Does Warm Milk Help You Sleep? And Other Food Myths

Warm Milk

Does warm milk really help when you can’t sleep? We’re tackling ten food myths to see if they are fact or fiction.

Myth #1: Warm Milk Helps You Sleep
Verdict: Fact, but it’s not exactly biology that makes it so, it’s more psychology. A warm glass of milk is comforting like a teddy bear or favorite blanket, calming nerves and summoning peaceful memories.

Myth #2: An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away
Verdict: Fact-ish. While there’s nothing magical about an apple, the idea of daily fruits and vegetables as part of a balanced diet is one of the most important ways to stay healthy.

Myth #3: Eating Carrots Improves Eyesight
Verdict: Fact, but specifically your sight at night. Carrots will not be able to replace your reading glasses, but the Vitamin A in carrots does help your eyes adjust to dim light. If you have trouble with night vision, try eating more carrots.

Myth #4: Fresh Produce Is Always Better Than Frozen
Verdict: Fiction. It’s true that few things are as delicious as a fresh ear of corn, but when it comes to nutrition, the frozen substitute is often better unless you picked the corn yourself from the stalk. The flash-freezing process happens within hours of picking and preserves nearly all of the nutrients, much more than produce that has to travel for days by truck to reach your store.

Myth #5: Feed a Cold, Starve a Fever
Verdict: Fiction. Good nutrition is always important, and especially when you are sick. Fevers burn extra calories, sometimes an excessive amount, so restricting calories could be dangerous. Colds and fevers both deserve that bowl of chicken soup!

Myth #6: Dark Bread is Healthier Than Light Bread
Verdict: Fiction. The key for determining a healthier bread is less about color and more about one simple word: multi-grain. The more grains in a bread, the more nutrients and fiber.

Myth #7: Fish is Brain Food
Verdict: Fact. The unsaturated fatty oils in fish known as omega-3s are not only good for your heart (reducing risk of heart disease and stroke), but especially your brain. Daily servings of fish reduce your chances of dementia by up to 60%!

Myth #8: Spicy Foods Cause Ulcers
Verdict: Fiction. Ulcers are caused by a very specific bacteria in the stomach that has nothing to do with spicy food.

Myth #9: Chocolate Causes Pimples
Verdict: Fiction. (Phew!) Some very old and very poorly designed studies from the 1930s linked chocolate consumption with pimples, but that research does not hold up.

Myth #10: A Cookie Makes Everything Better
Verdict: Fact. We are the experts on this one, and even a great day is made better with a cookie. Case closed.

5 Easy Homemade Dog Treats

Mrs. Fields Secrets Doggie Treats
If you’ve got a four-legged friend in the house, we’ve got just the way to make their day! Homemade dog treats are a fun, healthy, affordable way to shower love on man’s best friend. There are many advantages to making your own dog treats, including customizing the portion size and incorporating your dog’s favorite flavors. We’ve gathered five fun, easy recipes (including a no-bake option) to help you get started. Try them out, customize them and make them your own. Your dog will love you (even more) for it! Follow links for the original recipes.

1. Peanut Butter Doggy Pretzels
2. Bacon Flavored Dog Treats
3. No-Bake Dog Treats
4. Peanut Butter Paw Print Biscuits
5. Healthy Morning Poochidatis

Tips for Keeping Your Cookies Fresh

There’s nothing quite like a batch of cookies fresh from the oven, so soft, chewy and moist. But how do you keep that first-day freshness until the last cookie? We’ve got some brilliant tips to help you do just that!

  • Always allow cookies to cool completely before storing. Placing still-warm cookies in a container will cause them to get soggy from steam.
  • The more butter, the longer the cookie will stay fresh. The natural fats from butter help retain moisture and softness. If you need a recipe you can make ahead of time, our blue-ribbon chocolate chip is ideal.
  • Air-tight containers are key for freshness, but pay attention to size. Use the smallest container you can, which will ensure the least amount of air inside.
  • Never store cookies in the refrigerator, which dries them out. For long-term storage, opt for the freezer in a freezer-safe, air-tight container. Frozen cookies can stay fresh up to three months.
  • Place a slice of sandwich bread inside the cookie jar or container. The cookies will absorb the moisture from the bread to remain moist. Replace the bread every 1-2 days.
  • Wrapping each individual cookie in plastic wrap is a great way to keep air out and moisture locked in. Plus, cookies are ready to go at any time into a lunch bag, purse or pocket.
  • When using a container, separate layers of cookies with pieces of wax or parchment paper. They will retain better shape and more even moisture.
  • Never combine soft and crispy cookies in the same container.
  • Buttery cookies like shortbreads and sugar cookies will stay fresher longer with liners. Use cupcake liners around each cookie in a container for best results.
  • Unless freezing for long-term storage, room temperature is best for cookies.
  • Cookie jars are cute, but make sure they have an airtight seal around the rim for best results.
  • To give a cookie a fresh-from-the-oven taste, wrap it in a barely wet paper towel and microwave it for 5 second increments until warm and soft.

