TIPS

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caffeine compost measurement cream substitutions moderation waste • salt  butter & bacon
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caffeine in beverages

the recent news of the 30-year old woman dying from excessiveness (including drinking nearly 2 gallons of coke a day), reminds us that anything in excess can be deadly. while tea is supposed to be good for you, because i drink a lot of it i question how much caffeine is in various drinks – and how much is too much?

according to mayo clinic, one should not have more than 500mg of caffeine a day. they also provide a table of caffeine content per popular drink. if you drink any combination of caffeinated drinks, it is good manage your caffeine intake – after all, it’s all about moderation!

COFFEE

Type of coffee Size Caffeine
Espresso, restaurant-style 1 oz. (30 mL) 40-75 mg
Espresso, restaurant-style, decaffeinated 1 oz. (30 mL) 0-15 mg
Generic brewed 8 oz. (240 mL) 95-200 mg
Generic brewed, decaffeinated 8 oz. (240 mL) 2-12 mg
McDonald’s brewed 16 oz. (480 mL) 100 mg
Starbucks Pike Place brewed 16 oz. (480 mL) 330 mg
Starbucks Pike Place brewed, decaffeinated 16 oz. (480 mL) 25 mg

TEA

Type of tea Size Caffeine
Brewed tea
Black tea 8 oz. (240 mL) 14-61 mg
Black tea, decaffeinated 8 oz. (240 mL) 0-12 mg
Green tea 8 oz. (240 mL) 24-40 mg
Iced tea
Generic instant, unsweetened 8 oz. (240 mL) 26 mg

SOFT DRINKS

Soft drink Size Caffeine
A & W Root Beer 12 oz. (355 mL) 0 mg
Barq’s Root Beer 12 oz. (355 mL) 18 mg
Coca-Cola Classic 12 oz. (355 mL) 30-35 mg
Dr Pepper 12 oz. (355 mL) 36 mg
Mountain Dew 12 oz. (355 mL) 46-55 mg

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read article on MayoClinic: Caffeine content for coffee, tea, soda and more

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tips to compost

GrowNYC started a pilot program to accept compost items from NYC households from march thru december 2011. here are some tips they provided on items they accept and how to store it.

What  can I bring to the compost collection sites?

Accepted materials include

  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • non-greasy food scraps (rice, pasta, bread, cereal, etc)
  • coffee grounds & filters
  • tea bags
  • egg and nut shells
  • pits
  • cut or dried flowers
  • houseplants and potting soil

Please NO

  • meat, chicken, fish, greasy food scraps, fat, oil, dairy
  • dog or cat waste, kitty litter
  • coal or charcoal
  • coconuts
  • diseased and/or insect-infested houseplants/soil
  • biodegradable/compostable plastics

How should I store my food scraps?

Food scraps can be collected in

  • large yogurt containers or other covered plastic containers
  • plastic bags
  • milk cartons
  • commercially-available compost pails

To reduce odors at home and at the Greenmarket

  • store items in the freezer or refrigerator
  • a layer of shredded newspaper at the bottom of your storage container also helps

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learn more about Compost at Greenmarket & download compost brochure (image from GrowNYC website)

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measurement equivalent

measurement equivalents information sure comes in handy – especially when substituting ingredients.

1 Drop = 1/72 tsp. = 0.002 oz. = 0.065 mL
1 Dash = 1/16 tsp. = 0.010 oz. = 0.308 mL
1 Pinch = 1/8 tsp. = 0.021 oz. = 0.616 mL
1 tsp. = 1/3 Tbls. = 1/64 cup = 1/6 oz. = 4.93 mL
2 tsp. = 2/3 Tbls. = 1/32 cup = 1/3 oz. = 9.86 mL
3 tsp. = 1 Tbls. = 1/16 cup = 1/2 oz. = 14.79 mL
6 tsp. = 2 Tbls. = 1/8 cup = 1 oz. = 29.57 mL
12 tsp. = 4 Tbls. = 1/4 cup = 2 oz. = 59.15 mL
16 tsp. = 5 1/3 Tbls. = 1/3 cup = 2 2/3 oz. = 78.86 mL
24 tsp. = 8 Tbls. = 1/2 cup = 4 oz. = 118.29 mL
32 tsp. = 10 2/3 Tbls. = 2/3 cup = 5 1/3 oz. = 157.73 mL
36 tsp. = 12 Tbls. = 3/4 cup = 6 oz. = 177.44 mL
48 tsp. = 16 Tbls. = 1 cup = 8 oz. = 236.59 mL
1 cup = 1/2 pt. = 1/4 qt. = 1/16 gal. = 8 oz. = 236.59 mL
2 cups = 1 pt. = 1/2 qt. = 1/8 gal. = 16 oz. = 473.18 mL
3 cups = 1 1/2 pt. = 3/4 qt. = 3/16 gal. = 24 oz. = 709.76 mL
4 cups = 2 pt. = 1 qt. = 1/4 gal. = 32 oz. = 946.35 mL
5 cups = 2 1/2 pt. = 1 1/4 qt. = 5/16 gal. = 40 oz. = 1.18 l
6 cups = 3 pt. = 1 1/2 qt. = 3/8 gal. = 48 oz. = 1.42 l
8 cups = 4 pt. = 2 qt. = 1/2 gal. = 64 oz. = 1.89 l
10 cups = 5 pt. = 2 1/2 qt. = 5/8 gal. = 80 oz. = 2.37 l
12 cups = 6 pt. = 3 qt. = 3/4 gal. = 96 oz. = 2.84 l
16 cups = 8 pt. = 4 qt. = 1 gal. = 128 oz. = 3.79 l
1 gill = 1/2 cup
1 peck = 2.33 gal.
1 bushel = 9.31 gal.
Abbreviations
gal. = gallon
l = liter
mL = milliliter
oz. = ounce
pt. = pint
qt. = quart
Tbls. = tablespoon
tsp. = teaspoon

