Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kimchi-inflected red-cabbage kraut

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Los Tres Amigos, ready for their Big Adventure

A new batch of fermented vegetables is now underway. Here’s what’s in it:

• 1 large head red cabbage (This time I discarded the core.)
• good-sized chunk of daikon radish
• 1 enormous Cosmic Crisp apple, halved vertically
• 1 large red onion, halved
• 2 large jalapeño peppers, including core and seeds

All of the above were thinly sliced (see below).

• 6 Medjool dates, pitted and chopped

Next three items were pulverized in my spice & herb grinder.

• 2 guajillo chiles
• 2 ancho chiles
• 1″ piece of ginger root, chopped reasonably small


• 60g coarse grey sea salt (Celtic is what I have)
• 1 packet Cutting Edge starter culture, hydrated before adding

Cabbage, radish, apple, onion, and jalapeños were slicked using my OXO large handheld adjustable mandoline, with the adjustment set at “1,” the first line after the “Lock” position (photo at right shows the adjustment dial). From a catalog entry: “It has an adjustable dial with 7 thickness options from 1mm to 4mm with 0.5mm intervals.” Thus my slices were 1mm thick.

I removed core and seeds from the guajillo and ancho chiles, toasted them in a skillet, then tore them into pieces and put them into my spice & herb grinder along with the chopped ginger, ground all that to a damp powder, and added it to the bowl of sliced vegetables and chopped dates, along with 60g of coarse sea salt. All that filled the largest bowl I have heaping full, but the vegetables collapsed a fair amount as I massaged them.

I massaged them for 5-10 minutes — going not by the clock but massaging until everything was well-mixed, the cabbage had become soft and supple, and liquid gathered in the bottom of the bowl. I then added the water with the starter culture and mixed that well with the bowl contents for a couple of minutes, still massaging.

Lesson learned: I though the daikon radish slices would break apart as I massaged the mix with the salt. They didn’t. Next time I’ll quarter the daikon lengthwise and then slice: small pieces. The apple did break up pretty well, but I think next time I’ll also quarter that before slicing.

I used 60 grams of salt because the total weight of ingredients was 3030g (6 2/3 lbs!). (I weighed the empty bowl before I began and subtracted that from the weight of the full bowl.) I took 2% of the ingredients’ weight and used that much salt. (TBH, I used 57g because I’m trying to ease up on salt.)

I tried to leave more room at the top in the three jars (two 1-liter, on 1.5-liter), but they were pretty full by the time I had packed them will all the kimchi/kraut mixture. They are firmly packed: I have a kraut packer that works well.

I distributed the liquid left in the big bowl equally among the packed jars, added spring water to barely cover, put a fermentation weight into each jar, and then screwed on a pickle-pipe fermentation airlock and took the photo above.

In two weeks I’m going to have a lot of kimchi-ish kraut. This homemade stuff is sweeter than store-bought, probably because of the apple (and, this time, the dates) and also perhaps because I don’t ferment it so long as commercial krauters do. 

Written by Leisureguy

24 January 2022 at 3:13 pm

A discovery regarding appetite

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I have read about “intuitive eating,” but don’t really know much about it. I think the idea is to eat only when hungry and to do that by paying attention to your body’s cues. That sounded to me a lot like it meant to eat when I felt like eating and, unfortunately, I find I frequently feel like eating, which makes maintaining a healthy weight difficult.

The other evening I was thinking about this, and I recalled something from one of the books that  I find myself repeatedly recommending, namely A Life of One’s Own, by Joanna Field (the pseudonym of Marion Miller — the book has been republished with Miller shown as the author). Here’s the passage:

The first hint that I really had the power to control the way I looked at things happened in connexion with music. Always before, my listening had been too much bothered by the haunting idea that there was far more in it than I was hearing; but occasionally I would find that I had slipped through this barrier to a delight that was enough in itself, in which I forgot my own inadequacy. But this was rare, and most often I would listen intently for a while and then find I had become distracted and was absorbed in the chatter of my own thoughts, personal preoccupations. Impatiently I would shake myself, resolving to attend in earnest for the rest of the concert, only to find that I could not lose myself by mere resolution. Gradually I found, however, that though I could not listen by direct trying I could make some sort of internal gesture after which listening just happened. I described this effort to myself in various ways. Sometimes I seemed to put my awareness into the soles of my feet, sometimes to send something which was myself out into the hall, or to feel as if I were standing just beside the orchestra. I even tried to draw a little picture to remind myself of how it felt. [drawing is shown in the text – LG]

In my notes I find:

Last Wednesday I went to the opera at Covent Garden, Rigoletto. I was dead tired and could not listen at first (sitting on the miserably cramped gallery benches), but then I remembered to put myself out of myself, close to the music – and sometimes it closed over my head, and I came away rested in feeling light-limbed.

At this time also I began to surmise that there might be different ways of looking as well as of listening.

