Thanks for All The Fish

I am going on an alarming rant here, about the condition of the oceans and the fish that swim in them. This is a very sobering situation and it seems there are only a few people talking about this.

It is stated that the entire Pacific Ocean will be completely contaminated with radiation by 2016.

Let that sink in. By 2016, if not sooner.

We should all be very alarmed.

Fukushima has always been a world issue but only a few dedicated heroic Japanese are working non-stop to solve the problem. The brains of the world should step in and assist in trying to figure out what should and could be done.

However, I feel it is already far too late to save the food we get from the oceans. The blue fin tuna being caught off of the California coast are testing positive for radiation.

This is not the radiation we commonly find naturally in food; our bodies have adapted to that. In case you didn’t know, bananas, Brazil nuts have extremely low doses of potassium-40 and we have naturally occurring radiation such as radon and radium. Our bodies have adapted to potassium-40. Potassium does not collect in our bodies, any excess is dumped. And we have adapted our environments to deal with radon.

We are referring to radioactive elements such as cecium-137 which has a half-life of 30 years, and idoine-129 and iodine-131 has a half-life of 8 days as an internal transmitter, while iodine-129 has a half-life of, get this, 15.7 million years. Additionally, Fukushima has dumped radioactive strontium-90 which is also a strong internal transmitter, mimics calcium and collects in bones.

We have not adapted to these elements and they cause cancer. Cecium-137 is hard to avoid due to the environmental and atmospheric  testing of bombs. Cecium-137 enters the body through food and milk. It is chemically similar to potassium and is processed in the body the same as potassium.

Cecium-137 collects in muscles; Iodines in the thyroid and strontium-90 collects in bones. These are not naturally occurring radioactive elements are extremely dangerous. Due to the long half-lives, exposure is cumulative and builds up until one or the other perishes.

Please read this article and series of articles regarding this on the blog Washington’s Post, poke around while you are there and read more.

There are articles, studies and research that back the information up so it’s not just some doomsday freak writing scare tactic articles.

Yes, I’m sure you have heard about the talking heads saying the levels of radiation are harmless and much lower that what we encounter everyday in our natural environments and medical procedures.

To quote the blog “Washington’s Post”

The bottom line is that there is some naturally-occurring background radiation, which can – at times – pose a health hazard (especially in parts of the country with high levels of radioactive radon or radium).

But cesium-137 and radioactive iodine – the two main radioactive substances being spewed by the leaking Japanese nuclear plants – are not naturally-occurring substances, and can become powerful internal emitters which can cause tremendous damage to the health of people who are unfortunate enough to breathe in even a particle of the substances, or ingest them in food or water.

Unlike low-levels of radioactive potassium found in bananas – which our bodies have adapted to over many years – cesium-137 and iodine 131 are brand new, extremely dangerous substances.

And unlike naturally-occurring internal emitters like radon and radium – whose distribution is largely concentrated in certain areas of the country – radioactive cesium and iodine, as well as strontium and other dangerous radionuclides, are being distributed globally through weapons testing and nuclear accidents.

At this point, I’m not sure if there is anything “we” can do except be aware. I predict our time to eat ocean fish from any ocean is limited. In five years, we may not be able to eat any more ocean food.

I went to high School in Tokyo Japan. I still have many friends living there, in Hawaii and Guam. They all express concern and have fears of what the future may bring.

It makes me wonder, would it be safe to live on the coast? Go to the beach? What about walking in the rain?

Life as we know is it going to change. Just as we now bring our own shopping bags as we grocery shop, we’ll need to add a Geiger counter. Hope they make a purse size.

The worlds scientists say it is OK to eat Pacific seafood. Is this to avoid mass panic? Is the issue being glossed over because there isn’t anything anyone can do? What will the future be like in 10 years?

So many questions without answers.

Geiger-Müller radiation detector.

Geiger-Müller radiation detector. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What happens when the safe drinking water supply to a city like Tokyo is contaminated with radiation? Where and how does an entire country get relocated?

