Category: Recipes

Compare Brazil’s dietary guidelines to the USDA’s

As anyone who has read Marion Nestle’s Food Politics or Michael Pollan’s In Defense of Food knows, the US Department of Agriculture’s attempts to issue dietary advice have always been haunted by industry influence and a reductionist vision of nutrition science. The department finally ditched its silly pyramids a few years ago, but its guidelines remain vague and arbitrary (for example, how does dairy merit inclusion as one of five food groups?).

In Brazil, a hotbed of sound progressive nutritional thinking, the Ministry of Health has proven that governmental dietary advice need not be delivered in timid, industry-palatable bureaucratese. Check out its plain-spoken, unimpeachable, and down-right industry-hostile new guidelines (hat tip Marion Nestle):

1. Make natural or minimally processed foods the basis of your diet

2. Use oils, fats, salt, and sugar in small amounts when seasoning and cooking natural or minimally processed foods and to create culinary preparations

3. Limit consumption of processed foods

4. Avoid consumption of ultra-processed products

5. Eat regularly and carefully in appropriate environments and, whenever possible, in company

6. Shop in places that offer a variety of natural or minimally processed foods

7. Develop, exercise and share culinary skills

8. Plan your time to make food and eating important in your life

9. Out of home, prefer places that serve freshly made meals

10. Be wary of food advertising and marketing

I’ve survived several generations of the USDA Food Pyramid-scheme mostly by ignoring it. Fortunately, half my cultural heritage is Italian and what folks call the Mediterranean Diet, nowadays is what I was brought up with. Only we called it cooking like Grandma.

Whether it’s Mario Batali or Lidia Bastianich, examples of the real deal are available from these and many other exponents of Mediterranean food. Try it. And as ever – in moderation.

About these ads

From the pages of IMPROBABLE RESEARCH

$_12

Dr. Pravin Jaiprakash Gupta, MS, FICS, FAIS, FASCRS, FACS of the Fine Morning Hospital and Research Center, Laxminagar, Nagpur, India, presents, in the journal Digestive Surgery, Vol. 24, No. 5, 2007, a paper entitled : Red Hot Chilli Consumption Is Harmful in Patients Operated for Anal Fissure – A Randomized, Double-Blind, Controlled Study.

“Patients were randomly assigned to receive analgesics and fiber supplement alone (control patients) or consumption of 1.5 g chilli powder twice daily along with identical fiber and analgesics (chilli group). “

“Conclusion: This study shows that consumption of red chillies after anal fissure surgery should be forbidden to avoid postoperative symptoms.”

Note: Dr. Gupta is also known for his invention — “A surgical device which is called as radiowave gun handle was named after him as ‘Pravin Gupta Procto Gun’ by the famous USA company Ellman International Inc.”

Anyone living where the state question is “red or green?” knows the answer to this study well in advance. You only have to make a mistake like this once to remember the result for the rest of your life.

Note: Everyone in New Mexico has their personal favorites. The illustration at right is mine. Try it on a sandwich of leftover roast pork for a breakfast treat.

Monday morning reminiscence of Italy over breakfast


Click to enlarge source

A gentle rain, this morning. One of the delights of monsoon season, sometimes, in high desert country. Sunrise shining through the rain. Felt and smelled like nothing but my Italian grandparents’ farm in New York state – or Tuscany, which never got so cold in the winter.

My notes about a morning in Bivigliano are over at my friend Om Malik’s personal blog. The link is behind the photo above, taken in his vacation, the R&R he’s still immersed in – in Tuscany.

And Monday breakfast often depends on leftovers. I ate just a tad extra of my wife’s pork stew, yesterday; so no meat in the most important meal of the day – yet. Only my second cup of coffee with a touch of cinnamon in the brew, dark roast and strong as usual.

I’d baked a couple of long slender loaves of Italian bread, last week, instead of the usual boule. A quarter whole wheat, three-quarters unbleached white flour per usual. I turned one into broccoli bread the way the maestro did it at the Grand Bakery in my old Fairhaven neighborhood. I stuffed the loaf with steamed broccoli, minced garlic lightly sauteed in e.v. olive oil, dried red chile fragments.

