Coconut Pancakes, A Tropical Goodmorning.

It was a warm Sunday morning, and the perfect day for pancakes...coconut pancakes.
I stirred up a bowl of pancake batter using the basic recipe from Joy of Cooking, then added unsweetened finely shredded coconut flakes and extra milk.  After flipping them on the griddle, I garnished with more coconut flakes and fresh banana.  Super easy!  But for next time, I think I should experiment with real coconut milk.  Has anyone ever done that?  And do you think it would be weird to garnish with fresh pineapple instead of banana?
In April I bought a large bag of finely shredded coconut to top my buttercream frosted cupcakes.  Though originally fearful of the extra coconut, this investment has revolutionized my eats.  A little dusting over my oatmeal, a spoonful with my yogurt, a pinch on my peanut butter toast...I've been going coconut crazy!  In fact, sometimes I forget I'm living in the Northeast.  ; )

Just as a sidenote, despite the name of my blog and my kitchen conconctions, coconut is not my signature trademark.  Any family or close friend can tell you that my true loyalty lies with pineapple.  

Here's a fun experiment to try: Leave a fresh pineapple on the kitchen counter and set a timer.  I might have a genetically altered sensitivity for this sweet fruit, because within seconds I will come running into the kitchen, knife in hand (ok, I know I shouldn't be running with a knife).  What ensues next, a sticky scene of cutting, spiraling, and finger-licking, is a tribute to efficiency and single-minded determination like you have never witnessed before.  Left undisturbed, I have been known to quietly eat the entire pineapple, and can continue indefinably if not for the risk of cankersores.  So please don't hesitate to forcibly stop me if you want a taste!

You wouldn't believe how pretty this stack looked after I poured on the maple syrup.  The amber drizzles slowly pooled and puddled around the pancakes, making the coconut flakes look like little sticky crystals.  I wanted to capture a photograph, but I was too hungry.  Sorry!
(10pm) I just returned from church, and my mind is busy trying to file away new hopes and fresh convictions.  Now I feel silly posting this trivial tribute to pancakes, but since I already wrote out the description this morning I decided to share it.

Recently I've been pensive, trying to examine why I invest so much hope in fleeting academic achievements and a future career, rather than in the God who has given me these opportunities.  It's that timeless question of "What ensures happiness?"  Perhaps I'll expose more thoughts in a future post.
Apologies for ending on a heavy note.

Have a wonderful Memorial Day!

Our Sushi Date

On May 10th (nearly 3 weeks ago?!) I flew home to California for a brief visit with family and friends.  I remember rolling my luggage into class that Monday afternoon, sitting down to take my last exam of spring semester (the first year of grad school is done!), and then immediately hopping on the subway to Logan International Airport.  Boston, I'm outa here!  
 My week at home was filled with simple pleasures.  You know, the little things like saying goodmorning to your sister, singing hymns at church, returning to a favorite cafe with a friend (and irreversibly scalding your tongue on the hot chocolate).  Also, I had completely forgotten how good it feels to drive a car!  Turn up the music, roll down the windows, and let your hair go wild. 
However one of the sweetest memories was the sushi date with my mom.  What more can a girl ask for?  
First, we have Maki zushi*
*Sushi roll
Ingredients pictured above: imitation crab, sliced cucumber, lettuce, egg (it's in the bowl, waiting to be cooked), and Japanese mayonnaise (slightly sweeter and completely different than American mayonnaise).  Not pictured: sushi rice.  Sushi rice is short grain white rice seasoned with rice vinegar, sugar, and some sweet rice wine.  Pictured below: nori, or the seaweed wrap.
I always tend to overstuff my sushi by putting too much rice at the beginning.  The trick is to put a very thin layer of rice, leaving space at the end for rolling.
My mom demonstrates the rolling.  After gently squeezing the roll, just cut it into pieces!  Yum yum.
  Next, we have Temaki*
*Hand roll
My mom makes makizushi often, however neither of us have ever made temaki.  Luckily my mom's friend showed us some tricks for making these cones.  Thank you! 
Temaki is a type of sushi shaped like a cone.  In Japanese, "te" means "hand" and  "maki" means "to roll."  These "hand-rolls" are more casual than the traditional rolls or layered rice and fish (nigiri).
I have a splendid idea: I will host a temaki party!  The options for fillings are endless!
Give me some sushi love by telling me your favorite sushi rolls! 
Or, do you have any special memories with your mother?
Thank you Mom.
I love you,

New! Nutrition Blog Network

Good morning folks!  Here's something I'm excited about:
It's been eight days since the launch of Nutrition Blog Network (NBN), a new website featuring a collection of nutrition blogs written by Registered Dietitians.  In explaining the background for the site, the founders Janet Helm, MS, RD and Lori Fromm, MS, RD, state that "the Internet is still the Wild Wild West when it comes to finding reliable, credible nutrition information.  [The Nutrition Blog Network] is a site you can turn to for trusted advice from nutrition experts."    

