Everyone is talking about bone broth these days, and few realize that bone broth is really not anything fancy or super hard to make. Our mothers and grandmothers have been making beef or chicken stock long before anyone started raving about bone broth. I'm pretty sure that the making of stock was at least in part motivated by not wanting to waste food.
Baking a whole chicken is one of the easiest family meals ever. Remember don't wash the chicken before cooking. Washing raw chicken can spread food-borne organisms such as salmonella. I dedicated a blog post to this. You can read it here skip-chicken-washing-for-health.html
After your family chicken or turkey meal, you will usually end up with the carcass and the drippings in the pan, and most people will throw this away, not realizing that this is the stuff to make bone broth with. I usually freeze the carcass and drippings and wait until I have two or three in the freezer. You can make a decent amount of bone broth with just one turkey and one chicken carcass or three chicken carcasses. Don't be afraid to mix whatever bones you have. When I cook a pot of stock, I usually get about 3 or 4 large mason jars of stock.
I have experimented with different methods of making bone broth. I've used a crock pot type slow cooker, a regular stove top stainless steel stock pot, and eventually decided that the easiest and fastest way to make the broth is with a pressure cooker. Most of us have seen a pressure cooker, but few have actually used one.
For most people, the thought of a pressure cooker evokes visions of pots exploding and stuff flying through the kitchen. I admit that I had to use my pressure cooker a few times before losing my own pressure cooker anxiety. It helps to read the instructions and actually follow them. Here is a photo of my pressure cooker. The good news is that you can usually find a good deal on a great pressure cooker. It will last forever and can be used as a regular pot. I got mine on sale at Bed Bath and Beyond for under $50. It came as a set of two stainless steel pots (a large and a smaller one) with one pressure lid and one regular glass lid, plus a steamer basket. By the way, I'm not endorsing Bed Bath and Beyond. They just happened to have one at a great price when I was looking for one.
So here is how to make broth. Throw the bones in the pot. Add water and a cup of vinegar and get creative. You can add whatever vegetables, fruits, and herbs you have. I have added carrots, onions, fennel, parsley, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, ginger, garlic, and turmeric root. Once I threw a plum and an orange in there. Cook under pressure for about 2 hours.
Strain out the cooked veggies and bones and fill the broth in mason jars and refrigerate. For straining I use a stainless steel mesh strainer.
The fat will separate at the top after refrigeration and you can either mix it back into your broth or scoop it out easily. This is what it looks like after it cools down and the fat separates on top. Below the fat layer is your delicious broth.
The gelatin from the bones will have released into the broth, and your refrigerated broth will look like golden jelly.
Heat it up on the stove top or microwave and enjoy, or use it as a base for a sauce or soup.
Chicken soup is a tasty meal and is also said to be good medicine. This link takes you to the UCLA website that explains why chicken soup might help with your cold.
Here is your chicken soup. Enjoy!
Michael Pollan's "Cooked" is available on Netflix streaming. I recommend that you put this on your Netflix list of things to see, and plan on watching this soon or read the book.
It's organized in 4 parts: Fire, Water, Air, Earth. I loved all 4 videos, each about 45 minutes long, but my favorite was Air. Turns out, Michael Pollan and I share a love of sour dough bread making which is discussed in the Air segment. Here are instructions for how to make your own home made sour dough bread with whatever flour you want. I wrote about this in my blog entitled The Art of Dough http://www.enchantednutrition.com/blog/the-art-of-dough
I agree with Michael Pollan, that most people who think they are sensitive to gluten or wheat are probably actually sensitive to industrial yeast and/or industrial bread production, not gluten. Having said that, I don't think that people who think they are sensitive to gluten should start eating gluten, but I think it's an interesting point. Gluten free products are big business these days, and most of these products I see are junk, even the expensive stuff, or maybe I should say especially the expensive stuff sold in health food stores.
To be clear, I follow a low carbohydrate diet myself, but the way I have defined this for myself is not so much in terms of grams of carbohydrates but quality of carbohydrates. I think a slice of home made sour dough bread made with sprouted spelt every now and then is ok. I also think vegetables are essential, but perhaps not all fruits are ok and not without limits, to be sure. The advice to eat more "fruits and vegetables" in my opinion is wrong. It should be "Eat more vegetables and fruits." And in my opinion, fruit juice is a junk food, as I wrote about previously here http://www.enchantednutrition.com/blog/juice-is-a-junk-food
Hope you read the book or watch the videos. You will gain an understanding of how humans came to cook in the first place, and how we figured out how to make bread and alcohol, although it was probably alcohol first and then bread, according to Michael Pollan, and I have to say he is probably right about that one too.
