Beyond Words

Words, Wit and Wisdom for Today's Style and Decision Makers

A Matter of Taste January 17, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:58 am

A month or so ago our dog and house sitter noticed I always have a mason jar full of Swedish Fish on my kitchen counter. He came in one day and said “I bought you some and didn’t even realize they came in different colors!” He, like many, assumed the popular red version is all there is but they also come in green, yellow, and orange. He also assumed the different colors tasted the same. I immediately said “No way! The yellows are lemon; the greens are lime, etc., etc.” End of story.


Until Sunday.




On the way to see a local musical production, friends and I were having lunch when one of them said she recently heard that gummy bears may be different colors but not necessarily different flavors. What? Blasphemy! This gummy candy lover couldn’t believe her ears and neither could the rest of the crowd. You see, we love our gummies so much that one of these sweet friends always brings sweet little snack bags of sweet gummy candies to enjoy during the show.


I personally love all gummy candy. Swedish Fish. Gummy Bears. Dots. Jujy Fruits. Fruit Slices. Spice Gum Drops. Jelly Beans…but only the original ones…not Jelly Bellies. I love jelly candies so much I give them up for Lent every year. So, you can imagine the horror and curiosity levels when I heard their flavors might be poser flavors!




Apparently it’s all related to how color affects not only moods and productivity, but also what flavor we think we taste. An orange gummy candy? Well of course its flavor is orange. Purple? Hello, grape. But what about red? It could be a number of flavors but most commonly cherry, strawberry, or maybe watermelon.  The same goes for drinks and other flavored items. An orange drink tastes like orange. A purple lollipop is grape flavored. But could a green gummy be cherry flavored or even the same flavor as a purple one? That’s the story. That’s the mystery. And I’m on it fellow gummy gurus.


Scientists and researchers are also on it and are analyzing how our five senses affect each other. Our eyes see yellow so our tongue tastes lemon. But, one researcher told Ashlie Stevens of WFPL in Louisville, Kentucky that he gave students a row of clear beverages that had fruit flavoring in them and asked them to differentiate the flavors. No problem, they aced the test. But, when he added food coloring to those drinks that didn’t match the flavor, he found they said the orange drink tasted like orange even though the flavoring may have been grape. The color of their beverage totally impacted what flavor they thought they were drinking. So have gummy candy manufacturers been doing this all along?




Apparently Skittles has, as the little round candies have different fragrances and different colors, but they all taste the same. Skittles execs admit this though so they really aren’t hiding anything. On the other hand, Haribo gummy bears, the leader in the world of gummy bears, promise their product has five flavors: lemon, orange, pineapple, raspberry, and strawberry. And Haribo should know. The German company made the first gummy candy in 1922 and currently operates 15 factories that produce more than 100 million gummy bears every day. But, if you venture away from more “high-end” and name brand gummy candies, you’ll discover that you get what you pay for, as less different colored candies in less expensive versions often all taste the same, regardless of color.




Okay, but what about my beloved Swedish Fish? Say it ain’t so Malaco! Developed by the Swedish candy producer Malaco in the late 1950s for the U.S. market, Swedish Fish company execs swear the flavor of their fish-shaped gummies vary by color. I think they do, but if given a blindfolded test, I’m not sure I could tell the yellow from the green.


Funny you should ask because John and I did such a test in a lab known as my kitchen and my friends and I did one as we sat waiting for the play to start. Granted, neither of these consisted of professional hypothesis testing, but they were fun and a bit conclusive. John had me blindly taste Swedish Fish (twist my arm!), sometime different colors; sometimes the same color in a row. We concluded that the flavors of Swedish Fish vary by color but I couldn’t necessarily taste lemon with the yellow, lime with the green, etc. They all tasted different but how they tasted didn’t scream their corresponding color. So there’s that.




