Maureen Fraîche

Mixing Business and Pleasure in the Kitchen

Archive for the month “March, 2012”

Easy Swaps on the Run

Let’s be real.  It is hard to lose weight if you’re eating out very often.  Greasy burgers and fries will bounce that calorie budget before you’ve even had the chance to lick the salt from your fingers.  That said, sometimes you find yourself staring down a drive-thru menu and hoping for the best.   Here are a few easy swaps that will help you stay on track.

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The Microplane

Best tool ever.

Do you have a Microplane?  If not, go get one.  You’ll thank me later, I promise!

If you have ever struggled to zest a lemon on a box grater, you simply must try the Microplane.  Though it may be nothing more than a glorified carpenter’s rasp with a handle, it has revolutionized the way I zest citrus and grate ginger.  Just imagine–no more picking that precious zest or stringy ginger from a grating board!

But that’s not all!  Not only does the Microplane work magic on your lemons and ginger, it also works beautifully on hard cheeses, chocolate, and whole spices.  Whether you’re seeking a fine grating of Parmigiano for your panko crust, a beautiful garnish of shaved chocolate, or a fragrant dusting of nutmeg on your latte, the Microplane does it with ease.

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Detox much?

Lose 20 pounds in 20 days!  Cleanse your colon and flatten your tummy! Eliminate toxins and regain your health!

Detox diets promise big results in a matter of days, but how do they really measure up?

Detox (short for detoxification) diets are touted as having all sorts of health benefits, ranging from rapid weight loss to cancer prevention (or cure!).  Just visit any detox website and you’ll read all sorts of personal testimonials that seem too good to be true.  Celebrities have used them to drop pounds for movie roles and even Dr. Oz has gotten on the bandwagon.

The premise is that our typical diets and environments are laden with ‘toxins’ that our bodies cannot process or eliminate on their own.  To kick these nasties, we must purge them with (insert detox regimen).  Once ‘detoxified,’ our bodies will purportedly function at a higher level, sending our metabolism into high gear.

Detox diets can vary widely in their recommendations.  Most involve literal fasting (if not starvation), while some allow for a small, select menu of foods.  The majority of these plans are very low in calories (sometimes as little as a few hundred calories per day) and are extremely restrictive.  Many include special formulations or drinks that are meant to expedite or enhance the body’s natural flushing and filtering processes and may include use of laxatives and/or enemas. Plans typically last a couple days up to a couple weeks.

But is there evidence to support these claims?  Will drinking a maple syrup, lemon juice, and cayenne pepper concoction truly cleanse your system and promote health?  And, most importantly, are they safe?

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What’ll ya have?

So a guy is trying to lose weight and is looking for ways to cut calories.  While he doesn’t want to give up alcohol completely, he knows his weekend six-pack isn’t doing his gut any favors.  The solution?  He switches to liquor because beer, as everyone knows, is sky-high in calories because of all the carbs.  Problem solved! 

Sound familiar?  Over the years, I have heard this one over and over again.  In an effort to lose weight, dieters switch from ‘fattening’ beer to wine or hard alcohol, believing the latter options are more diet-friendly.  But are they?

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Taking Inventory

Let’s say you want to make some changes to the way you eat.  Perhaps your doctor is threatening meds for that unchecked cholesterol.  Or you’ve finally resolved to deal with that leftover baby weight.  Maybe you’d like to actually finish that race you signed up for.  Whatever the reason, changing your eating habits can be both challenging and overwhelming.  How do you even begin to tackle such a feat–especially if it really involves some lifestyle overhaul?

You’ve got to start with where you’re standing…and how did you get here?  Your eating habits are very much intertwined with every other aspect of your life, including your upbringing.  Nothing occurs in a void.  While you could definitely print off some meal plan and dive right in, odds have it you won’t last long and worse, you’ll almost assuredly regain every pound you lost and then some.  So instead of adopting some temporary means to a temporary end, why not do a little prep work and change for good?

Where is your starting line?

Oven Fries

So good.

We love potatoes around here.  These oven fries are fantastic with just about anything; tonight, I’m serving them up with sirloin burgers.  This version is inspired by a recipe found in The Best Light Recipe, yet another excellent cookbook from the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine.  Those geniuses came up with a few tricks that make these fries worth their starch.   To create a creamy interior and crispy exterior, the uncooked fries are first soaked in hot tap water and then steamed under foil for the first few minutes in the oven.

Recipe after the jump!

Ad Nauseam

Anyone who has experienced prolonged nausea knows that awful doesn’t even begin to describe it. As with many other persistent conditions, the thing can start to take on a life of its own, dominating your thoughts and actions. Simple tasks like cooking, cleaning, grocery shopping, and even brushing your teeth can seem insurmountable.

Over the past several years, I have worked with countless individuals struggling with nausea, including more severe cases involving chemotherapy patients as well as expectant mothers with hyperemesis gravidarum (extreme and debilitating nausea and vomiting beyond normal morning sickness).  Below I’ve put together a list of tactics that have been helpful.  Of course, no single to-do list will work for everyone; some strategies work famously for some and send others bolting for the bathroom.  If you or one of your loved ones is struggling with nausea, I hope this list will give you some effective strategies to try.  If you have any you’d like to add, please do so in the comments!

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Caffeine Confusion

When it comes to staying hydrated, many people wonder if their morning cup of Joe will contribute to their fluid needs, or if they’ll have to drink extra water to make up for it.  Fortunately, studies have shown that caffeinated beverages can indeed be counted toward our daily fluid intake.

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Coconut Oil

A close friend recently asked for my take on coconut oil.  It seems like coconuts have been all the rage lately, particularly coconut water, coconut milk, and coconut oil.  But what’s so special about coconuts?  Is this just a bunch of baseless hype?  Or is coconut oil a worthy addition to your grocery list?

Let’s start with a quick break-down.

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