Before the first frost is on the Halloween pumpkin, my local grocery store stocks the milk case with flavored egg nogs. While I think they might be rushing the season of good cheer a bit, and the rest of the world is going Gaga over the PSL, I’m not yet ready for this rich holiday beverage just yet.
I like to mark the seasons and the holidays as they come, and give each one proper due and respect. These have become like old friends, with whom I can share my memories of the way things used to be, as well as our hopes for the future to come. Once Thanksgiving’s interminable meals of turkey variations had ceased, we couldn’t bear to face another bowl of turkey soup, turkey casserole, turkey and dumplings, or chipped turkey with gravy on toast. My daddy had an uncouth expression for this recipe, so mother only served it once and last of all.
When it finally appeared on the dinner table, it was a sign of rejoicing for us, for Christmas was just around the corner! We knew soon we’d be making fruit cake, cookies, candies, and other seasonal specialties in mother’s kitchen. The grownups usually had a party at our home, so we’d get a taste of that wonderful concoction, homemade eggnog with a bit of spirits added for the celebration. We got the cup without the spirits for the early party, but I remember tasting my parents’ cup to experience the grownup beverage.
As I’ve aged, I have lost my taste for these exceptionally rich foods. I’m more like the babies in their high chairs: I want my flavors and textures distinct and discernible. One day I may need a divided plate to keep my foods from touching, but not yet. Of course, the idea of a milky, alcoholic drink with eggs in it dates back to a medieval British drink called “posset,” writes Elizabeth Dias for Time. “By the 13th century,” she writes, “monks were known to drink a posset with eggs and figs. Milk, eggs and sherry were foods of the wealthy, so eggnog was often used in toasts to prosperity and good health.”
The dead of winter was good time to celebrate survival and to lubricate the social bonds to bring about continued prosperity of the community. The wealthy could afford those expensive ingredients to make eggnog in Britain, but in America it became a common drink due to the number of farms. Rum became the alcohol of choice, since rum from the Caribbean wasn’t taxed as heavily as European spirits like brandy.
George Washington’s recipe for eggnog suggests the founding father had a strong stomach. He forgot to specify how many eggs should be used in it, but cooks of the era thought a dozen or so would be good. Washington’s recipe includes the usual ingredients—sugar, milk, cream, eggs—but adds one pint of brandy, half a pint of rye, half a pint of rum and a quarter pint of sherry to the mix. Raise one to the father of the country!
FAMILY EGGNOG RECIPE
My aunt gave me a handwritten book of over one hundred recipes when I got my first apartment in art school. One was for Christmas Eggnog, which isn’t “just something to drink, but a traditional Christmas ceremony in Dixie, when friends and family gather together to enjoy Yuletide festivities.”
Her recipe served 12 and had 12 of nearly everything:
12 eggs separated
12 Tbs sugar
12 Tbs whiskey
12 Tbs Jamaican rum
1 quart whipping cream
For Auntie ‘s recipe, separate the yolks and whites. Beat the yolks till light, then add sugar slowly, and beat again till light. Add the liquor very slowly; don’t dump it in all at once! Keep beating while adding the liquor. Beat egg whites to stiff peaks in separate bowl and fold into yolk mixture. Whip the cream till it expands to double in size. Fold this into the mix of eggs and whites. Tradition serves this drink in small cups with grated nutmeg topping and a silver spoon. A thin slice of rum soaked fruit cake accompanies it on a plate. My understanding is with fruit cake, the more rum it has, the better it is, or that may be the eggnog talking.
TRADITIONAL EGGNOG RECIPE
I put a traditional egg nog recipe through my recipe program. I didn’t care for what I saw! This drink wouldn’t be on my healthy eating plan. Then I decided to adjust the recipe. I decided not to use the full sugar or whole milk, but opted for the lesser caloric bombs. I kept the full fat whipping cream, since it’s there to give body and thickness to the drink. This texture is important. Save the 2 egg whites for adding to an omelet for a meal. Don’t waste them.
