Posted by: Hil | September 7, 2008

Advice Needed

I need some advice from all of my wonderful readers on three very different issues:

1.  What fruit should I buy?!?!?!  I am in a fruit rut right now and it is terrible!  The peaches and plums in my stores are always mushy and flavorless and the pears seem to be rock hard, although they should be ripening.  I’ve had good luck with melons and applesauce and frozen fruit have been saving me, but I need help here!  I was completely spoiled with fresh fruit growing up because I lived in agriculture country and we got much of our produce straight from farms…navigating grocery stores that have all of this produce that was picked green is another matter entirely.  Any tips on a) what fruit is good to buy right now and b) how to pick them out and tell when they are ripe? 

2)  My husband’s camera, which I have been using to take photos for this blog, is no more.  It lived a good life, but it is now dead.  I am muddling through with my camera, which is dirt cheap and about five years old.  It works fine, but I would like to get a new camera at some point.  Any recommendations for a relatively cheap, compact camera that will help me take pretty pictures of food?

3)  I have a challenge to my readers.  First, a bit of background:  As many of you know, when I make coffee, I brew it extra strong and then add a generous splash of cream.  I think that that is delicious: the cream mellows the bitterness while bringing out the rich flavors.  I hate non-fat milk in coffee…I think it just waters down the coffee without mellowing any of the bitterness.  And don’t even get me started about non-dairy creamer.  Black coffee and well-made nonfat cafe au lait fall into the realm of “fine,” but not delightful morning ritual.   I’m not overly concerned about my cream consumption…I only drink one cup of coffee in the morning and the rest of my diet is pretty clean.  But whenever I have an entrenched “bad habit” in my diet, I find it worthwhile to occasionally experimntally reduce it or replace with a healthier alternative.  Sometimes, I find that I don’t mind the swap at all.  Sometimes, I go back to my original habit, but realize that I don’t need it every day.  Sometimes, I realize that the extra fat/sugar/whatever makes me so much happier and more satisfied that it’s absolutely worth it to me to keep using the real thing.  I am not opposed to any food in moderation, but I think that this type of experimentation keeps me from taking less healthy foods for granted…it helps me to be sure that the treats in my diet are true pleasures and not just mindless habits.

So, we get to the challenge: I recently stumbled on the idea of using almond milk in coffee.  This idea intrigued me, because unlike skim milk, almond milk has fat in it.  Perhaps a medium with healthy fat might provide some of the mellow, rich flavor that I desire?  Only problem is that I am allergic to almonds.  I’m sure there are other nut milks out there, and I am asking for recommendations.  I have the following conditions:

  • No (or at least very minimal) added sugar
  • No scary ingredients lists
  • No hydrogenated oil
  • Yummy taste that would work in coffee
  • Preferrably easily available.  I have easy access to Whole Foods and Trader Joe, so something from one of those two would be ideal.

If one of my lovely readers (Veggie Girl?) can recommend a brand that meets those specifications (and that I can find), I will commence an experiment.  I make no promises to make the switch permanent!

Thank you all in advance!



  1. how about soymilk? 🙂 soymilk has more protein than almond milk so its an added plus!

  2. 1.) Here’s the fruit I’ve been purchasing (and eating every single day, since I love fruit and am a creature-of-habit, haha):

    – pluots

    – grapes

    – blueberries

    – apples

    – pineapple

    – golden kiwis

    – bananas

    – mangoes

    2.) I have a Kodak EasySahre Z885, and love it.

    3.) Here is the ONLY almond-milk brand that I would ever recommend to anyone (products #1 and 2, on the webpage):

  3. Oh! I forgot to add pears to the list for #1!

  4. Hey Hil,

    Check out this website for finding local fruits in season where you live. I enjoy it quite a bit.

    Also, from your previous post. I LOVE peanut butter sauces and noodles. Yum Yum.

