04 Mar 2014
in food, health, recipes, science
Tags: antioxidants, digestion, fennel, fiber, heart, liver, nutrition, vegetables
Fennel makes a great side for barbecued chicken.
Fennel’s a bit of an odd vegetable. Although he turns up in the produce departments of most super markets, he’s not really a regular guest at most people’s tables. Fennel’s best pals with Celery, another kind-of-blah veggie that is often left languishing. Thee two veggies have the same pale greenish-white crisp flesh. And Fennel’s stalks grow around one another like Celery’s stalks do. Both veggies can be served raw or cooked. And both have a fibrous, mind flavor.
But Fennel deserves a closer look. Once you get to know him, you’ll see he’s loaded with character. More
25 Feb 2014
in food, health, recipes
Tags: adapting recipes, mushrooms, nutrition, nuts, walnuts
This walnut soup idea grew from a recipe I had saved from a teenage chef in Texas, who says his friends loved it. He’s probably grown up by now and very smart indeed if he’s continued down the walnut-tree-lined road of healthy eating. I found the earthiness of the walnuts in this dish was nice. The original recipe might be something the kids in the family would take to. But for me, I needed a little more oomph on my spoon. More
19 Feb 2014
in food, health, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, broccoli, memory, nutrition, omega-3, party food, walnut
Walnuts slash diabetic risk by a quarter. Click pic for more.
Raw walnuts not only provide a workout for your chin, they also strengthen bones and teeth.
Then too, walnuts help you remember things… like the leafless salad I promised to post in last week’s blog entry. That’s because of the huge amounts of the rarer fat component omega-3 that walnuts have. Remember? More
11 Feb 2014
in family, food, health, science
Tags: antioxidants, men's health, minerals, nutrition, omega-3, vitamin E, walnut
Can you spot the walnut hiding among all these other tasty tree nuts?
Develop the jaw,
But walnuts, stewed,
Are more quietly chewed.
—with a gentle nod to Ogden Nash
Crunchy or pureed, if we’re smart, walnuts will be found hiding on our plates in everything from soup to salads! I’m so impressed with walnuts’ healthy benefits, I hardly know where to begin. Have you heard of the quinone juglone, the tannin tellimagrandin, or the flavonol morin? I hadn’t, until recently.
But we don’t have to remember their names. We just have to remember where they hang out… in walnuts! More
04 Feb 2014
in family, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: best recipes, easy recipes, food science, kids' recipes, nutrition, super-food
Here Vinny presents his best efforts for 2013 –
easy, healthy, and kid friendly food.
For a glimpse into Vinny’s kitchen, click on any picture.
For recipes, copy and paste the link that appears below the caption. More
28 Jan 2014
in family, food, health, holidays, recipes
Tags: Greek yogurt, macadamia, nuts, Valentine's day, whole-grain flour
A tea cake from a tropical paradise for your valentine.
Last week I posted about our Miss Hawaii, in particular, how Macadamia with her low omega-6 offers a treasure chest of healthy, stable fats for your dining pleasure.
Now, as promised, here is a recipe for you to try out, featuring macadamia nuts and their oil. It’s called a tea cake in the British sense of the word. It’s more like the scones typically served as part of an English tea than it is a cake in the American sense. But it’s tasty on its own or, if you can afford the calories, you can dress up your own slice with a heaping spoonful of clotted cream and low-sugar jam.
This cake is full of good nutrition and comes in at just under 200 calories a serving, More
21 Jan 2014
in family, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: fats, macadamia, nuts, omega-3 to omega-6 ratio
Macadamia is the sweetheart of Hawaii.
Whose dress is made of sweetgrass?
who wears a golden lei-a?
Who’s promised to be kind and true?
Okay… maybe this poetry thing is a little beyond my capabilities. But before I finish with my nutty soliloquy begun in my past two posts, I wanted to sing the praises of Macadamia. Difficulty with rhyming and pentameters isn’t going to hold me back.
Because if I’m any judge, Macadamia wins the healthy nut contest hands down. And it’s not just because of her pretty face and fine figure. In fact, when it comes to the amount of fat on her frame she’s often considered a plus-sized model. Sadly, her reputation has suffered in the past because of this.
But our relationship with fat is changing.
It’s complicated More
24 Dec 2013
in books, children, family, food, holidays, stories
Tags: baking, Christmas story, family, life, memories, reading
Pinecone cake – a labor of love
“I don’t care about Christmas.” Eddy kicks the kitchen stool. “It won’t be the same, without Gramma.” Eddy’s heart feels frozen—it’s been that way ever since Gramma died.
Darren sighs. “Yeah, it’s been tough, buddy.” He kneels beside his brother so he can see right into Eddy’s eyes. “Remember Gramma’s Christmas cookies?” Darren asks. “Let’s make some Melting moments.”
Eddy thinks of Gramma’s laugh when he got flour on his nose. “OK… I guess,” he says and reaches for Gramma’s recipe box. More
12 Dec 2013
in books, children, family, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: low-fat milk, smoothies
The many faces of milk is what Chapter 5 of the print version of Cook Up A Story is all about. The story, More Milk Please, offers a time-honored recipe for getting along with people—especially people of the opposite gender. Her best friend Jill and a jug of milk is all it takes to help Izzie overcome her awkward shyness. More
03 Dec 2013
in children, family, food, health, holidays, recipes
Tags: chocolate, dates, Native American, nuts
Mother Turtle, made from apples, casts a powerful spell used in healing
among First Nations people.
In Native American stories, the turtle is a symbol for Mother Earth. This ancient animal commonly lives as long as 150 years. Its shell keeps her safe. And her slow even pace through life sets an example for people to keep going when the going gets tough. Turtle always makes time to enjoy every moment life has to offer.
I suggested to my friend Isla that it might be fun to make some turtles for Christmas. “They’re so tasty!” I said.
“Turtles aren’t for eating, Vinny!” Isla answered. “They smell like seaweed and they’re all hard and bony. Yuck!”
“I mean turtle candies,” I said. “They’re full of chocolate and More
29 Nov 2013
in children, education, family, food, health, holidays
Tags: advent, avoiding sugar
News flash – Vinny celebrates his third anniversary on WordPress today!
It’s December! Many people start counting down the days to Christmas with an advent calendar. Each day comes with a thought, a scene, and/or a chocolate candy that brings us closer to the real meaning of the holiday.
For Christians, the holiday is a celebration of the birth of Christ. We mark it with many happy traditions that unite our family with yours. We also reach out to people of other faiths at this happy time. We recognize that we are all part of one large family – citizens of the world. More
26 Nov 2013
in children, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: avocado, chocolate, mango, mousse, omega 9 fatty acids, pudding, ratio of omega 3 to 6
Pot au chocolat à la avocado
Instead of the suspicious fats usually lurking in rich desserts from eggs and heavy cream and butter, this pudding hides a Secret Agent known far and wide for his success in fighting disease. His name? Detective Avocado. Once he was a little green. But in this recipe, he’s matured to a ripe, dark brown.
This creamy dessert is so chocolatey, a teeny tiny bit goes a long way. It’s like eating chocolates from a box of More
23 Nov 2013
in books, children, education, family, food, health, holidays, humor, recipes, reviews, science
Make magic with prunes
Chapter 4 of the print version of Cook Up A Story is all about fiber… a sometimes distasteful subject. The story, Prune Puff, doesn’t disappoint. It’s all about how ridiculously wrong things can go in the kitchen, when Clark tries to come up with a good science project. But you can do better than Clark. Follow Vinny’s simple recipe and concoct a delicious light luscious delectable cake… full of healthy fiber. Then, test your food science know-how. Take a quiz on fiber and do an experiment on the ingredient that puffs cakes up – baking powder.
The story underlines how important it is to label foods carefully. And not just in your own kitchen. All processed foods we buy have to be labeled. Vinny shows us how to understand the information on food labels. Everybody can take a minute to refresh their know-how in this area – so important! More
19 Nov 2013
in children, food, health, recipes
Tags: avoiding sugar, banana bread, coconut oil, preventing waste, ripe banana, whole wheat
Turn waste into want.
This is how I explained it to my friend Will, who turned up the other day wanting a banana… and nothing else would do.
“We DO have bananas,” I said, showing Will the goods. “But you won’t want to eat them as they are.” The black, squishy fruits resembled bananas only in shape.
Will eyed them sadly. Then he brightened up. “I have an idea,” he said. “Banana bread!”
“Deal,” I replied and gave him a high-five. “But let’s try making it with less sugar and refined flour. That way, we can enjoy the natural sweetness from the bananas without getting those nasty blood-sugar spikes that usually come with sweet treats.”
“Awww,” Will moaned. “I LOVE sugar!” More
11 Nov 2013
in books, children, family, food, holidays, reviews, stories
Tags: Clementine in the kitchen, Dad, oxtail, Remembrance Day, slow cooking, stew
Lest we forget…
In honor of Remembrance Day, on what would have been my dad’s 93rd birthday, I’m reposting a feature from the spring. If it’s the second time around for you, a little refreshing of the memory wouldn’t hurt. It’s a wonderful dish. And it touches on times during the Second World War.
Let’s take a minute to thank our dads, granddads, and great granddads for their sacrifices in the Great Wars of the previous century and those since.
We should also thank our dads for all those kitchen wars they fought, putting food on the table for us. Without their example, we might not have turned out to be quite the whiz in the kitchen we are today.
Read on. The memories are mine. The recipe can now be yours!
Hungry enough to eat an Ox? More
07 Nov 2013
in books, children, education, family, fitness, food, health, recipes
Please pass the word to your friends
Howdie! If any of my faithful readers are in downtown Toronto on Saturday, November 9, why don’t you drop by for a visit?
Sharon and I are in town for a child-development conference sponsored by Sick Kids, Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children, talking about our book Cook Up A Story. We’re at the Novotel Toronto Centre, 46 The Esplanade, second floor, from 8:00 am to 3:30 pm. Come by for a chat. It will be so nice to meet you! More
05 Nov 2013
in family, food, health, recipes
Tags: birthday cake, eggs, gluten free, nuts, presentation, sugar
Totally in awe is the only way to describe my state at 1:00 am on the eve of my sister’s birthday. À la Vinny, I don’t usually play around with sugar in my cooking. I see it as an ingredient to be swapped out rather than celebrated.
But it was a birthday party, and we needed a cake. Not just any cake… but a gluten-free confection, so the birthday girl could have some, too.
Chef Janet Rörschåch rose to the occasion with a beautiful recipe for an angel-light cake made from eggs and ground nuts, decorated with vanilla-infused fruit and boozy whipped cream. The pièce de resistance was glittering threads of sugar spun from hazel nut centers. More
02 Nov 2013
in books, children, family, food, health, recipes, reviews
Tags: celebration, family tree, history
Chapter 3 of the print version of Cook Up A Story offers kids a family ghost to scare them silly. Little Miss Ellie and the princess’s pie makes for a tasty Halloween treat. Then bake two delicious dishes from Ellie’s past. Ellie’s mixed French and Native background helps us learn to appreciate foods from other cultures. Sit down for a cozy chat with your folks and unmask recipes that conjure up your own family’s skeletons. Vinny uses Ellie’s Native roots to discuss food labels we see at the store: natural, organic, local, large-scale producers… We soon see that no one size fits all. There’s a lot to learn and the choice is up to us. More
29 Oct 2013
in children, family, food, health, holidays, recipes
Tags: brule, custard, halloween, meringue, pumpkin
And pumpkin crème brulé!
