Food

We Have Officially Lost Our Pumpkin Spiced Minds

We Have Officially Lost Our Pumpkin Spiced Minds

Dear Kid,

It’s official. We the People have lost our collective minds. We have crossed the line. Stepped over the invisible barrier. Gone a bridge too far.

We have pumpkin-spiced everything that should be and a great many things that shouldn’t.

Perhaps there should be limits on pumpkin spice.... DearKidLoveMom.com

I love fall. I love the cooler temperatures. I love the changing colors of the leaves. I love pumpkin-spice flavor.

But perhaps there should be limits.

A friend of mine recently asked (on Facebook where people answered) for fall recipes that weren’t pumpkin spice. I thought she was over reacting to the season.

No, no, my friend. If anything, she understated the obvious. I just somehow missed the memo.

Until I went to the grocery store last night. And almost passed out from pumpkin-spice variety overload.

What’s next? Pumpkin toothpaste?

I thought I was joking. Buzzfeed thought I was joking (great little blog on things that should never be pumpkin-spiced here).

But Amazon took me seriously.

What’s next? Pumpkin toothpaste? DearKidLoveMom.com

I need to go lie down for a while.

Love, Mom

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Puppy Perspective on Breakfast

Puppy Perspective on Breakfast

Dear Kid,

Puppy: Scratch me.
Me: You’ll have to wait a few minutes.
Puppy: Scratch me.
Me: I’m busy. You’ll have to wait a few minutes.
Puppy: Scratch me!
Pi: What are you doing?
Me: Apparently, scratching the Puppy.
Puppy: It’s about time…

 

Me: Would you like breakfast?
Puppy: I’d like to play.
Me: You’d what?
Puppy: Play with me!
Me: You never pass up breakfast. You never pass up any kind of food.
Puppy: Time to mix things up a bit, don’t you think?
Me: I was thinking it’s time for breakfast.
Puppy: Throw the fuzzy pig and no one gets hurt!

I have a new pink pig and I LOVE him! DearKidLoveMom.com/PuppyConversations

Me: OK, OK, we’ll play for a few minutes before breakfast. Here, fetch the purple toy.
Puppy: I love the purple toy! I got it! I got it! Here you go! Throw something else.
Me: Fetch the squeaky donut.
Puppy: I love the squeaky donut! I got it! Throw something else.
Me: Now can we have breakfast?
Puppy: Throw. The. Toy!
Me: Fetch the grey rabbit.
Puppy: I love my rabbit! I love my rabbit! Got it!
Me: Well, bring it back, silly.
Puppy: Don’t be ridiculous. I have to chew it for a while.
Me: I’ll be in the kitchen if you decide to have breakfast.
Puppy: Breakfast? I love breakfast! Why have we been waiting so long?

Love, Mom

Who do you know who would enjoy Puppy Conversations? Share the DearKidLoveMom.com love
See more puppy conversations

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Getting a Little Nutty

Getting a Little Nutty

Dear Kid,

Peanuts aren’t nuts, they’re legumes. Which pretty much everyone knows.

Cashews aren’t nuts, they’re seeds. Which pretty much no one knows (except those paying attention last Friday—read here).

Getting a Little Nutty. DearKidLoveMom.comAll nuttiness aside, botanist make distinctions between nuts and seeds. IMO the distinction is blurry at best (what with all the exceptions and exemptions).

First the definitions:

A nut is a fruit composed of an inedible hard shell and a seed, which is generally edible. In a botanical context “nut” implies that the shell does not open to release the seed. Most seeds come from fruits that naturally free themselves from the shell.

As you can see from this crystal clear definition (did you pick up on the words “generally” and “most”?), nuts contain seeds, but seeds don’t necessarily have nuts wrapped around them. And not all seeds go about happily releasing their shells. Think chia seeds and sesame seeds (even though it would make sense for sesame of all things to open).

So let us (as good researchers) look at the nutrient content:

Nuts are rich in protein, vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fat; while seeds are rich in protein, vitamin B, minerals, fat, and dietary fibers.

Which means nutrient content is not helpful in figuring this out.

To recap: we have nuts, seeds, legumes, drupes

Wait, what? Drupes?

Yes, drupes.

Drupes are fruit with an outer fleshy part around a shell (and by “shell” they mean pit) inside. Easy examples are peaches, cherries, and plums. Where it gets relevant to nuts (and by “relevant” I mean confusing) is that walnuts, almonds, and pecans are drupes.

Yes, walnuts which even have the “nut” in their name. Pine nuts (still with the last name “nut”) are seeds. And acorns (which have the vegetable “corn” in their name) are, in fact, nuts.

Brazil nuts (no, not the folks who went to watch the last Olympics) are seeds. Chestnuts (whether or not they’re roasting on an open fire) are nuts.

Legumes arrive in pods and generally have multiple fruit (as in “two peas in a”). Peanuts are legumes. So is carob.

Because this is so confusing, people in the food world have decided to deal with the problem by inventing the term “culinary nut” to refer to all those things that are used like nuts regardless of their botanical heritage.

