Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Kale ‘n Stuff recipe

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A cutting board on which are two bunches of thick scallions, 7 large crimini mushrooms, a lemon, 7 garlic scapes, 1 bunch green kale, a metal cup holding ginger slices and fresh rosemary leaves, 3 pieces of homemade tempeh, 2 jalapeños, 1 poblano 1/2 red bell pepper, 8 peeled garlic cloves, 8 asparagus stalks.
Included in recipe but not shown: 1 San Marzano tomato

I thought I’d cook up the kale I had. I used my 4-qt sauté pan, into which I put:

• about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

I took the metal cup from my spice & herb grinder and put into it:

• leaves from three sprigs of rosemary
• thin slices from a 1″ knob of ginger root
• 8 garlic cloves

The metal cup is shown in the photo with the rosemary leaves and the thinly sliced fresh ginger root. I add the garlic cloves shown in the photo and ground them all together, which made a kind of paste. I let that sit (so the garlic could rest) while I prepped the remaining vegetables (and fungi), which I added to the sauté pan as I chopped them.

Update: The inclusion of rosemary, which I’ve not been routinely using, turns out to be a very good thing. I’ll now use rosemary much more often — and I do like grinding the leaves, either by themselves or, as here, with other things.

Three pieces of tempeh are shown in the photo, and I noticed that two of them — edge pieces — look like sausage (but they’re not).

soybean-rye tempeh, slabs halved to make thinner slabs and then diced
• 2 jalapeños, chopped
• 1 poblano, chopped
• 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
• 7 garlic scapes, chopped small (they’re wrapped around the lemon)
• 7 largish crimini mushrooms, halved then sliced thick
• 2 bunches thick scallions, chopped
• 1 lemon, diced
• 1 San Marzano tomato, chopped

At this point, added the paste from the grinder cup — garlic, ginger, rosemary — to the pan and turned the induction burner to “3.” I added:

• a splash of red-wine vinegar
• several good dashes fish sauce

As the pan heated, I finished the prep, occasionally using a spatula to stir and mix the veggies in the pan.

• 1 bunch kale, chopped fairly small (especially stems)
• 7 or so stalks of asparagus, tough end removed and then cut into 1″ sections.

A whole-food plant-based diet provides a good amount of fiber, and the fiber from asparagus and alliums is particularly beneficial.

A pan full of vegetable stew, most green but with bits of yellow (lemon), red (bell pepper), and white (tempeh). Pieces of mushrooms and asparagus and chopped kale leaves are visible

I had to add the kale a little at a time, carefully using the spatula to lift and mix it in with what was starting to cook. Halfway through adding the kale, I covered the pan and let the veggies cook for a few minutes so they would wilt down.

Finally I got in all the kale and then added the asparagus and a splash of water. I covered the pan again and turned the heat to 225ºF for 15 minutes. I did stir a couple of times before the timer sounded.

It looked good, so I stirred again, covered the pan, and let it cook at 225ºF for 15 more minutes. The little photo shows the finished result.

I have some cooked Kamut® (organically cultivated Khorasan wheat) in the fridge — intact whole-grain — and I think I’ll serve this over some of that. Obviously I have enough for a few meals.

In terms of the recipe checklist:

Beans (3) — tempeh (soybeans)
Whole Grain (3) — tempeh (rye), Kamut
Fruit Other Than Berries (3) — lemon, plus included in breakfast
Greens (2) — kale
Other Vegetables (2) — scallions, jalapeños, poblano, red bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic, garlic scapes, tomato, asparagus
Cruciferous Vegetable (1) — kale
Berries (1) — breakfast
Flaxseed (1) — breakfast
Nuts & Seeds (1) — breakfast, though I’d eat this with some pumpkin seed if I had any
Herbs & Spices (1) — rosemary, ginger
Other — vinegar, fish sauce

Update and afterthought: It’s very tasty, with a light, fresh taste — the lemon helps. I might have added pitted Kalamata olives — I have them but didn’t think about it. I cut them in half, then add.

Second bowl — I found some redskin peanuts and included a few of those in the second bowl. This batch is really exceptionally tasty.

