Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

The Big Red One: A ferment

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The Big Red One here refers not to the famous 1st Infantry Division (aka “The Fighting First”) but to my new ferment:

red cabbage
• red kale
red beet
red onion
red apple
red cayenne peppers
red Russian garlic
• fresh ginger root
• Medjool dates
• chipotle and ancho chiles

I was aiming for 3 liters (two 1.5-liter jars), but on looking at the gathered ingredients thought I would exceed that by about a liter, and I was right:

The two large jars are 1.5 liter each, the small jar 1 liter. The whole thing, once prepared in my biggest bowl, weighed 2,735g (6 pounds), so I used 55g Himalayan pink salt (2% salt to veggie ratio).

Here’s what I did with each ingredient. (The links below are not affiliate links; they’re just to be specific and helpful.)

  • red cabbage – quartered and cored it, then I sliced the wedges 1mm thick using my Oxo handheld mandoline (Oxo makes several; link is to the one that I use)
  • red kale – chopped stems very small, then sliced leaves thin
  • red beet – coarsely grated with my Rösle coarse grater
  • red onion – quartered vertically, then quarters sliced thin with my chef’s knife. (Now that I think about it, I could have used the mandoline, and that may have worked better.)
  • red apple – grated using the Rösle coarse grater
  • red cayenne peppers – sliced in thin cross-sections, using the knife
  • red Russian garlic – peeled (very easy — this garlic’s skin is like a shell and it pops off readily) and then sliced thin using my Oxo garlic mandoline.
  • fresh ginger root – I used about 1/3 of the piece shown, and sliced it thin with my knife; I did not peel it.
  • Medjool dates – pitted and chopped
  • chipotle and ancho chiles – I ground these in my Cuisinart spice & nut grinder

After all the veggies were prepped (sliced or grated or chopped or ground) and in my big bowl, I poured 1/2 cup spring water into my 1-cup measure and stirred in a packet of starter culture. This must hydrate for 10 minutes before use, so I let it hydrate while I mixed and massaged the vegetables.

I added the 55g Himalayan coarse salt to the veggies, and then I massaged and mixed everything by hand, with some vigor and firmness. I made sure the ingredients were well mixed, which required some effort since when I started they were more or less layered in the bowl in the order I had prepared them.

One advantage of using my hands to mix is that I occasionally came across a largish lump of cabbage or onion. When I did, I removed it, sliced it thin with the chef’s knife, and returned the slivers to the bowl.

After 15-20 minutes of mixing and massaging, the vegetables were softened and liquid had pooled in the bottom of the bowl.

At that point I added the culture water and continued to mix and massage for another five minutes to make sure the culture was well distributed throughout the vegetables.

I then packed the two 1.5 liter jars, put the leftover veggies into the 1-liter jar, and put a fermentation weight to each jar. The I poured in enough spring water just to cover the weights, and put fermentation airlocks on two of the jars. For the Weck jar, I just rest the lid on top of its gasket.

This should be ready August 25. Lesson learned: start next batch before this is completely gone so I don’t have to go without for two weeks.


Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2022 at 12:54 pm

The Weight Loss Program That Got Better with Time

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Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2022 at 10:19 am

When you don’t hear what your body is telling you

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Ijeoma Oluo has a very interesting post on her experience in being body-deaf (the way some people are tone-deaf). And the comments to the article are also interesting. For example, I had not known that body-deafness is common among those who suffer from ADHD. Olumo writes:

It starts with the world’s most boring mystery.

Last week, in the middle of the night, I found myself doubled over in unbearable pain. Again. It was radiating up my back and wrapping around my ribcage. I had fallen asleep feeling fine and then woke up in agony. The pain didn’t subside for hours. After the pain meds didn’t work, pacing the floor didn’t work, sedatives didn’t work – I started to panic. Then I felt like I couldn’t breathe.

This was the second time in about a week or so that I’d experienced this sort of attack. And it was a pain I had remembered cropping up every few weeks for many years. I try to avoid googling body ailments because I always come out of such internet sessions hyperventilating, convinced I’m dying of cancer (find me a google search for a body ailment that doesn’t end in cancer and I’ll name my next pet after you). But I was desperate, and I knew that if this was happening to me with such frequency then it must be happening to other people as well and surely at least one of these people has found a solution.

