Oct 14

5 Ways to Eat Chili and Lose Weight? I’m in!

If, like me, you had not put chili in the “weight loss food” category, read on to learn why you should enjoy chili more often.

According to Livestrong.com, scientist say the recent “Chili and Soup” diet has some merit.  Most of us don’t get enough vegetables in our day which help us feel full and feed our body the nutrients it needs to stave off hunger.  Eating chili can get 2-5 servings of vegetables in just one bowl,

In addition, chili peppers have been shown to raise our metabolism helping us burn more calories all day.  They also help you burn fat and lose weight according to studies done by the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition and others.  In a well-published study where people took the supplement Capsicum, the active ingredient in chili peppers, people lost more abdominal fat than those who took a placebo.

If you add onion or garlic to your chili, you are also adding some of the 10 “Super foods” according to Dr. Oz..  Foods in the allium category, like these, lower total cholesterol, raise good cholesterol and even fight the growth of cancer cells plus reduce your risk of getting cancer in the future.. Capsicum has all of these benefits, as well, plus it fights sinus congestion, head and stomach aches.  As capsicum provides the heat in the peppers, it also signals a built-in portion control as humans can only eat so much of it comfortably.

We haven’t even gotten to the beans.  If you add beans to your chili, you get the added benefit of fiber which makes you feel full faster and stay that way longer.  After 4 requests to make chili in the last month, I have noticed that I am never hungry after dinner.  The beans, protein and complex carbs make one bowl go a long way in keeping hunger at bay.

Chili is big in my house when the weather turns, well, chilly.  My family swears that I make the “BEST chili in the WORLD!”  You probably think your mom does, too.  Just in case mine are right, I will include my own secret recipe which has changed substantially over the years as I have added many people’s tips along the way:

“Double Batch of Mom’s Famous Chili”

2 pounds of 90% lean ground beef

1 small can of Trader Joe’s Organic Black Beans

1 small can of Brook’s Mild Chili Beans

1 can Rotelle with Green Chilis

2 small cans of Hunts Tomato Sauce

2 small cans of Hunts Whole Tomatoes (if it’s summer, use fresh to skip the sodium)

1 Red Bell Pepper (for my kids to pick out and my husband and I to eat) or 1/2 bag frozen yellow corn

1/4 regular spice jar of Penzi’s Medium Hot Chili Powder

1/8 regular spice jar of Penzi’s Cumin Seed Powder (Steak and Shake’s secret)

1/8 regular spice jar of Penzi’s Smoked Paprika

3 Tablespoons minced garlic (or one medium yellow onion)

3-5 Tablespoons of Penzi’s Black Peppercorns, smashed with a roller in a baggie for a “course grind”

3-5 Tablespoons Garlic Salt

1 T Cayenne (optional)

1 Bay Leaf

1 Tablespoon “Better Than Bullion” Vegetable Soup Starter

1 Beef Bullion cube

1 T Trader Joe’s Smoked Sea Salt (for serving, smells heavenly)

Fresh Cilantro to garnish

Shredded colby/monteray jack cheese to garnish

Light Sour Cream to garnish (optional)

I will assume you know how to brown beef and open cans.  The rest is all in the wrist and you may like more or less of some of the spices.  Many people don’t realize that spices are often dried vegetables.  For instance, paprika is from the Capsicum family, as well.  Not only will it make your chili look prettier, it has the same benefits as adding bell peppers.  This is a great find if  your kids like to pick the peppers out of their dishes like mine do.

I make the double batch so we have options with the leftovers.  Here are a few ideas that you may help you add more chili to your meal plans:

  1. Dress up your scrambled eggs with a half cup of chili and a little cheese on top the next morning.
  2. Try a cup of chili over steamed green vegetables or cauliflower instead of pasta.  I often do this with meat sauce, as well.  You won’t taste the vegetables, but will get the added servings of them into your day.
  3. Make a quick chili burrito on the night you get home too late to cook.  It’s much healthier than going through a drive-through and the kids never complain.
  4. Your homemade “Chili Mac” will be even better with whole wheat noodles.  If these aren’t your favorite, this is the way to try them.  If chili drowns out the taste of cauliflower, it can do wonders for whole wheat!
  5. Mexican “red beans and rice”.  Pour your chili over nice, fluffy white rice for a new take on an old favorite.