Written by Leisureguy

6 June 2023 at 3:29 pm

Obesogens in Foods

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The abstract from an interesting research report from the National Library of Medicine (emphasis added):

Obesogens, as environmental endocrine-disrupting chemicals, are supposed to have had an impact on the prevalence of rising obesity around the world over the last forty years. These chemicals are probably able to contribute not only to the development of obesity and metabolic disturbances in individuals, but also in their progeny, having the capability to epigenetically reprogram genetically inherited set-up points for body weight and body composition control during critical periods of development, such as fetal, early life, and puberty. In individuals, they may act on myriads of neuro-endocrine–immune metabolic regulatory pathways, leading to pathophysiological consequences in adipogenesis, lipogenesis, lipolysis, immunity, the influencing of central appetite and energy expenditure regulations, changes in gut microbiota–intestine functioning, and many other processes. Evidence-based medical data have recently brought much more convincing data about associations of particular chemicals and the probability of the raised risk of developing obesity. Foods are the main source of obesogens. Some obesogens occur naturally in food, but most are environmental chemicals, entering food as a foreign substance, whether in the form of contaminants or additives, and they are used in a large amount in highly processed food. This review article contributes to a better overview of obesogens, their occurrence in foods, and their impact on the human organism.

Written by Leisureguy

3 June 2023 at 1:01 pm

More than 800m Amazon trees felled in six years to meet beef demand

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Why is the Amazon rainforest being cut down? Profit. Why are more and more fossil fuels being extracted with new fields developed? Profit. Why is the earth becoming uninhabitable? That’s an unfortunate side effect, but look at how much profit was made.

Andrew Wasley, Elisângela Mendonça, Youssr Youssef, and Robert Soutar report in the Guardian:

More than 800m trees have been cut down in the Amazon rainforest in just six years to feed the world’s appetite for Brazilian beef, according to a new investigation, despite dire warnings about the forest’s importance in fighting the climate crisis.

A data-driven investigation by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism (TBIJ), the Guardian, Repórter Brasil and Forbidden Stories shows systematic and vast forest loss linked to cattle farming.

The beef industry in Brazil has consistently pledged to avoid farms linked to deforestation. However, the data suggests that 1.7m hectares (4.2m acres) of the Amazon was destroyed near meat plants exporting beef around the world.

The investigation is part of Forbidden Stories’ Bruno and Dom project. It continues the work of Bruno Pereira, an Indigenous peoples expert, and Dom Phillips, a journalist who was a longtime contributor to the Guardian​​. The two men were killed in the Amazon last year.

Deforestation across Brazil soared between 2019 and 2022 under the then president, Jair Bolsonaro, with cattle ranching being the number one cause. The new administration of Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva has promised to curb the destruction.

Researchers at the AidEnvironment consultancy used satellite imagery, livestock movement records and other data to calculate estimated forest loss over six years, between 2017 and 2022 on thousands of ranches near more than 20 slaughterhouses. All the meat plants were owned by Brazil’s big three beef operators and exporters – JBS, Marfrig and Minerv​a.

To find the farms that were most likely to have supplied each slaughterhouse, the researchers looked at . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2023 at 8:40 pm

Avoid artificial sweeteners (and refined sugar)

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If you want something sweet, eat a piece of fruit. Artificial sweeteners in general are bad, and Lisa O’Mary discusses in Medscape a particular problem with sucralose (Splenda):

A new study reveals health concerns about the sugar substitute sucralose so alarming that researchers said people should stop eating it and the government should regulate it more.

Sucralose is sold under the brand name Splenda and is also used as an ingredient in packaged foods and beverages.

The findings were published this week in the Journal of Toxicology and Environmental Health, Part B. The researchers conducted a series of laboratory experiments exposing human blood cells and gut tissue to sucralose-6-acetate. The findings build on previous research that linked sucralose to gut health problems.

The researchers found that sucralose causes DNA to break apart, putting people at risk for disease. They also linked sucralose to leaky gut syndrome, which means the lining of the intestines are worn down and become permeable. Symptoms are a burning sensation, painful digestion, diarrhea, gas, and bloating.

When a substance damages DNA, it is called genotoxic. Researchers have found that eating sucralose results in the body producing a substance called sucralose-6-acetate, which the new study now shows is genotoxic. The researchers also found sucralose-6-acetate in trace amounts in off-the-shelf products that are so high, they would exceed the safety levels currently allowed in Europe.

