About Me

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My friends call me the "grammar goddess." Really. ;-) I own a freelance writing, editing and tutoring business. Previously, I served three years as food editor for The Morning Sun in Mt. Pleasant, which kindled my interest in food writing. My other areas of expertise in writing include features, community news, architecture/construction and engraving/personalization. I have a frightening number of cookbooks and watch too many DIY, HGTV, Food Network, Cooking Channel and Antiques Roadshow (BBC and PBS versions) shows. And I tweak nearly every recipe I make.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

In Pursuit of the Perfect Turkey Burger

One of the complaints I've previously had about turkey burgers was that they were bland. It was as though it were a given characteristic in my head: turkey burger = bland. I've used turkey in everything else (chili, cutlets, breast, sloppy joes, spaghetti, Spanish rice and lasagna), but not in burgers. Well, not until today, that is.



My low opinion of turkey as a burger base probably stems from my first-ever exposure to turkey burgers. Kathy, one of my roommates my senior year of college, was helping her boyfriend, Craig, adapt to a bland diet. I was present for the debut of her turkey burger, which featured dill almost exclusively as a seasoning. (If I'm recalling correctly, he had to avoid anything spicy, even pepper, and couldn't eat beef. It wasn't awful, but I did have to resort to decorating the burger with huge amounts of ketchup, which is what I do to regular hamburgers.

Since that time, I've tried turkey burgers in restaurants and have found extensive ketchup to be a necessary evil, although it's garnered me some weird looks. (Apparently, turkey burgers are usually served in restaurants with a honey mustard or other mustard-based sauce, not ketchup.)

Then I started to watch Rachael Ray and had hopes that perhaps turkey burgers didn't have to be bland. Oddly enough, my first foray into an all white meat turkey burger was not one of her recipes. It was one clipped from the newspaper, which readers liked enough to ask the columnist to reconfigure it so it could be served as a meatloaf. So it sounded promising.

Again, it was a little bland, despite my having thrown in more pepper and oregano than the recipe called for and using egg as a binder rather than applesauce (it would not have held together otherwise).

The result? It didn't require ketchup, so it was better than average; however, I felt driven to invent a mustard/horseradish/yogurt "cream" sauce for it. And I'm not sure I can replicate as I didn't follow my usual rule of writing down or even measuring  its ingredients.  Oops.

But it did give me some lovely ideas for experimentation. (Mom and I discussed the possibilities of cilantro in addition to the spinach in it and yogurt sauce with dill, onions and cucumber, somewhat similar to the sauce used in Olga's Kitchen.) 

As I can be rather stubborn once an idea takes hold of me, you probably haven't heard the last of my search for the perfect turkey burger.

New Healthy Cookbook Hits the Market for the Holidays

I had my first-ever media contact today related to the blog. It was relating to something near and dear to my heart: cancer research.

You see, like many of you, I've lost a number of friends and family members over the years to cancer, the closest being my first cousin Elizabeth last summer. So I was excited to learn that To Your Health, a new cookbook published by The National Foundation for Cancer Research, started sales in time for 2010's holiday party season.

I haven't had time to check the book out yet, other than a few sample recipes, because I just became aware of it. But I will. The link for information needed to purchase the book is here.

According to the press release I received, the recipes in this book "are brimming with cancer-fighting ingredients, including antioxidant-rich fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and protein. The cookbook also features lifestyle tips, early detection methods, and other helpful information on how to further decrease your risk from cancer."

Sounds good to me.

You also might want to check out the Top 15 Healthy Holiday Tips from NFCR's spokesman, Executive Chef Charles Phillips of Nashville's 1808 Grille.

Have a safe and blessed holiday season.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

And America's Healthiest Grocery Store Is?

You're probably muttering, "Scrooge" under your breath now, but I'm not going to tell you in a headline who won the title of America's Healthiest Grocery Store by Health Magazine.

I'm not surprised, really. This store has just about everything you could need in terms of organic products, from prepared food to canned goods, baking mixes, toiletries and more. I can easily get lost in there for hours. Note to self: make sure not to get the frozen or dairy goods first. On a recent trip there, I had to buy an insulated bag so they stayed at the correct temperature. Now I just have to remember to take it with me next time!

Yes, I like Trader Joe's, too, and will go there for certain things (especially now that I know the TJ's in Ann Arbor is right down the road from Whole Foods Market, which officially has been named America's Healthiest Grocery Store). One of the things it's touted for is clear labeling of what's in its prepared foods. If you don't know what to do with that tofu or quinoa (pronounced keen-nwah, incidentally), you can get help from Whole Foods' extensive recipe database.  

Critics will say it's expensive; that may be true, but what's your health worth to you?

Monday, December 13, 2010

Blog Review: Sustenance

As mentioned in my last post, I love chocolate. Which got me to thinking: how healthy could I make chocolate cookies?

Before I had time to do much more than ponder, my friend Patty Maher, who has the blog, Sustenance, answered my question.

See her post regarding healthy chocolate chip cookies here. I highly recommend Patty's blog for anyone curious about the raw food lifestyle and/or concerned about healthy eating.

A journalist, who attended Central Michigan University and is one of my former CM Life co-conspirators, Patty is staying at Creative Health Institute, a raw food institute in Hodunk, Michigan. She is learning and adapting to this new life style with the intent of improving her MS symptoms. Her writing is engaging and thoughtful; I thoroughly recommend her blog.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Coffee, Tea and Chocolate: Health Foods?

Thank you, Manhattan Transfer, for saying it first in Java Jive: "I love coffee and tea; I love the java jive and it loves me." I suspect I'm not alone in this, although most people have a strong preference for either coffee or tea. (I also enjoy chocolate, which the song doesn't mention.)
 
The best health news I can come up with is that my enjoyment of all three has some health value, depending on which articles I'm reading.

My particular fascination with coffee for the past few weeks happens to be at the new BIGGBY COFFEE in Hartland, MI (mostly things involving the sugar-free chocolate syrup). I wrote about the new business recently in Hartland Patch. The great thing is BIGGBY's also a Michigan company, with headquarters in Lansing.

I still like certain items at Starbucks. And yes, if there is a drive-through Starbucks within 40 miles of home, I probably know where it's located. (On a reassuring note: Starbucks really isn't the evil empire. The last time I checked, the company does pay health insurance for part-time employees who've worked at least 20 hours a week for a year.)

I'll make some generalizations about my recent reading about coffee, tea and chocolate. 