Do you have some chili tricks up your long sleeves?  We would love to hear about them.  Happy, healthy, cooking!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sep 27

The Secret Language of Starbucks – “Ghetto Latte, anyone?”

Yes, there is such a thing as a “Ghetto Latte” at Starbucks.  My husband orders it frequently, but was not aware that it is so common employees often joke about it when the customer is out of earshot.  It goes something like this:

“What are you brewing today?” he asks innocently enough.

“We have our house blend, Sumatra and our new Anniversary blend today, Sir.”

“Give me a medium  (refusing to say anything but English) house blend.  Oh, and an extra cup – the largest one you have.”

He then walks over to the coffee station and pours his coffee into the larger cup and uses the milks and creamers and sugars to make his own latte.  Another “Ghetto Latte” is born.

When I first told him that there is an unofficial name for that among Starbucks employees, he got very excited.  In his mind, he had started another trend.  He is not the only one that thinks paying $5 for a cup of coffee and then being expected to tip is ridiculous.  He struts around like a proud papa.  I have to tell him that “Ghetto Latte” isn’t a compliment.  Unfazed, he now orders it with a gleam in his eye, seeing if he can catch them calling it by it’s secret name so they can all be in on the joke.

The kids and I order normally and pretend we don’t know him while he does this little dance.  It is a game, isn’t it?  My husband believes he is winning, while my game needs some improvement having just dropped $6 on a Venti Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte this morning.

Want to look cool, but save some dough?  I have the answer.  Order anything “short”.  While this is normally intended for kids, you won’t get the “Is this Happy Meal really for you?” look when there is no toddler in the backseat while you go through the Drive-Thur.  (Not that I know anyone who would do that.) In fact, short is the preferred way to order cappuccino, lattes and more at Starbucks by coffee aficionados.

It comes down to this:  Shorts have the same amount of espresso as the 12 ounce tall giving it a bolder taste which is why most coffee lovers obsess over Starbucks in the first place.  It is also the official way to make most of these drinks correctly.  Take a cappuccino, for instance.  The most skilled barista simply can not make the proper amount of foam for a Grande or Venti Cap which is supposed to be a 5-6 ounce beverage.  No wonder my cup always seems to be too light.  I started ordering it “wet” to give it more coffee, less foam, but it still seems to lack something when taken to go.  Now, we know why.

Shorts are also cheaper than the standard sizes – usually in the $2 – $3 range.  That’s quite a savings.  Starbucks, like all restaurants, has to set a “per order” charge for maximum efficiency (and profit) so shorts are not listed on the bar menu.  If you choose the “off menu” short, unlike my husband who thinks it is cool to beat the system, you will look like you own the system.  You’ll go from “ghetto” to “in-the-know” in a flash.

With the price difference you could order two shorts and have more espresso for the same amount of money you spend on a larger drink and enjoy the proper proportions of milk to coffee. Though no one will tell if you ask for the extra cup.;)

 

 

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Sep 24

The Myth Behind McDonald’s “Farming is a Way of Life” Advertising

You have probably seen McDonald’s new advertising campaign called “Farming is a Way of Life” where beef producers and potato farmers bring us the image of old-fashioned farming hinting that McDonald’s is just good wholesome food. Check this out, directly from their website and see if these potatoes sound wholesome to you:

Hash Brown:
Potatoes, vegetable oil (canola oil, hydrogenated soybean oil, natural beef flavor [wheat and milk derivatives]*, citric acid [preservative]), salt, corn flour, dehydrated
potato, dextrose, sodium acid pyrophosphate (maintain color), extractives of black pepper. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated
soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an anti-foaming agent. *

Well, there are potatoes in them, Jen.  Jen Bunger, is the graduate who came back to the family farm to raise potatoes and so convincingly sells her passion for potato farming on the televised ads.  It leaves me to wonder, “What do YOU think is foaming in the potatoes, Jen?”  It is probably all that other junk they add once your part of raising the potatoes is over.

So, where’s “the beef”?  Steve Foglesong tells us how three generations of his family have raised cattle and supply beef to McDonald’s.  It might not matter to him that the pink slime that was added for years was sold ONLY as dog food just 10 years ago.  By adding ammonia and other harsh chemicals, they made the hooves and connective tissues fit for our burgers and simultaneously lobbied to keep this information off of hamburger labels across the country.  That is why the McDonald’s site says 100% beef.   Personally, I want to know that part of my burger was only fit for dogs just a decade ago and is now being pumped into my burger to up the “lean” percentage.  I guess hooves and connective tissue are lean, however that hardly makes me want to eat them.

