Marygrace Taylor

Why You Should Stop Dumping Out the Watery Liquid on Top of Your Yogurt

Why You Should Stop Dumping Out the Watery Liquid on Top of Your Yogurt

You’re all set to dig into your favorite yogurt. But when you peel back the lid, you notice the lush creaminess is marred by a watery pool of liquid sitting right on top. So what is that liquid—and more importantly, is it telling you that your snack has gone bad?While the watery stuff might not look the most appealing, it’s perfectly safe to eat and isn’t hinting at any kind of spoilage, nutrition expert Amanda Sauceda, RDN, tells SELF. In fact, the liquid on top of your yogurt is a simple byproduct of the yogurt-making process.  Turns out, that yellowish water is actually whey, the watery, protein-rich component of milk. “When milk is coagulated to make cheese or yogurt, you get the curds—which is the actual cheese or yogurt part—and the whey, which is the liquid part,” homemade yogurt maker Janet Fletcher, author of Yogurt and the Planet Cheese newsletter, tells SELF. Much of the whey is pressed out of cheeses, especially firmer ones like cheddar or Swiss, which is why you don’t see liquid seeping out of them. But keeping most of the whey is what gives yogurt its softer, thinner consistency, Sauceda points out. When yogurt sits for a while undisturbed, that whey starts to separate. “If the yogurt was sitting over a strainer or cheesecloth, the whey would drip out and the yogurt would become thicker, like Greek-style yogurt,” Fletcher says. But if the yogurt is just sitting in its container (like in your fridge), the whey will pool up at the top, since it’s lighter than the yogurt.  You’re most likely to get leftover liquid from regular (read: non-Greek) yogurt that’s free of added stabilizers or thickeners (like guar gum, gelatin, pectin, or carrageenan), Fletcher points out. Since Greek yogurt has already been strained to be ultrathick, it contains less whey to begin with. And stabilizing or thickening ingredients prevent whey from separating out, so they typically yield yogurts with a more uniform texture. Larger containers will likely have more liquid than single-serve cups, just because they tend to sit in your fridge for longer after you open them.  Okay, so all this just means that there’s a perfectly normal reason for that liquid to be pooling on top of your yogurt. So what—if anything—should you do about it?Since the whey came from the yogurt, the easiest thing to do is just stir it back in, Sauceda says. This might make the yogurt consistency just a little thinner, but if you stir well, you probably won’t notice too much of a difference. And there’s good reason to do so. “There’s tons of nutritional value in whey,” says Sauceda. “It’s rich in protein, and protein helps you stay full and satisfied.” Whey also serves up minerals like calcium, potassium, phosphorus, copper, and zinc, along with the beneficial probiotics found in the more solid part of the yogurt, per a Journal of Dairy Science review. Fletcher and Sauceda are usually stir-it-back-in people. But sometimes Fletcher will pour off the excess liquid if she’s using her yogurt to make a dip and wants the consistency to be a little thicker. In that case, you could hold onto the whey for another use if you don’t feel great about dumping it down the sink. “You can freeze the whey in ice cube trays and add individual cubes to a smoothie for a little extra protein,” Sauceda suggests. Getting rid of the whey won’t mess with your yogurt, but it might decrease the nutritional content by just a smidge, she points out. As for how to avoid getting the watery stuff in the first place? It’s totally normal for whey to pool up in yogurt, so there’s not much you can do to prevent it, say Fletcher and Sauceda. You can, however, be rest assured that the watery stuff isn’t compromising the safety of your snack: Whey rising to the top has nothing to do with spoilage. As for what could be a sign of a food safety issue? Any changes in color, an off smell, or a bad taste can indicate your yogurt has gone bad, says the USDA. If you notice any of that, then it’s time to toss your container. Related:

How to Unstick Rice From the Bottom of Your Pot to Save Dinner

How to Unstick Rice From the Bottom of Your Pot to Save Dinner

We all know what happens when you overcook rice: Rather than a mound of fluffy, carb-y deliciousness, you end up with a layer of dried-out grains stuck to the bottom of your pot. It’s not good. Overcooking rice—and getting it glued on to your cookware—is so, so easy to do. As someone who manages to cook my rice for too long a solid half of the time, I’m all too familiar with getting stuck with a ruined dinner (and a pot that’s more than a little worse for the wear.) When I complained about this to a kitchen-genius friend of mine, they provided a suggestion I hadn’t heard of before, one that would save my pot and my dinner: Put your scraper down, and instead encourage the rice to unstick themselves.You do that by turning off the heat, adding a teaspoon or two of water to the pot, clamping the lid back on, and letting the rice sit undisturbed for 10 minutes. Forget about trying to scrape the singed grains off the bottom of the pot, and instead wait for time to do its thing. Afterward, like magic, my friend said, the rice would not only get unglued from the bottom of the pot, but all of the grains would also be perfectly salvageable for eating. I was skeptical at first that this would work. But the next time I burnt my rice—ahem, just three days later—I decided to give it a try. And it legit did the trick! Thanks to my kitchen-savvy pal, I was now in possession of an invaluable cooking hack that has saved mealtime time and again.Since I’ve never heard of this trick before—and I’m a food writer!—I wanted to see if it was pure luck or if there was really something behind the hack. So I tapped Barbara Rich, lead chef of culinary arts at the Institute of Culinary Education in New York, to see what’s going on here.According to Rich, the steam was the star here. Adding the extra water to the rice provided more liquid to allow the grains to keep steaming, and that steam was helping the grains become unlodged from the bottom of the pot. The result? No more stuck-on rice. Still, says Rich, it’s not exactly a perfect fix: “The end result might be a little bit squishy or mushy,” she added. That’s because you’re adding more water to the rice and letting it steam for longer. TBH, I never noticed any mushiness. The rice still seemed to have a good consistency to me—I was able to eat it with my usual stir-fries or bean bowls no prob—but then again, I’m no rice expert (clearly). Rich says that while my method was okay, I could definitely be doing better. For starters, I could just scoop off the part of the rice that wasn’t stuck to the pot and eat that, then use my water trick just to remove the stuck-on rice and get my pot clean.

How to Cook Tofu at Home So It Actually Gets Crispy

How to Cook Tofu at Home So It Actually Gets Crispy

If you’re a tofu fan, you may have noticed an unfortunate dichotomy: Those golden, crispy-on-the-outside, just-squidgy-enough-on-the-inside pieces you get in a bowl, stir-fry, or sandwich from a restaurant always hit the spot. But when you try to recreate those dishes at home, you’re left with soft, soggy squares—unless you plan on turning your kitchen into a deep fryer.That was the dilemma faced by chef Jenny Rosenstrach, author of The Weekday Vegetarians and creator of the blog Dinner: A Love Story, when she started cooking tofu at home and was getting only so-so results. Sure, she’d get a great outcome when she covered tofu with cornstarch and fried it in oil, but that turned into a lengthy (and messy) process that wasn’t exactly conducive to easy weeknight dinners. So when she decided to get serious about incorporating more meatless meals into her family’s diet, she knew it was time to find an easy, go-to prep method that tasted great and was easy enough to throw together after work.And after some experimentation, she found the solution: Roasting.By roasting the tofu—and incorporating a few important prebake steps—Rosenstrach found that it’s possible to get DIY crispy, delicious tofu at home without an entire vat of hot oil. Here, she shares what she’s learned so you can do the same.Step 1: Get the right kind of tofu.You’re looking for firm or extra firm tofu, nothing else. Both firm and extra firm tofu contain less moisture than soft or silken tofu, so it’ll hold its shape when you slice it and take on a satisfying crust when you bake it.“I use firm because I like to have a little bit squish to get that contrast between crispy outside and tender inside,” Rosenstrach tells SELF. But if you want the tofu to be a little denser (almost closer to meat), go for extra firm. Try Wildwood Organic Firm or Extra Firm Tofu ($4, Instacart).Step 2: Press the tofu.Firm or extra firm tofu already have less liquid than their soft or silken counterparts. But you’ll up the crisp factor by pressing out even more of the moisture. This can be pretty quick. “Pressing for 30 minutes is best, but 10 minutes is good,” Rosenstrach says.Slice the block of tofu into thirds horizontally, place the thirds on a paper towel-lined plate, and layer another paper towel on top. Top the paper towel with something heavy and flat, like a skillet or sauté pan filled with a few cans of beans. (It might flatten the tofu a little, but that’s okay.) The weight will press excess water out of the tofu, and the paper towels will sop it up.Step 3: Toss the tofu with a few crispifying ingredients.After the three slices of tofu have been pressed, cut the slices into cubes. Aim for roughly 1-inch pieces, but you don’t have to be super precise about it. Transfer the cubes to a bowl. Then add 3 tablespoons of olive or canola oil, 2 tablespoons of soy sauce, and 1 tablespoon of cornstarch to the bowl. Toss the tofu with the other ingredients gently (use a spatula or your hands) so all of the pieces are well coated.