“It’s time to revisit the safety and regulatory status of sucralose because the evidence is mounting that it carries significant risks. If nothing else, I encourage people to avoid products containing sucralose,” said researcher Susan Schiffman, PhD, adjunct professor of biomedical engineering at North Carolina State University, in a statement. “It’s something you should not be eating.”

The FDA says sucralose is safe, describing it as 600 times sweeter than table sugar and used in “baked goods, beverages, chewing gum, gelatins, and frozen dairy desserts.” . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2023 at 7:24 pm

101 Simple Salads for the Season, from the NY Times

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An archived page from the NY Times has a great collection of salad recipe ideas. It begins:

1. Cube watermelon and combine with tomato chunks, basil and basic vinaigrette. You can substitute peach for the watermelon or the tomato (but not both, O.K.?). You can also add bacon or feta, but there goes the vegan-ness.

2. Mix wedges of tomatoes and peaches, add slivers of red onion, a few red-pepper flakes and cilantro. Dress with olive oil and lime or lemon juice. Astonishing.

3. A nice cucumber salad: Slice cucumbers thin (if they’re fat and old, peel and seed them first), toss with red onions and salt, then let sit for 20 to 60 minutes. Rinse, dry, dress with cider vinegar mixed with Dijon mustard; no oil necessary.

4. Shave raw asparagus stalks with a vegetable peeler. Discard the tough first pass of the peeler — i.e., the peel — but do use the tips, whole. Dress with lemon vinaigrette and coarse salt. (Chopped hard-boiled eggs optional but good.)

5. Grate or very thinly slice Jerusalem artichokes; mix with pitted and chopped oil-cured olives, olive oil, lemon juice and a sprinkling of coarsely ground cumin. Unusual and wonderful.

6. Sichuan slaw: Toss bean sprouts, shredded carrots and celery, minced fresh chili, soy sauce, sesame oil and a bit of sugar. Top with chopped peanuts and chopped basil, mint and/or cilantro. (The full trio is best.)

7. Grate carrots, toast some sunflower seeds, and toss with blueberries, olive oil, lemon juice and plenty of black pepper. Sweet, sour, crunchy, soft.

8. Chop or slice radishes (or jicama, or the ever-surprising kohlrabi) and combine with chopped or sliced unripe (i.e., still crunchy) mango, lime juice and mint or cilantro.

9. Chop or slice jicama (or radishes or kohlrabi) and mango and mix with coconut milk, lime juice, curry powder and cilantro or mint.

10. Cook whole grape tomatoes in olive oil over high heat until they brown lightly, sprinkling with curry powder. Cool a bit, then toss with chopped arugula, loads of chopped mint and lime juice.

11. . . .

Read the whole thing.

Written by Leisureguy

2 June 2023 at 11:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes & Cooking

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Stew-fry Seafood Medley

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On a cutting board: red kale, red onion, Yellow bell pepper, poblano pepper, jalapeño pepper, garlic scapes, fresh rosemary, fresh dill, two Sa Marzanao tomatoes, a cup of cooked einkorn, a pile of asparagus not yet trimmed, a knob of ginger, a bunch of brccolini. In back is a supermarket package labeled "Seafood Medley" with a label that says it contains Squid. Cooked Mussels. Cooked Clam and Shrimp.
Not shown: Steelhead Trout, Lemon, MSG (it’s okay)

I celebrate the first of each month, but modestly, as is appropriate for 1/12th of a New Year. I’ve described elsewhere the ritual of The Reading of the Letter from the Past and of The Writing of the Letter to the Future, always a pleasure. And in the food line, I depart from a purely plant-based diet (though I stick with whole-food: refined foods and manufactured foods from highly processed ingredients are no longer appealing). 

Generally, the departure means some sort of fish, and I spotted the package shown in the background of the above image: Seafood Medley with “Squid. Cooked Mussels. Cooked Clam, and Shrimp.” That sounded good. (Clams are extraordinarily high in B12.) 

I had already purchased the red kale, broccolini, garlic scapes, and asparagus, and I immediately thought of a stew-fry. But given all the vegetables — and I definitely wanted to include cooked einkorn after watching a video on ancient grains — I thought I needed more fish, so I bought a 14 oz piece of steelhead trout, popular around here. And I do like asparagus, both because it has a good taste and mouthfeel and because it provides a very good variety of dietary fiber.

