A Package of Fig Newtons ISN’T One Serving??

new label

This is the proposed new design of the FDA nutrition label. I’m sure you’re not surprised that I like the calorie count in a much larger font.

But I really like the new “added sugars” category because that’s one thing I always pay attention to. It saves me from having to squint at the tiny ingredient list searching for those sneaky words like HFCS, dextrose, mannitol, or ethyl maltol or trying to decide which is ‘natural’ sugar and which only seem natural, like evaporated cane juice, carob syrup, or fruit juice concentrates.

Just the fact that food manufacturers can’t be sneaky about it any longer gives me hope that we’ll find our road to good health a bit easier.

I’ve gotten pretty good about not being tricked by the serving size, but they say they’re going to make more realistic portion sizes also. For one thing, I heard they will designate 1 cup of ice cream as a serving, instead of the standard half-cup they use now. So even though I always measure out a half-cup of ice cream to eat, I guess now I have to eat one cup. That’s how it works, right?

I kid, of course, but I do worry a bit about those people who see that a soda is now labeled as “one serving” and that’s as far as they look, feeling justified that they’re within good limits. [Soapbox note, here ... there's no good limit on your daily soda. Knock it off.] old label

Here’s the official word from the FDA on the new nutrition labels.

Here’s the old one, for comparison →

They’ve opened the 90-day comment window, so make your opinion known, whether you like the new labels or not. Someone’s asking your opinion for a change … go give it!

I better check out the new label for Fig Newtons before I voice my opinion, though. I’m almost certain those are single serve packages.

What do you think about the new nutrition labels?




Is Food Too Cheap?

Plenty of research about obesity comes to the conclusion that there’s a genetic link. But between 1980 and 2000, the number of obese Americans has doubled. I’m no deep thinker, but that seems too fast for genetics to play a role.

But consider this — before World War II, families spent an average of 25 percent of their income on food.

Guess how much the average was in 2011? Go ahead. I’ll wait. Prepare to be shocked.

In 2011, families spent an average of 9.8 percent of their income on food. People are obese because food is too cheap. It’s simply too easy to eat more than we need. We also eat out more often. And I’ll venture a guess that the vast quantities of food we’re eating is less nutritious than in decades past.

So if we’re going to blame something for our obesity, we should blame the food industry for creating so many products with more calories per bite than is necessary for good health.

Scratch that. Instead of blame, let’s just start eating real food and not so much of it. That’s more fun anyway!

What’s for dinner tonight? Here in the Lazy Kitchen I’m experimenting with Citrus Glazed Shrimp. If it turns out, I’ll post the recipe.


Food Triggers for Allergies

I’ve been lucky this season and haven’t had much problem with allergies, but some of my friends have had an awful time of it.

I was surprised to find a link between outdoor allergens and the food we eat. But when I thought about it, I guess it does make sense. After all, our foods come from plants too.

Well, most of them. For instance, I’ve never seen a Wine-and-Bacon Tree. But I’d sure like to.

So, if you’re allergic to grass … avoid tomatoes, melons and oranges.

If you’re allergic to ragweed … avoid honeydew, zucchini, bananas, chamomile, watermelon, cucumbers and cantaloupe.

If you’re allergic to trees … avoid cherries, parsley, almonds, pears, apples, hazelnuts and celery.

If you’re allergic to weeds … avoid sunflower, carrots, pepper, fennel, celery, coriander and parsley.

I’m happy to see neither wine  nor bacon is on any of those lists.

Nutrition on a Budget

I’ve seen this meme from the Environmental Working Group floating around facebook lately and wanted to share it.

most nutrition - lowest cost

I love almost everything about it, especially the “Fun Fact” because I have a funny character in my work-in-progress novel who says that all the time. He calls it his ‘conversational bonus feature.’ His fun facts are always ridiculous and often inappropriate, unlike this one.

Good food on a tight budget is NEVER ridiculous or inappropriate. The one thing I take exception to is the orange juice. Prepared OJ often has a lot of added sugar. I wish the chart simply said “oranges.”