I remembered that I had eaten the same meal from the same restaurant that I had eaten at the last time this attack of back pain happened. So I wondered if maybe it was some sort of allergic reaction that somehow caused back pain. Starting with that premise was a smart move because a search for “can certain foods cause back pain” quickly turned up an option for back pain associated with stomach upset. My searches said that sometimes stomach pain is felt through the back, and often is associated with IBS.

I knew almost nothing about IBS but further searches had my symptoms line up quite neatly with IBS (type C). I’ve had at least 20 years of digestive issues that I’ve regularly either written off as just having a “weird body” or decided that people who poop more than once a week are the weird ones. That’s sort of beside the point though, because I still need to see a doctor for a more firm diagnosis.

So why am I writing this?

I’m writing this because as I finished eating breakfast this morning, my back started hurting again. My immediate thoughts were, “Oh did I sleep weird?” “Was my posture that bad last night when I was watching tv in bed?” But the ache in my back wasn’t a sharp pain, it was the radiating, throbbing pain I’d had just last week. I looked down at the remains of my breakfast: Coffee with oat milk creamer, a bagel with butter, cantaloupe with yogurt – the really good full fat with added cream kind.

I’m lactose intolerant. My mom, sister, and brother are as well. My two sons are. With the addition of a partner who is also lactose intolerant I have often marveled at how in this household I’m the only one who can seem to indulge in dairy (within reason) without paying much of a price outside of some gas. I’ve had to pick my kids up from school early because the milkshake they begged for the night before had kept them in the bathroom the first two periods of school the next day. When I was their age I too used to have horrible stomachaches after eating dairy that left me pretty incapacitated for hours. But over the years that had faded to an extent that really surprised me.

As I stared at my breakfast and felt the pain radiating up my back I realized that I was likely experiencing stomach pain. I closed my eyes and tried hard to concentrate on my body. The feeling of unease that was filling me. Was that anxiety, my old friend? Yes. But behind that it was….nausea? Yes, that might be what nausea is to me today.

It might seem weird to have to sit and concentrate to figure out if you feel nauseous or not but as I realized that I was probably experiencing nausea it all clicked into a long, familiar pattern in my relationship with my body, especially with my digestive system. It doesn’t exist.

The relationship, that is. Pretty sure my digestive system hasn’t gotten up and walked away (although if it did, I likely wouldn’t have noticed).

The first time I passed out due to low blood sugar was in the first grade. It was certainly not the last. Years of iron supplements, vitamins, doctor recommendations, nothing helped. By the time I hit high school I was swooning like I was a white maiden in a Jane Austen novel who had just been told that we could only afford 5 household servants due to our now “reduced circumstances”.

There was about a 10 year period of time between  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

11 August 2022 at 10:13 am

Fermentation starter started

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Following the steps in this video, I have started the fermentation starter by putting into a 1-pint canning jar:

• about 3 tablespoons organic raisins
• 1″ section fresh ginger root, sliced with the skin left on
• about 3 tablespoons fresh organic blueberries
• 1 Medjool date, chopped
• a section of organic apple, chopped (including the skin).

The video says to let it go for 24 hours at room temperature, then add 1 teaspoon organic cane sugar, go another 24 hours at room and add another 1 teaspoon sugar. Once the liquid in the jar is fizzy and working, cap the jar and put it into the fridge. Then each week, add 1 teaspoon of sugar and let it sit at room temperature a day before returning it to the refrigerator.

To ferment vegetables, use 1/4 cup of starter per 1 quart of vegetables, then add enough spring water to cover as describe in my fermentation post. The video suggests adding 1 tablespoon salt per quart as well.

Written by Leisureguy

10 August 2022 at 8:02 pm

Fermented raw potatoes are pretty good

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I described the idea and process in a post a couple of days ago, and I’ve now updated that with the results. Look there for details, but I’ll say that they are good and I will definitely repeat (along the lines described in the post at the link).

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2022 at 5:25 pm

Kamut and chana dal tempeh done

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Click a photo for slide show; right-click photo to enlarge it in a new tab. 

Above on the left you see the finished slab of tempeh out of the bag (and the grid of dots from the perforations in the Ziploc Fresh Produce bag) and on the right a cross section of the finished slab. I saw “finished” slab, but obviously the mycelium did not quite finish the job at the top (which is still perfectly edible, and in fact I am eating it right now.

