Roxann HigueraAuthor Archives

My First “CSA” Box

My first box arrived from Farm Fresh To You.  It’s a service that delivers organic produce right to your door.  I ordered a Veggies Only box since we tend not to eat many fruits.  This week’s box included butternut squash, green cabbage, baby Romanesco, bacon avocado (appears to be a Florida variety), broccoli, leeks, fennel bulb, nantes carrots, lacinato (dino kale), and a large head of green leaf lettuce.  The broccoli is clearly for me since hubby won’t eat it.  I’m a little concerned about the Romanesco.  It may be too close to broccoli for hubby, but it is also considered a type of cauliflower.  Since he’ll eat cauliflower, that’s what I’ll tell him it is.  He isn’t too keen on carrots, either, but I can generally get small amounts of it into recipes without complaint.

Romanesco

So the hunt is on for Paleo-friendly recipes for the Romanesco.  Many recipes are basic, consisting of Romanesco with oil and salt added.  I’m fairly certain that won’t fly with hubby, so onward!  I found a recipe for Romanesco Tarte with Bacon that looked good.  Without the shell, it would be at least Primal-friendly.  Another option would be Romanesco with Spicy Italian Sausage.  Mario Batali’s Romanesco alla Diavola recipe could work, too, though it appears to be rather upscale and may need some modification for the budget-conscious.

Baking Bread

I was inspired by the information about the Loetschental Valley to try making my own bread from freshly ground flour.  Dr. Price recommended that each city should have its own mill to provide freshly ground flour to bakeries.  Since that isn’t likely to happen any time soon, I will have to grind my own.  Fortunately, I already have a KGM Grain-Mill Attachment for my KitchenAid Stand Mixer.  The mixer is also capable of kneading small amounts of dough, so I am all set with my equipment, at least for now.  I understand from reviews that if I continue to grind grain or knead 100% whole grain dough with my current mixer, I will kill it within a couple of years.

Some time ago, I bought No More Bricks! Successful Whole Grain Bread Made Quick & Easy by Lori Viets.  The author has a website at BreadClass.com where she also offers a video class.  I bought the book during my vegan phase, but I never made any bread using that information up until now.  I was intrigued by the title because when I was young, my mother tried making bread from home-ground flour.  It turned out very dense.  We called it “brick bread.”  I wanted to avoid the same outcome.  So I pulled out the book yesterday and read it.  Not only does the author claim that you can make 100% whole grain bread that isn’t a brick, but you can do it in 90 minutes.  Wow!  Even people with fulltime jobs have enough time for that, if that were true.  My own batch of two loaves took three and a half hours from the beginning of grinding until the loaves came out of the oven.  I bought the grain at Whole Foods Market from their bulk department.  They have an amazing selection of grains to choose from.  Whole Foods Market is a good source for an occasional baker, but someone who bakes bread often will want to find a source that can supply larger quantities.  I found a one-pound bag Saf-Instant yeast at Smart & Final for only $3.59.  That will make a lot of bread.  I was pleased with the results of my first attempt.  The loaves were definitely not bricks!  I recommend the book.

The author recommends using a Nutrimill Home Grain Mill and a Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine.  There are people who have been using Bosch machines for kneading dough for 20 years with no problems.  The old model had an average life of 17 years.  The newer model is rated for twice the life.  When my KitchenAid fails, that is what I will get.  Cookie Paddles with Metal Whip Drive, Universal Slicer Shredder Attachment, and a Blender can be purchased for the Bosch machine, making it a truly versatile appliance.

