Tuesday, January 24, 2012


San Angelo Standard-Times

Crave: Living Light

* By Kathy Aycock
* Posted December 16, 2009 at midnight

Every year, about this time, we are all looking for ways to lose
those extra pounds that we put on during the holiday season. Try some
of these Twelve New Year's Lites:

#1 Learn the 3 and 1 Shuffle: Tune up your body to burn up more
calories. For each minute at the table, walk at least three.

#2 Scoop up Salsa instead of Fat: Dips are dietary disasters. Dunk
a dipper into spicy salsa and save 50 calories per scoop.

#3 Thrive on Five: Fill up on fiber - eat at least five servings
of fruits and vegetables daily. Fiber fills you up not out. Munch a
crunchy apple before the next buffet to help curb your appetite.

#4 Take the Punch out of your Drinks: Alcohol is a kissing cousin
to fat in the calories it keeps. Mix sparkling water with fruit
juices for bubbles without a bite.

#5 Let Fruit be your Just Dessert: Weigh your choices; apples at
80 calories versus pecan pie at 425 calories per slice.

#6 Party-goers Plan Ahead: Select creatively when facing a
bounteous, array of tempting treats. Take a casual stroll around the
table, filling your first plate with green crunchy crispy vegetables
and fruits.

#7 Live Lean: Lean towards lean meats. Use mustard instead of
mayonnaise for bread. Skip entrees swimming in sauce. Start
interesting conversation with the leanest person in the room.

#8 Shake the Salt: Taste food before you season. Try a new twist,
lemon or lime, on chicken or fish. Banish the salt shaker behind
closed doors and treat your taste buds to the natural to the natural
sodium in food. (It takes about a month to realize what you've been

#9 Watch for Signs: Get energized with healthy choices. Red alert
words on the menu that signal fat traps are: crispy, golden brown,
fried, saut?ed, creamy cheese, jumbo or supreme. Lights are hearty
broth-based soups, grilled chicken, stir fry, baked potato, side
salads with non-fat dressings.

#10 Sleeping Does Burn Calories: Everyday hassles may tempt you to
burn the midnight oil. Relax!! Sleep helps rejuvenate you, plus you
do burn calories while you sleep. The average person burns one
calorie each minute they sleep. Get your rest!!

#11 Eat well on the Run: Make an emergency energy survival kit. Tuck
an apple, dried apricot, box of raisins, or a banana within easy
reach. Natural nutrients supply you with a natural life.

#12 Eat Bright Colors: Red cherry tomatoes, carrots, red peppers,
radishes, apples, broccoli, lettuce, sweet potatoes, raspberries, artichokes, or
kiwi. The brighter the color is, usually the better for you.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Baking is different

Of course, baking is a different animal. There often are precise
ratios that must be followed if a cookie is to come out tender or if
pizza dough is to rise properly. Baking is less forgiving if you have
too much flour for the amount of salt or leavening. Add a bit of
cinnamon or more lemon zest if you like, but some other ratios are
critical, such as the amount of butter, sugar or egg. Substituting
margarine for butter can make an entirely different product. It's even
worse if you substitute "whipped" or "soft" margarines, which contain
a lot of water and vegetable oil.

When you bake, follow the recipe exactly the first time. If you want
to experiment, then do it with flavorings, nuts or other less-critical
ingredients. Keep the ratios of flour, sugar, salt, baking powder and
other "basics" intact. And don't substitute unless you know what
you're doing or you're prepared to have a less-than-perfect result.
For instance, whole wheat flour will not substitute exactly for white
flour, if at all. Brown sugar is not the same as granulated sugar, and
granulated sugar is not the same as powdered sugar, which has a lot of

Donna Maurillo, Food for Thought

Friday, September 9, 2011

Food labels full of booby traps

Q: I often read labels when I'm grocery-shopping, but I find many are
confusing. Is there something I'm missing?

A: With so many claims plastered on labels, things can get really
confusing. Food companies use these claims to make you think products
are healthier than they really are. We've rounded up the top 10
food-label booby traps:

1: Natural

The term "natural" is not well-defined by the FDA, so when you see the
term "natural" on the label, just ignore it.

