Here are some tips, tricks, and shortcuts that I have come across or invented in the course of my foodie journey, ones that I think readers may enjoy. While I make every effort to give credit where it is due, many of these ideas may have become so much a part of my own repertoire that I can no longer recall where or from whom I got the inspiration. If you recognize one of your own…please step forward and claim credit!

  1. spicing up coffee

In addition to half-and-half or heavy cream, I like to add vanilla, cinnamon, and ginger to my coffee; sometimes I substitute Chinese 5 spice for the cinnamon and ginger. We’re talking just a pinch of each to start—I add quite a bit more—but it perks up the flavor whether you add a lot or a little. It’s best to put the spices into the bottom of the cup, add half your coffee, add the ½ & ½ or cream, then finish off with coffee. You won’t even need to stir it.   Or, leave out the spices and add only a dash each of vanilla and maple syrup.

2.  whipping cream vs. heavy whipping cream

Imagine my surprise at finding that the latter actually contains half the additives of the former!! Whipping cream contains less than 1% mono and diglycerides, carrageenan, and polysorbate 80, while heavy whipping cream contains less than 0.5% of the same. The difference in calories as well as calories from fat is negligible: 45/40 in the former and 50/50 in the latter. For a few more calories I’d rather pass on the additives. By the way, even organic heavy cream contains carrageenan.

  1. salad dressing or dipping sauce from hummus

Mix a tablespoon or two of any good commercial hummus—I like edamame but you can use any one you like—with oil and lemon or lime juice for a satisfying dressing. Olive oil is fine but it’s even better with hazelnut oil, now available in regular grocery stores.

The sweet earthiness of hazelnut oil is perfect for any salad dressing; if I’m making a regular vinaigrette I’ll use half hazelnut, half olive oil.

*that’s pronounced vitl

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