I made a stir-fry in my 12″ nonstick MSMK skillet that I had Evo-sprayed with EVOO:

• about a cup of chopped red onion
• about the same amount of diced tempeh
• a chopped tomato
• 4 chopped mushrooms
• a good handful of chopped gai lan
• 2 tablespoons of walnuts
• 3 chopped yellow cayenne peppers
• a pinch of MSG.

update:  Damn! I just remembered I have some very nice garlic scapes that would have worked well in this dish. Oh, well. I’ll be making something else soon. Maybe tomorrow I’ll get some baby Shanghai bok choy.

I brought started that cooking at “4” on the induction burner, then put the lid on the skillet, turned the burner to 225ºF / 107ºC, and set the burner timer for 15 minutes.

When it was done, I took a bowl full, mixed in 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed, and topped it with some Asian variant Hollyhock salad dressing.

This is the batch I began 4 days ago. Normally a batch in done in 3 days, but I went an extra day, hoping the mycelium would finish its job. Still, this tempeh tastes really good, and I just cooked and ate that top strip (diced). The tempeh — with Kamut and chana dal — has excellent texture with just the right amount of chewiness. I think this will be very good in a curry or a chili, and its certainly excellent in this little dish I improvised. (Tomorrow is the big shopping day.)

I don’t understand why more people are not making tempeh. For some, the reason is that their plate’s pretty full with jobs and young children, but I notice that even retired folk do little or no tempeh. Pity. They don’t know what they’re missing (but I do).


Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2022 at 2:23 pm

What is the optimal diet?

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Something happened in 1926, and I have no idea what it was. Look at the two charts in the video at 00:44 to 00:51. Note the sharp change in rate of increase that happened in 1926. Any ideas about that year?

— Update: Just received a phone call from The Eldest, who works at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins University. She told me that it was around 1926 — in fact, slightly before — that scientists began to discover the chemistry of food: what things in food made it nutritious. She sent me a PDF of a timeline of nutrition research. 

Still, that leaves open the question of what happened in 1926 to bend upward the rate of deaths from heart disease — e.g., 

Chart from the video below, which includes also a chart for Females (showing the same upward bend at 1926)

Written by Leisureguy

9 August 2022 at 11:47 am

Burn, baby, burn: The new science of metabolism

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In October of 2021, David Cox reported in the Guardian:

Losing weight may be tough, but keeping it off, research tells us, is tougher – just not for the reasons you might think.

As the director of the Energy Metabolism Laboratory at the USDA Nutrition Center Tufts University, Massachusetts, Susan Roberts has spent much of the past two decades studying ways to fight the obesity epidemic that continues to plague much of the western world.

But time and again, Roberts and other obesity experts around the globe have found themselves faced with a recurring problem. While getting overweight individuals to commit to shedding pounds is often relatively straightforward in the short term, preventing them from regaining the lost weight is much more challenging.

According to the University of Michigan, about 90% of people who lose significant amounts of weight, whether through diets, structured programmes or even drastic steps such as gastric surgery, ultimately regain just about all of it.

Why is this? Scientists believe that the answer lies in the workings of our metabolism, the complex set of chemical reactions in our cells, which convert the calories we eat into the energy our body requires for breathing, maintaining organ functions, and generally keeping us alive.

When someone begins a new diet, we know that metabolism initially drops – because we are suddenly consuming fewer calories, the body responds by burning them at a slower pace, perhaps an evolutionary response to prevent starvation – but what then happens over the following weeks, months, and years, is less clear.

“Does metabolism continue to go down, more than it should,” asks Roberts, “or does it initially go down, and then bounce back? This is an enormously controversial topic, and one that we’re looking to address.”

Over the next three to four years, we may get some answers. Roberts is co-leading a new study, funded by the National Institutes of Health in the US, which will follow 100 individuals over the course of many months as they first lose and then regain weight, measuring everything from energy expenditure to changes in the blood, brain and muscle physiology, to try to see what happens.

The implications for how we tackle obesity could be enormous. If metabolism drops and continues to stay low during weight loss, it could imply that dieting triggers innate biological changes that eventually compel us to eat more. If it rebounds to normal levels, this suggests that weight regain is due to the recurrence of past bad habits, with social and cultural factors tempting us to go back to overeating.