Another reason why I loved the Air episode is, that it reminded me of my childhood in Turkey. I remember my grandmother making bread and giving it to me to take to the community baker to put in the oven. I also remember being sent to some neighbors who had a cow to get milk. I remember my grandmother boiling the milk and then putting it in the fridge, before she gave it to me. I hated milk and never developed a taste for it. I think my grandmother gave it to me, because someone told her it was a good thing. I'm pretty sure she never drank cow's milk herself.
The "Earth" video is also very interesting, as it deals mostly with fermentation. Cheese making and of course alcohol are the topics in this one. The cheese making part is especially interesting, as it deals with raw milk. Raw milk and raw milk products are a huge controversy these days. I hope to address this in a future post. For the time being, I hope you read the book or watch the videos. In the meantime:
"Eat Food. Not too much. Mostly Plants."--Michael Pollan
I've been baking a lot of sourdough bread lately, experimenting with different kinds of starters, flour, rising times, baking temperatures and different techniques of shaping the dough. Making sourdough bread feels like a meditative activity to me, and I now understand why this type of bread is called Artisan bread. It's not mass produced but carefully crafted. So far, my loaves have been very tasty and more or less beautiful. In the past weeks, my bread baking results have become more predictable and less dependent on luck and prayers, but the moment I take the lid off the dutch oven to see how the bread is turning out is still a moment of anticipation. Did the dough ball I dumped into the oven turn into a boule, or does it look more like a flat disk that will probably be tasty but does not exactly meet my expectation?
A while back, I came across the book "In Search of the Perfect Loaf: A Home Baker's Odyssey" by Samuel Fromartz. Not surprisingly, he advises anyone who is starting to bake sourdough bread, that they are going to bake a lot of bad bread. I haven't baked any sourdough bread that was really bad and have not had to throw anything out, but for now I'm following the simplest recipes and just trying to understand the basics. Fromartz' books is a great read, but the recipes are still beyond my capabilities.
I found some recipes and resources for sourdough breads that have worked for me, and would like to share those with you here. Be warned though, once you get started with this, there is no turning back.
If you are lucky, you can get an already established sourdough starter from a friend. That's a great way to get started, because with that you can bake a bread right away. I got a starter and a recipe for no knead bread, and here is a photo of the very first sourdough bread I baked. That was pure beginner's luck, but the success motivated me to continue.
Here is a link to a very basic recipe, making a no knead sourdough bread http://nourishedkitchen.com/whole-grain-no-knead-sourdough/ I have used this recipe with good success, using whole wheat, spelt, and rye flour. If you are getting started with sourdough baking, I recommend using wheat or spelt flour for a while before taking on other types of flour. The recipe recommends using a mixer to mix the dough. I don't have a mixer and mix the dough by hand which works just fine. This link takes you to a video that shows you how to shape the dough into a round loaf (boule) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pmTPL2J8OZk
Follow the link to a video, about 8 minutes long, that takes you through the whole process of mixing the dough and baking it. The recipe is slightly different, but this also works well. I would not use iodine salt though, because it contains an anti caking agent which doesn't taste good in bread. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=POnxAoHl1qc
To bake the bread, you need a dutch oven. I am using a granite ware turkey roaster with a lid. You can get this at Target or Amazon for about $12. After shaping the dough, I put it on parchment paper, which makes it easy to drop it into the hot dutch oven quickly and keeps the dutch oven clean. I also found it useful to have a bench scraper. It only costs a couple of dollars and helps to pick up or move sticky dough.
I hope you give this sour dough bread making thing a try. After you get the basics down, you can get more creative. I've been adding rosemary to sprouted wheat and caraway seeds to rye bread. Still searching for the perfect loaf though.....
It's February 1st, and my blog is entitled Happy New Year. So, either I have lost touch with reality or I am that far behind. Let's just assume, that I am not delusional.
The photo was taken at a market in Istanbul. It's an explosion of colors and a promise of interesting flavors. One of these days, I'll pull together the material I collected at the Istanbul spice market and write a blog. It will happen, I promise.
Here is an interesting New Year's resolution for you. I am suggesting this now, because the one you selected on New Year's eve may have worn out by now.