Seafood Medley Stew-Fry

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• Red kale, chopped
• Broccolini, chopped
• Asparagus, tough bottom removed, cut into 1″ sections
• Ginger, minced
• 1/2 large red onion, chopped
• 5 garlic scapes, chopped
• 1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
• 1 poblano pepper, chopped
• 1 large jalapeño pepper, chopped
• 2 sprigs rosemary, leaves ground
• 1/2 bunch of dill chopped
• 2 San Marzano tomatoes, chopped
• 1 lemon, diced
• 1 cup cooked einkorn from fridge (cooled to make starch resistant)
• 1 package “seafood medley”
• 14 oz steelhead fillet, cut into bite-size pieces with kitchen shears
• splash of rice vinegar
• 1 teaspoon MSG
• splash of water

I used my 4-qt sauté pan, which turned out to be somewhat of a tight fit, but doable. I started by putting the olive oil into the skillet.

An orange bowl that contains green particles, like a coarse green sand.
Ground rosemary

I ground the rosemary leaves in my spice & her grinder, and it did a bang-up job (see photo at right). I dumped the ground rosemary into the sauté pan and then chopped/sliced and added everything else except the einkorn, the asparagus, and the seafood.

I turned on the induction burner to “3” until things started to cook, stirring to mix them. Then I set the temperature to 225ºF and the time for 10 minutes and covered the pan.

When the timer bell sounded, I returned, mixed the veggies, and added the einkorn, asparagus, and seafood (including the pieces of steelhead). I cover the pa again, set temperature at 225ºF and timer at 12 minutes, and let it continue cooking, stirring once halfway through.

A pot showing a mixed stew of bright colors: red onion, dark green leaves, yellow bell pepper, pieces of pink fish,small brown grains, and asparagus.

I’ve now had a bowl, and it’s very good indeed. Good mix of flavors and mouthfeel and somehow light in taste though certainly filling.

I enjoyed this with a glass of white wine, which suited the dish. There is, as you see, plenty for a few more meals. 

I’ll revert to plant-based in addition to whole-food once this dish is done, though the first of July may see another departure. My interest in the whole-food plant-based diet is health, and a minor departure like today’s meal offers little risk.


Written by Leisureguy

1 June 2023 at 3:50 pm

Posted in Food, Recipes & Cooking

Refined Carbs Linked to Brain Trouble

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Maggie Harrison writes in Neoscope:

Not the croissants!!

In a new study published in the journal Personality and Individual Differences, a team of French scientists has linked refined carbohydrates to worse cognitive function — even when consumed by young, healthy adults.

Though some diet industry folks might tell you to steer clear from carbs entirely, that’s not sound advice. Your body needs carbs for energy, as does your brain.

But not all carbs are created equal. Complex, unrefined carbohydrates like whole grains are an essential piece of a well-rounded diet; industrialized, refined carbohydrates like white bread, on the other hand, which go through a process stripping them of nutritional properties like bran, starch, and fiber — think treacly breakfast cereals and snack cakes — aren’t good for much more than a quick sugar hit, as opposed to a sustained energy boost.

And of course, as most quick fixes go, your body will soon be craving more — a habituation that, in this case, may eventually lead to insulin disorders and other chronic ailments, neurological disorders included.

As the scientists note in their study, the introduction of refined carbs into the human diet is a very recent phenomenon, at least in the grand scheme of human history. They didn’t come around until well into the 20th century, along with the rest of mass-production culture — and our brains, the scientists say, may well be suffering for it.

“A massive diet switch has occurred in the occidental world since the second half of the 20th century, with a dramatic increase in refined carbohydrate consumption generating numerous deleterious health effects,” reads the study’s abstract. “Physiological mechanisms associated with refined carbohydrate consumption,” it continues, “such as hyperinsulinemia and insulin resistance, may impact cognition in healthy people before overt obesity, metabolic disease onset or dementia.”

In other words, because research in this area tends to focus on older adults who have already developed chronic illness, the scientists specifically chose to study younger adults, who may experience negative cognitive impacts of refined carbohydrates prior to developing any long-term condition like diabetes or dementia.

“To date, studies on the link between the long-term consumption of refined carbohydrates and cognition have mainly been carried out on older individuals or in a pathological context,” they write. “Nevertheless, early life exposure to refined carbohydrates may be particularly toxic to cognitive functioning, and neurocognitive deficits induced by a diet high in refined carbohydrates may manifest before overt obesity or metabolic disease onset.”