1 vanilla bean (or 1 Tbs real vanilla extract)
4 cups milk 2%
2/3 cup sugar (2/3 cup or 32 tsp Splenda for diabetics)
4 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
1/2 cup heavy whipping cream
Scotch whisky, bourbon, or rum (optional)
Cinnamon or allspice for topping
Servings–Makes 12 servings of about 1/2 cup each (before adding 1 oz. alcohol)
Split the vanilla bean in half by holding one end down on a cutting board and running a knife away from your hand and down the length of the bean. Open up the bean, and then use the back side of the knife to scrape out the black seeds. Place the seeds and the husk (or the 1 Tbs real vanilla) in a small saucepan along with the milk and sugar or Splenda.
Heat over medium low heat, stirring regularly to prevent burning until the surface is foamy and the milk is steaming hot.
In a large bowl, add the whole eggs and egg yolks and whisk until pale yellow and foamy. Place the bowl on a wet towel so it doesn’t slip, and then pour the hot milk into the egg mixture while whisking constantly (it may be easier to have someone help you). It’s important to keep the egg moving as you add the hot milk, otherwise it will clump.
If you’re concerned about Salmonella, measure the temperature of your mixture with a candy thermometer and if it has not hit 160 degrees F, pour it all back into the pot and cook over low heat while stirring constantly until the mixture reaches 160 degrees. If you heat it anymore, the egg will curdle.
Whisk in the cream and serve warm, or chill in the fridge. I like to serve the alcohol on the side, so people can add as much or as little as they like. This respects the designated drivers, as well as those who don’t drink alcohol for personal reasons. Remember adding alcohol adds calories and carbohydrates. One ounce of alcohol per hour is the most the average person can metabolize. Consuming more than four (4) drinks on a single night is considered binge drinking, an unhealthy lifestyle activity. Consider drinking every other nog beverage without spirits to slow your imbibing down, or choose water instead.
I hope you have a safe and blessed holiday, whether you celebrate Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukkah, and may the joy of life and the promise of hope be always in your hearts and minds. Let’s all pledge to choose one better action for our health in 2019 and keep after this one thing! We can do it!
Love, Joy, and Peace,
Everyone wants to eat more veggies! In fact, I hear the latest food fad is coffee with mushrooms or broccoli added to it. Some toney java joints serve coffee inside carrots, avocados, or tomatoes. I like my coffee in a plain mug, and my veggies in soups or casseroles. Lately I’ve thrown a produce aisle on my pizza, so rather than the meat lover’s pizza, I create a veggie lover’s pizza.
Using fresh ingredients and a made from scratch dough, the pie can be ready in about the same time as a delivery pizza, but at less cost, and much healthier, especially if you’re watching your salt intake. I used some almond flour to cut the carbs of the crust, plus the veggies add some extra fiber.
Dissolve in 0.25 cup (4 fl oz) Water, tap warm,
1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast
1 tbsp Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave)
1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
Set aside and mix together the spices:
1 tsp Garlic powder
1 tsp Oregano, ground
1 tbsp Parsley, dried
1 tbsp Basil
In separate bowl sift together
0.25 tsp Salt
0.75 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 serving Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour, per 1/4 Cup
Then add the yeast mix and stir.
Add in 1 beet (2″ dia) Beets, fresh, cooked tender, and chopped fine.
Combine well and kneed until stretchy.
Might need 0.25 cup Whole Wheat Flour to keep dough from sticking to surface.
Use rolling pin or hands to push dough into about a 12” circle.
Drizzle 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil over surface to seal it.
Layer these toppings on pizza—
4 oz Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach
226 gram Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend or 8 ounces
1 cup, pieces or slices Mushrooms, fresh
4 oz Beef, 90% Lean Ground Beef from Sirloin
6 oz Tomato, grape (3oz = appro 12 tomatoes) sliced
Sprinkle dry spices over the top, or some on the inside or some inside too.
Crimp up edges to keep the food inside the outer walls of your pizza.
Bake in preheated 425 F oven on middle rack on pizza stone for best texture. It takes 15 to 20 minutes, depending on oven & cooking surface. Cheese should be melted and crust tender but not crispy.
If you roll out on parchment paper on top of a cutting board, you can slide the pizza still on the paper onto your hot stone in the oven. This way you don’t ruin the dough by picking it up. This takes the place of a “Baker’s paddle” at a pizzeria.
You could make the crust with spinach for a green crust on St. Patrick’s Day.
425 F preheated oven for 15 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven.
Serving Size: 8 slices of the pizza—I usually eat 2 normally, or 3 if I’m ravenous.
Reheating pizza—put slices on parchment paper in cold oven. Turn to 350F, and remove when you smell it, about 10 minutes. Don’t reheat in microwave.
The nutrition facts are from SparkRecipes. It’s a handy app for creating your own recipes and knowing the nutritional information of the food you eat. I hope you enjoy this pizza! You can modify it any number of ways.
CORNIE’S KITCHEN PIZZA RECIPES at this link—free registration
Servings Per Recipe: 8
Serving Size: 1 serving
Amount Per Serving
Total Fat 13.0 g
Saturated Fat 4.7 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.5 g
Monounsaturated Fat 2.5 g
Cholesterol 28.9 mg
Sodium 294.1 mg
Potassium 153.8 mg
Total Carbohydrate 19.1 g
Dietary Fiber 3.5 g
Sugars 3.8 g
Protein 15.2 g
Vitamin A 33.7 %
Vitamin B-12 0.1 %
Vitamin B-6 1.6 %
Vitamin C 18.5 %
Vitamin D 1.7 %
Vitamin E 4.6 %
Calcium 23.1 %
Copper 2.0 %
Folate 10.1 %
Iron 7.8 %
Magnesium 6.2 %
Manganese 10.2 %
Niacin 2.0 %
Pantothenic Acid 1.5 %
Phosphorus 1.4 %
Riboflavin 4.2 %
Selenium 1.5 %
Thiamin 0.9 %
Zinc 0.7 %
*Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet.
Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
Have you readied your costume for the annual Trick or Treat event? I saw folks shopping for costumes as early as mid September, for both adults and children. Most of these garbs aren’t scary at all, unlike the one worn by the ghosts and ghouls of ancient lore, by which I mean my neighborhood companions and I.
We protect children today from such horrors, but back in the 1950’s, ritual exposure under adult protection was considered part of growing up. A very small child dressed as a ghost with a pillowcase over her entire body. Only the eyes and mouth holes were cut out, plus a slit in the front for holding the basket of treats. The shifting nature of the pillowcase was part of the plan—the child couldn’t race to the next house in the dark or the eyeholes would slip and then they’d slip too. I never realized how cunning my parents were.
LET THE HARVEST FESTIVALS BEGIN
Halloween is the official beginning of the harvest festival season in America.
First is the Chocolate Candy season, also known as Trunk or Treat in the church. Then 22 days later is Thanksgiving, a day given over to cooking and eating, with leftovers for a week afterwards. For the next month until Christmas, cookies and homemade treats roll out of our kitchens as if we were our grandparents. Once the New Year arrives, even if we make a resolution to stop this madness, we get an invite to a Super Bowl party on February 3rd, 2019. This is all happening in less than one hundred days (95).
We do this in addition to our regular lives, of course, for we don’t let anything go. No, we merely pile stuff higher and the wonder why it collapses. It’s called the Western Life Style.
LIFESTYLE POSTER CHILD
The main negative features of this lifestyle include stress (long-term and continuous, psychological), positive energy balance (excessive energy intake and low physical activity), low-quality food (both high fat and energy dense, and at the same time poor in micronutrients), and disruption of chronobiology(insufficient sleep). What toe have I not stepped on yet? As my old congregations used to say, “At first you were preaching, but now you’ve done gone to meddling!”
WESTERN LIFESTYLE DEADLY
As countries around the world adopt the Western Lifestyle, rates of metabolic syndrome and diabetes are also increasing. For 2017, the International Diabetes Foundation estimated there were 451 million (age 18-99 years) people with diabetes worldwide. These figures were expected to increase to 693 million by 2045. Almost half of all people (49.7%) living with diabetes are undiagnosed. Moreover, an estimated 374 million people are likely living with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) and almost 21.3 million live births to women were affected by some form of hyperglycaemia in pregnancy.
In 2017, approximately 5 million deaths worldwide were attributable to diabetes in the 20-99 years age range. The global healthcare expenditure on people with diabetes was estimated to be USD $850 billion in 2017.
DISTURBANCE IN THE FORCE
“An acute disturbance in any of the physiological regulatory systems evokes reactions that tend to reestablish equilibrium. When the stimuli, even of moderate magnitude, tend to be repetitive or chronic, change and allostasis in one system impact on the other, and vicious cycles are created and reinforced.” The plain language translation is our bodies tend to seek equilibrium. If we lose weight, our bodies try to regain it. The vicious cycle many of us are most familiar with is losing the same amount weight over and over again.
THE FOOD WE EAT
Does what we eat make a difference? Every day a new diet fad comes down the pike, or at least a new packaging of an old one trots out for us to ride it for a while. Then we fall off that horse and look for another, with more appeal (cookie diet, anyone?).
Our food choices interact with our genetic, metabolic, and environmental factors. In obesity and metabolic syndrome, often dietary patterns are considered of central importance. In these, attention has been focused over calories, amounts, and proportions of macronutrients, and their effects on the energetic balance by themselves, and through metabolic regulators. You recognize this in the shorthand “calories in/calories out” slogan.
However, obesity, metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance, and diabetes are way more complex operations than mere subtraction. A calorie isn’t just a calorie. That is, not all calories are created equal, although all whole foods have nutrients. Only recently have the acute effects of food ingestion, taking into consideration the type of food, and the specific effects of some nutrients, namely, fatty acids, began to be studied in relation with obesity and inflammation.
INFLAMMATORY ROLE OF FATS
Total dietary fat and saturated fat are associated with insulin resistance and high blood pressure as well as obesity-related inflammation. An immediate postprandial increase in plasma inflammatory markers after a high-fat meal had been shown in abdominally obese men. Consumption of a saturated fatty acid-rich diet resulted in a proinflammatory “obesity-linked” gene expression profile, whereas consumption of a monounsaturated fatty acid-rich diet caused a more anti-inflammatory profile. This means carnivores eating well marbled steaks every day aren’t doing their bodies long term good, but of course they’re too busy being important to have a real doctor test their blood. And they “feel fine.”
MUFA’s are foods and oils with higher amounts of monounsaturated fats, such as Nuts, Avocado, Canola oil, Olive oil, Safflower oil (high oleic), Sunflower oil, Peanut oil and butter, and Sesame oil. Everyone needs some fat in their diet, for it keeps our skin smooth, our hair lustrous, and our appetite satisfied. We don’t need fried foods or animal fats on a daily basis.
LIVER AND FAT STORAGE
The liver has two functions that directly impact the formation of excess fat: metabolism of carbohydrates (sugars) and digestion of lipids (fats). When we consume carbohydrates, our blood sugar rises, triggering a rise in insulin. That rise in insulin signals our liver to begin storing the excess glucose within its own cells. When the liver is full, it begins storing the excess carbohydrates as fat in our body fat. Sometimes that fat begins to accumulate in the liver cells, and the liver becomes fat.
Similarly, when we consume more lipids that the body can use for energy, the liver stores the excess lipids in body fat, and this excess of lipids can begin to accumulate within the liver as well. Whether the excess of food is made up of carbohydrates (sugars) or fat (lipids) —the liver stores the excess energy for future use. Often this results in excess fat accumulating in the liver itself. This is known as Fatty Liver, the first stage of NAFLD and should be viewed as a warning to change unhealthy lifestyle habits and adopt a low carbohydrate and low fat diet that is high in fresh vegetables and lean proteins.
TAKE OUT BOX
We need to eat enough quality nutrients to lose weight. Starving ourselves won’t do it, since this messes up our metabolism. Eating the good food, complex carbohydrates with fiber, for instance, and lots of vegetables full of water (spinach, zucchini, mushrooms) will help us meet our nutritional goals. Foregoing fried foods, highly processed foods, and fast foods will also improve our health. Exercise every day, if just to walk around the block. I sometimes fail on this. But I find a way to move more around the house or do big muscle chores.
Time—we all have the same amount of it. What we do with it is the important thing. If I add an event to my schedule, something else has to go away. I’m not Wonder Woman. I’m not God. I might be Batgirl. I can’t do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me, but I can do all the IMPORTANT things Christ calls me to do in his power.
Below I’ve made some notes on the role of obesity, free fatty acids, and insulin resistance if you want more information. The link below has an excellent paper if you want to dig deeper. Low grade inflammation and free fatty acids are both implicated in NAFLD, non alcoholic fatty liver disease, which occurs when fat is deposited in the liver.
OBESITY AND INSULIN RESISTANCE
The reason why obesity is associated with insulin resistance is not well understood. Obesity is a condition characterized by an increase of body weight beyond the limitation of skeletal and physical requirements, as the result of excessive accumulation of body fat.
NOT A ROCK BAND
Free fatty acids (FFA) cause both insulin resistance and inflammation in the major insulin target tissues (skeletal muscle, liver and endothelial cells) and thus are an important link between obesity, insulin resistance, inflammation and the development of T2DM, hypertension, dyslipidemia, disorders of coagulation and ASVD.
FAT TISSUE: FACTORY AND WAREHOUSE
Adipose tissue not only stores and releases fatty acids but also synthesizes and releases a large number of other active compounds. According to this concept, an expanding fat mass releases increasing amounts of compounds such as FFA, angiotensin 2, resistin, TNF-α, interleukin 6, interleukin 1-β and others. Some of these compounds, when infused in large amounts, can produce insulin resistance.
However, any substance, in order to qualify as a physiological link between obesity and insulin resistance, should meet at least the following 3 criteria:
0. the substance should be elevated in the blood of obese people;
0. raising its blood level (within physiologic limits) should increase insulin resistance and
0. lowering its blood level should decrease insulin resistance.
So far, only FFA can meet these 3 criteria in human subjects.
Plasma FFA levels are usually elevated in obesity because
0. the enlarged adipose tissue mass releases more FFA and
0. FFA clearance may be reduced
Moreover, once plasma FFA levels are elevated, they’ll inhibit insulin’s anti-lipolytic action, which will further increase the rate of FFA release into the circulation.
The liver is more insulin sensitive than skeletal muscle.
FAT PILLS ARE REAL
Nevertheless, there is convincing evidence that physiological elevations of FFA, such as seen after a fat rich meal, inhibit insulin suppression of hepatic glucose production (HGP) resulting in an increase in HGP (1).
Acutely this rise in HGP is due to FFA mediated inhibition of insulin suppression of glycogenolysis or releasing glucose from carbohydrates.
Longer lasting elevations of FFA, however, are likely to also increase gluconeogenesis, or making glucose from non carbohydrate substances.
Chronically elevated plasma FFA levels, as commonly seen in obese diabetic and non-diabetic individuals, also cause insulin resistance.
GENES AREN’T OUR DESTINY
We know there’s a genetic component linked to the UCP3_HUMAN or mitochondrial uncoupling protein 3 and 2. Healthy pancreatic β-cells are poised to respond rapidly and efficiently to acute changes in circulating nutrient availability to maintain metabolic homeostasis.
CHRONIC EXPOSURE TO OVERNUTRITION
However, it is well recognized that chronic exposure to overnutrition, such as what occurs in obesity, results in a blunting of the insulin response to an acute stimulus.
Whatever its origin, be it or not obesity the main initiator, the chronic low-grade inflammatory condition that accompanies the metabolic syndrome has been implicated as a major player in both the installation of the syndrome and its associated pathophysiological consequences.
WEIGHT LOSS HELPS INFLAMMATION
In good agreement with this interpretation of things, weight loss of obese patients is repeatedly verified to be associated with a decrease of inflammation biomarkers accompanied by improvement of metabolic parameters, namely, insulin sensitivity.