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info on what’s measurement: Measurement Equivalents

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not all creams are created equal … what is cream?

i was making my cappuccino tart, i went looking for whipping cream but instead i saw heavy cream and light whipping cream. since i didn’t know the difference, i made it easy for myself and bought pre-made whipped cream. a few days later, i had sunny anderson’s show cooking for real on and i heard her say, “you know heavy cream and whipping cream is the same thing, right?” … well, no! i wish i knew it when i was at the store the other day!

so, i went online and found this page that made it quite easy to understand. basically the difference between the creams is the amount of butterfat in the different kinds of cream. for my purpose of making whipping cream, if there is not enough butterfat, the cream may not whip. half and half or light whipping cream won’t whip (unless the light whipping cream has 30% butterfat but most light whipping cream only has 20% butterfat). whipping cream or heavy cream would do the trick. double cream, which has about 48% butterfat, may over whip and get too thick.

this may be more info about cream than i really need to know but i love mousse desserts. in the future, i’ll know when i make another mousse cake, i can pick up the heavy cream if whipping cream is not in stock!

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more info on what’s cooking america webpage: Types of Cream – Definitions of Cream – What is Cream?

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substitution help … thank goodyness!

you how you sometimes buy that one top because it goes great with this one outfit but then your closet ends up being filled with things you wear once? ingredients in a recipe causes that same effect.

often recipes call for ingredients that we only will use a pinch of in a dish but then you never use it again! otherwise you look for an ingredient in your local supermarkets (even if you have 5 supermarkets in your neighborhood) but you just can’t find that ingredient! enter the power of substitutions:

molasses: 1 cup =

suggestions via About.com

  • 3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, plus 1/4 cup water

Note: These substitutions may alter the taste of your recipe a bit. If the molasses flavor is vital to the success of your recipe, try the brown sugar substitute. Since brown sugar is made from granulated sugar and molasses, it’ll be the closest flavor match.

empanada dough

suggestions via Yahoo! Answers

  • pie crust dough
  • puff pastry sheets
  • pizza dough

Note: Pie crust has a more flakier taste, which is more similar to empanada dough than pizza dough.

suggestions to purchase from Chowhound:

  • Goya does make empanada dough that is pre-rolled and frozen. You can find it at pretty much any supermarket in a neighborhood with a big Hispanic population, or at smaller groceries, usually in the freezer with recaito and frozen yucca.
  • Rubee has impressed me w/ her use of Pillsbury refrigerated pie dough. Here’s a post where she uses it for empanadas.
  • … C Town sells frozen empanada dough disks for 69 cents for 10 in a pack. The brand is called PEPE, a company out of West NY, NJ.

then i was hanging with some friends and i learned about the BIBLE: The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim. it provides “… more than 5,000 substitutions for ingredients, equipment and techniques. now, instead of doing a google search, i can just look through my bible. it is just perfect!

