on the edge). Second, I add more milk – ¼ cup more. Third, the way you mix the batter matters. Continue reading

How to make brown rice — UPDATE

I’m always messing about with cooking — who knows, tweaking a bit might make it better, right?

This version makes rice that is fluffy and less starchy, which brings out the nutty flavor of the rice.

  • 1 cup of brown rice, rinsed and drained (removes excess starch)*
  • Bring 2.5 cups of water to a boil in a covered pot before adding the rice.*  Set a kitchen timer for five minutes and head off to open mail or tidy up.
  • Once the water boils, add the rice and give the pot a shake to distribute the rice evenly.*
  • Leave the lid almost closed, but with a little space to vent (or the rice will foam and create a mess)
  • Set the timer for 25 minutes and go live a little.
  • When the water is at the same level as the top of the rice, turn off the heat, close the lid and walk away for another 15 minutes.
  • Fluff and enjoy.  Makes about 3 cups.

*These are the only steps that differ from my original post, but oh, they make a difference.  In the first post, the rice goes from the bag to the pot of water before heating it all to a boil.  The result is more starchy, sticky rice (which is nice if you prefer it that way, or are making sushi).

 

Can you use eggs past the expiration date on the carton?

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According to the Julian calendar, these eggs were packed February 21, 2014 (the 52nd day of the year) and must be sold by March 22nd. After that, I’d give them about a week.

Yes.

The date on the egg carton is usually a “sell by” date (if it says EXP, that’s an expiration date.  Don’t use them after that).  A “sell by” date means that the eggs are good for a few days past the stamped date.  How long?  They are safe to use for 3-5 weeks from the date of purchase, according to the USDA (if stored correctly, and if kept at proper temperatures before storing).

I prefer the Julian date to determine freshness.  The Julian calendar numbers the days of the year 1-365.  The Julian date appears to the right of the “sell by” date on egg cartons.  Click here to download the Julian calendar for 2014.  I use eggs 3-5 weeks from that date, because eggs degrade over time.  The egg whites become looser with age, and though older eggs will usually bake all right when you’re making cookies and such, it’s best to use fresher eggs for omelettes, scrambles, and soufflés.   Cakes like angel food require very fresh eggs as well, because their structure relies on fresh egg whites.

How can you tell if an egg is still safe to eat, aside from the date?  Put the egg into cold water at the bottom of a saucepan.  A fresh egg will lie on its side at the bottom.  If it’s less fresh, but still all right, it will begin to sit up a bit.  If it floats, it’s compost.  Toss it.

Still need more information about eggs?  Check this out.

 

Is capitalism making you fat?

I wouldn't eat it, but I get it.

I wouldn’t eat it, but I get it.

Is capitalism making you fat, or are you making you fat?  The degree to which you believe either of these statements helps define how you feel about legislative reforms directed at your health, and more specifically, at obesity.

While adults can freely choose what they eat, it’s more than hunger that drives us.  Appetite as well as hunger, boredom, anxiety and visual stimuli direct us toward foods we consume.  Brian Wansink, at the Cornell Brand Lab, experiments with this sort of thing.  In his book Mindless Eating, he details an experiment during which secretaries are gifted candy dishes to place on their desk.  They are the only candy consumers during the experiment.  The subjects consumed more candy from a clear dish than an opaque one.  They consumed even less when the dish experimenters placed the dish three feet away.  The secretaries consumed the least candy when it was placed into a drawer.

Which of these accounts for breakfast sales soaring to about $47 billion in 2013 (up from 25.5 b. in 2011)?  Continue reading

FDA proposes sweeping changes for food labels

Well, I can’t wait to see the fighting on this one, because this is one of the best pieces of information-based legislation consumers have if they want to make good decisions regarding their food choices.  So far that’s not been saying much, since the Nutrition Facts label has been so difficult for most people to interpret that they largely ignore it.  These changes would be mighty helpful.  Here’s what the FDA is proposing:

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When you see what half that pint will cost you, they'll need smelling salts in the aisle.  *sigh*

When you see what half that pint will cost you, they’ll need smelling salts in the aisle. *sigh*

The press release may be found here.

The comment period, which will last for 90 days, will begin Monday.  Anyone can comment, and I highly suggest you do.  My first-read has me poised to ask the FDA to include calories from added sugar, not just grams (but in case you were wondering, it’s a teaspoon for every 4 grams  Currently, though, sugars from fruit and sugars from added sugar are included under the same category).  The Daily Values have not been updated in so long that the upper limit for salt (2300 mg) is LESS than the current daily value listed (<2400 mg — which to most people means 2400 mg.  The current recommendation for sodium is generally 1500 mg).  It’s way past time. Look for a food fight here, but Ms. Obama is building a serious legacy with this one.

Get your fingers on the keyboard if you like the idea of having quick reference to what is in your food.

How to be your own partner in crime

Yesterday at the mall I saw a man passing along a questionable legacy to his children, and it freaked me out.

He walked into a See’s Candy store with his three sons.  All four of them were overweight.  The children carried bags with food from Wetzel’s Pretzels, which all but the youngest quickly polished off while they waited in line.  The older two kids began consuming their candy as they left the store.  The youngest exchanged the remains of his Wetzel’s for the candy.

Sitting at the tables outside (with my giant tea and a single See’s candy freshly plucked from my own bag), I fixated on them. I wondered how anyone could intervene without offending the father or the children.  Continue reading