Saturday, September 22, 2007

Are animal fats unhealthy?

Rose has asked about toxins in animal fats. She has heard that you should avoid consuming them because that's where any toxins would be stored. I still haven't had time to find out about this, but I always thought it was the gizzards that would have that problem.

Of course with clean animals, raised organically, it probably wouldn't matter, but we can't always be certain about that.

Does anyone else know or can direct me to a source?

All I have to contribute to the discussion is this quote,

Between 1910 and 1980 many changes took place to the kinds and amounts of fats and oils that people ate...Fats and oils (shortening, margarine, refined salad and cooking oils) account for 57%, dairy products account for 7%, and meat, poultry, and fish account for 31% of the total increase in our fat consumption. The average intake of trans-fatty acids in hydrogenated products rose from zero in 1910 to close to 10% of all fats we consume today... Our use of butter declined to 1/5 of its 1910 level, while our use of margarine increases 9 times. The use of lard went down to about 1/5 of its former level, while the use of vegetable shortenings almost doubled in the same time span...Our annual consumption of sugar rose from 15 pounds per person in 1815 to about 90 pounds in 1910, about 120 pounds in 1980 and about 135 pounds today. Cholesterol intake from foods has remained essentially constant during the last 70 years... consumption of linoleic acid (18:2w6) increased by 170%. The consumption of w3s (LNA, EPA, DHA) decreased to 1/6 of its level in 1850, while w6 (LA, AA) consumption doubled during that time, resulting in widespread w3 deficiency and serious w3:w6 imbalance. Udo Erasmus Fats the Heal, Fats that Kill

chorizo, now with chicken

"Don't ask, just eat it."

I was sitting in a friend's RV near the beach in San Diego. He was making us breakfast. Chorizo and eggs, and warm flour tortillas. Chorizo is a spicy Mexican sausage that he squeezed from it's skin and cooked up like farmers sausage along with the eggs. It's a favorite breakfast in these parts. But you REALLY don't want to know what's in it. I have heard murmured references to rat droppings voiced around however.

Eating such tasty food, and having a cross cultural experience should be exciting, but perhaps not that exciting. That's what the folks at Trader Joe's seem to think. They have come out with their own version of Chorizo. It's made from chicken, tastes like the real thing, and you can enjoy it without worrying about the rat droppings. So go and try some today. Add eggs and soft warm tortillas and pretend you're on a beach somewhere warm watching the sun rise. At least, that's what I'd do.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Supersize it-American portions sizes are out of control

Indulge me a bit while I rant about portion sizes. Last week was at the store still at 6pm when we like to eat dinner. (Using my coupon to buy 20 lbs of chicken at $0.49 a lb if you must know, and I'm going back tomorrow for another 40lbs and then I won't have to buy chicken for at least two months I expect, maybe longer. I shop the sales and then stock up, it's cheaper.) Anyway, I was feeling very behind and needed to think about dinner for the kids and I. Between the grocery store and home on the route that we walk is a Wendy's, and a Boston Market. (The cheapest thing would have been to turn around and walk back into the store to purchase one of their rotisserie chickens for $6 or so. But I didn't feel like dragging my children all the way to the back of the store and then go through the checkout all over again. But I digress. I went for Boston Market. I figured home style meals with fresh ingredients and things like green beans and mashed potatoes on the menu was a better option than cheeseburgers.

I bought 1/2 of a rotisserie chicken and two sides. While I waited for them to dish up my order I happened to glance at the menu and realized that I had just ordered from the individual meals menu. I worried about there being enough for dinner. Well, when I brought it home and put it all on one of my large serving dishes it filled the dish quite nicely. There was enough food there for me and my children and I still have some leftover chicken in my fridge that we didn't eat.

Which leads to my conclusion, as mentioned in the title.

My in-laws are sometimes this way about dessert. I say I can bring some brownies or make some cookies and they respond, "Okay, we'll get some ice cream and make some fudge sauce too so that there is enough for everyone." Granted there are many teenage boys at that house but I didn't know that dessert came in meal sized portions. It seems to my way of thinking that dessert is for taste and that two cookies or one large brownie is plenty.

