Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

Apparently US bacon is not so good

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Lisa O’Carroll reports in the Guardian:

Chlorinated chicken, hormone-fed beef and bacon produced with additives strong enough to cripple pigs have been listed by British campaigners as three of the top 10 food safety risks posed by a free-trade deal with the US.

American use of the pork additive ractopamine alongside the more publicised practices of washing chicken in chlorine and feeding cattle growth hormones are highlighted in a report by the Soil Association as chief among its concerns about a post-Brexit era.

“Some of the key differences between UK and US production – hormone-treated beef, GM crops and chlorinated chicken – are becoming increasingly understood by British consumers,” the report says.

But there are “other areas where products imported from the US could be produced under significantly different standards to our own”, it adds.

The report was published to coincide with the second reading of the trade bill, which will provide a framework for post-Brexit trade deals.

Ractopamine, which can add three kilos of extra meat to a pig, is banned by almost every country except the US. The EU has outlawed its use since 1996.

It is fed to an estimated 60-90% of pigs in the US in the weeks before slaughter and has been found to cause disability in animals including trembling, broken bones and an inability to walk, according to the Soil Association.

The group says it is concerned there will be pressure to source food from the US after Brexit, particularly if tariffs are imposed on food from elsewhere in the EU.

“The concern is that while Michael Gove [the environment secretary] wants the country to be a leader in animal welfare and food safety … there will be a race to the bottom if British farmers have to compete on price with American food,” said Honor Eldridge, a policy officer at the Soil Association.

Liam Fox, the international trade secretary, has long argued that the biggest prize from Brexit would be a trade deal with the US. Farmers and food producers have expressed deep concern that food standards would be compromised in pursuit of a deal.

They have been spooked by a London visit by Donald Trump’s most senior business representative, who warned that any post-Brexit deal with Washington would hinge on the UK scrapping rules set by Brussels, including regulations governing imports of chlorinated chicken.

Wilbur Ross, the US commerce secretary, suggested European regulations governing the safety of chlorine-washed chicken ignored the findings of US scientific research. His comments underline the potential difficulties in striking a free-trade deal with the US once Britain leaves the EU.

“Michael Gove needs to continue to advocate for high British food standards to Liam Fox and the government and for the risks and differences of food standards in the US to be recognised,” said Eldridge.

The full list of controversial practices highlighted by the Soil Association is:

  1. Chlorine-washed chicken (banned in the EU).
  2. Hormone-treated beef (banned in the EU).
  3. Ractopamine in pork (banned in the EU).
  4. Chicken litter as animal feed (banned in the EU).
  5. Atrazine-treated crops (banned in the EU). Atrazine is a herbicide used on 90% of sugar cane, which can enter the water supply and interfere with wildlife.
  6. . . .

Continue reading. There’s more. US food can be hard on your health. The Dept. of Agriculture and the FDA seem totally unable to do their jobs now, because of overfunding and regulatory capture.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 January 2018 at 11:46 am

Just Eat More Fiber

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Olga Khazan has an interesting article in the Atlantic:

In the spirit of Drynuary, I’d like to propose another health-oriented month of the year. Perhaps called Crunch-uary or Poop-tober, it would be 30 days in which Americans, for once, eat enough dietary fiber.

Currently, Americans only eat about 16 grams of fiber —the parts of plants that can’t be digested—per day. That’s way less than the 25 to 30 grams that’s recommended.

There are so many reasons why, from fast-food marketing to agriculture subsidies, but one contributing factor is the slow death of cooking, and the rise of the restaurant meal. Americans now spend more on food at restaurants than they do at grocery stores, but restaurant food tends to have even less fiber than the food we would otherwise eat at home.

One problem seems to be that restaurant meals aren’t typically loaded with two of the best sources of fiber, unprocessed fruits and vegetables. A revealing studyfrom 2007, in which researchers interviewed 41 restaurant executives, showed that restaurants think fruits and vegetables are too expensive to feature prominently on the menu, and “61 percent said profits drive menu selections.” They also opposed labeling certain menu items as healthier choices, saying that would be “the kiss of death.”

So people like to eat out, and when they do, they prefer mushy, fiber-free comfort foods. But that’s a pretty dangerous road to go down.

As my colleague Ed Yong has written, low-fiber diets make gut bacteria more homogenous, possibly for generations. Mice that are fed high-fiber diets have less-severe food allergies, potentially because gut bacteria break down fiber into short-chain fatty acids, which support the immune system. A more recent study in mice found that a low-fiber diet can spark inflammation in the intestines. We still need more studies to understand exactly how fiber and the microbiome interact in humans. But we do know that hunter-gatherer communities in Tanzania and elsewhere, who don’t eat Western diets, eat about 100 grams of fiber a day and have much more diverse microbiomes than Westerners.