For the Haribo and Lifesavers blind taste test in another lab called a theatre, I closed my eyes and ate one gummy bear. Then another. Then another. The first two tasted similar but the third one was different. I did the same with the Lifesaver Gummies in the bag. We decided that the gummy Lifesavers definitely have different flavors although you can’t always pinpoint exactly what flavor it is but that the flavor variation of the gummy bears was much more subtle.


One candy whose flavor is often debated is the red Swedish Fish. Some say it’s cherry, others call out raspberry, and still many think it’s fruit punch or black currant. One popular theory is that they taste very similar to lingonberries, which are used in Nordic and Baltic cuisines. No one knows for sure and no one is telling.  We do know for sure  that the flavor of a red Swedish Fish, whatever it may be, is unique and specific only to it and that it’s texture is a bit different than the others. You might also be interested in learning that each Swedish Fish candy has “Swedish” on it and that they are vegan and 100 percent animal cruelty-free. I knew I loved them!


Jelly beans


So I leave you knowing a little bit about how our five senses intermix when it comes to taste and that Haribo, Swedish Fish, and Lifesaver Gummies all have different colors with different flavors. I can also personally attest that fruit slice candies and spice gum drops all have different flavors, as do Jelly Beans. None of it is scientific on my part, but it was sure fun conducting the tests. Just to be sure, you might want to test some yourself and while you do, have a gummy for me. Sweet!








I’ll Drink to That January 14, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 2:58 am



The toasts have been made and the cheers have been said. Champagne corks were popped on New Year’s and hot toddys were enjoyed over the holidays. Don’t’ get me wrong, I love a nice glass of wine or Bailey’s on the rocks, but a new year brings with it new goals so why not make one of them to drink up on beverages that are healthy, some in ways you never expected?



Yep, we all know drinking water all day every day has so many benefits but it can also be something we tend to forget about drinking. But don’t.


Chew on this: your brain is 90 percent water and your body is 70 percent. On top of that, most of your blood and cells are water-based. Drinking water increases energy, relieves fatigue, promotes weight loss, flushes out toxins, improves your complexion, helps with digestion, and boosts your immune system.


How do you know if you’re drinking enough water? One thing to consider is the color of your urine. If it’s mostly clear, you’re probably good to go…and go you will! Something else to consider is how many people worldwide don’t have regular, if any, access to good clean drinking water and consider it a luxury. How easy we have it to simply turn on the faucet or visit any retail outlet and, voila, water. Clear and clean water. If nothing else, drink it daily in honor of those who would love to. Just saying.


Most experts recommend drinking 64 ounces a day. If that sounds like a lot of water and possibly undoable for you, spice it up with berries, mint, lemons, or limes. Me? I honestly don’t keep a running tab on how much water I drink each day, but I always have a bottle of water with me wherever I go, I always keep a big glass of water in my kitchen, and I always take a bottle with me to bed. I love water!



Aloe Water

We all know that an aloe plant is the best way to relieve burn pain, but the juice made from the tropical plant goes way beyond topical. Aloe Vera juice or water are both great ways to hydrate and they have major anti-inflammatory properties that help relieve heartburn, digestion issues, constipation, and improve liver function. They’re also packed with nutrients like vitamins B, C, E, and folic acid.


The hydration qualities of aloe juice or water are also beneficial to the outside of your body, including your skin. A rich source of antioxidants, aloe can heal and cleanse the skin and may help reduce acne and other skin conditions like psoriasis and dermatitis.


I prefer aloe water but aloe juice also has a mild flavor. I especially like the pulp, but then again I’m an orange juice with pulp drinker. If you can’t stomach drinking it solo, consider adding it to smoothies and shakes. Just make sure to choose purified and decolorized versions of both.



Coconut Water

Another popular water choice today is coconut water. I haven’t jumped full-blown onto the coconut water train, but it has millions of devotees of its powerful nutritional punch of electrolytes, phosphorous, calcium, and loads of potassium. All of these make it a great post-workout beverage as it’s said to replenish and refuel aching bodies and muscles. Again, if you don’t like drinking it on its own, mix it with plain yogurt and some fruit for a nutritional and yummy smoothie.





