Q: Is it true that a breast-feeding baby can get most of the milk from one breast within the first four minutes of a nursing period?
A: Yes. Studies indicate that, on average, once milk begins to flow, an infant gets about half of the milk from each breast within the first two minutes of nursing, and as much as 80 to 90 percent by the end of four minutes. The remainder of a typical 30-minute nursing period furnishes almost no food.
But there is more to the feeding process than satisfying immediate hunger demands. Beyond any psychological benefits to the baby, the stimulation provided by the sucking infant is generally accepted as the most effective means of maintaining an adequate milk supply. And conversely, there is considerable evidence that restricting sucking also significantly inhibits milk production.
Q: What is the difference between enriched and converted rice?
A: Nutritionally they are quite similar, providing they are properly prepared. The two terms simply reflect differences in processing techniques.
In producing enriched rice, iron and the B vitamins thiamin, niacin and riboflavin are added back after milling. To create converted or parboiled rice, the whole brown rice kernel in the husk is soaked, steamed under pressure and dried. This process forces the water-soluble vitamins and minerals from the bran and germ into the endosperm. Thus even after milling, converted rice may contain as much as 90 percent of the water-soluble vitamins present in the whole grain. In addition, it may be supplemented with B vitamins and iron.
For maximum nutrient retention, it is best to avoid rinsing either type of rice (which is perfectly clean anyway) before cooking, and to use only as much water as the kernels will absorb.
Q: My husband maintains his weight by exercising regularly and eating judiciously. In recent years he has cut back his intake of fat, and eats desserts only rarely, although he does miss them. Can you suggest any desserts besides gelatin that taste good and are still low in fat?
A: One of our favorites is sorbet, which can easily be made without an electric ice-cream freezer. These mixtures usually contain little more than fruit juice or fruit puree, sugar and water, which are beaten periodically as they sit in the freezer. They can be ready for your table in a matter of hours. Some recipes call for a lightly beaten egg white, which seems to help the mixture freeze more smoothly. Since two or more fruits can successfully be blended together, the variety of flavors is limited only by the cook's willingness to experiment.
For added glamor, sorbets may be topped with sliced fruit or packed in a hollowed-out lemon rind. Alternatively, for company, two or three different flavors served together provide a medley of tastes and colors. For an even more elaborate dessert, meringues, which are low in fat, may be served as well. Another low-fat choice is angel food cake, which is made with egg whites.
And before you discard gelatin as too mundane, try making one or two varieties "from scratch," as a special treat. Concocting your own gelatin with lemon juice and rind, sugar and water produces a vastly different result than packaged gelatin desserts to which you add only water. You can create whole new flavors.
For example, coffee gelatin is excellent by itself, but can be rendered more exotic by stirring in a couple of teaspoons of cocoa. This will not add greatly to the fat content, and will yield a tasty mocha dessert. If you want something frothier, it can be beaten while partially set and folded together with beaten egg whites. Using low-fat milk, you can even make a vanilla milk gelatin, especially good if topped with sliced peaches or strawberries, or perhaps a raspberry pure'e.
Since you may have trouble finding the exact proportions for this one, we will provide them: 1 1/2 cups milk, 1 tablespoon gelatin, 1/2 cup cold water, 1/4 cup sugar and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla. The method for putting it together is the same as for any gelatin dessert.