My Recipe

Spinach with Sesame Dressing

Ingredients:

1 bunch (about 10 oz) fresh spinach
dried bonito flake, as desired
about 1 tsp toasted white sesame seed

Sesame Dressing:

1 Tbsp + ½ tsp Japanese soy sauce
1½ tsp sugar
2 tsp water
1/8 tsp dashi granule
1 tsp sesame oil

Method:

  1. Rinse spinach thoroughly and discard ends. Drain.
  2. Mix sesame dressing ingredients.
  3. Blanch spinach in 10 cups boiling water for about 1½ minute. Remove and rinse with cold tap water. Squeeze out water from spinach and cut into 2” sections. Place in a serving dish. Pour dressing over and sprinkle with sesame seed. Top with bonito flake. Toss gently before serving.

Nutrition value for 1/2 portion of recipe:

Calorie 60, Fat 2.4 g, Carbohydrate 7 g, Fibre 3 g, Sugar 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 420 mg, Protein 5 g.


Opinion: The Bullshit Hypocrisy of “All-Natural” Foods

Here’s the thing about nature: It will stir up your shit.

A few weeks ago, the website The Naked Label published a picture of a vibrant, colorful mushroom. It was captioned with a quotation from author and paleo diet advocate Diane Sanfilippo: “We cannot make food better than nature.”

The problem? The mushroom pictured was the Amanita muscaria, which is highly poisonous.

The Naked Label probably wasn’t recommending poisonous mushrooms as a part of your balanced cannabis-induced munchies on purpose. However, this tiny meme is symptomatic of a bigger problem on the internet: self-declared “natural health” gurus who say everything natural is automatically better.

It’s not.

Are chemical additives safe or should you eat an “all-natural” diet? Is there a reason for the chemical paranoia brought on by Dr. Oz-endorsed mommy-bloggers, or is this just fear mongering from people who need to go back to chemistry class? Is the vision of “nature” propagated by Whole Foods and the like just another marketing term?

Recently, several large companies have made decisions to alter their products based on chemical phobia. Is this a good thing? If you follow any “natural” food blogs, you might say yes. But the science says otherwise. And stuck in the middle trying to make sense of it all is the consumer. What the hell does “natural” mean anyway when it’s on a food label? Let’s examine a few recent food kerfuffles to figure out what Nature, Inc. offers the consumer.

Kraft Macaroni and Cheese: Still Awful

Last month I wrote about Vani Hari, AKA the Food Babe. I decreed that her tactics and statements about food were devoid of science (fine, she’s full of shit). One of her attention-grabbing schemes was petitioning Kraft to remove artificial dyes from their macaroni and cheese. Shortly after my article made her cry tears of blood about her life decisions, Kraft announced that they would be removing the artificial dyes, although they claimed that they started reformulating the recipe a year before she launched her campaign. Whether or not this was a response to her petition, did the change make the product healthier?

To start with, let’s remember that we’re talking about a product with powdered cheese. If you were looking for health food, you took a wrong turn three aisles ago after the spinach. We’re also not removing something that causes foodborne illness and replacing it with hummingbird whispers. We’re switching food dyes synthesized in the laboratory to food dyes that are… well, still going to be produced in the laboratory.

We now have the safest class of food dyes ever on the market (here’s some reading on the short history of food dye regulation in America). Laboratories have helped that process because they can check final products for safety and purity, whether synthetic or derived from natural sources. And no matter what the source of the dye, a chemical solvent is used to extract the target color molecule. A common tactic of the Food Babe is to tell you these solvents are toxic only in products she’s deemed evil. Paprika is one of the sources for Kraft’s new and improved mac and cheese, and just like in the processes used for some synthetic dyes, hexane is used in processing (when consumed in large quantities, hexane is metabolized into a neurotoxic chemical). Note, with both classes of dyes, you are not consuming hexane, but then again, the Food Babe isn’t known for facts.

As for the safety of the synthetic dyes, any substance has drawbacks and they’re about equal in synthetic and natural dyes. Some parents who previously bought the product for their fussy eaters are complaining about the new paprika-based dye. Even though it’s all natural, you can have allergies to paprika. This isn’t the only natural dye with this issue; carmine dye derived from the cochineal insect, sometimes used to punch up the red color in strawberry milkshakes, can induce anaphylactic shock.

But it is natural.