One day I was idly watching some gulls as they soared high overhead. I was not interested, for I recognized them as ‘just gulls’, and vaguely watched first one and then another. Then all at once something seemed to have opened. My idle boredom with the familiar became a deep-breathing peace and delight, and my whole attention was gripped by the pattern and rhythm of their flight, their slow sailing which had become a quiet dance.

In trying to observe what had happened I had the idea that my awareness had somehow widened, that I was feeling what I saw as well as thinking what I saw. But I did not know how to make myself feel as well as think, and it was not till three months later that it occurred to me to apply to looking the trick I had discovered in listening. This happened when I had been thinking of how much I longed to learn the way to get outside my own skin in the daily affairs of life, and feel how other people felt; but I did not know how to begin. I then remembered my trick with music and began to try ‘putting myself out’ into one of the chairs in the room (I was alone so thought a chair would do to begin with). At once the chair seemed to take on a new reality, I ‘felt’ its proportions and could say at once whether I liked its shape. This then, I thought, might be the secret of looking, and could be applied to knowing what one liked. My ordinary way of looking at things seemed to be from my head, as if it were a tower in which I kept myself shut up, only looking out of the windows to watch what was going on. Now I seemed to be discovering that I could if I liked go down outside, go down and make myself part of what was happening, and only so could I experience certain things which could not be seen from the detached height of the tower…. One might have thought that after the discovery of such a new possibility I would have been continually coming down to look at things. Actually, however, with the press of a daily work which demanded thought, not feeling, I seem to have forgotten the fact of this new freedom, also I think I was afraid of it and loth to leave the security of my tower too often.

So as I was sitting my chair and thinking about getting something to eat, I remembered that passage and decided to put my consciousness into my body — specifically into my gut. When I did, I felt no urge at all to eat. in fact, I felt quite satisfied.

That was odd, because I had definitely been thinking about getting something to eat, so I tried putting my consciousness into my mouth — and there it was. I suddenly had a clear and distinct desire for food in my mouth: a salad, cold and crisp and crunchy; or a hot meal with softer textures, like mushrooms sautéed with butter and onions and some cooked grain; or perhaps some cold spicy veggies, like a bowl of the Other Vegetables or Spinach that was in the fridge. I definitely felt like ating.

Then I switched my consciousness back to my gut, and again the urge to eat vanished. I felt satisfied and didn’t really want anything. I found that interesting (and I did not eat anything more that evening.)

It seems clear that my mouth likes stimulation, and eating food is just such an activity. So my mouth enjoys food a lot, and is always ready for more. In contrast, my gut seems to desire food only when it needs food, and otherwise it wants to be left alone to go about its business and not be bothered by taking on more work.

It’s like my mouth is flighty — easily aroused, readily distracted, never satisfied — so it’s important that i pay attention to my gut, a more reliable guide to my need for food. My mouth is always up for food and is easily distracted into wanting food, so I must it keep it on a short leash. It can have its fun only when my gut wants food — not nearly so often as when my mouth wants entertainment.

Written by Leisureguy

23 January 2022 at 10:08 pm

New batch of rosemary salt, and new lessons learned

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Today’s batch of rosemary salt

A new batch, and new lessons. I’ve updated the main post (which contains the recipe) with the lessons learned this time, which are:

  1. Use the weighted recipe. Rosemary springs — and sage sprigs — vary greatly from package to package. The only reliable way to ensure correct proportions is to weigh the rosemary and sage (and other ingredients as well, if you want, but those seem less problematic).
  2. Process the rosemary and sage in stages. Put a small portion of rosemary and sage in the processor, process that until it’s finely chopped, add some more, process that, and so on. Somewhere in the middle of the process, add the garlic and lemon zest. (I at first put all the rosemary and sage in the processor, but it was too much and wouldn’t process. So I took it out and processed in stages.)
  3. Add salt after the other ingredients have been thoroughly processed. Then process some more. The result is be somewhat fluffy — and very tasty. Photo above is today’s batch.

Written by Leisureguy

22 January 2022 at 1:31 pm

Best Food to Prevent Common Childhood Infections

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22 January 2022 at 11:08 am

Other Vegetables du Jour

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Not shown: 3 jalapeños, 1 can Ro•Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies, Bragg’s Apple-Cider Vinegar, Red Boat Fish Sauce, Black Pepper (for turmeric)

I like to cook a mix of vegetables, and so today we have, as shown in photo:

• Yellow summer squash (the starting point)
• 3 spring onions, called in this season “BBQ Onions,” as you see
• several cloves of garlic, already chopped and resting
• a turmeric root
• a ginger root (I used only some of that)
• 6 mushrooms
• 1 red pepper (sweet, not hot)
• 3 jalapeños (not shown)
• 1 bitter melon
• 1 tomato
• 1 Meyer lemon
• dried herbs: Spearmint, Marjoram, Basil — about 1.5 tablespoon each

Also not shown in photo:
• 1 can Ro•Tel Original Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies
• Bragg’s Apple-Cider Vinegar
• Red Boat Fish Sauce
• Black Pepper (for turmeric)

I used my OXO large adjustable handheld mandoline to slice the squash. I went with the second line after the lock position (see photo at right), so they are fairly thin. I also used the mandoline to slice the white part of the onions. (I do wear — and highly recommend — a cut-proof glove when using the mandoline.) The green part I just chopped with the chef’s knife and then turned my attention to the remaining ingredients.