Read our previous post The Dirty Little Secret in Your Lean Ground Beef for more info on pink slime.

Perhaps it’s because my grandparents were farmers on both sides.  Or, maybe it’s because I don’t like lying.  In any case, these ads foster a myth that they are serving wholesome, “close to the source” food at Micky D’s. Is this just All-American advertising at it’s finest or another way to muddle the truth?  Does your gut tell you (pun intended) that you used to be able to eat McDonald’s as a kid, but now it simply does not agree with you?  I keep hearing that from other middle-aged adults and clearly there is some evidence that the food quality has changed over the years and there are many “additives”, using the term loosely, that were not put into our foods before.  Hooves, anyone? Tell us about your experiences with McDonald’s below.  Here’s to your health!

 

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Sep 12

Two Bizarre Reasons You Are Overweight

Can plastic make us fat?  Really?  If so, Americans are in BIG trouble – pun intended.  In More Magazine’s September article, “The Surprising Reason You’re Gaining Weight” it states that BPA has been shown by researchers to create excess amounts of insulin in human pancreatic cells.  In fact,  the cells make nearly double the amount needed to digest a meal.  This extra insulin encourages the body to store calories as fat which gives us those lovely bulges we like to complain about so much.  If you have been comforted by the “BPA Free” labels on plastic drink bottles and dishes – beware.  Its cousin BPS hasn’t fared any better in research which is being used in its stead.

Canned goods are also a big factor and in June of this year, Campbell’s Soup company finally announced its plan to eliminate BPA in their canning process after the Breast Cancer Fund, Healthy Child, Healthy World group and tens of thousands of others petitioned them to do so two years earlier.  You may remember when PVC was taken out of baby bottles, yet PVC is still considered a safe alternative to BPA by our government despite the fact it is a proven human carcinogen.

If you want to read more on how to avoid these unhealthy, potentially hormone-disturbing toxins here are a few tips:

  1. Trade your plastic water bottles for glass or aluminum.
  2. Drink your coffee and tea from ceramic mugs.  It is thought that heat distributes the chemicals into your beverage.
  3. Never reheat food in plastic containers in the microwave.  Transfer to a glass dish first.
  4. Avoid non-stick cookware in favor of anodized pans.
  5. Consider replacing plastic leftover food containers with glass.
  6. Most important:  take a look in your pantry.  Could you choose cartons or frozen instead of canned goods?

Make no mistake – plastics are big business.  Plastic manufacturing has grown two times as fast as all other manufacturing over the last 50 years.  Which means, they will only bend when forced to by consumer demand. Coincidentally this industry growth occurred during the same time frame that American obesity grew from 11% in 1961 to 33% in 2008 and the overweight segment grew from only 46% to a staggering 71% of our population. Coincidence?  Maybe, maybe not.

For an interesting read on the history of plastic in America, check out:

http://www.brooklynrail.org/2005/05/express/a-brief-history-of-plastic

What can you do to affect things on a broader scale?  If you would like to put in your two cents to bring down the use of chemicals in our food containers, Tweet this borrowed from:  Healthy Child, Healthy World:

  1.  Email Campbell Soup co and reference the CansNotCancer campaign.  Tell them you don’t want BPA, BPS or PVC in the cans.  Learn more about congressional bills and other manufacturers that use these chemicals and how to avoid them at:  http://www.breastcancerfund.org/big-picture-solutions/make-our-products-safe/cans-not-cancer/
  2. Read our posts, “Five Easy Ways to Avoid a Toxic Body” and “How to Avoid a Toxic BABY” for more ideas.

Do you have information to share on this timely subject?  Comment below.

 

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Sep 05

The Ugly Truth Behind Agave Syrup

Touted as an “Organic” “Natural” “Raw”, even “Diabetic-Friendly” alternative to sugar, the truth behind Agave production is a heart-breaker.  Dr. Ellisor in Is Agave Good For You? and others have unearthed the truth behind this pseudo-healthy sugar substitute.   How can this be?  Let’s take it from the top:

If you think high fructose corn syrup is bad for you, know this:  Agave is processed in the same, exact way, leaving behind nothing but highly processed fructose and a little inulin.  Caustic chemicals are used to break it down and it may in fact be worse for you than the dreaded HFCSHigh fructose corn syrup has an average of 55% concentration of fructose while Agave is a whopping 70%.