There’s a chapter in the book about why it is important to grind one’s own flour.  To begin with, white flour should be avoided because so much nutrition has been removed from it that legally it must be enriched with four vitamins and iron.  There are some 30 different known nutrients in whole grain wheat, so that means a great deal of nutrition has been lost in white flour.  Buying whole grain flour at the store is not a good option, either.  Whole grain flour loses much of its nutrition quickly after grinding.  Plus, it also spoils quickly.  Whole grain flour should be kept refrigerated after grinding, but when was the last time you saw bags of flour in the refrigerator section at the supermarket?  If that were not enough to dissuade you, whole grain flour sold in the store isn’t as whole as you might think.  Many manufactures simply add enough bran and germ back into white flour to make it brown.  Manufacturers also put additives into the flour, and many of these do not even need to be listed on the ingredients label because they are considered standard.  The only way to know for sure that you are getting true unadulterated whole grain flour with its complete nutrition is to grind it yourself.

Nutrition in the Loetschental Valley

I am currently reading Nutrition and Physical Degeneration by Weston A. Price.  Dr. Price was concerned about the degeneration of dental health that he was seeing in his practice.  He decided to go out and find populations where dental health was still good.  He traveled the world looking for people still eating traditional diets.  This book was first published in 1939, but it would be very difficult to write such a book today because virtually all populations now include modern foods in their diet.  What Dr. Price found was that those still eating their traditional diets did indeed have healthier teeth and facial bone structure.  He did explore to some extent other health issues, but these were not his primary interest or expertise.  It is unfortunate that researchers from other medical specialties did not likewise engage in similar studies.

So far, I have read through the chapter in which Dr. Price describes the differences he found in the traditional Swiss and their modern counterparts.  When Dr. Price inquired as to where he could find populations in Switzerland still eating a traditional diet, he was directed in Switzerland to the Loetschental Valley that had only just recently been reached by rail service.  They were still producing all of their own food and clothing in the valley.  This population had very few caries (decayed teeth)—only 2.3 out of every 100 teeth.  That’s less than one per mouth.  Meanwhile, severely rotten teeth were common in the modern population.  The traditional population had wide dental arches with no crowding.  Their facial bones were well-formed.  The teeth of the modern population were crowded, and there were some deformities of other facial structures causing some to be mouth breathers.  Also, tuberculosis was a major health problem in Switzerland, and yet not one case had been recorded in the Loetschental Valley.  These traditional people were very healthy.

The daily diet in the Loetschental Valley included 100% whole grain rye bread and large slices of cheese.  They ate meat once a week and would use the scraps to make soups the rest of the week.  I assume this means they were eating bone broth, but this was not specifically mentioned in the book.  They ate some vegetables in the summer when they could grow them.  There were no fruits in the diet.  There was no sugar and no white flour.  Their dairy and meat was pasture raised and highly nutritious.

The modern population ate less dairy.  Much of the milk they produced went into the production of chocolate.  They were eating white bread with jams and jellies.  Their cattle were kept in barns.  The quality of the nutrition in the dairy and meat suffered for it.

The traditional diet in the Loetschental Valley was distinctly not Paleo since it was mainly grain and dairy, and yet they enjoyed superb health.  The secret to their health appears to be in the superior quality of the foods they did eat.  They were eating pasture raised animal products and freshly ground whole grains.  Those modern-day populations who have gone Paleo in their eating may be enjoying improved health because they are eating whole fresh foods more like these traditional peoples.  The secret may not necessarily be in the elimination of dairy or grains.  If doing so helps them, it may be because the quality of modern dairy or grains is inferior and in some way deleterious.  Dr. Price recommended in the introduction that all bread should be made from freshly ground whole grain flour.  The fats in flour that has been stored for any length of time tend to go rancid, possibly contributing to ill health.  And, of course, white flour has had most of its nutrition removed to the extent that the law requires that it be enriched with vitamins to prevent malnutrition in the populations eating it.

Bone broth for health

Bone BrothBone broths are an important element of traditional cuisines.  They are the basis of wonderful sauces, soups, and gravies.

Bone broth is a great way to get the nutrients needed for healthy bones and joints in an easily absorbable form.  Bone broth is rich in glycosaminoglycans, glucosamine, calcium, magnesium, and potassium—basically a total bone- and joint-building package.  The gelatin in bone broths can be used to treat many intestinal disorders such as colitis and Crohn’s disease.  The amino acids in broth act as a tonic for the bowel wall.  Bone broth helps the liver cleanse itself from the residues of metabolism.

