Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food. ~Hippocrates

Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

BBQ Season is Here. Grill Vegetables to Reduce Cancer Risk.


From the Washington Post

https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/evidence-grows-linking-grilled-meat-and-cancer-but-you-can-lower-the-risk/2017/06/02/f946078c-4549-11e7-a196-a1bb629f64cb_story.html?utm_term=.d12905c6ff81&wpisrc=nl_headlines&wpmm=1

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Food, Glorious Food


So it seems there is a rash of food-related movies (a rash meaning 2 in one week). Since the big “foodie” movement, food is on the minds of average people, in a big way. With 24 hour Food Channel programming, gourmet and specialty foods, “slow” food, organic gardening, etc., it’s hard not to be affected by it.

So I went to see “The 100 Foot Journey,: which is a wonderful and uplifting movie with many themes. It features food, but only as a metaphor for relationships, overcoming bigotry, recognizing and helping a talented person, and the requisite love story thrown in for good measure. And no one is a better chameleon than Helen Mirren, who plays the female lead.

So the food itself was incidental to the story, but was handled with great artistry. I loved the sensual preparation of the food and the real life situations that it inspired.

Another movie, seemingly coming out of nowhere, was “Food.” It was released months ago but I saw no publicity, nor was it playing anywhere until this past week. So of course, I went to see it. Another great story NOT about food, but using it as a backdrop for the multiple themes of the movie. The story line was about relationships: between a boy and his father, a man and his (amicably divorced ex-wife), a man in search of his passion, friendship, loyalty and reconciliation.

Still, the visuals of the food made me hungry. I could almost taste it. I could feel the chef’s passion come through in his loving preparation of a grilled cheese sandwich. And it didn’t hurt to see how food brought so many people together and delivered a happy ending.

Bon Appetit!

Processed Foods and Relationship to Disease


My “food hero,” Michael Pollan gives a compelling speech about the dangers of cooking and the processing of food. Pesticides, GMOs, and processing methods of prepared foods are contributing to the increase in disease.

It boils down to eating food as close to its natural state, and cooking the food yourself.

And he provides a realistic way to make it happen.

Listen up!

http://www.collective-evolution.com/2014/04/13/watch-this-video-youll-never-eat-mcdonalds-french-fries-again/

Faux Aged Modena Vinegar


OK, I admit it. I have become addicted to aged vinegar. And when you need a lot of something that is expensive, you need to look for alternatives. I searched for “faux” aged vinegar and found a good number of sites, many of them with the same recipe. So I set out to experiment.

Having tried in the past to reduce vinegar, my big takeaway was that you DO NOT do this in the house. Your lungs and eyes will sting and you will choke from the acid in the air. I am not kidding about this. Do it outside. I went and bought a $15 single burner that I could use outside on the deck (a good investment since one good bottle of aged vinegar easily goes for $35 and up).

The first recipe had to boil for awhile to reduce it. I left it unattended and it seized, like candy when it exceeds the perfect temperature. I threw away the pot and tried  another recipe, this time attending to it as it boiled. It wasn’t quite right. So I adjusted a bit until I found what I considered very passable “aged” vinegar, for the price – less than $5.00. for 8 oz.

Don’t be put off by the sugar, as I initially was. As vinegar ages, the natural sugars emerge and it is indeed sweet. So try it and let me know how you like it.

Ingredients:

1 cup inexpensive Modena vinegar. I like Trader Joe’s in the 33.8 oz jug. $3.50
4 oz. inexpensive port wine
3 Tbs. packed light brown sugar
3 Tbs. Turbinado sugar

Directions:

Combine the vinegar and port wine in a stainless steel pot. Bring to a medium boil.  Let it boil for 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add sugars, stir to dissolve and continue boiling . Watch it closely and stir continuously, for another 4 minutes.

Remove from heat, let cool and enjoy!

*If you want it a bit thicker, boil it longer, but before you add the sugar.

You can add an essence like blueberry. Wash and thoroughly dry the fruit and add it for the first boil. Strain the mix prior to adding the sugar and continue boiling as above. You can reduce the sugar slightly when adding sweet fruit.

Grilled Japanese Eggplant


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I needed a side dish to bring to a party and had all these cute little eggplants from the farmer’s market. “What to do with them?” I thought. Well I figured making an Asian inspired dish would fit the bill, and I would feel good about bringing a healthy dish.

The eggplant is a nutritional winner. Low in calories and fat, rich in fiber, it has a low glycemic index, contains many essential vitamins and minerals and is high in antioxidants. These properties are effective in helping to control cholesterol ,  sodium and the inflammatory processes that are harmful to our bodies.

And now, the recipe . . . . . .