I minced the turmeric and ginger (and I don’t bother peeling either), sliced the mushrooms, chopped the red pepper and jalapeños, cut up the bitter melon (halved lengthwise, then cut in 4 strips and cut across to chop), and diced the tomato and the Meyer lemon (after cutting off and discarding the ends of the lemon).

I started by cooking the onion, turmeric, and ginger for a while in a little extra-virgin olive, then added the squash and dried herbs, cooked that briefly, and then added the rest. 

I was going to go with just the tomato, but I judged there was insufficient liquid, even with the lemon, vinegar, and fish sauce, so I added the can of Ro•Tel tomatoes and chilies. 

I covered the pan and cooked at 225ºF for 30 minutes. You can see the finished vegetables in the smaller photo (click to enlarge). I haven’t had it yet, but I’m sure it will be tasty: if you cook together things you like, you’ll generally like the result. The pan is my 4-qt sauté pan, so you can see I have enough for multiple meals: cook once, get several meals.

No salt, you’ll notice. I decided I need to cut back on my salt intake, so I shall be using it quite sparingly now. In lieu of salt, I have acidic ingredients (vinegar, to be sure, but also tomato and lemon) and the bracing bitterness of the bitter melon. Squash and the red pepper bring some sweetness and various aromatics (ginger, garlic, turmeric, spearmint, marjoram, and basil) add to the flavor. 

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2022 at 4:50 pm

Study: Green MedDiet Can Slow Brain Atrophy Among Over-50s

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Paolo DeAndreis writes in Olive Oil Times:

A common aging process known as brain atrophy has been effectively limited by the adoption of a Mediterranean diet significantly high in polyphenols and low in processed and red meat, known as Green-Med.

A team of researchers from Ben Gurion University in Israel has found significant beneficial effects of Green-Med adoption on a large group of overweight employees at the Dimona Nuclear Research Center. Two hundred twenty-seven participants completed the 18-month trial during which several brain parameters were analyzed.

The employees were divided into three groups. The first was asked to follow a healthy diet, the second one was instructed to adopt a traditional Mediterranean diet and the third one was asked to follow Green-Med. All of them were also asked to carry out specific physical activities and all were given a free gym membership.

To enhance the high-polyphenol profile of Green-Med, the researchers introduced walnuts and green tea into the diet.

In a note, researchers explained that the polyphenols in walnuts decrease the risk for dementia and reduce brain inflammation. Green tea’s polyphenols are also known for their favorable effects on cognitive function and reduced inflammation in the brain. [FWIW, I eat 1/4 cup of walnuts daily, and I drink green tea (and hibiscus tea) daily. – LG]

While walnuts were also given to the MedDiet group, scientists administered a specific strain of . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

21 January 2022 at 3:13 pm

Biden renewed a free program to feed needy kids. Most states haven’t even applied.

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Like the previous post, this Washington Post report by Laura Reiley illustrates the degree to which in the US those who are struggling are invisible to those who are not. Note that those would do the actual work of applying are not struggling to put food on the table, so what do they care? Not their problem. The report begins:

Odessa Davis worked three jobs to get by, until the pandemic shutdowns made it impossible to work to put food on the table for herself and her 12-year-old son, Leon.

Previously, Leon had gotten reduced-price meals at his school. Now the expense and preparation of his meals fell to Davis, 33. At first, the Montgomery County, Md., resident resorted to picking up food boxes from Capital Area Food Bank, whipping up meals on the fly as if in an episode of “Chopped,” trying to make it fun.

“I went to whatever food drives were available. I was sad that I had to do it,” she said. “I felt like a failure.”

Soon, the federal government devised a plan to get lunch money into the hands of low-income families, like Davis and her son, to make up for meals missed because of school closures or illness, which meant $200 every month for the duo.

The money was a lifeline. But at the start of this school year, it stopped.

“I was upset that it stopped, because I did rely on it.” she said. “They cut it off, and we’re still in a pandemic.”

At its peak, 18.5 million kids relied on Pandemic-EBT, which began under the Trump administration and continued under President Biden. The program gave families forced home a debit-card benefit to use at the grocery store, for some online food shopping or even at farmers markets.

Now the program is flagging. Most states have not applied for the school year that began in September. Experts say the pandemic has changed in ways that make maintaining the program an impossible burden for already strapped administrators.

As Deputy Agriculture Undersecretary Stacy Dean told The Washington Post, “The context has changed.”

With only eight states approved for this federal aid, and another 17 somewhere in the application process, the remaining states threaten to leave billions of dollars on the table in direct assistance to students and preschoolers who qualify for free or reduced-price school meals.