2: Cholesterol-free

All foods that come from a plant -- such as fruits, veggies, grains,
nuts and seeds -- are free of cholesterol. So "cholesterol-free"
labels on those foods mean nothing.

3: Trans-fat free

Be aware that trace amounts of trans fat can be hidden in many foods.
Look for words such as "partially hydrogenated" on the ingredient

4: Organic

Organic foods cost a pretty penny, but aren't always worth it. Be
strategic about splurging your hard-earned cash on organic products.

5: Sugars: Added vs. natural

Check the ingredient list.

6: Omega-3 fats

Not all omega-3s are created equal. Those from flax (called ALA) don't
have all the benefits (like helping with heart health) when compared
with the omega-3s derived from fatty fish such as salmon and tuna
(called DHA and EPA).

7: Fiber

Some fiber is added to food products and may not be as healthy as
fiber that's naturally occurring.

8: Reduced fat

In some cases, "reduced fat" may mean more sugar was added to replace
the flavor.

9: Serving size

The most common mistake: Thinking the calories on the label are for
the entire product. Check the serving size.

10: Added vitamins and minerals

Just because a product has 100 percent of the daily value for vitamins
and minerals doesn't mean it should be in your shopping cart.

Food Network Kitchens
Wednesday, June 1, 2011 in the Charleston Post & Courier

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Hot cocoa, hot chocolate are not the same but are both delicious

There is something about cupping your hands around a steamy mug of
hot chocolate that is soothing before a sip is ever taken. Maybe it's
the heady fragrance or the fact that it promotes solitude and quiet.
Maybe it's the fact that it requires sipping that tends to slow us
down and chase away the blahs.

For some reason, a good cup of hot chocolate is frequently hard to
find. Too many people confuse hot chocolate with hot cocoa and you
often see the terms erroneously used interchangeably. They are
equally delicious when prepared correctly, but are two very different

Hot cocoa made from scratch is delightful and a marvelous cup of
comfort. In the simplest form, it is mixture of sugar, cocoa,
occasionally a tiny bit of salt and milk. It is wonderfully void of a
long list of unwelcome additives. Hot cocoa is frequently enhanced
with a few miniature marshmallows or one large one.

Hot chocolate, by definition, is made with melted chocolate and milk.
It has a rich, extravagant taste that is thick and satisfying. It
doesn't need any embellishments, although some like to add peppermint
sticks, grated nutmeg, ground cinnamon, citrus zest or whipped cream.

Always use milk

I have a serious problem with any recipe for either that is made with
water as opposed to milk. You have instantly taken this treat down to
an ordinary, generic warm liquid rather than a deeply drenched in
chocolate sensation. A comparison would be to brew coffee or make
instant, with one being preferred over the other.

Start by scalding milk, which is easier than it sounds. Select a
heavy saucepan and place the milk over low heat. Milk is considered
scalded at 180 degrees. I don't use a thermometer, but instead, use
visual clues to tell me it's ready. You'll notice the formation of
tiny bubbles around the edge of the pan. Watch it carefully because
it can quickly become a scorching boil.

Powder vs. mix

In shopping for cocoa powder, you'll soon discover that many brands
are labeled "Dutch-processed." This means an alkaline agent has been
added to darken the powder and make it more soluble. It really
doesn't do a thing to the flavor of the cocoa, so don't expect to
taste differences.

Cocoa powder is most often used as a baking ingredient, and it is not
sweetened. In fact, it is just chocolate liquor with the fat removed.
This makes it a stable product that requires no preservatives.
Because it doesn't contain any sugar, you must always add sugar when
making hot cocoa or it will be very bitter.

The instant cocoa mixes you see on the market have cocoa powder
combined with sugar, starches and powdered milk. These products have
to contain preservatives because while the cocoa powder itself is
stable, the other ingredients are not.

Mexican hot chocolate is made with Mexican chocolate, which can be
found in specialty stores. While it is not good for eating purposes,
it is excellent in hot chocolate. It is almost gritty and contains
cinnamon, ground almonds, sugar and vanilla. After melting, you beat
the mixture vigorously with a whisk until it is thick with foam.

