Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Should you eat the fat on your steak?

Someone Emailed me a question about animal fats, in particular about the fat you might find on a steak or other cut of meat.  I haven't posted to my blog in a long time, but this seems like a good topic to get me back into blogging.

I consider moderate amounts of fat from grass-fed, organically, vegetarian- fed animals to be perfectly fine to eat, and of course without the fat or skin meats are pretty flavorless.

The key is amount and type.  My best guess is that even if our bodies did evolve to eat large amounts of meat, most wild animals were not as fatty as the ones we eat now.  So if you want to eat like a natural paleolithic man, eat leaner meat, and these days that means grass-fed or wild.  In addition to being leaner, grass-fed beef contains more healthy omega-3 fats than feed-lot beef.  And I'm not talking about the short omega-3 fat you can get from flax or walnuts, I'm referring to the long omega-3 fats that make fish so desirable. 

It's practically gospel that you must eat fish to get long omega-3 fats, but there are small amounts of the same long omega-3 fats in eggs, beef, lamb, etc.  Studies carried out in Australia and Germany have shown these products can be more important sources of omega-3 fats than fish.


Wednesday, May 16, 2012

My favorite spring salad

My favorite spring salad is very light- just delicate young lettuce leaves thinned from the garden with a simple dressing.

Lettuce is so easy to grow-just plant seeds more densely than the package directs-all the seeds can go into a 6 foot row. Keep the soil wet until the seeds sprout, then water every day or 2. Wait a month or so until the seedlings are crowded, and thin them by cutting or breaking the leaves near the base. You'll get enough for a salad for 2 every few days for a while.

As soon as you pick the lettuce, or bring it home from the store, wash it by immersing it in a large bowl of cold water. Let it drain and spin it in a lettuce spinner, or just put the greens into a pillow case and spin it in big circles, outside where the droplets coming out of the case won't bother anyone. Wrap the washed greens in a towel and store in a plastic bag in the fridge.

Here's the easy part. Using the best oil and vinegar make dressing the lettuce simple. Buy some La Tourangelle roasted walnut oil-you'll find it in quite a few supermarkets, especially yuppie ones. Store it in the fridge so that the super-healthy omega-3 fats in the walnut oil don't go bad from air and heat. Toss the lettuce with just enough oil to barely coat the leaves.

Here's the tricky part. I've recently fallen in love with a balsamic vinegar that isn't as easy to find as the roasted walnut oil. However, it's worth searching out, because with these 2 ingredients, you have the most amazing and healthy salad dressing.

Leonardi Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP, with a gold foil cap: it comes in a square 8.45 oz bottle and is more like a syrup than a vinegar. The walnut oil is expensive, but this is outrageous. Buy it anyway- this lasts forever and is concentrated and valuable. My first bottle was given to me as a gift (thank you, thank you) and the second I bought at Bi-Rite Market in San Francisco on 18th St.
Toss the lettuce with a little vinegar and a little salt until it tastes right. Enjoy.

(This goes perfectly with coppa, a thinly sliced cured pork (a wonderful one comes from El Salchichero in Santa Cruz, CA) and a spinach-stuffed Afghan bread, if you are so lucky.)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Back to my blog with cauliflower recipe- Yum.

I haven't posted anything since I closed my consulting business and started to work at Threshold Enterprises in October--just too busy. But this seems like a good place to write notes for myself (and anyone else who is interested) on food I cook that turns out well and that I want to remember and repeat.

So here is an addictive cauliflower dish I made tonight- from past experience I know that kids love this finger food.

I cut out and discarded the thick stem from a large white head of cauliflower, and broke and cut the rest into what I call flowerettes, anywhere from 1-3 inches long, and spread them in a 10x13" baking pan.

Next I crushed 2 large unpeeled cloves of garlic in my garlic press into a measuring cup, added 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, and mixed them up. If you don't have a garlic press that you can use on unpeeled cloves, get one- it is the greatest.

I spooned the oil mixture onto the cauliflower and mixed it up with my hands, then added a little more olive oil (whether you need extra or not will depend on the size of your cauliflower), mixed it up, sprinkled it generously with salt, and put it into a 400 degree oven.

Then every 10 minutes I stirred it until tender and browned a bit. If you have little pieces of cauliflower it may be done in 20 minutes. Bigger pieces that are crowded may take 40 minutes. The timing isn't crucial and it tastes great fresh out of the oven or a while later.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Should we drink water that has electrolytes (minerals) added?

I drink a lot of water since I tend to have a dry throat and I really like water. Like most nutrients, too much water can kill you- it can dilute the electrolytes in your body water that you need for your heart to beat (sodium, potassium, magnesium and calcium). So should I worry about replacing these electrolytes?

Probably the best way to get electrolytes is to eat fruits and veggies and use table salt as needed. Gatorade has lots of sodium and potassium but also contains sugar and various chemicals.

What about bottled waters that claim to contain electrolytes? I looked up the mineral contents of various waters on the USDA website and on product websites and couldn’t find any perfect brand.

Smartwater & Poland Springs were similar to tap water, Evian and Perrier had more calcium but less potassium, and Calistoga and Dasani were low in everything.

The winner was my favorite brand, Pellegrino- too bad it’s expensive and its transport wastes energy. Good thing that an extra serving of veggies will do the trick and more.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Two links to nutrition info and videos that I like

I like a blog by Jack Norris at JackNorrisRD.com, on plant-based diets- it's great if you have any questions about how to get the vitamin B12 and iron and protein you need if you are a vegan.

Jack shared a link to a site called NutritionFacts.org that has some interesting videos. I watched a few of them and they are short and provocative (two good things).

If you check out the videos, let me know what you think.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Soybeans are not dangerous

There have been all sorts of rumors about dangerous things in soy, such as estrogen-like compounds that might have feminizing effects or encourage the growth of some breast cancers, or compounds that might be bad for your thyroid gland. Stop worrying!

There is no evidence that the very slight estrogen-like activity in soy has any harmful or even significant consequences. I wonder if this rumor is promoted by the dairy industry– since cow’s milk makes your blood cholesterol go up and soy products make it go down, they need to grasp at some straws.

Just remember that Asian cultures have eaten tofu, made soymilk and enjoyed good health for thousands of years. For you jocks it is a rare vegetarian source of high quality protein. For those of you worried about heart disease it contains healthy polyunsaturated fats, plant sterols and fibers to lower your blood cholesterol.

You probably don’t want to overdo it, just like you don’t want to overdo anything, even things as healthy as drinking water and getting some sun. And I wouldn’t want to subsist on all sorts of products made out of highly processed soy powders- or other kinds of refined or purified products– but there isn’t any reason to shy away from tofu or edamame or a glass of soy milk.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Catch the US women’s soccer team competing with Japan in the World Cup finals on Sunday

It’s pretty amazing that the US women’s soccer team will be competing in the finals of the World Cup on Sunday. Not knowing many celebrities, I’m excited that I know a member of team USA, defender #19, Rachel Buehler, who was a student in a class on fat nutrition I teach at Stanford University. Maybe she gets some of her energy and stamina from eating healthy fats? Go Rachel!