• 29Nov

    Studying nutrition is great fun. We are learning about macronutrients now – Protein, Carbohydrates and Fats. The other night, a few friends and I discussed heart health over dinner of ironically hamburgers and fries. I decided to put together a short list of what makes for heart healthy eating… 
    Heart Healthy Eating 
    Nutrients found to reduce cholesterol and saturated fats in the blood and arteries. 
    Lecithin – keeps cell membranes pliable; transports fat in and out of cells
    Choline – lipotropic agent that controls fat metabolism, speeds metabolism of fat through the liver; constituent of Lecithin. Important for brain and nerve function
    Vitamins E, C – Antioxidants; aids in fat metabolism and protects tissues from free radical damage, helps reduce inflammation
    Niacin – a B-complex vitamin; helps reduce cholesterol and fats in blood
    Bioflavonoids – bright pigments in fruits and vegetables work with vitamin C to strengthen blood vessel walls
    Plant fiber – reduce fat in blood and prevent hardening of arteries
    Omega 3 Fatty Acids – of note types EPA and DHA are two important ones. All types help cardio health – cleans circulatory system of cholesterol and fat deposits; decreases stickiness of platelets, reduce blood viscosity, lower lipid levels, lowers cholesterol levels, reduce clotting, lower blood pressure, encourage blood flow to tissues damaged by poor circulation, reduce irregular heart beats 
    Lecithin – beans, especially soybeans; cauliflower, grapes, peanuts, liver
    Choline – peas, sprouted beans
    Niacin and Vitamin E – whole grains
    Vitamin C – sprouts, cabbage, parsley, bell peppers, citrus
    Bioflavonoids – citrus peel, cherries, blueberries, grapes, green tea, ginko
    Plant fiber – whole grains: especially rye, quinoa, amaranth, oats; fruits and vegetables
    Omega 3 Fatty Acids
    · Fish – salmon, anchovies, sardines, mackerel, butterfish, tuna, halibut, herring (7-10 oz/week). Or cod liver oil.
    · Plant – flax (2-4 T ground seed or 1 T oil/day), hemp, chia seed, pumpkin seed, soy, tempeh, walnut
    · Dark Green Vegetables – kale, collards, chard, parsley, cereal grasses (wheat and barley grass)
    · Meat – grass fed beef; lamb, bison
    · Dairy – raw milk or cheese from grass fed cows, goat, sheep
    · Microalgae – spirulina

  • 26Nov

    Those poor vampires in Transylvania…they are having a hard time sucking blood out of victims here in America due to artery clogging ingestion of trans fats. It wasn’t so bad when we used natural saturated fats (in moderation of course) – this phenomenon of artery clogging began in the ’20’s and ’30’s when mortal men decided to tinker with nature. First a little background on fats…they are not the big bad wolf! We need fat – Did you know our brain is 60% fat? Every cell membrane in our body needs fat – but not any ol’kind of fat. We especially need Essential Fatty Acids which are found in polyunsaturated fats like fish oils, seed oils, egg yolks, and vegetable oils. But wait! Yes we even need the vilified Saturated fats. There is indeed a delicate balance of all types of fats that we need so there is a danger in low fat diets. 
    Well, there is one kind of fat we definitely don’t need or want… What are trans fats
    Trans fats are fats that are the mirror image of 99% of the fats found in nature. 
    How are trans fats made?
    Trans fats are formed when making hydrogenated and partially hydrogenated fats. It’s a by product of the process used to make liquid oils into more shelf stable solid fats. In a nutshell, you take your relatively healthy liquid unsaturated fat and put it into a huge vat will some copper or aluminum catalyst – seal up the vat, add lots of heat and pump in hydrogen gas. Viola! Trans Fat are formed! The effects on the human body… 
    A fat that your body no longer recognizes…your cell membranes may become a little friendly with these foreigners but things will get lost in the translation and as a results many important metabolic processes will be compromised or worse yet not happen at all! In fact there have been numerous studies that implicate trans fats as playing a major role in the increase of cancers and cardiovascular disease. And, after being refined and hydrogenated, trans fats have little nutritional value. Remember those essential fatty acids that your body needs? Eating trans fats won’t give you those essential fatty acids. However, your brain knows that you still need those fatty acids so you will crave and eat until you get enough. Now we have entered the land of excess calories and we know what that means…the battle of the bulge…and a new wardrobe. 
    To make matters worse…most fried foods are fried in hydrogenated fats. Though hydrogenated fats are built to be more stable, the high frying temperatures for long periods of time will oxidize the fats. Oxidized fats mean rancid fat which means free radicals. Free radicals are not welcome intruders in our bodies as they can do damage to our delicate cells – especially those in our cardiovascular system. 
    Why do we have Hydrongenated Fats in the first place?
    Follow the money trail… Margarine, made from partially hydrogenated vegetable oil, is a cheap alternative to butter. 
    Hydrogenated fats do not oxidize (become rancid) as readily thereby extending the shelf life of foods such as crackers, cookies, peanut butter, snack bars and the list goes on… It was once thought that saturated fats from animal sources were the main cause of heart disease. The assumption that followed was – since polyunsaturated fats were the healthy fat then saturated fats made from polyunstaturated fats must be ok. No one looked closely at the trans fats that was created by hydrogenation. This was and has been the accepted thinking even though there have been numerous studies from as early as the 50’s that discount the theory that saturated animal fats cause heart disease. 
    What can you do? Avoid trans fats by avoiding hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated fats. Read your labels. 
    www.bantransfats.com www.nypress.com/14/18/news&columns/humanfollies.cfm 