“If someone’s metabolism really drops during weight loss and doesn’t recover, it shows we have to put all of our money on preventing weight gain in the first place,” says Roberts. “Because once it’s happened, you’re doomed. If metabolism rebounds, it means that the lessons about eating less because you’ve now got a smaller body haven’t been learned effectively. So we might need to encourage people who have lost weight to see psychologists to work on habit formation. These are such different conclusions that we really need to get it right.”

This is just one of many ways in which our understanding of metabolism is evolving. In recent years, many of the traditional assumptions, which had long been accepted as truth – that exercise can ramp up metabolism, that metabolism follows a steady decline from your 20s onwards – have been challenged. For scientists at the forefront of this field, these answers could go on to change many aspects of public health.

The age myth

In mid-August, a paper emerged in the journal Science that appeared to challenge one of metabolism’s universal truths. For decades, scientists have accepted that metabolism begins to slow down in early adulthood, initiating a steady descent that continues through middle age and later life, inevitably resulting in the phenomenon known as “middle-aged spread”.

But this may not actually be true. Over the past few years, Herman Pontzer, an associate professor of evolutionary anthropology at Duke University, North Carolina, and more than 80 other scientists have compiled data from more than 6,400 individuals – from eight days to 95 years old – that shows something very different.

It appears that between the ages of 20 and 60 our metabolism stays almost completely stable, even during major hormonal shifts such as pregnancy and menopause. Based on the new data, a woman of 50 will burn calories just as effectively as a woman of 20.

Instead, there are just two major life shifts in our metabolism, with the first occurring  . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2022 at 12:39 pm

Choosing foods that cultivate a healthy gut microbiome — and how that enhances your health in general

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The research findings discussed in the video below are extremely interesting — with clear implications for what one should eat to optimize health. More information.

Written by Leisureguy

8 August 2022 at 11:40 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Health, Science

5 Foods You Should Always Buy Organic And Why!

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This is definitely worth watching.

Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2022 at 6:08 pm

Fermenting raw potatoes for prebiotics and probiotics

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2 Yukon Gold potatoes
in a 1-liter canning jar

I do a fair amount of fermenting vegetables — see this post — but I have not previously thought of fermenting raw potatoes. But I read an interesting post at on fermenting raw potatoes, and that intrigued me. However, that site is cranky and now won’t let me see the post, even though I am registered and logged in — perhaps because I registered for the free subscription, which apparently does not include access to the site’s blog articles. As a result, I don’t have a link for the post.

The post had these instructions:

To make fermented raw potatoes, place approximately 4 cups of filtered water [or bottled spring water – LG] into a jar, followed by enough salt to generate the level of saltiness you desire (e.g., 1 tablespoon). [Use sea salt or Himalayan salt, not iodized table salt. To actually use 4 cups of water, you’ll need a 1.5-liter or 2-qt jar because the potatoes take up a fair amount of room, as you see in the photo. Or — and this is what I will do — use a 1 liter jar, but initially put in only the diced potatoes. Then separately dissolve 1/2 tablespoon (1.5 teaspoons) sea salt or Himalayan rock salt in 1 pint of spring water. (You can just use a measuring cup for that.) Pour that water over the potatoes in the 1-liter (or 1-qt) jar to fill it up. — LG]

Chop potatoes (unpeeled; if any green tinge is present on the skin, remove) into half-inch cubes, then add to water. Cover with paper towel, cheesecloth, or other non-air-tight device. [Flat-bottomed paper coffee filters work well. Secure the (upside-down) filter with a rubber band, or if you are using a canning jar, with the ring part of the lid. – LG]

You will see the water turn cloudy over the next 48 hours, along with tiny bubbles, all reflecting the process of fermentation. If any white film appears on top, remove with a spoon and discard. When the water is moderately cloudy and potatoes have that lactic acid “zing,” transfer jar to refrigerator. Consume within the next week.

The mildly tangy flavor of these fermented raw potatoes go well tossed into a salad, though you can just eat them right out of the jar, too.

He notes earlier in the post:

Because they are raw, there are zero net carbs but plenty of dietary fiber [i.e., prebiotics – LG]. (When heated, however, this fiber depolymerizes — breaks down into sugars. When raw and unheated, fiber remains in polymer form.) Raw potatoes therefore provide you with prebiotic fiber to nourish your gut microbiome.