And now there’s renewed urgency: As the omicron variant surges, at least 5,409 schools had canceled class or switched to virtual learning by the end of the first week of this month. Under the current law, students in states that aren’t approved for the benefit this school year are ineligible to receive assistance in the summer, when school is not in session.

As the pandemic continues to drive widespread food insecurity, these administrative difficulties could result in millions of kids going hungry — all while money intended for their relief goes unused.

“Throughout the pandemic, the P-EBT program has been one of our best tools for providing children the meals they need to stay healthy,” said Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.), chairman of the House Committee on Education and Labor. Scott said it is alarming that some states have not yet secured access to the program, estimating that 30 million eligible kids might not receive summer benefits.

“These decisions will have serious consequences for millions of families. I hope that every state will fulfill its responsibility to prevent child hunger as we continue to fight this pandemic,” he said.

The program was designed to get money for food into the hands of the kids who qualified when schools went remote. At the time, it was easy: Almost all . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2022 at 6:11 pm

Luscious-looking beef and pork

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On Netflix, search “Korean Food Rhapsody,” and you will find three series:

1. Korean Porkbelly Rhapsody
2. Korean Cold Noodle Rhapsody
3. Hanwoo Rhapsody

The third is about beef, and the first and third are quite alluring. I cannot eat meat as I once did, but those who still partake and enjoy should definitely watch these.

Written by Leisureguy

19 January 2022 at 5:59 am

Spinach today (aka Spinach du jour)

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Today’s spinach is not dissimilar from previous spinach dishes, though they each vary some.

Spinach du 18 Jan 2022

• about 1 tablespoon EVOO drizzled over sauté pan cooking surface
• 1/2 large red onion, chopped
• 3 BBQ onions, chopped — spring onions, in effect, except it isn’t spring
• 4 large mushrooms, halved and sliced
• 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
• 2 jalapeños, chopped (including core and seeds)
• pinch of fine grey sea salt
• pinch of kala namak
• good shaking of crushed red pepper
• 1 Meyer lemon diced (including skin and seeds)
• 2 300g packages frozen chopped spinach
• about 2 tablespoons of Bragg’s apple cider vinegar
• a good splash of Red Boat fish sauce

I put all ingredients in the list above, from EVOO through crushed red pepper, into the 4-qt sauté pan and cooked them over medium heat until the mushrooms released their liquid and the onions were translucent.

Then I added the remaining ingredients and set heat to 225ºF, time to 25 minutes, and covered the pan. I returned to take photo at the top while it’s still cooking. At 25 minutes, I stirred it well to mix spinach with everything else, and cooked it 5 minutes more.

There it is at the right, done cooking.

This is the current Greens dish. I had some. Quite tasty and not nearly so spicy as I had expected.


Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2022 at 1:17 pm

The Effects of Avocados & Red Wine on Meal-Induced Inflammation

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One takeaway from this brief video is that the common combination of wine and cheese or wine and pâté is not a good idea. I also was interested to learn that having an avocado on a burger is a good idea (though not so good as skipping the burger: not the effect of combing meat and white bread).

Written by Leisureguy

18 January 2022 at 4:18 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Fighting the Ten Hallmarks of Cancer with Food

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Some very interesting findings quoted in this brief video.

In his note on the video on, Dr. Greger adds:

Once I’ve finished researching and writing How Not to Age, my next book will be on cancer survival, so there will be a lot more coming on this critically important topic. Until then, I have dozens of videos on cancer prevention and treatment, including:

How Not to Die from Cancer   
Starving Cancer with Methionine Restriction   
Saving Lives by Treating Acne with Diet   
Prostate Cancer and Organic Milk vs. Almond Milk   
Strawberries vs. Esophageal Cancer   
Should We All Get Colonoscopies Starting at Age 50?   
Breast Cancer Survival Vegetable    
Prostate Cancer Survival: The A/V Ratio   
Anti-Angiogenesis: Cutting off the Tumor Supply Line   
Why Might Vegetarians Have Less HPV?    
Zeranol Use in Meat and Breast Cancer    
Animal Protein Compared to Cigarette Smoking    
Is Organic Meat Less Carcinogenic?    
The Best Diet for Colon Cancer Prevention   
What Causes Cancer to Metastasize?    
How to Help Control Cancer Metastasis with Diet    
The Food That Can Downregulate a Metastatic Cancer Gene

Written by Leisureguy

17 January 2022 at 1:56 pm

Zinc Supplement: Why, Which, and How

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Immediately after I read the article on white rice [see previous post], I happened across an article in the Washington Post: “Zinc helps fight infections, but many people are deficient in this vital mineral,” by Diane Kwon (gift link — no paywall). That put a bee in my bonnet, particularly since I recently discontinued taking a zinc supplement. 

Still, with any nutrient, too much is as bad as too little — for example, your body requires potassium, iron, and sodium, but too much potassium can trigger seizures; too much iron acts as a poison; and too much sodium leads to high blood pressure. The requirement for moderation — neither too little nor too much — applies both to micronutrients (vitamins and minerals) and macronutrients (carbohydrates, fats, and proteins).