Bone Broth Recipe

The following fits well in my oval Crock-Pot. Scale the recipe to fit your pot.

I give bone broth to my dog, too, so I don’t use onions in the broth. You can add an onion if you will not be feeding the finished stock to a dog. Do NOT feed the cooked bones to your pet. They will be too soft and may break into pieces. Seriously, feeding soft bones to your dog can result in intestinal blockage that could potentially kill your dog.

I have included directions for three methods: electric pressure cooker, stove top, and slow cooker.  According to the Serious Eats Food Lab, the pressure cooker method yielded the best results followed closely by the stove top method.

Ingredients

4 lb. raw bones with or without skin and/or meat
8 cups water
½ cups apple cider vinegar
2 carrots
2 stalks celery

Directions (electric pressure cooker)

  1. Add your choice of bones into pressure cooker. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. DO NOT FILL MORE THAN 2/3 FULL!  Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Set pressure cooker to high for 2 hours for chicken bones or 4 hours for beef bones. If you are using a stove top pressure cooker, you will need to monitor it closely the entire time.
  3. After the broth is cooked, let the pressure release naturally.
  4. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  5. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones.
  6. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Directions (stove top)

  1. Add your choice of bones into a large pot. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Bring to a low boil. Remove any scum that has risen to the top,
  3. Reduce heat. Let simmer for 6 to 48 hours for chicken bones or 12 to 72 hours for beef bones. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  4. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones.
  5. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Directions (slow cooker)

  1. Add your choice of bones into a slow cooker. Cover the bones with cold water just until covered; or 2 cups of water per 1 pound of bones. Add 2 tablespoons of cider vinegar per 1 pound of bones. Let stand for one hour.
  2. Set the slow cooker for high heat and bring to a boil. Remove any scum that has risen to the top,
  3. Set the slow cooker for low heat. Let simmer for 6 to 48 hours for chicken bones or 12 to 72 hours for beef bones. Bones will become soft when touched by a fork.
  4. Strain broth through a colander or sieve lined with cheesecloth or paper towel. Discard bones. You can also cook bone broth in a crock-pot. Low heat.
  5. Cool broth in the refrigerator for several hours. The fat can then be removed rendered for use in cooking.

Sally Fallon on Bone Broth:

How To Make Beef Stock:

References:
Mary Enig, Sally Fallon. Eat Fat, Lose Fat: The Healthy Alternative to Trans Fats.  Plume (March 28, 2006).
Catherine Shanahan, Luke Shanahan. Deep Nutrition: Why Your Genes Need Traditional Food. Big Box Books (November 14, 2008).

Cream in my coffee

Coffee with CreamI have found lately that putting cream or unsalted butter in my coffee or tea can really shut down my appetite, so much so that I have decided to reduce the butter I use with my morning egg.

Of course, I want to get the best fats in my diet.  Pasture-fed dairy has more omega-3 fat and less omega-6 fat.  The more the cow’s diet depends on pasture, the better the balance of these fats.  When pasture comprises a cow’s entire diet, the ratio can be 1:1.  Pasture-fed dairy is also a good source of Conjugated Linoleic Acid (CLA).  Milk from a pastured cow has up to five times more CLA than milk from a grain-fed cow.  CLA may be one of our most potent defenses against cancer.  CLA has also proven useful for weight loss.  Full-fat dairy products from pasture-raised sources have also proven useful for preventing heart disease.

I like Organic Valley pasture-raised heavy whipping cream.  When I go for butter, I use Humboldt Creamery unsalted organic pasture-based butter.  I don’t know how much of their feed is pasture, but they are both readily available at my local Sprouts Farmers Market for a reasonable price.  That makes them easy to buy.