Milk Will Make You Sick

One sacred cow of the natural food movement is raw milk. And why not, all the natural hipsters know that organic kool aid is so five minutes ago and they’ve switched to suckling the raw teet. All my favorite bullshit peddlers—Mercola, Modern Alternative Mama, and Weston Price—endorse raw milk. Even the Food Babe buys into it, saying that “raw dairy is the best choice,” and that “raw dairy products are “alive.” Scary. They say that raw milk maintains milk’s natural enzymes and vitamins, that it even has components to fight off bacteria itself because of the goodness of its wonderful “naturaliness” (my version of truthiness).

But when natural advocates endorse going back to a time before we introduced a technological advancement, they often fail to remind the consumer why we made those advancements in the first place.

Pasteurization, the process of heating milk to a high temperature for a very small amount of time, kills a vast majority of the bacteria in it and keeps it safe for a longer period of time. Before the process became widespread in the early 20th century, milk was safe for maybe the day after you purchased it, and old milk was a source of festering disease.

There are a lot of myths about what pasteurization does to milk that have been floated by the natural health movement. But let’s lay those rumors to rest: It does not induce allergies or lactose intolerance. If you can’t tolerate pasteurized milk, you’re not going to be able to tolerate raw milk either. And as for all those “enzymes” that allegedly die off when Big Dairy is reaching around into your wallet, relax. Your stomach acid will destroy them anyway. All the macronutrients and micronutrients in your pasteurized milk are exactly the same as raw milk.

But is raw milk safe? You might think so, but you’d be misled. According to the CDC, less than 1% of milk consumed in the United States is raw milk. From 1993-2006, 121 outbreaks (causing 4,413 illnesses and three deaths) were caused that could be linked back to dairy. Seventy-three of the outbreaks were from raw milk and 48 were from pasteurized milk. Given that less than 1% of the dairy in the country is raw, if it’s safe, why is it causing a majority of the illnesses?

The simple answer? It’s not safe, and the people promoting it are not promoting healthy food. They’re promoting the natural epidemic at any cost.

Aspartame Won’t Kill You or Make You Fat

Recently, Pepsi announced that they were going to remove aspartame from from Diet Pepsi and replace it with sucralose and acesulfame potassium, AKA Ace K. Sucralose is derived from sugar, and Ace K is the sweetener used in Coke Zero that gives it that “real sugar” flavor. Internet-based fears about aspartame are sweeping. Quacks and conspiracy theorists say it’s the most dangerous substance in food, that it causes MS like symptoms and, my personal favorite, that it killed Heath Ledger.

So with all these fears, was removing aspartame from Diet Pepsi necessary for safety or health? Science says no.

Aspartame is one of the most-studied food additives ever. It’s been shown, time after time, to be safe. No links to cancer, MS, ADHD, the NY Yankees, premature ejaculation, your dog sniffing the litter box, or any other random thing you want to blame on this. It just tastes sweet.

It’s not even making you fat. I’m sure you’ve heard that diet soda with aspartame can cause weight gain. I drank Diet Coke when I was overweight, I drank Diet Coke all through my 90lb-weight loss, and I still drink Diet Coke. The difference is that I eat a lot more fruits and vegetables now and fewer french fries. An excess of calories will make you gain weight, not carbonated water with caffeine. Studies linking diet soda to weight gain are, at best, corollary, and haven’t closely enough examined the other behaviors of the people in the study.

And speaking of my favorite soda, Coca-Cola offers multiple sugar-free varieties of cola for their customers with different types of sweeteners, and they all taste a little different. Pepsi’s decision to change the sweetener due to a small decline in sales will change the flavor that 95% of their loyal customers enjoyed. It only serves the people with overblown fears of a safe product. Given that aspartame is safe, why not just offer a second option like their competition did?

That doesn’t make as good of a press release from Nature, Inc.

Paleo: Not Good for Babies

Pete Evans is a former pizza chef from Australia. Now he’s trying to harm your children.

Evans became a celebrity chef due to his popular and flavorful pizza offerings. But then he discovered the Paleo lifestyle, or the annoying-everyone-you-know diet. The Paleo diet alleges to be a natural diet, one that closely mimics what our primal ancestors ate. Paleo devotees say that many diseases in society came along with the “unnatural” introduction of modern agriculture. Under this line of reasoning, Paleoites believe all foods that came with agriculture should be removed from your diet for optimal health. So when Evans, the man who made a fortune as a celebrity pizza chef, found Paleo, he began advocating the removal of grains, dairy, and other whole food groups from your life in order to find health.

