Malt

I learned a rather important cycling lesson today: if you simply must treat yourself to a medium chocolate malt at DQ®, do not ride with it if comes with one of those open dome lids. You know, the kind that go on an ICEE® or Slurpee®. Either ask for a standard flat soft drink lid, or stay put and enjoy your treat.

The consequences of ignoring this bit of advice will be quite apparent as soon as you hit a bump as you pedal away.

Today I ignored that bit of advice out of ignorance. My frosty treat sprayed my arm from cup to elbow. It even went under my HRM watch. Oh yeah, that was pleasant. Minor miracles of minor miracles, my bike only managed to be tainted by a couple three drops of the sticky goo. (Found the third drop on the pedal crank, same side as the tainted handle bar, after I had myself a nice, long, hot shower.)

Fortunately, I had snagged a few napkins before leaving the store. After cleaning my arm of most of the mess, I wedged the napkins in the lid’s gaping hole. Just enough to prevent a repeat spraying at the next bump in the road.

Next time I think I will skip the malt altogether. Sure it was good and tasty, but not nearly good and tasty enough to risk a repeat fountaining of chocolaty dairy product all over my stretchy synthetics-clad self. It’s bad enough the clothes need to be soiled with sunscreen.

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Peanut butter

Real peanut butter is nothing but peanuts and a smidgen of salt

Real peanut butter is nothing but peanuts and a smidgen of salt

Fetch your jar of peanut butter. Don’t worry, I’ll be here when you get back. If you are reading on a mobile device, feel free to bring me along.

Now let’s take a look at the ingredients. If all you see is peanuts and a little salt, give yourself a hearty pat on the back and skip the following section.

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So, your peanut butter isn’t just peanuts and a dash of salt. Try not to take it too hard that a kitten died in the making of what the label declares peanut butter.

Smucker's® Natural creamy peanut butter

Smucker's® Natural creamy peanut butter

Take heart, you can redeem yourself. Head to your grocery store and buy yourself some real peanut butter. Remember, just peanuts and salt. It may cost more than the spreadable kitten puree you’ve been eating thus far, but the taste is oh, so worth it. I recommend Smucker’s®. With a name like Smucker’s it has to be good, right? Right. It’s also the only brand I consistently find in stores.

Now then, if you’ve never seen the real stuff before, don’t worry about the layer of oil in the jar. Perfectly natural. We’ll be taking care of that at home.

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Peanut butter, upside down to move the oil to the bottom of the jar

Peanut butter, upside down to move the oil to the bottom of the jar

Whenever you buy a jar, I have found the best thing to do is store it upside down. What, upside down? Yes, upside down. Please don’t argue with me. Like Nike used to say, just do it. Eventually, the oil will move to the bottom of the jar. That makes the next step much easier.

The first time you open the jar you will need to stir the oil and peanut butter together again. Why? You want spreadable peanut butter, not something you’ll need to carve out of the jar.

Put away the spoon. I have found it best to use an ordinary table knife. Slice down, across the bottom, and pull back up. Turn the jar slightly and repeat, until thoroughly mixed. By having the oil on the bottom of the jar, mixing takes less time and is less messy. As a bonus, you’ll have fewer extra thick globs to contend with.

Storage is easy: screw the lid back on and put the jar back in the cupboard, right side up. There is no need to refrigerate. For the most part, the peanut butter will stay mixed. The tiny bit of oil that does separate out will be easy to mix back in.

Enjoy the taste of peanut butter that tastes like peanuts, not some poor imitation of peanut-like flavor. Yum!

And remember, no kitten is harmed in the making of real peanut butter.

Cereal

Bowl of Grain Berry® bran flakes

Bowl of Grain Berry® bran flakes

One thing I find interesting about many cereals is that their nutrition labels pair a serving with a half cup of milk. It doesn’t matter if a serving of the cereal is whole cup. You are still allotted a half cup of milk. Personally, I think the committee who came up with the half cup milk standard is nuts. Seriously? Half a cup? For many cereals (and I do love my cereals!) I find the recommended quantity of milk is simply inadequate to do the job.

When measuring for a food log, I find that a 50-50 ratio of cereal and milk to be the right mix for most cereals. In the case of Sunday morning’s bran flakes, I paired the 3/4 cup serving of cereal with 3/4 cup of milk. Perfect.

Hot cereal? Now that’s a whole other set of ratios!

How about you? Are you a cold cereal eater? What is your preferred cold cereal-milk ratio?

Breakfast

My usual morning work routine was delayed this morning. I was groggier than usual when I awoke. I took advantage of a little extra sleep by opting for the later commuter bus.

Upon safe delivery to my employer a few hours later, I spotted my brother-in-law’s mother on the way to my desk. We chatted for a few minutes before heading off to our respective destinations. Nice chat.

Then I got wrapped up in checking out my workstation. Monday morning the hard drive failed. Yesterday morning a gentleman from support took it for repair. He was able to copy the contents of the drive to another and return my workstation late in the afternoon. This morning I doubled-checked for any missing or damaged files. All appeared to be as it should.

By then my stomach signaled hunger again, and this time I could not ignore it. I was craving a cranberry-orange scone from Barnes & Noble Café, 400+ sugar-laden calories be damned. My alternate choice was a huge cinnamon roll topped with cinnamon cream cheese icing. Probably tops out at over 500 sugar-laden calories.

Fortunately, to the benefit of my waistline and continued good health, B&N didn’t have any cranberry-orange scones, fresh-baked or otherwise. (And really, if you are going to indulge, do opt for fresh-baked and still hot. You’re welcome.) By the time I paid for my coffee I no longer wanted the scone or roll.

Ultimately, I ended up skipping breakfast altogether. Not a recommended habit, but occasionally is fine.

The peanut butter bacon cheeseburger and fries at lunch made up for the caloric deficit.

More than a spoonful of sugar

Let’s go back two or three weeks. Maybe it was four, but surely no more than that. How long ago is of little consequence to the fascinating educational joyride you are about to embark.

I am on my way to lunch, and notice a display table in the employee cafeteria. A sign called to me: how many spoonfuls of sugar in the bottle of Sierra Mist Natural? Closest guess earns a copy of The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook. I’m a bit of a sucker for a good cookbook at no monetary expense to myself, so I’m game.

First things first. (1) What kind of spoon, and (2) how much fluid in the bottle? Teaspoons, and the label says 15.7 fl oz.

After getting lunch and finding a table, I whip out my trusty Windows Phone for a little Internet research and calculation.

How many grams of sugar per teaspoon? I find multiple answers, and see the more reliable sources agree with each other on 12.55g per tablespoon. Good enough. I will multiple my answer by 3 for teaspoons.

How many grams sugar in the bottle? I could have read the label, but didn’t think to do that. Multiple Internet sources agree on 25g per 8 fl oz of Sierra Mist Natural. A little math (15.7oz / 8oz * 25g) yields 49.0625g sugar in the bottle. I’ll round that number in my final answer.

Finishing up, I do the math on 49.0625g / 12.55g per Tbsp * 3 tsp per Tbsp. I stop by the table again, on my way out of the cafeteria, and record my entire answer: 11.73 tsp sugar in a 15.7 fl oz bottle of Sierra Mist Natural.

11.73 tsp is almost 4 Tbsp. For comparison, 4 Tbsp is 1/4 cup. That’s a lot of sugar in one beverage. Oh, the label says 8 fl oz is a serving. But how many people stop at 8? Not many.

Fast forward back to the present.

I received an email telling me I won the cookbook for having the closest guess. I have to smile, because I didn’t guess.