The Kitchen Think: Fed Up With Caffeine in Food


Why does the food world think we need caffeine in EVERYTHING? Especially in things that children might eat? Like sugar?

I was on a tear a few months ago when Wrigley announced that it was going to start selling a caffeinated chewing gum supposedly aimed at adults. Luckily, I wasn’t the only one who thought it was dumb idea and Wrigley has stopped production.

But now, ThinkGeek is selling “Jacked Up Caffeinated Baking Sugar,” real sugar with 46mg of caffeine per teaspoon. The makers of Jacked up Sugar say this sugar lets you “amp up” your baked goods… or, for that matter, anything else.

Jacked Up Caffeinated Baking Sugar

An 8-ounce cup of regular brewed coffee contains between 95 and 200mg of caffeine.

Your body absorbs caffeine very quickly… in as little as 15 minutes. But, caffeine can linger in your body for up to 12 hours.

This isn’t a good thing. Especially for kids.

Potato chips, maple syrup, waffles, jelly beans, water… seems like everyday there’s a new caffeinated product on the market.

Earlier this month the Food and Drug Administration announced it would begin looking into the safety of caffeine in food products, with a particular focus on its effects on children and adolescents.

But there has been no action so far, and yet another caffeinated food item that a child might eat is now on the market. What is it going to take to get some regulations in place?

We all know the answer to that one, now don’t we?

 Jacked Up Caffeinated Baking Sugar Crystals

Extra Helpings: Waffle Perfection


Pam asks: I followed your recipe for waffles, but they didn’t turn out crisp. Oh, and I added a mashed banana, too.

Well, Pam, it could be a couple of different things, which I’ll talk about in a bit… but I’m willing to bet adding the banana, without adding more flour, may have made the waffles a bit softer than you wanted.

But, I’ll bet they still had terrific flavor!

For every cup of mashed banana, add ¼ cup flour so your waffles can crisp up on the griddle. You only need to add extra flour if  you are using bananas. With most fruit, you can stir it right into the batter. I prefer topping the waffles with fruit, rather than adding it to the mixture, because the waffles can end up looking like something from the “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre”  (if you use strawberries, for example).

Here are a few more waffle-related tips so you’ll have wonderful waffles:

• Make sure the waffle iron is clean before you begin… bits of  last month’s batch of waffles will burn (and a dirty appliance is incredibly gross).

• Use a waffle iron with a nonstick coating. If needed, brush with oil or anti-stick spray. Don’t over grease the griddle!

• Mix the batter in a pitcher to make for easier pouring. If the batter is in a bowl, use a measuring cup to equally portion out the batter.

• When pouring the waffle batter on the griddle, use just enough to fill the griddle compartment. Don’t overfill onto the middle separator or off the sides.

• Use chopsticks or wooden skewers to lift waffles from the waffle griddle to help keep the griddle scratch free.

• Keep waffles warm in a single layer on a rack in a 225°F oven. Don’t stack or wrap them… the steam will make them soggy.

• Clean your waffle iron (when it’s cool) with a toothbrush and a damp cloth. Don’t use abrasive cleaners and NEVER submerge an electric waffle griddle.

For light as air waffles: separate the egg and beat the whites to stiff peaks. Then fold the beaten whites into the batter.

For crispy thin waffles: increase the amount of oil by 1 to 2 teaspoons. Use just enough batter to coat the bottom of the waffle griddle.


Homemade Waffles


There’s something special about homemade waffles.

Maybe it’s all those little honeycombed nooks where butter, syrup and other sweet liquids can hide, infusing the waffle with flavor.

Or maybe it’s the anticipation of the crisp waffle, just waiting for a dusting of powdered sugar or a pile of fresh berries.

They really don’t take long to mix-up or to cook… it just seems like it because we’re so used to quick-serve toaster-heated frozen waffles (a very poor substitute for the real thing).

I always double the recipe so I can freeze some for later in the week. After the waffles cool, I slip a sheet of waxed paper between each one and freeze six of them together in a gallon size Ziploc® Freezer Bags.

This weekend, surprise everyone by mixing up a batch. Even if you don’t make extra, everyone will know why homemade waffles are so special… just like you.


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: