Friday, August 26, 2011

Homemade Pasta #1

So, I finally tried homemade pasta and it turned out great.  The hardest part of the  process was mixing the four and eggs with a fork, but it turned out great nonetheless.  Since I used a pasta machine to roll and cut the pasta, I made it into a fun thing to do with my son.  He cranked the machine while I fed the dough in and caught it on its way out.  I'm sure to him it was something akin to cutting play dough with a play dough machine.  Anyway, I ended up throwing out this first batch since it was recommended to run the first ball of dough through to clean the machine.  Next time we make pasta, we will use a food processor for making the dough.  This is wonderful pasta making advice from Beyond Salmon that I can't wait to try.

Return to Homemade Pasta Page

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Making Unprocessed Foods - How to Get Started

Making unprocessed foods does not have to be a daunting and time consuming task.  The trick is to start small and gradually add to your knowledge as well as to your pantry.  A good way to get started is to look in your grocery cart before checking out and take note of what items are processed foods versus base foods.  Remove any processed foods that you or your kids can do without.  All that should remain is the base foods and the processed foods that you feel you cannot live without. These foods may be things like yogurt, bread, or butter.  These are all excellent foods to start with.  However, if you have kept snack foods like potato chips, ice cream, Jello or candy, maybe it would be best to start with these items.  You will be surprised how easy homemade jello is.  Making your own ice cream is also easy, especially with a machine.  Making your own chips or candy, may take a couple tries at first, but you will love the results.  Even junk food is better for you if you make it on your own and definitely more economical.    a
Another way to start unprocessing your food is to pay attention to the ingredients that are called for in your favorite recipes.  If these recipes require ingredients which are processed foods, consider learning to make these foods first.  Once you've identified some processed foods you would like to try, make a list and do a search for recipes for these foods on line.  Save your favorite recipes to try them when you are ready.
Since you cannot learn everything at once, keep it simple.  If a recipe calls for mayonnaise and chicken broth, consider making your own chicken broth first and using a natural store bought mayo.  Then measure and freeze your remaining chicken broth.  The next time you make the same recipe, try making homemade mayo and then use your frozen chicken broth.  Eventually, you will have your freezer and pantry filled with unprocessed foods and making natural recipes will take no time at all.  Lastly, to get started making unprocessed foods, consider investing in cooking machines.  A bread maker, ice cream maker, pasta maker or yogurt machine area all very convenient tools for helping you to replace processed food in your kitchen and pantry.

Homemade butter #2

Last night we tried out a second method of making butter which was supposed to have a shorter shaking time.  This butter making method requires that you keep the cream out at room temperature for 12 hours before shaking.  Though it was true that we had to shake it for a much shorter period of time, it still was longer than what I expected.  Instead of 5 minutes it was ten minutes.  Plus, the strange thing is that the butter milk disappeared.  I wonder if I shook it too long or not long enough.  It made plenty of butter but no butter milk :( Very strange and I haven't been able to find an explanation for this yet.  I love the idea of cutting the shaking time in half, but I'm not fond of the lack of butter milk.  Next time I'll try a recipe that you use a beater instead of shaking.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Low Fat/ Low Sugar Ice Cream Alternatives

I'm pretty sure that most people haven't taken a magnifying glass to the issue of ice-cream in order to find a diet loop hole.  In fact those who are dieting or want to eat healthy foods are more inclined to avoid ice cream all together.  Fortunately, avoiding ice cream may not be entirely necessary since there are two types of frozen treats in the ice cream family that are both low in fat and low in sugar.  These ice cream alternatives are gelato and frozen yogurt.  Here are some facts about ice cream, gelato, and frozen yogurt that may help you understand why gelato and frozen yogurt are so great.

Ice Cream: First of all, it is helpful to know what type of ingredients are usually in ice-cream.  If you make ice cream at home, you may already be aware that most ice cream recipes consist mostly of heavy cream.  A typical recipe may have two cups of heavy cream and one cup of whole milk.  Some recipes may have 3 cups of heavy cream to 1 cup of whole milk or half and half.  On the lighter side, you may find ice cream made mostly from half and half.  For example, a light ice cream recipe could be made using 3 cups of half and half.  Although lighter ice creams exist, they tend to have an icy texture instead of the creamy texture found in ice creams made with heavy cream. 