Unfortunately I’m not talking the southern tradition of sweet tea, which I do love. I’m talking green tea and other healthy herbal teas.


Green tea is reportedly so good for you that some researchers says it’s the healthiest thing you can drink. It’s all about the catechins and polyphenols. Catechins are is antioxidants that fight and may even prevent cell damage. Polyphenols give tea its anti-inflammatory qualities and anti-carcinogenic effects. Green tea has also been shown to improve blood flow, help keep blood sugar levels stable in people with diabetes, lower cholesterol, and prevent some heart-related issues like high blood pressure and congestive heart failure.


Tea, especially green, may also help with weight loss. Yes, it has zero calories but its combination of caffeine and catechins speeds up your metabolism and increases the number of calories you burn from fat.


What’s good for the body is also good for the mind.


Green tea also contains I-thianine, an amino acid that may help increase the frequency of alpha waves in the brain. The result? Increased feelings of relaxation and a calmness of mind and spirit.


I love bottled green tea for on the go and for lunch, but the best and healthiest way to drink it is to opt for hot, caffeinated , and unsweetened versions. Here’s why: much of green tea’s heart healthy benefits get destroyed during the decaffeination process and a cup of hot tea is much more relaxing than a cool bottled version while you’re out and about.


If you’re an old-school “I love to brew my tea in a teapot” person, more power to you, as the longer tea steeps the more catechins you consume from it. But, there are so many quick and easy ways to make a hot cup of tea today there’s really no excuse not to. I also enjoy a hot cup of peppermint tea to cure what ails my belly and some chamomile to help me sleep better. Whatever method and whatever flavor you choose, enjoy!




My name is Carla and I’m a milk drinker. Pure, whole, regular ole milk. I drink it every night with dinner and I’m not ashamed to say it. My 87-year-old mom has drank it all her life (and is known to put half-and-half in her coffee!) and is healthier than most 30-year-olds, so I look to her for proof that milk is not a four letter word. Yes I’m aware of the hormone issue and the almond and soy revolution, but for now, I’m sticking with cow’s milk. Except…I did recently discover chocolate almond milk and I’m sold!


“Milk does a body good” says the ad campaign, but all milks are not created equal. There’s that little issue of hormones in cow’s milk, so many physicians and nutritionists recommend plant-based milks like soy milk instead. With so many people today having dairy allergies and being lactose-intolerant, it’s good there are multiple milk options. But, if you don’t opt for cow’s milk, keep in mind that you may need to supplement potassium, protein, and riboflavin in your diet.


In addition to its signature calcium, whole milk from a cow also contains vitamins B1, C,  and D; as well as niacin and folate. It also contains minerals that boost the body’s bone formation and enzyme functions. The Mayo Clinic says everyone needs calcium for bone health and to help your heart, muscles and nerves function optimally and milk is an excellent source of it. Kids who don’t get enough calcium may not reach their full adult height, and adults may have low bone mass, which is a risk factor for osteoporosis. In addition to possible harmful hormones, cow’s milk also contains saturated fat, so nutrition experts and The American Heart Association both recommend nonfat versions.


Soy milk provides an option for those who are allergic to dairy, are lactose intolerant, or just aren’t crazy about the taste of dairy milk. Soy is low in fat, rich in protein, and offers healthy B-complex vitamins. It’s also low in saturated fat but avoid the common added sugars and reach instead for unsweetened soy milk.


Almond milk is naturally sweet and silky and has a nutty taste of, well, almonds. But, it’s low in calories and chock full of minerals and vitamins like D, E and A, as well as calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron and phosphorous. Perhaps best of all is that the fat in almond milk is heart-healthy because it contains monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats, which research suggests can protect against coronary heart disease. Like soy milk however, almond milk often contains added sugars so it’s best to get unsweetened or “light” varieties. Pretty sure my chocolate almond milk does not qualify for this.