The two heels of that loaf remained from the weekend. So, I split them, leaving a little broccoli in each piece. Toasted them till the sharp edges of the bread were just turning brown. Rubbed the stiff crust with a clove of garlic and brushed each surface with more of my favorite Sicilian extra virgin olive oil, and just a few grains of Malden sea salt.

Sat down with my coffee and Paul Desmond on Pandora streaming. “So long, Frank Lloyd Wright”.

The rain should stop, soon. Sheila’s a true New Mexico dog and won’t come outside for a walk with me until it does.

Offer vegetables early, often, to toddlers and healthy eating becomes a habit


Broccoli is still my favorite – steamed then sauteed in olive oil and garlic

Children can learn to eat new vegetables if they are introduced regularly before the age of two, suggests a University of Leeds study.

Even fussy eaters can be encouraged to eat more greens if they are offered them five to 10 times, it found.

The research team gave artichoke puree to 332 children aged between four and 38 months from the UK, France and Denmark…One in five cleared their plates while 40% learned to like artichoke.

The study also dispelled the popular myth that vegetable tastes need to be masked in order for children to eat them…During the study, each child was given between five and 10 servings of at least 100g of artichoke puree…The puree was either served straight, or sweetened with added sugar, or vegetable oil was mixed into the puree to add energy.

The researchers found there was little difference in the amount eaten over time between those who were fed the basic puree and those who had the sweetened one, suggesting that making vegetables sweeter does not encourage children to eat more…

Overall, they did find that younger children ate more artichoke than older children in the study…Prof Marion Hetherington, study author from the Institute of Psychological Sciences at Leeds, said this was because children become picky and wary at a certain age.

“If they are under two they will eat new vegetables because they tend to be willing and open to new experiences…After 24 months, children become reluctant to try new things and start to reject foods – even those they previously liked…”

Prof Hetherington said her research, which is published in the journal PLOS ONE and funded by the EU, offered some valuable guidance to parents who want to encourage healthy diets in their children.

“If you want to encourage your children to eat vegetables, make sure you start early and often…Even if your child is fussy or does not like veggies, our study shows that five to 10 exposures will do the trick.”

There’s part of the skill. Parents have to know better before they can teach their children to eat better, healthier diets. Cripes, just reading this reminds me of what my mom did. She tried my sister and me on a range of green veggies and – in addition to traditional Italian salads – she simply let us choose which of the several veg she offered during those earliest years – as long as we chose one or more to be our own.

It meant she always was left with preparing twice as many choices for a meal – because damned if my sister and I would choose the same thing. We wouldn’t even pick the same ice cream for a treat walking home from our Friday night treat at the neighborhood movie house.

Whey beneficially affects diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors in obese adults Eat cheese!

Gervais, cheese, wine

New evidence shores up findings that whey protein, which is found in milk and cheese, could have health benefits for people who are obese and do not yet have diabetes. The study, which appears in ACS’ Journal of Proteome Research, examined how different protein sources affect metabolism.

Lars O. Dragsted, Kjeld Hermansen and colleagues point out that obesity continues to be a major public health problem worldwide. In the U.S. alone, about 35 percent of adults and about 17 percent of children are obese, a condition that can lead to a number of health issues, including cardiovascular disease and type-2 diabetes. One risk factor for cardiovascular disease in people who are obese is high levels of fat in their blood after meals. But recent research has found that these levels partly depend on the kind of protein included in the meal. Studies have suggested that whey protein can lower the amount of fat and increase insulin, which clears glucose in the blood, keeping sugar levels where they’re supposed to be. But the details on whey’s effects were still vague, so the team took a closer look.