The Post article notes, “experts recommend that adults [emphasis added – LG] consume no more than 40 milligrams of zinc per day.” That link is to a National Institutes of Health (NIH) article on zinc, which also specifies the maximum daily intake for other ages. For example, children 1-3 years old should not consume more than 3mg of zinc per day.

That NIH article also includes recommended minimum daily amounts by age. However, usually not all of a vitamin or mineral in a supplement is absorbed. Kwon comments in her WaPo article: “We need better zinc supplements, Knoell says: Most now come in salt form, as zinc sulfate or chloride, but these are not readily taken up by the body.”

One important factor in whether or not a micronutrient is absorbed is age. As we age, our ability to absorb some micronutrients declines. For example, young people on a plant-based diet require a B12 supplement, but older people generally need a B12 supplement regardless of their diet.

My practice is first to look for good food sources of any vitamin or mineral of interest — in this case, zinc. Healthline lists the 10 best foods high in zinc, but the first two listed are meat and shellfish, which I eat rarely. The list also includes dairy and eggs — again, no longer part of my usual diet. The list does include some foods I eat regularly — legumes, seeds, nuts, whole grains, and some vegetables (notably potatoes, which I avoid: too much starch). However, the amount of zinc in those foods is not so impressive. From the Healthline article:

100 grams of cooked lentils contain around 12% of the DV (10). However, legumes also contain phytates. These antinutrients inhibit the absorption of zinc and other minerals, meaning zinc from legumes isn’t as well absorbed as the zinc from animal products (11).

I also checked what Dr. Michael Greger’s had to say about zinc, and I found this:

Zinc from plant foods is not absorbed so well as zinc from animal foods, which may be a concern for vegetarians. In fact, a 2009 study revealed that vegetarians may be at risk for zinc deficiency. Vegetarians in the study had low blood zinc levels due to the high intake of phytates in their diet.

That definitely caught my eye, especially since I typically eat legumes at each meal.

So: food sources of dietary zinc are 1) foods I normally do not eat, and 2) not all that high in zinc anyway. And when I also saw in the Healthline article “Your body doesn’t store zinc, so you need to eat enough every day to ensure you’re meeting your daily requirements (2).” [emphasis added – LG], I decided that I definitely should resume taking a zinc supplement, choosing one that’s comfortably less than 40mg/day. That amount should be perfectly safe, especially since I am unlikely to absorb the full amount of the zinc in the supplement.

It’s important to note that, since zinc is not stored, one may well have days — perhaps many days — of some degree of zinc deficiency. Those low-zinc days would not necessarily have obvious symptoms but would nevertheless be suboptimal, creating a drag on one’s well-being. People can get easily get along on a suboptimal diet, but when their diet improves, so do their health, stature, and energy level

On the whole, it seems better to me to be safe than sorry, and to take a daily zinc supplement as a fail-safe precaution. 


I next searched for “best form of zinc supplement” and found a Forbes article: “Best Zinc Supplements Of 2022, According To Experts,” by Sarah Berger, fact-checked by Alena Hall.

I decided to go with the first one listed: NOW Foods Zinc Glycinate (30mg/softgel), which got 5 stars. I usually order my supplements from Their catalog description says “Dietary bioavailability of zinc is relatively poor, so NOW® Zinc Glycinate (also known as Bisglycinate) is chelated to improve absorption and bioavailability. NOW uniquely offers Zinc Glycinate in a softgel capsule with Pumpkin Seed Oil as a healthy synergist.” (Pumpkin seeds are fairly high in zinc, FWIW.)


In my budget plan, I put aside in savings each month the money I’ll need for foreseeable regular expenses. By doing that, when one of those expenses comes due, I can just pay for it from savings, with zero impact on my regular weekly budget. Vitamin/supplement purchases are certainly foreseeable, and in my budget workbook I have one worksheet specifically for those, with the total from that worksheet carried into the Overall Plan. (See this post for details.)

Adding a zinc supplement required a new line in my Supplements worksheet and increased slightly the amount transferred into savings each month. I inserted the Zinc line at the top, pushing down the entries already there. Here’s what it looks like now. (Here I truncated the URLs because they’re irrelevant for this post. They’re in the worksheet because I like to have them handy when I re-order.)

By adding the zinc supplement, my savings transfer goes up by $4.54/month, which means my Discretionary budget drops by $4.54/month. (Discretionary is what’s left after everything else is taken care of.)

That’s trivial. It’s amounts to $1.05/week, a negligible difference. And when it comes time to replenish my zinc supply, I will just take the money from savings, with zero impact on my daily spending.

I ordered two bottles, so that 1) I have a spare, and 2) the order qualifies for free shipping. (When I reorder, I’ll also order enough overall to get free shipping.)