In order to close that gap, the researchers enlisted  . . .

Continue reading. The details are interesting.

As readers know, ever since I switched to a whole-food plant-based diet 4 years ago, I eat intact whole grain, which I refrigerate after I cook it and before I eat it (unless I’m including it in a batch of tempeh).

I particularly like Kamut® — organically grown Khorasan wheat — but after watching this video, I’m going to get some einkorn as well.

Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2023 at 9:53 pm

Onion experiment

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Written by Leisureguy

28 May 2023 at 10:06 am

A recipe using what I have

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I got to thinking about the foods I have on hand and decided to sketch out a recipe. I just got a new 3-L tin of extra-virgin olive oil, and I’ll use this recipe to give it a try. (It turned out to be very good.)

• 2 Tbsp EVOO
• 2 green garlic, bulbs minced, stems and leaves chopped
• 1/2 large red onion
• 8 oz soybean-rye tempeh
• 16 oz locally grown asparagus, chopped
• 10 crimini mushrooms, halved and sliced thick
• 1 large jalapeño pepper, chopped
• ends of Nantes carrots (left over from carrot-stick ferment), chopped
• 300g frozen spinach
• about 2-3″ ginger, minced
• 3 turmeric roots, minced
• 2 Tbsp dried marjoram
• 1 Tbsp All-Purpose Seasoning*
• about 1.5 Tbsp black pepper
• splash of vinegar

* All-Purpose Seasoning includes: Basil, Bay Leaves, Bell Pepper (Red), Black Pepper, Carrot, Cayenne Ground, Celery Seed, Citric Acid, Coriander, Cumin, Garlic, Lemon Peel, Marjoram, Mustard, Onion, Orange Peel, Oregano, Parsley, Rosemary, Savory, Thyme, Tomato

I compared the plan to my Daily Dozen recipe checklist, and it looks good:

Beans (3) — tempeh
Whole Grain (3) — tempeh
Fruit Other Than Berries (3) — [breakfast]
Greens (2) — spinach
Other Vegetables (2) — green garlic, red onion, asparagus, mushrooms, jalapeño, carrot
Cruciferous Vegetable (1) — none, but see below
Berries (1) — [breakfast]
Flaxseed (1) — [breakfast]
Nuts & Seeds (1) — [breakfast]
Herbs & Spices (1) — [include turmeric] – turmeric root, ginger root, dried marjoram, All-Purpose Seasoning ; (later additions: dried rosemary, MSG — see below)

I’ll have to get the cruciferous vegetable at another meal. If I had some horseradish (from the refrigerated section of the supermarket), I could add a couple of tablespoons of that — 1 Tbsp horseradish = 1 serving of cruciferous vegetable.

But then I remembered broccoli sprouts, an amazing source of sulforaphane — 800 times the level in broccoli itself. I decided I’d serve the stir-fry/stew on broccoli sprouts, and that will complete the checklist.


A cutting board with various vegetables on it along with a little jar of All-Purpose Seasoning and one of Dried Marjoram. Vegetables include a bunch of asparagus bound with a blue rubber band, two long stems of green garlic with small bulbs, four sections of Nantes carrots, a ginger root, three turneric roots a small handful of peeled garlic cloves a bunch of dill, a block of tempeh, 10 good sized crimiini mushrooms, a box of frozen chopped spinach, a red onion, and a large jalapeño pepper.
The starting point. Most of the garlic cloves are hidden by the dill.

The piece of carrot at the left in the photo above was not used because I had plenty of carrot without it. I used only half of the bunch of dill. I wanted 8 oz of tempeh and I cut off the block shown — 8.08 oz. Close enough. I cut the slab of tempeh in half to make two thinner slabs, then stacked those and diced the tempeh.

I did use the whole length of the green garlic stems, sliced thinly. The bunch of asparagus weighed 19 ounces, but the amount I trimmed from the bottom of the spears — the tough part — was about 3 ounces, so I did use about a pound of asparagus. (Besides tasting good, asparagus provides a beneficial kind of dietary fiber.)

I decided to add dried rosemary, which I pulverized with the spice & herb grinder. For liquid, I added a dash of rice vinegar, a splash of water, and some Shaoxing wine. And I added 1 teaspoon MSG (it’s okay).