There are amber colored agave syrups being passed off as “artisnal” when in fact the processing is so poorly regulated in Mexico that “artisnal” simply means it got burned.  Processing that heats the syrup above 140 degrees is what causes this darker color and it has no impact on anything but the taste.

In Agave: A Triumph of Marketing Over Truth, Dr. Mercola shows that agave tripled in sales in just 4 years from 2003 to 2007.  By 2009, McCormick listed it in their “Top 10 Flavors”.  Flavor isn’t the problem.  It certainly tastes good enough.  The issue comes from marketing it as a low-glycemic alternative for diabetics and others watching their health.  In testing various brands, the syrup may contain anywhere from 55 to 90 percent fructose due to irregularities in processing.  Most of the syrup comes from Mexico which is part of the concern as there are very few quality controls in place.

What about the lies in marketing?  Well, there is nothing “raw”, “organic” or “natural” about Agave syrup.  It is simply not a whole food.  It is fractionated and processed in the same way as many of our foods are in our pantry today which most health experts blame for the ballooning of American waistlines over the last two decades.

Dr. Mercola went on to say, “Since most  agave syrup has such a high percentage of fructose, your blood sugar will likely spike just as it would if you were consuming regular sugar or HFCS, and you would also run the risk of raising your triglyceride levels. It’s also important to understand that whereas the glucose in other sugars are converted to blood glucose, fructose is a relatively unregulated source of fuel that your liver converts to fat and cholesterol.”  So much for a healthier alternative.

If, like me, you thought Agave had health benefits over table sugar you should know they are both 16 calories per teaspoon. Many see artificial sweeteners as even worse for our health by possibly increasing our taste for even sweeter foods.  (Many are several times as sweet as cane sugar.)  So, what is a person with a pronounced sweet tooth to do?  Try stevia.  Truvia and PureVia are common brands found today or small amounts of raw honey or even the real stuff – cane sugar – in moderation.  Looks like another sweet, fat lie from Big Food to American consumers.

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Jun 07

3 Lessons the Volunteer Lunch Lady Learned About School Food

Back to school I went, with a smile on my face and trembling in my heart. Sitting by your children during school lunch is priceless – the first time.  I recall huddling around a bag of carrots and a milk while they and their friends debated the meaning of the words on the carton.  It was quite a hoot!  The food, however, was only entertaining if you like sick jokes.  If you remember your school lunches as a bit gross, not much has changed.

I had to admit, I hadn’t served as the volunteer lunch lady in quite a while.  I had stopped after I learned during their first few grade school years how bad the food choices actually were.  When I didn’t want to eat the food for lunch, how could I send my kids to eat it every day?  At that point, they started to pack their lunch with one day a week of hot lunch so they didn’t feel left out.  Left out of what I now wonder?  Obesity?  Childhood diabetes?

Note to self:  All full-time lunch ladies are defensive of the food they serve.  “Everyone wants to cut back, but you have to come up with the calories!” mine said after 40 years of dutiful service.  I feel for her.  No one wants to think we are hurting the kids, even in our own homes.  Yet, here is what was on the lunch menu the day I served:

  1. Corn dog (you could request  1 and a half)
  2. Bag of goldfish crackers.
  3. Bag of Scooby fruit snacks.
  4. Double-gooey, chocolate fudge cookie.
  5. Whole milk, chocolate milk or fruit punch (you can choose 2)
  6. Box of raisins (almost none were taken by the end of lunch.)
  7. Bag of bunny carrots (again, they went completely begging in lieu of the other choices).

Salami, ham, turkey, cheese or peanut butter sandwich are also choices.  It was interesting to watch the kids in their “natural habitat”, so to speak.  The lessons they taught were simple and are a heads up to parents everywhere:

Lesson Number One:  Heavier kids chose more food (a lot more and nearly double the volume and calories of the thinner kids) with usually 2 cartons of chocolate milk containing the sugar equivalent of  2 cans of soda.  Ouch!  Bigger portions = bigger bodies.  I did know that as an adult, but it’s awfully hard to watch in children who probably don’t understand this simple basic.

