Food Snob Chronicles – Edible urban legends
Be it a warning about flashing your headlights or a story about highway patrolmen keeping Coca Cola in the trunks of their cruisers (to clean wreck scenes), urban legends always seem to get there for the cash. The main reason — believability. (How many of you believed the whole Kentucky Fried Chicken myth — if only for a second? C’mon. Be honest.)
But, eaters and drinkers beware. Some food-related lore, as it turns out, has some basis in fact.
Claim: Clear liquor (vodka, gin, etc.) contains no carbohydrates and therefore won’t affect blood sugar.
I’m a lover of good beer. When I was diagnosed with diabetes a few years ago, I was distraught at the thought of having to drink flavorless swill — the nationally known low-carb stuff. Though I was never interested, someone told me that clear liquors would make an excellent substitute, as they contain no carbohydrates.
In fact, hard liquor – including the caramel-colored hooch – contains no significant carbs to speak of. That’s because sugars are converted to alcohol during the distilling process. So, am I better off quaffing Scotch or gin after a long day’s work?
Straight skinny: There are a ton of variables, but the quick answer is no.
While a few shots might not directly affect blood sugar, the human body processes alcohol before anything else, according to the Wellness Center at University of California – Berkley. In other words, a swig or three of Old Grandad moves that $6 Burger from Carl’s Jr. (and all 63 of its carbs) to the back of the digestion line.
Not to mention, I’m fairly certain that a few years of hitting the daily sauce would render my liver virtually useless.
Claim: Eating a poppy seed muffin will cause you to fail your drug test.
Straight skinny: I’d like to dispute this widespread claim. But, it’s true. If you eat an ‘everything’ bagel and get called upon to fill the cup, you might just be accused (and convicted) of hanging out in an opium den with the ghost of David Carradine.
Fortunately, some drug testing agencies — because of the false positives — have raised the minimum level for opiates to avoid career-ending mistakes for unfortunate lovers of lemon poppy seed muffins.
Claim: Eating a ton before bedtime causes nightmares.
Remember when Snoopy ate a pizza before bedtime in ‘What a Nightmare, Charlie Brown?’ His late-night gorging caused him to dream that he was enslaved as an Arctic sled dog. My worst dream involves an ex-wife, a fire and an insurance fraud investigator. I can’t remember what (and what time) I ate that evening. But, still…
Straight skinny: Despite that Snoopy’s antics were derived from the imagination of Charles Schultz, there could be some truth here.
According to multiple studies, including one published in 2000 (‘Journal of the Mind and Body’), eating shortly before bedtime increases brain activity — which can lead to more vivid dreams. If those dreams happen to be bad dreams, you might have experienced an all-you-can-eat nightmare.
Low blood sugar, according to a Harvard study, can also leads to bad dreams. But, their study involved patients who underwent bariatric surgery.
My advice? Don’t eat late. Why? Who wants to go to bed right after eating big bowl of fried cabbage — or a triple-decker salami sandwich? More importantly, who would want to sleep next to that person?
Claim: Eating a green-hued potato chip will make you extremely sick.
I always considered the ‘green’ potato chip to be the treat of the bag. But, then I started hearing that I should have died years ago.
Straight skinny: It’s true. That ‘green’ chip is poisonous. But so are apricots and avocados.
Here’s the deal: Those green potatoes can ultimately cause paralysis, because of a naturally occurring chemical that also happens to be a nerve toxin. But, you’d have to eat a truckload of them.
As for the apricots and avocados (and peaches and apples), the seeds contain a chemical that causes the release of hydrogen cyanide gas — upon ingestion. So, if you don’t want to be featured on an A&E program about how someone got even with you via a peck of peaches, just plant those pits.
Whew! Thank goodness I’m still alive!
Disguising food (or pretending that it’s something else) is nothing new. I remember my younger sister ‘taking’ English peas as she would aspirin, because my parents insisted on her eating a serving. I also remember feeding fake guacamole (made with asparagus) to an oblivious crowd.
Cauliflower isn’t so easy to disguise. In my efforts to steer our 14-year-old daughter away from potatoes, I’ve tapped into my (limited) creativity and concocted a few definite repeats for us adults. My latest is a mock potato pancake.
Baked Garlic Butter Tilapia w/ Cheddar Cauliflower Pancakes
5 — Tilapia (or other light, flaky fish) fillets, thawed
5 TB — Butter
3 — Garlic cloves, minced
1 TB — Lemon juice
Seasoning of your choice (Old Bay, Chile powder)
Preheat oven to 375F.
Melt butter with garlic and lemon juice. Allow to cool slightly.
Spray the bottom of a tempered glass baking dish lightly with oil. Place fish fillets in dish. Season with Old Bay or Chile powder. Pour evenly the garlic lemon butter over fillets.
Bake for about 15-20 minutes, until fish flakes easily with a fork.
The Cheddar Cauliflower Pancakes
1 — Medium-sized cauliflower head
1 cup — Sharp Cheddar, shredded
2 tsp — Garlic powder
1 tsp — Onion Powder
1 tsp — Freshly ground black pepper
Kosher salt to taste
Cut the cauliflower into florets and boil or steam until fork tender — about 15 minutes. Drain completely in a colander, then place florets between two clean towels and press. (You want to remove as much water as possible.)
Mash the florets in a blender or food processor, or process through a ricer (my preferred method). Add garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. Combine with mashed cauliflower. Fold in cheddar cheese. Taste and salt accordingly.
Shape into 3-inch (diameter) by 1-inch (thick) patties. Place in freezer for about 15 minutes (makes handling easier.)
Spray a non-stick skillet lightly with oil and preheat to medium. Cook patties until nicely browned, about 5-7 minutes per side.
Makes about 5 Cheddar Cauliflower Pancakes — and since my daughter won’t eat them (yet), that means I get two servings!