How to Clean a Burnt Pan When All You Want to Do Is Throw It Out

How to Clean a Burnt Pan When All You Want to Do Is Throw It Out

You got distracted sautéing a delicious stir-fry for dinner and your food got charred—so much so that hours later, you’re still googling how to clean a burnt pan caked with stuck-on food.You’re looking this up because your initial plan—soap + water + scrubbing to the point where you’re literally sweating—hasn’t worked at all. Your arms feel like you just did a biceps drop-set workout, but the food bits haven’t budged. You’re pretty sure the pan is just destined for the trash. But maybe, just maybe, food experts may have some kind of trick up their sleeves that can help.Indeed, you do have some options—and they don’t include searching for a replacement pan. Even if you’ve burned the hell out of your food to the point that it’s fully fused onto the cooking surface, it’s probably possible to get the pan clean. Here, Sher Castellano, a professional recipe developer based in Dallas who’s cleaned plenty of burnt pans, tells SELF exactly what you need to do.How to Clean a Burnt Pan If It’s NonstickThat whole “nonstick” name is probably making you LOL right now. It’s definitely possible for food to get glued onto a nonstick pan if you’re cooking at high heat and the food burns. And going to town on the scrubbing actually isn’t the best idea anyway, since it can damage the pan’s delicate nonstick coating.To get the gunk off, follow these steps instead, says Castellano.1. Fill the pan with very hot water. The hottest you can get from the tap is fine; it doesn’t have to be boiling, Castellano says. (Obviously, be sure to remove any food that you can easily scoop out first, before you pour the water in.) It’ll probably be too hot to comfortably touch, but that’s okay because you’re going to…2. Let the pan sit for 10 minutes. The key to success is all in the rest period. “The stuck-on food will absorb some of the water, which will start to loosen it up,” says Castellano. So chill out during and avoid the urge to bring on the elbow grease.3. Brush off the food gently. Castellano likes Scrub Daddy sponges ($20 for 3, Amazon) because they’re gentle on cookware and pliable enough that you can scrunch them around the pan to get a really thorough clean. But a silicone spatula or even a wooden spoon will also do the trick. Whatever you use, avoid abrasive tools like scrubby sponges, steel wool, or metal spatulas or spoons. They’ll scratch the coating of your pan, rendering the nonstick coating even less effective. Small, circular motions should be enough to push away the gunk—no need for huge strides that leave your arms tired.4. Give the pan a final clean. Rinse the pan with warm water, add a squirt of dish soap, and give a gentle scrub with a soft sponge to remove any lingering oils or debris. Then rinse away the suds, wipe the pan dry, and you’re done!What to Do If There’s Still Some Food Caked On:Hot water soak didn’t cut it? Dump out the water and add a mix of 2 tbsp baking soda and 1 tbsp white vinegar to your pan. The combo makes a thick, ever-so-abrasive paste that can help loosen really stubborn food particles without too much risk of scratching your pan’s surface, Castellano says. Let the mixture sit for a few minutes, then get in there with the Scrub-Daddy, spatula, or wooden spoon to lift off the cakey bits. Then proceed with giving your pan a final clean with warm water and dish soap.How to Clean a Burnt Pan If It’s Stainless SteelThe surface of stainless steel pans also has a protective coating. But it’s tougher than nonstick, so it can take a little more scrubbing action. When food is burned on a stainless steel pan, here’s what you can do.1. Fill the pan with very hot water and let it sit for 10 minutes. Again, the hot water will start loosening up those food particles to give you a head start on the scrubbing. Dump the water out, but don’t dry it.2. Sprinkle on a mildly abrasive powder cleanser.Castellano is a big fan of Bar Keepers Friend cleanser ($10 for 2, Amazon), which, when mixed with the leftover water droplets in your pan, forms a slightly gritty paste that scrubs away food without destroying the pan’s surface coating. (You’re aiming for a consistency that’s a little thinner than toothpaste, so add another splash of water or some more Bar Keepers Friend as needed to get there.) “Some people like to wear dish gloves if they have sensitive skin, since it can be mildly irritating,” she says. If you don’t have Bar Keeper’s Friend on hand, 2 tbsp baking soda mixed with 1 tbsp white vinegar can also do the drink. (It’s okay to use this on the first try for stainless steel even though it wouldn’t be your go-to for nonstick, since steel pans have a sturdier coating that’s less prone to damage.)AmazonBar Keepers Friend Powder Cleanser3. Brush off the food. Use an all-purpose sponge or a Scrub Daddy to gently scrub away the caked-on food. You still want to steer clear of scrubby or wiry sponges, steel wool, or any kind of metal utensil, which can scratch up your pan.4. Give the pan a final clean. Rinse the pan with warm water, add a squirt of dish soap, and give a gentle scrub with a soft sponge to remove any lingering oils or debris. Then rinse away the suds and wipe the pan dry.What to Do If There’s Still Some Food Caked On:For really stubborn bits, soak the pan in hot, soapy water for 30 minutes. Then repeat the cleaning process using the Bar Keepers Friend or baking soda and vinegar, Castellano recommends.Most of the time these methods will get the job done and get your pan back into sautéing shape. But if the food still won’t budge, now’s the time to call it quits, trash the pan, and buy a new one.Related:

Do a Few Moldy Strawberries Ruin the Whole Pint?

Do a Few Moldy Strawberries Ruin the Whole Pint?

When it comes to Major Summer Disappointments, moldy strawberries rank right up there with rainy beach days or a scoop of ice cream that drops off your cone. But while you can’t control the weather or recoup your spilled dessert, you can usually salvage some (or most!) of your fruit. And in some cases, it’s even possible to avoid the sad scenario completely.You read that right. Eating berries that have actual mold on them is definitely a bad idea (and a pretty nasty tasting one at that). But just because a few of your fruits have grown a green or blue blanket doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to throw the entire box in the trash, experts say.That said, you should take a few quick precautions to make sure the rest of your produce haul is safe. Here’s how to handle moldy strawberries and other summer fruit, plus what you can do to reduce the chance of running into fuzz altogether.What is mold—and why is it always showing up on my berries?Food molds are microscopic fungi that live on plants and animals. To the naked eye, it looks like white, green, or blue fuzz. But if you were to examine mold under a microscope, you’d see skinny, mushroom-like structures with thread-like stalks and spores that form on top, according to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA). The spores are what you see with your eyes, and the stalks or roots are the non-visible parts underneath.Mold reproduces when spores float through the air and land on a moist surface (like foods, wet leaves, a damp wall, or a shower curtain). If you’ve ever gone a little too long in between fridge clean-outs, you’ve probably learned that mold can grow on pretty much any food. But strawberries and other berries are particularly prone to the stuff. That’s because they’re loaded with the nutrients mold loves and needs to grow.”Berries are generally high in moisture and sugar content, which are two things that mold needs to thrive,” Gretchen Wall, MS, director of food safety and quality for the International Fresh Produce Association, tells SELF.The fact that berries are soft and bruise easily makes them even more inviting to mold. “Any time produce becomes damaged, it may leak sugars and provide an opportunity for an organism that wants to grow,” Wall says. YUM.And once mold makes its way onto one berry, it can spread to others nearby easily. Because mold spores are airborne, they can float from one berry to the next—though you won’t see it until the thread-like stalks burrow deep into the fruit and sprout fresh stalks, and then eventually, the visible spores on top of them. “It’s like dandelion seeds that blow across a field and then, all of the sudden, you have all of these dandelions popping up,” Wall explains.Can I cut mold off a strawberry and eat the rest?It’s best to discard moldy berries. Even though a berry with a tiny bit of mold might look totally fine once you cut away the fuzzy patch, the thread-like strands that you can’t see may have invaded the rest of the fruit, Nicole McGeehan, MPH, CHES, Penn State Extension food safety and quality educator, tells SELF. (Cutting mold off foods like hard cheese or firm veggies like carrots or cabbage is OK. But softer foods like berries can still be contaminated with mold below the surface, even if you cut away the visible part, per the USDA.)

