Monday, November 11, 2013

In The Pantry - Part 1

I found this in a cookbook dating 2000 called Fit & Fast Foods and feel that it is still good today.
This was actually an education for me as I wasn't aware of a lot of this information.

Agar-Agar - this is a gelatin made from sea algae and is available in most health food stores and oriental shops.  Unlike animal based gelatins, agar-agar has a variety of nutrients and minerals. (This is one I've not tried.  I frequently eat at a Greek owned restaurant and have noticed that their soups have a gelatin thickness that I really like.  I don't know if this is what they use but I plan to try it myself.)

Baking Powder - this product needs to be stored in a cool and dry place to keep its leavening action alive.  You should choose a brand that is made without aluminum compounds.  Although all research is not in, there are indications that when aluminum is ingested, it accumulates in the brain and may be linked to loss of memory and brain deterioration.  (This is what I found of on the use of baking powder with aluminum. "Nothing that I read confirmed its dangers but I think I'll buy that without.  If you’ve ever experienced a bitter, “tinny” flavor when biting into a muffin, that’s because of the baking powder used—and often the overuse of it.")

Baking Soda - is a leavening agent that reacts to acids, like vinegars, citrus juice and buttermilk in a recipe.  Sore it in a cool, dry place.  (Never realized this.)

Bran - choose wheat and oat brans.  Both are very beneficial for their fiber and for nutrients that are often discarded during normal milling processes. (Did know this one.)

Brewers Yeast - this yeast has no value as a leavening agent but has significant levels of B vitamins.  Brewers yeast can be added to many types of foods and you may want to experiment with different types of brewers yeast, as some varieties are stronger in flavor than others.  Store in a cool, dry location.  (Have not tried this one yet.)

Bulgar - Raw wheat berries are parboiled, then dried and cracked.  Bulur has a variety of uses and is best known for its use in Middle-Eastern foods such as tabouli.  This nutty, rich tasting grain is a great substitute for side dishes of rice or potatoes.  Store in tightly covered containers in a cool, dry location.  (Another one that I've not tried but would like to.)

Butter - When you choose to put a spread on your toast, choose a homemade "butter blend", of 2 parts butter, whipped together with one part olive oil.  The whipping action will create a lite and airy spread that will help cut down on the amount you use and combination of butter with the monounsaturated olive oil, will help control the amount of saturated fats you ingest.  Use this spread sparingly, as your overall focus needs to be on reducing the amount of saturated fats in your diet.  Cut back altogether on the amount of butter you ingest, but when you decide to eat a spread, use a small amount of "butter blend".  (This is something you can now find in the grocery stores but I think I would feel a lot better making my own and knowing exactly what was in it.)
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