I also take exception to starfruit just on principle. I can never make it look pretty like they do in the magazines. It mocks me and hurts my feelings. So be off with you, Starfruit. You’re not welcome around the Lazy Kitchen anymore.

Have you mastered starfruit?

How to Spot Genetically Modified Produce

PLU stickerYou know those little stickers on produce you peel off and ignore? Turns out they’re useful!

There’s a 4 or 5-digit code for each piece of produce.

Conventional produce starts with a 3 or 4.

Organic starts with a 9.

You’d think Frankenfood would start with a 666, but you’d be wrong. Genetically modified produce starts with an 8.

This is how I remember. While perusing the produce I sing a Gregorian chant I like to call “Hate The Eight.” Here’s how it goes: “Hate the eight … Hate the eight … Hate the eight … Hate the eight … Hate the eight … Hate the eight.”

Catchy, huh?

Next time I go to the store, I’m going to do a little survey of my produce department. I suggest you do the same. If it’s alarming, be sure to tell both the Produce Manager and the Store Manager.

Like ending a sentence with a preposition, genetically modified food is something up with which we should not put.


The Fountain of Youth Is Behind You!

I read about a fascinating social experiment where the researcher sent a group of old men to a location where they were surrounded by all things 1950 — magazines, music, TV shows, newspapers, clothing. They were told only to discuss events from the 1950s and only in the present tense, essentially pretending they were their younger selves for a week.

Before and after their week of ducktails and leather jackets, they were given a battery of physical and mental tests. At the end, the men all tested “younger.” They had better grip strength, dexterity, posture, gait, memory, hearing AND vision!

Isn’t that astonishing?

If you need me, I’ll be in 1972.


What I Hate About Food Writing

The June 2013 issue of Smithsonian Magazine is a Food Issue. Lots of interesting articles about food. One about Dwight Henry, a New Orleans baker who was plucked from his doughnut shop to play the Dad in ‘Beasts of the Southern Wild.’ A you-are-there free-ranging discussion between Ruth Reichl and Michael Pollan over dinner. Another fabulous journey by Mary Roach to find the world’s hottest pepper. Astronaut food. Why you like the tastes you like. And more.

But also an article about ‘food ephiphanies’ that a long-time food critic has had over her career. She claims “21,170 restaurant meals in 49 countries since 1953.”

Wow. A fascinating culinary life, I’m sure. But here’s a passage about a pasta dish that steels my resolve not to read food writing.

“Touted as a late-night hangover preventive in Rome, thick bucatini provide sensuously chewy satisfaction heightened with the nutty garlic bits, verdant mincings of parsley and, for the brave of palate, fiery red flecks of the dried chilies peperoncini. (No cheese, please.)  To achieve perfection the pasta should be Italian – made of durum wheat flour and molded in a brass die. It should be cooked only slightly al dente so it is not too stiff to wind yet is not mushy, and its cooking water must be well salted. The bits of garlic have to be sautéed in the best virgin olive oil to only the lightest, sunniest gold, and the flat Italian parsley leaves (no stems) must be freshly minced and sprinkled on just before serving, with luck in a warm wide bowl.”


Only Italian pasta? Molded in a brass die? In a warm wide bowl? No cheese? No stems?

No thanks. I prefer my food writing less condescending.

How ’bout you? Does this kind of description float your boat?


What To Do With the Pulp After Juicing

Now that I’ve been juicing for awhile (which a friend pointed out makes me sound like Lance Armstrong), I’ve started to experiment with using the pulp too.

We make a tasty juice from yams, oranges and carrots. That pulp is marvelous in smoothies and in baked goods like pancakes and quick breads.

We also make a fabulous green juice using kale, cucumbers, lime, green apples, and celery. I love that one, too. I couldn’t figure out how to use the pulp, though — because it’s a weird combination of flavors — until it occurred to me to separate it and just use the kale, which is one of the healthiest foods you can eat. So now, I put the head of kale through the juicer first, then scoop out thepulp1 pulp.