-Both coffee and tea have antioxidants; how much depends on the variety you choose. Green tea is supposed to be amazingly good for you; what's unclear to me is whether or not you get the same benefits from decaffinated green tea.

-In moderation, caffeine can improve your memory and alertness level.  I've cut my caffeine quite a bit, but I still will occasionally have some, generally in the form of tea. If I'm particularly exhausted in the morning, I'll have what's called "half caf."

-Dark chocolate has certain antioxidants that are helpful, but again, in moderate amounts. To give the best benefit, it should be marked 70 percent or higher. I favored Lindt, personally. 

Like nearly anything you can name, coffee, tea or chocolate are not desirable in excessive quantities, so, while for the most part, you shouldn't be afraid to indulge a bit, keep an eye on your intake.

Feel free to do your own research:
  • Cleveland Heart Clinic on dark chocolate's benefits as well as a recent European study discussed in Philadelphia's examiner.com  
  • CNN, Mayo Clinic and WebMD articles weighing in on coffee's benefits and risks
  • Science Daily and WebMD discuss the benefits of tea

Mocktails, Shaken or Stirred?

Making sure that there are some non-alcoholic options is a good move for any host or hostess, because not everyone drinks. This time of year, AAA does a tremendous service: it promotes the "Great Pretenders" mocktail guide in time for the holidays.

There are people like me who, when they do drink, have what I call "fruity, girly drinks" because they don't like the taste of alcohol. I'd just as soon leave the alcohol out. Drinking a mocktail is more interesting than just having a pop, but I'm still assured that I can drive myself home safely. Non-alcoholic drinks often have fewer calories; they also are kid-friendly.


For the person who doesn't drink alcohol, regardless of the reason, see my prior blog post from just before the July 4 holiday, including some terrific links to mocktails. Additional links to check out include:

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Food for a Happy and Healthy Hanukkah

There are two holidays that hold familiar favorites for me. Christmas is of course the obvious one; the other is Hanukkah. I have a number of friends and former coworkers who are Jewish; some of them are fabulous cooks who have brought in their extra Hanukkah treats.

My all-time favorite is Sheila's noodle kugel recipe. She doesn't make it regularly because it's somewhat fattening.

On Weight Watchers online site that there are some healthier Hanukkah recipes as well as a non-dairy kugel recipe made with coconut milk on About.com that I just might try.

Happy Hanukkah to Jeff, Sheila, Mara, Wendy, Stacey, Lance, Dale and Dorothy and their families!  

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Holiday Recipes

You have my high school reunion to thank for this entry. One of my friends there mentioned he'd seen the blog online, which jogged my memory. Thanks, Tim.

Where's the blog been? you ask.

Thereby hangs a tale. Here are links to some work I've been doing for Patch.com, an online newspaper (in this case, the Hartland, MI edition). As some people do serve turkey and stuffing at Christmas, I am including links to two great holiday recipes from people I've interviewed for Patch.com in the past few weeks: stuffing and Roast Muscovy Duck. (The latter previously ran in the New York Times and is a good alternative to a turkey or ham, making a dinner for two to four people.)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Food as Idiom, or "In the Soup"

I don't know if you have noticed, but there are many food-related idoms that have made our way into the English language (many via the French channel, which isn't surprising, given the Norman invasion and the one-time supremacy of French cooking as a symbol of refined taste). The origins of various words and phrases simply fascinates me, so you're in for it now.

I've always thought it was interesting to state someone's "in the soup" to mean that they are in trouble. I had always supposed it was because the soup was scalding or they couldn't swim. See Barry Popik's The Big Apple for some interesting details about the phrase, which possibly originated in a restaurant or on the baseball field, but (quel suprise) was popularized in New York due to a controversial election year.  

Another descriptive (and similar) food metaphor is to say someone's "out of the frying pan and into the fire." According to Answers.com, it means "from a bad situation to one that is much worse. ... This expression, a proverb in many languages, was first recorded in English in 1528." The entry also notes similar idioms exist elsewhere. "Out of the frying pan and into the fire" also is a song title by Meat Loaf, circa 1993, a fact which I had forgotten.

For detailed comments about other common expressions, such as "the apple of my eye," "not worth his salt" and "a red herring," check out an August article in Smithsonian Magazine here.

You also could check out A Hog on Ice by Charles E. Funk, a wonderful classic on the topic of word and phrase origins, or the columns of my all-time favorite, Evan Morris, aka The Word Detective.

Putting Together a Healthy Potluck Lunch

One of the pitfalls of trying to eat healthy is to put together a healthy lunch. This is especially difficult in the world of potlucks ahead of us during the holidays.

Here are some suggestions.

Ask beforehand what's on the menu; even if you can't find out, you can bring a healthy main dish (or side dish that can serve as your main dish) to fill up on.

Take half a sandwich and fill up on the salad, fruit and/or a little soup, depending on what's available. You can have some of the cream soup in moderation, especially if, as happened today at our women's group, it's a creamy vegetable soup.

Limit everything you eat to a total of 1 to 1 1/2 C. of food. This will ensure you don't have the "stuffed turkey" feeling you might get at a potluck or Thanksgiving.

Don't hang out by the food; if possible, serve yourself and go sit away from the serving platters.

In other words, don't do everything I did today, such as getting an eggnog latte on the way and going back for another serving of chicken salad croissants. It is, however, an improvement upon my funeral luncheon forays in April. Taking half a bowl of the creamy soup, eating extra spinach salad and limiting the dessert portion were some of the better ideas I implemented.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Crustless "Apple Pie" for One

As I was already cooking Swiss Steak in the oven today (I called Mom, because I wanted to make her recipe, which I still couldn't resist tweaking), I decided to bake something.

My eyes lit on the Honey Crisp Apples I bought late last week at Colasanti's. I wanted something similar to apple pie without the crust, for several reasons. It's nearly Halloween and I'm entering the mad scientist/experimental cook stage again. How appropriate.

1. I am crust rolling impaired, so the crust always ends up with thin spots
2. Making a crust is too time and labor-intensive at this precise moment. If I attempt it, it will be on a day I'm inspired to bake.
3. Pie is eaten for the filling, as far as I'm concerned. I really don't care for most pie crusts
— whether from a mix, ready-made or scratch — that is, aside from cookie crumb or graham cracker crusts. (This preference has nothing to do with the fact that I don't have to roll those crusts. Really.)
4. I don't need the extra calories.  


