The Goddess Served Vegetables

Well, kiss this cook and worship at my altar because I serve vegetables every chance I get.

Professor Brian Wansink of “Mindless Eating” fame, head of Cornell University’s Food and Brand lab, published a new study in the online journal Public Health Nutrition showing that smart preparation and presentation of a vegetable entrée boosts a diner’s perception of the person who prepared it.

Wansink asked 500 American mothers ranging in age from 18 to 65 years, with two or more children under age 18, to cook and serve meals with and without vegetables. The diners were then asked to evaluate cook who made the meals by choosing from a list of 12 attributes, such as “selfish” or “loving”.

Results showed that many more positive descriptors were used for the cooks who served vegetables. Vegetable servers were labeled “thoughtful”, “attentive” and “capable”, while non-servers were “neglectful”, “selfish” and “boring”. Overall, the inclusion of a vegetable created a better perception of the cook and of the meal as well.

Presently in the United States, vegetables are served as part the evening meal only 23 percent of the time. That’s a lost opportunity for sure. If you want to be a hero in your own kitchen, just add veggies to your meals. There’s no need to mention the nutritional benefits they give.

Check out this tasty and pretty way to eat cauliflower given to me by reader Lillie Zuck:
Cumin Seed Roasted Cauliflower with Yogurt Recipe

Your thoughts: Are you admired for your vegetables recipes? Share your favorites.

Thanksgiving Stuffing and You

I hope you haven’t begun to feast because I have a few words for you. Kara Quillard of GalTime asked Yours Truly for sage Thanksgiving advice.  Kara really knows how to turn a phrase: throw a turkey touchdown, stretch your muscles…not your pants. That gal’s time is steeped in pop culture! And so, to use Kara’s words, “when you find yourself inches away from a glorious Thanksgiving feast and your eyes grow bigger than your stomach, remember these tips to” Avoid Stuffing Yourself at Thanksgiving. Happy Day!

Your thoughts: What are your Thanksgiving anti-stuffing tips?

Eat Only the Junk Food That You Make

Hey, Twinkies, don’t let the door hit you on the way out! Boxes of Twinkies are selling for $100 on eBay since Hostess shut down last week. Why people ever ate Twinkies is a mystery to me.

Look at the ingredient list:
Enriched Bleached Wheat Flour [Flour, Reduced Iron, B Vitamins (Niacin, Thiamine Mononitrate (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Folic Acid)], Corn Syrup, Sugar, High Fructose Corn Syrup, Water, Partially Hydrogenated Vegetable and/or Animal Shortening (Soybean, Cottonseed and/or Canola Oil, Beef Fat), Whole Eggs, Dextrose. Contains 2% or Less of: Modified Corn Starch, Glucose, Leavenings (Sodium Acid Pyrophosphate, Baking Soda, Monocalcium Phosphate), Sweet Dairy Whey, Soy Protein Isolate, Calcium and Sodium Caseinate, Salt, Mono and Diglycerides, Polysorbate 60, Soy Lecithin, Soy Flour, Cornstarch, Cellulose Gum, Sodium Stearoyl Lactylate, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Sorbic Acid (to Retain Freshness), Yellow 5, Red 40. (Yuck!) 

But the chemicals in Twinkies are not my gripe. (After all, the FDA says they’re safe.) I take umbrage at the ease with which Twinkies move from thought-form to down the hatch. Those 300 calories in two Twinkies should not come so easily. It’s best to earn your Twinkies by making them a hassle.

How to Travail in Twinkies

Go to the store to buy the canoe pan and creme injector, and another store to purchase the ingredients. Measure, sift, heat milk, melt butter, and separate eggs. Beat the bajesus out of the whites and then the yolks, fold, and scrape the batter into the molds. Beat the butter, sugar and Marshmallow Fluff and pour it into the injector. Pipe it into the little holes you make through the middle of each cake. (Good luck with that.) And while you’re at it, be sure the cake doesn’t collapse and absorb the filling. Now clean the kitchen, and consider how you’ve burned the 300 calories you are about to eat. Plus, your Twinkies are chemical-free.

Your thoughts: Isn’t my policy great?

Here’s a Twinkies Recipe. Knock yourself out.

Adult Gummie Vitamins Save the Day

Have you noticed the explosion of gummy vitamins?  Every brand seems to make them now. I am most familiar with Nature Made, a company dedicated to demanding safety and quality standards. They introduced me to their new lines of supplements – Adult Gummies, Full Strength Minis, and VitaMelts – but today I am recommending the adult gummies because they saved the day – twice.

Case One
My 92 year old aunt needs vitamins. Her weight matches her age. This is Aunt Jean, not Aunt Pauline, who was helped a bit when Sugar-free Peeps Saved the Day. Aunt Jean cannot eat much because she has achalasia, a condition that affects the ability of her esophagus to move food toward the stomach, and so she has difficulty swallowing solids. She has had surgery and medications, but this is the best she can do. She clearly doesn’t eat enough, but I’m just the friendly visitor, not the Boost® police. Plus, she is picky, picky, picky. Her longevity is definitely not related to eating a balanced diet.
Aunt:      “Should I take these vitamins? Do they smell bad? They’re big”.
Me:         “You smell the minerals and, yes, those vitamins are too big. I recommend a multivitamin-mineral supplement that smells and tastes like candy. You can chew it.”
Aunt:      “I want that those.”
Me:         (Note to self: Picky eaters always like candy. Also, Nature Made describes their gummies as, “…mouth-watering, real fruit flavors like peach, mango and orange that taste like real fruit, not candy.”  I guess they had to say that.)

