A: I am really sick of people telling me they are jealous because I am so thin. I have regular medical checkups and the doctor assures me I am healthy, but I would like to gain a few pounds. Do you have any advice?
Q: Body build, an inherited characteristic, strongly influences an individual's normal degree of fatness. From your description, we would guess that you have what physical anthropologists call an ectomorphic body build. That is, you are slender, with a delicate bone structure, stringy muscular development and just a thin layer of fat cells. A lack of much storage capacity, in the form of fat cells, makes it difficult to pack away much fat.
The key to gaining weight is to increase your caloric intake. This is perhaps best accomplished by systematically adding calories at times when you are not usually eating -- in other words, more frequent, or perhaps larger, snacks.
It is important to space snacks well apart from meals. If snacks are too large or too close to meals, you will cut back on what you eat at mealtime and unwittingly sabotage yourself. Finally, be patient.
Q: I recently cooked a broiler chicken that had been quartered and frozen for about three months. I noticed some discoloration and darkening in the flesh next to the bones after it was cooked. Is this harmful?
A: The discoloration you noticed is not harmful. Freezing and thawing release hemoglobin from red blood cells to the bone marrow. In young birds, the bone is quite porous and this hemoglobin can seep through to the flesh. Heating changes the pigment, which is then responsible for the darkening. This darkening does not occur in older frozen birds because the bones are denser and the hemoglobin cannot seep through to the flesh.
Q: My husband always buys big bunches of bananas and then refuses to eat them when they become overripe. Recently, a friend suggested that I freeze them and use them in baking. Can bananas be used after being frozen?
A: Yes. They do darken and there are textural changes, but that does not matter much when they are used in baking. The most efficient method of saving bananas for baking is to mash them and freeze them in measured "recipe-specific" amounts.