  • 25Nov

    Thanksgiving happens to be my favorite holiday…ok, one of my favorite holidays   

    Why? Besides all the yummy foods, I like the idea of giving thanks. Maybe we should be more mindful of our gratitude 365 days of the year but hurray that we have a holiday just for the occassion.  

    This year I am very thankful for everyone in my life! Everyone has inspired me in all manner of ways both big and small but equally cherished.  

    This year of change has been wonderful as I began my journey of self employment – cooking for those out there who want and need good honest food that nourishes them. And this year where I became a student of holistic nutrition.  

    I humbly thank all of you out there who have supported me through all these wonderful changes – especially pc.  

    Now, let’s eat some turkey…and sweet potatoes, dressing, chard, pie…

  • 17Nov

    Kim Chee that is…and, no I am not a stalker. It’s not who but what is Kim Chee. Well, she is all things fermented…my obsession is with the napa cabbage variety. And believe me if Kim Chee was a person you would not want to hang out with this odiferous gal.  

    This pungent food is made by taking leaves of napa cabbage, layer with salt, crushed red chili flakes, minced garlic and julienned ginger. Add a little cornstarch or flour ‘gravy’, stuff this happy mix in a crock and watch anyone who walks by the crock curl up their nose. In a few days the lactic acid bacteria will have done it’s little magic and you will have a crock of Korean style sauerkraut – only hotter and with enough garlic to ward away an army of vampires…or is it a pack of werewolves?  

    I love this stuff and it has cured me of my after meal belching much to the disappointment of my dining companions.  

    How can I benefit from an obsession with Kim you ask? Lactic acid bacteria are probiotic …that is they supplement and help our normal gut bacteria to function more efficiently. In fact we have lactic acid bacteria in our gut normally and they provide an important digestive and immune enhancing functions. Not only that, a little KC before dinner helps your stomach start producing stomach acid which helps you breakdown what you are chomping on more efficiently – thus no belching.  

    And all that ginger and garlic will keep that pesky flu away!

  • 16Nov

    Ah, it’s that time of year when the President pardons a turkey and the rest of us eat one.  

    Many people have heard of brining a turkey but are intimidated by the process – I say, “Don’t Be!”  

    Be brave and daring and follow these instructions:  

    Get yourself a fresh turkey – preferably a Diestel or a Willie Bird. Better yet, get a Heritage turkey. These turkeys are the foremothers of the modern broad breasted turkey and are truly free range – that is they have to hunt and peck for their grass and bugs. They cost more but are infinitely better than the frozen supermarket variety.  

    Not to leave anyone out…if you have a frozen bird it’s got to defrost so plan ahead because to safely defrost that little guy you will have to leave it in the refrigerator for at least 3 or 4 days. Don’t defrost a turkey at room temp…can we all say, “Food Poisoning.”  

    Other things you will need:  

    big ice chest
    food safe bucket, 5 gal
    meat thermometer
    butcher’s twine 

    OK, so you have your bird all defrosted, giblets removed, given a quick rinse and towel dried. Now you need to make your brine. Here is a recipe from Chez Panisse:  

    2 1/2 gallons cold water
    2 cups kosher salt
    1 cup sugar
    2 bay leaves, torn into pieces
    1 bunch fresh thyme
    1 whole head of garlic, cloves separated and peeled
    5 whole allspice berries, crushed
    4 juniper berries, smashed  

    Place the water in a large nonreactive pot or a food safe plastic bucket that can easily hold the liquid and the turkey. Add all the ingredients and stir for a minute or two until the sugar and salt dissolve.  

    Put the turkey into the brine and refrigerate for 12 to 24 hours.  

    ok so who out there has a frig that BIG? what we’ve done over the years and have lived to tell about it is to put the bucket in an ice chest and fill the ice chest with ice. just make sure the ice level is at or above the level of the turkey  

    If the turkey floats to the top, weight it down with a plate and cans to keep it completely submerged in the brine.  