How about this New Year's resolution, I promise it's very gentle:
Eat less processed foods. This one is easy. What ever you are eating now, unless you are already the King or Queen of unprocessed foods, make it less processed. Shoot for no more than 3 ingredients in a store bought product.
Eat fermented food every day. This could be cheese, yogurt, sourkraut, anything fermented, really.
Cook more at home and take more home cooked stuff for lunch to work. Sure, it takes some planning, but it also saves you a huge amount of money.
There you have it! Very simple. You can try that or not. You certainly won't fry in hell for not following this advice, and you don't get any brownie points for following it, but you just may end up a little healthier in 2016. How about that?
It is the season for making and eating cookies. Notice I didn't say buying cookies. I would love to buy cookies, it would be so easy, but every time I'm tempted to buy some, all I have to do is look at the ingredient list to change my mind. Some store bought cookies have a long list of ingredients, usually starting off with sugar, some sort of cheap oil, and it doesn't get much better after that.
You might argue that cookies are not healthy to begin with, but I am going to ignore that, because a life without cookies would be a terrible thing. Unimaginable, really!
What if we could make cookies with only 2 or 3 ingredients?
One cup of organic crunchy peanut butter and one egg mixed together make some pretty yummy peanut butter cookies. I added one table spoon of honey, because the organic peanut butter does not contain added sugar. Next time, I might try using Stevia as a sweetener. Take a table spoon full of your peanut butter and egg mix and roll it into a ball. Drop the ball on a greased baking sheet. Flatten with a fork. Bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees.
For easy banana coconut cookies mix one ripe banana with 3/4 cup of unsweetened shredded coconut and an egg. Drop about a tablespoon full of the mixture on a greased baking sheet and bake for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. How easy is that? I didn't add any sugar to this one, as the banana has plenty of sugar already. I added a small amount of grated unsweetened bakers chocolate and some walnuts. So, this one had 5 ingredients, but all the ingredients are whole foods. Yes, I consider chocolate to be a whole food as long as it is not sweetened.
There are many nut butters available now. I have seen cashew butter, almond butter, and sunflower seed butter in the store. Any nut butter should work for this simple cookie recipe. You could even make your own seed or nut butter, if you have a blender. I might try making macadamia nut butter some day, when I feel particularly ambitious.
Do you have any 2 or 3 ingredient cookie recipes? Please share, if you do.
Few people go to the beach on Thanksgiving day. On my way to the beach, I pass by some shops, an alley, and next to one of the shops, there is a guy sitting on a plastic crate. Next to him is a cart with his belongings. I've seen him there before, playing his guitar, hoping someone will drop some money in his hat. He asks me: "Do you have some spare change." I usually don't have cash on me, when I go for a walk, so I answer: "Sorry don't have any cash on me."
On the beach, I find a penny in the sand and pick it up. When I put it in my wallet, I find a couple of dollar bills. Wow, I do have cash on me. If the homeless guy is still there when I go back, I will give him the money. Sure enough, he is still there, sitting there on his plastic crate. I pull out the dollar bills and some quarters and give it to him. "I'm glad you are still here, I do have a few bucks, after all." He takes the money "Thanks hun. Where you from?" I tell him I'm from Turkey. "What's your name, hun? He likes my name and tells me his name is Jim. "I've never been to Turkey, but I've been all over the United States" he mentions Florida and a few southern states. "Sounds like an interesting story, can I buy you a cup of coffee?" I ask. He wants the coffee but he doesn't want to leave his stuff. So, I get a couple of coffees and a pumpkin coffee cake and go back to hang out with Jim to hear his story.
By the time I get back, another guy has joined him. I hand the coffee and cake to Jim, who is still sitting on his crate. "Thanks hun, you are very kind." The other guy's name is Jerry. He slept in a car last night. He says it's nice to sleep in a car when it's cold. He points down the street and says the car is parked around the corner and something about a lady friend who is still intoxicated this morning. "She is still sleeping it off in the car." As Jerry starts to walk away, Jim asks: "Hun, do you mind if I give the coffee and cake to Jerry? Somebody gave me a plate of food earlier, I'm really full just now." He calls Jerry back and hands him the coffee and cake. As Jerry walks away with the coffee, Jim says: "My story is a very long one." I'm sitting somewhat uncomfortably on a bike rack facing him, sipping my coffee and listening to Jim's story. I've asked him to give me the short version. "Just the highlights please."
