Mary’s Memo – December 9th


For those of you who are lactose intolerant, Vegan Chocolate by Fran Costigan (Running Press, November 2013, $30.00/hardcover) should be on your Christmas list. In Vegan Chocolate, you’ll find better-for-you interpretations of 120 favorite chocolate desserts such as flavored chocolate truffles, Brooklyn Blackout Layer Cake, White and Dark Chocolate Cheesecake, Black Bottom Cupcakes and Chocolate Pecan Pie. All the recipes are plant-based, some are gluten-free and every single one is absolutely chocolate and made with quality, easily sourced ingredients without dairy, eggs and white sugar.

Fran Costigan is an internationally recognized culinary instructor, recipe developer, innovative vegan pastry chef and author of three cookbooks. A graduate of the New York Restaurant School and Natural Gourmet Institute, Fran has worked in both traditional and vegan restaurant kitchens. Visit her at


Older adults with a weight problem can relieve knee pain from osteoarthritis (OA) if they lose just 10% of their body weight through diet and exercise, according to a study published September 25, 2013, in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Obese and overweight study participants who combined a thrice-weekly exercise program with a reduced dietary intake (1,100 to 1,200 calories per day) lost more weight than participants who either dieted or exercised, and they also had less knee pain, better function, faster walking speed and better quality of life related to physical health than exercise-only group. If you have OA, ask your doctor for help creating an appropriate diet and exercise program.
Source: Weill Cornell Medical College Women’s Nutrition Connection, December 2013.


We were cheated out of about 6 additional days to prepare for Christmas so if you haven’t already started, it is time! Begin by setting priorities. Assuming your home is already decorated and hopefully Christmas gifts purchased, decide what “goodies” you are making for family and friends. When that’s done, take your list to Chief for supplies.

If you don’t have time for “from scratch” baking, I have never seen so many holiday mixes to lift that burden from your shoulders! There are even Christmas baking chips along with traditional ones. If you don’t want to bake at all, look to Chief’s bakery department for an impressive selection of cookies, nut breads, Chief's Darn Good Fruitcake and even fudge!

If you’re having an open house, let the Chief deli assist with a variety of meat and/or cheese platters and relish trays. If you haven’t finished gift shopping look no further than Chief’s housewares department. I have personally found some tools I didn’t have or purchased as stocking stuffers. If you’re still stumped, a Chief gift card is always appreciated.


Betty Crocker comes to the rescue with Chex Pumpkin Pie Crunch, winner of the 2009 Chex Mix Contest. Butter, brown sugar and spice make a not-too-sweet and crunchy cereal mix. Pretzels have their place but I was attracted to this recipe because of their absence. How can anything with whole grain cereals be bad for us (lol)!


• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1 tablespoon pumpkin pie spice
• 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick)
• 2 teaspoons vanilla
• 2 cups Cinnamon Chex cereal
• 2 cups Wheat Chex cereal
• 2 cups Honey Nut Chex cereal
• 8-ounce bag of pecan halves

In a small bowl, mix brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice; set aside. In small microwave-safe dish, microwave butter on high about 30 seconds or until melted. Stir in vanilla. In large 3-quart capacity microwavable bowl, mix all the cereals and pecans. Pour butter mixture over cereal mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Add sugar and spice mixture and stir until coated. Microwave on high 5 minutes or until mixture begins to brown, stirring every minute. Spread on parchment paper or cookie sheet to cool. Store in an airtight container. Recipe makes 16 half cup servings. One serving has 180 calories, 80 from fat. Mix can be made a couple weeks ahead and still be fresh-tasting.
Source: Betty Crocker recipe.


Take a second helping …. really! Just keep both helpings small, suggests Brian Wansink, director of Cornell University’s Food and Brand Lab in Ithaca, NY, and author of Slim by Design: Mindless Eating Solutions for Everyday Life. Wansink’s research has found that hosts remember which guests took second (or even third) helpings, but not the normal amount of food they took or ate. So you can flatter your host without overeating.

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