When you lactate-ferment these raw potatoes, you also cultivate beneficial bacterial species such as Lactobacillus, Bifidobacteria, Leuconostoc species and others [i.e., probiotics – LG] that add to healthy gut microbiome.

Note that he does not use a starter culture, just using starting microbes in and on the potatoes (thus he leaves the skin in place). When I make my fermentation starter, I’ll definitely try using that with potatoes (an excellent source of potassium).

I would say that Yukon Gold potatoes would be a good bet (and more nutritious than white potatoes). I’m going to try this with Stokes Purple® potatoes. See this video.

Update a couple of hours later: First batch underway: 2 Yukon Gold potatoes, pink Himalayan salt. The jar I used (1 liter) is too small for the full four cups of water to fit once potatoes have been added.

The result

I gave the ferment about 52 hours. I did indeed get bubbles, and after the two days, it seem to have quieted down. The potatoes are pretty good. I put some in a bowl and ladled some stir-fry on top, and I can see that they would be good in a salad and even as a snack.

Definitely will repeat, and next time:

  1. Will again use a 1-liter jar, but I’ll separately dissolve 1/2 tablespoon sea salt in 1 pint of spring water (not tap water), and then use that to fill the 1-liter jar that contains the potatoes. I’ll use 3 Yukon Gold potatoes or 4 Stokes Purple potatoes, which should take up half the liter jar, with the water filling the other half.
  2. Will try Stokes Purple potatoes, but will also continue to use Yukon Golds from time to time.
  3. Will experiment with using a little starter culture to see whether that makes a difference.
  4. Will use fermentation starter once I’ve made some.

Written by Leisureguy

7 August 2022 at 12:09 pm

Speaking of mycelium, a slow start on the Kamut and chana dal tempeh

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Photo was taken a little over 27 hours after beginning. The mycelium is starting to take hold — the cloudy areas — but it’s off to a slow start. I’m going to leave it in the incubator until tonight.

Update: But looking much better this morning — this is about 44 hours in:

Written by Leisureguy

6 August 2022 at 2:50 pm

Kamut and chana dal tempeh

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Above is the mix of chana dal (split baby chickpeas) and Kamut® (a trademark for organic khorasan wheat — see this entry in Wikipedia) cooked, vinegared, cultured, and bagged, done in accordance with my usual method. This is a 3-cup batch: 1.5 cups chana dal and 1.5 cups Kamut, measured before being cooked (separately). 

The bag is now on a raised rack in my tempeh incubator, where it will rest for the next 24 hours, after which it will finish out in the open, at room temperature. It’s Friday morning.

After 27 hours

After 27 hours: early Saturday afternoon

The mycelium is starting to show — the hazy areas are where it is surfacing — but given the amount of time, this seems a slow start.

No problem, though. The fungus is clearly alive and well, and it will progress overnight. However, I think I’ll leave this batch in the incubator until I go to bed, 7 or 8 hours from now. 

Update: I took it out of the incubator 6 hours after the photo. It had more mycelium and the batch was also quite warm, starting to generate its own heat.

After 44 hours

After 44 hours: very early Sunday morning

At the left, what it looks like first thing (6:00am) Sunday morning. This is after starting it around 10:00am Friday morning. It clearly has at least another day to go, and I imagine I’ll let the mycelium continue at room temperature until Monday evening.

I’ve noticed before that Kamut is a bit challenging for Rhizopus oligosporus. The fungus seems to take hold slowly on kamut. 

At any rate, the tempeh is progressing satisfactorily. I think this will be a good batch. Right now I would say that rye and kamut work better than hulled barley, and I bet oat groats would work poorly (hard to dry, and would tend to stick together into a solid mass), and I bet the same would be true of white rice. Millets are also a little challenging in terms of getting them dry, but they work well enough, though I think they work better with a larger legume than lentils.

Someday soon I’m going to try wild rice (truly wild, from Minnesota or northern Canada, not cultivated “wild” rice, which has a much tougher bran shell). 

4 days and done

At right is the finished tempeh in cross section. This batch I took to almost 100 hours because the mycelium was struggling at the top (see this post). However, even that top strip is good — at the link, I have the recipe with which I tried it — and the rest of the slab is in fine shape.