Gelato: Gelato is an Italian style of ice cream which is generally made with two cups of whole milk and one cup of heavy cream.  This combination gives gelato a much lower percentage of fat compared to ice cream.  Gelato is also made with less sugar, which is not apparent when you taste it.  Gelato is genrally made with egg yokes which give it a creamy and smooth texture like ice cream, but without the added fat.  For those who don't care for added cholesterol, gelato can also be made using corn starch in the place of eggs.  A great gelato recipe and source for information on gelato making can be found on a blog called Memorie di Angelina.  In addition to gelato being much lower in fat and sugar, making gelato is also an economical alternative to making ice cream.  Since heavy cream is generally pretty expensive compared to milk, making gelato means using much less heavy cream.  Instead of getting two batches of ice cream from a quart of heavy cream, you can make four batches of gelato.  If you don't want to make that much gelato, there are plenty of uses for cream like making sauces or making butter and butter milk.

Frozen Yogurt: Frozen yogurt is probably the best ice cream alternative one can make if dieting.  If you make your own yogurt, you'll be aware that yogurt is made with milk.  Compared to ice cream and gelato, this treat is the lowest in fat of them all.  Additionally, yogurt can be made with low fat milk.  However, be aware that the frozen yogurt will be icy and less creamy if made with low fat milk.  Another reason frozen yogurt is the best ice cream alternative is since the sugar content can be reduced to zero.  Homemade or store bought yogurt can be thrown in the blender with fruit and honey or any type of fruit and banana and this will be sufficient to sweeten the yogurt.  Bananas are one of those fruits that are sweet enough that it can act as a sweetener.  You can make frozen yogurt by throwing the fruit, sweetener, and yogurt into a blender, chilling and then putting it in your ice cream maker.  You can also make flavored yogurt and then throw it all in your ice cream maker without blending.  Personally, I am a fan of making homemade fruit syrups and mixing it with yogurt.  This method has more sugar than putting fresh fruit in a blender, but it is quicker to make.  I only need open a chilled jar of homemade fruit syrup, stir it into homemade yogurt and throw it in the ice cream maker.

Frozen Treats: For a little variation, I like to pour frozen yogurt or gelato into popsicle molds and then freeze.  Home made ice cream, gelato and frozen yogurt will have a smooth soft serve texture when first made, but will harden in the freezer.  So this makes a perfect ice cream bar type of treat for you or the kids.

Chocolate Pudding Pops Recipe

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Why Real Butter is Better

There are many types of low fat butter alternatives out there but the best type of butter will always real butter. The reason why butter butter is better is because it often does not have preservatives, artificial colors or artificial flavors. Another reason butter is better is since substitutes like margarine often include trans fats. Since Margarine is supposed to be the low-fat substitute to butter, I'm a bit confused about why most margarine has trans fats listed in the ingredients.  So if you would like to know more, here is some useful information about butter.

What Butter is Best?
The best type of butter to get is organic grass fed butter.  Grass fed butter is rich in omega 3 and is a healthy source of fat.  A step down is just regular butter.  You'll know which one is real butter since it will only have a few ingredients listed whereas the butter alternatives have a long list of ingredients.

Low Fat/ Low Cholesterol Butter for Diets
In every diet, a certain amount of fat is needed. Butter happens to be one of the fats that is a good fat and can be consumed in moderation.  Zero fat diets are actually counterproductive.  If you are looking for a low cholesterol butter substitute, the best thing is to make your own margarine since this will not include trans fats.  To make margarine, melt 1 part real butter and stir in 1 part vegetable oil.  Let this mixture cool and it will solidify into margarine.  Since vegetable oil is not great for diets, you can use light in flavor olive oil instead.  Another option, which is much easier, is to substitute 1/2 of the butter called for in a recipe with light in flavor olive oil.  This way the butter taste will remain in the recipe but it will have less cholesterol.