Cocoa powder may be used in almost any recipe that calls for baking
chocolate. The substitution is three tablespoons cocoa powder and one
tablespoon of shortening for one square (or one ounce) of baking

The Tennessean
January 13, 2010

Thursday, March 18, 2010


BAKE: to cook in an oven preheated according to recipe.

BATTER: a mixture of liquid, flour and other ingredients that can
vary in consistency.

BEAT: to mix two or more ingredients together, usually in a circular
motion, until smooth.

BOIL: to cook a liquid in a saucepan usually on the stove until
bubbles rise and break the surface and steam usually rises from

BROIL: to cook under the top element in an oven.

BROWN: to fry, broil or bake food to deepen it's natural surface
color but not cooking it.

CHILL: to refrigerate until cold.

CHOP: to cut food into small pieces.

COMBINE: to mix two or more ingredients together.

CREAM: to make soft, smooth and creamy by beating.

CUT IN: to combine solid fat with dry ingredients using a fork,
pastry blender or knives until mixture is crumbly.

DICE: to cut food into small cube like pieces.

DOUBLING: to double a recipe - use twice the amount of all
ingredients to make twice the size of the recipe.

DRAIN: to strain away unwanted liquid.

DRIZZLE: to dribble drops of icing or chocolate over food in a random pattern.

DROP: to scoop dough with a spoon, making rounded or heaping piles.

FOLD: to gently mix ingredients by using a spatula and moving food
from center and lifting towards edge of bowl turning bowl as you go.

GARNISH: to decorate food with edible items like sliced fruit or herbs.

GREASE: to rub the inside of baking pans with butter, margarine or
baking sprays to prevent from sticking.

GREASE & FLOUR: After greasing your baking pan adding flour to
lightly coat the pan.

HALVING: to reduce the amount of all ingredients in a recipe to make
only half the recipe.

KNEAD: to work dough into a smooth texture by pressing and folding
with the heels of your hands.

LET STAND: to let baked goods cool down on a wire rack or hot pad
wile it's still baking.

MASH: to squash foods with a fork or potato masher.

MELT: to heat a solid food until it turns to liquid.

PREHEAT: to prepare oven to correct temperature prior to baking.

PROCESS: to mix or cut up in a food processor or blender.

ROLL OUT: to lightly roll dough with rolling pin to required
thickness as per recipe.

ROUNDED TSP/TBSP: to mound ingredients or dough slightly in a
teaspoon or tablespoon.

RUB IN: to mix fat with flour using fingers until mixture has the
texture of crumbs.

SCRAPE: to use a rubber spatula to remove as much of the mixture as
possible from a bowl or saucepan.

SHAPE: to use hands to roll or mould dough into balls, rolls or other forms.

SIMMER: to cook liquids over very low heat.

SIEVE: to remove lumps from flour or icing sugar by pushing through a sieve.

SLICE: to cut food into thin sections using a sharp knife.

TOAST: to brown lightly in a toaster or frying pan or under broiler.

TOSS: to mix salad ingredients lightly.

Monday, January 4, 2010


Bananas have been found to be beneficial for a number of medical complaints. In addition to lifting your mood, bananas have been found to help you overcome a number of illnesses and conditions.

Here is the current official list of bananas health benefits:

Brain Power: 200 students at a Middlesex school were helped through their exams this year by eating bananas at breakfast, break and lunch in a bid to boost their brainpower. Research has shown the potassium-packed fruit can assist learning by making pupils more alert

Hangovers: One of the quickest ways to cure a hangover is to make a banana milk shake, sweetened with honey. The banana calms the stomach and, with the help of the honey, builds up depleted blood sugar levels, while the milk soothes and re-hydrates your system.

Nerves: Bananas are high in B vitamins that help calm the nervous system.

Heartburn: Bananas have a natural antacid effect in the body; so if you suffer from heartburn, try eating a banana for soothing relief.

Smoking: The B6, B12,potassium and magnesium found in bananas help the body recover from the effects of nicotine withdrawal.

Stress: A high-potassium snack, such as bananas, can help normalize the heartbeat, send oxygen to the brain and regulate your body's water balance.

Mosquito bites: Next time you are bit, try rubbing the affected area with the inside of a banana skin. Many people find it amazingly successful at reducing swelling and irritation.

PMS: Forget the pills -- eat a banana. The vitamin B6 it contains regulates blood glucose levels, which can affect your mood.