Lesson Number Two: Thinner kids would say “I think I’ll make a healthy choice now” and grab the fruit punch, albeit mostly sugar and water, it looked healthier to them.  Clearly, their parents are trying.  Yet they passed on the fresher fruit and vegetable and chose the processed goldfish and fruit snacks in a bag.  Obviously, we are teaching them how NOT to eat every day by buying these for them at home instead of pushing fresh choices like an apple or carrots.  Really, how inconvenient are these natural options?  Not very, I must admit.

Lesson Number Three:  If they can choose salami ( no bread) and a fudge cookie, fruit snacks and two chocolate milks and call it a meal, they will.  Having just brown-bagged with the 3rd grade class on a field trip, I noticed a disturbing site.  One mother ate fruit and vegetables with her sandwich while packing a lunch of full-fat cheese, brownie and peanut butter on a spoon for this same child who chose the meal above.  Really?  How does the child not rate the same good choices as we choose for ourselves.  This one hit me pretty hard as the mom is a normal weight and the daughter and her brother in the other class are 3x the size of the other kids (THREE not TWO times the size of their classmates.)  I sort of wanted to bean the mom in the head with my soda can so she would wake up!

There were also mysterious “accidents” of gooey chocolate cookies landing in ketchup and mustard so they could have another.  No one ever says “no” behind the counter.  Too many tears I imagine – on both sides.  In any case, lunch is a battlefield that every parent needs to be aware of and choose to do something about.  Otherwise, we are setting our kids up for a lifetime of bad eating choices.  What’s your take on this subject?  Do you have any experiences with school lunches to share?  We look forward to your comments.

 

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Apr 22

The Dirty Little Secret in Your “Lean” Ground Beef

I should have known when my overly-observant husband kept asking “What is all of that stuff cooking out of the meatloaf?”  I told him I was using 97% lean beef now, so it must be water or I added too much “Whats-this-hear” sauce.  Either way, it has to be better than the 90% beef he had been buying from Sam’s Club.  Enter the crisis.  No time for two shopping trips in the same week and I have to buy my ground beef at Sam’s.  This would be the first meatloaf made with “fatty” hamburger since I had lost 40 pounds.  The meatloaf  came out perfect, and there was no weird “juice” in sight.   So I start researching and I don’t like what I have learned.  Neither will you.

In March of this year, many people have starte complaining about “Pink Slime”.  I thought they were talking about that weird pink stuff that looks like ice cream that they force into chicken nuggets.  I use the term “chicken” loosely, of course.  In further study, I found more weird pink slime is being used to up the beef content in ground burger all across the country.  Sam’s is one of the few exceptions.  They do not sell the pink stuff.  A little more research shows me that my local grocer, Deirberg’s, who I love for their focus on the health food aisle, has been slipping goo into my 97% burger all along.  I feel cheated.  So much for the lavender-scented health food aisle.  Their rebuttle?  You may buy Angus, which I had already determined was too high in fat.  Or, you may buy our natural choice brand in the freezer section of the health food aisle.  Thanks a lot. I would have liked to have known that a little sooner.

What is IN the “Pink Slime”?  You really might not want to know, but here goes.  As reported in How Stuff Works, “Ten years ago, the rejected fat, sinew, bloody effluvia, and occasional bits of meat cut from carcasses in the slaughterhouse were a low-value waste product called ‘trimmings’ that were sold primarily as pet food. No more. Now, Beef Products Inc. of South Dakota transforms trimmings into something they call ‘boneless lean beef.’ In huge factories, the company liquefies the trimmings and uses a spinning centrifuge to separate the sinews and fats from the meat, leaving a mash that has been described as ‘pink slime,’ which is then frozen into small squares and sold as a low-cost additive to hamburger.”  Feeling sick yet?  So am I.  Basically, they are selling us pet food and saying it’s “edible.”

Edible must be a relative word.  For instance, many had this response to my findings for the post Is McDonald’s Lying About Their Ingredients?  More than one replied to the fact that McDonald’s uses silicone to paste nuggets and other things together with statements like, “Well, it must be edible or the FDA wouldn’t allow them to sell it.”  Is it just me or should pet food and bathroom caulk not qualify as food? I say they shouldn’t be allowed to call burgers 100% beef with this kind of trickery.  Why don’t we just skip the middle-man all-together and stock up at Pet’s Mart for the whole family?!  It’s probably cheaper.