Making homemade Butter
There are plenty of recipes for homemade butter on-line and it is actually pretty easy.  If you were wondering why you would ever consider making homemade butter, here are a few things to consider.
  1. Homemade butter is delicious but it can also be economical.  I make butter whenever I need buttermilk since I never really need a half gallon of butter milk and I'm sure to throw it out and waste a lot of buttermilk.  So you can buy four cups of heavy cream for the same price as four sticks of butter and you will end up with two cups of butter milk as well.  If you cook with all three ingredients (heavy cream, buttermilk, and butter), you need only buy heavy whipping cream.
  2. Another reason to make homemade butter is since most spreadable butters are not real butter.  Making butter on your own gives you a soft spreadable butter without all the chemicals and preservatives.
  3. Making your own base foods is always best since you know exactly what is in it.  Labeling laws in the U.S. have many loopholes which mean many opportunities to sneak in the bad stuff many of us wish to avoid.  
How to make butter: 
So basically, making butter involves putting cream in a jar and shaking it until you have butter and butter milk in the jar.  Nothing to it but some arm pain.  You might want to share the shaking with the family for a fun scientific experiment.  Here is an instructional video and a recipe that give additional information on the butter making process to assure the good quality and preservation.  The video also has a great shaking method and a method for cutting down the shaking time needed.
    How to make butter instructional video    (short version - 7-10 min of shaking) This recipe may result in little to no butter milk if you shake too long.
    How to make butter & butter milk (long version - 20 min of shaking) Has equal parts butter and butter milk.
    Homemade butter using a beater (definitely less work and easier on your arms)
      My experiences with butter making

      homemade butter #2 - 25 Aug 2011

      Thursday, August 11, 2011

      Smoked Turkey

      • 1 9-12 lb turkey
      • oak wood
      • seasoning of choice (turkey rub, salt and pepper, mesquite rub)
      Preheat smoker to 250 F. Clean and then season turkey with the rub both inside and out. Place turkey in the smoker and cook about 30 minutes per pound. Maintain a good level of smoke while cooking. The turkey is done when the turkey breast is 170 F or higher.

      Wednesday, August 10, 2011

      How to Recognize MSG in Food Labels

      Many people may be aware of the controversial food additive Monosodium Glutamate or MSG.  However, most people may not be aware of just how widely it is included in everyday food items.  So, if you think you don't have to worry about MSG if you are not eating Chinese food, try finding ranch dressing in the grocery store that does not list monosodium glutamate in the ingredients.  I guarantee you will not succeed until you go to the organic section.  After searching salad dressings, try finding some bullion, broth, or gravy.  Then go to the soup isle and look at the ingredients for some of your favorite soups.  Additionally, check out some meatless dishes or ready to eat meals.  You may be surprised at just how much MSG you are consuming.  This does not even include some of the restaurants other than Chinese restaurants that have also picked up on using MSG without our knowledge.

      Why Avoid MSG?
      If you are not aware of the controversy surrounding the flavor enhancing additive known as MSG, here are some of the symptoms which have been dubbed the "Chinese Restaurant Syndrome."  According to the New England Journal of Medicine, 1968, the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome includes experiencing pain, weakness, numbing, and heart palpitations right after eating MSG.  Though not everyone will experience a strong reaction to MSG, the FDA recommended that MSG not be given to children until their brains were fully developed.  As a result of this recommendation and due to the strong public movement against MSG, most food manufactures removed MSG from baby food.  In addition to the Chinese Restaurant Syndrome symptoms from MSG exposure, the Department of Human Health provided a report titled the "MSG Consumer Complaints of Reported Symptoms," which included symptoms such as headaches, nausea, diarrhea, change in heart rate, mood changes, abdominal pain, dizziness, sleep problems, numbness and change in activity level.  In light of these reported symptoms and since MSG can sometimes be produced from a base of motor oil or kerosene, it is no wonder that so many people wish to avoid it.

      MSG and "Truth in Labeling" ???
      Since MSG is scientifically classified as a natural substance, food manufactures are not required to list MSG by its name and can get away with having no mention of MSG and instead list "naturally flavored," in the ingredients.  Some of the other popular ways for avoiding the mention of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in ingredients labeling is by listing it as hydrolyzed vegetable protein (HVP), hydrolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, or just yeast.  Some labels may even state "no MSG" even though it lists HVP which generally contains from 9 to 16% MSG. (Hersey, 2006).

