Winter is the time to relish a warm pie of some kind for dessert. Peach, apple, blueberry – or gramma! Gramma pie is an old-fashioned recipe that some people may never have heard of. Like many of the old-style recipes, it has been superseded by newer trends in cooking. However, if you’ve never tasted gramma pie you are in for a treat.
There are different types of gramma available in most supermarkets and restaurant. Often you’ll see the big round one that looks something like a pumpkin only it is lighter in colour and sometimes has paler splotches of colour on the skin. You can easily make a gramma pie out of this, but if you can get the trombone gramma it is even better. This gramma is shaped after its namesake, with a long neck that sometimes curls around a bit. On smaller grammas, the neck remains straight.
If you’ve ever tried to cut a whole pumpkin, you might think cutting up a gramma would be hard work. It’s not; the gramma skin and flesh is very soft compared to pumpkin. You can even cut it with a short vegetable knife, though a long one is fine too. If you buy a whole gramma, cut off the neck and start with that. It will usually be enough for one pie, because there are no seeds in the neck; it is all solid flesh.
Why wait for a special celebration or meal to enjoy a glass of wine? You can have wine with fast food such as pizza and the kind you choose will depend on what topping your pizza has. For instance, because it has a savoury flavour, Chianti is ideal to drink with pizza that has a salty meat such as prosciutto or even a peppery green topping – or combination of both.
A rule of thumb
If you are not sure which wines to pair with what foods, a good rule of thumb is to choose a delicate flavoured wine with the kind of meal that is delicately flavoured, otherwise the wine will overpower the meal. If you have a meal with a robust flavour, then you can choose a strongly flavoured wine to go with it, knowing that the two will hold their own and one will not overpower the other.
However, while similar flavours attract, there is also an attraction with opposing flavours. But it is best to keep the food flavours simple when you want to serve wine with your meal. Otherwise, a complex tasting meal will overshadow even the finest tasting wine. In this case, use a cheaper wine and save the best for a meal it will truly complement.
Without a healthy diet that gives your body all the nutrition in needs, you cannot be healthy. But what is the best diet? How can we be sure our loved ones are getting the kind of nutrition they need? There are many fad diets out there and many people fall into the trap of dieting in an attempt to become healthier at some stage of their lives. It could be that they are overweight, in which case a diet may be necessary, but unless that diet provides all the nutrition your body needs to function properly – and unless you love it – it won’t be long before you throw it all over and return to your favourite foods, be they ever so unhealthy.
Healthy is happy
In actual fact, you can lose weight while still supplying your body with nutrition, without ever consulting a book on diets. Making sure you eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruit, and cut back on sugary desserts and fatty meats is usually enough to give you nutrition, keep you feeling full and give you energy as well. The more energy you have, the more exercise you will do, whether in the form of housework, gardening or taking up a sport.
Canned or packet soups are freely available it every supermarket and popular with busy housewives or those who want a quick, hot meal on a cold day. While most of them taste good, the list of ingredients include many things such as flavouring and colourings that would not be in a home-cooked soup. These ingredients are added to make the soup more palatable and attractive.
Bought soup comes in handy at times, but it does not have a great many healthy ingredients in it. You might find a few tiny pieces of carrot or other vegetables that you may or may not be able to identify, but when you make main meal soup for the family it will be filled with many nutritious vegetables and grains that are missing from bought soup.
Main meal soup will ‘keep you going’ for much longer that packaged soup, because the nutritional value is there. It’s not full of artificial flavour, colouring or sugar. It has no corn starch or flour to thicken it. You can serve it up for a main meal and it will be enough on its own or with some toast to keep you feeling happy for the night. Or you can heat it up for a midday meal and you will not feel the need to snack on high fat goodies afterwards.
Many years ago high school students who took ‘Home Economics’ were taught to cook commonsense meals that were both easy, nutritional and budget-friendly. But that changed to a much more complicated version of cooking where students learned all about meals from other countries and cooked fancy meals that were more suitable for a celebration rather than a staple family meal.
There are now a few generations of people who didn’t ever learn the art of cooking wholesome family meals that could be done without having to read a cookbook or learn a whole new language. The rise of fast foods was helped by this lack, as people just want to get something to eat quickly and easily. And they didn’t really know how to do it without going to a lot of trouble to find out.
More than 30 years ago I noticed that eating sugared foods made me extremely tired in the mornings. A little sugar in the water to boil carrots gave me “sugar eyes” – that’s what I called the sense of glue in the morning as I tried to open my eyes. A cup of coffee and a donut would literally keep me from getting out of bed – I was habitually late for work. I did not realize it was the sugar until I stopped putting sugar in my coffee and replaced donuts with hot unsweetened cereal. After three days of this new regime, I got up early and I had clear eyes – no sugar eyes! I was alert and awake! What a discovery!
Feeling well is a great incentive. After that experience I pretty much cut out refined sugar from my diet. Every so often I’d stray, but the fatigue and the “sugar eyes” kept reminding me. What I also noticed is that my moods changed dramatically once I quit eating sugar. From my usual slight malaise, a vague sensation of sadness or minor depression, I went to feeling normal and OK pretty much most of the time. What surprised me was that such experiences were dismissed by the mainstream nutritionists, and other parents were horrified when I mentioned that I gave my children no sugared cookies, ice cream, or candy – ever. (If they got it themselves, that was not my problem; they just didn’t get it in the house from me.) That was because I had found, early on, as do many parents, that the kids often go crazy when they get sugar.
Books on how to eat are a dime a dozen. Many of them contradict each other: raw food or cooked? Vegetarian or high protein? Food combining or everything in balance? Consumers try to navigate without a compass among all these systems, and often, in despair and confusion, give up trying to eat healthfully.
As readers of this column know, my viewpoint is that our main dietary choices should be always whole, fresh, natural, real, and organically grown foods whenever possible. That said, there are many possible permutations of such a diet, and I have experimented with many: lacto-ovo vegetarian (7 years), vegan (1 ½ years), macrobiotic (15 years), food combining (2 weeks), and the Atkins diet (1 month). Each time I learned something interesting. It’s been a long time since I think of myself as being “on a diet,” but rather of eating mostly “health-supportive whole foods.”
In the past two years I have run into three new books about diet, and each of them has taught me one or more useful concepts. That is more than I found in the ten years prior! You have probably heard about these books as well. Let’s look at all three, and what I found useful about them.
Sugar is bad for you, right? It has calories and makes you fat. Therefore, anything that tastes sweet and doesn’t have calories is preferable, because it won’t make you fat. Right? That is the thinking that supports the widespread use of artificial sweeteners. Millions of people guzzle soft drinks sweetened with aspartame, the compound sold under the trade names Nutrasweet and Equal. This ingredient is found in all kinds of diet foods, in toothpaste, and sprinkled out of small packets into coffee and tea. It is sold worldwide. It is also associated with thousands of reports of adverse effects. Most of the information that follows was taken from the Aspartame Consumer Safety Network Fact Sheet, written by Lendon Smith, MD, former Network Physician at NBC-TV and well-known author and pediatrician.
Aspartame (the technical name is L-aspartyl-L-phenylalanyl-methyl-ester) is considered to be about 200 times sweeter than sugar. It is virtually calorie free. When ingested and metabolized, it breaks down into three substances: