Later On

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

Archive for the ‘Plant-only diet’ Category

Quick snack: Asparagus deluxe

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I don’t know that it’s reall all that deluxe, but it was very tasty:

• 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 6 large scallions (or 3 spring onions), chopped (including leaves)
• 4 good sized crimini mushrooms, sliced thick
• pinch Maldon salt
• good dash of fish sauce
• 1 lemon, diced after ends discarded
• handful asparagus stalks (about a dozen)
• 1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (hicory-smoked in this case)
• 2 teaspoons dried mint

Sauté onions, mushrooms, and salt in olive oil, stirring frequently, over medium heat until mushrooms start to lose their water. Add the rest of the ingredients and continue cooking, stirring frequently, unti asparagus is tender.

It was tasty, and easy to fix.

Written by LeisureGuy

11 April 2021 at 8:14 pm

A low-energy day, but with collards

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Today I have low energy and feel like just sitting in my chair, but I suddenly remembered I have a very nice bunch of collards and some spring onions in the fridge, and that got me charged up to cook them — and to show them to you. I should have included something for scale in the photo above because these are petite collard leaves — rather than the usual elephant ear size, these are barely bigger than my hand and — dare I say it — rather cute.

Collards and spring onions strikes me as a good combination. I think I’ll not use garlic, and I’m trying to decide between a diced lemon and a splash of vinegar. I suppose I could do both.

I have some vegetable broth on hand, and that will be a good simmering liquid. Collards become silky smooth when simmered for a long time.

I’ll mince the stems and sauté those with the onions — probably four of them — and then add the chopped leaves and vegetable broth and something for umami (fish sauce or soy sauce, and if I use soy sauce I’ll include a splash of mirin).

I think I’ll sauté one jalapeño with the onions and minced stems — just enough heat to give it some presence.

Now I feel cheerful and energized. 🙂

Update: I decided on soy sauce and mirin, and I used brown rice vinegar for the vinegar. I did use a diced lemon as well, and just a pinch of salt. (And I’m out of salt, and though I don’t use much I’m convinced now I need a little. My choice is Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is the best of the kosher salts I’ve tried. Morton’s kosher salt is, IMO, pretty bad: the salt is in tiny pellets that don’t stick well to foods.)

Update again: I had some after it finished cooking. Extremely tasty — and the jalapeño did provide presence without excessive heat.

Written by LeisureGuy

7 April 2021 at 12:46 pm

Ad hoc greens (the best kind)

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Finished cooking and one bowl removed and eaten with great gusto.

These turned out exceptionally tasty, all cooked from what’s on hand because I didn’t want to go to the supermarket. Use 4-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan.

• about 1.5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 spring onions, chopped with leaves

• 1 head of garlic, cloves peeled, chopped, and rested for 15 minutes
• 2 300g block of frozen chopped spinach
• 6 miniature San Lorenzo tomatoes (finished them off)
• 6 very small domestic white mushrooms, halved
• 1 lemon, ends discarded, cut into slabs and diced
• 2 chipotle peppers, ends discard, cut into small pieces with seeds
• about a dozen kalamata olives with a little of the juice (finished the jar)
• 5-6 good dashes fish sauce
• pinch of salt

Sauté onions until transparent and almost starting to brown. Add other ingredients, cover, and cook on low (3.0) for 35 minutes, going in after 20 minutes to break up the two blocks of spinach.

It is very tasty. I thought about adding a few shavings of nutmeg, but forgot. I do add a spoonful of pumpkin seed to a serving and stir it in.

Written by LeisureGuy

29 March 2021 at 3:59 pm

Does a low-carb/ketogenic diet help diabetes? or make it worse?

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As it turns out, a low-carb/ketogenic diet can reduce diabetes symptoms (high blood glucose readings) — as aspirin can reduce a fever — while having no effect on the disease — as aspirin will not cure pneumonia. In fact, it’s even worse: a low-carb/ketogenic diet can reduce the symptoms while making the disease worse. It is an example of “bending the needle”: responding to a dangerous situation, where the needle on the gauge has moved into the red zone, by bending the needle so it’s no longer in the red: not really a solution and can lead to disaster.

Watch this brief video (and persist through the awkward metaphors in the middle: he does return to study results).

And for a more detailed explanation of how a low-carb/ketogenic diet has detrimental effects on one’s health:

Written by LeisureGuy

28 March 2021 at 6:42 am

Spring onion meets asparagus (and mushrooms)

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Photo was taken after one fairly large serving had been removed (and eaten)

The weather this morning was on the dreary side, so cooking seemed like a good idea. I used my 4-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan, since I figured there would be some acidic simmering.

• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 3 spring onions, chopped — I quarter the bulb end lengthwise and then chop (and chop all the green as well)
• cloves from one head of garlic, chopped small
• 1 large bunch of relatively thin asparagus, chopped
• 3 cups halved small mushrooms (there were a few a little larger; I quartered those)
• 10 miniature San Marzano tomatoes, sliced (each into 3 pieces)
• about a tablespoon or so of ground black pepper
• about a tablespoono or so of dried mint
• 2 chipotle peppers, cut into pieces with kitchen shears
• several dashes fish sauce

I sautéed the onions in the olive oil for several minutes at 5.0, then added the garlic. I don’t know whether the store has resumed getting garlic from Spain, but the garlic was very easy to peel: cut away the attachment end, twist, and the peel popped off.

After the garlic cooked a minute, I added the remaining ingredients, sautéed for a few minutes stirring often, then reduced heat to 3.0, covered, and let it cook 12 minutes.

When it was done, I added:

• juice of 1 pretty juicy lemon

Just had a bowl. Very tasty. And onions, garlic, and asparagus are high in a type of dietary fiber enjoyed by good microbes in the microbiome.

Update. A little Bragg’s nutritional yeast sprinkled over the top is very nice.

And, later: a bowl mixed with some pumpkin seeds, and then drizzled with Enzo’s Table Fig Traditional Balsamic Vinegar. Very tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

27 March 2021 at 2:25 pm

Saving Collards, the South’s Signature Greens

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Nearly-lost collard green varieties are being preserved and propagated across the country. ALL IMAGES COURTESY OF THE HEIRLOOM COLLARD PROJECT

Debra Freeman writes in Gastro Obscura about one of my favorite greens. The only place I can readily find it here is Whole Foods, so I buy a couple of bunches on every visit.

Her article begins:

IN THE AMERICAN SOUTH, MANY people have fond memories of a pot of collard greens simmering on the stove for hours, seasoned with a ham hock and stirred by a parent or grandparent. Cousins to cauliflower and broccoli, collards are a hearty green known for their robust, slightly bitter taste and the rich, nutritious “pot liquor” they produce when cooked. These greens and their liquor have been lauded for generations, but few in the South know that there’s more than one kind of collard green. Even fewer know that there are dozens of different varieties, and that many are now on the verge of disappearing forever.

That’s where the Heirloom Collard Project comes in. By distributing and growing rare and unique collards, this massive collaboration has created ties between chefs, gardeners, farmers, and seedsmen who hope to preserve the plant’s genetic diversity.

Collards are not native to the United States. Instead, they’re Eurasian in origin, and ancient Romans and Greeks feasted on them thousands of years ago. As for how they became prevalent in the American South, scholars have a number of theories. Collard seeds may have been brought over from Portugal in the 18th century, or from the British Isles to the early colonies. However, the most prevalent theory is that enslaved Africans introduced them to the region, since collard greens were a staple crop in many parts of Africa. Historian John Egerton, in his 1987 book Southern Food, declared that “from Africa with the people in bondage came new foods,” such as okra, black-eyed peas, yams, and collard greens.

Regardless of when or how they arrived stateside, collard greens flourished in Southern gardens. 20 main varieties, from the Yellow Cabbage collard to the Old Timey Green, established themselves as garden favorites. But after World War II, many Americans moved away from both their farmland and their agricultural lifestyles. One victim of this shift was the collard green. With fewer people farming, variety after variety dropped off the map, leaving only five types that could easily be found—Georgia Green, Champion, Vates, Morris Heading, and Green Glaze.

But five years ago, Ira Wallace and the members of the Seed Savers Exchange asked the USDA for over 60 collard green varieties to plant in Iowa. Wallace, as worker/owner of the cooperatively run Southern Exposure Seed Exchange, had been promoting the versatility and resilience of collards for years. Her inspiration for spearheading the Heirloom Collard Project was a series of photos taken by Edward Davis.

Davis and John Morgan, both geography professors at Emory & Henry College, traversed the South to collect rare heirloom collards between 2003 and 2007. The pair published a book on their quest, Collards: A Southern Tradition from Seed to Table, in 2015. They then gave the dozens of collard varieties they had gathered to the USDA. When Davis shared photos of all of the collards he tracked down, Wallace knew she wanted to help make the seeds widely available once more.

The project has several goals, among them seed preservation, documenting the stories of the still-living seed stewards that Davis and Morgan met while writing their book, and, perhaps most importantly, providing seeds to companies and gardeners interested in growing these storied old varieties.

So far, many have risen to the challenge. That’s according to . . .

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 March 2021 at 12:35 pm

Broccolini & Butternut (squash)

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This was taken just a few minutes after everything was in the pan in cooking. About 20 minutes more cooking to go.

Just sort of idle cooking. I had bought a smallish butternut squash, but I didn’t want to roast it, and it occurred to me to steam it. When I went to peel it, I looked at the label and that suggested steaming. I often don’t peel when roasting, but I thought I’d peel it for steaming. It had very little in the way of seeds, so I just discarded them.

I cut it into small (about 2cm) chunks and steamed those for 13 minutes, which was plenty. I planned to cook it more, and I think next time I might steam it just for 10 or 11 minutes.

Broccolini & Butternut

This idea came to me, so I did it.

• about 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 bunch scallions chopped
• 1 large jalapeño, chopped (with core and seeds)
• small pinch of salt
• cloves from 1 head of garlic, peeled, chopped small, allowed to rest 15 minutes
• 1 bunch broccolini (AKA baby broccoli), chopped
• about 10 small domestic white mushrooms, halved (they were pretty small)
• half the steamed butternut squash
• about 1 tsp ground black pepper
• about 1/2 tsp hickory-smoked paprika
• about 2 tsp dried mint

I used the Stargazer 12″ skillet. I put oil, scallions, jalapeño, and salt into the skillet, turned on heat to medium (4.0 on my induction burner), and cooked for about 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.

I added the garlic and cooked that for a couple of minutes, then the rest.

I cooked it for a few minutes, stirring to mix, then covered the skillet with the third-party lid, turned heat to low (3.0) and cooked it for 15 minutes, stirring a couple of times.

I’m eating some now, mixed with 1/4 cup kodo millet, 1/4 cup black beans, and 1/2 cup of the red/purple kale and spinach (recipe at link). It’s a meal right out of the Daily Dozen: Grain, Beans, Greens, and Other Vegetables. (For breakfast, I had a tangerine, pear, and apple, and mid-afternoon I had a bowl of mixed berries. Lunch was where I got the ground flaxseed, turmeric, nutritional yeast (with B12), and quarter cup of walnuts, which I ate with the usual combination of Grain, Beans, Greens, and Other Vegetables (the experimental ratatouille).

If I hadn’t had the walnuts earlier, I probably would have added 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds to the recipe above.

My recipes, it should be noted, are nothing more than descriptions of what I did with what I had. Do not, for example, go looking for hickory-smoked paprika. I just happened to see that in a local store, bought it to try, and so had it on hand. Adapt to what you have.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 March 2021 at 5:14 pm

Experimental ratatouille

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To my surprise, when I was picking up some more bricks of chopped frozen spinach, I spotted a bag of frozen roasted vegetables: zucchinii, eggplant, red onion, red pepper, yellow onion, yellow pepper. Those are exactly what I roast to make my version of ratatouille, so I thought I’d try a bag and see what they were like.

The ratatouille is cooking now in the 4-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan. I used that instead of cast iron because I planned to simmer acidic ingredients at some length — plus it has good capacity. I sautéed a red onion in some olive oil with a small pinch of salt, and when the onions had cooked and softened and almost started to brown, i added chopped garlic (the cloves from 1 head of garlic) and 4 dried chipotles that I had cut up (including the seeds). After the garlic had cooked a couple of minutes, I added a small can of no-salt-added tomato paste and cooked that until it changed color (darkened).

I then added the bag of roasted vegetables, an 18-oz can of diced tomatoes, a 10-oz can Ro-Tel Original, about a dozen small domestic white mushrooms halved (quartered if they were larger), and about a cup of pitted Kalamata olives, along with:

• About 2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
• 6 or so good dashes fish sauce
• about 3 Tbsp Mexican orgeano
• about 1 Tbsp dried thyme
• about 1 Tbsp dried marjoram
• about 1 Tbsp cracked dried rosemary
• about 1 Tbsp black pepper
• about 1 tsp hickory-smoked paprika
• 1 tsp liquid smoke (for more “roasted” flavor)

It’s simmering now. I’ll have it over kodo millet with a teaspoon of Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast sprinkled on top.

Written by LeisureGuy

20 March 2021 at 4:17 pm

Just some cooking: Greens and a Grain (kodo millet)

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Today’s Greens

• about 1 tablespoon olive oil, drizzled across 4-qt All-Clad d3 Stainless sauté pan
• 1 bunch scallions, chopped
• small pinch of kosher salt (Diamond Crystal is the best)
• 8 cloves garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest 15 minutes
• 4 huge domestic white mushrooms, halved and sliced
• 1 lemon, ends discarded then diced
• 6 small (miniature) San Marzano tomatoes, sliced
• 1 tablespoon dried mint
• 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
• good shaking of crushed red pepper, probably 1/2 teaspoon
• several generous dashes fish sauce
• 1 small bunch intensely dark red kale
* 2 300g packages frozen chopped spinach
• 1/2 cup mushroom broth

Sauté scallions for a while, then add garlic and mushrooms. Continue to cook until mushrooms start to release their liquid. Add the rest. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes. After the first 15 minutes, uncover to break up the blocks of spinach, stir to mix well, then cover again and continue cooking.

Today’s Grain: Kodo millet

• 1 cup kodo millet
• small pinch of salt
• 2 cups mushroom broth
• 1 pat butter or about 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

Put millet and salt in a pan and toast over high heat until it smells toasty. Add broth and butter, reduce heat to a low simmer, cover, cook 15 minutes. Then remove from heat and leave covered for 10 minutes. Fluff with a fork and refrigerate (to make the starch resistant).

Dinner

1/2 cup of the greens
1/2 cup of my ratatouille variant
1/4 cup black beans
1/4 cup kodo millet
1 teaspoon Bragg’s Nutritional Yeast (for B12 and flavor)

Mix in bowl, eat.

Then for dessert, I had some of the millet with a little black-truffle oil and a pinch of Maldon salt.

Millet is a grain — seeds of plants from the grass family.

Written by LeisureGuy

19 March 2021 at 5:50 pm

Benefits of millets for diabetes

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I have ordered some millets (intact whole grain) to try (kodo, finger, and barnyard millets) after watching this previous video. I’ll be very interested to see their effect (if any) on my fasting blood glucose readings (see the video below).

Written by LeisureGuy

15 March 2021 at 10:10 am

Are millets a healthy grain?

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Written by LeisureGuy

11 March 2021 at 8:31 pm

Choice chayote with red onion and asparagus

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I needed a dish of Other Vegetables — I have Greens on hand (rapini), but I ate the last Other Vegetables yesterday. I did have on hand a chayote squash (see photo at right) and one bunch of asparagus.

I came up with this, using my Stargazer 12″ cast-iron skillet.

• about 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 large red onion, chopped
• a small pinch of salt
• several cloves garlic, chopped small and allowed to rest
• 1 chayote squash, diced
• a bunch thin asparagus, chopped
• 1 tablespoon dried marjoram
• about 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

I peeled and chopped the garlic cloves first, and let them rest about 15 minutes. Then I put the skillet on my induction burner at 3.0 and let it heat while I chopped the onions.

Once the onion was chopped I drizzled some olive oil into the hot skillet, immediately added the onion and a small pinch of salt, stirred, and turned the heat to 4.5.

While the onions cooked — and I stirred them every now and then — I diced the chayote squash by cutting it into 3 slabs lengthwise, then cutting those into dice. I gave the onions a few more minutes, and then they had softened, I stirred in the garlic, cooked that for a minute, then added the chayote squash.

As it cooked, I chopped the asparagus, then added them along with the marjoram and crushed red pepper. I turned the heat down to 3.0 and covered the skillet, using an 11″ third-party lid (which also fits my No. 10 Field Company skillet very nicely).

I cooked the veggies for about 20 minutes after I covered them, stirring them a couple of times during the cooking. I wanted to cook until the chayote lost its crispness and became tender.

It’s very tasty, and as you can see from the photo at the top, I have enough for several 1/2 cup servings. And a cast-iron skillet performs extremely well in this sort of dish; the radiated heat does make a difference.

I certainly would have included a couple of Anaheim peppers if I had had them. They would have gone well and continued the green theme.

After I finished I discovered a leek top in the fridge. I certainly would have used that. Next time, perhaps.

Written by LeisureGuy

10 March 2021 at 1:16 pm

A simple salad with a vinaigrette dressing and recipe

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I read Bill Buford’s New Yorker article “How the French Dress a Salad” and decided to make the vinaigrette he describes. The salad itself used what I had on hand:

• small section of red cabbage, chopped
• 3 large scallions, chopped
• small section of a bulb of fennel, chopped
• short length of English cucumber, diced
• 3 medium domestic white mushrooms, chopped
• handful of Kalamata olives
• about 1/2 cup of the delacata squash I roasted earlier, cut into pieces
• 1/4 cup quinoa
• 1/4 cup brown lentils
• 2 tablespoons pumpkin seeds

Note that it has Greens (the red cabbage), Other Vegetables (the other vegetables), Nuts/Seeds, Grain (quinoa counts, though not actually a grain), and Beans/Lentils.

The recipe for the vinaigrette:

• Salt, to taste
• 1/2 garlic clove, smashed and finely diced
• 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
• 2 Tbsp. white-wine vinegar
• 3 Tbsp. grapeseed oil or canola oil
• 3 Tbsp. olive oil
• Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1. Using a fork, mash the salt into the garlic. Add mustard and vinegar, and whisk until blended.

2. Add grapeseed oil in a slow stream, whisking continuously. Repeat with olive oil.

3. Add black pepper. Whisk. Taste, and adjust if necessary. Too thick? Add a splash of water. Too mild? A splash more of vinegar, and maybe a bit more salt and pepper.

I of course did not follow the recipe exactly. I used no salt (nor pepper, as it happens), and I used an entire clove of garlic. The particular Dijon mustard I used was Edmond Fallot’s Green Peppercorn. I used red wine vinegar instead of white. I used canola oil instead of grapeseed oil. The ideal ratio of Omega-6 to Omega-3 in oil is 1:1. Canola oil is 2:1. Grapeseed oil is 676:1.

Instead of 3 Tbsp each of canola and olive oil, I used 2 Tbsp canola oil, 4 Tbsp olive oil, and I mixed them at the outset in a 1-cup liquid measuring cup so they would be easy to pour. Buford apparently has more hands than I, who have only two. I held the bowl with one hand and whisked with the other, so I could not “add the oil in a slow stream, whisking continuously.” I added a little, whisked until blended well, added a little more,  whisked again, and so on. It worked fine. It is indeed very tasty, and makes a nice thick emulsion. I saved what I had left over and am curious to see whether the emulsion will hold.

I plan to try it with white wine vinegar and with sherry vinegar.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2021 at 5:22 pm

Roasting delicata squash and its seeds

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Delicata squash is not peeled since the peeling is thin and soft and quite edible. Above is one squash ready for the oven in my quarter-sheet baking pan. As you see, I (a) use a silicone baking mat, which is easy to wash clean after use, and (b) cook the seeds with the squash, since then I can check two categories from the Daily Dozen: Other Vegetable and Seeds/Nuts.

I tossed the squash slices with a little olive oil and pepper. I did not use salt — salt-free is the way to go, though the food experience in the first week of salt-free eating is a little bland. After that, your taste adjusts and foods taste fine again.

I stir the seeds with a little oil to coat them. I’m planning to cook these at 375ºF for 20 minutes. If they’re not quite done, I’ll cook a them a little longer. Halfway through I’ll stir the seeds, but I won’t bother flipping the squash.

Update: 20 minutes was not quite long enough, but almost. So I turned off the oven but left the squash and seeds in. That did the trick. I just ate all the seeds as a little snack. Very tasty.

Written by LeisureGuy

3 March 2021 at 10:47 am

Things that cause us wonder: Example

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I wonder why I never thought of using the immersion blender to make hummus — or, in the case at hand, a hummus variant. I had no lemons, so:

• 1 can no-salt-added chickpeas, drained and rinsed
• 1/4 cup tahini
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
• good amount of cayenne pepper (probably 1/4 teaspoon at least)
• about a teaspoon of ground cumin
• 6-8 garlic cloves, smashed and minced
• several dashes Louisiana hot sauce
• dash of fish sauce

I put that in a tall pot of small diameter (the All-Clad 2qt Stainless pot) and blended it well. I then sliced about 10 slices from a daikon radish, stacked them,, and bisected them so I had half-moon-shaped scoopers.

Very tasty. And clean-up is a snap. Why didn’t I think of this before now?

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2021 at 7:58 pm

So I roasted some vegetables and made a good sauce

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I cooked these to serve as Other Vegetables. The vegetables, cut into good-sized pieces:

• 1 turnip
• 1 beet
• 1 carrot
• 1 chayote squash
• 1 leek
• 1 big red bell pepper

And, not cut into pieces:

• 8 medium mushrooms
• 2 jalapeños (caps cut off  but otherwise left whole) — next time I’ll use 4 or 6: they’re very good

I put all othat into a bowl and stirred it with some olive oil, then spread into a single layer on two half-sheet baking pans using a silicone baking mat as lining.

They went into a 375ºF oven for an hour — probably 50 minutes would be enough.

After they cooled, I returned them to the bowl (which still a little olive oil in it) and poured over them a sauce that I made by using the immersion blender and the beaker that came with it to blend:

• 2 peeled lemons
• 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
• about 2 tablespoons pickled ginger (the thinly sliced kind served with sushi)
• 2-3 dashes hot sauce
• 2-3 dashes of fish sauce, Worcestershire sauce, or soy sauce
• about 1-2 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
• about 1 teaspoon garlic powder

Blend well, pour over the vegetables, stir to mix.

Obviously, you can use other vegetables: zucchini, eggplant, delicata squash, parsnips, garlic, red onion (cut into chunks, though leek works quite well). And you can vary the sauce to suit your taste. But I didn’t need to tell you that, did I?

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2021 at 2:20 pm

How to reduce your chances of heart failure, kidney failure, atherosclerosis, heart attacks, and strokes

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Dr. Michael Greger describes several options:

Should we be concerned about high-choline plant foods such as broccoli producing the same toxic TMAO that results from eating high-choline animal foods such as eggs?

Choline- and carnitine-rich foods—meat, eggs, and dairy—can be converted by our gut flora into trimethylamine, which in our livers is then turned into TMAO, a toxic compound that may increase our risk of heart failure, kidney failure, and atherosclerosis, or heart attacks and strokes. The good news, though, is that this “opens up exciting new nutritional and interventional prospects” for prevention, as I discuss this in my video How to Reduce Your TMAO Levels.

Okay, so how do we do it? Well, if our gut bacteria can take meat, dairy, and eggs and turn them into TMAO, all we have to do is…destroy our gut flora! We could give people antibiotics to eliminate the production of TMAO. However, that could also kill our good bacteria and “facilitate the emergence of antibiotic-resistant bacterial strains.”

What about probiotic supplements? Maybe if we add good bacteria, they will crowd out the ones that take the meat, egg, and dairy compounds and turn them into the TMA that our liver turns into TMAO. But, that doesn’t work. Adding good bacteria doesn’t seem to get rid of the bad. What if we added new bacteria that could somehow siphon off the TMA made by the bad bacteria? Well, there’s a bacterium inside the guts of cows and sheep that turns trimethylamine into methane. Could we use that bacterium to get rid of some of the trimethylamine from our gut, like a cow fecal transplant? There’s a problem with that. If it didn’t take, you’d have to keep giving it to people: “Continuous administrations may be necessary if subjects do not become colonized.” So, might the fact that Consumer Reports found fecal contamination in every sample of beef it tested be a good thing? No. Methane-producing bacteria may be able to eat up our TMAO, but, unfortunately, these bacteria may be associated with a variety of diseases, from gum disease down to colorectal cancer, as you can see at 2:15 in my video.

If antibiotics and probiotics aren’t going to work to prevent gut bacteria from taking meat, dairy, and eggs and turning them into the trimethylamine, which our liver makes TMAO out of, I guess we have no choice but to cut down on…our liver function!

That was the billion-dollar answer to cholesterol. The same foods—meat, dairy, and eggs—raise our cholesterol, but dietary change isn’t very profitable. So, the drug industry developed statin drugs that cripple the liver’s enzyme that makes cholesterol. Could “pharmacologic inhibition” of the enzymes in our liver that make TMAO “potentially serve as a therapy for CVD [cardiovascular disease] risk reduction”? Trimethylaminuria is a genetic condition in which this enzyme is naturally impaired, in which there is a build-up of trimethylamine in the bloodstream. The problem is that trimethylamine is so stinky it makes you smell like “dead fish.” So, “given the known adverse effects…from sufferers of fish odor syndrome, the untoward odorous side effects of inhibiting this enzyme make it a less attractive [drug] target.”

Do we have to choose between smelling like dead fish or suffering from heart and kidney disease? If only there were some other way we could stop this process from happening. Well, what do those with trimethylaminuria often do to cut down trimethylamine levels? They stop eating animal products.

About a third of those who complain of bad body odor despite good personal hygiene test positive for the condition, but reducing or eliminating meat, egg, and dairy intake can be a real lifesaver. But, given what we now know about how toxic the end product TMAO can be for normal people, cutting down on animal products may not just save the social lives of people with a rare genetic disorder, but help save everyone else’s actual lives.

The “simplest point of intervention” is to simply limit the consumption of foods rich in choline and L-carnitine, which “can be an effective strategy to limit circulating TMAO.” But, wait! We could always try to genetically engineer a bacterium that eats up trimethylamine, but “the simplest and safest recommendation” may just be to eat more healthfully. You can completely eliminate carnitine from the diet, since our body makes all we need, but choline is an essential nutrient so we do need some. Thankfully, we can get all we need in fruits, vegetables, beans, and nuts. “However excess choline, such as that found in eggs, may be worth avoiding.”

Need we worry about high-choline plant foods, like broccoli? Consumption of cruciferous vegetables is associated with a significantly longer life and less cardiovascular disease mortality, as you can see at 5:34 in my video. To see what was going on, researchers took the vegetable highest in choline, brussels sprouts, and had people eat two cups a day for three weeks. What happened? Their TMAO levels actually went down. It turns out that brussels sprouts appear to naturally downregulate that TMAO liver enzyme—not enough to make you stinky, but just enough to drop TMAO.

And, people who eat completely plant-based may not make any TMAO at all—even if you try. You can give a vegan a steak, which contains both choline and carnitine, and there will not even be a bump in TMAO because vegetarians and vegans have different gut microbial communities. If we don’t eat steak, then we don’t foster the growth of steak-eating bacteria in our gut. So forget the cow—how about getting a fecal transplant from a vegan? From a TMAO standpoint, we may not have to eat like a vegan as long as we poop like one.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 March 2021 at 9:55 am

I cook the Taishan cauliflower

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I misread the label and thought it was “Taiwan cauliflower.” It’s really called Taishan cauliflower. I didn’t think to look up a recipe — it’s a vegetable, so I did a standard vegetable cooking:

• 1.5 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oily
• 1 large red onion, chpped
• 1 Taishan cauliflower, chopped

I used my Field Company No. 10 skillet, for which I have a third-party glass lid that fits well. I sautéed onion for a while, then added the chopped cauliflower and continued to cook, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower wilted a bit, then put on the lid reduced the heat and cooked it until tender (about 10-15 minutes), stirring a few times.

Here you see the original cauliflower, some of it chopped, and the cooked cauliflower (and that’s the whole head — it’s quite fluffy unlike regular caulflower).

It’s an interesting vegetable, and there are quite a few recipes online. And the Taishan cauliflower is described:

This is probably pretty much what European cauliflower looked like in the time of the Roman Empire. Selective breeding during Medieval and Renaissance times developed the heavy white curd cauliflower we enjoy today. The photo specimen is a particularly fine specimen, whiter and with less stem showing than many. When they first appeared, in 2017, they were greener and more disorderly, so selection has been in effect.

The taste of this vegetable is very much that of cauliflower, but “greener” and sweeter than our regular Western cauliflower – less of a blank canvas and more of a feature flavor. Raw, it sometimes has a little bitterness, but not objectionably so, and the bitterness fades with cooking. . .

It’s really tasty and is indeed sweet, though some sweetness comes from the cooked onion. I’m definitely getting this again.

Written by LeisureGuy

23 February 2021 at 3:30 pm

Taiwan cauliflower and Shaoxing wine

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We did a shopping run and I got back to the supermarket with the Chinese veg. I got some Tung Ho, some Gai Pan Mue, some Shanghai bok choy mue, three long onions/Chinese leeks (look like giant scallions), and this head of Taiwan cauliflower. It’s not so evident in the photo unless you look closely, but the tiny florets, rather than being packed closely in a tight mass, are separate on tiny stalks, so it looks like cauliflower with bed hair. I can’t wait to cook it, probably with one of the long onions.

“Mue,” BTW, signifies a size smaller than “baby”: baby Shanghai bok choy (or baby regular bok choy) is small, but mue is smaller. If the bok choy were doing a dance in a Walt Disney animation, the “mue” would be the little guy at the end.

The Shaoxing wine is from a stop at the provincial liquor store. (There are also private liquor stores: a mixed alcohol ecosystem.) This is Pagoda 8 year old:

From the highest grade of the “Pagoda” Brand, Shaoxing Rice Wine has been selected as the drinking rice wine especially for the State Banquet by Zhong Nan Hai and the Great Hall since 1993.

I use it for cooking (a splash enhances soups, stews, and stir fries). It is pretty much equivalent to a sherry — an amontillado, say: fairly dry, with body.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 February 2021 at 5:36 pm

Shanghai Bok Choy with Leek, Fennel, Jalapeño, and Mushroom

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I don’t know that these recipes, which I just make up or adapt from recipes I’ve read, are really of interest, but I thought they might give readers some ideas and also show what a person following whole-food plant-only diet eats, since before I got into the diet I myself had no real idea (and for all I know, I’m the only one eating as I do).

This dish is one that I just made up — I bought some vegetables and cooked them, so really not much of a recipe — and my goal in part was to get additional different vegetables. I’m really taken by the idea that one should eat 30 different plant foods in the course of a week, and since I do eat a variety in the dishes I make, I like the challenge of eating 30 different plant foods every two days. The first two days I ate 32. Today ended the second pair of days, and I needed 6 new vegetables to finish with a total of 31. (When I reach 30 (or more), I reset the count and start anew the next day.) So when I went shopping, I deliberately picked vegetables to increase the count.

I used my Field Company No. 8 cast iron pan. Ingredients for the dish:

• 1-1.5 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
• fronds from a bulb of fresh fennel — I needed to get rid of those before eating the bulb, so I chopped them up
• 1 long skinny leek, including green part chopped
* 2 small Shanghai bok choy — these were not baby bok choy, but roughly middle-school size — chopped
• 1 jalapeño, chopped
• 4 medium domestic white mushrooms, chopped
• freshly ground black pepper
• a couple of good dashes fish sauce — the store’s been out of Red Boat for a while, so I’m using what they have

I cooked the above over medium heat until the mushrooms released their liquid and the vegetables were tender.

I served a cup of that over 1/4 cup black beans and 1/4 cup kamut with a dash of Louisiana Hot Sauce. It tasted very good indeed, and I have enough left for another such meal.

Earlier I diced 2 medium turnips and simmered them for about 20-25 minutes until they were tender. I drained them in a sieve, returned them to the pot, and mashed them with the pulp blended from 1 peeled lemon (like this) and a dash of olive oil, with some ground black pepper. That was just a little treat: I like cooked turnips.

I also ate 1 Belgian endive as a kind of hand salad, breaking off leaves and eating them, as I watched TV.

All that added 6 vegetables that I had not counted earlier (mushrooms and lemon already counted in earlier meals); that, together with the 25 from yesterday, took me to a total of 31.

Written by LeisureGuy

21 February 2021 at 6:21 pm

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