Of course, the frog part was an accident.
When my little meringue ghosts collapsed after their stint in the oven into weird brown froggies on lily pads, I put it down to the stevia I subbed for more than half the sugar. It seems that for meringues to hold their height, the sugar-to-eggwhite ratio is crucial. Live and learn. More
26 Oct 2013
in books, children, education, family, fitness, food, health, recipes, science
Tags: frogs legs
The outdoors and exercise go hand-in-hand
In Chapter 2 of the print version of Cook Up A Story, read Birthday bumps. It’s a hair-raising adventure about boys on the river, frogs, and wishes gone bad. Then make two delicious campfire treats: wings on a stick and birthday cupcakes baked in orange skins. Use a campfire, a barbecue, or your oven. Flip and Tigger introduce the idea of food as fuel. Vinny targets carbohydrates and suggests ways to gear up for active lives. Exercise is the chapter’s theme. More
22 Oct 2013
in books, children, education, family, fitness, food, health, humor, recipes, reviews, science
Happiness often slips in through a door you never knew you left open. That’s my calendar’s message this morning, and it’s proving true in many ways. Here’s one example. Vinny’s pleased to announce that his first attempt at a give-away is all tidied up. His prize, a copy of his book, goes global!
The winner is a reader in Singapore, who writes about her travels among the Philippines in her idyllic blog Island Hopes. Below is her post on Vinny’s efforts to link nutrition to stories, for kids and their families. More
19 Oct 2013
in books, children, education, family, food, health, recipes, science
Wauna’s ice krispies
CHAPTER 1 – BODY BASICS
In the print version of Vinny’s book Cook Up A Story, read Vinny’s original fairy tale, Wauna’s Song. Then cook up some Ice Krispies, mentioned in Wauna’s joke to the evil Snow-Woman. Wauna makes it easy to learn about your body, how it works, and how we need balanced meals to make it run smoothly. More
15 Oct 2013
in books, children, education, family, food, health, recipes, reviews, science
Making nutrition fun through stories
I’m helping Vinny set up a new page in his main menu, called Study Guide.
The plan is to present a guide to healthy eating at home and school, for parents and teachers, based on Cook Up A Story.
Cook Up A Story started out as a way to introduce kids and their families to healthy eating ideas. I hoped to make nutrition fun through stories.
I began with a print book of six adventures for kids, where food is a part of the plot. The stories make bridges to nonfiction articles on the basics of nutrition the whole family can enjoy. The book also features recipes with healthy ingredients, so families can cook up the dishes that star in the tales. More
08 Oct 2013
in children, food, health, recipes
Tags: baking, blood sugar, lunch box, prune, sweet potato
Sweet Potato Cookies Get Top Marks for “Delicious!”
Your eyes are not deceiving you. You are indeed looking once again at sweet potatoes! I mashed them up with some prune butter and a little maple syrup. Then I made a cookie dough by adding oatmeal, whole-grain flour, and ground sun-flower seeds. These naturally sweet cookies are packed with nutrition for you and your family. I adapted the recipe from one I found on Julia Di Paolo’s excellent site.
I’m not usually impressed with cookies, in general. When it comes to sweets, I prefer a delicious fruity concoction of some sort for special occasions, with lots of decadent cream.
But as a way to get vegetables into the lunch boxes of picky eaters, these are spectacular! More
01 Oct 2013
in children, food, health, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, beans, blood sugar, carbohydrates, sweet potato, vitamin A
Sweet Patooty dresses for dinner
Our Sweet Patooty is not just another pretty face. There’s so much goodness under her skin, I hardly know where to start. She comes from a large family. There are at least 18 relatives you might meet at the supermarket. All of them bring great qualities to the table. Some have orange or reddish skins, while others are purple-skinned. The purple ones can have white or purple flesh.
Our Sweet Patooty is only distantly related to the common table potato that I grew up seeing on nearly every dinner plate. But she’s so much more agreeable! Her starch is complex and requires more time to digest, slowly releasing its sugars into the blood. When sweet potatoes are on the menu, our pancreas isn’t stressed by sugar spikes. But there’s something more… a very special protein hormone that actually improves blood sugar regulation, even in diabetics!
And that’s only for starters. Her proteins are only now revealing what great antioxidants they are, repairing cell damage caused by oxygen from the air we breath. She also relieves inflammation in our bodies through the many anthocyanins and phytonutrients that make up her lively orange and purple colors. Choosing foods with bright colors is smart. Put a rainbow on your plate and enjoy the benefits of better health… less swelling, less joint problems, fewer headaches, fewer heart problems… the list goes on and on.
Don’t call this little number a yam. It’s a sweet potato, thank you very much!
Sweet Patooty gets annoyed only when she’s mistakenly called a yam. Yams are from another family altogether. There are over 200 kinds and they come with a stunning lavender-colored flesh. Yams are not as common here as sweet potatoes but are equally interesting… a subject for a later post, perhaps. What you need to know for now is that the moist-fleshed, orange-colored root vegetable that is often called a yam is actually a sweet potato. The only kind of potato I eat these days is sweet potatoes. One day, though, I’d love to get my hands on those gorgeous lavender yams!
Like carrots, another bright orange veggie, Sweet Patooty offers amazing amounts of Vitamin A. One cup provides 4 times more than we need in any one day. Preserve your eyesight with this colorful super food on the menu.
Two things to keep in mind when cooking with sweet potatoes: 1) Always add a little healthy fat to the mix. It’s needed to improve absorption of the vitamin A this veggie delivers. 2) Steaming or boiling the flesh disables a component of the potato that breaks the anthocyanins down. We want to get as many as those powerful antioxidants into our bodies as possible. If roasting sweet potatoes, I recommend steaming them first for 2 minutes for maximum health benefits.
A sweet potato vine peeks shyly from behind a flowering begonia
Here is one of my favorite recipes starring sweet potatoes.
Baked sweet potato with pepper and garlic black beans, flavored with goats cheese, basil, and walnuts
1 medium sweet potato (my favorite is the red-skinned ones with white flesh)
1 tablespoon organic coconut or canola oil
1 tablespoon (2-3 cloves) garlic, chopped finely
1/2 medium pepper, chopped finely (I used red, but if you can find hotter versions, go ahead)
¼ cup chopped onion
1 cup black beans (if canned, rinse well!)
2 ounces creamy goats cheese
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons homemade taco spice (recipe here)
sea salt to taste
¼ cup walnuts coarsely crushed
finely chopped basil to garnish
- Scrub well, then steam the potato for two minutes over boiling water.
- Dry well, then grease the potato skin with a little oil. Make a few fork holes to allow steam to escape. Roast it in the oven at 400F for 45 minutes to one hour. Poke it with a fork to see if it has softened through and through.
- While the potato is baking, fry the onions, peppers and garlic in the oil over low-medium heat in a small pan.
- Add the beans and cover. Allow to cook on low for about 5-7 minutes. Add 1 tablespoon of the taco spice, stir well and remove from heat.
- In a medium bowl cream the goats cheese with the yogurt and the remaining tablespoon of taco spice.
- Cut the sweet potato in half. Gently remove the flesh from each half, being careful not to tear the skin. Mash the flesh into the cheese mixture. Spoon half of the cheese mixture back into each of the potato shells.
- Top with the bean mixture and return to the oven for 10 minutes with heat reduced to 300F.
When ready to serve, garnish each with some walnuts and chopped basil. You can even add a drizzle of liquid honey if you like, but I didn’t. This dish tasted delicious and is packed with amazing nutrients.
The World’s healthiest Foods For a thorough explanation of sweet potato’s health benefits with lots of scientific references. This is the website of The George Mateljan Foundation, a not-for-profit foundation with no commercial interests or advertising, I find it to be a wealth of information on healthy eating.
Sweet Patooty makes quick work of flaky biscuits Check out other ways to use sweet potatoes and control blood sugar.
24 Sep 2013
in food, health, recipes
Tags: diabetes, Greek yogurt, nutrition, sugar spike, sweet potato, wheat, whole-grain flour
Fat, protein, and complex starches make good guards for refined flour and sugar.
In my last post I came down pretty hard on refined white flour. That’s the silky white wheat flour that bakers love to use in cakes and cookies. I was harsh with it because it’s such a soft touch! At the first sign of strong acids in our stomachs, it breaks down into the sugar our body uses for energy. And to make matters worse, refined flour likes to hang out with its pal, ordinary sugar.
The sugar police try to keep our blood levels on an even keel. But when there’s too much refined white flour and sugar around, sugar runs riot!
Sugar out of control can lead to diabetes and other serious health problems.
So, for our health’s sake, do we have to give up on refined flour completely? My answer is not necessarily. We just have to cook a little smarter. If we put refined flour under guard, we can control it long enough that blood-sugar levels remain even.
We control the bad effects from refined flour by eating other foods at the same time that make flour harder to digest. Healthy fats make a good guard. Other complex starches also do the trick, like those found in whole-grain flours and sweet potatoes. We can also be careful to keep flour’s sugar buddies away. Only the sugars that have something extra to offer are allowed in, and only a little at a time. And finally, we can invite protein into the gang, a nutrient that is much slower to digest than refined flour or sugar.
The biscuit recipe below comes with an army of guards to protect our systems from blood-sugar spikes. Can you spot them?
But there’s still enough refined flour to provide the flaky tenderness we want in a scone. Natural sugar in the sweet potato is boosted with a little maple syrup to make these biscuits a real treat. I served them with a simple salad and bowls of steaming homemade soup with tomatoes from my garden. M-M-Good!
Sweet Potato Scones
• ¾ cup sweet potato ( 1 medium potato boiled till soft, skinned, mashed and measured)
• 1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
• ½ cup whole-wheat flour
• 2 tablespoons baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• ¼ teaspoon salt
• ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
• ¾ cup unsweetened Greek yogurt
• 2 tablespoons maple syrup
• 3 tablespoons oil (coconut oil or olive oil… or melted butter, if you must)
How to make them
• if you don’t already have left-over sweet potato in the fridge, boil, peel and mash one, and set it aside to cool.
• Preheat oven to 425F and spray baking sheet with cooking oil.
• Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl and sift them together or give them a whiz in your food processor.
• Mix wet ingredients along with the mashed potato in a medium bowl.
• Add the wet ingredients to the dry ones in the large bowl and stir just until the dough forms a soft ball. The less you handle the dough, the tenderer the biscuits.
• Turn dough out onto floured parchment paper (to protect the counter).
• Roll or pat gently into a round, ¾-inches thick.
• Using a 2-inch cookie cutter dusted with flour, cut the dough into round biscuits and transfer them to the baking sheet.
