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    This huge relative of the BREADFRUIT and fig can weigh up to 100 pounds. Spiny and oval or oblong-shaped, the tropical jackfruit grows in parts of Africa, Brazil and Southeast Asia. When green, both its flesh and edible seeds are included in curried dishes. Ripe jackfruit has a bland, sweet flavor and is generally used for desserts. In the United States, jackfruit is only available canned.

    This dark, coarse, unrefined sugar (sometimes referred to as palm sugar ) can be made either from the sap of various palm trees or from sugar-cane juice. It is primarily used in India, where many categorize sugar made from sugar cane as jaggery and that processed from palm trees as gur. It comes in several forms, the two most popular being a soft, honeybutter texture and a solid cakelike form. The former is used to spread on breads and confections, while the solid version serves to make candies, and when crushed, to sprinkle on cereal, and so on. Jaggery has a sweet, winey fragrance and flavor that lends distinction to whatever food it embellishes. It can be purchased in East Indian markets


    This vegetable is a member of the turnip family and, for that reason, is also called cabbage turnip . Like the turnip, both its purple-tinged, white bulblike stem and its greens are edible. The kohlrabi bulb tastes like a mild, sweet turnip. It’s available from midspring to midfall. Those under 3 inches in diameter are the most tender.

    Definition: [KOO-guhl] Traditionally served on the Jewish Sabbath, kugel is a baked pudding usually made with potatoes or noodles, though meat, vegetables and other ingredients are sometimes included. It’s generally served as a side dish, though a sweet version with raisins and spices is equally delicious as dessert.


    Definition: Thanks to 1994 U.S. laws, understanding food labels is much easier. The Federal Nutrition Labeling and Education Act regulations not only require that specific information appear on processed food labels, they implement laws in four areas: 1. package claims (now federally defined and regulated); 2. serving sizes, (now comparable for similar foods); 3. the % Daily Value column (tells the percentage of a nutrient in the food); 4. by consulting the Daily Values, consumers can decide how much of the major nutrients to eat daily. Most labels list ingredients in descending order by weight, not amount. Labels must now include total amount of fat, saturated fat and unsaturated fat (see fats and oils). There’s a gap in this scheme because trans fatty acids (unsaturated fat turned into saturated fat by hydrogenation), which may be part of the total fat listed, isn’t classified “saturated.” Add the saturated and unsaturated fat. If it doesn’t equal the total fat, the difference is likely due to trans fatty acids–saturated fat. Food label terms: Low fat means the amount of fat per serving (or per 100 grams of food) is 3 grams or less; the phrase “90 (or other number) percent fat free” may only refer to low fat products. Reduced fat products contain 50 percent or less fat than the regular product; reduced saturated fat is the same, but refers to saturated fat. Low in saturated fat means each serving contains 1 gram or less of saturated fat, and its calories are less than 15 percent of the total. Fat free products have less than 1/2 gram of fat per serving, providing there are no added fat or oil ingredients. Reduced cholesterol products contain 50 percent or less cholesterol than the regular. Low in cholesterol means cholesterol per serving (or per 100 grams of food) is 20 milligrams or less, and that saturated fat is 2 grams or less. Cholesterol free products have less than 2 milligrams of cholesterol and 2 grams or less of saturated fat per serving. Reduced sodium is at least 75 percent less sodium; low sodium is 140 milligrams or less per serving; very low sodium–35 milligrams sodium per serving; sodium free–less than 5 milligrams per serving. Reduced calorie has at least 1/3 less calories than in the regular product; low calorie means 40 calories or less per serving, and under 0.4 calories per gram of food. No sugar added means there’s no table sugar, but there may be corn syrup, dextrose, fructose, glucose, maltose or sucrose. According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), light (or lite) must contain “less of something,” which can mean lighter color, flavor or texture, or reduced calories, fat, sugar or alcohol. According to the FDA, natural flavorings are “derived from a spice, fruit or fruit juice, edible yeast, herb, bark, bud, root, leaf or similar plant material, meat, seafood, poultry, egg, dairy product…whose significant function in food is flavoring rather than nutritional.” However, those parameters include ingredients like hydrolyzed protein and HVP, which contain MSG. The FDA does not define natural, but it generally means the product has no artificial ingredients or intentional additives (though many “natural” foods are full of sugar, fat and preservatives). “Natural” meat or poultry is minimally processed and free of artificial ingredients. Organic is often unqualified, but in some states it means crops, animal feed and water are sans chemicals. Enriched products lose nutrients during processing, then have them replaced. Fortified indicates additional nutrients that weren’t originally there. RDA stands for “Recommended Dietary Allowance,” the government-recommended daily amounts of protein, vitamins and minerals that vary according to gender and conditions such as pregnancy. See also additives.

    lactic acid
    A bitter-tasting acid that forms when certain bacteria combine with LACTOSE (milk sugar). Lactic acid is used to impart a tart flavor, as well as in the preservation of some foods. It occurs naturally in the souring of milk and can be found in foods such as cheese and yogurt. It’s also used in the production of acid-fermented foods such as pickles and SAUERKRAUT.

    This sugar occurs naturally in milk and is also called milk sugar. It’s the least sweet of all the natural sugars and is used commercially in foods such as baby formulas and candies.

    Definition: A light, delicate sponge cake roughly shaped like a rather large, fat finger. It’s used as an accompaniment to ice cream, puddings and other desserts. Ladyfingers are also employed as an integral part of some desserts, such as charlottes. Ladyfingers can be made at home or purchased in bakeries or supermarkets

    Found on the North American Pacific coast, lingcod is not really a cod but a GREENLING. This fish won’t win any beauty contests, but its mildly sweet flavor and firm, lowfat texture makes up for its appearance. Lingcod ranges from 3 to 20 pounds and is available whole or as steaks or fillets. It can be prepared in almost any manner including baking, broiling, frying or grilling. Lingcod also does nicely in soups and stews

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