Do you have a favorite trick for keeping cookies fresh? Share it with us!

Make Your Own Cookie Butter

Homemade Cookie Butter via A Beautiful Mess

What’s better than cookies and butter? How about cookie butter? And what’s better than cookie butter? How about homemade cookie butter. That’s right, this decadent treat is super simple to make with your favorite cookies and a few simple ingredients. It also makes an absolutely thoughtful gift. We discovered this helpful tutorial on A Beautiful Mess and give it a standing ovation. Here’s what you need to know:

Cookie Butter
adapted from A Beautiful Mess

2 cups cookie crumbs
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup evaporated milk
water as needed

Directions
Prepare cookie crumbs by pulsing cookies in a food processor. (If using sandwich cookies with a cream filling, remove the cream filling first.) Keep pulsing until you have two cups of fine powder. Transfer crumbs to a mixing bowl. In a small saucepan, heat the butter over low heat until melted, and then stir in the sweetened condensed milk and evaporated milk and continue stirring until completely combined. Pour 1/2 cup of the liquid into the cookie crumbs and mix together with a spoon. Keep adding small amounts of the liquid until the cookie butter is just wet enough to stay together. Depending on how dry the cookie is to begin with, you’ll need more or less liquid. Buttery cookies (like the sugar cookies) won’t require nearly as much as the drier cookies.

Once the cookie butter is blended, allow it to cool in the fridge for 1-2 hours. Remove from fridge and stir very small amounts of water (start with 1/8 teaspoon) into the mixture. Continue blending and stirring until you reach a smooth, butter-like consistency, adding butter as necessary. Once desired consistency is reached, cover butter and transfer to the refrigerator. It will keep up to two weeks!

Great Tips for Your Holiday Leftovers

The holidays are officially over, but you’ve still got a fridge and pantry full of decadent food and treats. We’ve gathered up some great ideas to put all that food to good use.

Meats and Cheeses
Reinvent your leftover ham, turkey or roast and bits of cheese in a delicious frittata served for breakfast or brunch. Add in fresh veggies, eggs, even pasta or rice, and the flavors come together in a delicious new way.

Fruit
A fruit basket makes a great gift, but it can be overwhelming to eat it all before it goes bad. We recommend transforming it into a fresh fruit pizza or a pitcher of delicious winter sangria.

Cakes
If you’ve got cakes that are starting to get dry, transform them into delicious cake pops. The bite-sized treats are perfectly portioned for your New Year’s goals.

Cookies
If you’ve got an overload of cookies, place a scoop of ice cream between two of them and transform them into a fresh stock of ice cream sandwiches in your freezer.

Breads, Rolls and Crackers
Stale bread makes delicious homemade croutons. Stale rolls and crackers can be turned into bread crumbs in your food processor. Pulse them and then place the crumbs in a freezer-safe bag and store them in the freezer until needed.

Unopened Perishables
Most food banks and shelters get a lot of support during the holidays, but very little afterward. Box up your unopened perishables and deliver them to those in need. Better yet, invite your neighbors to do the same.

Do you have a favorite idea for holiday leftovers? Let us know!

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Giveaway: What’s Your Favorite Christmas Cookie?

Cookie Carolers

It’s Monday morning and t-minus 10 days to Christmas, which means that according to our calculations, you could use a giveaway right about now! So, let’s get to it! Answer a simple question and be entered to win our delicious (and adorable) Cookie Carolers gift, filled with a variety of our gourmet goodies. Simply leave a comment answering this question: What’ your favorite Christmas cookie?

Are you devoted to gingerbread? A sucker for a sugar cookie? Pining for a pizzelle? Tell us your Christmas cookie craving and you’re entered to win big!

And don’t forget, you can still get our favorite Christmas cookies delivered in time for holiday giving. Shop our entire line of holiday gifts now!

Fine print: One entry per person, please. You must be 18 years old or older and a resident of the continental United States. Entries accepted until Midnight, Tuesday, December 16. Winner will be chosen randomly and notified via email.

