All posts by Sean

Fast Food Purchase with Food Stamps – Yes

In four states, Florida, Michigan, Arizona and California, recipients of food stamps are allowed to purchase fast food items. The main reason these states allow this is to help indigent people such as homeless, disabled and elderly (age 60 and over) people who have no means of providing warm food for themselves. Other states are starting to consider joining the band wagon. Oklahoma is one of them.

Food Stamp Purchase Guidelines

Food stamp purchase guidelines vary from state to state. Only food items can be purchased with food stamps. A current list of items states that do not allow fast food purchases that food stamp recipients can purchase are:  fruits, vegetables, meats, baked goods at grocery stores. Other items are non-alcoholic beverages, edible plants, herbs, organic produce and seeds for growing fruits and vegetables. More items are:  baby formula, goat’s milk, Pedialyte and Pediasure, meals prepared and delivered by meal delivery services (Meals on Wheels), meals prepared in soup kitchens and nutritional supplements (Boost, Ensure, Isomil and Sustacal). Other items listed are:  weight loss products (Slim Fast, Cambridge Diet and Nutrisystem), artificial sweeteners, distilled water, ice, cooking sprays and prepared sandwiches or salads that are not eaten in the store. (http//dss.sc.gov)

Businesses that will accept the food stamps are grocery stores, convenience stores and farmer’s market vendors. Food stamps cannot be used in trade for non-food items, fast food, food sold in restaurants, edible food that can be eaten in grocery stores, tobacco, drugs or alcohol. (www.ehow.com)

Applying for Food Stamps

The USDA’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) is regulated by the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) also called Department of Social Services (DSS) in some states. People who need to apply for the food stamps SNAP program, can apply in person, by mail or  on-line through the state DHHS website. They can also print an application which will require you to provide proof of your monthly income, personal information of the members of the household and a list of current owned assets. You will be given an EBT card or SNAP card if you qualify. (www.ehow.com)

The idea of using food stamps to pay for fast food in states that do not accept them intice people to find different ways to get around the restriction. In Missouri, Domino’s Pizza sells the pizzas made but have not been baked yet. Because the food is uncooked it does not break the federal regulation. (www.Dominos.com)

Yum! Brands, out of Louisville, KY owner of restaurants which include:  Taco Bell, KFC, McDonald’s, Subway plus others is lobbying for inclusion in the fast-food food stamp program. The four states that do accept food stamps have websites listed on the Internet of which fast food restaurants already accept food stamps for meals. (http://abcnews.go.com)

Listed below are the websites:

Michigan (http://www.michigan.gov/dhs/o,1607,7-124-5455_7034_7333-84112-,oo.html)

California (http://snap-load-balancer-244858692.us-east-1.elb.amazonaws.com/index.html)

Florida (http://www.live5news.com/story/15406724/fast-food-restaurants-want-a-slice-of-food-stamp-pie)

Arizona (http://www.azdes.gov/InternetFiles/Reports/pdf/AZ%20Restaurant%20Participation%20USDA-FNS%20Meals%20Program%2002-10.pdf)

Why should poor people not be allowed to eat out with their families occassionally at a fast food restaurant?

  

Understanding the different Types of Chocolates

Understanding The Different Types Of Chocolates 

Who can ever resist chocolates? Almost everyone loves them. Others even considered them as indulgence especially the ones of good quality. They are products from transforming beans of cacao fruit. They can be used for baking,beverages and candy. Once you know and understand the different types of chocolates, the more that you can appreciate any of their products. There is no simple way of achieving good quality that balances well with their good texture, aroma and the color that appeals to every individual. Some factors are responsible for affecting the aroma and the flavor of chocolates. They are usually affected by conching, the process wherein the cocoa mass is placed in a wet mill and stirred for hours to produce refined texture and flavor. The process also reduces the acidic qualities and the bitter taste of cacao mass. Some conch for days to produce the best result. Other factors like roasting time, temperature’ the proportion and the blending of ingredients also affect the quality of chocolates. 

The cocoa mass is the basic ingredient of every type of chocolates. This is the thick paste that is produced after crushing the cacao nibs. Further pressing produces cocoa butter (fat of the cacao bean) and dry cakes of cocoa. The dry cakes when pulverized become the cocoa powder and when alkalized by Dutching become alkalized cocoa powder or simply referred to as Dutched- processed. 

Different types of chocolates are produced when cocoa mass is mixed with other ingredients. Most of us are familiar with the three types, dark chocolates, milk chocolates and the white chocolates. The commonly added ingredients are sweeteners (sugar or its substitutes), milk, flavoring and lecithin(acts as emulsifier and comes from soybeans). 

Dark chocolates – are composed of cocoa mass plus sugar. The cocoa contents differ in the types of dark chocolates. The bitter variants contains 65 to 70% cocoa, 55% for chocolate bars and 50% for chocolate chips. The level of sugar decreases when the cocoa content increases in dark chocolates thus, decreasing the sweetness too. Sugar gives balance to the bitterness and sweetness. Generally, they have two years shelf- life because they have natural anti-oxidants protecting them to become rancid. 

Milk chocolates – contain cocoa mass, sweeteners and milk. They have distinct or unique character because of the milk added, be it cow’s milk, condensed milk or goat’s milk. The milk is responsible to the richness, creaminess and the lighter color. Milk chocolates can have a shelf life of at least one year and a half. The soft milk fats make it melts quickly than the dark chocolates. 

White chocolates – are made of cocoa butter, sweeteners or sugar and milk. They aren’t really chocolates because of the absence of cocoa mass. They are recommended as confectioner’s coatings by the U.S. Food and Drug. White chocolates are good for just about a year. 

Couverture – contains at least 32% cocoa butter. This is considered as a specialty chocolate. More cocoa butter is added to process thereby giving a thin, smooth and shiny coating. This is the reason why confectioners and pastry chefs prefer couverture. This is usually available as white, milk and dark couverture. 

Baker’s chocolate – this is a pure cocoa butter and is kept pure for baking and beverage purposes. This can’t be eaten as it is. It is available and sold as unsweetened or bitter chocolate. 

Chocolates of any type change slowly with time and temperature since it is a food system. They should be properly stored in cool places to maintain their goodness. They should have the gloss, the brittle snap and should melt in the mouth to be able to tell that they are of good quality. The flavor should be typical of a chocolate without any foreign taste or smell. Goodness varies on every individual’s preference and taste. The present trend in chocolates has high cocoa content and they are sugar-free for more health benefits and much better taste or flavor. Prebiotic chocolates (chocolates processed with yogurt) are introduced and gaining much popularity and again all because of health benefits. 

We can appreciate and enjoy more every sip or bite of different types of chocolates that we take into our mouths if we have a better understanding on how they came into existence to satisfy our taste buds and our needs.