Tag Archives: Mark Bittman

Breaking news: Butter is back!

For all of you who have given up eating butter thinking 1. it is bad for you and 2. eating it will make you fat, take note: we, the American people , have been fed(pun intended) a whole lot of misinformation about what is good for us and what is unhealthy since around the 1970’s, maybe even earlier. As we have discussed in previous posts, it is just so confusing to know what is fact and what is fiction when it comes to healthy eating.  What is someone who needs to , and perhaps loves to , eat to do????

It just gets so confusing sometimes: how to choose healthy foods….

It just gets so confusing sometimes: how to choose healthy foods….

I guess it always comes back to basics, like most things in life. Personally, I have often been quite skeptical that food that comes from a NATURAL source and that is close to that natural state could possibly be bad for us when eaten in moderation. Honestly, how did eggs become so demonized for so long? For a long time, all we heard about in the media was that eating eggs leads to high cholesterol and heart disease. That just never made sense to me. Eggs are loaded with nutrients: one egg contains 75 calories, 5 grams of fat(1.6 grams saturated fat: the good kind, by the way), iron, vitamins, minerals and carotenoids(believed to prevent macular degeneration). It also contains disease-fighting nutrients and choline, which enhances brain development and memory. Hmmm, now how are eggs bad for you, unless you perhaps are allergic to them? Of course, we always recommend that you consume products that are organically raised and locally produced whenever possible for optimal wellness and a smaller environmental footprint.

So getting back to the butter controversy. I grew up in the 1950’s and 1960’s when margarine was all the rage. I never liked it personally and couldn’t wait to go to my Ukrainian grandmother’s apartment in Brooklyn where she kept unsalted butter on a plate in her kitchen: soft to spread and yummy to eat on her freshly baked loaves of Challah: a little slice of heaven. A far cry from margarine spread on a piece of Wonder bread or a Thomas’s English muffin(delicious but devoid of any real nutritional value). Funny thing is, my grandmother also had Velveeta in her apartment: what is that ‘cheese food product’ even made of that it can sit on a shelf unrefrigerated for years??? I did love it though as a kid: there was something almost magical about it, probably because my mom, who did stock margarine and TV dinners , would never allow us to have it at home.  A little bit of parental wisdom here: if you want your kids to eat something, make it a forbidden food: that will almost always guarantee that they will want it: the old reverse psychology trick.

As soon as I moved out on my own, I was able to make my own choices in terms of food purchases and I made the permanent switch to butter: usually unsalted because I love the flavor that comes through. And I have never given it up, despite all of the so-called research warning us of its link to cardiac disease. Again, I just didn’t buy it: it comes from milk, milk comes from a cow: and cows are animals, real live creatures, not products that are processed, wrapped up tightly and put on a shelf.

Mark Bittman, one of my favorite food writers, published a recent article in the NY Times : “Butter is Back” which does a terrific job of explaining why this is so:

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/26/opinion/bittman-butter-is-back.html?_r=0

So this is great news for all of you foodies out there and those of you need help making healthy eating choices. Of course, as the article states, eat butter in moderation, especially if you are trying to achieve or maintain a healthy weight.  Always buy the best quality of food that you can afford, because quality really does matter. I always like to use Michael Pollan’s quote about who to eat in a health manner as a simple reminder: “Eat food(whole food), not too much, mostly plants”. If you follow this simple rule, not only will you achieve your optimal weight but you will feel fantastic AND know that you are enhancing your health overall.

3 old favorites: back in your diet again

3 old favorites: back in your diet again

Oh, and before I forget: another piece of wonderful news came out this week: Salt is also okay: more about that later. So I am going to feel really good when I eat my favorite TV watching snack: Freshly popped, on the stove of course, popcorn with butter and salt: I always called it my guilty pleasure but I guess I don’t need to feel so guilty about it after all.

Bon appétit!

 

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Filed under Essentials, Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness

Thank you for asking: ‘the recipes’ and more

Day 7 of this cleanse, feeling pretty darned great, finish line just around the corner. As always, I have learned a lot from taking the time to evaluate my food and beverage choices, what Mark Bittman, author and writer for the NY TIMES, calls ones “personal food policy”. I heard him speak a few weeks ago here in Portland at the inception of a local event known as ‘Portland Feast’ and I was inspired by some of the things he had to say.

Being a cookbook junkie, I of course purchased his cookbook, “The Food Matters Cookbook” and have spent some time reading the introduction and the first few chapters before jumping into the recipes.  He, like Michael Pollan(“In Defense of Food”, “The Omnivore’s Dilemma” and so on) emphasize the plant-based diet. Pollan’s famous seven word summation of how to eat: ‘eat food(whole food), not too much,  mostly plants’ makes it very simple.  Bittman in his cookbook goes on to give us some basic pointers to guide us each day:

1. Strive to eat fewer animal products than the average American(which is , gulp, 1/2#/day!).

2. Eat as many plants as you can. There is an endless variety of fruits, vegetables, nuts and seeds: focus on these.

3.  Be sure to include legumes and grains into your diet every day. Don’t overdo but these will serve as terrific substitutes for animal-based foods.