Some blame our expectations as Americans that food be plentiful and cheap.  This has been the mantra of the corn industry which receives the biggest subsidies and is responsible for the fact that 80% of  the 50,000 products found in our supermarkets today have corn in them.  In my post What do you want on your burger:  Corn syrup, Mustard or Mayo? we see how these subsidies are playing out.  You can buy TWO 64 ounce bottles of Heinz Ketchup at Sam’s for the same price as ONE 24 ounce Reduced-Sugar Heinz at Walmart.  The only thing missing?  Corn syrup!

I am all for progress.  I am also all for food.  Real food.  The kind you feed to people, not pets or cows.  What’s your take on food in America today?  Are you willing to “upgrade your ketchup or burger”?  Before you answer, invest 40 seconds of your life looking at this:

How quickly obesity has changed in US

 

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Apr 21

Psst ….The Size of Your Waist and the Size of Your Breakfast Have Something in Common

I love asking people what they eat for breakfast.  It tells me a lot, especially when I check out the size of their belly right after.  Yes, that’s me,  the Skinnier Foodie, giving you the long once-over. I have become a student of what people eat (or don’t eat) in my quest to learn more about the affects of our typical American diet.  What  I have learned will probably surprise you.

People who are overweight do not eat eggs and bacon for breakfast every day, contrary to what thinner folks might think.  In fact, people who struggle with weight usually don’t eat much at all for breakfast.  They either skip it all together or go for quick, refined carbohydrates such as a daily bagel while they head out of the door.  I recognize that person.  That was me before the 40 pound weight loss.  I didn’t have time to make or eat a real breakfast.  I also considered eggs and bacon a “no-no” except for special occasions because of the fat content.

If you have been skipping breakfast in order to shed some pounds, think again.  The National Weight Control Registry which tracks thousands of people who have lost weight show only 5% skip breakfast.  Whether low-carbohydrate or low-fat, a nutritious breakfast sets up your entire day for success.  In fact, new research has shown that after 8 hours of sleep we actually need to kick-start our metabolism by eating well in the morning.  Don’t believe it?  Here is what I have found when talking to people who maintain a healthy weight.

People who maintain a healthy weight look at breakfast as one of the most important parts of their day and give it due attention.  They often eat eggs or peanut butter toast or protein smoothies.  They even eat cereal, though it’s usually high protein or high fiber, or oatmeal with protein powder, peanut butter or even cottage cheese stirred in.  It’s common to hear flax seed and other things sprinkled on top and higher-quality sweeteners such as agave or honey.  Here is a pic of a  breakfast I typically eat that helps me continue to control my weight:

 

Confucius say:  Eat like a King for breakfast, a Prince for lunch and a Pauper for dinner. If you don’t do what “Confucius Say” when are you eating like a King?  Are you back-loading your daily calories into lunch and dinner?  If I have one small lesson to share, it is this:

Change the size of your breakfast and you can change the size of your waist.  Even if you don’t look, know someone else always is.;) 

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s story with some eye-opening information on your ground beef called The Dirty Little Secret in Your Lean Beef.  You don’t want to miss this one.


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Apr 07

A 5 Minute Fix for Hard-Boiled Eggs That Won’t Peel

Everyone has had the experience of trying to peel an egg that just won’t cooperate and ending up with an ugly white blob.  While it’s not such a big deal if you are making egg salad, when you are making deviled eggs for Easter or anytime they need to look pretty,  knowing how to fix the problem and hopefully salvage your already-boiled eggs is essential.

The reasons eggs won’t peel are numerous, but no matter how you got to this point, there is a fix.  Three little steps can take you from this:

 

To this with the same batch of poor-peeling and already boiled eggs.

As you might have guessed, this happened to me and with no time to get new eggs let alone properly age them in the fridge.  For future reference, two weeks in the refrigerator is suggested.  Mine only had 7 days and they were not ready to let go of their cozy little shells yet.  Like any modern woman, I knew what to do . I Googled it.  I took the suggestions of several people and separated the 3 dozen boiled and stubborn eggs  into mini-batches to test each theory.  Here are the three steps that worked together beautifully:

STEP ONE:  Simmer them longer.  Most eggs aren’t cooked long enough when they don’t peel easily.  My mother said simmer for 10 minutes after a rolling boil, which is right for medium eggs.  My mother-in-law said fifteen simmered on low after bringing the water to a boil, which is right for extra large.  I had large sized eggs.  They needed 12 minutes.  So, put your boiled eggs back in the pan covered with water brought to a simmer for a few more minutes.   This gave me the  right “doneness” of the yolk, without the unsightly grey ring.

