Sunday, February 8, 2009

[Product Reviews] Hot and Not

I went into Wal*mart a little snacky, with homemade Chex Mix on my mind. Then I saw a can of Blue Diamond Almonds Bold Wasabi & Soy Sauce. I bought them and have managed to not eat the entire can at once...just nibbling a few at a time. They really hit the spot when I'm craving something salty and a little spicy. I don't have to eat many to satisfy my munchies. I don't have to feel guilty about snacking because almonds have fiber and are low in fat. Six ounces cost about $3.

We don't buy much juice but recently I tried Welch's Black Cherry Concord Grape and it was divine: jammy and luscious. A bit pricey at more than $4 for 64 ounces but there was a $1 coupon on the bottle (which of course the checker didn't acknowledge) but still well worth what I paid for it.

I took the coupon back on my next shopping trip but all the bottle of that variety were gone. Then I noticed they had the same flavor and brand of powdered drink mix in little on-the-go packets that you add to water. Yes I know there's nothing you can add to water that will match juice's nutrition. But I was hoping for flavor and for the promised immunity-boosting antioxidants till I could find the real thing again. I have tried one packet and I'm disappointed. It tastes like really bad grape Kool-aid, not that grape Kool-aid is all that great to start with. I don't know if I can make it through the whole box, even for the vitamins. It is quite like taking my medicine. Think Dimetapp.

Hot: Blue Diamond Almonds Wasabi & Soy Sauce
Hot: Welch's Black Cherry Concord Grape 100 percent Juice
Not: Welch's to go! powdered drink mix

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Oatmeal cookies two more ways

I really like the oatmeal cookies I make with dried cherries and bittersweet chocolate chips. But this winter, after Christmas, I wanted to try something different. I had leftover candied orange peel so I bought some dried cranberries to pair with it, replacing the chocolate and cherries, for variation No. 1. It was yummy. I knew it would be because I had been stirring a little of each into bowls of oatmeal since I ran out of Granny Smith apple. The second variation I tried was riskier but oh so worth it. I had been craving candied ginger and bittersweet chocolate together. I finely chopped a small amount of ginger and added it to the cookie batter in place of the cherries. Very good. Please note that for the variations, I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, for which the original recipe doesn't call.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A tasty treat for dry skin

The colder-than-usual temperatures are really brutal to my skin, which normally doesn't have any problems. My creamy cleanser and moisturizer haven't been able to keep up. I tried to drink more water to fight the problem and that didn't completely solve it. I pumped moisture into the air with a humidifier. But for immediate relief for my dry, tight, itchy, flaky face, I whipped up a home remedy with ingredients in the kitchen. I found a few variations of this recipe all over the 'Net.

1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon honey
a little ground oatmeal (optional)

Combine and apply to face (avoiding eyes) for 15 minutes and wash off with lukewarm water.

This recipe made enough for me to do two applications, which I thought was excessive to do two days in a row. I could halve the recipe but what would I do with half an egg yolk? I think with a little planning -- mixing it on the weekend when I make scrambled eggs or something else I could sneak a little extra egg yolk in -- and I'll be set. The dilemma of what to do with the egg white, if I don't want to just throw it out, could be solved the same way. But I have a yummier idea: seafoam candy. I'll post about that when the air is dry and I have time to draft the husband into helping me make a batch and take photos. It is the most special homemade candy.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Losing my head over garlic

"You can, but you shouldn't" is a proverb I hadn't heard until I started researching whether or not you can freeze fresh garlic with no adverse effects.

First, the back story:
An inattentive/apathetic cashier at Wal*mart shoved a produce bag of four heads of garlic into a bag with some frozen foods. I'll admit I was a little negligent, too. Putting away groceries late at night after a 5-year-old was carsick all over herself, I wasn't careful to take everything out of the bags. I shoved what appeared to be a shopping bag of frozen fish and vegetables into the deep freeze. Two nights later when I was looking for the garlic I bought, it dawned on me to check the bag in the freezer. There was the garlic.

A few frantic Googles and an angry call to a Wal*mart manager later, I had a decision to make. I could keep the garlic -- in the freezer, wrapped in plastic and inside a tightly sealed container -- and use it a clove at a time, risking lost flavor and funky texture.

OR I could return the garlic to Wal*mart for a replacement and risk them putting the perfect-looking heads I chose back in the produce bin for me or some other shopper to take home unknowingly. I wouldn't put it past them.

So far the garlic is still in my freezer. I used four cloves of it and the texture of the thawing cloves is somewhat like that of lettuce that has been frozen -- the beginnings of mushy. Chopping it is like cutting through a frozen grape or a melon ball or maybe a creamsicle. It's not right. It's not crisp. But it doesn't seem to taste so bad. I think as long as I put it IN something -- saute it, melt it in sauce or mix it into a burger -- it shouldn't be so bad.

That's right. I am leaning toward keeping it. Part of what I found in my research said freezing garlic isn't such a bad thing as long as you double-wrap it like I described above and use it up fast. But first, I think I might call Lynne Rosetto Kasper on "The Splendid Table" and see what she thinks. I'll let you know if I get through.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

It's the portion size, silly

I know a woman with unhealthy eating habits. I do not mean to belittle or deride her when I say she is a simple person. I think she is capable of learning about nutritious foods and eating in moderation, but she will probably never be motivated to find out for herself. She is morbidly obese and has a variety of health problems that are exacerbated if not completely caused by the weight and malnutrition. She once said, in regard to eating habits, "I had only mashed potatoes for dinner." She in fact had a dinner plate heaped full of mashed potatoes. Probably enough for five or six servings.

There are a lot of things regular people in this country don't understand about their diets and portion size is one of them. They are the folks who do not read labels and do not measure anything. They assume that all of a 20-ounce bottle of soda is one serving because they will consume it quite comfortably in a sitting. (Actually, if you didn't know, it's 2 1/2 servings so multiply all those calories and other numbers on the nutrition facts panel by 2 1/2.) They are the people who "super size" their servings when dishing up a homecooked meal. Some no doubt think that the food is better for them than fast-food because of where it was prepared.

While the portion sizes and kinds of food offered at fast-food restaurants are certainly not in line with good nutrition, this recent study written up in the Chicago Tribune shows that it is a lifestyle habit to overeat everywhere, not just under the Golden Arches.

Read about the study here.
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