• Roll remaining dough into a ball and pat it again into a round ¾-inches thick. Cut more biscuits. Repeat until all the dough is used. You should end up with 12 biscuits.
• Bake for 10 minutes or until the biscuits are a light golden brown.
• Serve immediately.—Adapted from a recipe in Looney Spoons, a great cook book Vinny would have been proud to have written (but sadly, he didn’t ).
Nutrition for 1 scone: 124 Cal, 4 g fat, 19 g carbs (of which 3.7 g are sugar), 1 g fiber, 3.3 g protein, 321 mg sodium. Good source of iron, calcium, potassium, folate, and vitamins A, C and B.
Next week I’ll look at all the good things sweet potatoes do for us, besides guard against ill effects from refined flour. And I have a couple of other great recipes starring the sugary tuber to share with you, including the tomato soup I mentioned here.
Meanwhile, do you have any recipes to share with me that help the sugar police regulate refined flour and sugar?
Wheat and the glycemic index… loaded question Vinny explains why the glycemic load might be a better indication of the risk of sugar spikes from eating any one food.
Wheat is not satan… but watch out for all those little sugar devils Is wheat the cause of today’s alarming rise in weight-related problems in Canada and the US? A look at the popularity of gluten free diets.
One potato, sweet potato, bean potato, more Learn what sweet potatoes hold for you under their skin. Recipe: Baked sweet potato with goats cheese, black beans, and walnuts.
Sweet potato pancakes Find out why sweet potato is ranked the most nutritious of all veggies, and make your sweety some pancakes for Valentines Day.
Eggs and veg Check out Vinny’s recipes for hearty, egg breakfasts. Who needs toast, anyways?
17 Sep 2013
in books, food, reviews, science
Tags: blood sugar, bread, carbohydrates, gluten, wheat, whole grain, whole wheat, William Davis
The glycemic load might be a better guide to healthy eating than the glycemic index
What should we believe? The Internet bombards us with so many facts, ideas, opinions and outright lies, it’s hard to make out the signal from the noise.
Dr. Davis in his book Wheat Belly makes a lot of noise about wheat. He calls it a blight and a poison and says no-one should eat it, not just the 6% of us who are gluten intolerant. But many of his statements are misleading.
Example… Davis is often quoted as saying: “The glycemic index proves eating bread is worse than eating straight sugar.” Nonsense. And I’m not sure he does say this, exactly. But many have dropped wheat from their menues, on his advice.
The glycemic index (GI) measures how quickly a food is changed to the sugar that fuels the body. The GI of glucose (a simple sugar) is 100. The GIs of ALL OTHER FOODS are compared with that of glucose. Only some other kinds of sugar have GIs higher than 100.
Foods with a high GI can raise our blood-sugars rapidly. Sugar highs stress the systems that process it. Over time the systems break. That triggers things like diabetes, high blood pressure and some cancers. A GI over 55 is high.
But it’s the glycemic load (GL) that we should pay the most attention to. A GL of 10 or less is low. Foods with a low GL do not raise your blood sugar excessively, even if they have a high GI.
The glycemic load takes into account the amount of carbs in a serving. A food like watermelon has a high glycemic index (72)… but there’s not that many carbs in one serving. So it has a low glycemic load (4). Serving size counts!
A glycemic load (GL) of 20 or more is too high for good health. If you eat more than the serving size shown in the table, you have to multiply the GL by the same amount. Example: The serving size for table sugar is 30 grams (about 2 tablespoons), for a GL of 21 – high. But a 20 ounce bottle of Coke has 65 grams of sugar. Its glycemic load is more than 45 – very high.
Are you still with me?
Sweet but wise watermelon owl doesn’t raise blood sugar excessively, thanks to a low GL
Davis uses numbers to convince us to follow a gluten-free diet. So we need to look at numbers, too, to decide for ourselves whether we need to give up wheat. Check out this table from Harvard Medical School. I’ve taken some numbers from it for sugar and various foods made from flour:
- GI = the glycemic index, where glucose = 100
- SS = the serving size, in grams
- GL = the glycemic load.
||30 (2 tablespoons)
|Table sugar, sucrose and fructose
||30 (2 tablespoons)
|Bagel, white, frozen
|Baguette, white, plain
|White wheat flour bread
|Wonder™ bread, average
|Whole wheat bread, average
|100% Whole Grain™ bread (Natural Ovens)
|Pita bread, white
What do we see?
Glucose has a higher glycemic index (100) AND a higher glycemic load (25) than any food made from flour.
Table sugar is made up of two sugars. Its sucrose converts quickly to simple sugar but its fructose takes longer. So the GI of table sugar is lower than that of glucose and breads made from refined flours. Table sugar has a higher glycemic load, though, than the breads.
One serving of baguette made from refined white flour has a high glycemic index (95), nearly the same as glucose, but a lower glycemic load (15) than glucose or table sugar. Both these figures exceed the healthy range (above 55 and 10).
But look at whole-grain bread. Its glycemic index is lower than for glucose or table sugar (51) and its glycemic load is the lowest in the table (7). Wheat tortilla has healthier numbers (30 and 8) than its gluten-free counterpart, the corn tortilla (52 and 12). These wheat foods fall in the healthy range (below 55 and 10).
It is the sugar and refined grains in food that cause high blood-sugar and related health problems – not unrefined whole grains.
What did Davis say about GI and wheat?
1) “Whole wheat bread has a higher glycemic index than a Mars Bar.”
Davis is right. But did he mention Mars Bar has an unhealthy glycemic load?
The glycemic index compares how blood-sugar levels respond to 50 grams of available carbohydrate in the food. The GI for 50 grams of glucose, all of which is available carbs, is 100.
To get 50 grams of carbs from whole-wheat bread, you need to eat 4 slices. For 50 grams of carbs from a Mars Bar, you need only 2.5 ounces or about 1 bar. So the volume of food differs. Also, the kinds of carbs differ. Higher fat content in the bar impedes digestion of its starch. Nuts and chocolate in the bar have a low glycemic index, which lowers the glycemic index of the bar. Because the calories and nutrients are so different, it’s misleading for Davis to compare the GIs of these two foods. The comparative load is more meaningful.
2) “Whole-wheat bread has the same GI as white bread.”
Davis is right. Check the table, above. All the breads except whole-grain bread have a glycemic index of more than 70. But the GI of the whole-grain is in the healthy range.
Now, check out their glycemic loads. Whole-grain bread is 3 points lower (nearly a third better) than white bread and comes in at less than 10. So… whole-grain bread is a healthy choice, in moderation.
It’s smart to check up on the glycemic loads of the foods you eat regularly. If the GL of one serving is over 10, consider making a change.
Next week I’ll share a super delicious recipe for scones from the latest Looney Spoons cookbook. They’re made with whole-grain flour mixed with some refined white flour, to ensure a little lightness. They’re so airy, you’ll be in seventh heaven!
For a point-by-point analysis of Davis’s claims, check out this scientific analysis from St. Catherine University, St. Paul. MN.
This same review looked at hundreds of studies on health effects of refined flour, as well as whole wheat and whole grain flours. Their conclusion? Unless your doctor tells you you’re gluten intolerant, moderate use of whole-grain flour in a daily meal plan has no proven ill-effects on your long-term health.
Photo of the wise owl is from Daily Picks and Flicks.
How many people have gluten insensitivity? See how many people have been diagnosed with gluten sentitivity, intolerance and celiac disease.
Wheat is not satan… but watch out for those little sugar devils See what Davis had to say about wheat and obesity and learn why most people can keep whole-grain flour in their healthy meal plan.
10 Sep 2013
in food, health, recipes
Tags: baking, cakes, fats, food substitutions, sugar, sweeteners, toppings
Ice krispy cakes are even healthier made from brown rice cereal, fortified with flaxmeal. The recipe is included in Vinny’s book.
Following on from last week’s account of a disaster averted while trying to alter a recipe, I’m sharing a wonderful post I found on-line this week. It’s all about how to make successful substitutions, mainly in baked goods, but in other ways, too.
One suggestion I liked: Brown rice cereal has half the calories and more fiber than Rice Krispies, plus there’s no added sugar. But Rice Krispies is fortified, so has more vitamins and minerals and just a little sugar. Add some flaxmeal to boost the nutrition and you’re flying!
If you HAVE to have a festive dessert (and who doesn’t, from time to time), how about using “Fluff” as an icing? I’m not sure yet how readily this marshmallow topping is available where you (or I) live, but if you can’t find it, I know for a fact you can melt common-rabble marshmallows in the micro. And if you act quickly, perhaps this would work as a cake or muffin topping. Personally, I’d prefer a meringue topping, another idea contained in this graphic. As egg whites are not a processed food, it’s you, not a manufacturer, who controls what goes into the mix.
Check out the many ideas for reducing butter and sugar in baking, too. I see prune butter is included, one of the ideas I mention in my book. And of course stevia is front and centre, something I’ve taken to using for a lot of things, lately.
So without further ado, here’s the poster. Happy baking for healthy eating!
04 Sep 2013
in food, health, recipes
Tags: correcting flavor problems, fruit soup, gazpacho, Grand Marnier, making substitutions, pineapple, soup
Like Harry Potter’s phoenix, good things can rise up again.
When a person insists on changing recipes, stuff can go hay-wire. Take this pineapple gazpacho, for example.
Company was seated. Candles were lit. I was putting the finishing touches on little cucumber boats I had carved to decorate my soup bowls.
I was about to ladle out my chilled pineapple gazpacho, when I stole a taste.
ARGGGG. Sooo bitter!
How did I ever get myself into this not-so-fine state of affairs?
The recipe from Richard for pineapple gazpacho looked fabulous. But me being Vinny, I was unhappy over its call for bread, especially WHITE bread. Also the bread was supposed to be soaked in heavy cream! I tell you. How could that happen in Vinny’s kitchen?
So I got out a few slices of the whole-grain bread we always have on hand and soaked it in skim milk whisked with a little coconut oil. My regular readers know how good coconut oil is for a body. But sadly, I’d forgotten that its short-chain saturated fat molecules don’t stay liquid for long in cold milk! Zapping the oil in the micro for a few seconds solved that problem. But I worried about whether it would stay liquified after the soup was made. After all, this soup is supposed to be served chilled.
As it turned out, the pureed soup tasted great and the coconut oil stayed mixed. All was well. But I felt flustered. I read the recipe again. Gadzooks. I had forgotten one of the key ingredients… a small cucumber. It wasn’t gazpacho without cucumber!
I plucked a cucumber from the fridge and pureed it on the spot, seeds, skin and all, passed the puree through my strainer, and added the strained flesh to my soup bowl. Green skin and seeds in the strainer went straight to the compost.
Tasting the final product, I expected to be hit with true deliciousness. But no! A bitter cucumber taste permeated my mouth. Yuck. How could I fix this disaster?
I tried adding salt. No good. Another little dash of sugar. Uh-uh. Panic!
Meet the groom
Then it hit me. I remembered reading how one chef never serves soup without a splash of booze. From the front of our liquor cabinet, a brand-new bottle of Grand Marnier was calling my name. A tablespoonful of this aromatic orange nectar in each bowl was all it took. YUM!
