Fat-Free? Not So Fast

31 03 2011

People eager to lose weight or start a healthy diet often act immediately to base their diets around reduced fat or fat free products. Great, but what does that mean in terms of labeling and content?  The following apply:

  • Fat free: containing no or physiologically insignificant amounts of fat, saturated fat, or Trans fat.
  • Low fat or low source of fat: can be consumed frequently without exceeding dietary recommended guidelines for fat or saturated fat.
  • Low fat: less than 3g fat per serving.
  • Low saturated fat: 1g or less saturated fat per serving; not more than 15% of calories from saturated fat.

Recently, the chairman of the Harvard School of Nutrition remarked that over the last 30 years we have done a good job educating the public about the dangers of too much saturated fat intake. Saturated fat intake has decreased; but body mass index (BMI), a measure of obesity, has continued to increase. The chairman went on to comment that the problem is that it is not actually the fat that is the problem it is the carbohydrates. My commentary is that it is not carbohydrates, per se, but refined things like refined sugars (as opposed to natural sugars found in fruits, etc.).

A study looking at residents of Minnesota over almost 3 decades found that their level of sugar intake has continued to rise over that period. A rise in their BMI correlated with the increase in sugar consumption. This was more than simply examining the effect of sugary laden soft drinks, this study specifically looked at the addition of sugars in the processing and preparation of foods. When things are labeled fat free, low fat, etc. they may not contain as much fat as standard choices. But you need to look for the sugars which are listed under the carbohydrates. Why? Because you body will transform these into an expanding BMI. Now you know-don’t get fooled again.

Lavender Madeleines

30 03 2011

My friend Rebecca over at Chow and Chatter is always posting these amazing madeleines. So, I finally bit the bullet and made some delicious lavender madeleines to welcome spring. We dipped them in a Chambord Chocolate Ganache and served with a key lime whipped cream. Oh, and of course bubbly! Vive Le France!

The Best Medicine?

28 03 2011

A small study just presented at the American Heart Association meeting in Atlanta suggest that while maybe not the best medicine, laughter and song can be effective therapies[i]. A Japanese study looked at 79 adults and divided them into three groups. One got no additional intervention, one got music sessions and one got laughter sessions. Both the music and laughter groups saw an over 5mmHg reduction in blood pressure, while none was seen in the group with no intervention.  That is within the range of other therapies like medication, weight loss and reducing salt intake. Cortisol levels, a marker of stress, were also reduced after the respective therapies. Grab your iPod (or pad), crank some tunes and laugh along with Charlie. It’s all good medicine. The best medicine, you can argue about that but at least do it

[i] (Eguchi & Ciccone, 2011)


25 03 2011

Still got those leftover veggies-Try a stir-fry. Here’s one with a  little fresh and tender chicken. The sauce? Soy, sake, rice wine vinegar, salt, pepper, ginger, garlic, cilantro and sesame oil. Place a little star anise in the rice when you steam for a gentle flavor addition. I reduced the sauce in the wok with a  little corn starch in cold water. If you like a little heat, add some chilies to the sauce as well. Who needs delivery!

Cottage Pie

24 03 2011

What to do with those extra veggies? Add some delicious grass-fed free range ground beef and bison, season and top with Maytag Blue Mashed Potatoes and you have a cottage pie. Often mistakenly labeled as Shepherd’s Pie (Shepherd’s is made with lamb, hence the “Shepherd”) cottage pie is delightfully simple and amazingly satisfying and tasty!

Heartbeat Radio

23 03 2011

For those that missed our reecent appearance on Heartbeat Radio. Just push play and tune in here:

Hearbeat Radio Interview 15 March 2011

Mediterranean Diet Improves Multiple Cardiac Risk Factors

22 03 2011

The Mediterranean diet approach to eating has been shown in a number of trials to reduce the incidence of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. It also keeps you slimmer so you can squeeze into the flashy French and simply stunning Italian fashions. It is a diet that uses a lot of oil for consumption and cooking, as well as a lot of fresh product, seafood and hearty servings of fruit and veggies. And wine, don’t forget the wine.

What parameters does it improve to yield all these remarkable benefits (these would be those French benefits you hear so much about)? A recent study looked at a number of previous trials from across the globe and comprising over 500,000 participants[i]. It was found that a Mediterranean diet was associated with:

  • Decreased waist circumference
  • Higher HDL (good) cholesterol
  • Lower triglyceride levels
  • Better blood pressure control
  • Better glucose (blood sugar) metabolism

So if you can’t afford to get over to the Mediterranean, at least eat like it!

[i] (Kastorini, Milionis, Esposito, Guigliano, Goudevenos, & Panagiotakos, 2011)


18 03 2011


Check out our article on page 132 of this issue (April 2011) of Fitness Magazine!

The St. Patrick’s Day Feast: When Irish Eyes Start A’ Smilin’

17 03 2011

Today we all wear o’ the green. Today we are  all Irish. Corned Beef. Cabbage. Mutton. Potatoes. Bland. For many, this, along with a pint of Guinness and a glass of whisky sum up the extent of Irish cuisine. But there is really so much more to found in this vibrant land and culture. Corned beef, while an authentic food item with references dating back to the 12th century (The Vision of Mac Conglinne) was a rare treat. Beef and most any meat was a rare indulgence on this island nation. As in many cultures worldwide, a dietary staple was starches such as potatoes and greens. Add into the mix that Ireland has some of the most varied, fresh and delicious seafood available and you start to get an idea of what can set Irish eyes a smilin’. We use a variety of root vegetables that provide not only a delightful natural sweetness to the typical mashed potato offering, but a variety of different vitamins and minerals as well. The greens add a luscious texture as well as a host of phytochemicals, minerals, nutrients and fiber. A few crispy oysters deliver incredibly bioavailable forms of calcium, iron and trace elements like selenium and zinc. And a Guinness hollandaise adds, well, Guinness and what’s a St. Patty’s Day without a pint!

Potatoes, The Myth: Well, actually it is no myth: The Irish go together with potatoes like the fact that no Irishman is ever truly drunk so long as there is a single blade of grass to grasp to keep from falling off the face of the earth. The land also produced other tasty root vegetables and we start our meal with a base in fact that has given way to legend.

Irish Root Mash

  • 1 pound potatoes
  • ¼ pound parsnips
  • ¼ pound turnips
  • 1 Tbs butter
  • 1 oz milk
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground white pepper

Heat some lightly salted cold water in a pot. Add the chopped vegetables, chop them roughly the same size so the cooking times are consistent. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until fork tender. Mash along with butter, milk, salt and pepper.

A blessing of The Green: What would an Irish dish be without some green? Not very authentic, that’s for sure. Any seasonal, fresh greens may be used here.

The Green

  • 1 10oz. back of spinach
  • 1 bunch fresh Swiss chard (yields about 1 cup chopped and cooked)
  • 1 Tbs olive oil

Heat a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Separate the chard stems from the leaves. Add the stems to the boiling water reduce to a simmer and cook for 7 minutes. Add the leaves and cook for three more. Remove, drain and cool in an ice bath. Drain the par-boiled chard of as much excess water as possible then roughly chop. Heat the oil in a saucepan and add the spinach and chard. Cook for several minutes until the greens are bright green and done, remove from the heat.

The Pearls: A true pearl of Irish seafood is the oyster, particularly the Galway oyster. It was so highly regarded by the Romans that they paid for them by weight, in gold. Here we take some fresh oysters and dress them in a light bread coating and deeply fry them to perfection-Hail Caesar!

Irish Pearls

  • 12 fresh oysters
  • ¼ cup bread crumbs
  • ¼ cup crushed corn flakes
  • ½ cup AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 Tbs water
  • Peanut oil for deep frying

Dry the oysters and set up a 3 station breading area. Add the salt and pepper to the flour and place in the first bowl. Add the eggs and water to a second bowl. Place the bread crumbs and crushed corn flakes into a third bowl. Heat enough oil to cover the oyster in a Dutch oven or deep fryer to 360 degrees. Place the oysters in the flour and shake off the excess. Dip in the egg, again removing the excess and generously coat in the breading mixture. Deep fry for several minutes until golden brown remove and season lightly with salt and pepper.

Guinness: Guinness, ‘nuff said. The addition of Guinness to this Hollandaise adds a deep rich, chocolate layer that truly elevates this sauce to serious consideration for Sainthood.

Guinness Hollandaise

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • 3 egg yolks
  • ½ cup Guinness

Combine the lemon juice and egg yolks. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Temper the egg yolks by adding the melted butter, a little at a time to the yolks, whisking constantly. When half the butter has been added combine the egg yolk-butter mixture with the rest of the melted butter in the saucepan. Add the Guinness and stir over medium low heat until the sauce thickens, about 3- minutes.

Assembling The Feast: This recipe serves four, but you will have some Hollandaise leftover. Start with the root mash, then layer the greens and top with three fried oysters. Drizzle with 2 tsp of Guinness Hollandaise and pour yourself a fresh one. With some oysters and Guinness, this a meal to get Irish eyes a smilin’-and a whole lot more!

And for dessert I leave you with the traditional Irish Toast:

May those that love us,

Love us

And those that don’t

May God turn their hearts

And if He can’t turn their hearts,

May he turn their ankles so we’ll know them by their limping

Nutrition info: Servings, 4. Totals per serving; calories 395, calories from fat 135, total fat 15g, total cholesterol 90mg, total sodium 1050mg, total carbohydrates 52g, total fiber 6g, total percent RDA; vitamin A 188%, vitamin c 81%, calcium 16%, iron 34%.


Beggar’s Purse

16 03 2011

Here’s a great little app; beggar’s purse stuffed with lobster, Napa cabbage, ginger, garlic and other Eastern Flavors. Served piping hot with a home-made dipping sauce of citrus, soy, sake and other flavors and you’ll just be begging for more!