#6550 Iodine-131 found in ground water

#6550 Iodine-131 found in ground water (Photo credit: Nemo’s great uncle)

Should we just go on about living as if nothing is happening? What do we do? What will you do?

Imagine future generations saying things like, “Can you believe they used to eat these things?”

All I can say, is I’m glad to have had the chance to eat seafood and enjoy it tremendously. I’ll miss it terribly. Thanks for all the fish!

Awareness of Eating

“Never trust a skinny chef!” is how the old saying goes. But let’s examine that adage and explore the rearrangement of a common cliché.

As we become more aware of our diets, the effects food has on our bodies and how it makes us feel, there needs to be a basis of trust between the cook and the consumer.

English: White House chefs, directed by Execut...

English: White House chefs, directed by Executive Chef Henry Haller, prepare for a state dinner honoring Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser. The chefs are working in the White House kitchen; the dinner occured in 1981, during the administration of Ronald Reagan. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Take a look at the chef, the person responsible for creating the menu and training the kitchen staff on how to prepare the various dishes.

Since I have worked in kitchens, I know a lot more about how restaurant kitchens run than most. If the person creating my meal is on the heavy side, typically sauces and flavorings  would be full of butter, fats, salts and sugars.

“A heavy chef means they enjoy their food, so it must be good!”

Really? How many people who are overweight have a hard time identifying a proper portion size? Someone who struggles with weight will eat for the sake of eating.

Someone who has emotions (hopefully all of us) will eat sometimes for comfort. Think of chicken soup when you’re ill; but when you can’t stop eating weight becomes an issue.

Sometimes the food choices we make are simply because the food we choose is familiar, it is what we know. But what if that food is bad for us? What if people really don’t understand the processed food they are eating is bad?

Evidence the obesity crisis in the USA.

Jamie Oliver is doing an eating awareness program in West Virginia to address the problem of obesity. He goes into an elementary school and the children cannot identify fresh tomatoes on the vine, cauliflower or even potatoes.

The pile of pizza, corn dogs, hot dogs, hamburgers, cakes and ice cream all over the table that represented what the family ate for a week was disturbing. Most disturbing of all is that the mom didn’t know the food was bad for them. They weren’t hungry and she thought that was good.

But she is killing her family. Her 10-year old son is already 350 pounds. Really, “Well we’re not hungry”?!

Shocking. How did it get so far?

I want a chef who is inventive but not at the expense of my health. I want someone preparing my food with the same attitude I have for health.

Obesity is a rampant problem in the USA. Identifying proper nutrients is a major issue. Processed foods, fast foods, restaurant foods loaded with fats, salts and sugars invade the diets of every day eating all around us.

The basic food environment in the USA is severely lacking in good solid nutritious fresh food.

Drive through any town, fast foods for everything from donuts, burgers, sandwiches, Mexican, Chinese, and Italian; fried and fast is what lines the streets. It isn’t easy to choose not to eat fast food, especially when you are hungry, the temptation is great to give in.

There are many of us who are aware of what we eat. Those on gluten-free diets are aware of nearly every product they eat. Thankfully, gluten-free is easier to find these days, but there is still the issue of all that fat, sugar and sodium.

When we eat out, we are at the mercy of the kitchen to actually know how to make food taste good without the added fat, salts and sugar.

Slapping butter, sugar and salt onto food is an easy way to make anything taste good. Cooking like that takes no skill at all.

Using salt is an important seasoning but so many far overdo the salt thing. Adding some salt to cooking water when boiling pasta, rice or potatoes is usually all you need.

I love salt! I adore all the different kinds of salt there are, yet I don’t overdo it either.

I am not looking for a chef who serves me a plate full of sauces and vegetables full of butter. I am looking for foods that are cooked correctly and seasoned to bring out the full of flavors.

People need to learn what a proper portion size looks like. Restaurants serve enough to 1 person to feed three and yet that one person still tries to eat as much as they can because that is what they are served.