I shouldn’t have been surprised. Grand Marnier has been winning awards for over 150 years for the Marnier-Lapostolle family in France. Its flavor comes from an orange famous for its scent. On the family’s plantation in the Caribbean, these Bigaradia oranges are hand-picked while their peels are still green. They dry naturally under the sun for several weeks. Slow distillation extracts an orange essence of the finest quality. When this extract is mixed with the best of French cognacs, the result is, well, Grand Marnier!
What better way to rescue a fine soup ruined by an unpleasant cucumber skin!
Granted, there is alcohol involved. So, you won’t be adding any to the kiddies’ bowls. But for nonpregnant, nondriving adults, adding a dash of Grand Marnier raises your bowl of pineapple soup from great to sublime. And especially so if you take the time to peel your cucumber :).
The singer Madonna contributed to making Grand Marnier fashionable at parties in New York and London. And now, you can try it at home.
So by all means, experiment. But be prepared to fix unexpected problems as you go along.
Here’s Richard’s recipe, modified to correct the mistakes I made first time round. Formidable!
Here comes the bride
Pineapple gazpacho, partnered with Grand Marnier
For the Pineapple soup
- 3 slices whole-grain bread with the crusts
- 1/2 cup buttermilk
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium-sized very ripe pineapple, peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 small English cucumber, peeled and seeded (or your soup will be a bitter pill to swallow)
- 1/3 cup low-fat Greek yogurt
- 2 tablespoons olive oil whisked with 1 teaspoon lime juice
- 1 teaspoon hot sauce
- 1 teaspoon red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
For the pickled carrots (optional)
- 1 small carrot, julienned
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons water
- pinch salt
- Julienne the carrots using a carrot peeler to make wide thin slices and a paring knife to cut these into thin sticks.
- Add the honey, salt, vinegar and water to a small container.
- Whisk to incorporate and add julienned carrots.
- Cover, put in refrigerator and let sit for at least 2 hours.
To make the soup
Blend for 30 seconds on highest speed.
Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold, 2 hours or so.
- Cube bread, place in a bowl and pour buttermilk whisked with 2 tablespoons olive oil over bread.
- Toss to mix milk, oil, and bread together and set aside until needed.
- Add chopped pineapple to a food processor (or Vitamix blender, if you have one). Puree.
- Add the following ingredients to the pineapple and puree after each addition:
- hot sauce
- lime-flavored olive oil
- red wine vinegar
- cucumber, peeled and deseeded
- Place a cucumber boat filled with the pickled carrot in the middle of a bowl.
- Ladle the soup around the cucumber boat till it floats.*
- Finish with a drizzle of Grand Marnier (about 1 tablespoon per bowl).
*You don’t have to make the boats. I just felt like being whimsical, as I was inviting a sailer to dinner. Decorate the soup with the pickled carrots or with chopped red pepper, cucumber and basil, or even with a drizzle of oil, if you like.
Pineapple kings them all – Review the health benefits of pineapple. Recipe: Pineapple salsa plus other ideas for using this fruit in meals.
27 Aug 2013
in children, food, health, recipes, reviews
Tags: baked veggie fries, bread, gluten, wheat, wheat belly, whole-grain flour
This sinister gilded crust was the model for Salvador Dali’s famous painting, “Bread 1926.”
But is bread the only villain in today’s battle with obesity? How did this food, which people have enjoyed since the dawn of agriculture, get such a bad rap?
Doctor William Davis leads the attack. In his book Wheat Belly, he blames wheat and wheat alone for everything from heart disease to diabetes to arthritis and everything in between. His inflammatory accusations have some validity, of course. But overall, I think the good doctor is stirring the pot with too big a spoon.
It’s true, people with celiac disease can eat no wheat whatsoever. If they do, they suffer from inflammation of the gut caused by a wheat protein called gluten. It’s deadly. Others have a genetic condition called gluten intolerance. These people, too, lead a healthier life without wheat in their diet. But Dr. Davis thinks everyone should stop eating wheat. That’s where I think he runs out of steam.
Van Gogh’s “Wheat fields after the rain.” Wheat is a food staple.
Read how much wheat inspired this gifted artist.
However, Dr. Davis has had support from media icons like Oprah and Dr. Phil. Ergo, many people have read his book. The gluten-free diet fad is rising faster than well-kneaded dough in a hot room.
I think it’s a mistake, though, to shun an entire food group. Over time, people just return to all the foods they grew up loving. Our bodies also miss out on the nutrients we get from eating wheat’s bounty. Some changes, though, may help.
The problems stem from processed foods that contain refined flour, along with its friends the sugar devils! Dr. Davis is rightly and firmly against refined flour. Without wheat’s fibre. refined flour is just a breath away from sugar. Michael Pollan fingered it as humanity’s first fast food.
Davis is right when he says that people who give up wheat will likely lose weight. But to avoid wheat, you have to give up processed foods. That includes pastas, packaged foods, and most baked goodies, with all the harmful fats, sugars and salt they bring to the table.
In other words, it’s not just wheat you are avoiding. You are in fact on a low-carb meal plan. Studies show that “low carb” means successful weight loss.
Food processors missed the revenues from sales of their refined food products and rose to the challenge. They’ve come up with a slew of gluten-free products that replace these foods. However, people who regularly eat these new processed foods are replacing wheat with other easily digested starches, as well as sugar, salt and fats that are unhealthy.
Eating gluten-free processed foods inflates the food budget, introduces unhealthy alternatives to wheat, and results in nutritional losses from lack of wheat.
It’s not wheat that is the sole cause of today’s rise in obesity. It’s SUGAR… and various refined flours from processed foods, whether they are gluten-free or not.
I’m with Dr. Davis on the importance of giving up REFINED flour. But unlike Davis, most nutritionists think healthy people can eat foods made from whole grains safely. Moderation is the key.
Check out this post on whole-grain flour for more details.
In the meantime, let’s kill two birds with one stone-ground batch of flour. Here’s a great recipe adapted from The Paddington Foodie, using whole-grain bread crumbs and wheat flour. It might even encourage kids to eat their veggies :).
Oven-baked veggie sticks crisped in whole-wheat crumbs
I tried this with zucchini, Chinese eggplant, and apples. All were delicious but my favorite was eggplant. You can also try sweet potato, whole mushrooms, or even carrots.
We baked our tray inside a hot barbecue, outdoors. It took the full 25 minutes. Be sure to add the lemon and sea salt at the end. Crunchy and delicious! Reheats well the next day. Make lots!
1 large Chinese eggplant
1/2 cup whole-grain flour
1 1/2 cups dried and crumbed whole-grain bread, the finer the crumbs the better
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, finely grated
2 tablespoons olive oil (or cooking spray)
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
- Trim ends off eggplant, and slice into sticks no longer than 4 inches.
- Bring pot of water to a boil. Add sticks, bring back to a boil, and cook for 2 minutes. Drain and pat dry. This helps the crumbs stick better. Cool before continuing.
- Coat cookie sheet lightly with a tablespoon of olive oil. Or use cooking spray instead.
- Prepare ingredients for the coating in the order you’ll use them. Season flour with salt and pepper on a large plate. Whisk eggs with a splash of water and a pinch of salt in wide bowl. Combine breadcrumbs and Parmesan on a large plate.
- Dip eggplant sticks in flour, shake to remove excess and then dip into the egg mixture, removing excess before rolling in the crumbs.
- Arrange coated food in single layer on the tray.
- Wrap tray with plastic and cool in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before baking.
- Preheat oven to 400 F or heat up the barbecue. Drizzle (or spray) a tablespoon of olive oil over the chilled sticks.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Turn the sticks over and bake for another 15 minutes or until they are crisp and golden. Season with sea salt and serve with lemon.
Next time, Vinny demystifies the terms glycemic index and glycemic load. which Dr. Davis refers to throughout his book.
While you’re waiting, go to Vinny’s Facebook page and “Like” it for a chance to win a copy of Vinny’s own book :).
Wheat and the glycemic index… a loaded question Learn why whole-grain wheat is still a healthy option, as long as you aren’t gluten intolerant
Avast! It’s a Pita Pan Bread snack platter – Learn about various kinds of flour. Recipe: Make your own pita bread from whole-grain flour.
PS If you really want to give up something in the name of good health, make it soda drinks and other processed foods.
13 Aug 2013
in food, health, holidays
Tags: cravings, nutrition, snacks
It’s so hard to control cravings while at the cottage, for some reason. I came across this chart the other day, though, and found it helpful. Like, this morning for example… When presented with a tray full of sweet home-made sticky buns, instead of the plain unadorned brown sugary ones, I chose the ones full of nuts! The joke’s on me. Now I’ll have to swim all day to make up for giving in to this treat. But… so worth it! Maybe tomorrow I’ll do better. Hope you do too!
In the meantime, here’s a reminder. Go check out Vinny’s Facebook Page! People who “like” it before the end of August are up for a chance to win a free copy of Vinny’s book – yay!
Originally posted on Earn Your Body:
Food Cravings. A dieter’s worst nightmare. How many of us can say I have never craved chocolate, chips, or an entire plate of pasta. Cravings can single handedly destroy a diet or healthy nutrition lifestyle. If we don’t answer our cravings, they tend to build and get worse. I came across a great pin the other day that explained what your body is really craving when it wants chocolate and also some healthy options to replace chocolate with but still satisfy the craving. Take a look below for a list of popular food cravings and how to cope.
Remember these replacements. Maybe copy or printout this chart and hang it in your kitchen. Ignoring food cravings is just as bad as giving into them. Substitute a healthy option and you will have more control over not only your cravings but you diet. NO EXCUSES. EARN YOUR BODY.
06 Aug 2013
in family, food, health, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, drinks, nutrition, vitamins, watermelon
Cool off with watermelon
Who would have thought the common watermelon is a berry? Botanists call its fruit a pepo, a special kind of berry with a thick rind and fleshy center.
Like other berries we love, the watermelon is packed with goodness. It has the most nutrition per calorie of any common food.
Red is the give-away. Bright colors signal a big pay-off in lycopene, an antioxidant repeatedly studied in humans and found to protect against a whole slew of cancers… prostate, breast, endometrial, lung, and colorectal, for starters.
Watermelon offers lots of beta-carotene and another antioxidant, vitamin C. Besides helping lycopene to ward off cancer, these vitamins also battle heart disease, arthritis, and asthma.
A surprise benefit is the mood vitamins, B1 (thiamine) and B6 (pyridoxine). Thiamine is important for maintaining electrolytes and transmissions of nervous-system signals throughout the body. Pyridoxine works with enzymes that convert food into cellular energy. Let’s party!
Then there is the mineral potassium, guardian of our cardiovascular system, brain, and kidneys.
Finally, watermelon provides lots of the master mineral Magnesium. Magnesium is the big boss for over 300 cellular metabolic functions. Poor soils make it scarce in today’s foods. Lack of Magnesium is related to most of our population’s poor health. Symptoms are irritability, tension, sleep disorders, and muscular cramping. After that, it’s heart attacks and other serious illnesses.
