Food Is Not Your Enemy


Free Nutrition Book Available For Download

Did you know that you can now download a free digital copy of Integrative Nutrition: Feed Your Hunger for Health and Happiness at my site? The book, written by Joshua Rosenthal, the founder of the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, is a nice intro to the general approach I use in my nutritional counseling program.



The Benefits of Bone Broth
April 29, 2011, 9:42 am
Filed under: Books, Meat, Recipes | Tags: , , , ,

Ever seen the ingredients on a package of bouillon cubes? Each cube is basically a chemical cocktail of MSG, partially hydrogenated oil, salt, sugar, and TBHQ, a preservative that is a form of butane (lighter fluid).

This isn’t what our grandmothers used to make chicken soup.

Unfortunately, as we’ve turned more and more toward pre-packaged convenience foods like bouillon, Americans have just about lost the art of making homemade soup stock from chicken, beef, or fish bones. “Who has the time?” we say. Or, “Why bother?”

Healthy food–some of it, anyway–can take some time to prepare. But the health benefits you’ll reap from a homemade stock make it well worth your time and effort.

In her influential cookbook “Nourishing Traditions,” Sally Fallon Morell posits, after extensive research into the nutritional value of traditional foodways, that meat stocks are extremely good for us. They contain the minerals of bone, cartilage, marrow, and vegetables as electrolytes, in a form that is easily absorbed into the body. Stocks also contain plenty of natural gelatin, which is a digestive aid that has been used to successfully treat such digestive disorders as colitis and Crohn’s disease. Gelatin also allows our bodies to more fully utilize the proteins we ingest. Another important compound found in meat stock is collagen, used to treat rheumatoid arthritis and other ailments, and also essential for strong bones. And fish stocks boiled with fish heads are particularly nourishing to the thyroid gland (the fish heads contain the fish thyroid, which adds thyroid hormone into the soup).

So think about taking some time to make a stock once in a while. You can make a big batch and freeze it in small containers, so that you can just grab some when cooking sauces or soups at a future date. Here’s my husband’s recipe for chicken stock, which he makes every time we finish eating a roast chicken at home:

Homemade Chicken Stock

1 chicken carcass, broken into pieces

1 onion, peeled and cut in half

2 celery stalks, coarsely chopped

3 medium carrots, coarsely chopped

1/2 bunch parsley, whole stalks

Few pinches fresh or dried thyme

Few stalks fresh dill or 2 pinches dried

3 whole peppercorns

Put all ingredients together in a large pot. Cover with water, an inch above the ingredients. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer. Simmer, covered, for 2 hours, skimming off any foam that collects on top.

Let cool slightly. Strain into another pot. Smash down the solid ingredients in the strainer with a wooden spoon to squeeze out all the liquids. Discard the solid ingredients and let the stock cool in the refrigerator overnight.

Skim fat solids off the top. Return to the stove to a boil. Boil the stock until it is reduced by half. Once cool, store stock in the refrigerator (if you’ll be using it within a few days) or in the freezer in small containers.

Enjoy!



America’s Most Influential Farmer on the Future of Food

Treehugger has published a great, in-depth interview with Joel Salatin today. If you’ve read Michael Pollan’s book “The Omnivore’s Dilemma,” you’ll remember Salatin as the plucky farmer who refused to ship Pollan a steak in the mail and who extolled the virtues of the self-sufficient, multi-crop and multi-animal farm.

Highlight:

“The food industry views everything through the skewed paradigm of faith in human cleverness rather than dependence on nature’s design. … But this hubris seems to relish the fact that we can irradiate food to sterilize poop, rather than slowing the processing down enough that we can wash the poop off before it gets in the food.

Which opens up the next big problem: safe food. And this runs the gamut from nutrition to outright danger. The food industry actually believes that feeding your children Twinkies, Cocoa Puffs and Mountain Dew is safe, but drinking raw milk and eating compost-grown tomatoes is dangerous. The industrial food system depends on dredging up horror stories from the early 1900s as food was just industrializing and rural electrification, stainless steel, and sanitation understanding were not available to continue demonizing, marginalizing, and criminalizing back-to-heritage foods in the modern day. Using its political clout, industrial food is waging war on local, nutrient dense foods as surely as the U.S. Cavalry hunted down native Americans earlier in our culture’s history.”



Soba Noodle Soup

Here’s another great recipe from Daphne Miller’s book “The Jungle Effect.” This is a healthy and delicious recipe from Okinawa, where people hardly ever get breast or prostate cancer, and routinely live robust lives into their 90s. I really love this book–and if you sign on as my client, it will likely end up in your hands as one of the 12 gifts I give during your six-month program

Serves 4.