Anaemia: High in iron, bananas can stimulate the production of hemoglobin in the blood and so helps in cases of anaemia.

Morning Sickness: Snacking on bananas between meals helps to keep blood sugar levels up and avoid morning sickness.

Blood Pressure: Bananas are extremely high in potassium yet low in salt. So much so that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is allowing the banana industry to make official claims that bananas can reduce the risk of blood pressure and stroke

Ulcers: The banana is the only raw fruit that can be eaten without distress in chronic cases. It also neutralizes over-acidity and reduces irritation by coating the lining of the stomach.

Constipation: High in fiber, including bananas in the diet can help restore normal bowel action, helping to overcome the problem without resorting to laxatives.

Strokes: According to research in The New England Journal of Medicine, eating bananas as part of a regular diet can cut the risk of death by strokes by as much as 40 percent.

So reach out for the Banana and whip it in your favourite fruit salad and other desserts.

Monday, November 9, 2009


It might have been the drop flowers. Drop flowers are fun. Leaves are difficult. Rosebuds take some work (and roses are impossible to learn in half a day). But drop flowers are fun.

Really, though, I think it was the shells. It was the little delicate border shells that made me realize decorating a cake can be a lot of fun. Even if you don't have artistic talent. Even if you usually buy frosting in a can.

The fine folks at Piece of Cake, from owners to decorators to cakemakers, welcomed me into their bakery as I tried to frost a cake to look more special than the ones I usually make - just icing glopped on top, then smeared on the sides.

Kristi White was my guide through the process of learning to ice a cake, then trying the special touches I've usually left to those candy stick-ons.

She suggested some "must-have" equipment:

* A straight-edge spatula.

* Plastic (throwaway) triangles that become bags to hold different colors of icing.

* Gel paste food coloring.

* A Lazy Susan for turning the cake so you'll have easy access to the top and sides.

* Cardboard or covered "rounds" a little larger than your cake pan (8- or 9-inch).

* Tips designed for everything from leaves to drop flowers to borders.

* A coupler ring for changing tips on the outside of the bag.

"You know, in a pinch, you can put icing in a (plastic sandwich bag) and snip off a tiny corner and use that, especially if you have a tip you can throw into the corner of the bag," White said.

* Use gliding motions when working. White cautioned that it's important to get the tip down in the cake's surface icing, but still keep a light touch. "This is not something you can go into heavy-handed."

What I can share from a half-day's work:

* Be careful when icing the top. Use a light gliding motion, then swoop the icing off the edge. If you lift it, you're likely to get crumbs into the icing.

* Don't put a large amount of icing in the center of the cake. That tends to make it lopsided.

* Lengthy add-ons, such as vines, are among the most difficult to master because they take very fine tips, thinner icing and a steadier hand.

* As I worked, jaw set, determination in high gear, I watched as tiny shell after tiny shell joined to make a border. But make sure you have them placed just right. Fifteen minutes later, when I looked at my cake, five or six shells had fallen off, leaving a gaping hole at one arc. White said to pick them up and put them back on the cake - or just make new ones.

* Don't get too excited when you make that first rosebud; chances are the next two or 10 will look strange. Mine certainly were all shapes and sizes.

Use royal icing if you want to make rosebuds, drop flowers or leaves. It's not in a can, but it's easy to make and easier to work with than canned icing.

* Don't stress out. "It should be a fun thing to do, not a tear-your-hair-out thing," White said.

* In most cases, goofs are repairable. If you have enough icing on top, lift off the goof, smooth the icing and start over.

* Look for new items to use when decorating. You can find everything from colorful confetti to edible glitter to fondant (a thick, hard, sugar-paste icing).

* There's nothing wrong with canned frosting, White said. "It's not as stiff as baker's frosting, but you can make it work." Want to stiffen it up? Add a little powdered sugar.

* Mostly, have fun. Icing (or frosting) a cake isn't brain surgery. It isn't even minor surgery.

"It's a cake," White said. "Even professionals sometimes have to scrape and start over. Remember that it's for yourself, or your family, or your friends. They're going to like it because you created it."

By Rebecca Coudret
Wednesday, August 22, 2007 in the Evansville Courier & Press