Food as Science

Splenda™, Sugar’s Weird “New Age” Cousin—A Chemist’s Perspective

Even amateur bakers (like me) know that you can’t bake with Splenda™, a sugar substitute which has become more and more common among calorie-counters all over the world. One yellow packet of the stuff boasts zero calories with arguably comparable sweetness to normal sugar, leaving consumers a little bit less guilty as they add some to their iced tea at a restaurant. So why can’t we use Splenda for baking? Continue reading

Trust Your Gut: Inside the World of Microbes and Fermentation
Food as Science

Trust Your Gut: Inside the World of Microbes and Fermentation

When you hear the word microbe, you probably picture something along the lines of a scary cartoon germ that was shown to you during biology class. However, without microbes, there would be no process of fermentation. And without fermentation, we would not have bread, alcohol, greek yogurt, kimchi, soy sauce, cheese, and a bevy of other foods and drinks. Let’s clear the air for friendly microbes once and for all, and delve into the incredible microbiological world that exists right on your plate. Continue reading

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Food as Science

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Levain cookie has achieved a legendary status among New Yorkers. The bakery was founded in 1994 on the Upper West Side and has since expanded to locations in Harlem and East Hampton. Fortunately, both New York City locations are extremely accessible to Columbia students either by a 10-15 minute walk from campus or a few stops away on the 1 train. Walking into Levain is a warm comforting experience, with a friendly staff to help you choose between all wonderful creations: chocolate chip walnut cookie, oatmeal raisin, dark chocolate chip, and dark chocolate peanut butter chip. Continue reading

Stress Eating: Why do we do it?
Food / Food as Science

Stress Eating: Why do we do it?

It’s midnight and you’re studying for a midterm. Fueled solely by stress and caffeine, you don’t even notice as your hand reaches into a bag of potato chips. Why is it that when you are feeling stressed and upset, your body craves food? And not just any food, but addictive, unhealthy junk foods?

Turns out, a real reason exists for your cravings. Continue reading

Lactase: The Dairy Lover’s Favorite Enzyme
Food as Science

Lactase: The Dairy Lover’s Favorite Enzyme

Most of you ice cream and cheese lovers out there probably haven’t thought twice about what happens to those creamy indulgences after you devour them. Or more specifically, what happens to the sugars, or lactose, found in that dairy. Culinarian writer Ili didn’t think about it either until her stomach forced her to. Unfortunately, many others like Ili are unable to digest lactose with the proper enzyme, lactase, and are diagnosed as lactose intolerant. Biologically speaking, it turns out that lactose intolerance isn’t uncommon at all, and may even be a more natural state for the human body. Continue reading

Food / Food as Science

Why aren’t we eating five meals a day?

Breakfast was nonexistent until the 17th century. The Romans only ate one extravagant meal a day, lounging and splurging on grapes and wine. In the late 1700s, breakfast consisting mainly of eggs, coffee, and tea emerged as a symbol of the wealthy.

When the Industrial Revolution implemented fixed working hours, laborers were forced to eat an energy packed meal before going into work. Eventually, people of all classes began eating a meal before their workdays to fuel themselves throughout the morning, giving rise to what we now know as breakfast. Continue reading