Watermelon is in season now, during the summer, so eat lots! It’s among the cleanest 15 commercial agribusiness fruits and vegetables available, so no worries about pesticide contamination.
Watermelons retain most of their nutrition after being cut and stored in the fridge. But pull the pieces out long enough for them to reach room temperature. This maximizes the phytonutrient capacity.
How to enjoy watermelon
Eat plain: Just quarter a large watermelon berry and slice off slabs. Eat the flesh right off the rind and spit out the seeds.
Use in a salad: Chop the flesh into bite-sized chunks and use them to top a plateful of greens. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and nut oil. Top with crumbled feta cheese.
Make a summer cocktail: Here’s a recipe I’ve been loving these days, modified from Peri’s Spice Ladle.
Vinny’s pink watermelon fizz
- 2 cups watermelon cubes, frozen
- 4 ice cubes
- Juice of one fresh lemon (1/4 cup)
- Juice of one fresh lime (2 tablespoons)
- 2-4 tablespoons of any sugar syrup you have. I used home-made red-current couli, But any fruit syrup, even grenadine (from pomegranates) or maple syrup, will do.
- 2 pinches of salt
- 2 pinches of black pepper
- 3-4 ounces raspberry vodka (optional)
- ¼ to 1/3 cup club soda, depending on whether you add alcohol or not and the size of your glass
- Blend the whole works except for the club soda for a few seconds.
- If you want to serve some of the cocktails without alcohol, leave the vodka out and add it back to the glasses of the folks who want it.
- Fill each glass about halfway with the watermelon fizz. Add 1 ounce alcohol to each glass if you didn’t include it in the mix. Top up with club soda. Adjust flavor with more lemon juice if needed.
- Spoon some of the pink foam into each glass and top with a raspberry or a mint leaf to garnish.
Natural News – Watermelon nutrition
Celiac Kitchen – Check this out for an amazing watermelon “cake” recipe
23 Jul 2013
in food, health, recipes
Tags: drinks, feta, fruits, kale, leafy vegetables, nuts, pomegranate, salad, vinaigrette
Last time, I told you about the powerful effects offered by the lovely Pomegranate. If you haven’t already seen that post, check it out here.
This time, I want to focus on how to use this wonderful ingredient. Like… if it’s new to you, you might not know how to get past the blushing hard skin to the fruit inside. Turns out, it’s easy if you just turn on a little charm.
How to get a pomegranate to give up its seeds
- The juice stains everything it touches. So wear old clothes or an apron. I didn’t splash a drop, though, so if you’re patient, perhaps it won’t be a problem. Have a glass bowl waiting, to receive the seeds.
- To get started, take a sharp knife and score the skin, around the circumference of the fruit.
- Use your thumbs to gently pry the two halves apart.
- Holding the pomegranate-half upside down in your left palm over the bowl. slap the top of the fruit sharply with a big wooden spoon. Let the seeds drop through your fingers into the bowl. Turn the fruit from time to time and keep slapping until all the seeds have dropped. Then do the other half.
- Discard any of the inner white papery pith that may have dislodged.
- Check out this video to see how it’s done.
Pomegranate tea beats summer’s heat!
Juicing the pomegranate seeds
If you want the juice, but not the seeds, you have options:
- Buy a bottle of pure pomegranate juice. Check the label to make sure there are no added ingredients (like the demon sugar).
- Squeeze the seeds of a fresh pomegranate. Here are three ways:
- Cut the fruit in half crosswise and ream the halves as you would a lemon.
- Place the extracted seeds in a sealed plastic freezer bag and crush them gently with a rolling-pin. Or spin them in a food processor for a minute or two. Then strain the juice.
- For less bitterness, cook the seeds slowly in a bit of water, and press them through a sieve or cheesecloth.
If you make a mess with pomegranate juice, find out how to clean up, here.
Pomegranate juice is great in drinks. Try these:
- An iced tea with pomegranate, as in my last post
- A wine spritzer: pour a tablespoon or two of pomegranate juice over ice, then top up with white wine and as much (or as little) of soda water as you want
- Pomegranate juice mixed with blueberry or cranberry juice and a little soda over ice
Pomegranate partners well with other healthy P words… like pumpkin seeds, pickled beets, pears, and potassium from dark leafy greens. Try these three main-course salads for lunch. All are super delicious.
Pomegranate and potassium salad
The potassium is in the spinach
- 1 (10 ounce) bag of baby spinach leaves, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 red onion, sliced very thin
- 1/2 cup walnut pieces, chopped
- 1/2 cup crumbled feta
- seeds from 1 pomegranate
- vinaigrette made with 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar and 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Put the spinach in a salad bowl. Top with red onion, walnuts, and feta.
- Sprinkle pomegranate seeds over the top, and drizzle with vinaigrette. Toss.
Boiled dressing = easy and delicious!
Pear and pomegranate with kale salad
Kale can be an acrid fellow. This recipe changes him into an agreeable chap! Follow my method, below, and I think you’ll get to like Kale too. Serves two.
- 3 cups kale, rinsed, with ribs cut out and discarded and the leaves torn in pieces
- 2 tablespoons flavorful oil (I used walnut oil)
- ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste
- 1 pear, halved and cored, then sliced (I used an Asian pear)
- 1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
- 2 tablespoons pomegranate juice
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon prepared Dijon-style mustard
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup or honey (or stevia equivalent)
- Divide the greens between two bowls. Rub 1 tablespoon walnut oil into the kale leaves in each bowl. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Divide the pear slices and pomegranate seeds among the two bowls.
- Combine the pomegranate juice, lemon juice, mustard, and sweetener in a saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently, until the dressing thickens slightly, about 2 minutes. Pour the warm dressing over the salads and serve. The boiled dressing is truly worth making an extra pot dirty for. This recipe makes a colorful salad course for a special dinner. It’s that good.
Pomegranate and pickled-beet salad
- 2 bunches of baby rocket
- seeds from 1 pomegranate
- 1 cup pickled beets, shredded
- ½ cup of pumpkin seeds, roasted
- 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
- 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- 3 tablespoons pickled beet juice
- 2 tablespoons walnut or macadamia nut oil ( or even olive oil)
- Seed the pomegranate, chop the greens, and grate the beets.
- Mix all the veggies but the pumpkin seeds.
- In a small bowl beat together the mustard, salt, pepper, vinegar, and oil. Taste and add lemon juice if needed. Pour the vinaigrette over the salad and top with seeds.
Pomegranate: Goddess of Love – Learn about pomegranate’s benefits to health. Recipe: Icy pomegranate green tea
16 Jul 2013
in books, children, family, food
Tags: give away
Oh, go ahead. Tell everybody. Vinny is doing his very first give away! More
09 Jul 2013
in food, health, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, cancer, fruit, immunity, inflammation, men's health, pomegranate, tea
This golden decoration is from 12th century doors of the Cathedral of Madonna del Granato, AKA Pomegranate! Near Paestum, Italy.
It’s summer time and love is in the air. Alas, humidity and heat are also abundant. What to do! We need ways to stay cool and fit. Enter Lady Pomegranate.
Pomegranates have played a role in both our spiritual and physical lives for thousands of years. The blood-red seeds spilling forth when you cut into the thick skin appeals to people on a primal level. Arab traders used the pomegranate to entice merchants into buying their wares. People all across the Middle East and Europe were drawn to the message of abundance and fertility that this lovely fruit conveyed.
Ancient Greeks believed the first pomegranate tree was planted by Aphrodite, Goddess of Love. Shakespeare tapped the same symbolism in Romeo and Juliet, with the pomegranate representing true love, forbidden love, and innocence.
Possibly Juliette’s famous balcony?
But now, several university studies show that these ancient beliefs in the power of the pomegranate were not misplaced. Daily drinks laced with pomegranate juice have positive effects on men with prostate cancer or other problems with normal male functioning. For more information on men’s health see prostate.net.
Pomegranate is also known to kill breast and lung cancer cells, prevent deterioration of cartilage, and reduce that most dastardly of health problems…. inflammation. As you can see from the diagram I’ve posted below, these are only its main benefits. There are so many more reasons to make pomegranates a part of your regular eating plan.
What does it taste like?
The benefits of pomegranate are hard to ignore, but it’s the taste and color that make pomegranate stand out as a wonderful food. The tiny red seeds explode with a sweet tartness when you break them open in your mouth. The one drawback is that inside each seed is a crunchy pip that I had to learn to swallow whole, without much chewing. OK, I’m a wimp. I got over it. Now I eat pomegranate seeds with abandon.
Sprinkle the seeds on salads or press out the juice and mix it with other juices or sparkling water to create a real treat! Of course, you can buy the juice in bottles, which is a convenient way to get the goodness of pomegranates without much hassle. Do check the label, though, to make sure you aren’t also buying added sugar or other unwanted ingredients.
For summer, try an iced tea featuring green tea and pomegranate. A lovely idea is to use frozen fruit to cool it down, instead of ice cubes. Even the kids might like this delicious summer sipping drink. Thanks to fellow Ottawan Lori B for this recipe idea.
Wheee! Kids like it, too!
Icy pomegranate tea
- four green tea bags steeped in 4 cups of boiling water
- 1/4 cup 100% pomegranate juice
- 1/4 cup lemon juice
- 1/4 cup pure maple syrup (or sweeten to taste with stevia)
Stir all ingredients together, chill, then pour into a pitcher of ice cubes. If you are feeling fancy, use frozen strawberries, mangoes or blueberries instead of ice cubes and serve your drink with a straw or a long spoon. If you try the tea before it’s properly chilled, the flavor is rather sparse. Leave it in the fridge overnight, and the next day, it just pops! I’ve been making this regularly and loving it.
In two weeks I’ll post part 2 of the pomegranate saga, with a blow-by-blow description of how to get into your pomegranate (if you haven’t done so before then) and lots of ideas for pomegranate salads.
Some Jewish scholars believe that the pomegranate was the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden
Our Lady Pomegranate swings her partners – How to use pomegranate. Recipes: Three main-course salads
25 Jun 2013
in food, health, recipes
Tags: antioxidants, bromelain, fruit, immunity, minerals, nutrition, pineapple, vitamins
Pineapple wears a crown for a reason. It is royally healthy. In fact, it may be the healthiest fruit we can eat.
Pineapple reigns in the tropics. The plant stores the goodness from the sun year-round and gives us its fruit from January to June.
Picking pineapples stops the ripening. They don’t sweeten up for you on your counter. Choose one that smells great and eat it in a day or two. Or store it in the fridge to prevent spoiling. Pineapple cut into chunks and stored in a sealed container keeps for up to a week without loss of nutrients.
And pineapple is silly-rich in nutrients. Check out Dick and Dana’s blog for lots of easy-to-read details on pineapple’s bounty. Or for a more scientific treatise, try The World’s Healthiest Foods. Here are just a few of pineapple’s incredible benefits.
- If you have worms in your innards (and I sure hope you don’t), pineapple juice can help kill them off. Whew!