Crustless "Apple Pie" for One


Ingredients
1 large Honey Crisp apple
1/4 C. apple cider
1 T. real maple syrup
1/2 T. Smart Balance® Light Original Buttery Spread with Flax, cut in little chunks
1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
1/4 tsp. cinnamon


Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Take one large Honey Crisp Apple. Wash, peel if desired (I felt safe leaving the peels on because my apple is organic), core and cut apples. (I left them in long, slender pieces as though I were going to eat them raw.)


Place washed apples in a baking dish with a cover (I used the smallest of the glass Pyrex casseroles we have; probably a 1-qt. size.)


Pour in 1/4 C. apple cider over the apples (enough to keep them from burning in the bottom of the dish). 


Sprinkle apples with 1 tsp. pumpkin pie spice and 1/4 tsp. cinnamon. Dot with the small chunks of Smart Balance® Light Original Buttery Spread with Flax.


Drizzle 1 T. maple syrup over the top. Toss the apples with the apple cider, rotating the apple pieces so all are coated with a bit of the maple syrup and spices.


Bake at 325 for about an hour and 15 minutes  ... until the apple slices are tender, almost breaking down but still identifiable as apples. The amount of cider in the bottom should be significantly reduced.


Depending upon how much liquid you have left, you may want to take the lid off the glass dish to reduce the liquid for the last 15-20 minutes of cooking time. (Very juicy apples may "sweat" out additional liquid, and if you don't take the lid off, you may up with sweet apple soup.)

My apple slices were fairly thick and I left the peel on; if you like your slices thin, it may cook more quickly. Check the dish at about 45-50 minutes if you made your apple slices thin and/or removed the peel.

Remove the apples with a slotted spoon and serve warm.
Serving suggestions: Serve topped with cider sauce; it's good over light vanilla ice cream. Or top apples and sauce with low-fat or fat-free lightly-sweetened whipped cream.



Thursday, October 28, 2010

Yogurt Crème with Berries

Did you ever decide to put something together that seems like such a simple idea, you're not even sure it qualifies as a recipe?

I did that today and decided that it doesn't matter; I'll share anyway.

Yogurt Crème with Berries.

Take about 1/2 cup to 2/3 C. fat-free yogurt,depending on desired tartness (I used Dannon).

Add several drops (to taste) of SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia (any flavor you like, but I used Valencia Orange).

Stir in 1/4 C. of raspberries (or your choice of berry) until they are incorporated into the yogurt mixture but are still chunky. Yogurt will be tinted by the berries.

This dish reminds me of the whipped cream mixture in trifle; it'd be great over angel food cake.

Product Review: SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Valencia Orange

I use stevia in my coffee and oatmeal much of the time, and used to enjoy the former Starbucks Mocha Valencia, which was discontinued a few years ago, as well as Cafe Vienna instant coffee drink (another coffee with orange flavoring). I was intrigued enough by the idea of a Valencia Orange-flavored liquid stevia that I paid nearly $15 for a 2-oz bottle (supposedly there are 300 servings per bottle).
While it sounds pricey, but it's not so bad when you figure the average cost of a flavored latte at your favorite coffee shop. (In my case, that would be a soy latte, which is even more expensive!) Also, as you can see by the link on the left, it's probably cheaper on Amazon.com, assuming you get the free shipping deal. 

SweetLeaf Liquid Stevia Valencia Orange works well, but I suggest you use the upper level of the recommended number of drops (5-8) to flavor your coffee, which definitely cuts down the number of servings it contains. I like the taste; however, please note that stevia is a little more likely to please the palates of those accustomed to artificial sweetener.

I've made as good or better orange or mocha orange "lattes" using Frontier Natural Flavors Alcohol Free Orange flavoring from The Better Health Store plus one packet of Stevia in the Raw, though I have to use 1/4 to 1/2 tsp. rather than 8 to 10 drops.














   

Saturday, October 23, 2010

LÄRABAR: The Demise of Cocoa Mole

My favorite LÄRABAR flavor recently was discontinued. It's a spicy chocolate bar made of all raw/natural ingredients that makes a good substitute for a small meal when on the run (it's even better washed down with a cup of soy milk). I am hugely disappointed that the company isn't making Cocoa Mole anymore.
LaraBar, Cocoa Mole, 1.8 oz., package of 16Making my own version for my use is something I've meant to try for a while, but I've been putting it off. I will try to get some if they're still for sale anywhere to see how my version compares; otherwise, I'll have to go by memory.

Looking on the positive side, yet another company has given me an excuse to step away from the computer and attempt to reinvent a favorite. (The last one was Carob After Dinner Mint Tea, which had no satisfactory substitute for several years, but recently, I found a similar tea by Stash.)

I haven't hunted for other recipes yet, but anyone else has come up with a version of Cocoa Mole, feel free to let me know and I'll post the link to his or her recipe here. In the meantime, I'll keep you posted if I find one that's similar.

Product Review: Health Valley No Salt Added Organic Minestrone

Soup is one of those things you'd think would be good for you, aside from high-fat cream soups. But have you looked at your average soup can label lately? Ingredients such as high-fructose corn syrup, monosodium glutamate (aka MSG) and, in some cases, about half the recommended daily allowance of sodium for the average adult are all too common on the labels.

One name I've always trusted in the health food business is Health Valley. I decided to try some of the low-sodium soups. The company features some soups with no salt added, just the natural sodium that is in the ingredients. In addition, the soups are organic.

Yes, it's a bit pricey, but overall, I would put this Health Valley No Salt Added Organic Minestrone (spiced up with a touch of my favorite addition, Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic) up against any canned minestrone I've tried. You can always add a pinch of salt yourself, of course, but try it without adding salt first. I think the organic ingredients really make a difference.

Product Review: Terra Krinkle Cut Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt

I'm not sure what I was expecting, exactly, but what I got wasn't it.

Don't get me wrong, Terra Krinkle Cut Sweet Potato Chips with Sea Salt taste fine, but they're a bit like overcooked sweet potato fries.
 
This ridged chip is very crisp and a bit thicker than most chips. I like them a bit thinner and less crunchy. If you like thick, crisp chips, try them.

On the up side, they're definitely better for you than sweet potato fries. 

One serving of 17 chips yields 160 cal, 90 mg sod, 3 g fiber, 3 g sugar, 1 g protein; 11 g total fat  and 1 g saturated fat.