Portion sizes are out of control, and so are waistlines, in direct proportion I'll venture. Why are we so afraid of being hungry? We've all done it. We stand in line at a fast food restaurant and we place our order, and then we think to ourselves, "Oh I'll just get some fries too in case I'm still hungry after the burger." Of course we eat all of the fries too, even though we weren't really hungry after all. Healthy eating experts say that we should only eat until we stop feeling hungry, not until we feel stuffed. Most of us don't feel satisfied enough to stop at not hungry. We have trained ourselves and our bodies to need to feel full before it clicks that we are finished eating. Friends, this is MESSED UP! It has to stop.

So I offer a few ideas that help me to rearrange my thinking and how I feel about how much I'm eating. I slip back into this pattern of eating from time to time and these usually work for me.

1.) Remind yourself that it's only one meal, there will be more. So you think you have room to stuff another little bit into your body before you're finished lunch. Dinner is only 5 hours away or so. You don't feel hungry right now, and you don't feel heavy, you can last 5 hours until you eat again. THIS IS NOT YOUR LAST MEAL EVER! YOU WILL BE HUNGRY AGAIN, AND YOU WILL EAT AGAIN! It's that simple. Stop acting like you need to stock up for later or your body will too and you will start to look like a refrigerator.

2.) This is stolen directly from French Women Don't Get Fat (see side bar) ask yourself if you can be satisfied with half of what's on your plate. Put the other half in a doggy bag if you are out or discard it. I've read about people pouring salt all over their leftovers so they aren't tempted to keep eating. I just ask them to take it away as soon as I'm done and take the rest home for later, or for my kids. (I hate to waste food.)

3.) Use a smaller plate. You will eat less and feel satisfied. Or put your food artfully in the very center of the plate and be sure to leave a wide margin around the perimeter.

4.) Use tiny pretty dishes for dessert. This works amazingly well. I have some lovely little bowls that I use for dessert. One tiny scoop of ice cream and a cookie or piece of fruit and it is full. It takes me just as long to eat as a large bowl because I unconsciously go slower and savor it more. My children are learning along with me that desert is just a taste of something yummy as a finish to a meal, not a meal in itself. It's now completely normal for me to eat just a little bit, instead of a giant bowl. I do the same for my husband. If he wants more he can get more later, but when I get dessert for him I give him a small portion. I've noticed since I started that he goes back for seconds less and less frequently, and so now I make it a point to offer to get things for him and I give him what I think is a reasonable portion.

5.) What's your hurry? Eating is not a race. Slow down and enjoy your food. You will feel satisfied sooner with less, simply because you were mindful of your meal. If you have a toddler, most of whom are notoriously slow eaters, try one day matching your eating speed to theirs, just to change your perception and reset your habits. You will find you're not as hungry as you thought.

6.) When you are finished eating get up and do something else to signal to yourself that the meal is definitely over. Brush your teeth, clear the table, have a cup of tea, whatever works for you. This will keep you from continuing to eat when it's time to stop.

Try doing these for a month or two and you will be surprised to find out how much food you were eating that your body didn't really need. You'll feel lighter, have more energy, and your clothes may even fit better. Go on give it a try, and then come back and tell me how it worked.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Rosh Hashanna Dish

If you celebrate Rosh Hashanna, you're probably Jewish, but you may also be wondering what can I do with carrots and honey again this year that will taste good. If that is the case go and check out my recipe for Honey Ginger Glazed Carrots.

If your don't keep Rosh Hashanna check it out anyway, because it's tasty.

And in case you are wondering Rosh Hashanna is the feast day that celebrates the religious New Year, the creation of the world and ushers in the 10 days of Awe, among other things.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making Biscuits the Old Fashioned Frugal Way

(First for my British readers, sorry I don't mean cookies, I mean the scone dumpling type things that we here in the New World refer to as biscuits.)
Have you ever saved the fat from your cooking to make somethings else? Bacon drippings to cook eggs in for days, beef fat, chicken drippings? Not that long ago oil was too expensive for most people to buy and so they gleaned the fat the they used to cook from what they already had on hand. My mom did this while I was young and today I am going to pass this on to you.