He tells me he is from Kentucky. He likes California and has been here for a few years. He has a son and a sister in Kentucky. His sister texted him "Happy Thanksgiving" this morning. He pulls a small flip cell phone out of his pocket and says: "I talk on the phone with them every now and then." He got lonely and missed his family last year and went back to see his son in Kentucky. He was drinking beers with his son, who later called the police and had him arrested. He spent 102 days in Jail. Once he got out, he immediately returned to California, to the beach where people are friendly and kind.
We talk about where homeless people sleep and how they get by. I tell Jim that I once saw a guy at the beach holding a sign that said "Why lie, I really want a beer." Jim and I laugh. Jim says: "I don't do signs." He explains that holding up a sign is cowardly. I can tell by his facial expression, that he despises people who hold up signs. He prefers to ask people directly. He feels it's more honest that way. He says he gets by. People give him a few bucks, and they give him food. He finds places to sleep and to clean up. He knows all the other homeless guys. "Sometimes we drink beers and party. Make no mistake, it's not a bad life. It's a free and easy life. The main thing is to stay away from the cops. Better not to get their attention. For the most part, they leave us alone."
Jim once had a home, a job, a profession. He used to be a roofer and had his own business. Somehow, he lost it all. He seems content though. In a few years, he'll be able to apply for social security. Until then, he enjoys life on the beach, sitting on his crate, playing the guitar, watching people go by. He feels, he has much to be grateful for.
When I was about 8 or 9 years old, I lived with my grandmother in Istanbul, Turkey. Visiting guests who asked to use the restroom had a choice of toilet: Ala Turka or ala Franca. The ala Franca toilet is the toilet we are all familiar with. Some people may have encountered the ala Turka version while traveling in India, Asia or the Middle East. It's basically a squatting toilet. If you are interested in the history of toilet design, go to this amazing master thesis paper https://etd.lib.metu.edu.tr/upload/12610448/index.pdf
A few weeks ago, while shopping at Bed Bath and Beyond, I noticed an interesting product, a toilet stool which converts your toilet into a squatting toilet. The photo shows the luxury version sold for about $65. There was also a more affordable plastic version for $25.
Check out this very funny video of a unicorn pooping and demonstrating the use of the Squatty Potty: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YbYWhdLO43Q and here are some screenshots of the video.
So, I think you get the idea. One of the managers at Bed Bath & Beyond told me that the Squatty Potty was selling quite well, and just as I was talking with her, she pointed to a young man at a register buying one of them. I approached the young man, handing him my business card, identifying me as a health blogger and asked if he would talk to me about the item he just bought. It was very kind of him to talk to me about this rather delicate subject. It's not every day that you get approached by a total stranger and asked to talk about your pooping habits or problems. He said that he had seen the Squatty Potty advertised on TV and was buying it for a family member, suffering from constipation and hemorrhoids. He thought it seemed like a sensible thing to try.
What do you think?
A few times a week, I walk on the beach, and lately I've been seeing these poems written in the sand. This one is "Natural History" by E.B. White. Sometimes, I see the man, writing them neatly in the sand, using an umbrella. I have named him the Beach Poet.
Today, I stopped to talk to him. He was very friendly and pleased, that I've been looking out for his poems. "The writing is so neat and beautiful, it's like a work of art. How long does it take you to do this?" I asked. "Not sure" he said. "I lose track of time. It's very meditative."
I shared with him that his sand poems remind me of Tibetan mandalas that Buddhist monks create with colored sand. It takes days or sometimes weeks for a mandala to be created, and after it's finished, the monks destroy it. "The tide is rising" I said. "It won't be long now, until the tide takes your poem."
The spider, dropping down from twig,
Unwinds a thread of her devising:
A thin, premeditated rig
To use in rising.
And all the journey down through space,
In cool descent, and loyal-hearted,
She builds a ladder to the place
From which she started.
Thus I, gone forth, as spiders do,
In spider’s web a truth discerning,
Attach one silken strand to you
For my returning.
- E.B. White, Natural History
A 12 oz can of Coca Cola contains 39 grams of sugar, about 9 teaspoons. The photo shows a 12 oz water glass with about 39 grams of sugar. Yes, I'm aware that the sugar contained in Coca Cola is high fructose corn syrup-- not the fancy turbinado raw cane sugar in the picture, but let's agree, just for this article, that sugar is sugar.