The 6 Best Store-Bought Veggie Burgers

The 6 Best Store-Bought Veggie Burgers

Veggie burgers can be delicious—but they’re not all created equal. The lovingly crafted plant-based patties you get from a restaurant that knows what they’re doing are so satisfying and delicious. And if you’re willing to put in the time to make your own from scratch (a fun project!), they can be awesome too.But at times frozen veggie burgers can be a little… lacking. As someone who hasn’t eaten meat for almost 20 years, I’ve had plenty of experiences with store-bought frozen veggie burgers that are bland, mushy, and dry—especially if their only form of preparation consists of getting tossed into the microwave.That said, I also write about food for a living and know how convenient frozen foods can be when you have a full-time job/family/generally busy life, so I refused to write store-bought veggie burgers off entirely. Surely there had to be at least a few tasty options out there, right? I set off on an at-home taste test to find out. As it turned out, I found some new faves.What are veggie burgers made of?First, before we get into some of the most delicious frozen veggie burgers out there, let’s take a moment to talk about what veggie burgers actually are. Veggie burgers are basically any kind of burger-shaped patty made with plant-based ingredients instead of meat. The O.G. versions and their descendants typically star vegetables (often finely chopped), beans (at least partially mashed), and whole grains, plus a binder to hold the patties together. In many cases, eggs serve as this binder, but for totally vegan burgers, ingredients like flaxseeds, nut butter, oats, or breadcrumbs play the role, plant-based nutrition expert Rhyan Geiger, RDN, tells SELF. (No extra liquid needed, as it would likely just make the patties mushy or soggy.)Veggies aren’t always the main event though. Some newer plant-based patties, which are designed to have the taste and texture of meat, are often made with a soy- or pea-protein base, along with added starches or thickeners and flavors or seasonings.Both types of veggie burgers can be tasty, Geiger says. It just depends on what type of burger experience you’re looking for.How can you make store-bought frozen veggie burgers taste good?Store-bought versions definitely can be tasty, but you’ve got to cook them the right away. Adding toppings, sauces, or seasonings is important too.Rule number one for prep: Do NOT microwave your veggie burger, Geiger says. Even if you’re in a hurry, and even if the box gives instructions for doing so. Nuking will manage to make your patty both mushy and dry at the same time.Instead? “The best way to cook veggie burgers is in a skillet on the stove or in an air fryer,” Geiger says. Both methods will reward you with a crisp crust on the outside while keeping your patty moist and juicy on the inside. Some sturdy burgers might hold up on a grill, but others will stick to the grates or just fall apart. Figuring out which will do which can sometimes take some trial and error, so on the cookout front, you have to be willing to experiment. (For my taste test, I cooked all my burgers the same way for consistency’s sake: I followed Geiger’s skillet recommendation, using just a drop of olive oil and flipping halfway through.)Once your burger is cooked to perfection, you’ll want to dress it up. “Adding toppings like tomatoes, pickles, caramelized onions, or avocado are such a great way to make a plant-based burger taste really good,” Geiger says. If you’re not necessarily looking to keep it vegan, a slice of cheese or a slick of sriracha aioli are also top-notch. Finally, consider tucking in something crunchy or leafy. A handful of baby spinach or sprouts will give your burger a little more heft while making it taste fresh.How to pick the best store-bought veggie burgerAfter my taste test, in which I tried nearly a dozen burgers, I definitely figured out which contenders will be stocking my freezer from here on out. But veggie burgers vary so much in terms of flavor profiles and textures, so even after trying a ton of them, I can’t say for sure which one you’ll like the most.One thing that is worth keeping in mind when you go shopping, though, is deciding whether you’re looking for a burger that tastes more like beef or more like vegetables. The former is great if you’re looking for a stand-in for meat. These kinds also tend to be higher in protein and have a sturdier texture that tend to hold up better on the grill. The latter is better if you’re craving plant flavors and textures that just so happen to be presented in a round, burger-like shape. They’re not always as protein-packed and may be a little softer or squishier. Knowing which category your burger falls into is definitely the first step towards finding one you love (and avoiding disappointment).Okay! Now let’s look at the best of the best. After sampling a whole host of plant-based patties here are my absolute faves in a whole host of categories.