STEP TWO: Add vinegar.  Vinegar softens the shell and does make them easier to peel.  I added vinegar during the extra simmer time and I could literally peel off half of the shell at a time.  If you have done this already in the initial boil, you can probably skip this step.

STEP THREE: Start from the bottom when peeling.  I had always been a side-cracker, with a rolling thumb technique.  After trying that on these eggs, I found the experts were right.  Crack on the large end first, then the top, but peel from the bottom up.  There is a small air pocket there that allows you easier access to the membrane which stands between you and a shiny, white egg.

Interestingly, none of these steps worked well on their own.  I tried getting by with only the extra simmer time, and then only peeling from the bottom up and even started a new batch with vinegar upfront, but only had only marginally better results. For your next batch started from scratch start by setting your timer for:

10 minutes for medium eggs

12 minutes for large

15 minutes for extra large

While some swear by 2 minutes in either direction for each of these times, one great suggestion is to sacrifice one egg to check for the yolk done as you prefer.  Good advice.  You may fear an underdone yolk more than the grey ring.  To each his own.  Adding vinegar is  a must.  I added about 1/2 cup to the simmering pot of 6 eggs each time.  Vinegar has another advantage as it extends your ability to keep them in the refrigerator before eating from 5 days to 7. Who knew?

Peeling Technique:  Since this experiment, I have become a reformed “side cracker and thumb roller.”  Now, I am stoutly part of the “bottom up” crowd.  I also found that draining the hot liquid and  using the pan to roll the eggs back and forth to crack the shells before dousing them with ice water did seem to work, though not nearly as well as the bottom up method.

One more piece of advice is to peel them under running, cold water.  Mom was right about this one, it keeps the membrane moving and gets those little pieces out of the way that cause dents in the egg white.  I can still see her standing over the sink making pretty eggs to decorate the top of  her famous potato salad.  Here’s hoping this holiday weekend brings you as many happy memories of family and friends as it does for me.

 

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Mar 01

What to Do When “Your Hips Don’t Lie” But Fat but Sugar Still Know Where You Live

I confess.  I am a chocoholic.  If they had meetings for the disease, I would be a charter member.  Beyond that, I have a sweet tooth with a cavity the size of Denver.  When I was in full-blown sugar and fat addiction six months ago, I said that I had never tasted anything “too sweet” or “too rich”.  When I heard other people describe food in this way, I thought they were joking or possibly in love with flogging themselves.  In any case, I loved dessert and nothing was going to stand between me and my oven.  After a 40 pound weight loss, it was time to go back into the kitchen, roll up my sleeves and rework my old magic.

Could I do it?  In short, I’m “Winning!”  and I have some big secrets to share.  Marie Antoinette was right.  “Let them eat cake!”  Thanks to new options you can enjoy both that seductive moment on the lips and suffer no widening of the hips.  However, you can’t be lazy.  The same old thing will produce the same old results.  If you want to lower your intake of sugar and fat but not join the Floggers of America chapter in your neighborhood- you have come to the right place.  The Skinnier Foodie is here to front run your best options.  First, let’s take on the Holy Trinity of Sweets – Sugar, Fat and Flour.