This batch turned out very well indeed. Kamut imparts a good chewiness. Details at the link.

Written by Leisureguy

5 August 2022 at 10:25 am

Colorful food and upcoming cooking

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Above are pictured a purple cauliflower, cut up and resting before steaming, four heads of Ruffian red garlic, and a Chinese purple potato (cut so you can see the cross-section).

I’m assuming that the cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable like broccoli, should (like broccoli and kale) rest 45 minutes after being cut up before being steamed or sautéed.  Looking at it resting on the cutting board reminded me of the Russian red garlic I still have left (I’ve already used a couple of heads).

The garlic heads are white until the outside leaves are pulled away and the red skin of the cloves becomes visible. Those are intensely red, as you see above for cloves where all the outside white skin has been peeled away. 

The clove itself is white (and also large), the red color residing only in the clove’s skin.

The Chinese purple potato is not nearly so sweet as a Stokes Purple® potato, but its extremely dark color is quite promising vis-à-vis flavonoids.

I already steamed some broccoli, which will be refrigerated like the cauliflower and potatoes and then used (probably with those and some greens and onion) in a salad, with this dressing. I made the Asian variant, with a little more than 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame oil and then enough canola oil added to make a cup. I also used rice vinegar. The garlic in the recipe was, of course, Russian red garlic, which is sweet and not so pungent as common garlic.

I still have some garlic scapes, which I think I’ll cook with some gai lan  I have on hand, and with that I might include a diced chayote squash, some mushrooms, a couple of cayenne peppers, and a couple of red Fresno peppers. 

Other cooking coming up: 1.5 cups chana dal and 1.5 cups kamut to make a new batch of tempeh, and a kraut with a head of red cabbage, a ginormous red onion (I’ll be taking a photo), a red apple, a Nantes carrot (those, too, are ginormous), and a few dates. Probably a couple of cloves of garlic sliced thin on the garlic mandoline and some fresh ginger root sliced thin — and, of course, some peppers sliced thin.

Written by Leisureguy

4 August 2022 at 5:35 pm

Plant-based processed meat substitutes: Not so good

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Because I follow a whole-food plant-based diet, I don’t explore refined and highly processed foods, though I did once try a Beyond burger (meh).

I do “process” some foods in various way — rinsing, peeling, chopping, blending, steaming, roasting, sautéing, fermenting — but that’s a far cry from manufacturing foods from refined ingredients and including a variety of additives (flavor, coloring, salt, cheap oil, preservatives) to be sold packaged under a brand name. That kind of “food” I skip, and that takes care of manufactured meat substitutes. 

Two recent studies show the drawbacks of manufactured (aka “highly processed,” “ultraprocessed”) foods.

Unintended Consequences: Nutritional Impact and Potential Pitfalls of Switching from Animal- to Plant-Based Foods


Consumers are shifting towards plant-based diets, driven by both environmental and health reasons. This has led to the development of new plant-based meat alternatives (PBMAs) that are marketed as being sustainable and good for health. However, it remains unclear whether these novel PBMAs to replace animal foods carry the same established nutritional benefits as traditional plant-based diets based on pulses, legumes, [grains,] and vegetables. We modelled a reference omnivore diet using NHANES 2017–2018 data and compared it to diets that substituted animal products in the reference diet with either traditional or novel plant-based foods to create flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan diets matched for calories and macronutrients. With the exception of the traditional vegan diet, all diets with traditional plant-based substitutes met daily requirements for calcium, potassium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc, iron, and Vitamin B12 and were lower in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar than the reference diet. Diets based on novel plant-based substitutes were below daily requirements for calcium, potassium, magnesium, zinc, and Vitamin B12 and exceeded the reference diet for saturated fat, sodium, and sugar. Much of the recent focus has been on protein quality and quantity, but our case study highlights the risk of unintentionally increasing undesirable nutrients while reducing the overall nutrient density of the diet when less healthy plant-based substitutes are selected. Opportunities exist for PBMA producers to enhance the nutrient profile and diversify the format of future plant-based foods that are marketed as healthy, sustainable alternatives to animal-based products. View Full-Text

A metabolomics comparison of plant-based meat and grass-fed meat indicates large nutritional differences despite comparable Nutrition Facts panels