I’ve been using it in my scrambled eggs. I like it much better than using spinach. First, because the pulp is completely dry so it doesn’t make my eggs all runny. And second, because it has a much milder flavor that’s easier to swallow so early in the morning.


You can see how dry it is. Like moss. Tastes better, I’m guessing, but I don’t know for a fact, having been lucky thus far in my life not to need to eat moss. I fill those little containers with my kale pulp, some in the refrigerator and some in the freezer.

This kale can certainly go in smoothies, but we have so many other things for smoothies, it’s nice to have something quick and easy for other stuff. I also use it on my sandwiches, topping my baked potato, and baked in my chocolate pancakes. Excellent on all counts.

We’ve already gotten into somewhat of a rut with our juicing — a good one, but a rut nonetheless — making mainly the orange and the green juice. I try to juice with veggies rather than fruit, since it’s easier for us to eat plenty of different varieties of fruit. I’m also trying to buy the veggies that are economical and aren’t so fragile that if you look at them cross-eyed they wilt. I’m looking at you, asparagus.

It would be nice to have one more veggie drink in our rotation. I’m also thinking of interesting and useful ideas for pulp in our continuing juicing journey. Any suggestions?

My New Favorite Foodie Website

This is my new favorite time waster, er website … FoodReference.com.

So. Much. Fun!

Important events in food history. A food festival calendar. Food trivia. Poems. Recipes. Cooking tips. Jokes —

After the Great Britain Beer Festival in London, all the brewery presidents decided to go out for a beer. The guy from Corona sits down and says, “I would like the world’s best beer, a Corona.” The bartender dusts off a bottle from the shelf and gives it to him. The guy from Budweiser says, “I’d like the best beer in the world, give me ‘The King Of Beers’, a Budweiser.” The bartender gives him one. The guy from Coors says, “I’d like the only beer made with Rocky Mountain spring water, give me a Coors.” He gets it. The guy from Guinness sits down and says, “Give me a Coke.” The bartender is a little taken aback, but gives him what he ordered. The other brewery presidents look over at him and ask “Why aren’t you drinking a Guinness?” The Guinness president replied, “Well, I figured if you guys aren’t drinking beer, neither would I.”


And featured videos like Ladies Who Shoot Their Lunch wherein someone actually uses the word ‘bamboozlement’ and you see a rabbit field dressed in no time at all. What’s not to love?!

 Go poke around in there. Did you fall down the rabbit hole?

Single Serve Cake Recipes

Have you seen the single serving cake recipe going around on Facebook?

I’m having mixed feelings about it. It’s ridiculously easy, but maybe too easy for those of us without willpower. It’s fairly low-cal, but it’s got no nutrition. Hmm. Dilemma.

I decided to compromise because it is so easy and not everyone lacks willpower. It’s a low calorie once-in-awhile fun food. And I’ll post a healthier single-serve treat as an alternative.

Yay rationalization!

Here’s the one going around cyberspace:

Single Serve Cake —makes 30 servings at 110 calories each

Get two boxes of cake mix — one must be Angel Food, the other can be any flavor you like — and mix them together in an airtight container. Whenever you feel the need for a bit of cake, just combine 3T of the mix + 2T water in a microwave-safe coffee cup or small bowl. Microwave on high for one minute.

Voilá! Cake! To me, though, it’s simply not satisfying. It’s too … I dunno … airy. I just don’t think it will help you when you’re having a craving for something sweet.

In my Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle Complete Cookbook I have this recipe …

Minute Morning MicrowaveI like this one better. First, it’s made with Real Food. (Have you read the ingredients on a box of cake mix? Oy vey.) Second … and I may not be impartial … it tastes better. Third, it’s more substantial, but still not too many calories.

But I’m not your Mom — well, I am to some of you. (Hi, kids! *waving*) — so you can use your own judgment about what’s right for you.

By the way, I’ve added this recipe under the tab “Recipes” across the top of the Lazy Low Cal Lifestyle website. I’m not entirely happy with the way that tab works, but I trust you’ll figure out how to access all the recipes. And then I trust you’ll forgive my clunkiness.