Chili Con Carne á la Mom

My mom doesn't get nearly enough credit; she finds the best way to make something and sticks with it. Take her chili, for example. It's evolved over the years. Now she uses:

3 14-oz cans tomatoes (one with green chilies, one salt-free and one Mexican-style blend)
3 14 to 16-oz cans of beans (any kind of white bean, one can kidney beans and either seasoned black beans or seasoned chili beans works well. (Don't use more than one can of seasoned beans, unless you like really hot chili.)

1 1/4 pounds ground sirloin
1/2 onion, chopped fine 

Saute onions, add meat and freshly ground black pepper in a large saucepan; saute until meat is no longer pink. Add tomatoes and beans, cook until thoroughly heated. (Usually, 20 minutes will do it, unless it's a double batch.)

This is a mild chili, depending on the brand of tomatoes used. Add more chili powder to season if it's not hot enough.

Friday, October 22, 2010

A Revolution in Snacking

My all-time favorite appetizer is Olga's Snackers™.  I was appalled to learn how much salt and fat are in those cute little pita crackers and the Swiss cheese spread that accompanies them.

I determined this afternoon that I'd make my own version. It's already 12:30 p.m. and I've made one and tried it. (Now that's a quick snack.) 

First of all, I wanted them to look and taste somewhat like the original. Paprika mimics the red coloring, which probably was achieved from seasoning salt. So, after spraying with Olivio spray to make the seasoning stick and allow for some browning, lightly cover one half a whole wheat pita (but split it first) with enough paprika. Also sprinkle the pita with a bit of  a of Mrs. Dash Tomato Basil Garlic and Lawry's Seasoned Pepper (at a guess, it'd be about 1/4 tsp of each spice blend). 

Place on a rack in a toaster oven; set toaster oven to toasting option (or in the case of mine, on bake) and set the dial on medium. As toaster ovens are all a little different, watch the pita so it doesn't burn. Use about 2 tsp. Swiss cheese spread (I tried Kaukauna's version). 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Product Review: Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Bell peppers, chickpeas, garlic and tahini. Those are the only ingredients listed for Sabra Roasted Red Pepper Hummus on the company's website. I've tried several kinds of hummus and it's my all-time favorite. The garlic is in perfect proportion to the rest of the ingredients. (I find many hummus spreads to have a tad too much garlic in them for my taste.) Tahini is what gives the hummus a creamy texture, not unlike spreadable cheese or peanut butter. My favorite uses for this hummus are:
- spread it on crackers (low-sodium Ritz is a great choice)
- use it as a vegetable dip, especially for grape tomatoes, sliced red pepper and cucumbers

It would make an excellent substitute for cheese in a vegetable quesadilla. (I would suggest roasted or sauteed red pepper, mild onion and mushrooms as a perfect combination.)

I have tried other Sabra hummus flavors: Spinach and Artichoke and Supremly Spicy Hummus. (Both are good, but bear in mind the latter's label isn't lying; it brought tears to my eyes.) I look forward to trying other flavors, but I suspect my favorite won't change.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Review: Heart Smart Cookbook

A classic cookbook which was published in 1991 by the Detroit Free Press/Henry Ford Health System, this was a recent garage sale find that I reacquainted myself with (my original copy disappeared somewhere between Novi and Mt. Pleasant more than 10 years ago); its contents take into account people's tastes while catering to the wisdom of the time.

Overall, it's a great cookbook. (How many cookbooks tell you how to make your own natural peanut butter and your own turkey breakfast sausage?) I've made quite a few recipes in it in the past. These are real recipes that people would make and eat.

The one thing that's a little outdated, perhaps, is the emphasis on total avoidance of egg yolks and minimizing all fat (including healthy oils, such as olive oil), but that's a small thing. The one bit of nutritional information it is missing is fiber, which wasn't considered as important to healthy eating as overall fat content in 1991.

What I didn't know until I tried to look up the original publish date of this book, is that a second one has been published. I hope to get a copy soon and see if Heart Smart II cookbook is even better.  

What to Do with the Great (Meaning Big) Pumpkin

Pumpkins are in season right now. The variations in size (and, to some degree, shape) can be enormous.

If you (or someone who you know) has a big patch of pumpkins that need to be used up this fall, keep this in mind.  

-Pie pumpkins are not meant to be carved, they are intended to be eaten! Find a good recipe (such as Classic Pumpkin Pie with Betty White on Martha Stewart's website) and use it. It definitely tastes better than canned pumpkin. (Roasting a small pumpkin in the oven isn't a huge production; you just cut it in halves, take out the seeds and roast it. The pulp scoops out nicely with a large spoon.) Or you can simply eat it as you would eat squash. Allrecipes.com has an article showing how to bake, boil or microwave the pumpkin, along with links for several recipes.

-For the rest of the year, when fresh pumpkin isn't available, see some of Hungry Girl Lisa Lillen's recipes on her website using canned pumpkin.

An Apple a Day

Found a tidbit about apples, which are in season. posted by Julie Freeman, RD, MA, LD on Visions Medical Center blog, reminding me why apples are so good for us. (It's a bit of a way down the page listing recent entries.)

Apples have insoluable and soluable fiber. Fiber can sweep away toxins, lower cholesterol and help you to feel full while eating. The flavanoids in apples can help to fight prostate cancer, and decrease the type of inflammation that inflames asthma and allergy attacks.

I highly recommend a sweet apple that's only available this time of year called Honey Crisps. I usually find them at Colasanti's Market in Highland or VG's  Grocery (which has several locations). I'm going to get some before they're gone!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Product Review: Blue Diamond Nut Thins®

Blue Diamond Nut Thins® are awesome crackers. You have eight flavors to choose from (I've tried three of them). The cheddar and almond are pretty decent, but my favorite is the pecan flavor. How can you go wrong with pecans as the primary ingredient?
They satisfy the need to crunch and have a delightfully toasted nut flavor that only improves the taste of smoky cheese (like Provolone) or sharp cheese (such as cheddar). Low in sodium with no cholesterol, these hearty crackers, which are 130 calories per 17-cracker serving, are a great choice for cracker hors d'oeuvres.

Some of my favorite things to pair with this cracker include:

-light cream cheese or cream cheese substitute (such as Toffuti's Better Than Cream Cheese) topped with homemade or deli-bought low-sodium salsa.