So if it’s so healthy, why was Evans’ new cookbook, Bubba Yum Yum: The Paleo Way, pulled before publishing over concerns that the recommendations would harm a baby?

In attempt to be more natural than store-bought formulas, Evans’ bone-broth based baby formula recipe could have potentially starved a baby. Despite the recipe’s overwhelming naturaliness, it lacked calories, something tiny humans very much need to thrive. Furthermore, the liver pate recipe for infants contained such high levels of vitamin A that it could have caused toxic side effects.

The unfortunate part of this is that well-meaning parents with every intention of feeding their children healthy foods easily would have bought this thinking they were doing the right thing for their kids. Parents, whether you choose breast milk or formula, please consult your pediatrician or a registered dietitian. Just like you wouldn’t consult your local Dominos pizza guy on what to feed your baby, Pete Evans the pizza chef is also not an expert.

Non-GMO Chipotle Will Still Make You Need to Use Chipotlaway

Burrito giant Chipotle announced last week that they ditched the GMOs from their menu. Amid random pictures on the internet of fish being spliced into tomatoes, reports from people who have never worked in food regulation about no-GMO regulation, and questions from mommy-bloggers-cum-doctors about GMOs causing health problems, did Chipotle act in the best interest of the public?

Not even close.

Chipotle claims that GMOs increase pesticide use and that the long-term health impact of their consumption are unknown. However, the claims just don’t stack up. We also have decades of data showing that GMOs are safe for consumption and the environment. In a large-scale analysis of all the studies done of GMOs, data showed that they reduced chemical pesticide use by 37% and increased crop production by 22%. Farmers can spend less and use a lower amount of safer types of pesticides. In fact, by switching to non-GMO ingredients, Chipotle is knowingly endorsing the use of more toxic pesticides and a fairly hazardous production method in the name of avoiding the GMO title. As Stephan Neidenbach wrote at We Love GMOs and Vaccines:

BASF used a process known as mutagenesis to breed their sunflowers. Their seeds were doused with ethyl methanesulfonate and sodium azide to alter their DNA.[8] Ethyl mathanesulfonate is a possibly carcinogenic compound that produces random mutations in DNA.[9] Sodim azide is an extremely toxic compound used as a biocide and in airbag systems. It is lethal to humans at only 0.7 grams.[10] (…)The one conclusion that we can draw is that Chipotle is not doing this for any reason other than to profit off of the current GMO paranoia.

Additionally, it’s incredibly disingenuous for Chipotle to claim that they’re only using non-GMO ingredients. The meat they serve still comes from animals that eat GMO feed. To switch to non-GMO feed would make their prices skyrocket and drastically hurt their business. As was demonstrated by this marketing stunt, their commitment to “food with integrity” comes right after their commitment to shareholders.

Promoting fresh, natural thousand-calorie burritos with integrity gets harder if the price goes up to $16.

Panera’s Publicity Ploy

On the heels of the Chipotle decision, not to be outdone, Panera announced that they were tired of serving poison to their customers and would be removing approximately ⅓ of their ingredients from their recipes. This list of ingredients they’re removing includes caffeine, components of vanilla, and artificial sweeteners. According to Nature, Inc., this means their menu, from their 1,110-calorie sandwich to their 700-calorie caffeinated milkshakes, is suddenly a beacon of health.

Unless they’re getting rid of the coffee and soda, claiming they’re removing caffeine from the menu is total bullshit. Remember, everything is made of chemicals, even your cup of “make-me-not-hate-life” in the morning. And if they do get rid of the option to add Splenda to the coffee, I’m heading back to Starbucks for a “toxic” PSL, thanks.

The reasoning behind the retooling is publicity. Ron Shaich, Panera’s CEO, claims his “kids are eating Panera 10 to 11 times a week,” and he doesn’t want them to eat “junk.” Whenever a decision like this comes out, you should take an enormous pause to consider what it says about the ingredients the establishment was serving before. How much did Shaich care about his company’s food previously if he’s calling it junk now? Is this just a new way of greenwashing a thousand-calorie sandwich? Was Shaich not aware of the incredibly strict regulations involved in getting food additives to market? Didn’t anyone tell him that chefs and food scientists, who his company chose to hire, worked to make those exact flavors for their company that he’s now publicly deemed “junk?” (Those latter two questions are rhetorical.)