I’ve decided to handle the problem by continuing to taste test.

The Yum wins.

Love, Mom

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Cashew (God Bless You)

Dear Kid,

I recently took a left turn at peanut butter and fell head first into cashew butter.

So (obviously) I thought I should investigate cashews (and by “investigate” I mean consult My Friend the Internet and eat the little dudes).

Cashews grow out of the fruit (which are generally called apples, but look more like teeny, misshapen pumpkins). DearKidLoveMom.comCashews are seeds. Yep, seeds. Not nuts. Seeds. They grow out of the fruit (which are generally called apples, but look more like teeny, misshapen pumpkins) which makes them technically seeds. Now forget that and move on to the conventional wisdom of “cashews are nuts.”

Cashew shells are poisonous. They contain urushiol which you may remember is the nastiness found in poison ivy. If this stuff can give you a rash on exterior skin, guess what it can do internally? No, don’t guess. Don’t imagine. It’s awful. Do not eat, touch, or even think about raw cashew shells. But don’t fret over it because cashews are never sold with their shells.

And I like these things?

Yes, I do.

Speaking of raw, did you know that raw cashews are green? They are. At least before they are roasted. This is because cashews are related (third cousins) of pistachios, mangos, and (wait for it) poison ivy and poison sumac.

Oil from cashew nut shells is used for all sorts of inedible things like insecticides, brakes linings, paints, and plastics. The sap from the tree (which is native to the Brazilian part of the Amazon rain forest and is now grown all over the place) is used to make varnish.

And I eat these things?

Yes, I do, I really, really do.

People in the United States eat 90% of the world’s cashew crop. It would be nicer if we shared, but did I mention the YUM?

Not only yummy, cashews are good for you (only if you eat them). They have healthy fats and phytochemicals (I don’t really know what a phytochemical is, but it sounds like it’s good for me). Cashews have all sorts of nifty minerals and micronutrients, which are teeny, tiny nutrients. They’re full of essential vitamins (and “meh” vitamins), antioxidants, and stuff that is good for your eyes.

Have a cashew. Why not? Unless I get there first.

Love, Mom

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Heard It Through the Grapevine | Raisins Part II (You’re NOT Going to Believe This Stuff)

Heard It Through the Grapevine | Raisins Part II (You’re NOT Going to Believe This Stuff)

Dear Kid,

The thing about raisins is they have a boatload of calories crammed into a tiny little bit of yum. But there are many reasons to eat raisins in addition to the yum.

Heard It Through the Grapevine | Raisins Part II (You're NOT Going to Believe This Stuff)Raisins contain resveratrol, which is a phytochemical (and if you mispronounce it sounds like reverse-it-all) that is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory.

Raisins are high in fiber and flavonoids. (That’s a good thing.)

Raisins are high in calcium, iron, manganese, magnesium copper, fluoride, and zinc.

They are high in potassium and B-complex vitamins. And minerals they contain like selenium and phosphorus help with the absorption of proteins.

Who knew you could pack all that nutritional helpfulness in a tiny little raisin?

So raisins fight cancer, hypertension, diabetes, anemia, fever, and help with eye care, acidosis, sexual dysfunction, bone health, and dental care.

AND they dance! Not just the commercial from the ‘80s, but there’s a thing about dancing raisins, which is basically baking soda dissolved in water, raisins added, then vinegar poured in. Poof, dancing raisins. I don’t know why, unless you’re trying to entertain small children on a rainy day.

Eat raisins.

Love, Mom

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Heard It Through the Grapevine | Raisins Part I

Heard It Through the Grapevine | Raisins Part I

Dear Kid,

Based on hours of scientific research, I can conclusively say that (most) raisins do not wear white gloves and sing Motown.

Which is unfortunate, because those guys were adorable.

The word “raisin” comes from the Latin racemus which means “a cluster of grapes or berries.” Who knew? Besides Latin-obsessive people, I mean.

Once upon a time (before there was a California), packaged raisins weren’t available. Then someone found some sun-dried grapes on the vine. Once they stopped fussing about the missing pre-wine, they tried a dried grape, cried “YUM!”  in a variety of languages, and the raisin industry was born.

These days, over half the raisins in the world are grown in California, and Fresno is the raisin Capital of the world. The finest raisins, however, are from Malaga (Spain). I consider the finest raisins to be the ones in front of me.

Heard it through the grapevine. DearKidLoveMom.comIt takes more than 4 tons of grapes to produce 1 ton of raisins.

The way that the grapes are dried determines the color of the raisins. Grapes dried in the sun will turn into dark purple/black raisins. Grapes dried mechanically will be more of medium brown. And golden raisins are made by mechanically dehydrating grapes and then treating them with lye, burning sulfur, and sulfur dioxide. Say What??!

AND it turns out the best way to store raisins is not in the pantry but in the refrigerator. That way they retain their flavor, color, and nutritive value longer. (That can’t be right, can it? Who keeps raisins in the frig?)

Tomorrow: More facts about raisins (you are not going to believe this stuff).

Love, Mom

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