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.

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!