6 cups cold water

3 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce

1 quarter-sized piece fresh ginger

1/4 cup dried fish flakes (Bonito flakes are the most common)

Option: Either 1 pound meaty pork ribs, cut into 2-inch pieces, OR chopped bone-in chicken parts OR 8 dried shiitake mushrooms (I’ve always used the mushrooms)

1 1/3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon sweet sake or mirin

1 tablespoon rice vinegar (or 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon if not using sake)

One 8-oz. package soba noodles

Condiments:

2 sheets nori, cut into confetti-sized strips using sharp scissors

4 scallions, sliced in 1/2 inch lengths on a sharp diagonal

2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted

1 small daikon radish, peeled and grated, or 2 tablespoons dried daikon

One 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated

2 teaspoons wasabi powder mixed with enough warm water to form a soft paste

For the broth: Fill a pot with the cold water. Add 1 teaspoon of the soy sauce, the ginger, the fish flakes, and the ribs or chicken or mushrooms and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and simmer for 1-2 hours, occasionally skimming the fat off the top if using meat.

Mix in the brown sugar, sake or mirin, rice vinegar, and the remainder of the soy sauce.

For the noodles: Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil and cook the soba to the desired doneness–about 5 minutes. Drain.

To serve: Evenly distribute the soba in four bowls. Pour the broth over the noodles, and then garnish with the nori, scallions, sesame seeds, daikon, ginger, and meat or mushrooms. Allow each diner to add their own wasabi as desired.



When Was the Last Time You Ate “Porridge”?

Or have you ever? You may eat oatmeal, farina, and cream of wheat, but something you might call “porridge”? That’s a word we associate with fairy tales.

But in her book “Nourishing Traditions,” Sally Fallon Morell posits that the boxed cold cereals we eat today are basically no better than eating cardboard, and that we need to return to the nourishing, warm, truly whole-grain cereals, i.e. porridge, that previous generations in countries all over the globe consumed on a regular basis. I’ll get into the “traditional breakfast” more in my June newsletter (sign up here, it’s free), but I wanted to share here her recipe (with some minor tweaks from me) for amaranth porridge, which I’ve been cooking up every week lately. I serve it mixed with milk, raisins, walnuts, and maple syrup.

Amaranth Porridge

1 cup of amaranth (a tiny grain available in health food stores or the organic section of your supermarket)

1 cup of warm water plus 2 tablespoons plain yogurt, whey, kefir, or buttermilk (I’ve been using kefir)

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

Mix the amaranth with the warm water mixture in a pot, cover, and leave in a warm place for at least 7 hours and as long as 24 hours. After it’s soaked, add the salt and an additional 1/2 cup of water to the pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until the water is absorbed, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with any combination of milk/cream, butter, syrup, honey, nuts, ground flaxseeds, and dried fruit.

Serves 3-4.



Lentil Stew With Greens

This is one of my favorite recipes. It’s a Cretan dish, and comes from an eye-opening book called “The Jungle Effect” by Daphne Miller. Miller is a doctor who researched how the healthiest people in the world eat, and this dish is part of a cuisine eaten by a people who, until the recent influx of American fast food restaurants onto their island, essentially never got heart disease. This is the kind of food that’s at the heart of the Mediterranean diet (as opposed to the unlimited pasta bowl from the Olive Garden). I use kale when I cook this.

1 cup small dark lentils

8 cups chicken stock (or use water)

1 teaspoon salt

1 medium potato, peeled and sliced paper thin

1 cup sliced carrots

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion

1 pound (1 packed quart) leafy greens (such as spinach, dandelion, arugula, kale, beet greens, or a mix)

1/4 cup roughly chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves

1 tablespoon minced garlic

Plain yogurt and lemon wedges for garnish

Wash the lentils. Place the lentils in a saucepan and cover with stock (or water) and salt. Bring to a boil and skim off any foam on top. Add the potato and carrots, partially cover, and cook over medium heat for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large skillet and slowly brown the onions. While the onion is browning, wash, stem, and chop the greens. Add the parsley and garlic to the skillet and saute for a minute or two, then stir in the greens and allow them to wilt, covered.

Scrape the contents of the skillet, including the oil, into the saucepan with lentils. Combine all ingredients, then continue cooking covered for another 20 minutes, or until thick and soupy. Garnish with a drizzle of yogurt and serve with a lemon wedge. Serves 4-6.

Variation: For a thicker soup, use less broth/water and mash some of the lentils and potatoes.



How to Find a Healthy (And Tasty!) Restaurant in NYC
May 6, 2009, 10:40 am
Filed under: Books, Restaurants | Tags: , ,

I’ve had some bad experiences eating at so-called “healthy” restaurants in New York. One restaurant that shall go unnamed I vowed never to return to after being served what looked and tasted like globs of Elmer’s glue accented with lawn clippings.

But now there’s a handy guide detailing where to eat out in New York if you care about both your health and your taste buds. It’s called “Clean Plates N.Y.C.” and it was put together by Jared Koch and food critic Alex Van Buren. It won me over right away when I saw such restaurants as Five Points and Gramercy Tavern in there–this is definitely not the list you’d expect.

So how did Jared and Alex select the restaurants? In addition to taste, they took into account such issues as whether the meat being served is hormone and antibiotic free, the produce is purchased from organic or local purveyors, and the water is filtered. There’s a much longer list of criteria you can see in the book.

“Clean Plates N.Y.C.” is out now, and available at Cleanplatesnyc.com, Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Borders, and other book stores.