Ultimate Gift Guide for Brownie Lovers

Mrs. Fields Secrets Brownie Lover 1 Mrs. Fields Brownie Lovers 2

The Brownie Lover. Who can blame their devotion to rich, fudge-y chocolate? Nobody. So, for the holidays, indulge it. Embrace it. Give those brownie lovers what they really, really want: all things brownies. And just in case you need a head start, we’ve put together the ultimate guide:

1. Two Dozen Classic Brownies
2. Edge Brownie Pan
3. Extreme Brownie Recipe Book
4. Brownie Batter Candle
5. Brookie Pan

Inspiring Turkey Trays

Part centerpiece, part meal, these “turkey” trays are a fun way to add some special oomph to your Thanksgiving table. Check them out and get inspired.

The Fruit Trays…

The Veggie Trays…

And our favorite, the Dessert Trays…

The countdown is on! Are you ready for Turkey Day?

2014 Holiday Shipping Tips and Deadlines

Here’s a handy guide to keep you ahead of the game for the holiday season. Between holiday parties, performances and general hustle-and-bustle, shipping your holiday gifts can get stressful. Keep tabs on this information to avoid holiday headaches.

SHIPPING TIPS

  • Did you know that you can shop for holiday gifts from Mrs. Fields anytime and choose the day you’d like them delivered? That’s right, you can shop early, but have your fresh, delicious gifts delivered just in time for….well, whatever! You pick the delivery date and pay only standard shipping rates. Genius, right?
  • For packages you ship yourself, did you know that you can order free Priority Mail shipping supplies on usps.com and have them delivered to your door, free of charge? This allows you to skip the lines at the post office altogether.
  • Use at least one inch of cushioning around items shipped. Fill in any empty space with cushioning, so that when your box is sealed and you shake it, there is very little movement inside.
  • Beware of re-using cardboard boxes too many times for shipping. The materials are more likely to break down, tear, or rip after three uses.
  • If you’re purchasing large, heavy or otherwise awkward items for gifts, consider purchasing them online and having them shipped directly to your recipient. The manufacturer will have better supplies and more expertise with shipping such items.

SHIPPING DEADLINES
Mrs. Fields Christmas Shipping Deadlines:

  • December 17 – Last day for Standard shipping
  • December 18-22 (2:45 p.m. cutoff) – 2-Day shipping deadline
  • December 23 – Overnight shipping deadline

USPS 2014 Christmas Shipping Deadlines:

To ensure that holiday mail and packages are delivered in time for Christmas, the Postal Service recommends the following mailing and shipping deadlines:

  • December 2   – First-Class Mail International
  • December 2   – Priority Mail International
  • December 10 – Priority Mail Express International
  • December 15 – Standard Post
  • December 17 – Global Express Guaranteed
  • December 20 – First-Class Mail
  • December 20 – Priority Mail
  • December 23 – Priority Mail Express

You can find out about UPS shipping deadlines here and FedEx deadlines here.

Give Your Oven a Holiday Tune-Up

The last thing you need during the holidays is an oven failure, so we’re getting you ready for holiday kitchen overdrive with a simple oven tune-up to keep you running smoothly from Thanksgiving appetizers to New Years desserts.

1. Clean the oven. No need to dread this task. Most modern ovens have a self-cleaning function, but if not, there is no need to buy dangerous chemical cleansers. A spray bottle of water and a box of baking soda will do wonders.

2. Check the thermostat. The thermostat is the mechanism that helps measure and regulate the temperature in the oven. They can go bad or become unreliable, but are replaced easily. The most common indicator of a bad thermostat is an oven that overheats. You should be able to identify the thermostat in your oven by looking inside for a long tube near one of the side walls. To replace it, be sure to disconnect the electricity to the oven before starting and consult the owner’s manual for any specific instructions. It is most often a process of disconnecting the wires on the old thermostat, removing it, and installing the new one in the reverse order.

3. Check the heating elements. If you’ve noticed things baking unevenly in the oven, or taking much longer to cook, the heating element could be going bad. Replacement is quite simple. Be sure to disconnect electricity before beginning, then follow the instructions in this simple video.

4. Inspect the flames. For gas ovens, ports for the flames can easily be blocked by debris. Turn the oven on and check to see if flame levels are even in both size and disbursement. Clean away any debris or blockage. If the flame seems too low, consult your owner’s manual to find where adjustments can be made. The manual should also indicate the recommended size of the flame for your particular unit.

5. Clean or replace the bulb. The oven light is one of the most underutilized tools, since it allows you to check on foods without opening the door and letting hot air escape. If the bulb is dirty or failing, replace it before the busy season.

Simple as that, your oven is ready for whatever your holiday schedule brings!

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