The Kitchen Think: When Will Coca-Cola Man Up?


Do you drink diet soda? Does it ever concern you that it might affect your health?Press_Diet_Coke_0908

With sales dropping, Coca-Cola must recognize that a lot of us are concerned about the long-term health affects of artificial sweeteners… so it’s fighting back.

Today, Coca-Cola ran a HUGE full-page ad in USA Today in the Atlanta region defending the safety of using the sugar substitute aspartame in their soda. The ads go nationwide tomorrow.

The ad says: “The Safety of aspartame is supported by more than 200 studies over 40 years.” What I want to know is: Who did those studies? How big were they?

But seriously, if you have to defend the safety of your product there is something definitely wrong with what you’re selling. This isn’t a food product that has been tampered with… this is something that they make from a formula to sell to us.

We know now that drinking sugary drinks, diet or otherwise, can create increased sugar cravings in some people (like Mama). Do you think Coca-Cola knows something they’re not telling us?

Remember when coke wanted to “Teach The World To Sing?” How about teaching the world about aspartame, rather than just running a massive ad campaign?


Kitchen Think: Have (a bit of) A Guilt-Free Thanksgiving


At this time every year, I promise myself I’m not going to do it… and then, of course, I do it anyway.

That little statement could go in so many directions… but in this instance, I’m talking about over-indulging at Thanksgiving.

Did you know that the average Thanksgiving plate, piled high with deliciousness, could come in at more than 3,000 calories? And that’s not even taking into account the snacking before the main event. Yikes!

If you’ve ever tried to be more conscious of what you’re eating, you know you should pile on the veggies, use a smaller plate, and skip the gravy… blah blah blah blah. We all know this isn’t going to happen.

So… what’s the answer?

Have a little of everything you’ve been waiting all year to eat. Don’t deprive yourself… but don’t pig out. Be conscious of your portions and of what you’re eating.

Yep, I’m talking about moderation. (Such a good word… but so hard to put into practice).

Here are a few suggestions to help you along the way:

• How much stuffing/sweet potatoes/mashed potatoes do you usually put on your plate? When you’re standing there getting ready to scoop it on, cut the amount in half AND THEN serve yourself. Just try it.

• Look at the palm of your hand and put that amount of turkey on your plate… that’s anywhere from 5 to 6 ounces. Try to eat the lean, white meat. Don’t eat the skin. (I know that’s a tough one.)

• Drizzle on about 2 Tablespoons of gravy. Yes, you can have gravy, but remember this is one of the most fat/sodium/calorie packed items on the menu. Remember the key word is drizzle, not ladle.

• Have some pie, especially if it is a pumpkin pie, but make it a small piece. That way you won’t feel bad when you sneak back into the kitchen for another piece! (But, make that one small, too!)

If you are doing the cooking, have some celery and hummus (or cut up apples) nearby, so you can munch on that while you work. If you’re going to someone’s house, don’t starve yourself beforehand… eat breakfast and lunch. In other words, have something to eat or you’ll over-eat when you get there.

When it comes to eating at Thanksgiving, don’t worry about making big promises to yourself…or anyone else. That’s a recipe for failure…

It’s all about moderation. Keep that in mind and you CAN do it!


Kitchen Think: The Most Interesting Food News This Week


You already know this week’s big food news… they’ve banned oversized sugary drinks in New York and the makers of pink slime have brought a libel suit against ABC News.

But here are a few other interesting items you may have missed…

I’ve eaten live eels, fried grub worms and lamb eyeballs… but I think I’ll take a pass on Candy Corn Oreos. Thank goodness my pal Mike Sula at the Chicago Reader took the bullet for me. 

The Food Network’s neon-coiffed Guy Fieri just opened the latest celebrity restaurant in New York. One of the appetizers: “Guy-talian Nachos,” which include pepperoni, ricotta crema and something called “fried pasta chips.”


Letting us know how many calories each item contains isn’t going to stop most of us from ordering that Double Cheese Burger and Biggie Fries at McDonald’s… we want what we want.

And this woman claims she lost more than 80-lbs eating exclusively at Starbucks. Right.

Have a great weekend!


I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: