Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Salmon Mousse Recipe

Here's an easy recipe for summertime--no cooking, and you can make several servings at once. This is based on a recipe in Freakin' Fabulous by Clinton Kelly.

1 can salmon
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
2 T cold water
1/2 cup boiling water
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 T lemon juice
1 T finely grated onion
2 dashes hot sauce
1 t salt
2 T finely chopped dill
1 cucumber, sliced

In a large mixing bowl, add the gelatin and the cold water. Stir to combine. Add the boiling water and stir until the gelatin dissolves. Let cool.

Add the salmon, mayonnaise, lemon juice, onion, salt, dill and hot sauce. Stir well.

Spoon into a decorative mold and chill for four hours. When ready to serve, immerse the mold in hot water (without letting water into the mold) for 10 seconds. Put a plate upside-down on top of the mold and flip them over in one quick motion. The salmon mousse should come out of the mold; repeat immersion if needed.

Serve on cucumber slices.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Packing and Losing

My year-and-a-half-long love affair with take-out is over. It started when I was selling my house in Colorado: take-out kept the kitchen clean. After I got to Indiana, I started out working part-time and didn't have much human contact at work. Getting take-out brought me some human contact. I was tired of cooking, too.

My weight crept up to the point on the scale where I don't let it go any higher. Even though I ordered food that sounded low-carb, the restaurant information showed 20, 30, or 40 grams of carbohydrate per dish. One Sunday night recently, I made too much chef's salad and took the rest to work the next day. I kept going--I brought my lunch to work every day for a week. Five pounds fell off.

Packing my lunch hasn't been that hard--I was just tired of doing it and then fell into another habit. Now, I usually make a big dinner and take the leftovers to work, along with a low-carb dessert.

What if I don't feel like packing a lunch (or making dinner)?

  • Atkins dinners are available close to home and work.
  • Hardee's makes a good lettuce-wrapped burger.
  • CVS has macadamia nuts (but they're expensive).
  • A roasted chicken is an easy dinner and allows for leftovers.

What hasn't or wouldn't work?

  • Take-out from most restaurants. It's either too carby or too small.
  • Meal delivery services. They're expensive AND you still have to cook and clean up. It's the worst of both worlds. Besides, what happens to them if you're not home when they're delivered? 
  • Atkins bars--they give me gas.

The appeal of the "meal delivery service" eludes me. They're not actually meals, just ingredients in a box with a recipe. The ingredients still have to be chopped and cooked and the dishes done. It doesn't save you a trip to the grocery store since you still have to go there for coffee, bacon, and dish soap.
Restaurant meals tend to be full of sugar and starch. When you pass up the bread, rice and potatoes, you see how little there is to the meals. Indy's fabulous food scene is mostly a wasteland for me. However, the climate here makes it a great place to garden and there's plenty of traditionally raised pork--including bacon, lard and several kinds of sausage--near my home. I bought some the other day and made green chile with pork: I had a cold, and I couldn't find green chile here for love nor money. It's made some great lunches, and despite my being sick, it wasn't that hard to make.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

High Carb Moderation Results

I'd been a die-hard fan of low carb for years when, two years ago, I had complications from an infected tooth and a lot of stress. I had no more appetite for fatty food than someone with seasickness.   For that reason, I started eating higher-carb, lower calorie.

Results? I re-developed acid reflux (though not as severe as before) and got a cavity--my first one since starting low-carb. I also had sugar crashes where I could hardly stay awake.

There seemed to be a feedback loop where stress caused me to eat badly, which worsened my stress, which caused me to eat badly. I took probiotics, since strong antibiotics for my infected tooth made me queasy in the first place, and gradually ate less and less carb and more fat. It's only been in the past few weeks that I've been able to eat sardines again.

Results from lower carb and higher fat? More energy--I mowed my whole lawn in one day last weekend, and yesterday, mowed it all without a break after doing a lot of other yard work. Last year, I had to mow it a little bit at a time. Some weight gain (just a few pounds), but I'm weaning myself off of excess carbohydrate.

If you're in the middle of a feedback loop of eating badly and getting stressed, it's not necessarily enough to just say to yourself, "eat better." 

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Climate Change is Causing Diabetes?

The British Medical Journal (not The Onion) reports that global warming is linked to type 2 diabetes, speculating that the mechanism is brown adipose fat, based on a few small association studies that sound like they didn't have a control group. The media are repeating the story without a hint a skepticism. What could possibly be wrong with a hypothesis that an imperceptible change in the climate could be causing high blood sugar levels?


  • Human evolution began in equatorial Africa--a warm climate. According to migration maps, all of our ancestors were in warm climates until around 40,000 years ago.
  • Comparing diabetes maps of the US and the world with average temperatures, diabetes doesn't look like it relates to hot regions.
  • Most people are indoors most of the time--and almost all of us have air conditioning. In fact, the number of households with air conditioning has gone up in line with diabetes. Maybe that's the cause (not really).



Stumped? Consider what diabetes use to be called: "sugar diabetes." To avoid diabetes, avoid sugar (and starch, which quickly turns into sugar in your body). Eat adequate protein and enough fat to feel full instead. Track your blood sugar after meals. 

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Quick Chicken Stock; Getting Better than Normal

Merry Christmas! It's the seventh anniversary of the blog. Just as I was seven years ago, I've had some health problems--but I know how to deal with them now.

The past few years put me through the wringer mentally and physically: my parents' problems, being accused of elder abuse (without any basis), an infected tooth, my father dying and my mother moving, and then my own moving and working at five different jobs this year. The stress and illness made my stomach too sensitive for me to want to eat fat--but with my stress level cranked up, I lived on a higher-carb diet and still lost weight. I also had acne and scary palpitations. Last Christmas, fumes from wasabi nuts roasting in the oven made me so ill I spent the day in bed.

This Christmas season, feasting at holiday parties kept me up those nights with an upset stomach. I've adopted a Midwestern niceness that makes it hard to say no to goodies. But the same kindness of the people around me has removed a layer of stress that I've had for years. A few years ago, reading the section on the social connection in The Primal Connection by Mark Sisson gave me an empty feeling. Many of the people I was around weren't "my people." They weren't necessarily bad people, but casual acquaintances I didn't connect with. Here in Indianapolis, I finally feel like I've found my tribe.

It's easy to find pasture-raised meat, dairy and lard here, too. I even found goat cheese from a school a mile from my house. I'm not sure what took me so long--maybe I needed to be not just frugal, but immersed in a frugal community--but I realized how to make stock in a jiffy.

1 chicken carcass, cooked
2 stalks celery sliced 1" thick
1 bay leaf
pepper

Put the chicken in a pressure cooker and cover with water. Add a bay leaf and pepper. Bring to pressure and cook for 30 minutes; let pressure fall on its own.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

23 and Me and Saturated Fat


Someone didn't get the memo that all the fuss about saturated fats is based on a bunch of debunked junk science. 23 and Me, the company that provides genetic information from a saliva sample, sent me this message:

People with your genetic result tend to have a similar BMI on diets with greater or less than 22 grams of saturated fat per day, as long as they consume the same number of total calories.
However, diets high in saturated fat have been associated with increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol, which is a risk factor for heart disease. Limit your saturated fat intake. It may not have a large effect on your weight, but it’s important for reducing your risk of heart disease.
Fats are an important part of a healthy diet: they give you energy, help build your cells, and help you absorb certain vitamins. There are three main types of fats, but not all types are equally healthy.
  • Saturated fats: Found primarily in red meat and dairy products, saturated fat has been linked to increased LDL (“bad”) cholesterol and total cholesterol, which are risk factors for heart disease. Researchers are still working to understand the complex relationship between saturated fat and health.
  • Trans fats: Found in processed foods like cookies and frozen pizza, trans fats can increase your risk of heart disease. Experts agree that we should avoid trans fats.
  • Unsaturated fats: Found in nuts, fish, and most vegetable oils, unsaturated fats may improve your cholesterol levels and are commonly thought of as healthy fats.
Saturated fat intake is something many of us should keep an eye on; about 70% of Americans eat more than the recommended daily amount of saturated fat. Try to consume less than 10% of your daily calories from saturated fat, which is 22 grams for a 2000 calorie-per-day diet.
Source: 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans


My response:

I just received this email: "Lori, your weight is likely to be similar on diets high or low in saturated fat with the same number of total calories." 
It isn't the same. I'm 20 pounds lighter on a diet high in saturated fat and low in carbohydrates, even though I gave up my intensive exercise regimen when I gave my diet a radical carbectomy back in 2010. I also stopped getting cavities, stopped having acid reflux, stopped getting hungry enough to eat the carpet, and I have felt better overall. At 47, I take no medications and have the energy I should have had in my 20s. My cholesterol level *improved* on my saturated fat fest. 
The junk science of low-fat diets ("associations" based on food recall questionnaires) has been widely debunked over the past few years. Even Harvard admitted that their Nurses Health Study showed no benefit of following a low-fat diet, which was presumably lower in saturated fat than the diet of the control group. 
Further, telling people to limit their saturated fat intake is terrible advice for people like me who are full of genes for diabetes. My ancestry is largely northern European, where the traditional diet is full of red meat and dairy. The fact that I feel much better on a diet with a good deal of beef, pork, butter, eggs and some fibrous vegetables than I do eating nuts and fruits (both of which I love but give me a stomach ache) makes sense in light of this. 
Please reconsider this response to your customers.

It was actually the Women's Health Initiative, or WHI. Harvard said, back in 2006,

The low-fat, high-starch diet that was the focus of dietary advice during the 1990s-as reflected by the USDA food guide pyramid-is dying out. A growing body of evidence has been pointing to its inadequacy for weight loss or prevention of heart disease and several cancers. The final nail in the coffin comes from an eight-year trial that included almost 49,000 women. Although the media have made much of the “disappointing” results from the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) Dietary Modification Trial, it would be a serious mistake to use these new findings as reason to load up on sausage, butter, and deep-fried fast food.
In other words, keep eating pasta, broccoli and chicken breast because--well, nobody really knows. After 40 years and countless studies on tens of thousands of people, "Researchers are still working to understand the complex relationship between saturated fat and health." Here's a thought: maybe there isn't one. Or maybe for some of us, it's actually beneficial.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Fake Cheese a Real Food? Why Not?

Processed foods have a bad rap these days. "Just eat real food," everyone says, and the real food will cure anything from arthritis to migraine headaches. The people who give this advice do tend to be in good health and do tend to eat real food.

Well, except when they're eating dark chocolate, or sugary fruit that's only existed for a few hundred years, or drinking wine. The first and third foods are about as real and unprocessed as a Cadbury egg. But if we can wink at dark chocolate, bananas and wine, why not fake cheese?

Real cheese and cream give me acne. Fake cheese, like Velveeta and American cheese, don't. For me, they're better than real cheese (and Velveeta melts better than real cheese, too).

If you'd like to add fake cheese to your real foods list, here's a wonderful recipe I made (up) tonight. It would have been good with shiratake noodles.

1 pound grass-fed ground beef
1/2 cup spaghetti sauce made with local, vine-ripened tomatoes
garlic powder (real garlic goes bad quickly in Indianapolis)
a few teaspoons of Italian seasoning
8 oz Velveeta cut in 1" chunks (ounces are shown on package) from Walmart

Brown the beef with the spices. Add spaghetti sauce and cheese on low heat. Makes four small or two big servings. Serve with shiratake noodles from a high-end grocery store or a local green vegetable (I had green beans from my front yard).

Note that Velveeta has more carbohydrate in it than actual cheese, and does contain real dairy. Whatever it is about cheese that bothers my skin must get denatured in whatever wonderful process it is that goes into making fake cheese.