When comparing cow’s, soy, and almond milk based on calories and saturated fat, they are all pretty even. An eight ounce serving of nonfat cow’s milk has 90 calories and 0 saturated fat, the same serving of soy milk boasts 110 calories a .5 saturated fat, and an equal serving of almond milk has 60 calories and 0 saturated fat.




It’s no secret that coffee is hot…as in in your cup and in society in general. Whether you prefer a plain black cup of java or a non-fat sugar free soy latte, you know just where to buy it and just how to make it. But, did you know that coffee has antioxidants that may help prevent cell damage caused by free radicals and that it’s the country’s number one source of antioxidants? The number one source. Who knew, right?


Research also suggests that a daily eight ounce cup or two of either caffeinated or decaf coffee protects against heart disease and stroke. By regularly drinking a cup of joe you may just reduce the risk of having calcium in your coronary arteries, which is a sign of vessels hardening and narrowing and can ultimately cause heart attacks. Coffee consumption is also linked with a lower risk of Alzheimer’s and a lower incidence of death in general. With coffee shops on every corner and coffee taking up entire grocery store aisles, it’s no wonder we drink coffee not only in the morning, but all day long. Maybe this is a good thing, as those who drink three to five cups a day get the biggest benefits. I’ll take one to go please…and make it grande!


So raise your glasses to water, milk, tea, and coffee and say “cheers” to a healthy and hydrated 2018!


Drink up!









Star Struck January 7, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:03 pm

3 kings gps

Webster defines “epiphany” as an illuminating discovery, realization, or disclosure. You know, “I was driving to work and had an epiphany that I need to take next week off.”


In Christianity, today is the Feast of the Epiphany, which celebrates the visit of the Magi, or the Three Kings, to the infant Jesus. It is customary to have you home blessed today and in some cultures, to jump into freezing cold water. (Does my New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge count?!) It also traditionally ends the Christmas season.


The Three Kings followed a star to find the Christ child and in his homily yesterday, Pope Francis asked “what star have we chosen to follow in our lives?”


Tough one, right?


The world tells us to follow the money and strive for success and power. I don’t necessarily strive for power but I do want to be considered successful in whatever I do. Sadly, I also often follow the wrong “stars” and as Pope Francis reminded us, “Some stars may be bright, but do not point the way.”


Hello Hollywood.

Hello sports.

Hello music.

Hello politics.


Think about it, the Three Kings were just that, kings, but they knew there was a king of all kings born and they actually brought Him gifts. I’ve always used this idea, that Jesus got three gifts, as reason why Kristen to this day only gets three gifts each Christmas. But for the rest of the year, what gifts am I striving for and what gifts am I giving to others? What stars am I following?


Calm and humble life


Thank you Einstein. Well said. As I recently blogged, we are a restless bunch and calm is often what we strive for, but how do we get there? I’m no math person, but I agree that when things aren’t adding up in your life, start subtracting. Start following the right stars.


First of all, eliminate junk from your life and things that tear you down rather than build you up. You know what and who they are. If you’re not sure, what do you think about most? That, my friends, is your treasure, your heart, and the star you are following. If it’s junk and if it tears you down, peace out. Get rid of it. Remind yourself that some people are so poor, all they have is money.


Impressed by...


You may also want to ask yourself:

“What will I be remembered for?”

“Whom do I envy?”

“What do I lie about?”

“What will I do today that will make me proud in a year?”


The answers may be hard to admit or address, but they reveal what stars you follow and what presents you give.


The Pope went on to instruct us not to thirst for arrogance and riches, but instead hunger for humility and helping the poor. As you do so, you just might become the star in someone else’s life and will discover the epiphany of following the right star. Lead the way. Shine bright.












