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!
I don’t believe in low-fat. After extensive reading on the subject, I have come to believe that our enemies are refined carbs and processed oils, not natural fats.

Everyone agrees that monounsaturated fats (olive oil, avocados) and Omega-3 polyunsaturated fatty acids (fatty fish, enriched eggs) are very healthy, but recent research has shown that even saturated fats are not necessarily bad for us. Coconut oil is now considered healthy despite its high saturated fat content, and even dairy fat is not as bad as we thought it was. It seems that all along, trans fats, highly processed vegetable oils and refined carbs were the true villains, not saturated fats.

I now 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 tubers; not from bread and pasta and certainly not from Oreos and Gummy Bears.

If you’d like to read more on the subject, try the book Good Calories, Bad Calories by Gary Taubes, and Mark’s Daily Apple.

Whatever your views on optimal carb and grain consumption, I think we can all agree that trans fats, highly processed foods, commercial food additives such as dyes and preservatives, refined low-fiber carbs and excess sugar definitely do not belong in our diets.

So how should we 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 not-super-healthy 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 more of an occasional, carby, sugary indulgence. 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 Paleo/Primal?
Not really. I love the Paleo insistence on clean eating, and I agree that grains 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.

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 isles 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. 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?
Probably not. I *could* try using coconut flour or almond flour instead of wheat flour, but to make baked goods truly low-carb, I would need to use artificial sweeteners, and I’m unwilling to do that.

Can you translate your annoying American measurements into European?
Yes. :)
1 cup = 240 ml
3/4 cup = 180 ml
1/2 cup = 120 ml
1/3 cup = 80 ml
1/4 cup = 60 ml
1 tablespoon = 15 ml
1 teaspoon = 5 ml
1 fl oz = 30 ml
1 oz = 28 grams
1 lb. or 1 pound = 450 grams
1 cup white sugar = 200 grams
1 cup flour (any flour, this is close enough) = 120 grams
350 degrees F = 180 degrees C
400 degrees F = 200 degrees C
450 degrees F = 230 Degrees C
500 degrees F = 260 degrees C
This is all I can think of right now – let me know if you need any other measurements converted.

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. Unlike the cooking shows you might be watching on TV, nothing about the way I cook is smooth or elegant. When I cook, things fly out of pots and pans, countertops get filled with dirty dishes, and I curse (quietly, to myself!) more often than I smile. But the results – at least those that I include here – are amazing.

Where do you find your recipes?
Some of my recipes are based on a single recipe that I’ve tweaked to make it healthier. In these cases I mention the original recipe, sometimes also adding a breakdown of the nutritional value for that recipe to compare it to the healthified version. 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 use this and this recipe calculators. I use this tool to calculate Weight Watchers points.

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.

How can you eat so much? You can’t possibly be eating everything you cook.
Actually, I can. :) Keep in mind that we are a family of four, so it’s not just me eating. Having said that, I do make many of the recipes featured here just for myself for lunch – I figure that as long as I need to eat, it might as well be something interesting and yummy. In these cases, I either halve or even quarter the recipe, or I make more and we all enjoy the leftovers. Finally, I am very active and can probably eat slightly more than an average woman my age.

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?
Look. I’ll never tell you that a whole-wheat muffin made with 1/4 cup butter and half a cup of sugar tastes as good as a white-flour muffin made with 1/2 cup butter and a full cup of sugar. Sugary, buttery, fatty and refined tastes good! But it’s generally unhealthy, so I prefer to reserve that for special occasions. But even though, when reducing the amounts of sugar in recipes you do sacrifice *something* in terms of taste and texture, my healthified recipes are really, truly, amazing. I’m a foodie – I definitely live to eat rather than the other way around, and would never settle for bland or flavorless food. I insist on eating well and on enjoying my food, and this is exactly what sparked the idea for this blog – my insistence on modifying recipes but keeping them tasty.

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.

Why no comments on this blog?
I removed comments from all my blogs. 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 Lijit Networks, a Federated Media publishing company, and are mostly from reputable ad partners, 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 screen shot, so that I can alert FM and 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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