Like all of my recipes, this one started as something else entirely. A few days before this I roasted a chicken in a crockpot. I made a rack out of potatoes, so what I really did was put a few potatoes underneath the chicken in the pot so that it wouldn't sit in the drippings. I put the chicken on top of them and rubbed it with butter and sea salt and ground pepper and fresh rosemary leaves. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, it was very tender and it actually turned a nice golden color. I cooked it on low for several hours. When it was ready there was all of this really ice broth in the bottom of the crockpot, and the butter and fat had been rendered as well. I chose not to make gravy and instead returned the uneaten chicken to the pot with some more water and cooked it overnight to make more broth. Then I strained the broth and picked all the meat from the bones. At this point I ladled all of the fat that I could skim from the top of the broth into a small bowl that I put in the fridge. Don't worry if you get some broth mixed in as well, it will separate after it cools.

Then I made soup.


I added all the leftovers I had in my fridge. I had corn and brown beans and some chicken and basil sausage that I sliced and browned and added at the end. There was barley in there as well. And it lasted for two meals. For the first we had leftover bread from something else to go with the soup. Two days later I pulled it out again to serve for dinner and also pulled out the skimmed fat.


I put about 2 1/2 cups of flour in the bowl, 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch or two of salt. I stirred it all together and added the fat from the bowl it comes out easily in one piece and cut it in like you would lard. until it was all evenly distributed. It comes out looking coarse and grainy but my picture of that is really dark. Those little bits in the fat are rosemary leaves from the chicken which added a really nice layer of flavor.

See how there is broth left at the bottom of the bowl, I just put that back in the soup.


Then I added about one cup of warm water. Only add it a little bit at a time until it looks like this. If you add it all at once you may end up with too much and a wet dough.

Then I shaped then with my fingers on a nonstick pan and cooked them at 350 for about half an hour, shorter if you make yours smaller than mine.
ready for the oven

And there you have it, a better tasting less expensive way to make biscuits.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

Summer Wrap Up

Wow, where did the summer go, and where did I go? It's already September and that little happy face has been up here quite long enough. I spent most of the month in the pool with my little people who impress me daily with how well they can swim compared to the beginning of summer. I have been taking advantage of it to get some exercise in this very uncomfortable heat wave you may have heard about. I can't swim because I have to keep people from drowning and hold a baby, but I can jog from one end of the pool to the other, and do leg lifts and jumping jacks in the water while holding the baby and it's a pretty good workout, and the bonus is that I don't feel all hot an sweaty while doing it.

I've also been at some very yummy and impressive food get togethers and I was really going to tell you all about it, was summer ya know. And I'm a perfectionist I wanted to do it in order with pictures so I never ended up doing it at all. (Banging forehead with hammer._


So I have this little problem that I run into from time to time. I start thinking that there are so many other food blogs out there, and so many other people who have been at this longer than I and who do a great job that i wonder why I bother. I realize that this is silly, and that the more people who talk about healthy food the more people will hear it, and that different voices are needed to get the message out, but I do feel discouraged every so often. Instead, I've decided that when I find something really cool I get to tell y'all about it and be happy that I'm not a lonely voice in the wilderness. Okay, enough of the narcissistic babbling, on to food.

Do you know how to revive wilted lettuce and other greens? Lots of times lettuce will go limp before we can use it, but it's not rotten or dry yet. I put it in a bowl of cold water and put it back into the fridge for a while, usually that's all it takes for it to get nice and crispy again, and then I use it right away.

I have some posts up at my hub page like How to make Red Bean Popsicles at Home and Honey Ginger Glazed Carrots
Make Frozen Yogurt at Home sugar free of course
Thai Salad Rolls
Tom Yum Kung Thai lime and shrimp soup
and my favorite new cookie invention Delicious Almond Coconut and Jam Cookies

So you have something to read.
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