Thursday, December 12th, 2013

My favorite sweet foods

When I was a kid, I loved most sweets - both Indian and Western sweets. I should be clear that when I mention sweets, I am referring to anything that happens to taste sweet (other than fruits). I'm not proud of it, but I can safely say that I wasn't alone in terms of loving sweets as a kid. As I got older, though, my sweet tooth gradually reduced. Now, as I'm starting life as a 30-plus year old (okay, fine, as a 31-year-old), I think of all of the sweet foods I used to eat as a kid. Among these sweets, I have many for which I wonder: "Wow, did I really eat that back then?" Some such sweets are: doughnuts (especially the powdered ones), Honey Nut Cheerios, Froot Loops, Jolly Ranchers, and lollipops. Now, I can't imagine eating any of these - in fact, I am surprised that I haven't lost any of my teeth after all of the abuse I have put them through. While I still have a sweet tooth (and am not proud of it), I am very selective and particular about the kinds of sweets I choose to eat.

Now that I am more discerning (and yes, wary) when it comes to sweets, I can manage to come up with a list of my most favorite sweets without too much work. What are these sweets?

* Indian: laddoos/laddus (, especially the ones made with besan (garbanzo flour). These are small and shaped like balls, and are very easy to bite. I have fond memories of eating laddus during breakfast at my grandmother's house (yes, you read that right, during breakfast)

* Middle-Eastern/European: baklava (, a multi-layered dough pastry, sweetened with honey and syrup. Yes, this is quite sweet, but not too heavy.

* Non-dairy ice cream, especially the kinds produced by Turtle Mountain ( One of my favorite flavors is the Chocolate Velvet...mmm, chocolaty goodness. I like all the ones I have tried so far (at least four or five flavors).

* Chocolate chip cookies (egg-less)

* Dark chocolate (especially the ones with some crunch/chili in them - among my favorites is the Dark Chocolate - Rice Crunch (as shown here:

* Ginger candy (no gelatin or eggs)

* Earth Cafe cheesecake

So far, I have tried their 'Strawberry Fields Forever' and 'Who's Your Daddy' cheesecakes, and I find them to be great. If I ever go back to regular cheesecake, I'll probably find it too rich for my liking
Yes, my sweet tooth will be completely satisfied with any or all of the above. Today, I had half of a besan laddu for dessert today, and that was heaven.
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Tuesday, March 20th, 2012

peanut butter and chocolate cups

If you've read the subject line, you're probably thinking along the lines of 'Reese's' or another popular peanut butter-chocolate candy that you happen to be familiar with. Having grown up in the US, I have been exposed to Reese's peanut butter cups from an early age. For those that are not familiar with this particular candy, please read about it over here:'s_Peanut_Butter_Cups.

Anyway, in general I'm not a big fan of eating candy, but I do like certain types of candy. I'll admit that I love the peanut butter-chocolate combination, or for that matter, any combination of chocolate and nuts/nut butter. Reese's is definitely no exception here. Recently I have rediscovered my childhood liking for Reese's peanut butter cups. Yes, the traditional milk chocolate cups with peanut butter encased inside - I limit myself to either one regular or two mini eggs a day, and clean up my mouth right after eating. It certainly doesn't help that I have a ridiculous amount of Reese's peanut butter cups left over from Halloween, either! Thankfully, I have the ability to stop eating these dangerous things, as awesome as they taste (to me, anyway).

Okay, fine, so I won't quit chocolate-nut butter cups altogether. I want to challenge myself to make a (hopefully) 'healthier' version of the product, with the following substitutions: xylitol instead of sugar, dark unsweetened chocolate instead of milk chocolate, and unsweetened almond butter instead of regular peanut butter. Yes, I realize that the product I plan to make will probably not do justice to the original taste, look and feel of Reese's peanut butter cups. Yes, I realize that I will not be making something that will win any nutritional awards. Still, I am willing to take on the challenge. I have been inspired by the many recipes I've been reading online about making peanut butter cups w/chocolate. Once I actually carry out this plan and have a successful result, I will post up that recipe (and perhaps a photo or two of the end result).

(As a side note: for those that may wonder why I would bother to replace sugar with xylitol, I've read many sources that mention that xylitol is actually good for our teeth as it stimulates saliva and therefore discourages bacterial growth in our mouths (thereby helping us reduce formation of cavities). More info on xylitol can be found here:

I've tried xylitol before, and chew xylitol gum. It tastes pretty sweet, actually.)
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Friday, March 9th, 2012

Good Stuff for Teeth and avoiding cavities (or trying to, anyway)

I'm happy to say that I have been diligently going to the dentist about every 6 months for the past 5-6 years. In fact, I had my latest appointment today, and am incredibly happy that I have no cavities this time around. (No, I'm not trying to brag. In fact, I must admit I never once visited the dentist while I was in grad school for two years - too lazy to bother, I guess. When I finally went again, I regretted not having gone in awhile, because I had one rather big cavity to fill after going back to the dentist, not to mention other smaller ones).

Anyway, the reason I am so happy this time is: I have hardly had a visit in the past several years without at least one cavity being discovered each time. This has been a bit disheartening to me, to say the least, because I have been working hard, for many years, to take care of my teeth by maintaining good oral hygiene with the following habits:

Personal Oral Hygiene )

I decided to do some research on what contributes to cavities (beyond the obvious reasons of maintaining a healthful diet and regularly cleaning our teeth):
Why we get cavities, and why some people get cavities easier than others )

For those of us who have to work extra hard to maintain healthy teeth (myself included), its probably worth taking advantage of everything that's available for helping our teeth. That said, here is a
list of foods that are good for our teeth )

Apart from knowing what causes cavities and eating the right foods to help keep our teeth healthy, I also find it interesting that our ancestors used chew sticks to keep their teeth healthy. Check out one such study:

The concept definitely sounds intriguing to me, and simple & practical enough to try when it is simply not easily possible to brush/floss after meals. I just might go online and purchase a pack of these to try out on my teeth - I won't let all my hard work go to waste! I'm at least thankful that my gums have been healthy, at least based on my prior visit to the dentist.
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