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  • Tuesday, February 14, 2006 9:00pm
  • Life

Here are some facts about one of Americans’ favorite foods:

* Americans eat more than a half pound of cheese per person each week.

* What appear to be the remains of cheese have been found in Egyptian tombs more than 4,000 years old.

* Cheese was popular in ancient Greece and Rome, but fresh milk and butter were not. This was probably because olive oil was available in the Mediterranean area, where the climate would have quickly spoiled milk and butter.

* Cheddar, Cheshire and Leicester cheeses have been colored with annatto seed for more than 200 years. Carrot juice and marigold petals also have been used to color cheeses. Coloring may have originally been added to cheese made with winter milk from cows eating hay to match the orange hue (from vitamin A) of cheeses made with milk from cows fed on green plants.

* The terms “Big Wheel” and “Big Cheese” originally referred to those who were wealthy enough to purchase a whole wheel of cheese.

Here are some simple tips for adding extra fruit for a balanced diet:

* Layer yogurt with dried fruits and nuts.

* Sprinkle dried fruits or sliced pears on your breakfast cereal.

* Top oatmeal with toasted nuts and sliced fruits.

* Blend cranberry, apple or orange juice and peeled, chopped fruits into a smoothie.

* Bake fresh cranberries, pears and hazelnuts into muffins and quick breads.

Dressing up a cupcake can be simple.

On waxed paper, draw small decorative designs. Fill a small heavy-duty plastic food-storage bag with melted white chocolate, seal it and cut one of the corners with scissors. Squeeze the bag, gently tracing the design drawn on the waxed paper. Sprinkle with colored sugar and let stand to allow the chocolate to set. Carefully remove the waxed paper from the chocolate design, and top the cupcake with the design.

You can also dress up a simple white cupcake by using a vegetable peeler to make some chocolate shavings from a white chocolate candy bar. Frost the cupcake with white frosting and place white chocolate curls and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

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