      Is it Possible to Avoid MSG?
      Though all of this tricky and confusing labeling may seem as though it will make identifying and avoiding MSG an impossible task, there are things that you can do to assure that you are not stocking your pantry with tons of MSG laced products.
      1. Identify MSG Suspect Foods:  If you are serious about weeding MSG out of your diet and the diet of your family, the first step is to identify the main culprits when it comes to the type of foods where MSG usually lurks.  So remember to always be extra cautions when buying bullion, gravies, broths, stocks, dressings, sauces and the spice mixtures to make these products on your own.  You may also want to be extra cautious when purchasing soups and meatless dishes such as boxed rice or pasta or pre-prepared meals.  With respect to restaurants, the biggest culprits but not the only ones are Chinese and Mexican restaurants. (Hersey, 2006).
      2. Learn the many names of MSG:  Since food manufactures have leeway to be tricky in their labeling and will not always come out and list MSG in the ingredients, it is best to memorize the code names for MSG.  If you are like me, learning such names can be difficult.  So try writing them down on a piece of paper and taking it with you when you go shopping until you have memorized them.  After checking several times for these names, they will start to jump right out with only a glance at the ingredients.  So a good list of names to start with are: monosodium glutamate, naturally favored, hydrolyzed plant protein, autolyzed yeast, or just yeast.  Be sure to check for these ingredients when shopping for the suspect foods listed above.  If you follow this procedure and are frustrated time an again by finding nothing but MSG products, try checking the organic foods section of your grocery store.  You are likely to find the product you are looking for and without MSG.  If you run into "naturally flavored" and want to know for sure if this means MSG, call the manufacture number listed on the product label.
      3. How to be 100% MSG Free: If these methods of avoiding MSG seem a bit too involved and time consuming, or if organic foods seem a bit to expensive for your liking, you may consider a completely different approach.  Though some people may never think to consider it, a lot of the items that are known for containing MSG can easily be made at home.  For example, you may not find any MSG free brands of ranch dressing other than the super expensive organic brands of ranch.  However, if you google "how to make ranch dressing," then you will find tons of very easy recipes.  The easiest recipes consist of a list of spices that you can measure and set aside and then add to the liquid ingredient whenever you feel like making a batch.  It may be impossible for you to find MSG free bullion.  However, you can easily make your own broth by boiling chicken or beef.  Use this broth in the place of the water content listed in your recipe.  If you don't need the broth now, freeze it for later.  If you have no need to boil meats, boil the scraps and the bones which have scrap meat on it.  When cutting up a chicken, save the back bone and freeze it.  Use this to make a broth or a stock when you need to.  There are many different ways to make the same products that you would usually buy at the store.  So whenever you have difficulty finding an affordable MSG Free product, go to Google and look up the recipe.  In most cases, you will be surprised how easy and inexpensive it is to make the same food item at home. 
      4. What to do when eating out:  Though MSG is most widely used in Chinese and Mexican restaurants, it can also be used in steaks restaurants or in any type of restaurant you can imagine.  So if you want to dine out and also be sure you are not ingesting tons of MSG, the best thing to do is to inform your server that you are allergic to MSG.  Even if you have no known allergies to MSG, this will be the most tactful and effective way of requesting the withholding of MSG.  In fact, go ahead and request MSG be withheld from the dishes of the whole family.  You don't have to specify who has the allergy, it just runs in the family and can trigger severe reactions.  Asking the server directly whether or not they use MSG will likely result in denial of its use.  However, claiming an allergy will assure the restaurant will be compelled to leave out MSG for fear of causing you and your family a severe allergic reaction and being held responsible for doing so.
      I hope that you find these tips helpful and that you will be well on your way to eliminating MSG from your diet as well as the diet of your family.  For more information on MSG as well as other harmful food additives, refer to Why Can't My Child Behave? by Jane Hersey.  Though this guide is geared toward helping children by eliminating harmful additives from their diets, this information is also beneficial for adults who wish to cease consumption of chemicals additives.

      Saturday, August 6, 2011

      Homemade Strawberry Cream Cheese

      I would have never thought of making strawberry cream cheese from scratch.  However, I happened to have homemade cream cheese and homemade strawberry syrup and was surprised how good they were together.  This recipe is the combination of three recipes (yogurt, cream cheese & syrup) which can be made at different times and combined just prior to serving.

      1. Homemade cream cheese: To make homemade cream cheese, strain homemade yogurt for 5 to 6 hours or over night in the refrigerator.  Follow the instructions for homemade yogurt and then follow the recipe for Greek yogurt.  However, for cream cheese, stir in salt prior to straining and let strain for a longer period of time to get a thicker cream cheese.
      2. Homemade strawberry syrup: To make strawberry syrup, substitute strawberries for mango in this recipe for mango syrup recipe.  This can be canned and stocked in your pantry.
      3. Cream together a teaspoon or so of strawberry syrup with your homemade cream cheese.  Continue stirring in cream cheese until the desired consistency is achieved. 