Case in point: The Cheesecake Factory (Hint right there) offers a “Crispy Chicken Costoletta” which serve up a whopping 2610 calories, 89 grams of fat and 2720 milligrams of salt. Costolotta alright, cost a lotta health if you eat all that.  If you really have to eat that, then break it down into three meals at least. (Nutrition Action Healthletter, January/February 2012) Best of all, choose another place to eat.

Watch buffets; people load up their plates as if they only have one visit. All manner of foods get glopped together on a plate so it becomes a huge pile of goop melange. Why not go get some salad, talk, visit with your dining companions, eat, and return for entrée, then again for dessert. It seems more civil. Why are we rushing? Trying to beat the mental signal you are full?

But instead they try to slip that cherry cobbler right next to the fried chicken and coleslaw that sits on top of the ranch dressing salad with “Country Crocked” yeast rolls underneath.

Then they stuff it all in, make a second trip and wonder why they have bellies the size of VW Bug cars.

Burp.

Talking to Tyler the other day, he mentioned he was having his girlfriend over for dinner and he had to go set the table. I felt good knowing he was carrying on a family value: Setting a table and sitting there to eat dinner and talk to each other about the day.

An attractive dinner setting

An attractive dinner setting (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Something so small, yet it is so important. Our social and family bonds grow stronger with each meal gathering. Shouldn’t the food put in front of us be nourishing as well?

The movement to better health through eating well begins with each one of us making a choice.

If you don’t know how to cook or how to choose better nutrition, take a class and learn. Get your children involved with preparing meals; they are more likely to try new foods if they have a hand in making the dish.

Step away from the sugar bowl! Put down those sodas and juice boxes. Drink water, teas, non-fat milk. There are even flavored waters with bubbles if you simply must have a fizzy drink.

Try extra-virgin coconut and olive oils instead of butter. Your heart will thank you.

I started taking a Therapeutic Nutrition class a few weeks ago. My eyes have really been opened to how severe the obesity epidemic is and that we CAN do something about it.

That something is education and choice.

I hope you can join me in starting something is your neighborhood. The future depends on our kids, how can they carry on if they aren’t healthy?

First step ANYONE can take:

Don’t eat any food advertised on TV

Except eggs and milk, of course!

Sorry Jared, Subway needs a better way.

Make a sandwich from home. Learn to cook fresh foods and eliminate processed foods. It may take a while to actually accomplish this, but you will be rewarded with better health and more money in your pocket.

If each of us took one small step towards better eating and nutritious health, we could change a nation. We can start in our own homes.

The power of one can inspire another.

Apples are an all-American success story-each ...

Raw Kale Salad – Give it a Massage!

I was reading a recipe the other day on the Food Network website regarding a Massaged Kale Salad from the Aarti Party Show.

Kale is on the edge of being overdone but this is worth exploring. Give it a try before you get sick of eating so much kale!

Kale saladPrevious thoughts had me thinking kale was too tough to eat raw. A quick saute, dip in hot oil, plunge into a hot oven or dropped into soup is how I prepared it before this recipe caught my eye.

So I tried it. Massage your kale, sounds kinky right?!

I had to come up with another way of massaging the kale as not everyone likes to have their food handled to this extent by someone else’s bare hands.

Use a dough hook instead of your hands

Use a dough hook instead of your hands

Bare hand contact can be a health issue if the person touching the food does not wash their hands correctly or is carrying some kind of germ.

While the recipe wasn’t followed, the massage technique was. The result is an addicting, tender kale salad that can be dressed in so many ways.

After massaging the kale, create your salad. All you need to add is other ingredients and the salad is already dressed.

Choose a toasted nut and a favorite fruit, fresh or dried. Add some cheese and you can go forever with the combinations that can be created as additions for this most excellent salad.

