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Mary’s Memo – April 14th

WHAT’S NEW AT CHIEF


The product Nutella has been around for ages but now comes Jif’s Salted Caramel Flavored Hazelnut Spread and Hershey Spreads including Chocolate with Hazelnut. Spread on bread or toast, crackers or as a dip for fresh fruit. Yummy! Because I love the salt and sweet combination, I’m partial to the Jif spread. Daughter Mary Ann preferred Hershey because it tasted natural while Jif did not.

One of the newer Dole salad mixes (at least to me) is Very Veggie. Sweet carrots, zesty radishes and pea pods add color and crunch to mild and crispy iceberg and romaine.

Chief’s already large assortment of cheese now includes Wexford Mature Irish Cheddar, a product of Ireland. It may be a getit-while-it-lasts cheese introduced for St. Patrick’s Day but surely worth trying!

WE’RE EATING BETTER, REGARDLESS OF INCOME


It’s not just the recession that’s led to improvements in the US diet, according to a new analysis in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition. Beyond merely cutting back for pocketbook reasons, Americans are choosing to consume fewer calories and obesity rates are leveling off. The study used sophisticated statistical tools to control for changing economic conditions over the past decade, including unemployment rate and food prices. Calories declined more in beverages than food choices, the study found, and healthier eating trends actually accelerated during the worst of the recession. The new findings align themselves with another recent study by the USDA researchers that found average daily calorie intake among working Americans had dropped 78 calories between 2005 and 2010. That report also showed people using nutrition labels more, eating better at home and eating out less.
Source: Tufts Health & Nutrition Letter, April 2014.

STRENGTHENING MEMORY RETENTION


Finding ways to strengthen or compensate for shortened attention span can help cut down on frustrating memory lapses. Begin by removing barriers to concentration. It’s more difficult to commit information to memory when you’re stressed, emotionally upset, bored or in a negative mood. Physical annoyances, such as uncomfortable temperatures, noise and distractions also make the act of remembering more challenging. When trying to remember something, make an effort to focus and take in more details. Lend meaning to information by thinking about why it is important, organizing it or using visualization, association or mnemonic tricks such as rhymes, acronyms or stories to help retain it. You can also strengthen your powers of attention with games and activities. Play cards, read an article …. then test yourself on the contents or try to remember what you and your friends wore to recent party or luncheon. You can also change your habit patterns. Sit in a different chair to watch TV; take a new route home; rearrange the furniture; try a new restaurant. The trick is to keep your brain active and engaged.
Source: Duke Medicine Health News, April 2014.

BENEFITS OF BLUEBERRIES


The USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University has ranked blueberries as the greatest antioxidant powerhouse out of 40 fresh fruits and vegetables tested. Because of this you should never be without blueberries in some form at home.

Among my cookbook collection is one called The Joy of Blueberries by Theresa Millang published by Adventure Publications in 2003. It is still available from Amazon.com as are Joy of Rhubarb, Cranberries, Raspberries, Strawberries, Apples and Pumpkin! Joy of Blueberries features 200 recipes ranging from bars to soups to ice cream. Trust me, this cookbook is worth buying! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that this week’s recipe is for Food Network Patrick and Gina Neely’s Blueberry Crisp. I did add an additional 1/2 tablespoon of cornstarch to the recipe so blueberries would be less runny. A few tasters at the Bryan Chief asked if Minute Tapioca could replace cornstarch and I said yes. At home I added a small scoop of Edy’s reduced-fat ice cream.

BLUEBERRY CRISP


• 6 cups fresh blueberries, cleaned and air-dried
• 1-1/2 tablespoons cornstarch or 1-1/2 tablespoons Minute

Tapioca


• 1/4 cup sugar
• 1/8 teaspoon salt

Topping Mixture:


• 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
• 1/2 cup quick cooking oats
• 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
• 1/4 cup granulated sugar
• 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
• 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
• 3/4 cup chopped pecan
• 1/2 stick room temperature unsalted butter (1/4 cup)

Preheat oven to 375ºF. Toss blueberries, cornstarch or tapioca, sugar and salt together in a bowl. Set aside. To make the topping combine flour, oats, sugars, spices and pecans. Add butter and pinch into chunks or use a pastry blender until crumbly. Add blueberries to a 2-quart oblong baking dish. Top evenly with crumb mixture. Bake for 40 minutes. Serve with a dollop of vanilla ice cream.
Source: Adapted from Patrick and Gina Neely’s recipe.

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