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Monthly Archive for: ‘November, 2011’
A Swing and a Miss

Thanksgiving had a couple of dishes that I totally screwed up.

 These baked southwestern egg rolls were one of those disasters.

Baked Southwestern Egg Rolls

Ingredients:
2 cups frozen corn, thawed
1 (15 oz.) can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 (10 oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
2 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend
1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles, drained
4 green onions, chopped
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. chili powder
1 tsp. salt
½ tsp. pepper
¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
1 package egg roll wrappers (about 24 total)

 

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine everything but the egg roll wrappers.  Mix well to blend.  Lay an egg roll wrapper out on a work surface so that one of the corners is pointing toward you and place ¼ cup of the filling in the center.  Fold the tip closest to you up over the filling, roll a bit, then take the points pointing outward and fold them in toward the center.  Continue rolling into an egg roll shape until a small part of the remaining point is still free.  Dip a finger in water or beaten egg and lightly brush on the edges of the free corner.  Finish rolling and press to seal closed.  Repeat with the remaining wrappers and filling.

Preheat the oven to 425? F.  Lightly oil a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Place the sealed egg rolls on the baking sheet seam side down and spray the tops of the egg rolls with cooking spray.  Bake for about 15 minutes, or until lightly brown, turning halfway through baking.  Serve warm with salsa.

Printed from Annie’s Eats

 

Conclusions

Looking at the picture and the recipe, you might say, “Jug, how could you screw that one up”.  I’ll tell you how.  First I used spring roll wrappers and not egg roll wrappers.  Big difference.  Then I added way too much cayenne pepper and finally I tried to deep fry these beauties instead of baking them.  Wow, what a mess.  I substituted fresh corn for frozen and fresh sauteed spinach for frozen, but that was the only thing I did right.
Spring roll wrappers are made of rice and are transparent when steamed or soaked.  They don’t hold up to frying at all, plus they are round and hard to roll.  Egg roll wrappers would have probably worked in the fryer, but baking does make more sense.
Can’t win them all.  I’d make these again, because I like the concept, but I’ll use the right wrappers – jughandle
More Notes from Thanksgiving week

 

 

 

 

 

 

Asparagus Souffle –  It was supposed to look like the first picture but ended up looking like the second picture.  It tasted great, but it didn’t rise.  The only thing I can think of that I might have done wrong was to under fill the ramekins and possibly over whip the egg whites.  I’m going to keep trying this one until I get it right.

 

 

 

 Broccoli Bites – These were a HUGE success and were scarfed down instantly.  They were invented by the author as a broccoli dish for kids.  I’m here to tell you that adults love these too.  They can be made in advance and then scooped out onto a cookie sheet to bake for 20-30 mins or until they brown.  Cool until they won’t burn your mouth and serve with some sort of dipping sauce, but mine didn’t get that far. I recommend making a double batch.  These were voted in the top 3 dishes of the week by my guests.

 

 

 

 A can’t fail salad and desert

Ceasar Salad – ala Jughandle –  I’ve been making this salad for almost 30 years.  I modified it slightly to make it unique and safe to eat.  Instead of adding a raw egg to the salad as an emulsifying agent, I use a tablespoon of mayonnaise, which is basically just eggs and oil.  I also make my own croutons and often use limes instead of lemons for an unusual twist.  When you have to have a quick salad that is a crowd pleaser, try this salad.

 

 

 

 Creme Brulee – I’ve never had anyone not love this desert and I’ve been making them with this recipe for 20 years.  These can be made way in advance and even frozen for future use as a late night snack.  Always taste the custard before putting it in the ramekins, because what you taste there is what you are going to get in the end.  Cooking only changes the texture.

 

 

 

 

 I’ll give you more tomorrow,  stay warm – jughandle

 

 

 

Notes from Thanksgiving – a few successes

Notes to self:

Self- in the future try to have fewer than 55 items on the menu for the week, 40 of which were new recipes I’ve never tried before.

Self- Don’t renovate the kitchen two days before a major holiday when 6 guests are coming to Thanksgiving dinner.

