Food Crimes: Mesquite Choco-choco-choco cookies.

Where have I been? A tad busy: End of semester biz, daughter about ready to burst with baby, and baking.

I wandered accidentally, whilst grading on the couch listening to background noise on the tele, into baking and cooking shows. They have reawakened my passion for dessert chemistry.

I’ve posted pictures of these cookies on my instagram and facebook and the original recipe ideas link on my pinterest page. These recipes are not mine – but I always do some this and that to make it my own and have been asked to share.

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These are Mesquite Chocolate Chip cookies (on my favorite Roscher porcelain).

Although they don’t seem very holiday-like, they are delicious. Softer in ways than a regular chocolate chip.

Here’s the original recipe from David Lebovitz

I wanted to halve the recipe; the original recipe makes 50 cookies. I didn’t need that many. I wanted to sample before I committed.

 

Here are the changes I made.

1 cup of flourbaking.png

3/4 cup of Mesquite flour

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp sea salt

1/2 cup of butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1 cup of oats

1 fully generous overflowing, maybe more cup or so of chocolate chips. I used semi-sweet and bittersweet. (My faves!)

 

Then I followed his directions, including the pat down which I originally thought of as strange – but they do get puffy. heaven

Of course, we ate them right out of the oven –

HEAVEN.

Some of the middles were stuffed with chocolate; this was definitely the winner. If/when I make them again, I may try to purposefully load the center.

We had more when they cooled, then more later, then more the next day. Fortunately, I have willing taste testers who will try them at all stages.

The mesquite flour makes them light and airy. (I intend to bread some chicken with it and see what that gets me).

The cookies were delish! I wonder what other types of cookies this flour would compliment?

I’m going to try to post a recipe a day for the next few weeks – if you’re interested, like, follow, favor. 🙂

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Food Crimes: Something’s amiss at the Farmers’ Market

Farmers-marketI both love and hate the Farmers’ Markets.

I like the samples or, at least, I used to. Some time ago, I witnessed a man reach his fleshy hand in a bowl, dig out some cut up apricots with his fingers, and put the chunks of fruit in his mouth along with his fingers. Then he reached his slobbery hand into another bowl for the pluots.

Disgusting! I no longer partake of the cut up sample bowls.

THERE ARE TOOTHPICKS OFFERED FOR A REASON!

I saw one woman holding her dog while she squeezed peaches. She readjusted the dog, farmermputting her hands under his belly, then turned him over like a baby in her arms, and reached down to handle more peaches.

Kids regularly reach their little hands up onto tables, into bins, fingers in the sample bowls.

But, in all honesty, I have not been turned off from farmers’ markets – until possibly this weekend.

I picked up a lovely, healthy looking bunch of kale and put it in my sack. When I got home, I started to put it away and got a whiff of it. It stunk. It smelled like a dirty sponge. I washed it and let it dry. I tried again – mildewed sponge smell stuck to it. I washed it again and laid it to dry. This time the aroma of old bleach wafted from it’s thick leaves.

farmersmktUnwilling to take a chance and eat something that might make me sick (that’s what happen last week after my farmer’s market visit, I got sick. I didn’t then chalk it up to my farmers’ market finds, but now I’m wondering), I tossed it.

I’m not bothered by the loss of my few dollars, but more feeling betrayed by the farmer who tried to pass this off as fresh. I’m not sure what happened to turn the lovely kale into a dirty dishpan scented germ haven, but I do have the feeling the person on the other side of those leafy greens knew what he was selling.

It occurred to me that the farmers’ market is much like a buffet in a restaurant, minus the sneeze-guard. Yes, we’re going to be responsible and wash the food before we eat it, but is that going to be enough?

Beyond the numerous hands touching the produce, the unclean fingers lingering on the individual items, what about those – like I witnessed this weekend – who cough and actually sneeze near the food?

There’s no one checking on these open air food markets.farmermk

I’m certain many of the farmers are proud of their produce and wouldn’t allow infested products to line their tables; however, how many can afford to lose money by tossing away bins of forgotten water-logged or other problematic food?

I’m unclear how these farmers and their sales people can keep people from coughing, sneezing, molesting their fruits and veggies – I mean we are, in some sense, avoiding the supermarket system and trying to buy local – but how do we do this safely?

I imagine I could go back and talk to the guy who sold me that wretched kale, but what would that do? I have every faith he’d offer me a refund or replacement. But that’s not what I want. I want to feel this food is of a higher and safer quality than what I buy in the grocery store. I want to support the local farmers.

But I don’t want to get a staph infection from an avocado skin or the flu from a persimmon nor do I want to pick fleas off my peaches.