So, Is Coffee Bad for You in Any Way?

So, Is Coffee Bad for You in Any Way?

It’s pretty easy these days to find a matcha-sipping wellness influencer who raves about how much life has improved after they quit coffee. But…is coffee bad for you in any way, really? Is there any truth at all to the idea that you could be doing your body harm by sipping the steaming hot, deliciously aromatic, magically energizing drink that helps you crawl out of bed in the morning? Or, if not actual harm, simply making your body feel not as great as it can?Being able to get just a yes or no answer would be really nice, wouldn’t it? But as with many (if not most) questions in the world of health and nutrition, the answer is more nuanced than that. Everybody is different, and food, beverages, and nutrients affect each person differently. And, ya know, science can be pretty complicated.That said, generally speaking, we actually do have mountains of evidence showing that for most people, coffee isn’t harmful in the slightest—and likely delivers some pretty sweet benefits. But the reality is that whether or not you ought to steer clear of (or just cut down on) the java can be fairly individualized. There are other people who drink it and don’t feel so great—and it’s important to pay attention to those signals from your mind and body.So how can you decide whether coffee is good for you? What are the potential pros and cons for your health and wellness? And, if coffee is good for you, how much caffeine should you have in a day? Figuring out the answer is definitely one of those things where you need to just do you. And the best place to start with that exploration is with getting the plain facts first.Let’s take a little dive into what the science really says about the health benefits of coffee (there are actually a bunch!), the potential drawbacks when you overdo it, and how to figure out what overdoing it even might mean for you. From there, you’ll be able to figure out whether the upsides of your cup of joe are worth it for you personally—or, if you’re on the fence, whether limiting your caffeine intake or avoiding coffee completely is the right move.How much caffeine is in coffee?Before getting into all the details, let’s take a quick look at what you’re actually getting when you down a cup. An 8-ounce cup of brewed coffee contains approximately 96 mg of caffeine according to the Mayo Clinic.If you’re more of an Americano person, a shot of espresso has 64 mg of caffeine. (By comparison, a cup of brewed green tea has 28 mg.) And of course, caffeine content can vary widely across beans and brew methods—like French press, drip, pourover, or unfiltered coffee.As far as other coffee nutrition facts go, its macronutrients are pretty much negligible. A cup of plain black coffee—no milk, cream, or sugar—has about two calories and basically zero carbs, protein, or fat, per the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Coffee also contains trace amounts of vitamins and minerals like calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and niacin. And coffee is packed with a whole bunch of other, lesser known substances, too. “Coffee beans have over 100 biologically active compounds,” Nicole Weinberg, MD, a cardiologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, CA, tells SELF. That includes antioxidants, like phenolic acids and flavonoids, that are associated with a wide variety of positive health effects. (More on what those are and what they do coming up.)What are the benefits of drinking coffee?Let’s start on a positive note here. Coffee has a wide variety of potential benefits for your brain and body, from immediate and direct effects on your mood and energy to long-term associations with a lower risk of certain health issues.