I got the idea for putting butter in my coffee from Dave Asprey on his blog, The Bulletproof Executive.  He calls it Bulletproof Coffee.  He got the idea while traveling in Tibet.  There, he had a cup of yak butter tea.  I tried Bulletproof Coffee myself one Saturday morning for breakfast.  I didn’t need to eat anything else.  It pretty much shut down my appetite.  By the time we went out to lunch, I still really wasn’t all that hungry.  I got something light that day.  The downside of making coffee or tea this way is that it involves a blender.  That makes it a bit fussy.  Also, commenters on the blog say that butter can separate out of the coffee fairly quickly.

In an interesting aside, the Modernist Cuisine team found that coffee with cream cools about 20% more slowly than plain black coffee.

References:
Recipe: How to Make Your Coffee Bulletproof
Eat Wild – Super Natural Milk

“My Aspartame Experiment” by Victoria Inness-Brown

Female Aspartame-Fed Rats with Tumors

Examples of tumors that developed in female rats fed aspartame

There’s a rather interesting study of aspartame done by amateur scientist, Victoria Inness-Brown. In a 2½ year multigenerational study of rats, a whopping 67% of the female rats developed tumors the size of golf balls or larger! That’s huge on a rat. Necropsies done by a county veterinarian on several of those animals revealed that these tumors were cancerous. Birth defects were seen in subsequent generations. The rats on aspartame also developed miscellaneous health issues, such as paralysis and other apparent neurological problems, eye problems and skin disorders, thinning and yellowing fur, and obesity. All rats in the control group were free of visible symptoms or neurological problems. This may not have been the best controlled experiment out there, but the results are too significant to ignore.

Formal experiments conducted by Morando Soffritti at The Cesare Maltoni Cancer Research Center of the European Ramazzini Foundation revealed similar results. His studies also found high rates of lymphomas and leukemias.


This is Part 1 of 5.

References:
Victoria Inness-Brown, M.A. My Aspartame Experiment. This site shows photos of the effects of the aspartame on the rats.
Victoria Inness-Brown with Dr. Joseph Mercola.  Victoria Inness-Brown’s Aspartame Experiment: Interview.
Victoria Inness-Brown M.A. My Aspartame Experiment: Report from a Private Citizen.
Victoria Inness-Brown M.A. Are Your Diet Sodas Killing You? Results from My Aspartame Experiment. (This is an abridged version of My Aspartame Experiment.)
Morando Soffritti et. al. First Experimental Demonstration of the Multipotential Carcinogenic Effects of Aspartame Administered in the Feed to Sprague-Dawley Rats. Environmental Health Perspectives, 3 October 2005.
Soffritti M, Belpoggi F, Tibaldi E, Esposti DD, Lauriola M. Life-span exposure to low doses of aspartame beginning during prenatal life increases cancer effects in rats. Environ Health Perspect. 2007 Sep;115(9):1293-7.

Is sugar toxic?

60 Minutes aired an episode last night asking, “Is sugar toxic?” I set the DVR to record it earlier this week in case I missed it when I saw that the topic would be sugar. It’s interesting that Dr. Lustig tagged out fructose specifically. Glucose can be problematic, too, if one consumes too much of it. Dr. Lustig pointed out that most doctors don’t know that sugar can raise the very worst type of cholesterol, the small dense LDL.

There’s also the related article on 60 Minutes Overtime, Sugar and kids: The toxic truth.

Other YouTube presentations on sugar by Robert Lustig: Search Results.

Kale chips

I finally got around to making kale chips.  Wow!  I should have done it sooner!  Even hubby liked them, and he’s not big on eating veggies at all.  I couldn’t remember how much time to cook them, so I looked up a recipe online.  I found a recipe for Crispy Kale “Chips” on the Food Network page.  It even has a video.  Be careful with the time.  Some of my chips were a bit overdone.  I wanted to spray on the oil, but I didn’t want to use Pam because I didn’t want any chemicals in the oil.  I wanted just plain extra virgin olive oil.  So I bought an RSVP Endurance Oil Mister.  Very nice!  You pump air into it, and then it works just like an aerosol can.

Ingredients

1 head kale, washed and thoroughly dried
2 tablespoons olive oil
Sea salt, for sprinkling

Directions

Preheat the oven to 275 degrees F.