4. Stay away from processed foods. This is huge. Read your labels. Try to avoid products that have more than 5 ingredients and especially ones with preservatives and things you don’t recognize.

5. All other things should be considered to be a treat. That goes for chocolate(choose the best you can find), wine, beer, occasional desserts and other items not listed above. Consume these in smaller amounts.

Bittman willingly admits that perfection is not an option nor is it a goal but by making small changes(remember how we started this cleanse!), these will add up to larger ones for ourselves and globally.  So this really has been a consciousness cleanse: awareness of how important it is to be aware of what we are feeding our bodies, as well as how our choices affect the planet.

Our precious and beautiful planet

As our bodies age, it is critical that we nourish them with the cleanest diet we can manage. This will help to maintain strong body systems: cardiovascular, neurological, musculoskeletal, sensory, digestion and endocrine. We really are what we eat after all.

We have had several requests for the recipes that I mentioned using this past week and as promised, here they are. I hope you enjoy them as much as my son Conor and I did. He gave me a big thumbs up, especially on the pumpkin soup and whole grain bread. I would like to give credit to the sources of these recipes. The pumpkin soup one comes from Parade Magazine, Oct 14, 2012 issue.  The bread recipe is from Mark Bittman’s “Food Matters Cookbook”. The fruit jam was inspired by a recipe in Kim Boyle’s “Good to the Grain” cookbook, a lovely whole grain cookbook. As always when I cook , I made a few changes and noted them below.
BON APPETIT!

Final rose of 2012

Spiced Pumpkin Soup(serves 6: hmmm maybe….)

1 Tblsp canola oil(I used olive oil)      1 tsp minced garlic     1 tsp curry powder   1 tsp cumin

1 small onion, chopped fine  1/4 tsp cardamon     1/4 tsp salt      1/4 tsp black pepper

2 cups chicken broth( I usually make my own but you buy organic broth)

1-15 oz can pumpkin(or make your own if desired)     1-12 oz can evaporated fat free milk(or regular milk)

6 Tblsp Greek yogurt and parsley leaves for garnish(I didn’t find these to be necessary) 

Directions: In large pot, heat oil over medium , add onion cook for 3 minutes until soft, add garlic , cook another minute, add spices , salt and pepper. Cook additional minute, stirring. Next whisk in broth and pumpkin: bring to boil, reduce heat  to low, simmer for approx 15 minutes. Add milk, simmer for several minutes. Last step: using an immersion blender(I used regular one in small batches), puree the soup until smooth. Taste: adjust your spices, salt and pepper. Ladle into bowls and if desired, garnish with the yogurt and parsley.

Whole Grain Bread(this is soooo easy)

In large mixing bowl, measure 3 cups of whole wheat flour(I used ww pastry flour but you could use regular WW flour), 2 tsp salt and 1 and 1/2 tsp of yeast. Pour 1 and 1/2 cups of warm, not hot, water into the bowl: lightly stir the ingredients together(I also used my hands to mix everything together into a loose mound) and place in draft-free place. Cover with a towel. Let this rise for approx 2 hours.

NOTE: I love salt yet I found that 2 tsp was a bit much so I cut this down to 1 tsp. You may substitute up to 1 cup of the whole wheat flour with another type: I had excellent results with barley and kamut flour. I plan to try rye next. Another time I add 3 Tblsp of coconut sugar to give it a faint taste of sweetness. I think honey would be great as well, but then you might need to adjust the amount of flour: maybe an additional 1/4 cup. 

Once the dough has risen to approx doubled in size, you may punch it down and place in well-oiled loaf pan. Let this rise until over the top of the pan. Bake in pre-heated 350 degree oven, lightly brushing the top with olive oil and sprinkling with corn meal, if desired.

Option: once the dough as risen in the bowl, you can add up to one cup of cooked grains(millet, oats, quinoa, etc) and mix this in. I tried 1/2 cup cooked millet and 1/2 cup uncooked oats and this was a great choice. You can also mix in nuts, seeds, raisins, olives. Add fresh herbs if desired, approx 1 tsp or to taste. This is a wonderful recipe, very forgiving and easy  to personalize. I made 3 different loaves last week and it has been fun to experiment and see which combinations work best. This is the easiest whole grain recipe I have ever tried.  The cost of making a loaf is minimal and it takes just a few minutes to mix the ingredients together.

Serve fresh hot bread with organic butter/honey/peanut butter/olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Plus here is a quick and easy recipe for sugar-free jam.

Dried fruit jam

Place 1 and 1/2 cup dried fruit into small saucepan. Add 1 cup fruit juice. Bring to boil, cover, turn off flame. Let sit for approx 30 min or until the dried fruit has plumped up. Using immersion blender, puree until fairly smooth. Store in closed container in the fridge.

Note: in Kim Boyle’s cookbook she recommends pitted prunes with orange juice. I have also tried prunes and mango juice. I think it would be fun to try dried cherries and apple or orange juice; dried apricots and mango or orange juice. Experiment and find what flavor combinations that you like best.

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Filed under Kyle Bell McAvoy, Whole Eating, Women's Health & Happiness