Everything, once chopped or sliced or minced, went into my 6-qt pot along with a splash of vinegar, a little water, and a good splash of Shaoxing wine. I cooked it for 25 minutes at 225ºF before I added the asparagus, which I cut into 1″ sections. I then cooked it for 10 minutes longer.

Cooked veggies in pot: asparagus, red onion, spinach, mushrooms visible.

The cooked stew is shown at the right. It’s very tasty, and the tempeh has a good mouthfeel: chewy, like small bites of meat. 

I made a sauce for the serving I had, whisking together some tahini (the main thing), Sriracha, vinegar, and mustard. I’ve been eating tahini regularly (mostly in sauces) since I learned that it is relatively high in calcium. 

I didn’t have broccoli sprouts on hand, but I’ll buy some tomorrow and use them as I have the rest of the stir-fry/stew. As you can see, I made enough for multiple meals.

Written by Leisureguy

27 May 2023 at 4:57 pm

Carrot-stick ferment underway

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Two 1-liter canning jars packed with carrot sticks. Afew pieces of sliced ginger are visit among the carrotss. One jar has a lid, the other a plastic bag over the top with a rubber band.

I have started my carrot-stick format using the recipe I blogged earlier. A few of the lessons learned:

  1. She advises cutting the carrot to reach the shoulder of the jar. It needs to be a bit shorter, since the fermentation weight will sit on top. In the jar at the right, the weight was so high I could not put on the lid. Instead, I used a plastic bag secured with a rubber band. I learned that lesson right away and trimmed back the length for the second jar (on the left). 
  2. I did not reread the recipe before I started and forgot the ginger slices. I was able to squeeze some into the first jar and more in the second. 
  3. The larger garlic cloves are too wide. Next time I will halve them lengthways so they will fit better.
  4. I don’t think I used enough dill. Next time I’ll cut off the amount of dill I want before I start and make sure to use it all.
  5. Two Nantes carrots fill one jar. The end pieces (cut off to make the carrot sticks the right length) I’ll use in cooking.

This will ferment for 21 days — until Friday, June 16. Once again I am not using a starter culture, though I think I will add a tablespoon of the liquid from the previous ferment

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2023 at 1:06 pm

Are ancient grains healthier?

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Kamut® is, as explained at the link, the registered trademark for organically raised khorosan wheat. It’s one of my favorite grains, and I eat it frequently — as intact whole grains, not squashed (Kamut flakes) or pulverized (Kamut flour). Reason? Because intact whole grains are better for you. (I cook a batch of grain, then either use it, along with a legume, to make tempeh or store it in the fridge and take servings from it.) Note that the bran of grain is not merely fiber but includes important vitamins and minerals.

After viewing this short video, though, I am going to get some einkorn, both for tempeh and to eat as part of a meal. And perhaps a bottle of Ancient Grains whisky.

Written by Leisureguy

26 May 2023 at 9:44 am

New ferment complete — and it tastes great

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A tall cylindrical transparent glass jar filled with a mix of chopped vegetables in a clear liquid.  The colors are muted rather than bright.
The ferment after 20 days.

One score days ago I started this ferment, somewhat trepidacious because I used no starter culture. I know that many — perhaps most — people do not bother with a starter culture, the training wheels of fermentation, but this was my first effort without that assistance.

As is so often the case, my worries were a waste of energy. The ferment turned out fine, and in fact tastes very good. This is a cabbage+kale ferment, using Tuscan kale (aka lacinato kale, dino kale, black kale). Details are at the link above.

Two unusual ingredients in this ferment are asparagus and red-skin potatoes. Because the potatoes are uncooked, they have zero net carbs: all the starch in them is resistant starch, which acts as dietary fiber. Once fermented, they have good crunch and a good taste.

Two usual ingredients missing from this ferment are garlic and jalapeños (or other hot chile). I’m sharing this batch with The Wife and she requested that I not use those. (Ginger, another common ingredient, is fine and included.)

I highly recommend fermenting vegetables for yourself. Not only is it much less expensive than buying live ferments from the store, you also can create combinations you cannot find commercially available, even from companies, like Wildbrine, that venture a bit off the beaten track. 

Written by Leisureguy

24 May 2023 at 9:32 am

The Negative Effects and Benefits of Plant-Based Diets

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Written by Leisureguy

23 May 2023 at 10:03 am

Cheater Szechuan dry-fried green beans

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Roasted green beans in a bowl, glistening with sauce and sprinkled with white sesame seeds.