Attempted and the Result

My eyes are always bigger than my stomach and I seem to always be thinking about what I can accomplish with energy and dexterity I had 15 years ago.  The following are the dishes I scheduled to cook for the holiday week.  Some were good, some bad, and some were memorable.  Click on the links for the recipes:

Spinach Balls –  These looked great and weren’t too hard to make.  I substituted Panko bread crumbs for the All Brand Buds – the buds looked too much like kibble.  I sauteed fresh spinach instead of using frozen and  I also made my own croutons instead of using stuffing mix.  I screwed up by cooking them too long and some were burned and some were ok.  The mustard dip was great if you make your own ranch dressing.  I’d do these again and not cook them to death.  They did hold together well.  I made the balls with a small scoop and they were easy.

 

 

 Mario Batali’s Stuffed Cabbage –  This is a killer, must do and remember type of recipe.  The instructions include a “how to” on how to make the leaves soft enough to fold easily and was perfect and easy.  The recipe is vegetarian, but you could leave out the cheese and make it vegan pretty easily, or add meat and have a great dish too.  I substituted grated white cheddar cheese for the ricotta and Pecorino and it was very nice.  I didn’t have to use tooth picks to hold the packets together.  I just rolled them up and turned them seam down on the cooking sheet.  I did drizzle a little olive oil on the outside before baking and sprinkled that with Panko bread crumbs for a little crunch.  I’m using some sesame seeds next time. Every one loved this dish with the freshly made tomato sauce.

 

 Upside Down Potato and Onion Tart –   This may have been the best dish of the week.  It was gone in 60 sec, just like the movie.  I made this one exactly like the recipe called for, cutting my onions and potatoes on a mandolin slicer, which made it faster but wasn’t necessary.  I used a 9 inch, deep-sided, cast-iron skillet and everything fit nicely.  This can be cooked this a little in advance, which I did and when it came time to flip it onto a serving plate I had to warm the bottom and run a knife around the side of the skillet to release it from the pan, but that worked perfectly.  The tart cut cleanly using a pizza wheel and everyone wondered why I didn’t make two.  My only recommendation is to make sure you have another pan under the skillet when you put it into the oven to catch spill over and avoid filling the kitchen with smoke.

 

 Turkey number 1 – the rotisserie turkey is always a winner.  We have a Ronco standard rotisserie oven that gets used 3, sometimes 4 or 5 times a week.  I use it for everything from meat to vegetables.  The turkey gets brined with a 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of salt to every 2 gals of water, over night.  You don’t really have to do the brine with the rotisserie as it distributes the juices and always leaves a juicy result.  I dry the bird and rub it with olive oil, then sprinkle liberally with McCormick’s lemon-pepper.  That’s it.  This bird was a 13 pounder so I cooked it for 3 hours and 15 mins, then rotated without heat to redistribute the juices for 20 mins.  Easy. It pulls apart.

 

 

Turkey number 2, the de-boned stuffed turkey – My first de-boning of a turkey, went as well as could be expected.  No skin tears or bone fragments.  I cheated a little and left the wing and leg bones intact to better represent a whole turkey.  The stuffing was my own mix of rice, whole hard cooked eggs, spinach, arugula, mushrooms, dried fruit and nuts. The eggs were mostly for presentation when the bird was sliced, but I should have added 2 or 3 raw eggs to the mix to bind the stuffing more.  When it was cut the stuffing kind of fell out. The second picture shows the sliced bird.  I was able to eat the stuffing which was great.  Nice and moist.  Everyone loved the turkey and it would have been a star if it hadn’t been for the rotisserie turkey.

 

 This is the sliced bird with the egg reveal.

 

 

 

 

 The winner is!!  Pretzel rolls – this recipe got the most raves of all.  We had these with a nice potato soup that I made last week and Darlene doctored.  Chopped turkey was optional to add to the soup.  These rolls were easy to make.  They only have to rise about an hour and they you poach them in a salt/soda bath to make a pretzel like crust before baking them for 20 mins.  Crust on outside, doughy on the inside.  Great with butter or dipped in the soup.  I’ll be making these once a month at least.