      Wednesday, August 3, 2011

      Cream Cheese #1

      This was not exactly my first try at making cream cheese, or rather, Labneh.  However, my first attempts did not count since I was trying to rescue failed yogurt.  This time, I was not following a recipe but I had positive results nonetheless.  Basically, I put yogurt into a dish towel, tied it up and then let the whey drain out for 4 or 5 hours.  The recipe I have recommends letting the whey drain overnight but this may have been over-kill since 4-5 hours worked fine.

      The cheese was a little tart so next time, I should stir some salt before straining the whey.  However, if I forget to add the salt again, salt can be mixed in after the cheese is ready.

      Homemade Strawberry Cream Cheese Recipe

      Tuesday, August 2, 2011

      Homemade Cold Cereal

      Most kids cereal is made by puffing dough or grains and then coating with flavoring and inverted syrup.  However, it seems that the technique for puffing grains and dough balls may be a guarded secret.  Another type of cereal which is fairly easy to make is granola.  Both types can be equally healthy depending on how you make them.  I'm not a huge fan of flakes, so I have not yet looked into this type of cold cereal.

      Puff Cereals
      The closest thing I have found so far to explaining how this is done is a recipe using a wok.  Step 1: Cook the whole grains of rice, wheat, or whatever grain you want to puff.  Step 2: Once the whole grain is cooked, lay the grains out to dry.   Step 3: Heat vegetable or canola oil to 400 degrees in a wok.  Place whole whole grains in a metal strainer and dip the strainer into the hot oil.  The grains will immediately pop.

      The only problem with this method as I see it is that oil must be used.  I will continue to search for ways to pop whole grains without using oil.  From what I've read on the topic so far, the basic principal behind popping whole grains is that the moisture inside the grain is quickly heated until the starch inside expands.  It is somewhat like popcorn but the whole grains must be cooked and dried first in order to get moisture inside the kernels.

      Granola is a very simple type of cold cereal to throw together.  In fact if you don't like taking the time to make hot cereal in the morning, granola is a perfect alternative to eat with milk.  Here is a great recipe which can be used with whatever type of nuts, seeds or dried fruit that you like.  Crunchy Granola Recipe.

      Monday, August 1, 2011

      Homemade Yogurt

      Yogurt may be one of the easiest foods to make a home.  Though it is easy, not everyone gets favorable results on the first try.  So if you are interested in making your own yogurt, here are some tips that will help eliminate some of the frustration you may experience with simply following a recipe.

      Yogurt Making Methods:
      Before making yogurt, you should be aware that there are two methods of making yogurt; the old fashioned method and using a yogurt making machine.  Both methods concern how you will incubate the the milk to make it into yogurt.  If you are using the old fashion method, you will put the cooked milk in an airtight container and wrap it in a heavy blanket to keep it warm.  The yogurt must be left untouched overnight and then refrigerated in the morning.  If you are using this method, it is important the yogurt does not get too cool before wrapping it in the blanket.  If using a yogurt machine to incubate the yogurt, you will just place containers full of warm milk in the incubator and set the incubation time.  If you like predictable results, the yogurt machine will keep the milk a constant temperature even if you allow the milk to cool too much before incubating.

      Yogurt Making Materials:
      To make yogurt, you will need a cup of store bought plain cultured yogurt to use as a starter, a pitcher, a large pot, and a whisk. If you would like to make yogurt the old fashion way, you will need an airtight container and a heavy blanket. If you are more comfortable with using an incubator, you will need to get a yogurt machine.  I use a Euro Cuisine YM100 yogurt maker.  This has worked great for me and has better reviews than the YM80 since it can be programmed to shut off when it is ready.

      Yogurt Recipes:
      If using a yogurt machine, its best to use a recipe from the yogurt machine booklet.  However, if you are using the old fashion method, click here for a great yogurt recipe. 