-low-sodium roast beef and low-sodium Swiss cheese (I prefer Boar's Head brand of both) with a light spreading of horseradish cream (mix lowfat sour cream with bottled fresh horseradish to taste)

Fundraiser for Gleaners & Other Food Events

Ghoulies, ghosties and other things that bump in the night are all part of the fun in coming to the aid of Gleaners Community Food Bank of Southeastern Michigan this month. Here's your chance to get involved and have a good time at family-friendly events that feed our hungry neighbors:

The Haunt for Hunger in Melvindale runs through Oct. 31. It's described as an animatronics yard haunt.

Fight Hunger Community Hayride takes place Oct. 16 at Whispering Pines Golf Club in Pinckney.

Gleaners' calendar page also has links to other events, which may be found here. These were just the two that I found most interesting.

German cuisine, hayrides, cider and pumpkins also are part of the fun in southeastern and central Michigan in the next two weeks.

If you're willing to take a drive, go to Oktoberfest in Lansing's Old Town today and tomorrow (Oct. 1-2). German beer and food abound; this event's described as "Mid-Michigan's only authentic German festival."  
Another nice drive with the opportunity to see fall colors is Zeeland Pumpkinfest, which started yesterday and goes through Oct. 2; closer to home, the South Lyon Area Pumpkinfest is in its 26th year of celebrating this yummy and versatile vegetable. Davison's PumpkinFest is next weekend, as is is the Tuscola County Pumpkin Festival.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

A Healthier Fried Egg Sandwich (Thanks, Mrs. Dash)

I try to minimize sodium and less healthy fats where I can. In general, I find Mrs. Dash salt-free seasoning to be a good way to add flavor and lessen salt in nearly all of my meals. I thought the original flavor was pretty good, but a year or so ago, Mrs. Dash Seasoning Blend, Tomato, Basil, Garlic flavor caught my eye. I've put it in many things since that time: English muffin pizzas, pasta sauce and, indeed, anything vaguely Italian. My favorite place to put it, though, is on my fried egg sandwiches.

Fried eggs in a blog about healthy eating? What kind of heresy is this? Start by spraying the pan with nonstick canola oil or olive oil spray and add just a few drops of sesame seed oil for a richer flavor. Heat up the pan slightly before cracking the egg into it (I set the electric stove burner between 4 and 5). Spritz a serving (five sprays) Olivio butter-flavored spray on the egg after cracking it in the pan and sprinkle with Mrs. Dash, Tomato, Basil, Garlic or your choice of salt-free seasoning.

Cook the egg the way you like it. (I happen to flip mine because I detest runny yolks, but to each his own. Usually, it takes between three and four minutes until it's the way I like it.) If you enjoy the taste of bacon but don't want the fat or salt, sprinkle about 1/2 tsp. of Bacos on the top of the egg as it cooks (if it sets sufficiently, it sticks to the top of the egg). Then use a healthy margarine (meaning non-hydrogenated with good fats in it)  to lightly "butter" whole-wheat toast. It's vegetarian and tastes good without a boatload of salt. You may melt cheese or soy cheese over the top of the egg after flipping it over to cook the yolk solid; however, I think it would be rather messy to melt it over a runny fried egg. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Community, food-related events take place this weekend

A few timely food-related events that are happening this weekend caught my attention.
This Saturday, Sept. 25, the Greening of Detroit 20th anniversary celebration takes place at Eastern Market. According to this week's 10 Things to Do in Detroit This Weekend in Crain's Detroit Business, it's intended "to celebrate local food and music in Detroit! Love Food." Cost is $35 at the door. For more information, visit the event's website.

Harvest Moon Celebration outdoors at the Sundquist Pavilion in Farmington's Riley Park gives autumn a jump start this weekend with beer and wine tasting, farmers market, pig roast, and more. I'm not sure much of it's healthy food, but it's all in what you pick. Cost is $8 at the door.

The 33rd annual Rochester Area Heritage Festival takes place at Rochester College, 800 W. Avon Road in Rochester, Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and includes food, music, family friendly fun and games as well as a chance to explore Rochester's history.

A New Rachael Ray Show starts Saturday

Wow; twice today, I've found timely food news. This is much better news than my last post about the Granola Thins recall.

Rachael Ray has a new show debuting on The Cooking Channel (which, by the way, is Channel 232 on my Direct TV satellite system).  I saw the ad the other day, but happened to be looking for the day and time of the show, which I couldn't recall. It's Saturday (tomorrow!) at 3 p.m. I'll be watching it.

I found an article on a blog called Everything Rachael Ray, which I think may become my new favorite blog to follow (thanks for the tip, Madeline!). The new show, called Week in a Day, uses the concept of cooking ahead for the week and simply reheating your meals when you want them. It's not a new idea by any means (I have a couple of 1990s cookbooks based on the same principles).

I like the idea that Rachael will be test-driving the recipes first; although I often make substitutions and (less frequently) errors in making her recipes, it's usually turned out well. (We won't, however, discuss the results of putting in too much minced garlic as a substitution for chopped garlic cloves!) Another "mistake" I made I'd do again on purpose. I turned a vegetable side dish into stoup by putting in an entire can, rather than just a cup, of chicken stock.

Recall Notice: Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Granola Thins

Don't open that box of Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Granola Thins if you are allergic to  peanuts! 

This is sort of a weird recall, because a simple (presumably mechanical) error could cause serious illness or even death.

According to a WalletPop article, some Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Granola Thins boxes were instead filled with its Peanut Butter Flavor Granola Thins. "The only item subject to this recall are 10-count boxes of Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Flavor Granola Thins with this date code: 05JUN2011 YO 12," stated the article.
As peanuts are not among the ingredients listed on the Dark Chocolate boxes, someone with a peanut allergy could eat them ... and peanut allergies can be fatal. So far, according to the Food & Drug Administration, "no reactions or illnesses have been linked to the recall." I pray that remains true.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Island Chicken with Pineapple and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

I'm winging it again in the kitchen. (Yes, that was a bad pun, but it could be worse. Trust me.) 

The chicken features tastes of the Orient (soy and sesame) with a hint of Hawaiian pineapple and a southern barbecue favorite, roasted sweet potatoes. Everything's cooked in the oven.
Island Chicken with Pineapple and Roasted Sweet Potatoes

While getting this ready, scrub, and put two skinny sweet potatoes (about 6 oz. each) in a preheated 370-degree oven for 20 minutes. (Make sure you stab them a couple of times with a steak knife so they won't explode and place in a small pan with a small baking rack in it to let them drip without messing up the oven, but don't cover them.)

Marinate 1 1/2 pounds of thinly sliced chicken (the kind I usually pan fry): in the following marinade for 5-10 minutes.

