Food Recalls (Or, “They paved paradise and put up a parking lot.”)

Food recalls can be really scary sometimes, especially if you think you may have the item in your kitchen or pantry or even worse, you may have eaten the suspect product! I haven’t written a lot about food recalls myself, but today I am going to do it if only so you can benefit from my experience.

A recent recall I read about was about 4,000 pounds of beef recalled due to “incomplete processing.”  That just leaves so much repulsion to the imagination that I can’t begin to express it. Downright lurid, that is.

Unfortunately I recall eating a lot of beef in my younger years. For instance my Dad grilled steak every Saturday night for dinner. The accompanying family fun and observing how proud Dad was to provide his family with prime grade-A beef made this seem like a good thing. We loved all that delicious grilled fat with slightly crispy edges and the way the marbling made it taste!

Well, for the first few chews anyway. After that there is really no taste to speak of and I would swallow the rest. Talk about “incomplete processing!” I’ve observed that’s what most people do when eating beef or meat. The first few chews pull out the fat and added flavoring (BBQ sauce, chemical-laden tenderizer, marinade, spice rub, A-1, etc.) and the rest is tasteless and chewy and why bother to continue chewing?

Eventually I found out what happens to un-chewed foods such as meat and beef when you swallow it! Your stomach doesn’t have teeth  ya know!  Yes protein can be broken down but how big a chunk of un-chewed beef do you think your stomach is going to handle and how long does it take?

Not sure of the size limit, but I’m sure the food has to be pretty small to really get digested. As for the time it takes, beef and meat take L O N G and typically putrify before digestion has a chance to be completed.

Luckily our bodies are very survival-oriented and can stow that undigested food out of the way. Well, not exactly out of the way. Ever wonder what that overhanging gut is packing? Not just “fat.” It’s undigested food. And if the undigested food stays there long enough, it gets about as hard and solid and black as the macadam they pave your road with. Not exaggerating. Get out the jackhammer.

How’s that for lurid food recall?  “I recall eating too much meat and ending up with a parking lot paved gut!:”

To add insult to injury, there is the matter of meats such as beef creating an unhealthy acidic condition in your body. There is also the fact that eating a lot of meat easily creates an imbalance that often leads to craving sugar and sweets. No wonder the best part of my childhood Saturday night grilled sirloin dinner was roasting marshmallows over the still-hot grill after we ate!

You know when most people grill steak and other meats outside? In the summertime when the weather is hot and we don’t want to cook inside the house. You know what food can make your body produce heat like there’s no tomorrow? Meat and especially beef.

I mentioned this to someone just yesterday and he responded that he has noticed when he eats meat he sweats more.

Now we all know that everyone has not decided to give up meat. Beef is still “What’s for dinner” for a lot of people. What to do? It is not easy maintaining balance and health while eating beef and other meats but it is easy to start controlling and counteracting the negative effects.

  1. (Obvious if you read this post) Chew your food until it is liquid. This is an old, traditional maxim that people used to know. Know now that it still holds true. Chewing is your first digestive action and is extremely important even if the flavor of your steak has waned.
  2. Cooked food does not have live enzymes to help digest it. So follow this advice too: “Don’t dine without enzymes!”
  3. Portion your meat serving so you are eating twice as many leafy greens plus other vegetables as meat. And the smaller the portion of meat, the better. Do you really need a 12-oz New York strip or would a few slices of very high-quality beef strips in a large veggie salad give you the flavor and satisfy the craving?
  4. Quality counts. It is well-known that animals raised for food production such as beef cattle are fed with GMO feed, antibiotics and hormones. At least buy organic. If organic seems expensive, wait until you find out how expensive those medical bills will be when your heavy and unbalanced, undigested meat eating habits catch up with you!

For more information on making the transition to a healthier diet, contact me directly. (See sidebar)

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Balancing with Sea Veggies

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I don’t know about you but around here, the long sultry summer has announced its arrival and I’ve been preparing. How? By lightening up my cooking over the past weeks and infusing more fresh, crisp, biting crunch to the menu.

That is one way to be in balance during the hot season. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the old summertime favorites like potato salad. Of course you can! I just make a few changes that lighten it up and let it help me and my family to feel refreshed and ready to play The Healthy Cooking Game despite the heat.

One of the foods I use to create balance in our diet is sea vegetables. They are awesome sources of naturally occurring minerals and trace minerals. By using sea vegetables you can accomplish so much in such a delicious way.

If you are thinking, “Eeeeewe!  Sea Weed?” don’t panic. Yes. I am talking about seaweed–a traditional food in many parts of the world. Sea VEGGIES, as I prefer to call them, are not only great sources of minerals, some are awesome antioxidants too. They help balance excess protein and fat you may have consumed and help the body to get rid of that excess. If you have been indulging in dairy foods, you will find eating sea vegetables will help your body eventually get rid of that excess too.

You may also already know that eating sugar can deplete your body of minerals faster than you can say “Cherry Garcia,” and sea veggies are very effective in getting minerals back in.

Because of these excesses, you may not like the taste of sea veggies now as much as you will when you are more balanced. So here’s a great little purple-red sea veggie to start with.

Dulse is a mild tasting sea vegetable chock full of minerals and antioxidants. Did you ever get a little washed out from sweating in the heat of summer? Dulse will replenish your potassium.

Here’s how I put all this good data to use in my potato salad recipe:

Wash, slice and boil your potatoes until they are cooked but still firm and cool them down. Add all the other veggies and whisk up the lemon juice, olive oil, umeboshi vinegar and pepper. (Umeboshi vinegar is both salty and sour so you won’t need to add salt to this. Also there is sodium in dulse.) Dress the salad and mix in the dulse flakes.

Truly yummy!

The Healthy Cooking Game is a series of posts about finding what is right for you to eat so you can achieve your dietary goals. It is not about making anyone’s diet wrong or telling you what you have to eat to be healthy. It is a guide for creating balance in your menus and being able to make the changes you want to make. The Healthy Cooking Game is a project that I have undertaken with my friend, Kate Ryan, who is a truly talented cook and food consultant.

The Healthy Cooking Game

It’s Breakfast Time

It’s Breakfast Time!

SCRAMBLED TOFU BREAKFAST

Good Morning!

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A big part of The Healthy Cooking Game is that in order to play like the pros, you need to start finding out what foods do for you.  

Huh?  What foods do? Don’t they get somewhat chewed up and digested and, voila! You don’t need any more for a little while?

Yes. Yes, that’s right in the most basic sense. But there’s so much more to know! Take breakfast for instance. If you eat eggs, do you know what they do for you?

The Incredible Edible Egg website says an egg has about 6.2 grams of protein, 4.8 grams of fat (1.6 of that is saturated), 186 grams of cholesterol and a few vitamins and minerals. But the nutritional data is not the only thing I’m talking about.

Eggs are a very concentrated food. After all, a fertilized egg is the beginning of an entire chicken. Technically speaking, you could consider an egg to be a whole food for that reason. When a food is so concentrated with fat and protein, it takes much longer to digest and in order for your body to really break it down to become useful, you’ve got to be able to balance that egg with things that help with that breakdown and assimilation. (Cruelly, bacon, hash browns and pancakes with butter and syrup just don’t do the trick.)

I would think that in order to create BALANCE with an egg, you would eat at least 3-4 times the volume of dark leafy greens and other vegetables. You might want to know what veggies are really great for helping to break down that fat, too. Like shiitake mushrooms and daikon radish. Or that throwing in some ginger, onions and garlic could be helpful.

But are you sure you would want to eat that egg? Lately I’ve been very concientious about not eating foods that are genetically modified (GMO). You probably know that corn and corn products are big GMO foods unless they’re organic or officially labeled “non-GMO.”

Try going to the natural food store and finding eggs that you can be 100% certain have not come from chickens who were fed any GMO corn or other feed. You’ll see all kinds of “free-range,” “naturally fed,” and “from down on the farm.”  In order to be truly GMO-free, your egg has got to be organic and so does the chicken it came from and so does the food the chicken ate. They are there on the shelves too, for a price. You’ve really got to read that carton to be sure what you’re getting!

Why not skip all that worry and have your scramble and your balance?

Scrambled Tofu

Serves Two

  • 8 oz of firm organic tofu (I prefer sprouted tofu—very digestible)
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thin
  • 1 cup of diced yellow summer squash
  • 1/2 cup of fresh chopped parsley
  • tumeric
  • red chili pepper flakes (optional)
  • olive oil
  • sea salt

Put about a tablespoon of olive oil into a heavy skillet and let it start heating up while adding the shallots. Add a pinch of sea salt here to bring out the flavor of the shallots. When the shallots are translucent and pretty soft (they will have a very sweet taste cooked this way) add your diced yellow squash and another pinch of salt and stir fry that for a minute or two.

Add the tumeric – about a half teaspoon. The tumeric will release a bright yellow color and you want that because when you add your tofu, it will become yellow too—just like scrambled eggs!

Take your tofu and squish it up with your hands so it looks like scrambled eggs and drop it into the pan. I love adding the chili pepper flakes at this point. Season the tofu with some sea salt. Stir the tofu around until it has become a lovely, “eggy” color.

Throw in the parsley at the end and turn off the heat. The parsley will cook a tiny bit with the heat already in the pan/food but will stay bright green. So pretty!

And what, hopefully you are asking, will scrambled tofu DO for me?

Four oz of tofu—such as one serving of this delicious recipe—contains about 10 grams of protein, 5 grams of fat and zero cholesterol! (Sorry egg people, you’re just not all that incredible.)  Tofu has many phytonutrients and known minerals and vitamins naturally occurring. Tofu is also highly digestible and won’t take hours like the egg will. (Note though, that soy beans are another crop that is pretty much across-the-board GMO unless it is certified organic.)

And the rest? Veggies including green parsley for additional vitamins and minerals and blood-cleansing chlorophyl. Plus fiber! Sea salt cooked in the food and not added on top of food at the table helps break down the food and make it taste sweeter and more delicious. Turmeric is well-known as a super hero in fighting inflammation. Plus it contributes a lovely yellow color! Chili pepper flakes are one of my favorite ways to get a little hot taste and help get the ol’ circulation going.

Talk about Breakfast of Champions!