The Hearts of Buffalo January 5, 2018

Filed under: Uncategorized — carlawordsmithblog @ 5:56 pm

Let’s just say me and “squib kicks” don’t get along. My Sooners should have never done one at the end of the Rose Bowl first half last Monday and my hubby’s Buffalo Bills probably should have during their game against the Tennessee Titans back in January 2000. But enough of my bitterness, it’s time for some cheering and who better to lead us than Buffalo Bills fans. You know, those die-hard and hearty people who will do this for their team…


Bills fans1


Call ‘em crazy, but as impressive as that is, what Bills fans are doing right now is even more impressive. They are making a difference in kids’ lives $17 at a time.


Do what?


Yep, it’s true and is the story nightly news is covering and is revealing the hearts of Buffalo in a year when the NFL could use all the positivity it can get.


Lemme explain.


The Bills had not been to the NFL playoffs in 17 years, the longest drought going into the season. The last time they were there, it was that game against the Titans, now infamously known as the “Music City Miracle.”


Buffalo had taken the lead with a field goal that put them ahead 16-15 with 16 seconds left in the game. But, instead of kicking perhaps a squib kick to run out the clock (the hair on my arms is actually rising right now), Steve Christie kicked it away and the rest is NFL history and infamy. Tennessee ran the ball back for a TD and won the game 22-16. The Bills haven’t sniffed the playoffs since.


Until now.


Thanks in part to the Cincinnati Bengals.


Granted, the Bills did their part by beating a team they cannot stand, the Miami Dolphins, in an early game last Sunday. Ironically the score, 22-16, was the same score as the Music City Miracle. Only this time the Bills were on the winning end. But they weren’t safe yet. They desperately needed another team to lose and that team was the Baltimore Ravens who were playing the Bengals. With a win, the Ravens would take the last playoff spot. With a win, the Bengals would go home anyway. The Ravens had everything to win and the Bengals had nothing to win. And the Ravens had the lead as time wound down.


This is where the magic happened. On fourth down and with 53 seconds left in the game, Bengal QB Andy Dalton threw a game-winning TD to receiver Tyler Boyd and just like that the Ravens were out and the Bills were in. For the first time in 17 years.


Soon after the immediate celebrations ended, Bills fans everywhere did something that is just as impressive as Dalton’s pass: they started donating to his AJD Foundation, which benefits seriously ill and physically challenged kids and their families en masse. They were that grateful for his heroics and they wanted to show it.


The story gets better.


They donated $17 apiece, you know in honor of those 17 years. And in living up to Buffalo’s “City of Good Neighbors” slogan, to date those $17 donations…more than 14,000 of them…have totaled over $300,000. Even Dalton is amazed and Tweeted his appreciation.


“Buffalo fans are a class act. They’re helping out a good cause. It’s been fun to see the reaction that we’ve gotten from them.”


I can say first-hand that yes, Bills fans are a class act. They are loyal to a fault and some of the nicest and most genuine people I’ve met. In the middle of their team’s glory, they are thinking of others even with tongues firmly planted in cheeks. And they are not done. Donations keep rolling in and they’ve also started rolling in to Boyd’s YouCaring page that offers recreational football leagues for kids in Pittsburgh. That number is now over $50,000.


“Thank you to the Bills entire fan base,” Boyd Tweeted out. “What great people you are. We have reached our goal!”


Dalton and his wife have since purchased five billboards in the Buffalo area, thanking the fans for their support and #billieve is trending. Nothing could make me happier (okay, maybe one thing, but again, breathe out the bitterness, breathe in the Bills) and this is a girl who watched those Bills lose four Super Bowls in a row. Yeah, this family knows all about football letdowns but still, if you’re a Bills fan, you always billieve.


You also love your wings, so what better way then to also thank the Bengals with some wings?


Bills promise wings


As promised, those wings are on their way. 1,440 of them. Personally I think it should have been 1,700 but who’s counting?


Wings from Bills


Now the Bills are off to play the Jacksonville Jaguars in an AFC Wildcard game. I’ll be thinking of all those Bills fans as I eat wings, root against my beloved Dede Westbrook, and hope the Bills win 22-16 or by at least 17 points. It would only be fitting.


Let’s go, Buffalo.