Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Coworker is “tamale fiend”
I was back on salads for lunch when reporter David Ball came up and said he’d heard good things about the Tamale King in Nederland and he had to go there for lunch. He said he’d bring me one back for me, and even asked to make sure if I’d eat it. I delayed my after-dinner mint when I saw him arrive.
I found him in the break room by a pile of empty corn husks. They really were good, he said, and I asked for mine. He said he couldn’t control himself and would have to “owe me one.”
I hadn’t even wanted one until he started talking about it.
Then David comes up and asked if he made my column for the week. I told him I ought to write up how he promised a food lover some food and didn’t deliver.
I wasn’t really going to, until writer Sherry Koonce heard the story and proclaimed that David wasn’t the Tamale King. He was the “Tamale Fiend.”
This is all the more ironic because he came to my house for new year’s, and I served him a prized bean tamale homemade by my cousin’s inlaws for Christmas and hauled all the way from Houston. He took a bite and left the rest on the plate. Turns out picky David doesn’t eat beans. Good thing I served him the biggest one.

Do some Dove
New Dove Desserts Bananas Foster comes in a yellow-gold wrapper that puts me in the mind of Mardi Gras. New Orleans, after all, is the home of Bananas Foster.
Dove offers a lot of gourmet chocolate quality for the money. I’m satisfied with one small dark chocolate candy after lunch. I hope my office mates don’t realize I have a stash. Santa left three new Dove bars in our stockings and I can’t decide which is my favorite. Cranberry almond mixes crunchy and tart with dark chocolate; roasted hazelnut is rich and blueberry almond is adventurous.
Look for smooth milk chocolate hearts with almonds for Valentine’s Day and … you can personalize Dove chocolates with your own message.

Flat Belly for real
A bright yellow book from editors of Prevention Magazine is called “Flat Belly Diet” and seems to make the sort of outrageous claims diet scammers seek, such as “lose up to 15 pounds in 32 days.” The difference is that Prevention is a well-respected publication and authors Liz Vaccariello and Cynthia Sass just want you to eat right.
You really should get fit eating basic balsamic flank steak and steamed salmon with snow peas. This book is about common sense good eating, spacing meals, including healthy oils and getting exercise. Personal profiles with amazing before and after pics, recipes and fitness plans put it all together in an easy-to-read format.
Bake up “guilt-free fries with russets sprinkled with chili powder and jazz up that oatmeal with chocolate chips, vanilla extract or berries.

Don’t loose your broom
Fiber acts like a broom, sweeping away toxins. Don’t loose your broom; use it daily, Kathleen Beisel writes in “Eat Your Way to Natural Good Health.” Comfort foods high in fats aren’t comforting at all when you add up the health problems they cause. Also, do not make friends with stress. Watch it at a distance, she writes. Beisel includes a list of foods to avoid or seek to protect from myriad conditions.

Sorry, you have to move it
A couple of medical professionals have written a graphic-crazy book promoting the “simple truth” of achieving and maintaining a healthy body weight. I daresay, you already know it: consume fewer calories than you expend to lose weight. It’s that easy, and that hard.
“Move It. Lose It. Live Healthy” is full of tips like these for alternative snacks:
• Save 122 calories by switching your snack from four chocolate chip cookies to four graham cracker squares.
• Trim 96 calories by enjoying a cup of fat-free frozen yogurt over the same amount of ice cream.
• Eating two fresh apples over one slice of apple pie gives you 134 calories back.
• Pick a medium blueberry bagel over 3 glazed doughnuts to save 462 calories.
When ordering out, avoid fried items and look for the terms broiled, simmered, grilled, poached and flame-cooked, but still, ask if extra oil is added.
Avoid terms crispy, béchamel, batter-dipped, au gratin and creamy.

Baking buys
I made a couple of substitutions that made new Betty Crocker Cookie Brownie Bars Supreme Dessert Bar Mix (phew, do you work off calories saying that long title?) a little gooey and runny, but no one at work had any complaints when I brought them up here on election night. Make them right and they have a top layer that looks like a chocolate chip cookie, because the mix is “enhanced with semi-sweet chips” from Hershey’s.
Try Chicken’n Bacon Ranch pizza with new Pillsbury thin crust pizza crust. I tried the crust old-school style and would gladly consider keeping a roll of on hand. The company has an idea for topping it with Italian-style chicken breast strips, bacon and ranch dressing. Sounds like a fantasy football snack.

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