Food for thought
Increasingly, teens are making food purchases to help out working parents and sometimes preparing these foods at home. A 1997 study by New York City's Channel One Network pegged purchases "directly influenced" by teens at nearly $20 billion a year. That figure, which included requests for specific products purchased by a parent, continues to grow, researchers say.
And a survey conducted by Teenage Research Unlimited of Northbrook, Ill., established that supermarkets were second only to shopping malls for purchases by teens with money to spend from part-time jobs and allowances.
TRU reports more than 50 percent teen-age girl respondents and more than one-third of teen-age boys "do some food shopping each week." But even when teens do not shop, they influence their parents' food purchases.
"If the parent does not bring home the 'right' product or brand, the teen-ager will not eat or drink it," says TRU vice president Michael Wood. "It's food and money wasted."
Ever find yourself needing a small amount of chicken broth and don't want to open a new can? Swanson chicken broth now comes in a box similar to a juice box minus the straw hole. The box has a seal that lifts off for easy pouring and contains 1 cup of broth. It's sold in packages of three.
A bone to pick
Tweezers or needle-nose pliers are handy for preparing fish. Salmon fillets and steaks often have rows of bones, called pin bones because they are the size of straight pins.
Rub your fingers over the surface of the fillet and you can feel them protruding just above the surface. If you try to remove the bones with a knife, you will mar the surface of the fish. Instead, use the pliers to grasp the tip of the bone and pull to remove.
Need to drop 10 pounds? Maybe you need to drop animal products from your diet.
That's the message from Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine. He advocates vegetarian and dairy-free diets as easy ways to health and happiness - not to mention a trimmer waist.
"For most people just going vegetarian, even carelessly so, even following a Twinkie-and-cookie diet, they are going to lose weight compared to what they were doing before, which had just as many Twinkies and just as many cookies, but also had a hunk of meat, instead of some rice," Dr. Barnard said in a recent interview.
He added that the average person loses about 10 pounds after switching to a vegetarian diet, even without watching calories and fat grams.
"Don't worry about portion size, unless you are really overdoing it," Dr. Barnard said. "If you're eating low-fat vegetarian foods, get away from the idea that you have to scrimp on calories.
"These foods are naturally so low in calories, let it work for you."
There are many reasons to add one-pot meals to your weekly menu: They're convenient; they're easy to prepare; and you only have one pot to wash.
Also, the American Institute for Cancer Research says they can be good for you when prepared with a variety of vegetables, beans and grains.
The institute has a free brochure with recipes for 20 healthy one-pot meals including stews, stir-fries, salads and casseroles. Call (800) 843-8114 or visit the Web site at www.aicr.org.
Fruit pies freeze well. You may freeze them before or after baking.
Wrap unbaked pies in heavy-duty foil and place in a freezer bag. Use within two to three months for the best flavor. To serve, unwrap frozen pie and bake on lower oven shelf at 450 degrees for 10 to 15 minutes, then complete baking at 375 degrees. (The time will vary with the type of fruit.)
To freeze baked pies, undercook them slightly. The crust should be a light brown. Cool, wrap and freeze. Use within four to six months. To serve, partially thaw in the wrapping at room temperature for about 30 minutes. Unwrap and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, until warm.