Is Cheese Addictive? Only If You Eat It

CheeseThe definitive answer to the title question is an emphatic, "Maybe." Why?  It depends upon whom you ask.  It depends upon your definition of addicted.  It even depends on the type of cheese you're continuously munching on. 

 

This obscure question was brought to my attention by my daughter, who regularly sends me newsworthy links to topics she thinks I should cover on Shelf Life Advice. This time, she sent me a Discovery Channel online article by Alice Truong, who talks about casomorphins, which, as you might surmise from the last two syllables, are related to the addictive painkiller.  Here's what Truong says, "The primary protein in milk is casein. When the human body digests casein, it produces casomorphins, which have an opiate effect on humans.  Because cheese is denser than, for example, milk, the casein is more heavily concentrated, meaning that eating cheese produces a larger amount of casomorphins in the body compared to eating other dairy products."

Hot Dogs: What You Should Know about Them

hot dogDoug Sohn owned a Chicago restaurant named Hot Doug's, a popular spot celebrated for its sausage sandwiches. (Unfortunately, it closed permanently a few years ago.) When a Chicago Tribune reporter asked Doug to defend sausage as the perfect food, he had no trouble doing so: "It's salt, fat, and meat in one very easy-to-eat, hard-to-screw-up vessel.  It tastes good, it's happy, it's the food of the masses and it's available everywhere."  And don't forget that hot dogs are inexpensive, quick and easy to prepare, tolerant of whatever toppings the diner wants to throw on them, and beloved by all age groups from post-infancy to pre-demise. 

 

On the other hand, nutritionists point out that hot dogs are far from nutritious. Yet, says the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council, Americans purchase some 9 billion hot dogs a year in grocery stores and many more from street and ballpark vendors. Altogether, Americans consume about 20 billion wieners annually or 70 per person. 

 

The Chicago Tribune also tells us that 25% of Americans eat hot dogs only in the summer.  Among those who eat hot dogs or other sausages, 88% grill them.  The Chicago-style hot dog (a celebrity in a city known for its superior wieners) is steamed.  Whatever way you prepare them (perhaps even broiled, fried, or baked in a casserole), chances are they were consumed as part of your Labor Day festivities.  They're also generally on the menu at tailgating parties on college campuses during the football season. Therefore, this seems a good time to find out what's actually in a hot dog, whether they contain ingredients you should be concerned about, what health tips experts have to offer, and what shelf life advice you should follow.

What is the best way to clean fruits and vegetables?

All fruits and vegetables should be washed well with water. A scrub brush should also be used on for hard-skinned fruits (for example, apples and cantaloupe) and vegetables with irregular skins (such as squash and potatoes) Following these procedures will get them as clean as commercial washes.

Ten Exotic Fruits: Novel Treats to Drink and Eat

Buddha's HandEver eaten a  Buddha's hand? No?  How about a custard apple, rambutan, yumberry, or dragon fruit?  These are  just a few among many strange-looking but tasty exotic fruits. Though not as bizarre (or cruel) as the people-eating plant in the musical Little Shop of Horrors, they are about as odd as their names imply.  Some are beautiful and some as ugly as ugli-fruit (a grapefruit hybrid). Read on to see photos of ten obscure exotic fruits, learn more about these products, and find out where they can be purchased.

Spring Celebrations: What’s on Your Menu?

matzoUSDA’s Meat and Poultry Hotline gets extra busy this time of year with brisket, baked ham, and egg questions. Here are some Spring food safety tips based on questions our Hotline Food Safety Specialists have received from callers.

 

How long can I keep a ham in the refrigerator before cooking it? 

 

To answer your question, we need to know what type of ham you’re buying and how it’s packaged. What does the label advise? The label is the best guide for determining storage time. It gives the product name, whether it’s smoked or cured, and whether you must refrigerate it. While USDA doesn’t require manufacturers to list the freshness date on products, many do. Look for the instructions on the label that tell you how long you can keep the product. For example: “Best if used by April 15.”

Humans Eating Insects (Entomophagy)--Could You? Would You? Why?

Worm"Entomophagy" is a combination of two Greek words; the first part means "insect;" the second means "eat."  (An easier and funnier name for bugs harvested for human consumption is "micro-livestock.")

 

Tips on Reheating for Safe, Yummy Leftovers

leftover pizzaRemember "srevotfel"?  You ate it, but perhaps you didn't love it. No, this isn't an exotic imported dish; it's just "leftovers" spelled backwards to avoid calling a re-warmed meal by an unappealing name. You'll probably have leftovers in your not-too-distant future. After all, you don't want your holiday spread to look skimpy; you know that, when the pickings seem lean, guests take less. But, when you cook too much for the size of the crowd you're entertaining, leftovers are inevitable.  So what, of all this stuff they didn't eat, can be safely reheated, and how can we make srevotfel taste good enough to be devoured with enthusiasm?  In the following Q/As, we have expert answers from our Board scientists and the U.S. government.  Let's begin with safety.

How To Protect Your Food During a Power Outage

Snow can be great fun for kids, but adults have to cope with the miseries it can bring.  For example, at 1 p.m. today, the Weather Channel announced that 50,000 Massachusetts residents had no power.  Shelf Life Advice hopes conditions are much better where you live, but, if you live in the Northeast, they may be even worse.  Below are some tips about dealing with weather-related power outages. It's too late for the preparations before Stella, but keep them in mind the next time a storm blows through your area. The  tips about what to do during a power outage should prove useful. 

Hurricanes, snowstorms, floods, and earthquakes are often predicted, while earthquakes  and tornadoes may take us by surprise.  Any of these weather-related disrupters can leave us without power and clean water.  Any of these can be a threat to our perishable refrigerated and frozen foods, our shelf-stable foods, and the water we need for drinking, cooking, and washing. 

 

The disastrous effects of Hurricane Sandy encouraged us to pull together the following collection of tips about preparing for bad weather and handling food during bad weather.  It  suggests items to have in your home at all times, items to rush out and buy when weather-related trouble is imminent,  and steps to take while one of these incidents is in progress.  Our site's Advisory Board scientists made many contributions to this article.  

 

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day Without Cabbage Stink

CabbageWhat’s the best way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? With corned beef, cabbage, and beer, of course.  BUT, you reply, the smell of cooked cabbage can ruin the holiday for all.  Cheer up.  That tell-tale scent can be avoided.  Here’s a little-known fact that may help you a lot:  cabbage develops an unpleasant smell only when it’s overcooked.  Why?  Cabbage contains substances that, when broken down, turn into smelly sulfur compounds.  The longer the cabbage is cooked, the worse the odor.

Shelf Life of Foods: What You Need to Know

refrigeratorDespite the fact that the name of this site is Shelf Life Advice, it's impossible to guarantee that the shelf life information we give you will accurately predict how long a particular edible item will last in your home. And despite the fact that many of your food purchases have a use-by date stamped on them, the food is likely to seem just fine to you for days or even weeks after that date. We asked the scientists on our site's Advisory Board to enlighten us about shelf life and use-by dates by answering the questions below. 

 
 

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