They gave volunteers who were obese and non-diabetic the same meal of soup and bread plus one kind of protein, either from whey, gluten, casein (another milk protein) or cod. The scientists found that the meal supplemented with whey caused the subjects’ stomachs to empty slower than the others’. These subjects also had lower levels of fatty acids in their blood after meals but higher amounts of the specific types of amino acids that boost insulin levels.

No doubt there will be both more specific – and broader – schemes of research following on from this work. If anything, this speaks directly to the Mediterranean Diet once again. I would especially recommend boiled milk cheeses like mozzarella, scamorze and ricotta.

But, those are just my Italian genes speaking. :)

Don’t throw out sprouting garlic — it has heart-healthy antioxidants

“Sprouted” garlic — old garlic bulbs with bright green shoots emerging from the cloves — is considered to be past its prime and usually ends up in the garbage can. But scientists are reporting in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry that this type of garlic has even more heart-healthy antioxidant activity than its fresher counterparts.

Jong-Sang Kim and colleagues note that people have used garlic for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. Today, people still celebrate its healthful benefits. Eating garlic or taking garlic supplements is touted as a natural way to reduce cholesterol levels, blood pressure and heart disease risk. It even may boost the immune system and help fight cancer. But those benefits are for fresh, raw garlic.

Sprouted garlic has received much less attention. When seedlings grow into green plants, they make many new compounds, including those that protect the young plant against pathogens. Kim’s group reasoned that the same thing might be happening when green shoots grow from old heads of garlic. Other studies have shown that sprouted beans and grains have increased antioxidant activity, so the team set out to see if the same is true for garlic.

They found that garlic sprouted for five days had higher antioxidant activity than fresher, younger bulbs, and it had different metabolites, suggesting that it also makes different substances. Extracts from this garlic even protected cells in a laboratory dish from certain types of damage. “Therefore, sprouting may be a useful way to improve the antioxidant potential of garlic,” they conclude.

Our Celtic cousins in Basque country often take individual sprouted garlic cloves and replant them. When they’ve developed to comparable to a decent green onion they brush them with a wee bit of olive oil, char the outside on a hot grill and serve them with more oil seasoned with crushed garlic, red chiles, whatever your heart desires.

Yes, they are delicious. Served occasionally here at Lot 4.

Thanks, Mike

The future of breakfast printing technology

Breakfast lovers prepare to be amazed- everyone’s favorite breakfast food the pancake just got a technological upgrade. It’s called the PancakeBot, but it might as well be called the food printer we never knew we wanted so badly.

The Pancakebot works much like a 3D printer, drawing intricately designed pancakes out onto the skillet and making your dream of eating pancakes shaped like stuff come true!

This mealtime marvel was created by designer Miguel Valenzuela, who used LEGO blocks to create his initial prototype, which was subsequently replaced by “an acrylic body, an Arduino Mega, and two Adafruit Motor Shields as well as a few odds and ends like a vacuum pump for batter control.”

Coming soon to an IHOP near you [in your dreams].

Thanks, Ursarodinia

Three cheers for the Chicken Lady



A Florida woman has been taking advantage of a guarantee that the Publix grocery store chain makes to its customers and has scored herself more than 300 free rotisserie chickens in the last year.

Janet Feldman is able to use the “Publix Promise” policy to get the chickens for free because their actual weights don’t match their labels.

When the 57-year-old finds an underweight bird, she simply lets the store manager know and gets the chicken for free.

“I’m known as the Chicken Lady,” Feldman said…“I could pick them blindfolded. I haven’t paid for chicken in almost a year.”

She doesn’t actually eat the chickens herself and instead donates them to animal rescue organizations who feed them to hungry cats and dogs

Publix has pledged that they are going to fix the problem with the labels.

When I lived in a public housing project in Bridgeport, one year the nearest chain store that specialized in ripoff pricing in low income neighborhoods – did a deal at all their stores offering double your money back if your Thanksgiving turkey wasn’t the best you’d ever eaten.

Lots of happy folks in that project the day after Thanksgiving. We all enjoyed the birds we cooked; but, would you be surprised to find out they weren’t the very best anyone had ever prepared for the holiday?