This is what I did last night:

Kale Salad with Toasted Pine Nuts, Dried Cranberries and Shaved Parmesan

  • 1 pound kale
  • Juice from 1 fresh lemon
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • A light sprinkle of salt and fresh black pepper
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup toasted pine nuts
Trim the stems from the leaves

Trim the stems from the leaves

Trim leaves from the stems, wash thoroughly in cool water to remove any garden friends, sand and dirt.

If the kale is very sandy or has a lot of soil on it, soak it in a deep bath of salty water. Dip and lift the kale from the water so the soil is left behind in the bottom of the soaking bowl. You may need to do this several times to get rid of all the dirt.

Chop the kale leaves small, but not too tiny; bite size is perfect.

Place the chopped kale into a bowl. Drizzle the kale with lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper. The amount you use depends on how much kale you use. Only use enough to lightly coat the leaves, you don’t want anything on the bottom of the bowl.

Using your hands (washed of course! and wear gloves) or in a stand mixer on low with the dough hook, massage the greens for 2-3 minutes.

You will notice the leaves changing texture, becoming more tender and turning a brighter green as well.

Peel Parmesan into the salad with a peeler.

Peel Parmesan into the salad with a peeler.

After 2-3 minutes of massage, add toasted pine nuts, dried cranberries and use a peeler to shave Parmesan into the salad.

The above amounts can be adjusted to your liking.

Try other fruits, nuts and cheese in this salad, avocado is amazing too.

Top the salad with beef, grilled chicken, shrimp or fish to make it an entrée salad.

Serve and enjoy!

eating kale saladThis salad was so good, I came back down and scarfed another bowl in the middle of the night and another after breakfast.

Now I need to go buy more kale.

DSC_0051

Coconut Oil – Myth and Reality

Coconut oil has become the latest buzzword in healthy diets these days.

Healthy coconut oil? This goes against everything we have been told for the last 65 years.

English: This is a photo of one of my painting...

I must admit I held a lot of misconceptions about coconut oil until I started doing research and talking to people about using the oil.

If you want to know a very simple analysis of what I found read below.

How to use coconut oil in the kitchen is after the research. If you get bored by the technical stuff, drop down to the kitchen section.

“Coconut oil is high in fat and therefore bad for you.”

The fat found in coconut oil is a medium-chain fatty acid or triglyceride. Most vegetable and seed oils are composed of long-chain fatty acids. The medium-chain fatty acids are easily processed in the liver without insulin spikes. They are easy to break down therefore are used by the liver as energy rather than stored as fat cells like the long-chain fatty acids.

Coconut oil is a rich source of lauric acid, rarely found in nature, lauric acid is known as a ‘miracle’ element due to its ability to

Chemical structure of Lauric acid created with...

Chemical structure of Lauric acid created with ChemDraw. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

promote health in the body. The body converts lauric acid into an anti-viral and anti-bacterial and anti-protozoa substance.

(Bacteria, viruses and parasites such as some protozoa, like Giardia and Cryptosporidium, are major sources of food borne illnesses.)

“Coconut oil is a saturated fat. It can build up in your system and cause clogged arteries, obesity and heart disease.”

Actually the opposite is what is true.

We have been told for the last 65 or so years, all saturated fats are bad for you. Consuming saturated fats can lead to health issues.

The health issue list includes obesity, heart disease, clogged arteries, high cholesterol, just to name a few.

Some saturated fats occur naturally and some are created, like margarine.

Bombarding  molecules with hydrogen to produce a thick sticky substance has no health benefits whatsoever. Yet this is what has been sold to us in the form of margarine and preached to us by the ad agencies as being “beneficial, healthy, and a better choice than butter. Witness the popularity of things like Country Crock, Parkay and I can’t believe it’s not Butter kind of products.

The created products are full of trans-fats, which we should avoid completely.

The marketing industry convinced us that because coconut oil was solid at room temperature, it should never be consumed. It was used in cosmetics to benefit the skin, but it was shunned as an ingredient in our diets.

Research has discovered these negative myths about coconut oil are not true. Studies have been done on cultures that thrive on coconut oil in their diets to show lower rates of obesity, no cardiovascular disease, and over all better general health than we have in the USA.