Monteiro, Rosário, and Isabel Azevedo. “Chronic Inflammation in Obesity and the Metabolic Syndrome.” Mediators of Inflammation 2010 (2010): 289645. PMC. Web. 11 Oct. 2018
Diabetes Impact on World
For some reason, when I go into my kitchen, I like to walk on the wild side. Do I go there in real life? Never–you won’t find me climbing up a rock face or hanging off the side of a cliff. When I went to Masada, the ancient fortress where the Jews held out against the overwhelming Roman army which surrounded their mountain fortress, I was terrified as I rode the air tram up to the top. Then I discovered I had to walk on an exterior cantilevered sidewalk hanging out over the valley below to get inside the historic site.
Once I was on solid ground, I could enjoy myself. Going back down I could do, since I’d survived it already one time. Cooking adventures in my kitchen aren’t exactly survival shows like Chopped or Naked and Afraid. Too much drama in those for me! I tend to get an idea in mind, lay out all the ingredients, and start the process. Sometimes I make it up as I go, and other times I’ve read an interesting recipe in the newspaper or on the internet. Most of the time I make a variation on the recipe for my own health’s sake to limit the salt, sugar, and fat in the mix. I use whole grain flour and extra virgin olive oil when I bake, and fresh foods whenever possible. Using foods in season keeps the grocery bill reasonable and assures a variety of nutrients in my menu too.
I had a craving for beets last week, so ate them in salads because of the hot weather. I had a lonely beet left in the veggie compartment, so rather than let it go to waste, I washed, peeled , diced , and microwaved it for 5 minutes until very soft. Then I mushed with a fork. While this was cooking, I combined in a cup 1 tbsp Active Dry Yeast, 1 tbsp Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave), and .25 cup (8 fl oz) hot Water from the tap.
As the yeast was bubbling, I was sifting the dry ingredients together in a large bowl:
0.75 cup Whole Wheat Flour
1 serving Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour – per 1/4 Cup
.25 tsp Salt
Then I added the mushed beets, the yeast mix, and ADD 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil. Stir together well. If the mix won’t combine into a ball, add just enough water to make it so.
Turn the crust out onto parchment paper. Use .25 Cup Whole Wheat Flour to kneed the dough for a few minutes. Then roll out the crust to an even thinness. It should be about 12 inches in diameter.
Rub 1 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil into the surface of the crust to seal it. Add the toppings onto the crust:
4 oz Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach
226 gram Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend (8 oz)
8 ounces Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, roasted, chopped
Sprinkle the spices over the top evenly:
1 tsp Garlic powder, 1 tbsp Basil, 1 tbsp Parsley, dried; and 1 tsp Oregano, ground
Cut into thin slices about 6 ounces or 168 grams Tomatoes, (red, ripe, raw, year round average) and arrange around the outer edge.
To finish off the presentation, turn up the edges of the crust and press down so the fillings don’t ooze out. The cooked crust is a surprising pink and the topping is a rich filling delight.
Minutes to Prepare: 15
Minutes to Cook: 20 at 425 F preheated oven
(15 to 20 minutes, depending on the oven)
Number of Servings: 8 single pieces–kids or 4 servings (2 slices) for adults
Tips: You could make the crust with chopped spinach for a green crust on St. Patrick’s Day.
Calories in Beet Crust Pizza with Chicken and Spinach
Serving Size: 8 slices of the pizza—I usually eat 2 normally, or 3 if I’m ravenous.