I got this recipe from a post on Mastodon that is no longer there.

Rinse and dry green beans. Spray with extra-virgin olive oil and sprinkle with a little salt, then roast in air fryer for 11-12 minutes or so at 400ºF.

Toss with a sauce made of

• Huy Fong Chili Garlic Paste,
• lots of grated ginger,
• a splash of maple syrup, 
• a dash of Wright’s liquid smoke (my addition).

Toss cooked beans with sauce, sprinkle with sesame seeds, and enjoy.

Written by Leisureguy

22 May 2023 at 12:57 pm

The Link Between Highly Processed Foods and Brain Health

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Sally Wadyka reports in the NY Times:

Roughly 60 percent of the calories in the average American diet come from highly processed foods. We’ve known for decades that eating such packaged products — like some breakfast cereals, snack bars, frozen meals and virtually all packaged sweets, among many other things — is linked to unwelcome health outcomes, like an increased risk of diabetesobesity and even cancer. But more recent studies point to another major downside to these often delicious, always convenient foods: They appear to have a significant impact on our minds, too.

Research from the past ten or so years has shown that the more ultraprocessed foods a person eats, the higher the chances that they feel depressed and anxious. A few studies have suggested a link between eating UPFs and increased risk of cognitive decline.

What’s so insidious about these foods, and how can you avoid the mental fallout? Scientists are still working on answers, but here’s what we know so far.

What qualifies as an ultraprocessed food?

In 2009, Brazilian researchers put food on a four-part scale, from unprocessed and minimally processed (like fruits, vegetables, rice and flour) to processed (oils, butter, sugar, dairy products, some canned foods, and smoked meats and fish) and ultraprocessed. “Ultraprocessed foods include ingredients that are rarely used in homemade recipes — such as high-fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils, protein isolates and chemical additives” like colors, artificial flavors, sweeteners, emulsifiers and preservatives, said Eurídice Martínez Steele, a researcher in food processing at University of Sao Paulo, Brazil. This classification system is now used widely by nutrition researchers.

UPFs make up a majority of the packaged foods you find in the frozen food aisles at grocery stores and on the menu at fast-food restaurants — 70 percent of the packaged foods sold in the United States are considered ultraprocessed. They’re increasingly edging out healthier foods in people’s diets and are widely consumed across socioeconomic groups.

“Ultraprocessed foods are carefully formulated to be so palatable and satisfying that they’re almost addictive,” said Dr. Eric M. Hecht, an epidemiologist at the Schmidt College of Medicine at Florida Atlantic University. “The problem is that in order to make the products taste better and better, manufacturers make them less and less like real food.”

What effect do ultraprocessed foods have on mental health?

Recent research has demonstrated a link between highly processed foods and low mood. In one 2022 study of over 10,000 adults in the United States, the more UPFs participants ate, the more likely they were to report mild depression or feelings of anxiety. “There was a significant increase in mentally unhealthy days for those eating 60 percent or more of their calories from UPFs,” Dr. Hecht, the study’s author, said. “This is not proof of causation, but we can say that there seems to be an association.”

New research has also found a connection between high UPF consumption and cognitive decline. A 2022 study that followed nearly 11,000 Brazilian adults over a decade found . . .

Continue reading.

Brilliant thought: Don’t eat the damned stuff. (See Criterion 0 for a good diet.)

Written by Leisureguy

21 May 2023 at 11:08 am

Fermented carrots

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I am definitely going to make these. I’m stopping my current ferment this coming Thursday, which will make it a three-week fermentation, and then I’ll start the carrots. I’ll use Nantes carrots and I plan to make two 1-liter jars. Printed recipe here.

Update: The Eldest suggested adding a few whole cloves to the ferment (for flavor) and that made me think of adding whole star anise — if not to the carrots, to the next ferment I make using cabbage.

The ferment is underway.

Written by Leisureguy

20 May 2023 at 1:07 pm

Air fryer in action: Anaheim peppers, Brussels sprouts

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Having harvested the tempeh earlier (see previous) and having shopped yesterday, I did a little cooking:

Anaheim peppers

Halved lengthwise, cored, and seeded, the peppers went into the air-fryer basket cut side down. I Evo-sprayed them with a touch of EVOO, sprinkled with a little salt, and roasted them for 13 minutes at 400ºF. (I didn’t preheat the fryer, nor did I shake the basket midway.) Then I dumped them into a bowl, covered the bowl, and let them cool. Still no luck in peeling off the skins, but I don’t mind eating the skins. I chopped them, added some chopped sweet onion, a chopped San Marzano tomato, and a splash of vinegar and ate that as a salad.