 

 

 Thought I’d show you one of the desserts.  This is a double layer cheese cake with pistachio nuts on the outside and dried cherries and fresh blackberries on top.  Mine isn’t as pretty as the recipe, which was only one layer, but it was good.  I didn’t chop the nuts, so mine didn’t cover as well as the recipe’s and I changed the berries too.  My mother and I jointly made this cake using an old standard Philadelphia cheese cake recipe that is a never fail recipe.  It is so rich that only a small piece with satisfy even the sweetest of tooths.

 

 

 

More successes and failures on my next post – jughandle

Chia Seeds – Find it, Eat it now!

What Are Chia Seeds?

Chia seeds are one of the most powerful, functional, and nutritious superfoods in the world.  The chia seed is an amazing source of fiber and protein.  It is full of antioxidants and vitamins, minerals and is the richest plant source of omega-3. Yes, even better than flaxseeds.

A member of the mint family the plant is Salvia Hispanica and grows in southern Mexico.  Chia seeds were a daily component of the Aztec and Mayan diets.  It was thought that 1 T of the seeds could sustain a person for 24 hours.  Aztecs also used chia medicinally to relieve joint pain and skin conditions. It was a major crop in central and southern Mexico well into the 16th century, but it was banned after the Spanish conquest because of its association with the Aztec “pagan” religion.

Easy to grow

Over the past few decades, commercial production has resumed in Latin America.  Insects don’t like the plant, so organic seeds are easy to obtain but since there are no pests on the plants, almost all Chia is grown organically or without chemicals.  Where flaxseed has a very sort shelf life, Chia can be stored for years without getting rancid and the seeds don’t require grinding like the flaxseed, to be able to digest.

Nutrition

2 tablespoons or 25 grams–give you 7 g of fiber as well as calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, manganese, copper, niacin, and zinc.  More antioxidants than Blueberries.  More omega-3 than salmon.  More Fiber than bran flakes, more Calcium than 2% milk, more Protein, Fiber & Calcium than flax seeds.  These humble seeds give you a boost of energy that lasts also providing stamina and endurance.  Chia Seeds Reduce Cravings because they absorb so much water and have high soluble fiber levels, they help release natural, unrefined carbohydrate energy slowly into the bloodstream.  They are easy to digest and the fiber content actually helps in that digestion.

Chia is 16 percent protein, 31 percent fat, and 44 percent carbohydrate of which 38 percent is fiber. Most of its fat is the essential omega-3 fatty acid alpha-linolenic acid or ALA, according to the USDA National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference, Release 20 (2007).

The Chia seed has gotten very little press and only a little research since it’s revival, but expect much more soon.

In a preliminary study from the University of Toronto, researchers fed 21 diabetics either a supplement made from chia or grains with similar fiber content.  After 3 months, blood pressure in patients taking chia dropped (10 points diastolic, 5 points systolic) while the grain group’s BP remained steady.

Taste & Uses

The Chia seed has a nutty flavor.  Use them whole on cereal, yogurt or salads.  Mix them into your trail mix.  They can be ground and mixed with flour when baking as their nutritional content isn’t effected by heat.

The seeds have a natural affinity to water and when soaked in water create a gelatinous liquid which is just the soluble fiber releasing,  that can be used as a kind of binder in cooking.  In Mexico, Chia is used to create a drink called Chia Fresca.  Stir 2 T of Chia seeds into 8 to 10 oz of water.  Add lime or lemon, sugar to taste and you have a nutritious health drink.