Coconut oil helps equalize cholesterol levels by promoting HDL in the blood which helps improve the HDL/LDL ratio. Additionally coconut oil helps promote healthy thyroid function thereby also assisting cholesterol and boosting energy and endurance. A boost to the thyroid can also pump up your metabolism, which is a great benefit!

Consumption of coconut oil helps the body absorb fat-soluble vitamins. It helps blood sugar stabilize, it can help resist fungus and yeast and can improve how the body uses insulin.

Consuming 2 tablespoons of coconut oil daily, in this 2009 study, demonstrated benefits. In this 12-week study, the women did not gain weight but actually lost stomach fat during the study. Reading this study made me decide to give coconut oil a try.

English: Coconut oil in solid state

Coconut Oil in the Kitchen

Selecting Coconut Oil:

You want extra-virgin, organic coconut oil. Read the labels!

Not all coconut oil is the same. Some is hydrogenated which is what you want to avoid.

Storing Coconut Oil:

Coconut oil has a low melting point (76°F) and a high smoke point (350°F). Store the oil in a cool dry place like a cabinet.

Do not store the coconut oil in the refrigerator.

Do not store it near the stove because it could cause it to melt.

Store it in a cool cabinet away from the stove. It should last about 2 years without going rancid.

But if you are using it, it shouldn’t last that long.

Using Coconut Oil:

Use Coconut Oil to saute or pan-fry your meals and snacks. Popcorn is wonderful popped in a bit of coconut oil.

Saute kale for an incredible flavor! The sweetness of the coconut oil really enhances and tames the bitterness of kale.

Use it to saute any vegetable, chicken, fish, or meat.

Use it just as you would any cooking oil. However because it is solid below 76°F, it is best not used in dressings or marinades. Use a quality grade of olive oil for these items instead.

Here is another use for coconut oil: replace butter or solid shortening (Crisco or margarine)with equal amounts of coconut oil in baking recipes. Your baked goods will be amazing and much healthier.

Does it make everything taste like coconut?

While the oil has the very mild scent of coconut, so far I cannot detect the flavor of coconut when I cook with it. Sometimes things may taste a bit “sweeter” but not like sweet as if you added sugar.

Just an enhancement of the natural sweetness that is already there.

Last night I marinated some chicken breasts in a spicy “Cockalacky” sauce which is made with sweet potatoes. After the marinade, the breasts were breaded in panko and pan-fried in coconut oil until done.

The oil really brought the flavor of the sweet potato used in the marinade, such a nice flavor surprise!

While I have added coconut oil to our diets, we still use other oils as well. I enjoy the flavors of various seed and nut oils in salad dressings. Additionally the various oils also have other health benefits.

This is not about giving up other oils but about making smarter choices, more informed choices.

The key thing to remember fat is fat.

Just because it is coconut oil does not mean you can consume mass quantities of it. As with all fats, use it in moderation.

For the next 12 weeks, I am going to get 2 tablespoons a day of coconut oil into my diet. I am looking forward to seeing the results. Hopefully my skin and hair will not suffer winter dryness, my tummy fat will start to disappear and I will feel great. I have a physical in soon so it will be interesting to compare the numbers from last year to this.

Summer 2013 Update

This summer I heard of using coconut oil instead of sunscreen. Personally, I think that’s taking it a bit too far. I love using coconut oil on my skin, it feels so good but instead of sunscreen? “They” may say that coconut is naturally SPF 30 but I think I’ll back it up with some SPF 50 just to be sure.

Before foregoing coconut oil for sunscreen, ask your dermatologist their professional opinion!

Skin cancer is no laughing matter and not worth a risk.

Use all fats in moderation, including coconut oil.

While I have lost 13 pounds so far, my goal is 10 more, it isn’t all because of coconut oil. It’s more about making better choices.

Do you use coconut oil? Why or why not?

Please share your thoughts and experiences so we can all learn something from each other.

Coconuts