- Pineapple is high in manganese, a mineral we need to activate many essential enzymes in our bodies. Among other things, it’s used to strengthen our bones.
- Bromelain is another key to pineapple’s value. This enzyme breaks down protein efficiently. It improves digestion and reduces inflammation. As inflammation is the cause of many serious diseases, like arthritis, cancer and heart problems, pineapple is an exceedingly valuable food.
- Fresh pineapple is high in vitamin C to fight off colds. Its bromelain also gets rid of the mucous that hangs out with colds and sinus problems.
To get you started with this wonderful food, here’s a pineapple recipe that’s been making the rounds on Pinterest
lately. No wonder. It’s really… pinteresting :).
- 1 pineapple peeled (and cored if you want… but know that the core fruit has the most nutrients)
- 1/2 sweet onion (like Vidalia)
- 1/4 cup chopped cilantro (a big fistful)
- 2 jalapeno peppers (or to taste)
- juice from one lime
- salt and pepper
The hardest part about this recipe is the chopping. You need to chop up the pineapple, red onion, cilantro and jalapenos. Do this by hand for a chunky salsa, or put it in your food processor if you like a more soupy variation (and are rushed for time). Next, transfer to a serving bowl and squeeze the juice out of one lime and season with salt and pepper.
If you don’t like foods too hot, leave out the seeds from the jalepenos and reduce the amount. But don’t leave the peppers out entirely. A little spiciness revs up your metabolism and galvanizes your taste buds. You won’t need nearly as much salt… And that’s a good thing.
That’s it. You’re done!
Enjoy your pineapple salsa as a side dish for barbecued salmon, tuna, or halibut. Or use it as dip for lime corn chips. I especially like the ones made from blue corn! Or even more wicked, you can try it with dried banana chips.
Pineapple is easy to get along with. Here are a few other pineapple friends to bring together for a tasty party.
- Combine diced pineapple with chopped shrimp, grated ginger and a little olive oil. Season to taste and serve this fragrant shrimp salad on a bed of spinach.
- Drizzle maple syrup on pineapple slices and broil until brown. Serve plain or with a dab of Greek yogurt.
- Serve a mix of chopped pineapple, grated fennel and walnuts as a side dish for chicken.
A fun project
Get your kids to plant the pineapple’s crown in a small pot and put it in some bright sunshine. Grow yourselves a little tropical atmosphere without leaving home. Click on photo from Nothing Right for more instructions.
11 Jun 2013
in children, family, food, health, recipes
Tags: eggs, farming, mushroom, nutrition, omelet, vitamin D
Add light and grow your own vitamin D! Mushrooms are the only item in your produce section that can perform this feat.
Vinny presents a photo-story today, for your viewing pleasure.
A mini mushroom farm arrives in the mail
Slit the plastic, add water and some sunshine, and wait. Mist twice daily to keep it all moist.
Overnight, MAJIC! Look at all those little blue-headed mushroom caps that popped up while we slept :)
In a few days, they’re big enough to eat!
Harvest them, and make yourself a mushroom omelet – mmmm!
Read a story about mushrooms and learn more about their goodness, here.
Order your own mushroom farm (this plug is entirely unsolicited and freely given), here.
Easy Mushroom Omelet
- One bunch of mushrooms from your own mushroom farm (about 8 ounces)
- 1/4 cup chopped onion
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh spinach (if you have it)
- a little sea salt and some pepper (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon canola oil
- 2 tablespoons or so of grated romano or parmesan cheese
- 1 or 2 eggs, lightly whisked
Cook it up
- If your mushrooms are dried out, soak them in enough boiling water to cover for half an hour or so. Then chop them up into pieces the size of your little fingernail.
- Chop up some onion and spinach (if using) into similar-sized pieces.
- To a cast-iron or nonstick frying pan, add the oil. On medium heat saute the onions and mushrooms until they are limp and brown. Throw in the spinach and the cheese, stir and add salt and pepper to taste. Take the mixture out of the frying pan and put it onto a small plate.
- Add a dab more oil to the pan if needed and pour the whisked egg(s) into the hot pan. The eggs should begin to set almost immediately. Spread the mushroom mixture over half the egg. Once it has set completely, use a metal spatula to flip the egg over the mushrooms, then to serve the entire omelet onto your plate.
A breakfast fit for a Faerie Queene
FYI – Vinny’s posting every two weeks, on Tuesdays still, during the summer. Hope you all have a wonderful summer holiday, sampling fresh fruits and veggies from local gardens. YUM!
PS Vinny’s alter ego (Sharon) made her weight loss goal since our last post – 30 pounds gone forever. Thanks, Dr. Moreno, for your helpful science-based advice.
28 May 2013
in family, food, health, recipes, stories
Tags: cancer, heart, mushroom, nutrition, salad
Blue oyster faeries weave a safety net for your heart
The Faerie Queene hung her head. Her heart ached and she knew not what might mend it.
She summoned her trusty knights to her fortress deep in the forest. “Dear Sirs,” she began. “Your mission is to find a way to chase the chill from my blood.”
Sir Woe-be-Gone spoke first. “Rub a paste of mustard and lemon over your neck,” he said. “And get a good night’s sleep.”
Sir Cry-No-Tears piped up next. “Balderdash! What’s needed is a steamy tea, flavored with garlic and thin slices of onion.”
Then a sweet voice sang out above the rest. More
15 May 2013
in children, food, humor, recipes, stories
Tags: baking, carbohydrates, desserts, eggs, Stevia, sugar
Isla inspects our ingredients
I always thought that if a kid can read, he can cook. However, as I get more and more into cooking, I’m learning it ain’t necessarily so. The watchful eye of a parent, or anybody at all who knows what they’re doing, is a wonderful thing.
Now that he’s seven, my pal Will is reading gang-busters. So shouldn’t he be able to cook? Witness this one-act play staged in my kitchen and decide for yourself… More
07 May 2013
in books, family, food, holidays, recipes
Tags: broth, carrots, Mothers Day, nutrition, presentation, shitakes, soup, stock
Thanks, Mom! And just in time for Mother’s Day :)
A few weeks ago Vinny was all excited about turning leftovers usually meant for the garbage into a nutritious soup stock (see Garbage soup). Once you get into the habit, it’s a magical way to feed yourself, body and soul.
Yesterday, though, I read a post from Things my Belly Likes where we’re told how to turn your Cinderella soup stock into a princess. A few of these tricks were new to me. As they all sound so reasonable and delicious, I pass them on here.
- Add cloves – Toss a few of these into the soup pot along with some black peppercorns and the result is a spicy, flavorful broth with extra kick. Cloves are antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and great for the immune system. If you think you’re getting the latest cold/flu bug, then cloves are a must.
- Sprinkle in seaweed – Your thyroid will thank you for that iodine kick you get by adding edible seaweed to the broth. A few strips of dried dulse or kelp to the bones at the start, before it comes to a boil, is all you need. You might not be able to taste it but your thyroid knows it’s there, and it thanks you.
- Vinegar is vital – Vinegar helps leach out all the healthy minerals from the bones. Use about two tablespoons per gallon of broth. Any good vinegar will do so – apple cider, balsamic or even red wine vinegar. Stay away from plain white vinegar, though, because it apparently results in a bitter broth. Lemon and wine, both also acidic, could likely do the job, too.
- Go heavy on the garlic and onions – These veggies are especially important to ward off the cold/flu, because garlic and onion are legendary immune system boosters. Use at least two large white onions and a whole bulb of garlic. Just score the sides of the bulb, smash it a bit and chuck it in.
- Roast the bones – Before making your stock, roast the bones and veggies too in a hot oven for 30 minutes. It heightens the brown color.
There you have it. Wave your wand, throw these tidbits into the cauldron, and simmer up some good health.
As a tasty snack, eat your stock cold out of the fridge while it’s like a jelly. Or use it to make a powerful soup by adding fresh veggies, legumes and other tasties.
Clementine gives up her secrets
But there’s one very special soup I want to share with you here. Remember Clementine in the Kitchen from last week’s post? It was Sharon’s dad’s favorite cookbook ever. She rediscovered it only recently. And hidden among its pages lurked a recipe her mom had clipped from a magazine… a rich soup stock dressed up with shitake mushrooms and chopped spinach. How healthy is that!
But what made this soup Adela’s own was the carrot flowers. Nothing pleased Sharon’s mom more than a pretty presentation. And if the exotic mushrooms didn’t do it, these cutsie flower coins would take this soup out of the ordinary. The crowning touch was a drop of good sherry added at the table. Adela’s dinner parties were always something people looked forward to.
I made Adela’s soup today to see how it holds up, so many years later. I had to update it here and there. The main difference is that I replaced dry shitakes with fresh ones. The fresh ones wouldn’t have been readily available in the 1950s and 60s. But I’m happy to report: it was DELIcious!
Shitakes and flower carrots make this soup special
Vinny makes Adela’s party soup
Shitake mushroom and spinach broth
serves 2 for lunch
- 1 cup rich, homemade beef broth of the type described above [I used the left-overs from yesterday's Hochepot]
- 1 cup water
- 2 ounces (50 grams) shitake mushrooms, brushed clean and finely sliced
- 1 cup fresh spinach, chopped and packed down
- 1 large carrot, scrubbed and left unpeeled
- Dry sherry [or lemon juice for folks who can't drink alcohol]
For carrot flowers - Use the sharp tip of a clean bottle opener to make five grooves lengthwise down the side of the carrot. Then slice the carrot into thin coins to get pretty flower shapes.
In a large saucepan add carrot flowers to the broth and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium. When carrots are tender, about 10 minutes, add the mushrooms and spinach. Cover and cook another 2 minutes. Divide into 2 bowls for lunch or 4 bowls for a dinner appetizer. Add 1 tablespoon dry sherry to each bowl at the table. [I used Madeira, as there was no sherry to be had.]
I was happy with the result. Sharon tasted it and beamed: Thanks, Mom!
Happy Mother’s Day!
Garbage soup – Soup basics: make soup every day from whatever you have in the fridge
01 May 2013
in books, family, food, recipes
Tags: French, meat, oxtail, slow cooking, stew, traditions
Most times we settled for a turkey
I owe my existence to a mining engineer. Without Bill’s passion for food, as well as rare minerals, I wouldn’t be blogging today. It was Bill who took his daughter Sharon, my alter-ego, under his formidable wing and taught her to cook.
Sundays would see Bill in his tiny, lemon-hued 1950s kitchen pouring over one of his many fish-splattered and chocolate-speckled cook books. Sharon was there, too, in her pleated skirt with her blouse hanging out, helping him find the canned pineapple bits, the dented metal flour canister, or the bulbs of golden garlic.
They whipped up savory delicacies like Hawaiian chicken with water chestnuts on a bed of wild rice. Or a hearty, tender slab of beef in a robe of mushrooms, herbs and walnuts, all entombed in flaky pastry.