Remove the ribs from the kale and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces. Lay on a baking sheet and toss with the olive oil and salt. Bake until crisp, turning the leaves halfway through, about 20 minutes. Serve as finger food.

Eat fat, lose fat

I’m currently reading Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. Mary Enig was a key scientist in the fight to get trans fats listed on our nutrition labels. She was actively opposed by the Institute for Shortening and Edible Oils (ISEO). This is an organization that pulls political clout to prevent the funding and publication of research intended to study the harm of vegetable oils and shortening. This organization was incensed about the fact that Mary Enig’s initial paper on the subject had gotten published at all. They have industry watchdogs to prevent such an occurrence, but somehow the paper managed to slip through their scrutiny. Doctors and scientists had been questioning the use of vegetable oils and trans fats since the 1920s when they were beginning to come into popular use. Myocardial infarctions (what we know of as heart attacks) were unheard of prior to the advent of the use of these fats. But their concerns got drowned out by the proponents of the cholesterol theory of heart disease, which would include organizations such at the ISEO and the pharmaceutical industry since they stand to gain from it.

According to Mary Enig and Sally Fallon, lack of healthy fats contributes to several diseases including chronic fatigue, low energy, anxiety, depression and mood swings, hypoglycemia, insulin resistance, food cravings, gallbladder ailments, bacterial infections, fungal issues, viral infections, irritable bowel syndrome and Crohn’s disease, gas and bloating, eczema and dry skin, sagging and wrinkled skin, dandruff, and cellulite. They propose a diet that has coconut oil and cod liver oil to correct these issues that they believe to be the result of lack of healthy fats. They also say that dietary cholesterol is important for maintaining the health of the intestinal wall and preventing leaky gut. Their list of sources for healthy fats: coconut oil, butter, cream, nuts, meats, and eggs as well as cod liver oil.

Leaky gut syndrome

Leaky gut could be a cause for the multiple allergies and sensitivities that could in turn result in an autoimmune disease. So what is leaky gut?

Leaky gut is a condition in which the intestine is allowing passage into the bloodstream of incompletely digested food. The immune system then reacts to those food particles, resulting in a cascade of allergies and sensitivities. These multiple allergies and sensitivities are the hallmark of a leaky gut. If you have multiple food allergies and sensitivities, it’s a good bet that your gut is leaky. Way back in the 80s, I did an IgE test for food allergies, and the only thing that came back negative was walnuts. In other words, the only item in the test that I wasn’t allergic to was walnuts.  The doctor said that I probably had not been eating them. Can you imagine the elimination diet required to treat that? Trust me, you don’t want to. The doctor put me on some obscure formula that was something like hot wheat cereal (but of course it wasn’t wheat), and that was all I could eat while I healed. Yes, been there, done that.

There are two causes of leaky gut that I know of. The first and the easiest to correct is a gluten problem. I’ve seen varying descriptions of the mechanism for how it works, but the upshot is the same. To correct the problem, you must eliminate all sources of gluten from the diet. This is principally wheat, rye, and barley, but your practitioner may suggest elimination of all grains.

The other cause is overgrowth of harmful microbes in the gut that can cause damage to the intestine. Antibiotic use or poor diet can set this in motion. To rebalance your intestinal flora, you need to starve the bad little critters. This requires elimination of all sugar, fruit, grains, and other starches. Since those buggers can also thrive on artificial sweeteners, that means completely forgoing sweets. The resulting diet is composed mainly of meat and non-starchy vegetables. Along with that, you need to encourage the increase of beneficial gut microbes. This can be done by consuming probiotic supplements, yogurt, and fermented vegetable products such as kimchee and fermented sauerkraut. The fermenting process should eliminate the goitrogens, so one need not be so concerned about consuming the cabbage products.

Serious solutions for serious problems. This is an issue best solved with the help of your health practitioner.

References:
Andrew Weil, M.D. What is Leaky Gut?
PubMed