Marinade:
1/2 a medium-sized lime, juiced
Grated lime zest, if desired (I didn't do that this time)
a few drops of sesame seed oil
3 TBSP olive oil
about two TBSP. pineapple juice from a freshly-cut pineapple. (You can buy it cored and ready to slice.)
5 sprays of Bragg Liquid Aminos (if you don't have this, you may substitute 1/2-1 tsp. of light soy sauce). Just don't include any salt in the next step.

Put the following spices on both sides of the meat: a pinch of salt, ground pepper to taste (preferably freshly-ground mixed peppercorns) and a dash of McCormick's Perfect Pinch Roasted Garlic and Red Pepper.

Mix marinade ingredients thoroughly in a 9" by 12" glass oven-safe dish; place chicken in marinade for 2 to 5 minutes; turn and marinate for 3 to 5 minutes more. It's cooked in the marinade to create a light sauce.

Cover dish with foil and place in a preheated 325-degree oven for 35 minutes or until the chicken is no longer pink in the center (check it by cutting the thickest piece in the center). 
Spoon a couple of teaspoons of sauce over chicken; serve it with the pineapple and baked sweet potato.

Next time I make this recipe, I plan to brown the chicken slightly by taking the foil off for the last three to four minutes.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Website Review: Self.com

One of the best listing of snacks ever was one I found on Self.com. It can be accessed here, and has a ton of sidebar links to explore.

This magazine isn't just about the new diets and exercise, though. It has an advanced recipe search feature, a beauty and style section and community forums.

Self.com promotes a healthy way of life in general by making all these things just one click away.

From recipes and menus, to blogs and articles about food and diet; this site has it all.

My favorite food on the snack list, by the way, is the Back to Nature Honey Graham Sticks.

Berry Good Fruit, Nut and Veggie Salad for One

As promised a while ago, I have made a salad with a lot of fruit and veggies, but the star, of course, are the berries. I suspect this would also be good with thawed and drained frozen fruit. Use organic if you can; there's a real taste difference, particularly in the berries and the cherry tomatoes.

Berry Good Fruit, Nut, and Veggie Salad for One

5 large strawberries, washed, hulled and quartered
1/4 C. blueberries, washed and stemmed
10 grapes, washed, stemmed and halved
5 small cherry or grape tomatoes, washed and halved
4 large leaves of romaine, washed and drained, torn into small bite-size pieces
1 oz. crumbled blue cheese
1 oz. chopped pecans
Bacos (if desired - to taste)

Take romaine; wash and drain it (either by using a salad spinner or shaking it). Gently tear into bite-sized pieces into a large salad bowl. Wash, hull and quarter strawberries; scatter evenly on salad. Wash and stem blueberries and grapes, halve grapes and put on salad between strawberries. Wash and halve cherry/grape tomatoes and put on salad. Top with chopped pecans and crumbled blue cheese. If desired, sprinkle Bacos on top.

Use your choice of salad dressing. (Sometimes I make a dressing and sometimes I use what's in the frig.) I prefer either fat-free honey mustard, blue cheese or a low-fat, somewhat weak vinaigrette dressing on this salad.

A Collection of Recipes to Try

I haven't been doing nearly as much cooking as I want to be and thus have been collecting an incredible number of healthy recipes that I'm holding in reserve to review (and probably change out a bit here and there).



Two such recipes are from Alyssa Yeager at Kitchen La Bohème I love reading her blog; she's a very creative person on a mission to eat healthy and primarily vegetarian and vegan. I totally respect that, but I'm not sure I could give up eating my mom's pot roast and meatloaf (or bacon with my eggs). The links to Alyssa's blog entries are below:

EASY DELICIOUS VEGAN Pumpkin Spice Loaf with Maple Glaze
VEGANIZE IT Turkey Cutlet Sandwiches with Smoked Paprika Mayo and Roasted Bell Peppers


Last night, I also saw a re-run of Rachael Ray's 30-Minute Meals, which featured an intriguing "pizza." Why is "pizza" in quotes? Simply because its base isn't dough, but a portobello mushroom cap. I love mushrooms on my pizza. I think I also could learn to like pizza on my mushrooms by making her Portobello Pizzas recipe. I also liked the looks of Proscuitto with Pears and Arugula, another recipe in the same episode.

If anyone makes these recipes before I do, let me know how they turned out.

By the way, it appears The Rachael Ray Show is moving to ABC as of tomorrow, which I didn't realize until I didn't see her in her usual 11 a.m. NBC slot and did some research on the Web. I don't watch TV all that much, so I guess I missed the memo.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Product Review: EnviroKids' Organic Koala Crisp cereal

I loved Rice Krispies and Cocoa Crunch cereals as a kid. As an adult, I have become concerned about the preservatives (and other undesirable ingredients, such as corn syrup) that randomly appear where they don't need to be ... such as in my cereal and wanted something that would be a good substitute.

A few years ago, I went through a phase where I did nearly all of my grocery shopping at either Whole Foods Market or Better Health Market. I was trying an elimination diet to see if gluten bothered me, so I was on a mission to find a cereal which didn't include it.

I bought a couple of other cereals with it. The buckwheat flakes weren't a notable success (although they did taste better when I put raisins in the bowl, too). The puffed rice needed serious sugar and milk to be edible. But EnviroKidz Koala Crisp Cereal by Nature's Path Foods was full of chocolaty goodness.
On the website, it's listed as being "Made with love and ...It's a little too good; actually, it's hard to eat just one serving. This fact led to my first major cereal mix in conjunction with the unsweetened puffed rice. (Try it with 2/3 Koala Crisp and 1/3 puffed rice and your choice of milk or milk substitute.)

Organic brown rice flour, organic evaporated cane juice, organic cocoa, natural chocolate flavor, sea salt, organic molasses.

Product Review: Jelly Belly® 100-calorie packs

I was delighted to hear that earlier this year Jelly Belly® had entered into the 100-calorie pack war. I learned to love them when my best friend, whose husband was stationed at Great Lakes with the Navy at the time, worked fro the factory in Chicago.

Even the sugar-free kind taste better than the same old jelly beans in a bag that get scattered through Easter baskets. I was less enthused to hear that some of them had caffeine in them. (I do not need caffeine in my jelly beans, personally.)

Limiting the amount of jelly beans is a great idea, but I think that 100-calorie packs, are, in general, incredibly overpriced.