Nutritious Chia Seed Gel

Chia Seed Gel

ways to prepare and use the seeds

1. Make Chia Gel -Chia Gel can be a healthy substitute for milk, eggs, butter, or oil.

  • Mix 1/3 cup of chia seeds with 2 cups of water.
  • Whisk together briskly.
  • Let the mixture rest for about fifteen minutes.
  • Whisk one more time.
  • Put the mixture in a sealed container and refrigerate.
  • Chia gel will keep 3 weeks in the fridge.
  • 1 egg = 3 T water and 1 T chia seeds either whole or ground

2. Chia Flour

You can also enjoy the health benefits of chia seeds when you grind them into flour. You can do this yourself or purchase ready-made chia flour. Use chia flour to bake pizza crust, pies, bread, cookies, biscuits, and anything else. Combine it with whole wheat or barley flour. Experiment with the ratios until you get what you like. Of course you can also use chia flour alone, but it might take some practice. Chia is gluten-free so there isn’t a problem with that.

3. Chia Butter

Chia butter is a great low-fat, high-protein alternative to regular butter. There is still real butter in the recipe but it’s only half. So you get the creamy flavor of butter, but only 1/2 the fat, and you get the additional health benefits of chia.

  • Take equal proportions of chia gel to softened butter.  Around 3 to 4 oz  of each.
  • Combine them together in a blender or food processor until smooth.
  • Put in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  • Use the chia butter anywhere you would use normal butter – on toast, for cooking and baking, or as a sandwich spread.
  • Try adding some fresh herbs and spices for a savory butter
  • Try adding a teaspoon of agave nectar and a handful of ground almonds, spread on toast and sprinkle with cinnamon
Don’t buy Chia oil because all the preservative antioxidants are in the seed shells, therefore making the oil very perishable.

Recommended Dosage

Nutrition experts recommend you take 1-4 tablespoons per day of chia seeds. You can receive the health benefits through chia ingested raw or cooked. Try and take a little chia every day so that your body experiences long-term benefits from the regular intake of omega 3, vitamin B, calcium, potassium, copper, zinc, phosphorus, and many other fundamental nutrients.

I have read that there is no need to worry about “overdosing” – chia is a 100% natural food and presents no damaging side effects.  Any extra nutrients should simply pass through your body. So you should be able to eat as much chia as you like!

Conclusions

 I conclude that everyone needs Chia seeds in their diet.  If you are wondering, the old Chia pets are these same Chia seeds.  You should be able to find Chia seeds in white or black at least in the health food department of your store for around $10 -12 per lb.  If you can’t find it, it will be available through the Fat Farm Store with links below. – jughandle

1 lb of Chia seeds – $8.40

 3 lbs of Chia seeds – $13.65

6 lbs of Chia seeds – $21.99

 

Crow
I’ve been requested to eat crow because of my insightful Georgia-Auburn prediction this year.  I though that if I had to eat it I should provide a couple of good recipes for it.  The following are via Bert in Ontario

And buy the way, congratulations to the Georgia Nation for a game well played.  Good luck at the SEC championship. – jughandle

Three Crow Recipes

From Debbie, courtesy of her Mom’s WW II cookbookCrow and Mushroom Stew

3 crows
1 Tbsp lard/shortening
1 pint stock or gravy
2 Tbsp cream
1/2 cup mushrooms
salt and pepper
cayenne pepper

Clean and cut crows into small portions and let them cook a short time in the lard/shortening in a saucepan, being careful not to brown them.
Next, add to the contents of the pan, the stock or gravy, and salt, pepper and cayenne to taste.
Simmer 1 hour, or until tender, add mushrooms, simmer 10 minutes more and then stir in cream.
Arrange the mushrooms around the crows on a hot platter.

Potted Crow:

6 crows
3 bacon slices
stuffing of your choice
1 diced carrot
1 diced onion
chopped parsley
hot water or stock
1/4 cup shortening
1/4 cup flour
buttered toast

Clean and dress crows; stuff and place them upright in stew-pan on the slices of bacon. Add the carrot, onion and a little parsley, and cover with boiling water or stock.
Cover the pot and let simmer for 2-3 hours, or until tender, adding boiling water or stock when necessary.
Make a sauce of the shortening and flour and 2 cups of the stock remaining in the pan.

Serve each crow on a thin slice of moistened toast, and pour gravy over all.

