We wrote this on Friday. The snow fell steadily, and news of an impending storm-of-storms piled up in social feeds as fast as the flakes that had already moved over the region more than 24 hours ahead of schedule. It was one of those winter days when everything turns to calm outside and the mood swings from peace to cabin fever with every passing hour. Thankfully, this is Vermont. This means beauty at every turn and at every glance away from the computer screen. But what to write about?
Food, of course. We posted a new Fricassee of Words article last week, and Food Resolutions a few weeks earlier, to close the year on a healthy note. Now, with the prospect of a weekend of shoveling and cocooning, we settle on Food Facts. It’s a time for distraction and food is a perfect topic for that. Her, then, is a flurry of 12 random food facts. Just because.
1) It’s winter. Your body needs sunshine to produce Vitamin D. Eat an egg. The yolk is one of the few foods that contains the good D naturally.
2) Speaking of winter, eat bananas if you’ve got the blues. In addition to being an excellent source of fiber and potassium, bananas have been shown to boost serotonin levels, and that can boost your mood.
3) Did you stock up on bottled water for the winter months? Did you check the expiration date on those bottles? No worries. Water is free of sugars or protein, so it will not go bad. That expiration date, however, tells you when the bottle itself will lose integrity.
4) Invite friends over for a winter night’s dinner and movie and make sure you serve beer. According to studies, it helps slow the growth of the bacteria responsible for gum disease and tooth decay.
5) Make sure you stock up on honey when you gather supplies for a storm of the century. It is the only known food without an expiration date. In fact, honey found in vessels dating back 3000 years is just as good today as it was then.
6) Include plenty of garlic, radishes and onions in your winter-months’ diet. They help your body fight infectious diseases. Ancient Egyptian workers received them as wages for this very reason.
7) Are you planning a spring wedding? Put Pretzels on the menu. In 17th-century Switzerland, the bride and groom symbolized their bond with Pretzel-shaped baked dough many historians believe to be the inspiration for today’s snack, as well as for the expression, “To tie the knot.”
8) Spicy foods can cool you down in summer and extend your life in winter. A Harvard study determined that people who ate spicy foods daily decreased their chance of death by nearly 15%, as opposed to those who consumed spicy dishes only occasionally. Capsaicin may be responsible as it lowers bad cholesterol.
9) In the early 1800’s, people believed that tomatoes and tomato sauce could cure digestive ailments as well as rheumatism and jaundice. Some entrepreneurs even went so far as to market a tomato pill, which unfortunately turned out to be a fraud. Find true tomato bliss in pasta or pizza.
10) Speaking of pizza, save a slice or two. In fact, always save food for leftovers. The notion that leftovers taste better the next day is not merely notion but fact. Proteins in cooked food continue to break down well beyond preparation and meal time, releasing the amino acids responsible for its flavor.