Written by Leisureguy

17 January 2022 at 12:56 pm

How Killer Rice Crippled Tokyo and the Japanese Navy

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Problems due to nutrition (whether from a deficit or an excess of some micronutrient) are sneaky: even when the health impact is evident, the cause may remain obscure. Anne Ewbank writes in Gastro Obscura:

IN 1877, JAPAN’S MEIJI EMPEROR watched his aunt, the princess Kazu, die of a common malady: kakke. If her condition was typical, her legs would have swollen, and her speech slowed. Numbness and paralysis might have come next, along with twitching and vomiting. Death often resulted from heart failure.

The emperor had suffered from this same ailment, on-and-off, his whole life. In response, he poured money into research on the illness. It was a matter of survival: for the emperor, his family, and Japan’s ruling class. While most diseases ravage the poor and vulnerable, kakke afflicted the wealthy and powerful, especially city dwellers. This curious fact gave kakke its other name: Edo wazurai, the affliction of Edo (Edo being the old name for Tokyo). But for centuries, the culprit of kakke went unnoticed: fine, polished, white rice.

Gleaming white rice was a status symbol—it was expensive and laborious to husk, hull, polish, and wash. In Japan, the poor ate brown rice, or other carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes or barley. The rich ate polished white rice, often to the exclusion of other foods.

This was a problem. Removing the outer layers of a grain of rice also removes one vital nutrient: thiamine, or vitamin B-1. Without thiamine, animals and humans develop kakkenow known in English as beriberi. But for too long, the cause of the condition remained unknown. [See also this article by the Harvard School of Public Health. From the article: “The bran is the fiber-rich outer layer that supplies B vitaminsiron, copper, zincmagnesiumantioxidants, and phytochemicals. Phytochemicals are natural chemical compounds in plants that have been researched for their role in disease prevention.” That’s in part why I cook intact whole grain for my meals. – LG]

In his book Beriberi in Modern Japan: The Making of a National Disease, Alexander R. Bay describes the efforts of Edo-era doctors to figure out the disease. A common suspect was dampness and damp ground. One doctor administered herbal medicines and a fasting regimen to a samurai, who died within months. Other doctors burned dried mugwort on patients’ bodies to stimulate qi and blood flow.

Some remedies did work—even if they didn’t come from a true understanding of the disease. Katsuki Gyuzan, an early, 18th-century doctor, believed Edo itself was the issue. Samurai, he wrote, would come to Edo and get kakke from the water and soil. Only samurai who went back to their provincial homes—going over the Hakone Pass—would be cured. Those who were seriously ill had to move quickly, “for the worst cases always result in death,” Katsuki cautioned. Since heavily processed white rice was less available outside Edo and in the countryside, this likely was a cure. Similarly, a number of physicians prescribed barley and red beans, which both contain thiamine.

By 1877, Japan’s beriberi problem was getting really serious. When the princess Kazu died of kakke at 31, it was only a decade after her former husband, Japan’s shogun, had died, almost certainly from the mysterious disease. Machine-milling made polished rice available to the masses, and as the government invested in an army and navy, it fed soldiers with white rice. (White rice, as it happened, was less bulky and lasted longer than brown rice, which could go rancid in warm weather.) Inevitably, soldiers and sailors got beriberi.

No longer was this just a problem for the upper class, or even Japan. In his article British India and the “Beriberi Problem,” 1798–1942, David Arnold writes that by the time the emperor was funding research, beriberi was ravaging South and East Asia, especially “soldiers, sailors, plantation labourers, prisoners, and asylum inmates.”

Into this mess stepped a precocious doctor: Takaki Kanehiro. Almost immediately after joining the navy in 1872, he noticed the high numbers of sailors suffering from beriberi. But it wasn’t until he returned from medical school in London and took up the role of director of the Tokyo Naval Hospital that he could do anything about it. After surveying suffering sailors, he found that “the rate [of disease] was highest among prisoners, lower among sailors and petty officers, and lowest among officers.”

Since they differed mainly by diet, Takaki believed a lack of protein among lower-status sailors caused the disease. (This contradicted the most common theory at the time: that beriberi was an infectious disease caused by bacteria.) Takaki even wrangled a meeting with the emperor to discuss his theory. “If the cause of this condition is discovered by someone outside of Japan, it would be dishonorable,” he told the emperor. Change couldn’t come soon enough. In 1883, 120 Japanese sailors out of 1,000 had the disease.

Takaki also noticed that Western navies didn’t suffer from beriberi. But instituting a Western-style diet was expensive, and sailors were resistant to eating bread. An unfortunate incident, though, allowed Takaki to make his point emphatically. In late 1883, a training ship full of cadets returned from a journey to New Zealand, South America, and Hawaii. Out of the 370 cadets and crewmen, 169 had gotten beriberi, and 25 had died.

Takaki proposed an experiment. Another training ship, the Tsukuba, would set out on the exact same route. Takaki leveraged every connection he had to arrange for the Tsukuba to carry bread and meat instead of just white rice. So while the Tsukuba made its way around the world, the doctor spent sleepless nights fretting about the result: If crew members died from beriberi, he would look like a fool. Later, he told a student that he would have killed himself if his experiment failed.