“We’re beginning to realize that people who eat more dietary fiber are actually feeding their gut microbiome,” Justin Sonnenburg, a microbiologist at Stanford University, explained to NPR.

There are also already plenty of other studies detailing the many ways fiber boosts health.

Behold, an extremely confusing flow chart, from a 2005 study, showing how fiber leads to greater satiety, less insulin secretion, and more short-chain fatty acids, which all amounts to one thing: Less body weight. . .

Continue reading.

Since I try to minimize carbs, I looked at a couple of lists of high-fiber foods with minimal carb content (which leaves out pulse):

High-fiber low-carb foods from

High-fiber low-carb foods from

I certainly will get chia seeds back into the diet. I’ve eaten them for a while, and they tasty plus a good source of protein and fiber. They’re also high in omega-3.

Foods high in fibre without regard to carbs:
List 1
List 2

Written by LeisureGuy

15 January 2018 at 9:52 am

Posted in Food, Health, Low carb

Two delicious Canadian specialties: The Caesar and the Butter Tart

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Written by LeisureGuy

13 January 2018 at 12:24 pm

Posted in Daily life, Food, Recipes

Ratatouille with chicken again and recipe updated

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It’s very tasty indeed. Here’s the updated recipe. Use 1-cup servings, which should be a meal: 3 Weight Watcher points. So even if you eat 2 cups (1 pint), not too bad. And it is as tasty as all getout. The cooking time once the roasted vegetables are in the sauté pan is 30 minutes so that (for example) the thick-cut zucchini is tender but still has good texture (and a wonderful taste).

Written by LeisureGuy

12 January 2018 at 6:06 pm

Black bean chili with chicken (3 points per serving)

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Serving size is 1 cup. Recipe makes about 4 servings.

1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
2 anchovy fillets, minced
2 large white onions, chopped
6-8 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups cooked black beans (don’t use canned beans; cook dried beans)
[2-3 jalapeño peppers, chopped including ribs and seeds – if you want spice. Can use Serrano as well.]
[1 green bell pepper and/or 3 Anaheim peppers, seeded and chopped, if you can’t get canned mild green chiles]
2 poached chicken breasts, cut into chunks (see this post for best way to poach chicken breasts)
1 tablespoon ground ancho
1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin
1 tablespoon smoked paprika
2 tablespoons Mexican oregano
1 tablespoon thyme
14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
10-oz can mild green chilis, chopped – or you can use chopped green bell pepper
1 tablespoon soy sauce
1 tablespoon rice vinegar
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
1 1/2 tablespoons black pepper
2 teaspoons salt
[optional: 1 square unsweetened baking chocolate: 8 points = 2 points/serving]

Mince garlic right away so it can rest for at least 10 minutes before cooking

Heat oil and sauté onions and minced anchovy fillets until onions are soft and translucent and golden. Add spices and then black beans and chicken. Sauté for a few minutes, stirring frequently. Also, if you can’t get canned green chiles, sauté a chopped green bell pepper along with the onion.

BTW, buy whole green chiles, not diced: the diced ones tend to lose their structure and become goo.

After that has sautéd for a while, add remaining ingredients, cover, and simmer 30 minutes.

1 cup of this chili = 2 Weight Watcher points.

1/4 cup shredded cheddar (or equivalent) = 4 WW points. Just FYI.

If you use the square of baking chocolate, you get a 5-point dinner rather than a 3-point dinner.

Written by LeisureGuy

9 January 2018 at 4:09 pm

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

Problem: Sausage. Solution: Vegetables.

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I’m unsure the degree to which my Weight Watchers program is of interest to you, but it’s quite interesting to me. Each evening, I enter my meal plans for the next day to be sure points are under control.

Tonight’s dinner had a problem: I had 4 oz of pork sausage (14 points!) that I needed to use. (The breakfast bites (7 points) use 12 oz of pork sausage, so the sausage I had was left over from the pound.)

I was going to sauté onion, garlic, and kale, along with the sausage. But then it occurred to me: dilute the impact of the sausage by using a lot of zero-point foods to increase the number of servings.

From a 7-point dinner, I went to a 3-point (very tasty and filling) dinner with this recipe:

1 large uncooked red onion, chopped
1 1⁄2 Tbsp extra-virgin olive oil (6 points)
2 Tbsp minced garlic
4 oz uncooked Italian pork sausage (14 points)
1 1/2 poached chicken breasts, cut into chunks
1 pound broccolini, chopped
1 very small red cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, diced
1 Tbsp dried thyme
2 Tbsp smoked paprika
1 Tbsp salt
2 Tbsp freshly ground pepper
2 bunches red kale, leaves chopped and stems minced
juice of 1 lemon
2 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp Red Boa fish sauce
2 Tbsp rice vinegar
2 cups store-bought chicken stock

Heat oil in large (e.g., 6-qt) pot, ideally wide-diameter (11″ or so). Cook onions until they turn translucent and soft, then add garlic and cook for a minute. Then add the sausage, broken up, chicken, black beans, broccolini, cabbage, carrot, salt, pepper, thyme, and paprika.