7 Steps to Cooking Scrambled Eggs That Taste Better Than Your Favorite Brunch Spot

7 Steps to Cooking Scrambled Eggs That Taste Better Than Your Favorite Brunch Spot

This is a good time to add in some salt and pepper (about 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/8 teaspoon of pepper per two eggs), so the seasonings can get evenly distributed among the eggs. You can also mix in 2 to 3 tablespoons (per two eggs) of whole milk, heavy cream or creme fraiche to make the texture more velvety, Bearss says. “This will be enough to bring creaminess and airiness to the eggs but not so much that you’re eating cream of egg soup.”And if you wanna do a super pro move, you can also blend up the eggs with an immersion blender, Kevin Templeton, executive chef of Barleymash in San Diego, tells SELF. That’ll incorporate even more air, making your eggs—you guessed it—even fluffier.3. Warm your pan and add your fat.It’s important to get your pan ready while you’re prepping your eggs, so the mixture will start cooking as soon as it hits the pan. Turn the heat to medium-low, letting it warm up for a few minutes before adding the eggs. “This makes sure the heat is evenly distributed not only throughout the pan, but when cooking your eggs,” Salazar says.As for the fat? You might be wondering why you need any if you’re using a nonstick pan, but a pat of butter or a drizzle of olive oil will act as extra insurance to keep your eggs sliding around the pan’s surface, Salazar notes. You don’t need much—think 1 teaspoon per egg. The extra fat will give your eggs a creamier flavor and a richer texture, too.4. Cook low and slow.All of our pros agreed: Trying to scramble in a minute or two with the heat cranked up is the number-one way to mess up eggs, and it’s an incredibly common mistake. “High heat gives you firmer, more rubbery eggs and can cause the eggs to caramelize or brown,” Templeton says.So pour in your whisked eggs and keep that heat at medium-low. “If you hear a sizzle, your pan is too hot,” Trujillo says. That’s your cue to turn down the heat a notch, even if it seems like it’ll take years before you’ll be able to eat breakfast. (Don’t worry, it won’t: Even with your heat at medium-low, a pan of two to four scrambled eggs should cook in a few minutes, Bearss says.)5. Stir, but not too much.Let the eggs sit undisturbed for a minute or two after pouring them into the pan. That’ll help them start to set up texturally and form those big, fluffy curds, Trujillo explains.Once the edges of the eggs have set, use your spatula to lightly move, pull, and fold the eggs around the pan. “Let them set up a bit more and repeat this one more time,” she says. “Excessively stirring your eggs results in a smaller, crumbly-looking scramble.” If you notice any bits of egg sticking to the bottom or sides of the pan when you stir, use the spatula to gently lift those up too, so they don’t burn.6. Stop before they’re totally done.Take the pan off the heat when your eggs are about three-quarters of the way cooked, recommends Salazar. The scramble should appear just set and still a bit runny—but don’t worry, you’re not eating them yet.”Even though you’ve taken the pan off the heat, the residual heat will cause the eggs to continue to cook,” Salazar says.In another minute or so, this very low carryover heat will finish cooking the eggs while helping them maintain some moisture, so they stay creamy instead of drying out. They’re done when they look slightly firm and glistening with a solid yellow color and no runny or undercooked yolks, says Salazar.7. Finish and eat ASAP.If you want to flavor your eggs with extra add-ins (think chopped fresh herbs, grated cheese, or a sprinkle of hot sauce), now’s the time to do it. Then transfer the eggs to a plate and chow down.”You should always eat scrambled eggs immediately after cooking so they are still warm and haven’t had a chance to dry out,” Bearss says. After all, that would kinda defeat the purpose of all the work you did in the first place, right?Related:

5 Chia Seeds Benefits You Should Really Know About

5 Chia Seeds Benefits You Should Really Know About

In particular, chia seeds are a rich source of branched-chain amino acids (BCAAs), which, in supplement form, have been associated with increased protein synthesis (i.e. muscle-building) and reduced muscle breakdown with exercise, according to research published in the Journal of the International Society of Sports Nutrition. So it may be worth tossing some into your post-workout smoothie.5. They can help support bone health.If you’re looking for a non-dairy option to support a sturdy skeleton, chia’s a top choice. These tiny seeds are a good source of minerals like phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, and calcium. They’re especially rich in calcium, which is important for maintaining bone health. A serving of chia seeds provides about 18% of the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for calcium, according to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Miller often recommends chia seeds as a source of calcium for people on a vegan diet. And since magnesium deficiency can contribute to osteoporosis, that mineral is good for your bones too. “This calcium-magnesium combo is needed for strong, healthy bones,” Bazilian says.How many chia seeds should you eat a day?A standard serving size of chia seeds is one ounce or about two tablespoons, according to the USDA. But as with all serving size recommendations, it’s really more of a guideline than a rule about how much you should or shouldn’t eat.You’re very much allowed to have multiple servings of chia seeds, as long as you keep their high-fiber content in mind. Miller recommends to “eat as much as you’re content, but not uncomfortable.” For more about what that means, keep reading.Can chia seeds have side effects?There are two potential chia seeds side effects you’ll want to watch out for. Because of their fiber content, eating too many at once might mess with your stomach, and if you try to consume them plain they can be a little tough to swallow—and even be a choking hazard.Generally speaking, rapidly upping the amount of fiber in your diet can be tough on your digestion and cause (temporary) side effects. Adding too many fiber-heavy chia to your diet at once can potentially set you up for uncomfortable symptoms like gas, bloating, or cramping—especially if you’re not used to getting that amount of roughage, per the Mayo Clinic.”If you aren’t consuming a lot of fiber, I suggest starting slowly with a couple teaspoons and then gradually increasing the amount of chia to avoid any gastrointestinal discomfort,” Panitz recommends. Drink plenty of fluids too, because fiber generally works best in your system when consumed with plenty of water, as SELF has reported. “Water, tea, and even coffee will help keep the chia and its fiber moving through your digestive tract,” Panitz says.The other potential risk with chia seeds is that eating a spoonful straight-up could be a choking hazard, Atlanta-based culinary and integrative dietitian Marisa Moore, RDN, LD, tells SELF. They can get stuck in your throat thanks to their tiny size and dry texture, Moore says. So just in case you were planning on popping a plain handful right into your mouth—which sounds kind of messy, honestly—try incorporating chia seeds into other foods or drinks instead, like smoothies, yogurt, or pudding. (They’ll taste better and fill you up more that way, too.)Who should not eat chia seeds?You should steer clear of chia seeds if you have trouble swallowing (because of the potential choking hazard) and proceed with caution if you have digestive issues, because of the fiber content.