Instead, the Tsukuba returned to Japan in triumph. Only 14 crew members had gotten beriberi, and those men had not eaten the ordered diet. Takaki wasn’t exactly right: He believed the issue was protein rather than thiamine. But since meat was expensive, Takaki proposed giving sailors protein-filled barley, which is actually rich in thiamine. In the face of this evidence, . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

17 January 2022 at 9:56 am

Which countries produce which foods

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A very interesting chart at Visual Capitalist lets you select a food and then see which countries produce most of that food — for example, leeks are big in France, Turkey, and Southeast Asia. Hazelnuts? Italy and Turkey. And so on. Of course, this will change a lot as climate change progresses.

Written by Leisureguy

16 January 2022 at 7:23 am

Posted in Business, Daily life, Food

Black-eyed peas and bok choy

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Photo is from recipe; I ate mine before I thought of taking a photo.

Not black-eyed peas and baby bok choy in the same dish, though that does sound good, but two different dishes. The first one is just something I made up, but I like it.

Black-eyed peas Mexicanish

• 1/2 avocado diced
• 1/2 – 1 jalapeño, chopped fine
• about 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped small
• juice of 1/2 lime (can substitute 1/2 lemon)
• pinch of salt — I used rosemary salt
• about 1/2 cup cooked, drained, and chilled blacked peas
• about 1/3 cup red onion, chopped small

Stir to mix. Eat and enjoy.

Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy

The other recipe, Stir-Fried Baby Bok Choy, I found on the web. Yesterday I bought some Shanghai baby bok choy and some regular baby bok choy, so I’m going to cook them together: variety.


Written by Leisureguy

13 January 2022 at 1:46 pm

“Restaurant of Mistaken Orders”

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Written by Leisureguy

12 January 2022 at 1:16 pm

Bottle-to-Bottle Honey Production | Contactless Beekeeping

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This is weird but interesting.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 5:45 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Video

Apple Peels Put to the Test for Chronic Joint Pain

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Michael Greger has an interesting blog post, which begins:

Are the health benefits associated with apple consumption simply due to other healthy behaviors among apple-eaters?

Regular apple intake is associated with all sorts of benefits, such as living longer and, more specifically, a lower risk of dying from cancer. At 0:17 in my video Apple Peels Put to the Test for Chronic Joint Pain, you can see the survival curve of elderly women. Of those who do not eat an apple a day, nearly a quarter had died after 10 years and nearly half were gone after 15 years. In comparison, those who eat on average about half an apple a day don’t die as young, and those eating one daily apple—more than three and a half daily ounces, which is around a cup of apple slices—lived even longer. Is it possible that people who eat apples every day just happen to practice other healthy behaviors, like exercising more or not smoking, and that’s why they’re living longer? The study controlled for obesity, smoking status, poverty, diseases, exercise, and more, so the researchers really could compare apples to apples (so to speak). 

What they didn’t control for, however, was an otherwise more healthful diet. As you can see at 1:04 in my video, studies show that those who regularly eat apples not only have higher intakes of nutrients like fiber that are found in the fruit, but they’re also eating less added sugar and less saturated fat. In other words, they’re eating overall more healthful diets, so it’s no wonder apple-eaters live longer. But, is apple-eating just a marker for healthful eating, or is there something about the apples themselves that’s beneficial? You don’t know, until you put it to the test. 

Given that “athletes use a variety of common strategies to stimulate arousal, cognition, and performance before morning training,” subjects were randomly assigned to a caffeinated energy drink, black coffee, an apple, or nothing at all in the morning. Did the apple hold its weight? Yes, it appeared to work just as well as the caffeinated beverages. The problem with these kinds of studies, though, is that they’re not blinded. Those in the apple group knew they were eating an apple, so there may have been an expectation bias—a placebo effect—that made them unconsciously give that extra bit of effort in the testing and skew the results. You can’t just stuff a whole apple into a pill. 

That’s why researchers instead test specific extracted apple components, which allows them to perform a double-blind, placebo-controlled study where half the subjects get the fruit elements and the other half get a sugar pill, and you don’t know until the end who got which. The problem there, however, is that you’re no longer dealing with a whole food, removing the symphony of interactions between the thousands of phytonutrients in the whole apple.

Most of those special nutrients are concentrated in the peel, though. Instead of just dumping millions of pounds of nutrition in the trash, why couldn’t researchers just dry and powder the peels into opaque capsules to disguise them and then run blinded studies with those? Even just a “small amount could greatly increase phytochemical content and antioxidant activity…”

The meat industry got the memo. A study found that “dried apple peel powder decreases microbial expansion” in meat and protects against carcinogen production when it’s cooked. One of the carcinogens formed during the grilling of meat is a beta-carboline alkaloid—a neurotoxin that may be “a potential contributor to the development of neurological diseases including Parkinson’s disease.” Uncooked meat doesn’t have any. The neurotoxin is formed when meat is cooked, but you can cut the levels in half by first marinating it with dried apple peel powder, as you can see at 3:27 in my video.