If you can't find the 100-calorie Jelly Belly® packs, which I understand were being sold singly, why not get one of the larger containers of them or bulk Jelly Belly® beans (available in a number of places, including bulk food sections of various markets)? Put enough different kinds in your bulk bag to be interesting. Wash and dry your hands well when you get home, and put enough jelly beans to be equal to the 100-calorie mark (or 2 Weight Watcher Points). If using the bulk jar, put the packs back into it.

For those people who are all about convenience, and won't bother with that idea, these 100-calorie packs or the small boxes you sometimes see are fine; whatever works for you!

Product Review: Breakstone's Reduced-Fat Sour Cream

Originally, I was going to review Breakstone's Fat-Free Sour Cream, but I took another look at the label on Kraft's website to be sure I could recommend it. I found corn syrup listed in the ingredients, and went to a tastier alternative in the same product line.

Breakstone's Reduced-Fat Sour Cream is preferable in both taste and texture. In addition, it has only six ingredients. In a blind taste test, I could not tell it apart from the full-fat version (of any kind of sour cream I've tried (and I've tried most of them on the market at one time or another). It is my preferred full-fat sour cream substitute, although Daisy's low-fat sour cream, which is cheaper, is a close second. Either of these are acceptable for baking or stirring into Beef Stroganoff; however, I would suggest straining the water off the top first!

It does have 2 g saturated fat, which is common with all dairy products (aside from fat-free) but trans fats are listed at 0. For those interested in watching your sodium intake, it has only 20 mg sodium per serving, which, unaccountably, is given in grams, but eight ounces yields seven servings. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Shopping Review: BetterHealth Market

BetterHealth Market is a good middle-of-the-road store with some great choices. It is a little bit more, I find, than either Whole Foods Market or Trader Joe's, but there are some things I get there that aren't readily available at either of those, one of which (sob) will be no longer. (I'm referring to the Cocoa Mole flavor of the LaraBar)!

Moving on ... The customer service I have experienced at the Novi store is wonderful. I can always get help if I need assistance finding something I want. It has a good selection of healthy foods minus the mind-boggling number of choices you'd find at a Whole Foods Market.

The prepared food section also is a good place to pick up a quick dinner if you'll be too tired to cook after shopping.

You can get some great loss-leader sales on certain items in the store. In addition, BetterHealth Market offers coupons. Some (which vary from 10 percent off your order to 20 percent off a single item) are sent to me in the mail. Usually, there are coupon books available with the flyer in the front of the store. Check these out before shopping to get the best possible deals!

Shopping Review: Trader Joe's Market

A few years ago, a former coworker brought in some beautiful red peppers and hummus. When I asked her where she got them, she said "Trader Joe's; that's where I do most of my shopping."

Think of Trader Joe's as a decently-sized specialty market minus the specialty prices. While it doesn't have the extensive stock of Whole Foods Market (which is both an advantage and a disadvantage, depending on how pressed for time I am). It does feature a bit of everything without being a megastore. While I enjoy both Whole Food Market and BetterHealth Market (more on that later), I find that, when I'm in a hurry to grab something to eat on the run, and there's a Trader Joe's in the neighborhood, it's my choice. It includes some heavenly healthy choices, including some wonderful meats, vegetables and fruits.

Unfortunately for me, the closest Trader Joe's to Milford is just south of Eight Mile on Haggerty. That means I don't get there often. If I'm on my way home from the area before 9 p.m. (which, I believe, is closing time), I usually make it a point to go there and get some of my favorite things. The great thing about TJ's is that I can do a quick shopping job there in about 15 minutes!

Shopping Review: Whole Foods Market

I have always enjoyed going to Whole Foods Market; it's a shopping experience. I've been to the one in Ann Arbor and the one in Farmington Hills. Probably my favorite one (which is likely by virtue of being the one I know the best) is the Farmington Hills location.

Cheese lovers and wine lovers alike can go wild there. Foodies everywhere drool over the prepared foods, including all-American favorites such as a luscious macaroni and cheese dish as well as Kosher foods, vegan choices, vegetarian fare and a terrific salad bar. I love the place.

That said, I frequently hear (or read) complaints that the chain is pricey. In some instances, that is true, but the biggest downside for me is that it's a megastore; with my penchant for label reading, a small shopping trip will take me at least an hour (usually closer to one-and-a-half hours). So I'd advise getting your perishables last. 

As is the case with many other chains, there are some great loss-leader sales available. If you stick to bulk food section and specials, you can get some bargains, especially in terms of healthier snacks.

I strongly suggest reading the flyer before you start shopping and limiting your purchases of the fabulous premade foods (particularly baked goods) to healthier choices so you too can have a shopping experience that's great for both your waistline and your wallet.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Product Review: Keebler Right Bites

Someone at the construction magazine I worked at introduced me to 100-calorie snack packs.

My favorite, by far, is Keebler Right Bites Fudge Stripes flavor in a 100-calorie pack. That's probably because the Keebler Fudge Stripes were the cookie of choice to be found in Gram's cookie jar as kids. I know it seems peculiar that the queen of homemade bread had those cookies in her cookie jar, but, as she explained it, "The way you kids eat cookies, it's the only way I can keep up." My cousins Todd and Sara and I used to stay with my grandmother in the summer and Todd was a human garbage disposal, with the exception of green beans (he loathed them).

Anyway, back to my favorite new cookie. The only problem I have with them is that I want to eat more than one 100-calorie pack, but that's life.

Healthy Snacks Revisited

As we get back to school and head into fall, it's time to think of some healthier snacks.

One of my all-time favorites, which also is good in lunches are flavored (the ones without added sugar). There is a fabulous one that is Mott's Healthy Harvest; see prior product review here.

Another thing I enjoy is trail mix. Now here you have to be careful with the portion size: stick to 1/4 to 1/3 cup by dividing it into little snack bags. The best trail mix I ever made featured chocolate covered Raisinets, Chex Rice cereal, a small package of the Ritz peanut butter cracker sandwiches, pecans, walnuts, raisins and dried cranberries. Aunflower or pumpkin seeds also are good.

For some additional ideas, try this article from Self or another from Eating Well magazine as well as my prior post about quick snacks.


  

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Avoid Brain Decay by Eating Berries, Walnuts and Bright Veggies?