I couldn't be happier.  I agree that the world of online nutrition is like an untamed frontier, and sometimes the task of researching a nutrition topic is like blazing a new trail- it's both time consuming and tricky.  Fortunately NBN offers guidance as a new nutrition resource, and Helm and Fromm note that the site is intended to "help cut through the clutter and elevate the voice of registered dietitians (RDs) online."

I am not a Registered Dietitian yet, but perhaps someday I can contribute to this resource.  In the meanwhile, let's check out Nutrition Blog Network to enjoy fresh nutrition news and to nibble on healthful information from reputable sources.  I'm excited to see their site grow as new blogs are added to their Nutrition Blog Directory.
So what are your thoughts about the online world of nutrition?  
Can you share a favorite resource for nutrition information?
Happy Tuesday!

Aloha! Pineapple Cranberry Biscotti.

I admit that my unreliable sense of smell has led to a reliable habit of burning everything, and as my cookies so often turn from golden brown to charcoal black, so my professional baking career will probably crumble into an ash heap.  Luckily there's biscotti!  With this Italian treat, the charm is in the crunch.

For today's biscotti, let me present a rare mingling between the state fruit of Massachusetts and the unofficial fruit of Hawai`i.  (PS-did you know Hawai`i has no official state fruit?).  Though an uncommon union, the sassy punch of tart cranberry and the sunny graces of sweet pineapple make for the perfect biscotti blend.  And of course, crunchy almond is there to spread good cheer among all.
Let's Get to the Crux of the Biscuit!
2/3 cup granulated white sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 all-purpose flour
1/2 cup chopped almonds
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup dried pineapple, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
  2. Beat sugar and eggs on high speed with electic mixer (no mixer for me; pump those muscles!) until thick, pale, and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract.
  3. In separate bowl whisk together flour, baking powder and salt.  
  4. Add the egg mixture and beat until combined.
  5. Fold in the pineapple, cranberries, and almonds.
  6. Transfer dough to the parchment-lined baking sheet and form into a log (about 12 inches long and 3.5 inches wide).  The dough will be quite sticky, so you may need to dampen your hands to form the log.
  7. Bake for 25 minutes, or until firm to the touch.  Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack for 10 minutes.
  8. Transfer log to a cutting board and cut into slices on the diagonal (about 3/4 inch thick).
  9. Reduce oven temperature to 325.  Place cut biscotti on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, turning the slices over halfway.  
  10. Once golden brown, remove from oven.  Cool.  Store in airtight container.
Yield: 16-20 biscotti.  Modified from David Lebovitz's 
Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti recipe from the book, Room for Dessert.
Behind the scenes.  Haha, my photo shoot!  

Traditional Italian biscotti (like the recipe above) has no butter.  If you're trying to watch your calories, this may be the perfect dessert alternative to end your meal.  One piece can be anywhere from 70-150 calories.
Any thoughts on biscotti?   What's your favorite kind?

From the Bookbasket

A Homemade Life 
by Molly Wizenberg, 2009
Sometimes I do stupid things; like going to the BPL during finals week.  Last Monday I picked up this book, read the first two chapters on the subway, finished another two chapters after dinner, and never did get around to that research paper.
Honestly, I LOVE this book.  It is a another blog turned book success story.  Wizenberg, author and chef behind the popular blog Orangette, compiled this book to share her recipes and their accompanying annecdotal life stories.  The humor, the diction, the witty tone, the food (I've vowed to make the Chocolate Ginger Banana Bread), it is all lovely and makes a very good reason to procrastinate on term papers and statistics problems!  I think you will enjoy it immensely.
Journalism: A Very Short Introduction
by Ian Hargreaves, 2005
I would like to recommend the "Very Short Introduction" series as a great method to quickly get aquainted with a subject without carrying around the bright yellow and more conspicuous "____ For Dummies" books.  I am interested in health writing and nutrition journalism, so this book provided a friendly introduction to an unfamiliar world.  This British series also has a list of other topics in the arts, sciences, and various other assorted subjects.
Ideas for a Summer Reading List
Summer Reading! "What's Friedman Reading?".
Check out this link for over 100 titles spanning various topics related to cooking, nutrition, agriculture, food policy, public health, and more.   Someone from school conducted a literary survey of the graduate students and staff, and then she published the results.  I am inspired by the depth and breadth of interests represented by my classmates and colleagues!  Marian Nestle, Barbara Kingsolver, Eric Schlosser, Dave Eggers, Wendell Berry, Raj Patel....I think this list will keep me busy turning pages well past the summer time!