  5. I’ve been wondering the same thing about fruit lately too. I’m so sad about the really lame tasting peaches and plums. And watermelon is lame now too. Sigh. If nothing else though, bananas and apples are always great.

    As for camera, Canon Powershots are great. They are lots of different models with different features in different price ranges, but they are all relatively cheap, quite compact and great quality.

    Not sure about the milks as I always only use either skim milk or almond milk. But I would just try out some different soy milks maybe. Or a hemp milk? I’ve heard several times how good it is. Never tried it and don’t know brands, nor how good it would necessarily be in coffee, but I would be interested to find out.

  6. 1) I have been pleasantly surprised with the deliciousness of grapes lately!! And watermelon always is good for me. I just have to cut it up into triangles in advance or I’ll never want to when I’m ready to eat it.

    2) I have a Sony CyberShot that I bought for $200 2 years ago and love it. Obviously it takes good photos 🙂

    3) I hate skim in coffee too – which is why we buy 1% milk. I think that splash of fat makes ALL the difference, so I would suggest you try 1% or 2% and see how you like it. Or even whole milk!

  7. Fruit: My go to lately have been grapes and bananas.

    Camera: I know mine is a cannon, it was around $400.

    Coffee: I drink it black but I was thinking you might try hazelnut milk. The brand VeggieGirl recommended makes it.

  8. I didn’t mean almond-milk – I meant the other types of nut/grain beverages. It’s still the same brand though!! 🙂

  9. Oh and hempmilk:

    I promise I’m done commenting on this post, haha – sorry! 🙂

  10. 1) I have fallen in love with pluots, and apparently they are in season through the fall! Make sure to get ones that are slightly dotty with yellow and red specks – the ones that are all red are too bitter and the ones that are too light aren’t ripe enough yet (or so it seems when I tasted them).

    2) I love my camera! It was a gift so it cost more than I would typically spend, but just in case, it’s called the Casio Exilim EX-S500:

    I know they have other versions, too, and some may be cheaper. Either way, I think Casio the brand is a good one!

    3) I HATE milk in coffee – you are so right that it just waters down the taste!! But I’ve gotta say, the Silk French vanilla soy creamer (I know, you said you didn’t like non-dairy) really works for me. Granted, I also add in some cocoa, as you know…but I’ve had it without the cocoa too and was pleasantly surprised. Just puttin’ it out there for your challenge 🙂

  11. Sorry – one more thing. I find the Silk creamer at Whole Foods.

    Oh – and another thing 😉 I’ve tried almond milk in my coffee (and hemp milk, for that matter) and found the coffee didn’t absorb it very well. It kinda reminded me of skim milk all over again…

  12. My current fruit obsession is bananas! I like to get them and immediately freeze them (I break them in half first for portion control). I think frozen bananas taste like ice cream!

    My other fruit fav is a grapefruit!

    The one problem with both of these options is that they are not very portable…I have not yet figured out how to remedy this.

    I love my Exilim camera, but it’s a little older now. I believe their newer models are even smaller than the ne I have

  13. I drink my extra-strong espresso every morning with chocolate-flavored Almond Breeze and a bit of cinnamon. I used to use Silk, but I prefer the almond milk because the texture isn’t quite as heavy. Vanilla or regular almond milk are also good, but the chocolate makes it taste like a mocha! 🙂

  14. I agree with Kim – Almond Breeze is a great brand. I would definitely try the unsweetened chocolate. It’s delicious!

  15. Thank you all for your wonderful suggestions!–I will let you know how things go!

  16. do you enjoy flavored coffee at all? might be a nice treat to try….

    also…steaming milk and frothing it is an amazing treat!! seriously, that changes an entire cup for me…thats what i love aobut working in a coffee shop, i’m a foam whore :p

    i also love the unsweetened almond breeze, jealous you have TJs i miss it! but i love the unsweetened, or even their vanilla soy milk found in the refrig section, not the one in the box shelf. its creamy and delish!!!

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