Crow Pie:

1 crow
stuffing of your choice
salt and pepper
shortening
flour
2 Pie crust mixes
2-3 hard-boiled eggs

Stuff the crow. Loosen joints with a knife but do not cut through.
Simmer the crow in a stew-pan, with enough water to cover, until nearly tender, then season with salt and pepper. Remove meat from bones and set aside.
Prepare pie crusts as directed. (Do not bake)
Make a medium thick gravy with flour, shortening, and juices in which the crow has cooked and let cool.
Line a pie plate with pie crust and line with slices of hard-boiled egg. Place crow meat on top. Layer gravy over the crow. Place second pie dough crust over top.
Bake at 450 degrees for 1/2 hour.

Collected by Bert Christensen
Toronto, Ontario

“Because I just can’t hold it in” a post from – Can You Stay For Dinner?

This is my new favorite blog to follow – Can You Stay For Dinner? – Written by a woman who has lost 135 lbs on her journey to understand her self and food.  It is very well written and she has a great way of expressing her emotions and letting you feel what she feels.  I just wish I could be as good.  This is really a good blog. Great recipes and pictures – Jughandle

Excerpt

Because I just can’t hold it inMay 31st, 2011 –When I see someone do well, in any capacity, I want nothing more than to celebrate. Toss a fistfull of ‘fetti in the air above her head and grab that megaphone of mine.

via Post –  Because I just can’t hold it in | Can You Stay For Dinner?.

Fat – The good and the bad

What is Fat?

Fat is a wide range of compounds found in mammals.  Fat can be either a liquid or a solid at room temperature and is oily, not mixing with water.   Chemically, fats are triglyceridestriesters of glycerol and any of several fatty acids.  In animals fat is also know as adipose tissue.

Why do we need fat?

Mammals use fat in their bodies to store energy for extended periods of time.  The location of fat on the body determines its metabolic profile.  Viseral fat is around the stomach wall beneath the abdominal muscles. Viseral fat produces “signaling chemicals” or hormones which include inflammatory tissue responses.  Subcutaneous fat is located under the skin and above the muscles.

Fat in animals, including humans, is a necessary part of our life.  Fats not only act as a storage and delivery device for fatty acids, glycerol, the hormones, insulin, glucagon and epinephrine, but store and release energy (glucose) into our blood stream when needed as other energy sources have been depleted.  Glycerol is stored in the fat by the body and is converted to glucose by the liver when needed.  Fat has 9 calories of energy per gram as opposed to protein and carbohydrates that have only 4.

Some vitamins, such as A, D, E and K are fat-soluble vitamins.  They can only be used by the body in conjuction with lipids/fat.  These vitamins can be stored by the body for longer periods of time in the fat tissue as opposed to water-soluble vitamins like C and B which need to be replaced daily because they are secreted in our sweat and urine.

Fat also plays an important part in having healthy skin and hair as well as aiding in cell production and maintaining our body temperature. Amazingly, fat also protects us from chemical or biotic substances, like diseases, that enter our body.  When an over load occurs that the liver and kidneys can’t handle, the body stores the offending substances in the body’s new fat tissue.  The body then disposes of the offender through hair growth, excretion, urination and bloodletting. That is why some drugs, or toxic chemicals we ingest or breath can be detected in our hair, fat and bone marrow for months or even years after they enter the body.

The good fats and why

Monounsaturated fat

Monounsaturated fat molecules are not saturated with hydrogen atoms – each fat molecule has only the space for one hydrogen atom. Experts seem to agree that the impact on our health of monounsaturated fats is neutral – they are neither good nor bad for you. Many health professionals, however, do say that they reduce a person’s risk of developing heart disease.  For that reason I’m including monounsaturated fat in the good catagory.

Where are monounsaturated fats found?
Olives, ground nut oil, and avocados.

Polyunsaturated fat
There are a number of spaces around each polyunsaturated fat molecule – they are not saturated with hydrogen atoms. Nutritionists say polyunsaturated fat is good for our health, especially those from fish which contain Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids. Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids protect us from heart disease as they lower blood cholesterol levels. Professionals say Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids may also help reduce the symptoms experienced by people who suffer from arthritis, joint problems in general, and some skin diseases.

Where are Polyunsaturated fats found?
Oily fish (sardines, mackerel, trout, salmon and herring), safflower oil, grapeseed oil, and sunflower oil.

The bad fats and why

Saturated and unsaturated fats differ in their energy content and melting point.  Unsaturated fat contains fewer carbon-hydrogen bonds than a saturated fat with the same number of carbon atoms, unsaturated fats yield slightly less energy during metabolism than saturated fats with the same number of carbon atoms. Saturated fats can stack themselves in a closely packed arrangement, so they can freeze easily and are usually solid at room temperature.  Lard is high in saturated fatty acid content and is solid at room temperature. Olive and linseed oils are highly unsaturated and are liquid at room temp.

Trans fats

Most trans-isomer fats ( know as trans fats) are synthetically made. Trans fatty acids are rare in nature. An industrial process adds hydrogen to liquid vegetable oils to make them more solid. They are also known as partially hydrogentated oils.. Trans fats may still stack like saturated fats, and are not as susceptible to metabolization as other fats. Trans fats may significantly increase the risk of coronary heart disease. Interestingly, trans fats can either be monounsaturated or polyunsaturated like our good fats, but they are never saturated. Trans fats have fewer hydrogen atoms than saturated fats.  Consuming trans fats increases your LDL cholesterol level (bad cholesterol) and lowers levels of HDL cholesterol (good cholesterol), which raises your risk of developing heart disease and stroke.

Like other things like HFCS, Trans fats have become popular because food companies find them easy to use and cheap to produce. They also last a long time and can give food a nice taste. As trans fats can be used many times in commercial friers they are commonly used in fast food outlets and restaurants.

Where are trans fats commonly found?

  • Fried foods, such as French fries
  • Doughnuts
  • Pies, pastries, biscuits, pizza dough, cookies, crackers, stick margarines, shortenings, and many other baked foods

If the nutritional labeling includes partially hydrogenated oils, it means that food has trans fats. The American Heart Association says your consumption of trans fats should not exceed 1% of your total calorie intake.

Saturated fat

Saturated fats are totally saturated, meaning that each molecule of fat is covered in hydrogen atoms. Nutritionists say saturated fats increase health risks if you consume too much over a long period of time. A large intake of saturated fats will eventually raise cholesterol levels, which can lead to cardiovascular disease and possibly stroke.

Where is saturated fat found?
The largest amounts of saturated fats can be found in meat (mammals), meat products, the skin of poultry, dairy products, many processed foods such as cakes, biscuits, pastries and crisps, as well as coconut oil.

 

The best “fatty” foods

 Nuts and Seeds

Nuts and seeds are an the easiest choice for monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Nuts and seeds can be eaten in many different ways; whole, made into nut butters, ground into flour, or pressed into oils, like almond oil, walnut oil and sunflower oil. Five to ten whole nuts or one teaspoon of nut oil is a serving size. Some nuts and seeds, like walnuts and flaxseeds, offer critical Omega-3 fatty acids, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Avocado

The avocado is rich in monounsaturated fats, which may be associated with a reduced risk of heart disease, reports HelpGuide.org. Avocado can be eaten raw or it can be used as a condiment on sandwiches or Tex-Mex style dishes, added to salads or even as an ingredient in smoothies. You can also include avocado oil in your diet and it works well in high heat situations.

Olives and Olive Oil

Olive oil is the ideal cooking fat. Olive oil is a monounsaturatured fat and a key ingredient in healthful Mediterranean style diets. Replace animal fats, margarine, or tropical oils with olive oil.  Choose extra virgin olive oil to retain all of the health benefits of olive oil, or a more refined version for higher heat cooking.

Fatty Fish

Fatty cold water fish like salmon and herring are great sources of Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fatty acids may have a positive effect on cardiovascular disease and other health issues, according to Helpguide.org. While there is some concern about mercury contamination, include at least two servings of fatty fish in your diet each week or consider a fish oil supplement if advised by your physician.

