Free market economist Milton Friedman would be appalled. But everyone else can rejoice: Yoplait is giving out free yogurt.
And not just a little yogurt, either. The first 1 million people who sign up -- that's 1 million people -- will receive a free cup of Yoplait yogurt. Yogurt may not be a mink coat or a Rolex, but it still beats not getting a free cup of yogurt.
The Yoplait folks want you to know that many women in particular do not get enough calcium and Vitamin D in their diets, and that yogurt contains the key bone-building ingredients women need, yada yada yada. But what it all comes down to is this: It's a free cup of Yoplait yogurt. If you try it and you like it, they're basically hoping you'll buy some more.
To sign up for your free yogurt, visit yoplait.com.
We've all heard the jokes about fruitcakes, many of them involving doorstops.
But a lot of people actually like fruitcakes, including your humble correspondent. And they have been liking them for a very long time: The oldest reference anyone has been able to find about fruitcake dates all the way back to the Roman Empire in the first century A.D. (and no, the fruitcake your Aunt Minnie gave you last Christmas was not that old. Be nice). That first recipe included pomegranate seeds, pine nuts, and raisins mixed into a barley mash.
This information comes to us courtesy of The Daily News of Longview, Wash., of all places. They go on to say that in the Middle Ages, fruitcakes began to be made with honey, spices, and preserved fruits.
When dried fruits first made their way from the Mediterranean region to the British Isles in the 1400s, England really took fruitcakes to heart. A wedding custom there had unmarried guests put a slice of the wedding cake, which was usually fruitcake, under their pillows so they would dream of the person they were going to marry.
Queen Victoria received a fruitcake on her birthday, the legend has it, and held off eating it for a year as a way of showing restraint, moderation, and good taste.
And in the early 18th century, fruitcakes were banned throughout Europe because they were so rich they were considered sinful.
Oh, OK. Go ahead and make the joke: The penalty for violating the ban was having to actually eat some fruitcake.
But we don't think it's funny.
This is just scary: One study states that nearly 40 percent of all calories consumed by children 2-18 are what are considered "empty calories" -- solid fats and added sugars.
The study, conducted by the National Institutes of Health and published in the October Journal of the American Dietetic Association, shows that young people are eating far too much junk food, desserts, fast food, and pizza.
In fact, the top three sources of all calories (empty and otherwise) for children and teens are grain-based desserts -- cake, cookies, doughnuts, granola bars, etc. -- pizza and soft drinks.
And nearly half of all empty calories consumed by that age group came from just six sources: soft drinks, fruit drinks, dairy-based desserts, grain-based desserts, pizza, and whole milk.
Of course, everyone should make room for some empty calories, anywhere from 8-20 percent of your total calorie intake, depending on your age and activity level. But some younger age groups triple their empty calorie allowance, and kids 9-18 on average meet or exceed their allowance with soft drinks and fruit drinks alone.
Is it any wonder that more than 30 percent of children and adolescents in the United States are overweight or obese?
Duck duck goose
If you're a fan of Charles Dickens' beloved A Christmas Carol, you already know what the Cratchits served on Christmas Day -- a roast goose, with applesauce and mashed potatoes.
If you're feeling a bit Victorian, or perhaps a trifle Dickensian, why not make that most traditional of all English Christmas dinners?
The only hard part is finding the goose. Not to mention the figgy pudding.
1 goose, 10-12 pounds
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon pepper
3 small oranges, quartered
Preheat oven to 350. Remove neck and giblets from goose. Sprinkle goose with salt, sage, and pepper. Prick skin well with fork. Place orange quarters in the goose cavity. Tuck wings under goose, tie drumsticks together. Place breast side up on a rack in a roasting pan.
Bake uncovered for 2 3/4 to 3 1/4 hours, or until a meat thermometer reads 180. If the goose is getting too brown, cover it with foil. If necessary, drain the fat from the pan as it accumulates.
For the full Dickensian experience, serve with applesauce and mashed potatoes.
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home Magazine
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