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