July 31, 2007

Empty Foods


So few days back I read about this study which correlates diet soda and a host of health problems. The soda doesn’t cause the health problems, mind you, but it’s considered likely that heavy consumption of diet soda indicates poor eating habits.

Which is just totally unfair.

I switched to you to be healthier, Diet Dr. Pepper! I believed in you! You’re a doctor! And this is where you take me, down a road that ends in heart attacks?

Here’s the thing: diet foods creep me out. It took dating a Diet Coke-obsessed woman to turn me on to diet soda, and even then only because waking up at 7:30 each day (life is hard, I know) necessitates cheap caffeine. I chew sugarless gum without trepidation, but the rest of those calorie-free, nutrient-free, everything-free monstrosities science hath wrought set off some kind of warning bells in my brain.

We all know now that saccharin’s cancer link was based on faulty test procedures. We dismiss the critics of newer wonder-sweeteners like aspartame and Splenda as crackpots. They’re generally recognized as safe, and thus we’re all fine, right?

Maybe so. But honestly, I wish I had the self-restraint to eat the real sweet stuff less often instead of tricking myself every time my belly demands tribute. But, judging by how fast a week’s worth of cookies vanishes from my house, it seems I don’t. And by constantly nurturing those urges for confections with faux-food instead of gaining the discipline to only eat the real goodies, say, once a week, maybe I’m holding myself back from true healthy eating. As long as I eat something sweet–even synthetically sweet–whenever I want something sweet, maybe I’m telling my body “keep craving junk; maybe eventually I’ll give you the good stuff” rather than teaching it to just hold the damn cravings off ’til the weekend.

What do you think? Do any of you feel ill at ease when you crack open your third Diet Coke or bake cookies with Splenda?

-Jim, amazed xylitol tastes so lousy

What I would do with jam

Recently, Sam of Becks and Posh wrote a post asking for ideas or suggestions on what to do with her excessive abundance of jam jars in the fridge entitled “Jammed if you do, Jammed if you don’t.” I gave this question some thought and decided to respond with a post of my own.

1. Meatballs
One of the first things to come to mind was meatballs. Particularly, my family’s recipe for Sweet and Sour meatballs. My grandmother came up with this recipe and it uses grape jelly in the sauce for its sweetness factor. But, we’re not done with the meatball category quite yet. Recently I was at a party where lamb meatballs were served alongside a nice helping of grape jam. Let me tell you, it was unexpectedly delicioso!

2. Crepes
If you’ve read some of my recent posts, you might know I have an obsession with Swedish Pancakes. Part of what makes the crepe-like pancakes so delicious is that they’re always served with lingonberry jam (and some whipped butter). The lingonberries offer a sweet, yet not too sweet, taste to the perfectly textured crepes. So, after giving it more thought, I think that this would work well with any basic crepe. Raspberry jam seems like it would work rather well!

3. Glazes
While it isn’t ordinary, the thought of a grilled chicken dish covered in a raspberry glaze (made from jam of course!) makes me drool. The same goes for beef, and some claim, even salmon (or other fish.) You can probably use up a whole bunch of your jam jars by serving up protein entrees with sweet fruity glazes. Actually, Recipe4Living just received a great Strawberry Beef Filet recipe. He made his own jam out of strawberries, but I’m sure already-made jam can be substituted.

4. Cobblers
Since cobblers are known for having the perfect combination of crunch and gooey fruity goodness, why not use jam?! I think it’s perfect if I do say so myself. Here’s a recipe I found that uses blackberry jam: Old Fashioned Blackberry Cobbler.

Jam is also pretty tasty atop some fried matzo (known as matzo brie), or as I’m sure you know: toast! Ok, that’s it. I hope this helped someone because I am plum out of ideas! Post here if you have any!

-Hillary, excited to finally go to Rock Bottom (the restaurant, not the human state)
Editor, Recipe4Living

Last Supper

Some of our favorite food bloggers answered our fun albeit morbid question, “What would your Last Supper be?” The answers are impressively varied, mouth-watering, and hilarious!

Thanks to all you bloggers for participating in the fun!

Read the rest of this entry »

July 30, 2007

Flash-Frozen, Fried, Flash-Frozen Again….and maybe Fried

Why not? Boardwalk food can get away with anything! J* and I visited my friend in Ocean City, NJ over the weekend, and over-indulged in all of it, as we strolled along beach shops, carnival rides, ferris wheels, and plenty of mini-golf. After driving for several hours on Friday without stopping, we were famished. My friend whisked us away to Mack and Manco’s Pizza (there are several locations on the boardwalk). Without menus, aside from what’s on the wall, we both ordered “Plain,” meaning just cheese. The slice was quite tasty; very cheesy with crispy crust, just the way I like it. The sauce was just slightly sweet. We asked for another, and the server shrugged and said “Yeah” with a little shake of his head. He was just barely mocking us, implying “That’s what I’m here for buddy.” That’s Jersey for ya.

After a disappointing experience at Coney Island, J* and I gave Ocean City a chance with funnel cakes. The Friday night cake was good (fresh and crispy), but nothing compared to the cake on Sunday night bought at a lemonade shop (Love’s maybe? 2 for $4 deal somwhere). This cake was fluffier and absolutely drenched in powdered sugar. It was sooooooo good. For a final shot of boardwalk food absurdity, J* tried the fried oreos (which are frozen before frying and covered with powdered sugar). I wasn’t a fan, but he loved the way they melted inside the fried funnel cake-like coating.

I tried a chocolate-covered banana for the first time ever, but was not thrilled, despite the fact that it was also covered in rainbow sprinkles (festive!). I passed on a Philly Cheese Steak as my friends devoured them, fearing my body would outright revolt, but they looked delicious from Del’s Beachside Grill. We also enjoyed the wonderful view over lunch from the “shack on the beach,” Sugar’s.

What a wonderful weekend of reading (on a whim, I’ve decided to read all the Harry Potter books, I read the first two on Saturday and Sunday) , eating (above), and a little bit of swimming (as I was laughing at J* for something and facing the shore, I was unexpectedly clobbered with a huge wave, almost lost my bikini and scrapped my knee on the bottom, fun fun fun!).

-Caley, amused by the number of calories this weekend but looking at salads and sushi for several weeks

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