Clementine in the Kitchen
But their favorite by a long shot was a recipe hidden in a slender, cloth-bound dark turquoise book called Clémentine in the Kitchen. Penned in 1943 by Phineas Beck, the book chronicles the cooking lives of an American family in France in the 1930s, under the loving guidance of their chef Clémentine. When war broke out in Europe in 1939, they upped and returned home, but not without taking Clémentine with them. The chapters read like blog posts… short, homey, and peppered with recipes and drawings. Maybe you can find a copy in the library or on Abe Books? Fun to read and an open window on a dangerous time!
The best of these recipes was Clementine’s Hochepot de Queue de Boeuf. For those of you who don’t speak French, this brings me back to the title of my post. If you’re not so hungry you could eat an ox, I bet you could handle a taste of its tail. Believe me, once you’ve had a few bites, you won’t stop until every last morsel has gone down the red brae (Bill’s expression… throat).
It’s a tail, of course… from a beef cow
Ideally, Bill and Sharon would cook up this ox tail stew over several days. In the 1950s the concept of fast food had yet to arrive! They’d start by soaking the tail joints overnight and would continue in the morning with a slow roast over low heat. The stock was strained, then chilled in the fridge over night. The following day the meat would be dressed, baked again, and served with a flourish.
It was such a treat, that Sharon tried preparing this dish on her own for a party of her friends years later, at university. In a rush, as are most students, she didn’t leave it enough time. Sadly the larger pieces didn’t thank her for it.
If you too would like to try your hand at it, and hopefully arrive at a better result than Sharon did her first time out solo, here’s Clémentine’s recipe. It features simple, fresh ingredients, lovingly prepared.
See the flames? Awesome!
Clémentine’s Hochepot de Queue de Boeuf
[AKA Ox Tail Stew]
Soak an oxtail cut in joints in cool water for at least 2 hours, wipe dry with a clean cloth, and brown in butter with 4 onions and 3 carrots, coarsely chopped. [I’ve been known to dredge them, before browning, in flour seasoned with lots of paprika (¼ cup flour, 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon paprika). Clémentine would shudder at the thought. Give it enough time and flour isn't necessary.]
When the meat is browned add 2 cloves crushed garlic. Cover for 2 min. Add 3 tablespoons of brandy. Light it and let it burn. Add half a bottle dry white wine and enough bouillon so that the meat bathes in liquid. Add pepper and a bouquet garni. Cook slowly, lid off, 3 hours. [I make this dish the day before up to this point. I put the meat into a bowl and store it separately from the stock in the fridge overnight.]
The next day, remove the fat from the stock, then reheat and strain the liquid.
In a casserole, saute in butter a half pound tiny mushrooms, a good handful of diced bacon and a dozen tiny onions, peeled.
Add the meat and the strained and defatted stock to the casserole, just enough to cover. Save the rest for a soup dish another day. Cover and cook for one hour more in a slow oven. The meat should be soft and the sauce unctuous.
Note below that Gourmet Magazine was going strong in 1943. Bon Appétit!
From Clémentine in the Kitchen, by Phineas Beck
Hastings House, Publishers, New York, 1943
Published in cooperation with Gourmet Magazine
Above: Our hochepot after the first day. Below: Dinner on day 2.
Dinner was even more delicious than Sharon remembered. Cooking the dish over 2 days made it effortless. You won’t be sorry you tried it! :)
23 Apr 2013
in family, food, health, recipes
Tags: avocado, fats, nutrition, omega 3 fatty acids, pear, protein, sugar, walnut
The Avocado and the Pear
Short and squat, Miss Comice Pear rolled into his office. “I want you to defend me,” she exclaimed, blushing a rosy red.
The lawyer, whose desk plaque proclaimed him to be the Honorable V. H. Avocado, LL.M., sat back and picked up his pen. “What is the charge?” he asked.
“They say I’m harboring a load of sugar. They accuse me of doing great harm. But it’s not true!” Comice was distraught.
“Calm down,” replied Mr. Avocado. He adjusted his dark green jacket over his rather-rounded middle. “Perhaps if you began from the beginning?”
“Dr. Aitkin was the first to accuse me. He got Dr. Dukan to testify, too. They say I hold too much sugar for a weight-loss diet.” Comice sighed. “Yes, I have some sugar. But it’s mine… naturally! And it adds just a few calories to those that come from my healthy fiber and vitamins.” She smiled. “I do people lots of good.”
“Sounds to me like it’s a case of the good out-shining the bad.” Mr. Avocado nodded. “I’ll take your case. I think we’ll make a good pair!”
The Pretty Comice
Many juicy fruits make excellent choices in a balanced, healthy-eating program. These valuable additions to lean meat and dairy, good fats, and low-starch veggies give your meals variety.
Pears are particularly useful for their whole raft of phytonutrients. Phytonutrients work as antioxidants and anti-inflammatory agents. Pears digest easily and most people are not allergic to them. Their fiber fights cancer (especially of the digestive tract), diabetes, and heart disease. Dr. Moreno (who gave us the 17-day diet) allows two watery fruits a day on his healthy-eating program.
And what makes V.H. Avocado so honorable, you might ask? Isn’t he a little, well, too fatty to be good for our health? How wrong you are. The fats in avocado are of the good variety. Its main kind (oleic acid) protects heart health. It’s also a good source of omega-3 fatty acids. These most desirable inflammation fighters are hard to come by, but they are plentiful in avocados and walnuts. Be sure to include these foods in your balanced diet.
The fats in avocado also feed our brains = an excellent food for kids
And surprise! Avocados are a source of complete protein. You get all 18 amino acids in avocado, a fact vegetarians pay attention to. That’s because most plants only contain some of the essential amino acids muscles need. So vegetarians usually have to mix and match to make sure they get all of them.
Here is a totally delicious recipe that pairs an avocado pear with comice pears. You’re welcome! You’re also welcome to makes substitutions. The recipe contains the healthiest combination of foods I know. But if you don’t have one of the ingredients, make it with another. As long as it’s similar, you can’t go far wrong. If you prefer, add 1 teaspoon maple syrup instead of the stevia I recommend. It adds 10 calories per serving and 2 more grams of sugar.
Leave the skin on the pear and scrape up and eat all the dark green flesh next to the skin of the avocado. That’s where more than 50% of the nutrients hang out.
Avocado stuffed with creamy pears and walnuts
Great for breakfast, lunch, or mid afternoon snack (serves two)
- 1 ripe avocado, halved
- 8 ounces low-fat cottage cheese
- 2 comice pears with skin, cored and chopped
- 2 tablespoons walnuts, chopped
- 1 small shake of stevia (equivalent to 1 teaspoon of sugar), optional
- Cut the avocado in two, lengthwise, and throw away the seed. Leave the flesh in the skin and place each half on its own plate.
- Combine the rest of the ingredients and mound half the cottage cheese mixture into each of the cavities of the two avocado halves. For a creamier version, blend the cottage cheese before mixing.
- Serve with a small spoon to scoop out the avocado’s flesh and enjoy it with the sweet fruity nutty cheese mixture. Be sure to scrape the flesh right down to the skin, to scoop up all the precious nutrients. So good!
Note: For each of two servings: Calories (kcal) 338.2, Fat (g) 20.8 of which 3.3 g is saturated, Sodium (mg) 466.8, Potassium (mg) 715.6<, Carbohydrate (g) 25.5 of which 9.7 g is fiber and 12.1 g is sugar, Protein (g) 17.4, Vitamin A (RAE) 20.4, Vitamin C (mg) 13.6, Calcium (mg) 95.6
On her way out the door, Comice Pear turns and asks,” What does the V. H. on your desk plaque stand for, anyway?”
Her attorney smiles. “Very Healthy, of course!”
Something’s fishy… Boost heart-healthy omega-3 fats with fish. Make salmon two flavor-filled ways.
Mmmm… I . love . turtles! Walnuts are a treasure chest for precious omega-3 fats. Use them with chocolate and dates to make a family favorite.
Creamily-creamless-triple-chocolatey pudding loaded with omega-9 Make a chocolate pudding from avocado or use the mix to ice a cake deliciously!
17 Apr 2013
in family, food, health, recipes
Tags: cabbage, chicken, German, nutrition, probiotics, sauerkraut, traditions, vegetables
Will and Isla carefully chop through mountains of cabbage.
I love to go a-wandering,
Along the mountain track,
And as I go, I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.
“Sing along,” says Vinny, waving his arms furiously in time to the music.
“In the old days,” he went on, “people made their own sauerkraut so they would have veggies to eat during the long winters.Your great grandpappy was a sauerkraut-maker extraordinaire. People came from all over to buy his home-made kraut. Now, we just go to the deli. It comes in jars or cans. I like the Polish kind best myself. But it’s good to keep the old ways alive. Keep chopping!”
“Val-dera-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha,” sings Will at the top of his lungs. Isla just hums, too busy to get involved in the lyrics.
Today we know that the old ways were healthy ways. Sauerkraut is what you get after cabbage is well salted and allowed to rest for a few weeks in a crock, closed off from air. Salt pulls water from the cabbage to make a brine. The little bugs that thrive in this environment are good bacteria. They make the brine acidic, in a process called fermentation. These healthy bugs go by the name probiotics. They work against the bad bacteria in our stomachs to improve digestion.
Many people think the healthy bacteria protect us in many ways… like keeping inflammation in check, reducing allergies, preventing constipation… But the science is still young. Just to be on the safe side, many doctors and nutritionists recommend two servings of probiotic foods a day.
Probiotics are found in fermented foods… like pickles, yogurt, kefir, buttermilk, and, of course, sauerkraut. You can also get probiotics in supplements. But unless you’re taking antibiotics, which wipe out the good bugs along with the bad ones, it’s best to rely on real food for your probiotics.
Sauerkraut is best served raw, because high heat kills all those cute little helpful bacteria. But you still get the nutrients in the cabbage. It’s packed with vitamin C!
Put well-rinsed raw sauerkraut with soft poached eggs in the morning. The meal has a nice tang and makes a satisfying start to the day.
At lunch, sauerkraut makes a tasty addition to salad. But what I like best is putting a big scoop into the bottom of my bowl before pouring hot soup over it. Yummy!
For dinner, Vinny has modified Dr. Mike Morano’s recipe for Bavarian chicken, starring a heap of sauerkraut.
Vinny’s Bavarian chicken
- 2 teaspoons olive oil (optional)
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, finely chopped
- 1 large apple, cored and chopped
- 8 ounces sauerkraut, canned, low sodium, and well rinsed
- 12 medium Brussels sprouts, stemmed and cut in half
- 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 teaspoon caraway seed
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 3/4 cup chicken stock
- 3 chicken breasts or legs, or a small roasting chicken
How to put it together
I like sautéing the onions, ginger, and garlic in my large soup pot to get started, using a bit of oil. But if you don’t want any oil, just skip this step.
Put all the veggies and spices into the pot over medium heat and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
Before you start cooking the veggies, put a small chicken in the oven to roast or prepare three boneless chicken breasts for the barbecue. If the meat is ready first, keep it warm, then serve the chicken on top of the veggies.
Alternatively, poach the chicken breasts in the soup pot, submerged in the liquid. Add the chicken after the liquid has come to a boil. Reduce the heat and allow the meat to cook through, about 20-30 minutes. This method is easier, but I like roasted or grilled chicken better :).