      Yogurt Making Basics:
      1. Once you have everything you need to get started, remove your starter yogurt from the refrigerator and pour it into the pitcher so that it can warm to room temperature while you complete the other steps.
      2. Clean and dry the pot, pitcher, utensils, and container(s) which will be used once the yogurt is ready to incubate. Note: Once you've made yogurt a few times, you can clean utensils and containers while the milk is cooking but it is best to have everything ready the first few times to assure the milk does not over cook.
      3. Measure the milk and pour it into a clean pot. Heat milk on medium-high and monitor carefully to assure it does not over cook. This may take a little while, but since every stove is different, you will not know how long this step will take until you have made yogurt a couple of times. The best way to tell when the milk is ready is to watch and when the milk starts to boil, a foam will form on top of the milk, which will start to rise on the sides of the pot.  It is important to remove the milk at this point since if you remove it too early, the yogurt will be thin and if you let it cook too long, the yogurt will have a gritty texture or may be ruined.
      4. Once the foam starts to raise, remove the milk and let the milk cool until you can place the tip of your pinkie finger in the milk for ten seconds without getting burned. To speed up the cooling process, I like to put the pot of milk in a large bowl of ice water. If you do this, you will have to check it after 10 minutes and then every 5 minutes until it is ready. If you are using the old fashion method of incubation, it is important that the milk does not cool too much or the milk may stay liquid instead of turning into yogurt.
      5. Once the milk is ready, remove the film off the top of the milk and beat it into the yogurt starter in the pitcher. Then pour about one cup of the warm milk into the pitcher and mix well with the yogurt starter. Pour the remaining warm milk into the pitcher and stir. Pour the yogurt into the incubation container(s) and set aside to incubate. If using a blanket, be sure that it is in a warm location where it will not be disturbed. If using a yogurt machine, follow the instructions for setting the incubator and then do not disturb it while it incubates. 
      6. In the morning, remove the yogurt from the incubator or blanket and refrigerate.
      Yogurt Flavoring:
      Though yogurt can be made with flavoring in it, I prefer making flavorings separate so as to not be stuck with a whole batch of one flavor of yogurt.  Making plain yogurt is also best since it can be used as a starter for the next batch of yogurt.  Though flavoring yogurt can be as easy as adding honey, sugar or fresh fruit, it is also nice to make syrups.  Homemade fruit syrup can also be used as an ice cream topping, for making milk shakes, or to flavor cottage cheese.  Here is a recipe for homemade mango syrup

      Making Greek Yogurt:

      1. Whether you like to cook with Greek yogurt or just eat it plain or with honey, making Greek yogurt from your plain yogurt is quite simple.  Though there are methods to thicken plain yogurt by adding dry milk before incubation, this method changes the taste.  To make Greek yogurt, you can use any type of plain yogurt starter but I prefer using plain Greek yogurt for a starter.  If you use plain Greek yogurt as a starter, the resulting plain yogurt will still have to be strained to make it Greek yogurt, but the final product will taste closer to Greek yogurt.  
      2. Once you've made plain yogurt, you will need a bowl and a plain (non-terrycloth) kitchen towel and a rubber band.  Place the kitchen towel in the bowl and pour one or two cups of plain yogurt onto the towel in the bowl.  Take note that the amount of Greek yogurt will be significantly less since the whey will drain out of the yogurt.  So if you have a recipe that calls for 2 cups of Greek yogurt, make sure you strain 3-4 cups of yogurt to assure you have enough Greek yogurt in the end.
      3. Once the yogurt is in the bowl, bring the corners of the cloth together and secure them with a rubber band.  Be sure the bowl remains under the towel since it will begin to strain immediately.  Hang the rubber band on a cabinet knob or on the handle of an elevated microwave so the towel will hang over the bowl.  Let the yogurt strain for an hour or more.  Remove the yogurt from the towel and you will have a thick Greek yogurt.  If too much whey drains out of the yogurt, stir in some non-strained plain yogurt and stir until you get the right texture.  

      What to do with Whey:

      Since Whey is a very healthy protein, it can be reserved and used for making Ricotta cheese or used in place of water when making bread.  Using whey instead of water will result in a softer loaf.

      Vitamin B3 Research

      So far it appears that certain foods which produce the amino acid, tryptophan, also aid in the production of B3.  I'm a little bit confused about how it works since I've read several different things, but either tryptophan turns into serotonin directly, or it turns into B3 which produces serotonin.  Either way, B3 is important in the production of serotonin.  So B3, as well as B6 and B9 can be taken as a supplement to aid in the production of serotonin.  B3, also known as niacin, helps with memory, lowering cholesterol, and digestion.
      B3/B6/B9 for Serotonin production 
      amino acid breakdown