Some tips for getting more whole grains
Q: How can I incorporate whole grains into my diet?
A: Use whole-wheat flour in baked goods. Make the switch to brown rice and steel-cut oats. Try a quinoa pilaf or creamy polenta as a side instead of white bread or mashed potatoes. Add a half-cup of cooked whole grains to a salad.
And always read labels to see that whole grains or whole-grain flour come as the first ingredients in the list.
There's more than one way to clean an oven
Q: The self-cleaning function on my oven is broken. Can you suggest an oven cleaner that's not too toxic?
A: Some advocates of nontoxic cleaning recommend applying a thick paste of baking soda and water to the oven surfaces. Let it sit overnight, and then scrape out the gunk with a nonscratching spatula. (You can spritz the paste with water a couple of times during the waiting period to keep it damp, if you wish.)
Removing the white residue requires a thorough rinsing.
Some people use equal parts salt and baking soda; some use white vinegar instead of water. Some heat the oven 200 degrees before applying the cleaner and then turn the oven off.
If you need something stronger, try the following method outlined by cleaning expert Linda Cobb in her book "Talking Dirty With the Queen of Clean". It does involve ammonia, however, so it is somewhat caustic.
SBlt Preheat the oven to 200 degrees, and then leave it on at that temperature for 15 minutes. Turn off the oven and place a shallow glass dish filled with ammonia on the oven's top rack and a pan containing 2 cups of boiling water on the bottom rack. Close the oven door and leave it for at least two hours or overnight.
SBlt Remove the containers and make a paste of ammonia (she doesn't specify how much), one-half cup of baking soda and 1 cup of white vinegar. Spread the paste over the oven surfaces, leave it for 15 minutes, and then scrub with a sponge or steel wool pad, if necessary. Rinse.
Before you try any method, check the owner's manual for your oven. Some cleaners can damage your oven.
Bright new look for fluorescent bulbs
British manufacturer Hulger has put an imaginative twist on compact fluorescent light bulbs.
The company recently introduced Plumen 001, an artful take on the spiral-shape bulb. Unlike more common CFLs that people try to hide, "Plumen 001 is a bulb you'll want on show," Hulger says on the website Plumen.com.
The name comes from plume, a feather intended to attract attention.
The energy-saving bulb is available only in Europe, but the site promises U.S. sales are coming soon. The company's Flickr site (www.flickr.com/photos/plumen) shows more designs in the works.
Art comes at a price, however. The Plumen 001 sells for 20 British pounds or 30 euros -- the equivalent of $31 to $39.
Body works daily to balance ups, downs
How overweight are we? Collectively, we Americans are carrying around more than 5 billion pounds of excess weight, according to an article that first appeared in Time magazine.
What fuels our appetite for food? It's complicated, according to researchers in the field of obesity. Appetite (our urge to eat) involves how we respond to the sight, taste, smell and texture of foods.
And much of this response depends on our brain chemistry, gut chemistry, emotional chemistry and metabolism.
What is fascinating is how the body is capable of keeping itself in balance in spite of our daily ups and downs.
In one year, for example, the average male consumes about 900,000 calories. Yet when all systems are working as they should, his weight will not change by more than a pound one way or the other in the entire year.
In other words, the body can adjust to within 11 calories a day above or below what a person precisely needs to keep going, say obesity researchers.
-- Standard-Examiner wire services
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