About Me

My photo
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.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Cookbook Review: Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food

Deceive your kids by sneaking extra fruits or veggies into their food.

That's the concept of Deceptively Delicious: Simple Secrets to Get Your Kids Eating Good Food. Author Jessica Seinfeld (who, so far as I'm aware is no relation to Jerry) started her deception because her family members wouldn't eat their vegetables and found them "'disgusting.'" She started with an idea of blending in pureed vegetables (butternut squash into mac and cheese for her first attempt) and it took of from there.

Seinfeld says, "This book is nothing more than one mom's coping skills." I can relate to that; my ex-husband liked very few vegetables and I often resorted to sneaking extra, finely-chopped veggies into chili, sloppy joes and other tomato-sauced based things or casseroles and mostly got away with it.

The details of this book include how to make and freeze your purees ahead of time for easy use as well as a host of recipes kids typically would eat (I plan to try the French Toast receipe that includes your choice pureed banana, pineapple, sweet potato, squash or pumpkin). Cauliflower and sweet potato puree are disguised in lasagna in another recipe. Seinfield also features a recipe for baked doughnuts that incorporates an entire cup of mixed pumpkin and sweet potato puree.

While the overall ingredients are clearly healthier options, the one down side of the cookbook is that it doesn't include nutritional information such as fat grams, fiber, etc.

So far, the best thing about this book is that I paid about half of the sale price at a regular shop for it at my local resale shop. I'll keep you posted as to whether or not this is a keeper soon, after I've made a couple of recipes.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Non-dairy milk substitutes

We all know about milk. It’s a source of Vitamin D and calcium, thus thus “good” for us. Well, some of us can’t drink it, or choose not to do so. Depending on whether or not the peak of allergy season is here, I may regret drinking even a small amount of milk.

For those of you who find yourself in that situation, have a child who can’t handle cow milk, or are vegans, there are a few good alternatives.

Soy Slender™ Vanilla Soymilk by Westsoy® is lower in carbohydrates than many soy milks. This makes it a carbohydrate-friendly choice. It is very drinkable. This is the best soy milk Westsoy® makes, in my humble opinion, and I’ve tried nearly all of them. It's also the best-tasting, sweetened lower-carb choice, beating out both Silk Vanilla Light and 8th Continent's light vanilla soymilk by, well, light-years in taste. Soy Slender™ Chocolate Soymilk also is pretty good; if you put it in your coffee, it tastes like a mocha! Those of you trying to avoid artificial sweeteners, note that the Soy Slender™ products contain Splenda™.

Silk® Very Vanilla is probably the best-tasting soy milk I have tasted to drink just as you would milk. You’ll want to know, however, that it and Silk® Vanilla soy milk (and any of its milks not marked as unsweetened) are sweetened with evaporated cane juice. Silk® Chocolate soy milk akes good mochas (my primary use for chocolate milk).

Silk® also makes light versions of its vanilla, plain and chocolate soy milks (which I strongly suspect are the regular version diluted with water). The company recently began marketing Silk® Almond, which I tried only because I had a coupon. I like the taste, but was unable to find an unsweetened version yet.

Any of these milk alternatives taste great on cereal or in coffee. Believe it or not, chocolate Soy Slender tastes wonderful on both Shredded Wheat and Koala Crisp chocolate rice puff cereal (really, both were absent-minded happy accidents on my part). That's my story and I'm sticking to it. I don’t use sweetened soy or almond milk in baking, cream sauces or mashed potatoes, for obvious reasons.

My hands-down winner for general use is Silk® Organic Unsweetened soy milk. It tastes more like regular milk, and has only one gram of sugar. It also goes on cereal, in coffee, in baked goods or in your baked potatoes without changing the flavor.

If you can ever find Silk® Nog around the holidays, it’s a tasty alternative to eggnog. It is a seasonal item I am not sure is made anymore.
There are other alternative “milks” including other soy milks, rice milk, coconut milk and hemp milk. I don’t care for 8th Continent Soy Milk or any rice milk as “drinking milk.” I haven’t tried hemp or coconut milk, so I may try one of these and/or give rice milk a second shot soon.

Note: Just as I was completing this post, I learned that Dean Foods, the parent company of White Wave, which makes the Silk® products, changed the company’s policy of using only organic soybeans in its products. This action, which was not announced publicly before it was implemented last year, led to a movement started by the Organic Consumers Association to boycott the brand. Currently, only some of the products now use organic soybeans and are marked organic. Very Vanilla, which is heavily marketed to children, is not one of those made with organic soybeans. In my opinion, this gives us all another reason to read (and perhaps re-read) our food labels.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Granola Bars & colas

Two things you will find around me are granola bars as well as pop made without corn syrup; below you'll find my favorites.

Nature Valley Honey & Oats Granola Bars

This old-fashioned treat still gets high ratings as far as I’m concerned. (Think 70s hippies and school kids’ lunches back when your best friend had a Wonder Woman lunchbox; one of my friends, Rebecca, may still have one.) Well, back to the granola bar. It’s portable, crunchy with just a taste of sweetness. It also doesn’t include high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS), unlike a number of “healthy” granola bars (particularly the chewy ones). I think a pretty strong case has been made several times that HFCS is not the best sweetener, because it’s in so many processed foods including … soup? The logic there completely escapes me.

Were I to send a note to every food manufacturer, it would simply be this: I don’t want corn syrup in my food! Pepsi is OK, but I prefer Pepsi Throwback cola, which (sigh) is supposed to only be made through this year. All you Pepsi lovers: let’s buy this product instead of regular Pepsi. Maybe then the formula will change to eliminate high-fructose corn syrup. I’m trying to do my part, but just can’t drink cola more than twice a week. If Pepsi Throwback is discontinued at the end of this year, I will choose either Diet Rite Cherry Cola (which uses Splenda®) or one of the Zevia™ colas (made with stevia, a healthier option than other non-calorie sweeteners).