I'm thrilled; it seems as though my favorite fruits and vegetables — such as blueberries, blackberries, strawberries and colorful peppers — may be able to somewhat reverse the aging process.
Yes, you may have heard that these are good for you already in the media. But this news comes from a professional scientific journal: Science Daily. In its Aug. 24, 2010 edition, an article titled "Eating berries may activate the brain's natural housekeeper for healthy aging" gives the scoop: berries, walnuts and other, brightly-hued red, orange and blue druits and vegetables are high in polyphenolics. This means act as "housekeepers" in your brain cleaning up residue that otherwise would impede normal brain function.

I'll have to get back to you on the results, but I plan to make a salad with as many of these things as possible in it sometime soon.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Healthy Eating: Some Pitfalls to Avoid

Does anyone else remember Pepsi Light, the first lemon cola? I know, it had saccharin in it, but still, we thought we were doing something good by not putting the sugar from cola in our bodies.

Here are some warped things I (or others I've known) have done in the name of "healthy" eating:

-Justified eating a double cheeseburger by washing it down with a diet Coke/Pepsi and a side salad.

-Had a cup of soup and side salad with an unlimited Snackers basket (and I mean solely for you, not shared with everyone at the table). For the uninitiated, Snackers are cracker-like pita wedges (I believe they're fried) served with a generous tub of a spreadable smoky Swiss-style cheese. So having unlimited Snackers is not good for you, no matter how much salad you ingest.

-Had a Boston Cooler made with diet Vernors Ginger Ale (or a "brown cow" made with diet A&W Root Beer).

-Convinced yourself that you can have a 1/4-cup portion of any side dish you want as well as a couple of desserts at your uncle's funeral luncheon.

-Drunk more white wine at a party than is desirable at a friend's house party because a glass of wine is only two points, making it better for you than one fruity alcoholic drink you really wanted. (At best, this will end in your sleeping on a friend's couch, in your clothes, getting a crick in your neck. At worst, you'll be sleeping (still in your clothes) in a friend's daughter's room when two other friends — coincidentally engaged to each other — plop on the couch in said room and proceed to have a loud, drunken argument when you're still too sloshed to drive home.

I'm naming just a few of the pitfalls my friends and I have dealt with in the past 10 years; what are your experiences? 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Video Promotes Blog

Yesterday, I learned something at The Oakland Press about how to shoot, edit and post simple video clips. I was lucky enough to have Karen Workman, a reporter at The Oakland Press who writes The Dog Blog show me and another blogger, Chef Stacy Sloan, who writes the Cooking from Scratch blog, the basic steps of taking, editing video and creating a finished product to put online.

It was a wholly practical exercise: Karen shot my video first, and then it was Stacy's turn. Stacy got to edit her video and create her video "movie" first; after that it was my turn, with considerable coaching from Karen. Ultimately, the video will be used in streaming to promote my blog). I was extremely excited to see the finished product and thank Karen for her patience.

I may attach a video clip to the blog soon!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Product: Review: Kellogg's Fiber Plus - Chocolate Chip Flavor

Kellogg FiberPlus Antioxidant Bars, Chocolate Chip flavor lives up to its claim of being more tasty than Fiber One bars; indeed I consider it a great improvement over nearly any bar aside from Nature Valley Granola Bars (see prior entry for comments on this great product). Two other flavors are available to try ... one includes almonds, which I'm not at all fond of in large chunks or whole. I haven't tried that one yet, so I can't say if it uses small or large almond bits.

This is a filling snack and incorporates antioxidants, according to the package. It's a better choice than many because it doesn't include high-fructose corn syrup in its ingredient list.

The packaging claims that a serving incorporates 35 percent of recommended daily fiber, which is quite an achievement for a snack. Due to the high fiber content of the snack, I highly recommend a large glass of water or milk to accompany it. A major concern when you up the fiber in the diet is that most people don't drink enough water. (For example, for those on Weight Watchers, it's recommended that you intake 35 grams of fiber daily and drink at least eight 8-oz. glasses of liquid a day. It used to be water, but it was determined all liquid counts.)

Friday, August 13, 2010

Gram's Banana Bread

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          
Some people come from a long line of good cooks. Although there was more than one in my mother's family, most of them got their start by working with a great cook: my maternal grandmother, Ruth Magdalen (Bolen) LaBerge. Although she's been gone more than 18 years, I still can't figure out why neither my mother nor I (both of whom are considered intelligent women) can make her banana bread in quite the way she did.


When we made it at home as I was growing up, it was good but I just knew there was something missing. Gram's bread seemed even more moist and the nutty flavor was stronger. Maybe it's just a grandma thing.

Perhaps one of my readers can solve the mystery of the ingredient or ingredients that Gram, who rarely worked from a recipe, may have omitted when my mother asked her for a written recipe almost three decades ago. (Mom subsequently rewrote the recipe so we could read it in the years to come. It's amazing it was recorded with a pen, since my grandmother wrote most recipes in pencil.)

Gram's Banana Bread

1 3/4 C. flour
1 1/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
3/4 t. salt
1/3 C. vegetable shortening (to make it healthier, use the non-hydrogenated kind; Gram used Crisco)
2/3 C. sugar
2 eggs, slightly beaten
1 C. fairly ripe bananas, mashed
chopped walnuts (optional)

(The amount of walnuts put in this recipe depends on how well you like them. Gram just put in the amount she had handy — that is, when she felt like it.)

Sift flour; measure and add baking powder, baking soda and salt. Sift again. Cream shortening, adding sugar gradually. Add eggs, mixing until smooth. Add dry ingredients alternately with mashed bananas, stirring just enough to combine thoroughly. Do not beat.  Bake 1 hour at 350 degrees F.*

(*Use a standard loaf pan.)

Note: I had a heck of a time finding a good photo of Gram, as she hated having her picture taken; in the above photo, shot when she turned 80 (in April 1982), it's hard to say whether she was crying because she was happy or because we insisted on recording the occasion for future generations.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Product Review: Purely Decadent Dairy Free® Cherry Nirvana flavor

Want ice cream but can't eat it because milk doesn't agree with your system? Never fear, there is a solution. More than one, but I'll share my favorite.

I probably have mentioned this in passing, but Purely Decadent Dairy Free® Cherry Nirvana flavor ice cream is my favorite non-dairy frozen dessert. It even tastes like ice cream.

I discovered it in the frozen health food section at Kroger about a year ago. I've tried other products by Turtle Mountain, but so far, this is the best non-dairy frozen dessert I've had.

If you don't like cherries or chocolate, there's no accounting for it; however, I'm sure one of Turtle Mountain's numerous ice cream subsitutes (some made from coconut milk and some made with soy milk) will appeal to your taste.