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Food Crimes: Don’t be Fake(d)

artifical1I tried a new drink; the front label boasted a vitamin drink. I didn’t take the time to read the ingredients. I was thirsting, it was cool and promised refreshing goodness. But, after drinking half the bottle, my stomach began to ache. I put it aside.

Later, when my daughter dropped by, I offered her the rest. (She’s worked in nutrition based stores since she was old enough to get a job – her major is public health). She said, did you read the ingredients?

I hadn’t. The front label had me convinced I was consuming a healthy beverage, but the ingredients listed three different types of fake sweeteners. I’m usually much better about reading labels, but sometimes we all forget and fall for the advertisement.

I’m not one who usually consumes anything with fake sweetener.

I’m a believer that our bodies are made to process what was put on this earth, not that which was created in a lab to fool our taste buds.

artificalPreviously, some of these artificial sweeteners had been linked to cancerous tumors in rats.

A new study shows that artificial sweeteners are toxic to our gut bacteria. Scientists are finding in more and more studies how important our guts are to our overall physical  and mental health.

I know someone, looking for an answer to their problems with anxiety, who was diagnosed with Leaky Gut Syndrome. The doctor told her that it was the cause of many of her mental health problems as well as other physical problems she was experiencing. If a product is toxic to our stomachs, imagine what it can do if it gets into our blood and neurological systems.

Don’t be fake(d). Read the labels. Avoid lab food when natural alternatives are available.  Even then, use in moderation.

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Food Crimes: Ohhh… Honey…… I like it raw…

That is, my preference for honey is unprocessed, unadulterated, and in other words raw.

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Raw honey appears opaque, thick, yellow. I feel like I’m getting the real thing. The thinner honey is questionable to me because many companies mix their honey with high fructose corn syrup and do not disclose it on the label.

I’m not sure how that happens, but it’s true. It’s true of other sweeteners as well; take honey1note agave lovers and brown syrup believers, your alternative all-natural sweetener may contain some Karo.

The secrets of honey are muddled in hives of misunderstandings, half truths, and changing laws.

Raw honey should be opaque and thick; it’s supposed to contain more enzymes which heat and processing destroys. However, it comes straight from the hive and will contain honeycomb, royal jelly, and possibly some bee parts. One article suggests any black spots may be a leg or joint – fun stuff!

honey2Manuka Honey, which sells for $20-$40 per 8oz is said to have significant antibiotic effects.

But honey, overall, says most articles, is not any healthier. The fructose in honey has the same effects on your body as any other sweetener.

 

 

Food Crimes – Sugar: The other white treat

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A little sugar never hurt anyone. The problem is that it’s in EVERYTHING!  Don’t believe me – read your labels.  If it’s not listed as “sugar,” it’s listed as:

  1. Beet sugar
  2. Blackstrap molasses
  3. Brown sugar
  4. Buttered syrup
  5. Cane juice crystals
  6. Cane sugar
  7. Caramel
  8. Carob syrup
  9. Castor sugar
  10. Coconut sugar
  11. Confectioner’s sugar (powdered sugar)
  12. Date sugar
  13. Demerara sugar
  14. Evaporated cane juice
  15. Florida crystals
  16. Fruit juice
  17. Fruit juice concentrate
  18. Golden sugar
  19. Golden syrup
  20. Grape sugar
  21. Honey
  22. Icing sugar
  23. Invert sugar
  24. Maple syrup
  25. Molasses
  26. Muscovado sugar
  27. Panela sugar
  28. Raw sugar
  29. Refiner’s syrup
  30. Sorghum syrup
  31. Sucanat
  32. Treacle sugar
  33. Turbinado sugar
  34. Yellow sugar

Or other lovely pseudonyms.1981741_1648171295220103_7816513440544216227_n.jpg

If it were so harmless, why would it need aliases?

Some of the products you find sugar hiding in, besides the obvious, are canned goods, like corn and beans, whole grains, like bread and oatmeal, and especially “low fat” goods.

Too much sugar is bad for us. It’s been linked to memory and learning problems (in animals); some studies seem to relate Alzheimers to high sugar intake.

The truth is, no matter how much we like it, we can make healthier choices in the foods we eat.sugar crime

Secret Squirrel Food is one of my favorite sites for desserts. Not all of them are completely sugar free; some recipes use dates or other substitutes, but they are whole food choices which are healthier, in my opinion, than plain white sugar.

Well and Good Eats is guilty of some serious foodporn on Instagram. Check it out.

sugar crime1And PeanutButterPlusChocolate  are the winners for limiting the sugar to my sweet tooth.

Never say never.  Just say not so much!

 

Food Crimes: Inside Nutella

Did you know a woman sued Nutella and WON? nutella3.jpeg

She claimed Nutella falsely advertised the product as a healthy choice. She fed it to her child, believing in its healthy benefits.