Of course, I always love hearing from you.  Any new reads I should add to my list for the Boston Public Library? 

Slurp. Gulp. Chew? Food Texture and Satiety.

Spring is here! Stunning tulips in the Boston Public Gardens.  
Extras, extras!  The May issue of The Friedman Sprout is hot off the press!  This is the final issue for spring semester, and I'm sad that this rewarding experience is ending.  Here's my final article:  
Slur.  Gulp.  Chew?  New research examines the role of food texture on satiety.
Does food texture alter eating patterns?  Researchers from the Netherlands explores the effect of different textured yogurts on eating behavior. 
In April the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a new study addressing the much contested question of how to control eating.  Researchers from the Netherlands fed healthy people different textured low- and high-calorie yogurts, and measured the effects on eating behavior and perceived fullness.  The results showed no link between food texture and satiety, however other observations were intriguing.  (Continue reading here...)
If interested, here's the link to the original research article on Pubmed.
Famous swan boats in the Boston Public Garden.
From Beef to Seaweed....More from The Sprout.
Here's a few more articles that I enjoyed from the May issue of our graduate student newsletter.
The Boston Commons is spectacular!  
By golly, it's George Washington!  Let's pay respects to our first President.
What are your thoughts on spring flowers?  
Here's what I'm thinking- *Achew* 
Cheers and Happy Friday!

Interpreting Labels: Natural vs. Organic Part 2

Organic carrots from digiyesica on flickr
Two weeks ago I wrote about "natural" labeleling on food packages and provided some humorous examples.  Well I'm a little tardy with Part 2, but I'm back to finish up with three brief thoughts about organic labeling.  (Again, these are merely snippets from a recent school paper.)
1. "Organics" defined
For a quick refresher: "Organic" encompasses the growing, harvesting, and production practices of a food or animal.  The USDA's National Organic Program states that organic production excludes conventional pesticides and fertilizers, and animals cannot be given antibiotics or growth hormones.  A full list of prohibited substances can be found here.  
Organics in Europe?  Yup, here's the scoop.  By July 1, 2010 all organic foods in the European Union will have to be labeled with this new organics logo.  If interested, check out the EU press release from February 2010.
New European Union organic label.
2. Natural vs. Organic.  Which is better?  
Well folks, I don't think I have a clear-cut answer for this one.  From a regulatory standpoint, "organic" labeling is more reliable since it must comply to USDA's National Organic Program standards.  "Natural" has no USDA regulations, so proceed with caution and common sense.  Like I said last time, neither "organic" nor "natural' is an automatic stamp for healthfulness.  The ultimate value of a food should be judged by its ingredients, nutrition, and taste.
If you're interested: Labeling from the National Organic Program 
3. A New Trend for "Clean" Food
Forget natural, and scrap organics.  Last month The Hartman Group, a consumer research agency, released a report stating that Americans may be moving beyond "natural" and "organics" and demanding broader expectations of minimal processing.  David Wright, a senior associate, commented
“A lot of consumers can end up disappointed when they look at the ingredient list…To consumers [natural] has been so overused from a marketing standpoint. [...] What we have seen consumers doing is making more considered choices. [...] Everything seems to be coalescing around this notion of ‘clean’."
The report states that consumers expect healthy food and a whole lot more.  "Natural" and "organic" may take a backseat as new labels such as "local," "whole," "fresh," and "nothing artificial" take the spotlight.   So keep your eyes out; the sustainability movement is definitely hitting mainstream.
Source: "Exploring Expectations Beyond Natural and Organic." by Caroline Scott-Thomas from Food Navigator, April 2010.
More Resources
Disclaimer. I am not a Registered Dietitian yet. I provide nutrition information intended for the general public, not for the treatment of a specific medical condition. I try to use scientific research and reliable sources when forming my opinions and messages.
Related Posts with Thumbnails