FAQ

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People email me with all kinds of questions. These are the most frequent ones.

vered deleeuwYou say that your recipes are healthy, but they are not low-fat!
Low-fat is harmful. Our bodies need fat. The only fats you should avoid are trans fats and industrial seed oils. Here’s a detailed explanation on healthy fats.

So how DO you define “healthy?”
At the very basic level, to me, “healthy” means homemade; not mass-manufactured and factory-processed; fresh and wholesome, with no preservatives, artificial additives, or trans fats. A recipe that uses a simple list of ingredients that I am able to pronounce and that my grandparents would have recognized. In this sense, the vast majority of the recipes in this blog are healthy.

Well, some of the recipes here are just unhealthy, period. Fried chicken? Seriously?
It’s true. While I consider most of the recipes here as very healthy, I do include the occasional unhealthy recipe, and the reason is simple: this blog, in addition to being a public blog, is my cookbook. It is, in fact, the only cookbook I use when cooking for my family, and when I make a recipe that I like and want to make again, I include it here, even if it’s an occasional indulgence and not something I would make on a regular basis. If you come across one of these recipes, and object to it, simply ignore it and pick the ones you do approve of.

Can you post a recipe for diet coke cake?
Sorry, I can’t. I only use real food, so many classic “diet” recipes are absent from this blog. Such as “diet coke cake”; anything made with Cool Whip, Egg Beaters, boxed cake mixes or margarine; or any other recipe that attempts to reduce calories and fat by using food-like substitutes and artificial chemicals.

Yes, I would choose heavy cream (in moderation) over Cool Whip any day, and I also prefer butter to rancid, highly processed, easily-oxidized, omega-6-rich vegetable oils.

List of ingredients in Cool Whip, Original:
Water, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut and Palm Kernel Oils), High Fructose Corn Syrup, Corn Syrup, Skim Milk, Light Cream, Contains Less than 2% of Sodium Caseinate, Natural and Artificial Flavor, Xanthan and Guar Gums, Polysorbate 60, Sorbitan Monostearate, Beta Carotene (Color).

List of ingredients in Straus organic heavy cream:
Pasteurized organic cream.

Are you familiar with a recipe for chicken breast coated with mayonnaise for baking? If so, can I use a mayo substitute such as Smart Beat instead of the real thing?
I don’t like using store-bought mayonnaise. It’s based on industrial seed oils and contains additives and preservatives. Specifically, the list of ingredients for Smart Beat is filled with franken-ingredients, additives and preservatives:

Water, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Vinegar, Maltodextrin, Salt, Cellulose Gel, Egg Whites, Lactic Acid, Artificial Colors, Xanthan Gum, Sodium Benzoate, Potassium Sorbate, Calcium Disodium EDTA Used to protect quality, Lemon Juice, Flavors, Colored With Beta Carotene, Onion Powder, Garlic Juice Concentrate, Oleoresin, Paprika.

Why not just rub the chicken with a tasty rub of olive oil, salt, pepper, oregano and paprika? Delicious and healthy.

Are you Paleo/Primal?
Not really. I love the Paleo insistence on clean eating, and I agree that grain and legume consumption is best minimized, but I don’t avoid them completely, and I certainly don’t avoid dairy.

Are you doing Atkins?
No. I eat lower carbs than the standard American diet, but I’m not as strict as the classic Atkins. I don’t see myself ever limiting vegetable consumption in order to maintain a certain carb limit, for example.

Are you doing low-carb?
Certainly lower-carb than the Standard American Diet. I believe that the government-prescribed diet of the past three decades – a high-carb, high-grain, low-fat diet, which caused food manufacturers to replace fat with sugar in their products, is not good for us. Unless we’re professional athletes or otherwise extremely active, our bodies do not need and cannot handle these huge amounts of carbohydrates. Most of us thrive on a lower-carb diet, where carbohydrates come from vegetables, fruit and root vegetables; not from bread and pasta and certainly not from Oreos and Gummy Bears.

So what ARE you doing?
The reason I refuse to define my diet is that I believe there’s more than one way to eat healthfully, and each of us should find what works for them. That’s why “Paleo” and “Vegan” coexist happily on this blog, even though it seems like everywhere else they are archenemies. That’s why I have a robust “low carb” section, but also a section of homemade bread and lots of baked goods.

The way I see it, what’s common to all the different approaches to healthy eating is focusing on real food and avoiding the processed junk that has taken over the inside aisles of supermarkets. Even though I have chosen one path to healthy eating, the other paths still get my respect for trying to avoid the junky, toxic stuff that most Americans consume on a daily basis.

