Dear Heloise: A few years ago, my mother gave me a book of recipes from her church. Several of the recipes call for BUTTER-FLAVORED GRANULES. What are they, and where can I find them? -- L. King in California

Butter-flavored granules are a powdered form of butter that is fat-free, gluten-free and good for those watching calories. The main ingredients are natural butter flavor (processed into a dry form), maltodextrin (a natural carbohydrate that comes from corn) and salt.

You can find them in most grocery stores in the baking or spice aisle. Keep the top sealed tightly, and once opened, store in the refrigerator. They are good to keep on hand, as they can be used for many foods. -- Heloise

P.S.: I love them! I sometimes mix some with nonfat sour cream or yogurt to top a baked potato. Or I use them on steamed veggies, in brown rice with veggies and on hot oatmeal, among a few other things.


Dear Readers: Did you know that ketchup has a high acid level and so it doesn’t NEED to be refrigerated? Depending on where you keep it and the temperature, though, its stability and quality can be affected.

So, what do you do? You can store ketchup in the pantry, but manufacturers recommend that you refrigerate it for the best flavor and quality. The same with mustard: You don’t have to refrigerate it, but it is recommended. -- Heloise


Dear Heloise: A year ago, I decided to really take care of myself. Healthier food choices are now a part of my life. A lot of my meals are eaten in restaurants. Here are some tips I use when eating out:

* Sauces and gravies “on the side” or not at all.

* Salad dressing on the side.

* Order food that is broiled, steamed or roasted. Anything fried is full of fat grams and calories.

* Red sauce instead of white (usually cream!) for pasta.

* Corn tortillas instead of flour, and whole black beans instead of refried.

* Steamed rice instead of fried.

With these simple changes, I still get to enjoy eating out with friends and family and know that I’m eating as healthy as I can. -- Jessica G. in Tennessee


Dear Heloise: When I buy sausage that comes in a roll, I freeze it. When it’s frozen, it doesn’t leave a lot of sausage stuck to the wrapper when you cut it off. You must be careful, because it’s slippery. -- Gloria in Kansas


Dear Heloise: It’s frustrating trying to open bread ties. When I get the wire unwound, I replace it with a clothespin. No more twisting and untying. -- Pat M. in Florida


Dear Heloise: I use a heavy meat-tenderizing tool (the type with cleats) to break up ground beef or sausage being browned for chili or meat sauce. -- Ruth B. in Kansas

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