Brussels sprouts

When I cooked these last time, I had hoped that quartering them would cook them tender, but it didn’t. So after reading some on the internet, I learned the trick of halving them, soaking them in salt water for 20-30 minutes, draining them, and then roasting. I figured then idea is that the residual water becomes steam and cooks the sprouts to tenderness.

So I did that. After draining them, I placed them cut side down in the basket, added 1/2 sweet onion cut into large chunks, Evo-sprayed them with EVOO, sprinkled with a little sea salt, and roasted for 13-14 minutes. Again I didn’t bother to preheat the air fryer or to shake the basket.

They were tender and delicious.

Written by Leisureguy

18 May 2023 at 2:15 pm

Soybean & rye tempeh harvested

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It’s been 72 hours since I started this batch, and I figured I might as well harvest it. To reprise: this is 1.5 cups intact whole (skin-on) soybeans and 1.5 cups intact whole-grain rye (with a little Kamut®, since I didn’t have quite enough rye), measured before cooking and cooked separately. 

I followed my usual method, which uses a Ziploc Fresh produce bat, and if you look closely at the block above you can see the tiny dots that mark the placement of perforations in the bag.

The tempeh, cut into sections, is now in storage jars in the refrigerator and I’ll be using it in cooking various things in the coming days. The idea of combining beans and grain my tempeh recipe is from the Daily Dozen idea of having beans and grain at each meal: a serving of my tempeh takes care of that.

Written by Leisureguy

18 May 2023 at 12:41 pm

Liquid smoke: good stuff

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I’ve been a fan of Wright’s Liquid Smoke for a long time and not so much a fan of Colgin’s liquid smokes, which include other ingredients. Take the Hickory version:

Wright’s: Water, Natural Hickory Smoke Concentrate.
Colgin’s: Water, natural hickory smoke flavor, vinegar, molasses, caramel color, and salt.

Here’s Adam Ragusea explaining:


Written by Leisureguy

18 May 2023 at 11:37 am

Viruses in the guts of centenarians may help them resist pathogens

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Allessandra DiCorato writes for the Broad Institute:

New research suggests that centenarians — people who live to be at least 100 — have a diverse collection of viruses in their gut that could help protect them from infectious diseases. The findings, published today in Nature Microbiology, shed light on some of the biological pathways that may help centenarians live long, healthy lives.

In the study, a team of researchers led by Joachim Johansen, Ramnik Xavier, Simon Rasmussen, and Damian Plichta at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard analyzed the viromes — or viral genomes — from 195 individuals from Japan and Sardinia. They found that centenarians had a greater diversity of bacteria and viruses in their guts.

They also found that viruses found in centenarians increased the ability of the healthy gut bacteria to break down sulfate, which could help preserve the gut’s ability to fight bacterial infections.

The study adds to a growing body of evidence showing that the interactions between bacteria, viruses, and fungi in the gut play an important role in preventing age-related conditions.

“This snapshot of how the virome interacts with gut microbiomes could tell us about how microbial and viral ecology evolves over the lifetime of a person,” said Ramnik Xavier, a core institute member, director of the Immunology Program, and co-director of the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program (IDMP) at the Broad. “This offers an important starting point for uncovering the mechanisms behind how the gut ecosystem maintains health.”

Xavier is also a professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital. He is a co-senior author on the study along with Rasmussen, a visiting scientist at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center and an associate professor at the University of Copenhagen; and Plichta, a group leader in the IDMP at Broad.

A closer look

Previously, Xavier’s team found that intestinal bacteria in centenarians produced unique bile acids that could help keep infections at bay. Other researchers have found that . . .

Continue reading.

A whole-food plant-based diet, which excludes artificial sweeteners (along with refined sugar and other refined and highly processed foods) and includes ample amounts of dietary fiber and probiotics such as fresh fruit and the living cultures in fermented vegetables and tempeh, will help nourish and populate a diverse gut microbiome, one reason I follow such a diet.

Written by Leisureguy

17 May 2023 at 10:26 am

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