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Diet Diva
Diet Diva

Get advice on healthy eating, nutrition, and weight loss from expert dietitian Tara Gidus. 

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Welcome to Food Science 101

Today I’m in the mood to talk food! In college, food science was one of my favorite subjects (who am I kidding, all of my classes were favorites – I love this stuff!). Anyway, food science involves learning about the properties of food, like why gelatin won’t congeal if you make it with fresh pineapple, how altitude affects cooking, the “smoke point” of various oils, and how grapes become wine. It’s the kind of stuff Alton Brown loves to talk about (and he’s great at explaining it). So, this brings me to a question I was recently asked by a very nice gentleman sitting next to me on a flight home from New York City, “What the heck is soy milk anyway?”

I actually get this question a lot because when you hear the word milk you automatically think of cows. But technically, you can “milk” anything by pressing it (maybe we should start calling orange juice orange milk!). In China and Japan people regularly make their own soy milk by soaking soy beans, grinding them, then squeezing out the liquid. Sound delicious? Actually, it’s not too bad, kind of a nutty taste. Other non dairy milks you might see in your market these days include rice milk, almond milk, and even oat milk. Their toasty flavors work well in lots of recipes including coffee drinks, mashed potatoes, and yummy desserts. So, there you have it. That’s all for today - class dismissed!

P.S. Fresh pineapple has enzymes called bromelain that break down the protein structure in gelatin; at sea level water boils at 212 degrees versus 198 degrees at 7,500 feet; smoke point is the temperature at which heated oil starts to smoke (woks need oils with high smoke points like sesame); and as for wine, here’s a link to a great explanation:
http://www.chefs.com/Features/Standard/432/Feature.aspx?SectionID=4
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About the Author


MS, RD, CSSD, LD/N

Tara Gidus is a nationally recognized expert and spokesperson on nutrition and fitness.

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