Here’s How to Actually Cook Asparagus

Here’s How to Actually Cook Asparagus

First you saw those beautiful, bright green asparagus spears at the market, and absolutely had to buy them because… SPRING! Now, you’re frantically Googling how to cook asparagus because they turned out soggy and weird the last time you tried to make them. What went wrong, you wonder? What cooking method should you try this time? And how can you make asparagus that actually tastes amazing?First of all, rest assured: You absolutely made the right move snatching up fresh asparagus while it’s in season—this is one of those seasonal veggie treasures that really shines when the weather gets warmer. “While asparagus is available year-round, it’s best bought in season in the springtime,” Alexis deBoschnek, a Catskills-based cooking pro and author of To the Last Bite, tells SELF. During asparagus season, you’re more likely to find stalks that are more fresh, flavorful, and tender, as opposed to tough and woody.Something else to know about the bounty of asparagus you just brought home: Your body will thank you for it. While you’re probably buying asparagus mostly because you’re trying to cook up some bomb-tasting in-season veggies, there are also other notable asparagus benefits worth briefly touching on—like the fact that it’s, like, extremely good for you.Along with micronutrients like vitamins A, C, and K, one cup of raw asparagus contains nearly three grams of fiber, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s packed with a kind of fiber called prebiotics—naturally occurring fibers that help promote the growth of good bacteria in your gut and are linked to good digestive health, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.OK, but enough talk about asparagus nutrition! It’s time to get into the nuts and bolts of how to cook asparagus so you can make the most of your haul. Here are all the asparagus cooking tips you need to make the most of this veg—and make it official that spring has sprung in the most delicious way, baby.How do you pick the best asparagus?It helps when cooking asparagus to bring home the freshest asparagus in the first place, of course, so look for stalks whose tips are tightly packed and not at all soft or wet. These are good indicators of freshness, deBoschnek says—so you’ll not only get the best flavor and texture, you’ll also get a longer shelf life before you need to cook it.By the way, as for whether to select a bundle of thinner or thicker spears, there are a lot of opinions out there—and it’s largely a matter of preference. Slimmer asparagus stalks have a more delicate texture and quicker cooking time, while thicker stalks take longer to cook and have a meatier, heartier texture (and medium-thick spears are somewhere in the middle). You might also find that it depends on the dish you’re making. “The medium is my favorite when I want it to be the star of the show,” Kristina Ramos, chief chef educator at the New York sustainability nonprofit Chefs for Impact, tells SELF. Meanwhile, “A thicker asparagus cut into smaller rounds is great for a salad or pasta-type dish,” Ramos explains, “and thinner spears are great as a side dish or on its own.”Do you refrigerate asparagus?Asparagus is perishable, so unless you plan on eating it ASAP after bringing it home, you definitely want to refrigerate it. “After a few days, it can get soft and have an unpleasant odor,” Karishma Pradhan, a recipe developer, cooking instructor, and founder of the Home Cooking Collective based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, tells SELF.

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