    Note: You may halve or double the recipe. The important thing is to prepare enough brine to cover the turkey completely.  

    To roast: Remove the bird from the brine, rinse and drain well. Pat dry. Rub the outside with soft unsalted butter and sprinkle the inside and outside with pepper (NO salt). Tie the wings back and the legs together with some butcher’s twine. Roast in a 350F oven until the internal thigh temperature is 165F. Start checking the temp after about 1 1/2 hours. Depending on the size of the bird it could take anywhere from 2 to 3 1/2 hours, so be patient. Baste the bird every half hour with the unsalted butter and you will end up with a beautiful bronze skin and a nice tasty bird. If the legs and wings begin to brown too much cover them with pieces of foil.  

    Take the bird out of the oven and let it rest for at least an hour before you start carving it up.  

    Good luck and have fun! Remember, your turkey will most likely be better than any anyone has ever tried. I believe in you! Now go out there and make me proud!

  • 14Nov

    I was down in SoCal earlier this month and decided to help a friend conquer her fear of potatoes. Yes, she was afraid…afraid of making a pot of lifeless impossible to swallow gummy mashed potatoes.  

    Yes, they laughed at me and my mission but with bag of russets in one hand and my trusty masher in the other I gave away all my secrets. How do you make fluffy mashed potatoes?  

    First, you peel your little russets, about a pound will serve 6 people. Then slice them about 1 inch thick and put them in a pot with enough water just to cover. Sprinkle in a few generous pinches of salt. Simmer those taters until they are soft. Pour out the water and put the pot of potatoes back on the heat. Pour in some milk or half and half(about a cup and a half for that pound), some salt, black pepper and as much butter (I use at least half a stick) as your arteries will allow – wait until you hear the milk boiling. Now mash away. Add more milk if it is too stiff. Serve. You can make this ahead and warm back up in a double boiler.  

    The secret is to keep those taters hot as you mash them so that the gluten doesn’t come together and form a gummy mess. It also helps to use starchy potatoes like russets or yellow finns rather than the waxy varieties like red potatoes, white potatoes or yukon golds.  

    For something new and orange – try using yams or sweet potatoes. I like to add a pinch of cinnamon and cumin too.  

    So, what happened to my friend? She’s been making mashed potatoes every night since I left.

  • 13Nov

    What the heck is congee? No, it’s not a dance…it’s a grain based soup – thick, like a porridge. It is a very common breakfast in Asian countries.  

    With the cool weather I am enjoying bowl after bowl. In the Chinese tradition, white rice is the typical base. But living in the Bay Area I like to add those tasty and nutritious whole grains. So what I do is make the basic recipe and sub with brown rice or when feeling a little adventurous…wild rice or maybe some millet.  

    Congee is great because you can change the recipe any which way to suit your taste. Usually there is a base made with chicken or chicken/pork or fish stock (water or veg stock is fine for vegetarians). After simmering for hours it is served piping hot with various condiments you add to your bowl according to your particular taste. You might include shredded chicken or pork, pieces of fish, thousand year old eggs, boiled ginko nuts, chopped roasted peanuts, sprigs of cilantro, slices of scallion, and slivers of fresh ginger.  

    I remember as a kid my mom would set up the crock pot with her congee fix’ins after dinner and let it go overnight so that in the morning we had a nutritious breakfast to help us start our day. A far cry from artificially flavored sugary breakfast cereals.

  • 12Nov

    Ah, my joints complain when the cold weather rolls around. Lately my fingers have been aching – using my hands as much as I do this is very inconvenient.  

    I had heard lots about Glucosamine as a supplement that helps osteoarthritis and other joint ailments but never really paid much attention. One day during a Costco shopping run I had a chance to try one of their liquid glucosamine supplements and though I’ve heard it takes up to 30 days for the stuff to work, by the next day my fingers were not sore at all! I was still a bit skeptical but my fingers had been hurting for months so to have even a day’s relief was…well a relief.  

    A few days later my fingers were hurting again. Ok, I said to myself, “This stuff is worth a try” so I let my fingers do the googling to do a bit of research. Liquid was the best for best absorption and the quality of the glucosamine was important. I found a liquid pharmaceutical grade product and put in my order.  

    I must be tres sensitive because at half the dose (yippee I get to save $) I have found remarkable results. Not only do my fingers feel fine so do my poor knees.  

    The scientific literature also supports the use of glucosamine for joint health – see Dr. Michael Murray’s book the “Encyclopedia of Nutritional Supplements” for more information or do a search on the internet. Dr. Murray warns of the use of NSAIDS (non steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs eg. Aspirin, ibuprofen, acetometaphin, etc) as they have been found to inhibit cartilage repair and in fact hasten the destruction of cartilage.  

    I’m a believer – glucosamine works for me and I encourage you to give it a try.