- 2 teaspoons fresh dill weed, chopped
- 2 teaspoons paprika
Paprika boosts metabolism and fresh dill contains vitamins.
This dish is one of my favorites. The stove-top veggies are good with lots of lean meats… tasty even for folks who don’t like cabbage (or Brussels sprouts).
The veggies (per serving): Calories (kcal)100.1, Fat (g) 3.6, Sodium (mg) 377.0, Potassium (mg) 433.1, Fibre (g) 5.1, Vitamin A (RAE) 27.4, Vitamin C (mg) 48.7, Calcium (mg) 60.9, Folate (DFE) 51.4. The chicken: a 6-oz breast has 252 calories and 46 grams of protein.
A German meal is all I need
To make my day complete.
It’s hard to keep account of all
The cabbage that I eat.
17-day diet – An intro to this balanced way of eating, with a list of all the related links on Vinny’s blog.
09 Apr 2013
in children, family, food, health, recipes, stories
Tags: 17-day diet, nutrition, protein, soup, traditions, vegetables
DIY with a different soup every time
On a winter’s night after a long day’s walk, a ragged beggar finds himself in a quiet farming village. He dreams of a warm fire and a hot meal. He knocks on the door of a tidy house. A pair of eyes peer out at him from behind the printed curtain. But no-one opens the door. At the next house a young woman with a crying baby tells him she has nothing to spare. He is even turned away from the Ukrainian church, where a few women are sewing together on a patchwork quilt.
Watching them gives him an idea. “Watch me make a delicious soup with these magic buttons,” he says at the door of the grocery store, pulling three buttons carved from the bones of an ox’s tail off his ratty old coat. More
02 Apr 2013
in food, humor, recipes
Tags: 17-day diet, barbecue, cancer, fats, fish, heart, inflammation, nutrition, omega 3 fatty acids, protein, salmon
If you hate smelling up your kitchen, don’t let that stop you from enjoying the deliciousness of fresh or fresh-frozen fish. Just cook it on the barbecue, outside! It’s easy for every day and delicious enough for any special occasion.
Fish is full of those hard to come by but oh so important omega-3 fatty acids. Why are they important? First, it’s because we can’t manufacture them in our bodies. We have to get them in food. Second, they help prevent the many chronic diseases that plague us these days.
And why do we have such high rates of heart disease, cancer, and arthritis, to name just a few? It’s because our diet provides many more of the other omega fats than it does omega-3. We aim for a ratio of 4:1 or better, for omega-6 versus omega-3 fats. But omega-6 is found in super-high amounts in the cheap vegetable oils the food industry prefers… especially corn oil. If you eat out regularly, for sure you are getting too many omega-6 fats for good health.
Isla makes a herb and oil stuffing for omega-3-rich salmon
The only Westernized society that reaches that goal of 4:1 is the Japanese. They are one of the healthiest populations on the planet despite their incredible love of cigarettes. The population of the United States, and other developed countries where eating out is popular, consume 19 times more omega-6 fatty acids than omega-3. This is the most likely reason we rank poorly in every measured health barometer.
What’s so good about omega-3 and so bad about omega-6? It’s simply that omega-3 prevents inflammation and omega-6 promotes it. The more inflammation, the more trouble your heart has pumping blood through your arteries, the easier it is for cancer to take a hold, and the more likely you will suffer allergies and lung problems.
The moral of this little story is eat more fish. Don’t let the smell keep you from enjoying fish regularly. There’s no need to go to extremes like our hero has done in the photo off the top. Cook your fish on your barbecue, outside. We barbecue winter and summer. Or wrap it in foil and bake it in the oven on high heat.
To get you started, here are two wonderful ways to cook salmon. The Wild West style is good for a large party. Just cut the quantities for a more intimate group. Way #2 is my favorite salmon recipe ever. The flavor of the stuffing infuses throughout and keeps the flesh moist during the cooking process. The only drawback is that the delicious flavor could be too strong for the picky eaters in the family. However, you can give the kids parts of the fish that have not got any little green or red specks on it.
Barbecued Salmon, Wild West style
8-10 lbs whole salmon (serves 20)
Mix the following ingredients together and marinate the salmon in it flesh-side down for 2-6 hours. I put it all in a plastic bag in the fridge Don’t marinate for more than 6 hours as the salmon will toughen:
- ½ cup olive oil
- 2 tablespoons soy sauce
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon freshly ground pepper
- ½ cup rye whiskey
- 2 tablespoons maple syrup (I leave this out if I’m cooking the salmon right on the coals. Sugar causes charring. If wrapping the fish in foil, then leave it in)
On a covered barbecue, cook skin-side down until skin separates, or wrap in heavy foil and place over coals for 45 minutes or so.
Barbecued Salmon, California Style
Salmon fillet large enough for 4 people (perhaps 2 pounds)
Puree the following ingredients. You can make this ahead and store in a jar in the fridge overnight:
- 3-5 large garlic cloves
- 1/4 cup fresh dill leaves (about 30 grams)
- 6 sun-dried tomatoes (about 1/3 cup or 15 grams), reconstituted in hot water
- 1/4 – ½ tsp salt, or to taste
- ground pepper to taste
- 1/4 cup olive oil
Place salmon skin-side down on a large piece of greased foil.
With a sharp knife cut two long slits lengthwise along the fillet, slicing to the skin but not through it, dividing the salmon into three.
Spread the garlic mixture over the fish and into the slits.
Close foil and cook for 15-25 minutes, depending on size (see the 10-minute rule, below). Fish should taste moist, not dry.
1) Use fresh cilantro or parsley leaves instead of dill if you prefer.
2) Some health advocates say don’t use olive oil in cooking, as the fats can be denatured. Macadamia nut oil is expensive but has lots of omega-3 compared with omega-6 and withstands heat. It is a healthful choice.
The 10-minute rule for cooking fish
Measure the fish at its thickest point and cook it for 10 minutes per inch, turning halfway through the cooking time. Add 5 minutes if you’re cooking in foil.
26 Mar 2013
in family, food, health, holidays, humor, recipes, stories
Tags: 17-day diet, breakfast, carbohydrates, eggs, minerals, nutrition, presentation, protein, vegetables, vitamins
Humpty on the half shell
“What experiments are we doing, today, Vinny?’ asks Will, poking his head into my basket of vegs.
“SO many ways to cook eggs for breakfast,” says Vinny with glee. “We’re going to try three fast ones.”
Way #1 (Humpty Dumpty on the half shell)
“For the most fun,” continues Vinny, “We’ll start with Humpty scrambled right inside his own shell.”
“Who says Humpty was an egg?” asks Isla.
Spin 3 minutes
“What else could he be?” Vinny scratches his head. “He fell off a wall and got scrambled. Just like our eggs. Once we’re through with these beauties, nobody will be able to put them back together again!”
We select a small beet from the basket, scrub it, cut it into bits and put it into a small pot of water on the stove. Then we drop an egg into the toe of Grammy’s panty hose. We race around the house spinning the egg in front of us until we’re flat out of breath.
We also spin another egg relentlessly in our salad spinner for a couple of minutes. But this isn’t nearly as much fun or as good an exercise. (Plus, it doesn’t work.)
Then we tenderly place the eggs in the beet water and bring it all to a gentle boil. After 8 minutes, we move the eggs to a cold-water bath.
To serve, slice the eggs in half and pair them with whole-grain toast. Ta Da! Spreading the scrambly egg on the warm, crunchy toast… it’s an exciting Easter treat indeed! Brighten with a touch of horseradish and some of the chopped red beets if you want more oomph. You need to soak the eggs much longer than we did to get the red to seep into the shell.
Way #2 (Microwaved)
Microwaved eggs in a hummus bed
“I don’t have time to cook eggs in the morning,” claims Will and Isla’s mom, as she rushes around organizing lunch boxes, homework, and snowsuits while the clock ticks persistently toward 8:30am.
“But you have to eat something before you go to work,” says Vinny. “And the kids will do better at school with a little protein behind them. My eggs take no more than 2 minutes to cook.” Vinny grins. “I use the micro!”
Vinny finds a small, deep bowl and puts 1/4 cup beet hummus in the bottom. He zaps it for 30 seconds on high. Then he digs a small hole and breaks an egg into the hummus. He covers the dish with a plate and sets the power at 7 and the timer for 1 minute. Some 60 seconds later, we’re ready to dig into a creamy egg poached in hummus. Time varies depending on the oven and how you like your egg. I like my hummus spicy. I also like to serve this dish topped with some Greek yogurt and ground black pepper.
For variation, fill the bottom of the bowl with salsa or sauerkraut or with any other left-over cooked veggies you have in the fridge. Roasted broccoli or cauliflower is nice. It’s the technique I’m pushing here… easy and full of possibilities for a protein- and vitamin-packed start to your day.
Way#3 (Pan-poached with spinach and mushrooms)
Use a cast iron fry pan or a nonstick fryer to whip up another easy eggs-and-veggie dish. Vinny’s weekend breakfast treat uses a cup or two of rinsed baby spinach and three or four mushrooms, cleaned and sliced.
Lightly coat the fry pan with canola oil. Stir fry mushrooms until they start to brown. Add a half teaspoon of chili paste and stir. Add the washed spinach and cover.
When the leaves wilt, arrange veggies in a circle and make a hole in the centre. Add another small amount of oil. Break an egg into the hole and cover the pan. After a minute or so add a splash of water to the hot pan and cover again. Check once the steam has subsided. Add more water if the egg needs more cooking. Let it all evaporate. Take the whole works out with a spatula and place on a pretty plate. Enjoy.
For a change, try sauteing leeks and mushrooms. Or steam up some broccoli slaw for your egg nest. Top the egg with a spoonful of Greek yogurt or sauerkraut.
Pan-poached eggs with leeks
Breakfast Health Benefits
These egg dishes are perfect if you are looking for high-protein low-carb breakfasts. Perhaps, like me, you’re following Dr. Morano’s 17-day diet? I’ve been eating eggs done ways 2 and 3 for 2 months. I now boast a healthy BMI and resolve to keep it there!
Eggs contain a lot of cholesterol, but dietary cholesterol is not as bad for your heart as originally thought. You can safely eat an egg a day. In return you get a large dose of protein and selenium and a goodly amount of riboflavin, vitamin B12 and phosphorus. Egg’s choline helps protect your memory. The veggies provide balance and a host of vitamins and minerals. And the yogurt and sauerkraut provide probiotics for better digestion. The hot sauce gives your metabolism a boost first thing in the morning, a good thing for weight control. These breakfasts kick butt!
If you need more than one egg to take you through the morning, boost the number of egg whites.
Egg microwaved on a bed of roasted veg
It’s a riddle, by the way. You’re supposed to guess what Humpty is. We can thank Alice (of Through the Looking Glass fame) for the answer… It’s an egg. Humpty’s VERY provoked.
The 17-day diet, starring Dr. Mike Morano – An introduction to this balanced and effective eating plan. Follow the many related links here to recipes, theory and nutrition.