Taking on The “Holy Trinity” of Sweets

1. Sugar.  Let’s start with powdered sugar.  This is the “mother sauce”.  It isn’t just for sprinkling, though keep some in a shaker just for fun. Powdered sugar can make a simple glaze or icing for cookies by adding just a little milk and vanilla.  Or, it will help you work up a fluffy, decadent  frosting for cupcakes, brownies and your now healthier cookie sandwiches.  First lesson:  Powdered sugar is just granulated sugar and cornstarch mixed together.  You can make your own Powdered “No-Sugar” in 30 seconds or less.  Just 3/4 cup of your favorite sugar substitute such as Splenda, or in my case Swerve and 2 tablespoons of cornstarch in a blender make an easy substitute with the flick of a switch.  After a few tries, I have settled on a 50/50 blend of Splenda and Swerve (I buy Swerve which is a form of a natural, and more importantly, digestible sugar alcohol from netrition.com.  This means no calories and no gas).  This 50/50 combination that I stumbled on in a product review has saved my sweet tooth by negating any aftertaste from the Splenda and any “cooling effect” from the Erythritol (the basis of Swerve and Truvia).  I use the same combo for granulated sugar recipes by skipping the corn starch blender trick and it works just as well.  The combo creams well with butter or fat free cream cheese and also provides the bulk needed for most  baking, puddings and other treats.  For special occasions I use half of regular sugar and a quarter of each Splenda and Swerve.  The recipe in my next article for  a sugar free, low fat Chocolate Cream Cheese Frosting  will change your mind about “fattening” desserts forever.
Agave nectar instead of honey.  When moisture is needed in your recipe instead of granular sugars, this is a must to understand.  First of all, choose agave over honey every time. I made the switch away from honey after checking the international glycemic index which  is an index of how foods affect your blood sugar.  You want the lowest number possible, meaning it has the least affect on your blood glucose levels keeping your hunger in check for hours.  Sugar (sucrose) rates a 60 hit, honey a 40 and agave as low as a 10. Sugar substitutes like those I used to make powdered “no-sugar” come in at a tantalizing zero.  However, you may be happy enough with low-sugar vs. no-sugar in your recipe, and agave can fill the void.  Your toast may also cry out for a sticky, sweet syrup that no powder can provide.   It’s such a simple trade from honey bear to agave bottle and it will give you another lower-sugar option in your baking and cooking.  Add a little maple flavoring and you have a great low-sugar impact syrup.  Or, try Cary’s, it’s a great tasting sugar-free syrup that’s even safe for diabetics.  I often add a handful of frozen berries to this in the microwave to create an instant sugar-free compote for whole grain waffles.  Even the kids love it.

 

2.  Butter.   Butter and baking just go together.  However, you can cut back and substitute other moist-makers in many types of baking recipes such as cakes and breads.  Cookies, however, are another story.  They just don’t get crisp or spread well without some butter.  I have settled on the 50/50 rule with butter and applesauce or a pear and a few drops of vanilla creme stevia.  This is another great find as many stevias have a bitter taste.  The liquid vanilla creme and chocolate creme stevia, however, can make a mocha out of your coffee in 2 seconds flat without the guilt or the cash outlay at Starbuck’s.  Back to butter.  Mmmm . . . butter.  Another confession. I don’t really believe in fake butter.   Some health experts have related margarine to melted plastic.  I just don’t like the taste, particularly when it comes to baking.   A can of pumpkin can also replace the oil in many recipes with good results.  However, when in doubt, cut butter by half and you will be shocked at the difference in calories and the barely perceptible texture differences.

3.  Flour.  When it comes to white flour, the white sugar devil’s first cousin, there is a lot of reason to change to whole grains.  When baking banana bread, we actually prefer the whole wheat flour to white.  In cookies, white whole wheat flour works great,  Try this with chocolate chip cookies, for instance.  Surprisingly, a can of low-sodium black beans can actually replace flour in many baked goods like brownies and chocolate cake.  Check out our earlier post 3 Healthy Chocolate Brownies Reviewed (and so worth trying!) for more ideas on substituting flour in your favorite recipes.  In general, a can of pureed beans  – pinto for blond recipes and black for chocolate is a real find.  No one will be able to tell there are beans in the recipe (which is half the fun), as long as you puree them with no one else in the room! You can also try buckwheat and amaranth flours for a 25% substitution with 75% white flour, but I like the idea of upping the beans.  They jump the protein so much you are often satisfied with eating a lot less, which is the ultimate name of the game.

Don’t like to bake or always have the time to whip something up?  No problem.  I have some 5 minute “go tos” coming up in my next article that will keep your sweet tooth happy and only deepen the dimples on your face. ;) Stay tuned for “Dreamy Chocolate Tarts”, “Chocolate Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting” and “Cocoa Puff Cookies”.  I told you I am a chocoholic!  I’ll even add some pics for you to drool over.  I have learned over the last year, that you don’t have to give up your love of food to be skinnier.  You just have to learn how to have a “healthy relationship” with it.:)

Have you tried any substitutes to the “Holy Trinity” that  you would like to share?  Keep us posted.  We love to learn from our readers.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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