Personally, I find that what works best for me is eating lowish-carb, minimizing grains and sugar, and avoiding processed junk, including vegetable oils and food substitutes such as Cool Whip and Egg Beaters. If we must define my diet, the closest would be “clean eating.”

Lowish carb? This blog is filled with high-carb baked goods
I didn’t start out eating low-carb. It’s evolved overtime, and this blog reflects that. When I started eating healthy, my definition of “healthy” was using whole-wheat flour, low-fat dairy, and reducing the amount of sugar I used. Over the past three years, I gradually moved to low-carb, mostly grain-free, and high-fat. But even now, when I do eat low-carb, I still allow myself the occasional higher-carb day, which means that baked goods, while considered a once-in-a-while indulgence, are not completely off limits for me.

How do you divide your macronutrients?
I try not to obsess about it, but random checks on fitday.com show that I usually eat around 2,200 daily calories; roughly 20% of those are protein (meat, fish, eggs, cheese), 20% are carbs (mostly veggies and fruit) and 60% are fat (avocados, nuts and nut butters, olive oil, fatty fish, butter and heavy cream). As I said, there *are* higher-carb days when I enjoy baked sweet potatoes, rice, or a small serving of homemade baked goods.

These muffins/cookies/cupcakes look delicious. Can you develop a low-carb version of them?
I have several recipes on this blog that use almond flour or coconut flour instead of wheat flour, which considerably lowers their carb count and glycemic load, however they’re still sweetened with honey, maple syrup or a small amount of white sugar, so they are not truly low-carb. But I’ve recently become convinced that xylitol is a safe sweetener, so I’ve been experimenting with using it in some of my recipes. Stay tuned, and to find those recipes, simply use the search box to search for “xylitol.”

Where do you stand on organic and/or GMO?
I try to buy the highest-quality food I can, which often means local, organic, pasture-raised, wild caught and GMO-free. However, these foods are expensive, and I still think that the more pressing goal is to rid our diets of processed foods. If your diet consists of conventional fresh produce, meat, fish and dairy, and does not include processed junk, I think you’re doing quite well actually – possibly even better than someone who relies on a lot of organic processed, sugary foods. For example, a breakfast of a vegan, organic, GMO-free donut and coffee is inferior, in my personal opinion (and remember: I’m not a doctor), to a non-organic breakfast of a three-egg veggie omelet with a cup of fresh berries and coffee.

Do you have any formal education in nutrition/cooking?
No! I’m just a busy mom, trying to find a way to make everyday recipes better for my family. I have no special talent as a chef – just curiosity and a willingness to learn and to try new things.

Where do you find your recipes?
Some of my recipes are based on a single recipe that I’ve tweaked to some extent. In these cases, I mention the original recipe. Other recipes are a combination of several different recipes. Recently, I’ve been coming up with my own recipes – it turns out that after years of cooking and baking, one gets a general idea of the basics and of what works/doesn’t work.

How do I know these recipes work?
I have made all of the recipes in this blog- most of them more than once – so they are all tried and tested. In fact, I had to make several attempts at many of the recipes here until I got to perfection. I never publish a recipe unless it’s a success, not just by my definition but by my family’s standards. So once I’m satisfied with a recipe, I serve it to my family, and I ask them, “Is this blog-worthy?” Only the recipes that are deemed blog-worthy by at least three of us (we are a family of four) find their way into this blog.

I tried one of your recipes and it did not work for me. Why?
I wish I knew. As much as my recipes are exact, there are so many variables that can influence the result. The exact ingredients used (freshness of eggs or baking powder, table salt or kosher salt etc.); the pan (nonstick, aluminum, cast iron, dark, light, heavy, lightweight); the oven – you wouldn’t believe how different ovens vary in temperature; even the humidity – all of these can make a difference. In my bread machine recipes, for example, I always suggest checking the dough after 10 minutes or so – even for me, in my home, using the same bread machine and the same ingredients, sometimes the dough is perfect, and sometimes it needs a little more water or flour.

In other words, try to view the recipes in this blog – any recipe in fact – as general guidelines, but always use your own judgement and try to adjust along the way according to the flavors and textures you’re getting in your own kitchen, with your own ingredients and tools. Kind of like following a GPS in your car but still looking around and making sure the virtual directions make sense in reality.

How do you calculate nutrition facts?
I mostly use this recipe calculator.

Why did you stop including Weight Watchers points in your recipes?
As far as I can tell, Weight Watchers points calculate all fats as bad. I disagree that fats are bad, and I especially disagree that *all* fats are bad.

Why don’t you include cholesterol and saturated fat in your nutritional info?
For most people, cholesterol in food does not raise bad serum cholesterol. As for saturated fats, they’re not bad for you, so there’s no reason to single them out in the nutritional breakdown.