Use the long, skinny, baby eggplants. I used the purple and white striped variety, but any color will do. You do need the thin, baby variety however, as they have no seeds and are ore tender than the mature types.

Ingredients:

12 baby eggplants, washed, stems removed and sliced lengthwise
1/3 cup soy (regular, tamari or reduced sodium)
1/3 cup sherry or port wine
3 TBS sesame oil
1 tsp hot pepper flakes, ground (can substitute another chili-based hot sauce)
4 cloves of finely minced garlic
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
Roasted sesame seeds
Optional: fresh grated ginger (about 2 tsp)

Directions:

Mix the soy sauce, sherry, sesame oil, pepper flakes, garlic, and black pepper and pour into a large , flat pan (a foil-lined cookie sheet is good). Place the eggplant halves in a single layer, into the pan, cut side down. Let them marinate for half an hour on the counter.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees for a convection oven, or 400 for traditional oven.

After half an hour of marinating, pour off the excess marinade into a bowl and set aside. Place the eggplant pieces into the oven and roast for 10 minutes. Turn the eggplant over, cut side up, brush with some leftover marinade and roast for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove the eggplant from the oven and sprinkle roasted sesame seeds on top. This can be served hot or at room temperature.

You can also grill them on the barbecue, but use one of those mesh grill pans or the delicate eggplant will get too mushy and fall through the grates of the grill. Cook on lower heat and for less time than in the oven.

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Poached Salmon with Mustardy Lemon Dill Sauce


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Is a rainy day – just right for cooking! Everyone gets to eat well and you get another healthy recipe!
Enjoy!

Note: Although the sauce tastes deliciously rich, it is nearly fat free! Quick to make and very elegant. Serve with a green vegetable and some nice new potatoes, either boiled or roasted.

Ingredients:

1/2 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
1/4 cup Dijon mustard
1 Tbsp honey
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
3 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 lb salmon
1 cup white wine
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup chopped shallots or sweet onions

Directions:

Blend the yogurt, mustard, honey, lemon juice, and dill,in a bowl. Cover, and refrigerate until time to serve.

Place the salmon in a saucepan with the white wine and water and shallots. Make sure the fish is covered. Add more water if necessary.

Cover the saucepan, and cook over medium heat 10 to 12 minutes, until salmon is easily flaked with a fork. Drain, and top with the yogurt sauce.

Foods of Different Cultures and Weight


I have a great excuse for the long hiatus. I was traveling. For nearly three weeks, I ate in England, South Africa and Israel. Very different cuisines, I can assure you. To be honest, I won’t even count England because I ate Italian food in London while in transit to the other two  countries. I had already made up my mind that I didn’t care to eat traditional English food such as kidney pies and blood pudding. Too much carnivorous fare for my taste, and not necessarily the body parts I would choose.

In South Africa, at a resort in a game preserve, I found the food not to be too unfamiliar. There were just a few new flavors, but nothing exotic. I was surprised to find chicken livers with onions (secretly, a favorite), but I first had this food at my Jewish grandmother’s house. The most exotic I would say, was the venison stew. Nicely flavored and tender. I waited until after tasting it to ask what kind of meat it was, lest the answer influence my perception. “Oh, it’s wildebeest,” I was told. All I could think of was those stampeding animals who killed Mufasa in the Lion King. It was actually quite good. They served a lot of meat, in spite of the fact that vegetables and fruit grow in abundance in those parts. I guess it is their perception that Americans want their meat – and they accommodate.

Israeli food is really not a specific cuisine; rather a mix of the many cultures that inhabit the land and those of the people who came to live in Israel from around the world. You will find Moroccan, Mediterranean, Turkish, Eastern European, Spanish and Indian influence. For sure, fruits and vegetables are dominant in most meals. Produce is abundant and cheaper than in the US.

As a nutritionist, I am always looking at the composition of healthy to unhealthy weight in the population, and the foods that are commonly eaten, the lifestyle, etc. I was struck that obesity was prevalent in the bush of South Africa until I visited the supermarket and saw an entire aisle with chips and other junk foods. Also, prepared foods were fatty, greasy meats and white floured grains and bread. There was plenty of soda, and kids were seen carrying bottles of Coke and sipping other very sweet drinks.

In contrast, there was much less obesity in Israel, in spite of large portions of foods at mealtimes. Because the meals consist of so much more vegetable than meat, caloric intake is lower. In the cities, many people walk and use bicycles; another healthy lifestyle habit contributing to healthier weights.

We should take a lesson. I will be. This weekend I am entertaining friends. The menu will be vegetarian. Tonight I had a vegetarian meal. I am committed to making at least 2 nights per week “meat-free” in my home. Prepared with a variety of spices and herbs, vegetables are actually delicious! Check out my recipes. I will be adding more vegetable inspired dishes.

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