And as for Shaich’s kids eating Panera ten times a week, I offer this suggestion: locate a grocery store. Maybe buy some goddamn apples.

The Difference Between Nature, Inc. and Nature

What is natural, anyway? And what’s the difference between slapping “natural” on a label versus… getting food from nature?

We drive hybrid cars, own designer dogs that have been inbred from the grey wolf down to the chihuahua, and live in temperature-controlled, eco-friendly environments. We load the hybrid dog into the hybrid car, stretch on a pair of green-friendly $100 lululemons while hiking in the artificially designed nature trails of L.A. while drinking artificially sanitized water and tweeting selfies on our technological marvel iPhones with the hashtag #nature.

That’s Nature Inc™.

Nature, on the other hand, is generations ravaged by smallpox because vaccines weren’t invented yet. It’s having a home birth not because it’s been romanticized, but because it’s your only option. It’s dying of malnutrition because, even though you have soil, sunlight and water, you don’t have the technology to fight off bugs, weeds, or droughts. Nature is one too many sunburns leading to melanoma. Nature is when shows like Naked and Afraid and Born In The Wild are just life, and not documentary-worthy expenditures of bored and privileged twenty-somethings who can call the hospital when something goes horribly wrong.

Because as much as nature makes delicious fruits and vegetables, if you’re not paying attention, it also makes poisonous mushrooms.

Source: Gawker

What Are the Health Benefits of Avocados?

Megan Ware, a registered dietitian wrote . . . . .

Avocados are a creamy, buttery fruit grown in warm climates and often enjoyed in Mexican and South American cuisine.

Also known as an alligator pear or butter fruit, the versatile avocado is the only fruit that provides a substantial amount of monounsaturated fat (the healthy kind). Avocados are a naturally nutrient-dense food and contain nearly 20 vitamins and minerals.

Avocados are naturally nutrient-dense and contain around 20 vitamins and minerals.

Avocados are a great source of vitamins C, E, K, and B-6, as well as riboflavin, niacin, folate, pantothenic acid, magnesium and potassium. They also provide lutein, beta-carotene and omega-3s.

Although most of the calories in an avocado come from fat, don’t shy away! Avocados are full of healthy, beneficial fats that help to keep you full and satiated. When you consume fat, your brain receives a signal to turn off your appetite. Eating fat slows the breakdown of carbohydrates into sugar, which helps to keep sugar levels in your blood stable.

Fat is essential for every single cell in your body. In fact, over sixty percent of your brain is made of fat. Eating healthy fats will make your skin glow, increase vitamin and mineral absorption and even help boost your immune system.

Do not be fooled by fat-free and low-fat products, or shy away from foods like avocados and nuts that are full of healthy fats. Ever since the low-fat craze started in the 1950s, we have only become fatter. Manufacturers often just replace the fat in reduced and fat-free products with sugar.

This does not mean you should eat loads of bacon cheeseburgers and fried foods, because not all fats are created equal. Eating healthy fats daily (like mono- and polyunsaturated fats in avocados) will improve heart health, lower cholesterol, keep you full and satiated and curb your cravings for fried, greasy foods. On the flip side, fried foods, processed meats and cheeses contain saturated fats that clog arteries and increase cholesterol.

Possible health benefits of consuming avocados

Consuming fruits and vegetables of all kinds has long been associated with a reduced risk of many lifestyle-related health conditions. Many studies have suggested that increasing consumption of plant foods like avocado decreases the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion and hair, increased energy and overall lower weight.

Healthy for the heart

According to registered dietitian Patricia Groziak, MS, RD, with the Hass Avocado Board, avocados contain 25 milligrams per ounce of a natural plant sterol called beta-sitosterol. Regular consumption of beta-sitosterol and other plant sterols are recommended for their ability to help maintain healthy cholesterol levels.1

Great for vision

Avocados contain lutein and zeaxanthin, two phytochemicals that are essential to eye health. These two carotenoids act as antioxidants in the eye and can minimize the damage and reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration.