A new generation of plant-based meat alternatives—formulated to mimic the taste and nutritional composition of red meat—have attracted considerable consumer interest, research attention, and media coverage. This has raised questions of whether plant-based meat alternatives represent proper nutritional replacements to animal meat. The goal of our study was to use untargeted metabolomics to provide an in-depth comparison of the metabolite profiles a popular plant-based meat alternative (n = 18) and grass-fed ground beef (n = 18) matched for serving size (113 g) and fat content (14 g). Despite apparent similarities based on Nutrition Facts panels, our metabolomics analysis found that metabolite abundances between the plant-based meat alternative and grass-fed ground beef differed by 90% (171 out of 190 profiled metabolites; false discovery rate adjusted p < 0.05). Several metabolites were found either exclusively (22 metabolites) or in greater quantities in beef (51 metabolites) (all, p < 0.05). Nutrients such as docosahexaenoic acid (ω-3), niacinamide (vitamin B3), glucosamine, hydroxyproline and the anti-oxidants allantoin, anserine, cysteamine, spermine, and squalene were amongst those only found in beef. Several other metabolites were found exclusively (31 metabolites) or in greater quantities (67 metabolites) in the plant-based meat alternative (all, p < 0.05). Ascorbate (vitamin C), phytosterols, and several phenolic anti-oxidants such as loganin, sulfurol, syringic acid, tyrosol, and vanillic acid were amongst those only found in the plant-based meat alternative. Large differences in metabolites within various nutrient classes (e.g., amino acids, dipeptides, vitamins, phenols, tocopherols, and fatty acids) with physiological, anti-inflammatory, and/or immunomodulatory roles indicate that these products should not be viewed as truly nutritionally interchangeable, but could be viewed as complementary in terms of provided nutrients. The new information we provide is important for making informed decisions by consumers and health professionals. It cannot be determined from our data if either source is healthier to consume.


By 2050, global food systems will need to meet the dietary demands of almost 10 billion people. To meet these demands in a healthy and sustainable manner, it is put forward that diets would benefit from a shift towards consumption of more plant-based foods and less meat, particularly in Western countries1. This has raised questions whether novel plant-based meat alternatives represent healthy and nutritionally adequate alternatives to meat2,3,4,5.

The new generation of plant-based meat alternatives such as the Impossible Burger and Beyond Burger are becoming increasingly popular with consumers. Their success has led other international food companies—including traditional meat companies—to invest in their own product versions6. The global plant-based meat alternative sector has experienced substantial growth and is projected to increase from . . .

Continue reading.

Always keep in mind that the main priority of corporations is their profits, not your welfare.

Written by Leisureguy

2 August 2022 at 10:48 am

Extra-heavy mayo

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Since this great mayo comes in a 1-gallon container, you would want to buy it with a few friends — or use it to fill 4 one-quart jars, with three as gifts to mayo-loving friends. When I use mayo, I make my own, and this does suggest that using more egg yolks might be a good idea.  But since I started following a whole-food plant-based diet, I’ve used no mayo (because eggs). Still, this stuff looks good.

Written by Leisureguy

31 July 2022 at 4:33 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food

Umami Exists and MSG is its Messenger

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Jehan writes in Atoms vs Bits:

Umami’s not what you think it is. It’s translated as “savoriness”, but that’s usually misinterpreted as a kind of general descriptor, the way food could be called “filling” or “chewy”. It’s also got a sense of being this subtle and higher-order property of good cooking, brought to us from the mysterious East.

Umami is a molecule. Well, actually a class of molecules that hit mGluR1 receptors (among others) in your mouth so that you get a meaty, savory taste. And it’s not only appreciated by the discerning Japanese, but also by the somewhat less discerning hamsters.[1] It’s a basic taste in the same way the other four are: The particular ingredient has been identified in food and the taste receptor has been identified in your mouth. Some don’t believe in umami, but you still experience it unless you are missing the receptors for some reason, which would constitute a minor disability.

The most significant umami compounds are glutamates, which are the salts of glutamic acid, and in practically everything you enjoy as savory. Most cultures have created a glutamate-rich cooking ingredient that seems absolutely disgusting without an additional “this has glutamates” explanation. These include decomposing fish (anchovies, Worcestershire sauce, fish sauce), decomposing beans (soy sauce, miso), decomposing milk (cheese), and leftover beer-goo.