According to Wang, Coxson, Shen, Goldman & Bibbins-Domingo (2012), sugar-sweetened beverages are the main contributors to the U.S. obesity epidemic, and the authors estimate that a national excise tax of one penny per ounce on sugary beverages would reduce adult consumption by 15%. Over a period of 10 years, this would prevent 2.4 million diabetes person-years, 95,000 heart attacks, 8,000 strokes, and 26,000 premature deaths, while saving an estimated $17 billion in medical costs. This tax would generate $13 billion annually, which could fund public health programs (Wang et al., 2012).
Connecticut Democratic Representative Rosa DeLauro proposed the Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Act of 2014, the SWEET act. After its introduction in 2014, it stalled in Congress and was reintroduced in March, 2015. To date it has not made progress (TheHill, 2015).
Fifteen US states have unsuccessfully discussed proposing a soda tax in recent years. In November of 2014, Berkeley, CA was the first city in the nation to pass a “soda tax” law, Measure D, which adds a 1 cent per ounce excise tax to beverages with added sugar. Berkeley City Council members announced that the March, 2015 revenue from the soda tax was $116,000, and they project revenue for the first year to be $1.2 million. These funds will be used for health-related community programs and programs for the prevention of obesity and diabetes in children (Koshino, 2015).
While the discussion about soda taxes continues in the U.S.., data is coming in from Mexico, which started taxing sugary beverages and junk foods, such as chips, cookies, candy, and ice cream nationally, effective January 2014. Purchases of sugary beverages in Mexico, declined by an average of at least six percent with a tax of only 10%, compared to Berkeley’s 20% tax. Interestingly, bottled water sales in Mexico went up, as soda sales declined. Mexico is now discussing an increase of their soda tax from 10% to 20% and removing sales tax from bottled water (Wade, 2015).
We know that soda taxes reduce consumption, as we now have evidence from Mexico. Berkeley’s program is too new to generate much useful data beyond revenue data at this point. Until we have a nationally enforced soda tax, Berkeley residents can purchase sugary beverages just outside of Berkeley. To date, we can’t prove that an excise soda tax will decrease incidence and prevalence of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. The study by Wang, at al., (2012) gives us an informed prediction/estimation of what the results of a soda tax in the U.S. could be, but until we have a national soda tax and generate our own data, we don’t know for sure what the health impact will be. If consumers of sugar sweetened beverages switch to beverages with artificial sweeteners, which would not be subject to excise tax, what would the health impact of increased consumption of diet sodas be? Will consumers of sugary beverages in the U.S. switch to diet sodas, water, juice, or will they just pay the price and continue to drink their sodas? We don’t know.
We can keep an eye on Mexico and see how it goes, and so far the data from Mexico is promising, or we can pass the SWEET act, and if nothing else, generate a tax revenue of $13 billion annually (Wang, et al., 2012) for public health programs for the prevention, treatment, and research of diet-related health conditions (TheHill, 2015). Perhaps bottled water could become tax exempt and more affordable, and access to high quality drinking water could be ensured everywhere in the U.S.
Several decades ago, the U.S. led the way, reducing smoking and its devastating health consequences, by taxing tobacco. Many countries in the world followed the example of the U.S. This time, Mexico leads the way. Will the U.S. follow?
Koshino, Y. (2015). 1st month of Berkeley 'soda tax' sees $116,000 in revenue | The Daily Californian. The Daily Californian. Retrieved 23 August 2015, from http://www.dailycal.org/2015/05/19/1st-month-of-berkeley-soda-tax-sees-116000-in-revenue/
TheHill,. (2015). Congress is letting the SWEET Act go sour. Retrieved 24 August 2015, from http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/healthcare/247327-congress-is-letting-the-sweet-act-go-sour
Wade, L. (2015). Mexico's Soda Tax Is Working. The US Should Learn From It.. Wired.com. Retrieved 23 August 2015, from http://www.ucsf.edu/news/2012/01/11267/how-many-lives-could-soda-tax-save
Wang, Y., Coxson, P., Shen, Y., Goldman, L., & Bibbins-Domingo, K. (2012). A Penny-Per-Ounce Tax On Sugar-Sweetened Beverages Would Cut Health And Cost Burdens Of Diabetes. Health Affairs, 31(1), 199-207. doi:10.1377/hlthaff.2011.0410