Apple peel also . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 5:22 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

Butler Soy Curls roasted with homemade BBQ sauce

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Cast photo

I mentioned some ideas about this in an earlier post, but as always, some changes occur in production. I realize now that Butler Soy Curls are as close to a whole food as a prepared food gets: soybeans 

Our soybeans are grown in the USA on a family farm, certified Non-GMO and grown without chemical pesticides. We soak the beans in spring water (no chlorine). Then the beans are stirred while being cooked. Soy Curls™ are dried at low temperature thus ensuring the natural goodness of the whole soybean high in fiber and omega-3.

Soy Curls™ are one of the most pure, healthful products on the market containing no chemicals, additives, or preservatives

I have several bags of them, and I keep them in the produce drawer in the refrigerator.

Here is the BBQ sauce I ended up making:

Homemade BBQ Sauce, V. 2

• 3 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 
• 1 Meyer lemon, ends removed and halved and each half quartered
• 1/2 teaspoon Wright’s liquid smoke

Put that into the beaker for the immersion blender and blend well, then pour into a saucepan: Set aside.

Remove core and seeds from:

• 2 dried ancho chiles
• 2 dried guajillo chiles
• 3 dried chile de arbol

Heat a skillet, add chiles, toast briefly. Here I’m following the method shown starting at 0:50 in this video. 

After the chiles cool, put them into a spice and herb grinder and grind briefly. To get them to actually grind, you will have to tear them up (or cut them up with scissors).

Full disclosure: after watching the video at the link, I bought the Cuisinart SG-10 she uses, except in Canada the prevalent model is the SG-10C — same except for the color of the plastic cap. 

After the chiles have been ground, add to the grinder:

• 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
• 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon rosemary salt

After adding all that, grind the spices and herbs well, to a fine powder, and add that to the saucepan with the blended tomatoes, garlic, lemon, and liquid smoke. Then also add:

• 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
• 1 tablespoons tomato paste (from a tube works best)
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce (can substitute tamari or soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce)
• 1 tablespoon Huy Fong Sriracha

Stir to mix and simmer for five minutes or so. Taste for sweet/acid balance, and add some apple-cider vinegar (1-2 teaspoons) if more acid is needed. 


I then follow the method shown by Derek Simnett at 11:50 in this video. I got a timing from another recipe: 380ºF in the preheated Cosori air fryer for 10 minutes total: 5 minutes, shake, 5 more minutes. With my Cosori, I just set it for 10 minutes and after 5 minutes it beeps to remind me to shake the basket.

The curls are soaking now. I’ll update this after I’ve cooked and tried them.

Verdict — Excellent. I’ll experiment with the time — perhaps 12 minutes — but very tasty. Soy Curls have a neutral taste, so they contribute texture (and protein and fiber, etc.) while the flavor comes mostly from the sauce, and this recipe seems good: spicy but not too hot, and with good depth of flavor. Next time I might add:

• 1 square Baker’s unsweetened chocolate; or 1 packet Starbuck’s instant coffee.

There is sauce left over, so I might make this again.

Written by Leisureguy

11 January 2022 at 2:01 pm

BBQ Butler Soy Curls

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I normally don’t eat highly processed foods — and Butler Soy Curls are definitely processed to the point that they no longer resemble soybeans, though that is what they are — nothing else. I was intrigued after watching Derek Simnett’s lunch burrito in the video below (previously blogged). His BBQ soy curls, cooked in his air “fryer,” sound like something I might like.

As you can tell from the first link above, Butler soy curls are essentially just cooked, mashed, and dried whole soybeans — no other ingredients (no preservatives, no salt, no sugar, no artificial color — just soybeans).

Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP) is quite different. TVP is a by-product of soybean oil production. TVP was created simply as a way to monetize leftovers from oil production. TVP is not for me.

I don’t much like store-bought BBQ sauce, though, since those generally contain refined sugar, which I try to avoid. So I looked at a recipe online and then modified it to match what I have on hand. Here’s my version:

Ham’s Homemade BBQ Sauce (V. 1 — see V. 2, which is what I actually made)

• 2 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
• 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped 
• 1 Meyer lemon, roughly diced

Put that into the beaker for the immersion blender and blend well, then pour into a saucepan and add:

• 2 tablespoons blackstrap molasses
• 2 tablespoons tomato paste (from a tube works best)
• 1 tablespoon fish sauce (can substitute tamari or soy sauce or Worcestershire sauce)
• 1 tablespoon Huy Fong Sriracha
• 1 teaspoon ground coriander 
• 1 teaspoon Mexican oregano
• 1 teaspoon ground cumin
• 1 teaspoon ground ancho
• 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
• 1/2 teaspoon rosemary salt

Stir to mix and simmer until thickened. Taste for sweet/acid balance, and add some apple-cider vinegar (1-2 teaspoons) if more acid is needed. 

Instead of the ground ancho, I might heat one of my dried chiles in a skillet and grind it in my spice & herb grinder and use that.

Written by Leisureguy

10 January 2022 at 3:30 pm

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