The way to conceptualize glutamates is to think of a culture that never isolated salt as a cooking ingredient. Salt is straightforward to isolate from seawater or to mine directly, but one could imagine a culture that loves foods such as olives, chips, pickles, and caviar without ever realizing what they really love is salt. Eventually, through trial and error, this culture ends up adding these sorts of ingredients to its savory dishes without ever recognizing the underlying principle.

This is roughly the state of the average Westerner in regards to umami, which results in the strange situation that Western cuisine is to Eastern medicine as Eastern cuisine is to Western medicine. Western medicine identifies the anatomical structure in the body, identifies the compounds which affect that structure, then dose the isolated compound directly to achieve a physiological effect. Eastern medicine has various substantiated or unsubstantiated theories on the physiological effect, and to the extent it has succeeded, it has been through trial and error without a physical understanding of the structures or mechanics.

Many of us are adding foods like Parmesan cheese, anchovies, stock, and tomatoes to food because they improve the taste, without realizing what we’re doing is adding glutamates. More aware chefs and consumers get an intuitive understanding of the principles, though often with some extraneous quirks.

A final more bizarre twist on this metaphor is that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

29 July 2022 at 6:51 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Science

Reprise of Whole-Food Spicy Avocado-Lime-Cilantro Sauce

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I just made a batch of this recipe, but used a peeled Meyer lemon and a splash of rice vinegar because I had no limes, and a good-sized squirt of Huy Fong Sriracha sauce because I had no hot peppers. I also used 4 Deglet Noor dates because I’m out of Medjool dates. (Dates must be chopped before blending or they jam the blender.)

Still, it tastes very good, and I like using fresh garlic instead of garlic powder and a couple of scallions instead of onion powder. I chop both garlic and scallions to give the blender an assist.

Written by Leisureguy

29 July 2022 at 10:53 am

Taiwan Cauliflower & Bitter Melon

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Shown above are the basics. Clockwise from bottom:

• 2 green onions
• small knob fresh ginger root
• 1 jalapeño pepper
• 1/2 red onion
• bitter melon
• garlic scapes
• 1 more jalapeño 
• and, in the center, a Taiwan cauliflower

As shown in the photo of the label at the right, it really is called a Taiwan cauliflower, though the real name seems to be Taishan cauliflower. Whatever it’s called, it’s very tasty and I like it a lot — see my earlier versions (scroll down at link).

Bitter melon is very good, presuming you have a taste for the bitter (a useful taste to have, in today’s political climate). Seeds are edible, but in this one the seeds seem past their prime, so I scooped them out. Bitter melon has a short shelf life. I have a Chinese bitter melon (the topmost melon in the photo at the link). Indian bitter melons are spiky instead of having a smooth knobby appearance.

Not shown in the photo:

• a pinch of salt (I usually don’t use salt, but thought I’d go with it today)
• a pinch of MSG (which is fine to use)
• a dash of Red Boat fish sauce

I used my Stargazer 12″ cast-iron skillet, which I Evo-sprayed with extra-virgin olive oil. After I chopped all the veggies, I put them into the skillet and cooked them about 25-30 minutes, mostly covered, stirring occasionally. 

I think I’ll have these with a dash of tamari. Update: Second bowl with a little rice vinegar, a dash of shoyu sauce, and 1 Evo-spray of toasted sesame oil. Extremely tasty.

It occurs to me that a little of my chipotle-garlic paste may have been good in cooking this. 

The finished dish:

Written by Leisureguy

27 July 2022 at 4:49 pm

Cilantro hummus

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Hummus after one serving removed

I got the idea for using cilantro (fresh coriander) from a post at A Different Kitchen. I followed my usual recipe, using a can of chickpeas (well rinsed), with a few variations:

• added zest of a (Meyer) lemon
• used a whole lemon, peeled, to get the pulp as well as the juice — could have used two, I think
• added two yellow cayenne peppers, chopped (and then of course blended)

I would have also used half an avocado if I had had one on hand. The tahini was Soom, which I like a lot.

I sprinkled it with a little smoked paprika. Very nice.

Written by Leisureguy

25 July 2022 at 12:18 pm

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