Originally created 11/29/00

Small portions



Pilaf the fat

The familiar pilaf can play a role as a one-dish wonder, adjusted to deliver a variety of tasty health benefits, the American Institute for Cancer Research says.

Pilaf originated in the Middle East hundreds of years ago and is based on a grain, usually rice, cooked so that grains are fluffy but separate, combined with meat, vegetables, fruit and legumes.

It is often served with meat as an occasional alternative to potatoes or pasta, says Melanie Polk, the institute's director of nutrition education. She suggests that it can easily be adapted to serve as a one-dish meal in itself, to encourage the eating of more vegetables, fruit, beans and nuts and less meat.

This kind of pilaf, she says, "can help families achieve a healthier eating style" that includes high-fiber, low-fat content.

Pilaf recipes and advice about adopting a cancer-protective diet are included in a free brochure, The New American Plate, available by calling (800) 843-8114, Ext. 27, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Zip-lock technology

Have you noticed all the foods being sold in resealable zip-closure bags? Cheese, deli meats, bacon, tortillas, snacks and cookies are among the products showing up with the convenient seals.

Consumers have wanted them "for years and years," but the technology was too expensive, according to Bret Biggers, director of business and economic research for the Flexible Packaging Association. A couple of years ago, packaging manufacturers perfected the process of adding horizontal zip closures, making it more economical for food companies to use them, Mr. Biggers said.

The newest and most welcome zip is on Gold Medal Flour, possibly reducing the spills and ghostly dustings caused by those cumbersome paper bags. The flour's Zip-Pack plastic bag was devised by General Mills using a special technology, says company spokeswoman Lynn Fields. As for more details, Ms. Fields' lips were sealed.