 The worse “fatty” foods

The following is straight from 10 Surprising Foods That contain Trans fat

#1: Breakfast Cereals

Fruit Loops contain trans fat.

Here’s one that will come as no surprise to anyone who has seen the Breakfast Cereal Comparison. Of the 50 popular brand name cereals I looked at, 12 contained trans fat. In no specific order, they are:

  • Fruity Pebbles (Post)
  • Cocoa Pebbles (Post)
  • Basic 4 (General Mills)
  • Rice Krispies Treats Cereal (Kellogg’s)
  • Froot Loops (Kellogg’s)
  • Oreo O’s (Post)
  • Corn Pops (Kellogg’s)
  • Honey Smacks (Kellogg’s)
  • Smorz (Kellogg’s)
  • Eggo Cereal Maple Syrup (Kellogg’s)
  • Mini-Swirlz Cinnamon Bun (Kellogg’s)
  • Waffle Crisp (Post)

#2: Quaker Oats Chewy Granola Bars

Quaker Chewy Granola Bars contain trans fat.

Most people would see the brand “Quaker” and/or the term “granola bar” and think “healthy.” They certainly wouldn’t think “trans fat.” Well, they’d be wrong. That wholesome Quaker brand isn’t quite so wholesome after all. Their ads implore parents to give these things to their kids as a good quality, healthy snack. Unfortunately, these granola bars contain some amount of trans fat per serving.

These are also one of the many products that go the extra mile to include “0g Trans Fat” right on the front of the package for added emphasis. On the bright side, I’ve been told that there is a tiny asterisk next to this with an even tinier note that basically says “Oh, and by the way, this product actually does contain a small amount of trans fat in each serving.” How family friendly of them.

#3: Saltine Crackers

Nabisco Premium Crackers contain trans fat.

Also called soda crackers, saltine crackers don’t exactly scream trans fat based on the fact that they are, you know, plain, boring, tasteless, white crackers. This apparently doesn’t matter. I haven’t investigated every saltine cracker ever created, but the most popular brands, such as Nabisco’s Premium Crackers and Keebler’s Zesta Saltine Crackers, do indeed contain some amount of trans fat.

This would lead me to assume that there’s a good chance many other brands of these crackers probably do as well.

#4: Special K’s entire line of health/weight loss food.

Special K Protein Meal Bars contain trans fat.

Are you familiar with the brand Special K? You know… they make that typical, useless, empty calorie Special K cereal which they hilariously market as a weight loss product? If so, then you are probably also familiar with the other products they released over the last few years which they also try to sell under the guise of being health/weight loss food (which none of them even remotely are).

Well, here’s a little fun fact for you. Special K’s entire line of these foods all contain some amount of trans fat per serving. Specifically, this includes all types and flavors of their:

  • Protein Snack Bars
  • Protein Meal Bars
  • Bliss Bars
  • Cereal Bars
  • Snack Bites

For those interested, while their newer Chocolatey Delight cereal does indeed contain trans fat as well, their original plain old cereal does NOT. It just contains empty calories — sorry — I meant to say “weight loss magic.” My mistake.

#5: Girl Scout Cookies

Girl Scout Cookies contain trans fat.

I thought these would be considered “surprising” for 2 reasons. First, they are girl scout cookies. Why on earth would the girl scouts be trying to kill us? Seriously… they’re girl scouts. You’d think these would be completely safe and friendly and truly contain 0 grams of trans fat. And, you’d think wrong.

The second and more important reason these are on this list is that a couple of years ago, the girl scouts made a big deal over the fact that their cookies were going “trans fat free.” I guess at some point girl scout cookies contained a fairly large amount of trans fat, so much so that they felt it necessary to both remove it and then go out of their way to mention that they were removing it. The teeny tiny problem with this removal is the fact that girl scout cookies still contain some amount of trans fat per serving.

I guess they have to get their “Raise A Stranger’s Cholesterol” badge somehow.

#6: Popcorn

Pop Secret Popcorn contains trans fat.