I’m not fan of nutella or their advertising. I’ve seen the commercial in which a woman is spreading nutella on toast as an announcer says something to the effect, “get your children to eat breakfast again.”

Chocolate for breakfast?!  I’m in.  Uhm. Or not.

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My thought was always of the sugar and oil in the product and I’d never consider it something to feed my children for breakfast let alone a healthy alternative to anything.

Nutella claims it’s made with nuts. And it is.  They certainly have alluded to the fact that the product is healthy, but numerous companies are guilty of this type of advertising, and some are worse with their “lower sugar,” “fewer carbs,” “cautionbuyerbewarehigher protein” claims.

I’ve always considered food shopping like car shopping: Buyer Beware.

The company paid out 3 MILLION DOLLARS in the class action lawsuit.

It’s good that companies are held accountable, and more should be. But until that time, it really is buyer beware. READ LABELS!

We don’t need to deny ourselves something chocolate and nutty, we just need to make better choices. Here’s a few healthier versions of Nutella.

Homemade Nutella

Vegan Nutella

Better than Nutella

Let me know what you think!

ENJOY!

Food Crimes – Monday’s Food Blog.

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I whole heartedly believe our physical and mental health are related to what we put in our bodies.  wholeheartedly

When I witness food crimes, health demeanors, nutritional scofflaws, I want to share them. Therefore, on Mondays, enter my take on nutritional related topics.

I caught three or four minutes of The Ultimate Warrior the other day. The participant said, Cystic Fibrosis had controlled his life; he was on 36 medications a day and other therapies just to survive. He began educating himself and designed a program in which he took control of CF. This regimen consisted of healthy food and exercise.

foodcrime1Many people try to eat healthy and do something to improve their overall well-being; however, they are short-circuited by a food industry that play on key words and pop culture and is more interested in their own bottom line rather than healthy consumers.

So – in this space – on Mondays, I hope to review products, give links to sites I’ve found, and offer a little advice.

Disclaimer: I am by no means perfect, and none of us should try to be. But we should be informed enough to make wise choices.

For the first entry: Cashewgurt. cashewgur A yogurt made from cashews. It’s the new nondairy alternative.

I’m not sure how it happened, probably companies tracking my eating habits through supermarket club cards, but I’m occasionally offered free product samples. Cashewgurt was one of them.

The thought of a healthy, richly textured, nutty tasting, and protein filled near desert-like product filled me with anticipation.

I pulled back the tab and was met with… well… not quite vanilla looking, darker than your typical color of vanilla of yogurt.

I love cashews. Did I mention that? I love nuts. I was completely willing to give this product my whole heart.

cashewgutI dipped the spoon in the little cup and brought the not quite buoyant, not quite fluffy or even firm yogurt to my mouth. I could almost taste it before it reached my lips, and that wasn’t because of the scent of vanilla, but the overwhelming aroma of chemical manipulation.

It smelled a little funny, not bad just odd. And it tasted a little campy. No, seriously, like we’d been camping and it got left out in the melted ice of the cooler. But we hadn’t been. And this hadn’t been. This was fresh from the grocer’s cooler, to my fridge, then to my mouth.

It didn’t taste nutty. It barely tasted of vanilla. The after-taste that tortured my tongue was something like an old Tab soda burp that wouldn’t go away. The saddest part was the consistency – like near melted ice-cream. Not what I like in a yogurt, although some people do.

I felt this product, the taste, the after-taste, and the lack of consistency reinforced the stereotype – healthy food doesn’t taste as good.

The label reads:

*Made from cashewmilk. Watered down cashews. The second ingredient is sugar. (The rest of the ingredients are the experiment in how to plump up cashewmilk and sugar.)

*12 grams of sugar, 2 grams of protein.

When I buy food, I have a few rules I attempt to follow:

  1. One of the first three or four ingredients should not be sugar.
  2. The grams of sugar and protein (and probably fat) should be somewhat even.

12 grams of sugar and 2 grams of protein for a yogurt inspired from a nut seems somehow disappointingly wrong.

I had high hopes for this one.

Ladies and gentlemen, we all eat food that is not great for us. I take issue with companies which market products that pretend to be healthy and are, in fact, not.  Overall, yogurts fall under deserts or snacks in my book. There are some that come close to the balance between sugar, fat, and protein, and those are the ones I choose when I desire a flavorful adventure that is not desert.

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Forager’s slogan is “Food that’s better for the people and the planet.” I have to disagree with that one. There is too much sugar in Cashewgurt to be healthy or “better.” And both, the taste and consistency, needs work.

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think.

Next Monday – nutritional scofflaws