Sauté until sausage is almost done, then add kale and stir-fry the kale a while. Then add the remaining ingredients (lemon juice through chicken stock), stir well, and simmer at moderate heat for 30 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Serving size is 1 cup and the pot holds at least 8 cups: 20 points divided by 8 servings = 2.5 points per serving—call it 3 points. One serving should be a meal, but even if you have two servings, that is only 6 points.

I’m actually enjoying this. And the food is very tasty and seems quite healthful. And you’ll notice that it is very low-carb.

Written by LeisureGuy

8 January 2018 at 7:39 pm

Very satisfying dinner: Ratatouille with chicken

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Update: It turns out that we couldn’t eat half of what this recipe makes. It serves 4, not 2. It also turns out that 2 Tbsp ground black pepper is 1 point. So it’s a 3-point dinner. And also very tasty cold. /update

Update 2: Just made it again, and it is extremely tasty and filling. I use 1-cup servings/meals, and I’m sure the recipe is more than 4 cups, so it may be less than 3 points. But it tastes very rich. This time I used all three tablespoons of olive oil on the veg, and that worked better, so I’ve modified the recipe. Also, note:

2 tablespoons pine nuts = 3 WW points
1/4 cup shredded parmesan = 3 WW points.

You may be able to use those and still be under your daily budget./update

I made this last night and liked it a lot. The entire recipe is a total of 13 Weight Watcher points, so divide by the number of servings to get the points per serving. The 13 points are from the 3 tablespoons olive oil (12 points) and 2 Tbsp pepper (1 point). Everything else is zero points. So 4 servings is 3 points per serving.

8 garlic cloves, 6 smashed a bit, 2 minced
2 medium white onions or 1 large
2 medium zucchini
1 medium eggplant
1 sweet red bell pepper; or 1 green bell pepper
2 teaspoons cracked rosemary
1.5 tablespoons dried thyme
[optional: a diced lemon, including peel (0 points)]
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 14-oz can diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
2 boneless skinless chicken half-breasts, cut into chunks – I use ones I’ve already poached (see below), but raw can be used
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
1-2 tablespoons of freshly ground black pepper (1 point)

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Prepare the vegetables: Smash and peel 6 garlic cloves, reserving the 7th and 8th. Halve onions through their roots, and slice halves into 1/2-inch-thick slabs. Slice zucchini into 1/2-inch-thick rounds (i.e., thick, so they’ll hold up under cooking). Cut eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Seed peppers, and cut them into 1/2-inch-wide strips.

Toss vegetables and the 6 cloves of smashed garlic (and lemon if using) with the olive oil and herbs. Spread the vegetables on a rimmed baking sheet lined with nonstick foil. Sprinkle salt lightly over vegetables.

Place the baking sheet in the oven. Cook 1 hour until vegetables are very tender and lightly browned at the edges. Don’t worry about the vegetables being pretty; they will meld into the ratatouille. Use a wide spatula to burn the vegetables every 20 minutes or so.

Transfer the vegetables to a wide-diameter sauté pan. Add the minced garlic and sauté all that for a couple of minutes, stirring often. Then add tomatoes, chicken chunks, balsamic vinegar, salt, and pepper. Stir well. The dish should be quite thick. I find that additional liquid is not needed.

Cover pan and cook over low heat for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally until vegetables are tender and imbued with juices and oil. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve warm, or let cool.

Poaching chicken breasts

Use four chicken breast halves.

Pound the thickest part of each chicken breast half to make the piece more uniform in thickness. This pounder works quite well. (Use Saran Wrap or the like around the breast as you pound it.)

In a large pot, put 4 quarts water, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 1/4 cup salt, and 2 tablespoons sugar and stir to dissolve. Put the chicken breasts on a steamer rack and immerse in the pot. Leave for 30 minutes to brine and flavor the chicken. The steamer rack is to keep the chicken breasts from sitting on the bottom of the pot, where they can easily overcook from the heat conducted through the metal.

Put the pot over medium heat and heat until the water temperature reaches 175ºF, stirring occasionally to keep the water temperature uniform. When the temperature is reached, remove pot from heat, cover, and let sit 18-22 minutes, just until the meat temperature is 160ºF. Remove breasts from heat and, if serving immediately, cover with foil and let sit 5 minutes.

I generally just refrigerate them to use them in various recipes: the ratatouille, a tossed salad, with beans as a chili, and so on. In the Weight Watchers plan, boneless skinless chicken breasts have zero points.


Written by LeisureGuy

7 January 2018 at 7:32 am

Posted in Food, Low carb, Recipes

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