We know snack foods are a common source of trans fat. Potato chips? Sure. Cheese curls/balls/puffs/doodles? Of course. But popcorn too? Well, depending on the brand… yup.

I haven’t looked at every popcorn brand on the planet, but, as far as microwavable popcorn goes, every single type from the brand Pop Secret contains trans fat (in some cases up to 6 grams per serving). As far as regular, ready-to-eat popcorn goes, several types from the brandsHerr’s and Frito-Lay also contain some amount of trans fat per serving, some of which were the “light,” no butter versions.

A bunch of other brands didn’t, but the ones mentioned above did, which leads me to believe at least a few others do as well.

#7: Animal Crackers

Animal Crackers contain trans fat.

As if barely looking like actual animals in the first place wasn’t bad enough, it turns out the 2 most popular brands of animal crackers that I know of, Barnum’s Animal Crackers (by Nabisco) and Stauffer’s Original Animal Crackers, both contain some amount of trans fat per serving.

See kids, animals can be dangerous.

#8: Fig Newtons

Fig Newtons contain trans fat.

If there was ever to be some at least moderately healthy cookie, you’d think the Fig Newton would be that cookie. I mean… it’s a cookie… whose main ingredient is fig. Not chocolate or vanilla filling… but fig. And Nabisco certainly hasn’t been shy about that fact. Five seconds of research has reminded me that they’ve claimed a fig newton contains more fruit than a nutri-grain bar and that it’s “the cookie that thinks it’s a fruit.”

That sounds great and all, but I’d sure like to know what fruit it thinks it is because, last time I checked, no fruit contained trans fat. Fig Newtons on the other hand, do. On the bright side though, their Fat Free Fig Newton honestly does NOT contain any trans fat.

Hopefully someone will inform Brian Regan.

#9: Ritz Crackers

Ritz Crackers contain trans fat.

Sure, these might not be quite as surprising as saltine crackers (as these actually have a taste), but even still, some may find it surprising that Ritz Crackers contain some amount of trans fat per serving. And yeah, even the reduced fat version and the whole wheat version of Ritz Crackers do as well.

Mmmmm, forget the cheese. Let’s put some Lipitor on those Ritz.

#10: Fortune Cookies

Fortune Cookies contain trans fat.

I figured I’d end on a weird one. I first discovered that fortune cookies contain trans fat when one of my fortunes said “Your risk of heart disease will be increasing.” Thank you, I’ll be here all week.

Seriously though, I found this out one time while waiting to pick up an order at my local Chinese food place. I happened to see a big bag of fortune cookies sitting nearby. And, wouldn’t you know, they contained trans fat. Since then I’ve actually seen fortune cookies from 2 other restaurants, and they too contained trans fat. Whether or not the Chinese food joint near you uses fortune cookies that do, I don’t know. However, I’d say the chances are pretty good.

 

Eggs are full of protein and other important nutrients. Those with cholesterol issues may want to avoid dietary cholesterol found in eggs. (ALEX GARCIA/Chicago Tribune)

Quick, name the good fats (and their sources) from the following: monounsaturated, saturated, polyunsaturated, trans.

If you can’t answer right away, don’t worry. You have a lot of company.

According to recent polls, many Americans are dropping low-fat diets for “healthy fat” diets, but only about a third of us can correctly differentiate between so-called good and bad fats.

(By the way, the answers: Polyunsaturated and monounsaturated are good fats, and sources include olive oil, avocados and oily fish.)

But maybe this isn’t so surprising, given the flip-floppy advice the nutrition establishment has issued on fats and cholesterol over the years. Remember when avocados and eggs were considered fatty no-nos, while margarine was seen as a healthful alternative? How times have changed

Conclusion

My conclusion is to avoid trans fat and partially hydrogenized vegetable oil like the plague.  Try to limit intake of saturated fats which mostly come from animal sources and to eat mostly mono or polyunsaturated fats found in vegetables and vegetable oils such as olive oil. For an interesting counter point go to Fat: Infiltrating the Culinary World posted by Melisa – Jug

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