Osteoporosis prevention

Vitamin K is often overshadowed by calcium and vitamin D when thinking of nutrients important for maintaining healthy bones, however, eating a diet with adequate vitamin K may be just as important. Vitamin K can improve bone health by increasing calcium absorption and reducing urinary excretion of calcium.3

Low intakes of vitamin K have been associated with a higher risk of bone fracture. One-half of an avocado provides approximately 25% of the daily-recommended intake for vitamin K.

Cancer fighter

Low levels of folate have been shown to increase the risk of breast cancer in women. Adequate intake of dietary folate (from food, not necessarily supplements) has also shown promise in protecting against colon, stomach, pancreatic and cervical cancers.

Although the mechanism of protection is currently unknown, researchers believe that folate’s protective effects have something to do with its role in DNA and RNA production and the prevention of unwanted mutations. One-half of an avocado provides approximately 20% of the daily-recommended intake for folate.

Healthy babies

Folate is also extremely important for pregnant women. Adequate intake protects against miscarriage and neural tube defects. Recent research has also shown that a father’s folate status before conception may be just as important. In a study from McGill University, paternal folate deficiency in mice was associated with a 30% higher number of various birth defects than in offspring with no paternal folate deficiencies.4

Lowered risk of depression

Another benefit of foods with high levels of folate is a lowered risk of depression. Folate helps to prevent an excess of homocysteine forming in the body, which can block blood and other nutrients from reaching the brain. Excess homocysteine can interfere with the production of the feel-good hormones serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine, which regulate not only mood, but sleep and appetite as well.5

Improved digestion

Despite its creamy texture, an avocado is actually high in fiber, with approximately 6-7 grams per half fruit. Eating foods with natural fiber can prevent constipation, maintain a healthy digestive tract and lower the risk of colon cancer.

Natural detoxification

Adequate fiber promotes regularity, which is crucial for the daily excretion of toxins through the bile and stool. Recent studies have shown that dietary fiber may also play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation.

Protection from chronic disease

According to the Department of Internal Medicine and Nutritional Sciences Program of the University of Kentucky, high fiber intakes are associated with significantly lower risks of developing coronary heart disease, stroke, hypertension, diabetes, obesity, and certain gastrointestinal diseases. Increased fiber intake has also been shown to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels, improve insulin sensitivity, and enhance weight loss for obese individuals.

How to incorporate more avocados into your diet

You can tell how ripe an avocado is by gently pressing into the skin. If the avocado is firm and does not budge, you will need to let it ripen for a few days before consuming. Soft avocados make great guacamole or dip, while firmer avocados are great for slicing and adding to a salad or a sandwich. To speed up the ripening process, place an avocado in a paper bag with a banana.

Avocado can be mashed and spread on toast instead of butter or sliced and added to a sandwich.

Quick tips:

  • Spread avocado on toast in the morning instead of butter
  • Use avocado instead of mayonnaise in chicken or egg salad, or as a spread on a sandwich
  • The soft, creamy texture of an avocado and its mild taste make it a perfect first food for babies.

Potential health risks of consuming avocados

It is the total diet or overall eating pattern that is most important in disease prevention and achieving good health. It is better to eat a diet with a variety than to concentrate on individual foods as the key to good health.

If you are taking blood-thinners such as Coumadin (warfarin), it is important that you do not suddenly begin to eat more or less foods containing vitamin K, which plays a large role in blood clotting.

Source: Medical News Today

Classic Spanish Chicken Recipe

Sautéed Chicken with Crispy Garlic Slices

Ingredients

8 skin-on chicken thighs, boned if available
hot or sweet smoked Spanish paprika, to taste
4 tbsp Spanish olive oil
10 garlic cloves, sliced
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 bay leaf
salt
chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, to garnish
crusty bread, to serve (optional)

Method

  1. If necessary, halve the chicken thighs and remove the bones, then cut the flesh into bite-size pieces, leaving the skin on. Season to taste with paprika.
  2. Heat the oil in a large skillet or an ovenproof casserole, then add the garlic slices and cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for 1 minute, or until golden brown. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.
  3. Add the chicken thighs to the skillet and cook, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until tender and golden brown on all sides. Add the wine and bay leaf and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has evaporated and the juices run clear when a skewer is inserted into the thickest part of the meat. Season to taste with salt.
  4. Transfer the chicken to a warmed serving dish and sprinkle over the reserved garlic slices. Sprinkle with chopped parsley to garnish and serve with chunks of crusty bread to mop up the juices, if using.

Makes 8 servings.

Source: Tapas


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