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keep this book handy for your substitution needs: The Food Substitutions Bible by David Joachim

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fat fighting, negative calories and stress fighting foods … if only it were that easy. in the end, it is all about moderation.

this online article “negative calories: diet holy grail or urban food legend” cracked me up. some people believe and some people are selling (a book, actually) the concept of negative calories: foods that take away more than they give. the book talks about 100 foods (asparagus, apple, beet, berries, broccoli, cabbage, carrot, cauliflower, celery, chili, cucumber, garlic, lettuce, grapefruit, lemon, mango, onion, orange, papaya, pineapple, spinach, turnip, zucchini, to name a few.) that burn more calories as you chew, process, etc. than the amount of calories they contain. now, the condensed list of foods above are healthy so if the idea was to sell that these foods are good for you — all the better! but if it is to justify eating the things that are bad for you because the above foods will cancel out the bad stuff … well …

anyhoo, it takes me to another online article, 8 fat fighting foods, that i read recently. in the same light of the negative calorie article, it shouldn’t be taken to combat eating food high in fat by eating these 8 items. with people who have high cholesterol or those who have gout, rheumatoid arthritis, etc. and a slew of other health restraints that require low fat diets, it can be an extra coating to their meals. foods such as:

  • almonds: 3 ounces every day reduced weight & BMI by 18%
  • berries: vitamin c fruit help sizzle 30%  fat during exercise
  • cinnamon: 1/4 teaspoon on food prevent postmeal insulin spike
  • mustard: contains spice, tumeric, that may slow growth of fat tissues
  • oranges: flavones in oranges significantly lower increase in body fat over 14-year period
  • soybeans: chlorine blocks fat absorption and breaks down fatty deposits
  • sweet potatoes: high fiber which means no drastic jumps
  • swiss cheese: calcium-rich foods reduce fat-producing enzymes and increase fat breakdown

and then there’s the big issue with stress. stress is no friend to health and medical folks tell us to avoid stress. but it is honestly easier said than done. yet another online article, 5 stress fighting superfoods, says these foods can help reduce stress:

  • spinach: reduce stress’s effects on the body by stopping blood pressure from spiking
  • oranges: vitamin C in citrus bolsters your body’s natural bug barricades
  • chocolate: cocoa boosts your body’s levels of neurochemicals, which act on parts of the brain to help produce a sense of happiness and relaxation
  • fish (salmon, tuna): Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as salmon and tuna can help quell anxiety
  • oatmeal: B vitamins in oats stimulate production of serotonin, a key neurotransmitter that sends soothing signals to your brain

all three articles takes me to my motto: it’s all about moderation. the common denominator in all these articles is choosing to eat the “good stuff” more often can allow you to have fun with the “bad stuff,” every now and then.

total deprivation is hard.

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food … don’t waste it!

a reminder, from my cuz’s kitchen:

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extra salty please … even if it doesn’t need it!!

pretend food network interview q3: you don’t salt your pasta? NEXT!

i admit to putting too much in my food but i also don’t like the taste of too much salt. so in my quest to improve health, i changed my salt to sea salt and try to limit my use of salt in recipes where i can. but as i watch more and cooking shows, i’m curious why chefs use salt in almost every recipe? now i understand when you use salt in fruit to make it sweeter, or if you put salt in a sweet dish to bring our the flavors. sometimes you use salt to pull out the water in mushroom or tomato). and sometimes it is just for flavoring.

but even when chefs try to be health conscious and acknowledge there is salt in other flavors in the same recipe, they tell you to reduce instead of omit. i.e. cheese is already salty so just add a little salt — or — do you really need to salt the water to cook the pasta? with all the rich, wonderful sauce that will be mixed into or put on top of pasta, is the salt really missed? i haven’t!

so i say to all you experimenting chefs out there, use a little judgment on your own part and decide if you really need to add the salt in the recipe, ok?

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set aside butter … let the other flavors shine!

pretend food network interview q1: you use margarine??? NEXT!

i enjoy butter. i do! it is a wonderful flavor and an amazing ingredient in infinite creations of food. sometimes when i watch cooking shows and read recipes, i cringe seeing how much butter is in the recipe. aside from having high cholesterol, i have a “too much” threshold. if i eat something with too much butter, MY butter threshold, i need to down a pot of hot tea to ungrease myself.

so i like to substitute butter with margarine. i happen to like the flavor of margarine. i can tell the difference between butter and margarine but i don’t think that one is far superior than the other. when i think a recipe has so many other flavors than butter alone, i substitute with margarine and call it a day. but not all margarine is created equal. margarine in a tub is better than margarine in a stick so i always get the tub.

but butter is not the only issue …

seriously! not everyone loves bacon!

pretend food network interview q2: do you like bacon? no? NEXT!

now, don’t get me wrong – i love food network. i watch it all the time and when i watch the shows i not only want to eat, i want to cook! luckily, one of the beauties of cooking is that you can control, change and tweak ingredients. from watching food network i’ve learned ideas and then take it upon myself to substitute. substitute. substitute … e.g. i substitute butter with margarine. WAIT. food network just blocked my blog. ha ha. but they can’t block me from watching their programing so …

let my food adventure continue!

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