I don’t have whole-wheat flour in the house. May I substitute all-purpose flour?
Whole-wheat flour contains more protein than all-purpose flour and absorbs more liquid. Most baked goods recipes in this blog are tweaked to reflect that. In quick breads and muffins, the difference isn’t huge, so you can probably use all-purpose flour while keeping the rest of the recipe as is (keep in mind that nutritional values will change). In biscuits, scones and cookies it becomes trickier – batter may be too runny. And when it comes to yeast breads the answer is a definite no – I’ve tweaked these recipes heavily to work with whole-wheat flour.

Doesn’t all this healthifying result in food that simply does not taste very good?
A friend recently asked me, “what do you miss the most ever since you gave up junk food?” and I honestly didn’t know what to say. Sure, I mostly gave up white sugar, wheat and other grains; I avoid commercial processed food and I don’t touch fast food. But my meals have never been so flavorful or so varied. I eat better than I ever have, and without all the added sugar, flavorings and preservatives, I also enjoy my food more than ever – I think our palate tends to become more sensitive when we eat cleaner. So no, I can’t agree that healthy food is inferior to unhealthy food in terms of flavor. I think it’s far superior, although you do have to go through a period of adjusting – for example, most Paleo treats would not taste sweet enough to a palate that’s accustomed to commercial candy, but once you start eating clean, commercial treats taste like sugar laced with industrial chemicals.

Why do you sometimes change already-published recipes?
Occasionally, I go back and change recipes if I make an even better version of them. This doesn’t mean there was anything wrong with the original recipe – just that I found a way to make it even better or healthier. The way I see it, a blog is a live thing that keeps changing and developing. I don’t feel a need to keep things frozen. Sure, I could publish a new post with the new version for the same recipe, but that would just weigh down the blog and create duplicate recipes.

Are you really that happy with your George Foreman grill?
Yes! So many people complain that their George Foreman Grill was one of those purchases that just sits in a closet, gathering dust. I encourage you to rethink this. I use my George Foreman grill a lot, for grilling chicken and meat, for grilling vegetables, and for making paninis and quesadillas. It truly is a great way to make quick, tasty, low-fat dishes. As for cleaning it (a common complaint), simply unplug, and place damp paper towels on the grill surface. Close the lid, and your grill will be steam-cleaned, making cleaning a snap. Here’s a link to my George Foreman Grill recipes.

How do you stay thin?
I avoid calorie-dense junk, stay active, and eat to satiety – not until I’m stuffed.

“Stay active” – can you elaborate?
I walk 3 miles each day, do an hour of pilates 3 times per week, lift weights 3 times per week, and use a treadmill desk 2-3 hours each day while I work.

So you eat healthy, stay active – you must have *some* vices? Do share!
Of course I do. But I don’t consider the occasional unhealthy treat a vice (surely you’re familiar with the 80/20 or 90/10 rule of eating healthy most of the time, not all of the time). There are however a few items that I eat on a regular basis, almost daily, even though they are not ideal, nutritionally speaking. I love beer and enjoy a bottle of Amstel Light almost every night with dinner. Yes, a glass of red wine would have been a much better choice, but I’m a beer kind of gal. I love PB2 – powdered peanut butter – even though it’s highly processed and peanuts are unhealthy. I mix it into plain, full-fat Greek yogurt, add some xylitol to sweeten and it’s like dessert but low in carbs. I also love Clover Stornetta’s low-fat cottage cheese and eat it almost every day, even though generally I stay away from low-fat products, and cottage cheese contains additives. Oh, and I use commercial olive oil cooking spray even though it’s not 100% “clean” in terms of ingredients.

Can you translate your annoying American measurements into European?
Sure – here’s my cooking conversions page.

Why no comments on this blog?
I find that online anonymity and the lack of face-to-face accountably often result in aggressiveness and negativity that I am unwilling to deal with. Yes, most commenters are nice and supportive, but the few that are not can take the fun out of online publishing. In real life, I have surrounded myself with love and support and have distanced myself from toxic friends. By closing comments, I am doing the same online. If you need to contact me, or ask a question, simply use the contact form below.

Whoa, why did you show me that sleazy ad? I’m offended.
The ads on this site are served by reputable ad networks, but once in a while a sleazy disgusting ad does slip in. Do me a favor? If you ever see an offensive ad on this website, drop me a line and include a screenshot, so that I can try to have it removed. vered (at) momgrind.com.

What camera/lens do you use?
I take food photos with Nikon D60 Digital SLR Camera with an 18-55mm lens. It’s an entry-level DSLR camera, and I’m slowly learning how to make the most of it, but I still have a lot to learn. Update: in 2013, still with the same camera, I started using (and fell in love with) a new lens – Tamron SP 60mm F/2 Macro.

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