Case Two
My 29 year old daughter, Liza, has perfect health and a wonderful diet. (See A Whole Lotta Grain Goin’ On.) But – Liza is a preschool teacher surrounded by kids with colds. Back at school, week-one, she already has a cold. (Don’t give it to me!)  Perhaps a multivitamin-mineral supplement would help, if not for the nutrients, then for the affirmative action of taking it. Caveat: Liza does not swallow vitamin pills.
Me:         “Here, take this bottle of Nature Made Adult Gummies. I got it as a gift.”
Liza:       (90 days later and cold-free) I finished that bottle of vitamins. Do you have more?
Me:         “I don’t, but you can buy them in any drug store. Here is a coupon for $2 off.”

Conclusion:   Adult Gummies saved the day – twice.  As for me, I take Nature Made Full Strength Mini Multi for Her 50+. I have no problem swallowing little pills.

Your thoughts: Do you take a daily multivitamin-mineral supplement?

Order the Wrap

At a recent expo in a faraway place, to my surprise, my beloved Damascus Bakery had a booth. Damascus Bakery, the tiny retail shop, is on Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn, and I walk there often. (See The Road to Damascus.)  As it turns out, Damascus Bakery has production facilities elsewhere in Brooklyn and in Newark, NJ, and they supply the flatbread used some of America’s leading restaurants, markets, and institutions. If you order the wrap at Starbucks, Arby’s, or Chick-fil-A, then you are eating a Damascus Bakery product. On the retail end, you can buy Damascus wraps and flatbread at Whole Foods, Costco, and BJ’s stores.

What Makes It Great  

The secret is the yeast. You can smell it before you walk into the bakery. Damascus’ Middle Eastern artisan flatbreads are distinguished by their rich and savory flavor. Their lahvash wraps, panini, flatbreads, and roll ups complement any fill. The roll-up (like a lahvash, but a rectangle, not of a circle) is a very flat piece of yeast-dough baked quickly (20-25 seconds) on both sides in a very hot oven (800oF). Nutrition-wise, Damascus Bakery breads are exactly what you want in bread: low in calories, carbohydrates, and glycemic load, but high in fiber, protein, lots of other nutrients, with very few added ingredients. See the Nutrition Facts label for the roll up. Watch this short video of a woman making an interesting and healthy chicken salad roll-up, and get the chicken salad recipe. Enjoy!

Your thoughts: Have you tried a Damascus Bakery product?

A Postmortem for Prop 37

Prop 37, the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food Initiative, was rejected by California voters. If passed, genetically engineered foods would have had to include an identifying label on the package and whole foods would need a sign on the shelf. But, alas, Californians gave up their right to know.

I thought it was reasonable to ask for transparency in food labeling. (See my blog, What You Should Know About Labeling Genetically Modified Food.) Fifty countries, including the European Union, Australia, Japan, Russia and China (China!), already label genetically modified foods.

Genetically modified foods are made in the lab by taking genes from one species and inserting them into the DNA of another species. The genes introduced produce proteins that have some a new effect. For instance, corn hybrids contain a Bt gene, a gene from a bacterium that produces an insecticidal protein, and the Roundup Ready gene makes plants resistant to the herbicide Roundup. In the United States, 70 to 80 percent of our processed food is made with genetically modified soybeans, corn, sugar beets, cottonseed oil, and other GMO ingredients.

Prop 37 supporters argued that the long-term health impacts of genetic manipulations are unclear. In humans, they fear allergic and immune system reactions, transfer of antibiotic resistant pathogens, and unexpected secondary effects. And because weeds are rapidly becoming resistant to GMO crops, more herbicides are being used.

But opponents argued louder and spent more money to defeat Prop 37.
Big Agra actually spent close to $46 million to lobby against the initiative. They claim that GMOs are tested and safe (even though safety testing is left up to the manufactures and long-term testing does not exist), and compliance would have cost voters $400 a year in handed-down costs of label changes and lawsuits.

In the end, the voters surrendered their right to know.  For now.

Your thoughts: Are you for or against Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food?

Walk Like Your Life Depends on It

A bloggers holiday for me this week. Hurricane Sandy canceled life. Not that I’ve been inconvenienced in the least little bit up here in the “Heights.” Okay, my beloved Prospect Park and Brooklyn Botanic Garden are closed and my ride is busted for the foreseeable future. You may recall from past blogs (If You See Something, Say Something, Three Degrees of Separation from “Snackman” and Heineken Takes Over the NYC MTA) that I ride the New York City subway. Now, for me, the subway goes in one direction, East. To get to Manhattan, I can either wait in an insanely long line to catch a shuttle bus across the bridge or walk or ride my bike. Thank God I’m in shape.

insane line

Walking, Walking

The other day, my daughter and I walked to Dumbo to see the destruction (not bad). The walk was three miles there and three miles back. Whoops! I wore the wrong shoes. To get to Manhattan from my apartment, it is four miles to the other side of the Brooklyn Bridge, and then it’s another three miles up to 34th street where the power works.

I have read that the average American walks only 350 yards a day, which is around 1/5th of a mile. That a total of 1.4 miles a week. Pretty useless, don’t you think?  I have not seen it written, but I believe it makes sense for everyone, except for the most infirmed, to be able to walk at least ten (that’s 10) miles a day. You don’t have to feel great at the end, but you should be able to do it. And so, if you can’t walk a distance, then start with this 10K (6.2 mile) Walk Training Schedule for Beginners from the Guide to Walking at About.com. You never know when your life might depend on it.

Your thoughts: Can you walk a 10K?