Number of Servings: 8
• Calories: 242.1
• Total Fat: 12.6 g
• Cholesterol: 37.7 mg
• Sodium: 302.0 mg
• Total Carbs: 18.3 g
• Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g
• Protein: 18.7 g
Calories per serving of Beet Crust Pizza with Chicken and Spinach
81 calories of Kroger all natural cheese pizza blend, (28.25 gram)
37 calories of Whole Wheat Flour, (0.09 cup)
34 calories of Chicken Breast (cooked), no skin, roasted, (1 ounces)
21 calories of Bob’s Red Mill Almond Flour – per 1/4 Cup, (0.13 serving)
16 calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, (0.13 tbsp)
16 calories of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, (0.13 tbsp)
12 calories of Whole Wheat Flour, (0.03 cup)
8 calories of Agave Nectar (Wholesome Organic Blue Agave), (0.13 tbsp)
5 calories of Beets, fresh, (0.13 beet (2″ dia))
5 calories of Active Dry Yeast, (0.13 tbsp)
4 calories of Tomatoes, red, ripe, raw, year round average, (21 grams)
3 calories of Spinach – Dole Baby Spinach, (0.50 oz)
1 calories of Garlic powder, (0.13 tsp)
1 calories of Oregano, ground, (0.13 tsp)
0 calories of Parsley, dried, (0.13 tbsp)
0 calories of Basil, (0.13 tbsp)
Why do we choose the food on our plates? Some of us eat traditional foods from our childhoods, our cultures, or our homelands to connect us with our history and our stories. Others of us may choose alternative menus, to change our story line or to rewrite a troubled or fraught past. In this way, “what we eat proclaims who we are,” even as it nourishes the person we are becoming in the flesh.
Yet the extreme carnivore fat shamers have no problem what so ever in singing the praises of a huge, fat riddled hunk of ribeye steak, preferably rare, and eagerly devoured as a testimony to their peak powers and dominance traits. They often mention bitcoin’s luster or their own wellness ventures if the conversation goes much past hello. I’ve often wondered if the inanimate aspect of the slab on the plate allows them to connect more deeply with their food than they can with an actual human being, who has feelings and might speak back. Better to devour both of these, and stay unaffected by the outer world’s complexities.
However, the world always intrudes. We find no sanctuary, for we tear down the very walls which we build about ourselves. If we choose the extreme course, we’re on a path to self destruction, unless we change our lives. The ancient Greeks were wise to say, “The middle path is safest and best.”
Our choice of menus, diets, or eating plans is also a form of tribal signaling, as we send out signs for others to recognize and to respond accordingly. Fat shaming is a negative form of signaling by those who overvalue outward appearances. Those whose bodies are overly generous in size need to disregard this crowd’s disgust. Instead, discovering their personal value and worth is more important so they can be proactive about their own health. To enjoy life, to live as well as possible, and to be a blessing to our family and the community, is important for each of us.
WHAT IS TRUTH?
With all the competing claims out in the world today, how can we know what is truly healthy for the long haul? Since anyone can get on the internet and make any claim they want, until someone gets hurt and the legal process shuts their scam down, how do we sort out these “Truth Claims?” The accepted way is a RCT, or randomized controlled trial, which enrolls a large number of persons and follows them over many years. This is the “gold standard” of science, rather than “I use it and it works for me, plus listen to these testimonials!” In between is the single paper, not published in a major journal, with only a small sample of 50 to 100 subjects studied for a brief period. (If someone still believes “all these truths are equal,” I may know a friend with a friend with seashore property in Arizona to sell you, but I’d recommend a lesson in logic first.)
The Lancet Public Health Journal, August 18, 2018, published a major prospective cohort study and meta-analysis of dietary carbohydrate intake and mortality. The study followed nearly 16,000 adults in 4 different US communities for 25 years and they added in published research results from 7 multinational prospective studies. They did some big number crunching, so if you want to read the whole paper, the link is at the bottom of the page. It is a real RCT study, and deserves space for commentary.
MORTALITY AND FAT SOURCE
As the wag says, “men live longer if they don’t mention the extra weight their sweet cake is carrying on her hips.” It must be true–Neil DeGrasse Tyson’s photo is connected to this quote (meme worthy, for sure!).
When my mother made meatloaf, it had breadcrumbs and an egg to bind it together. She laid two strips of bacon on top of the loaf in the pan so it would get extra flavoring. Today people wrap the entire meatloaf in two pounds of bacon before they grill it on the outdoor BBQ pit. That pork fat goes into the food we eat and stays in the arteries to clog those vessels. We might be able to live higher on the hog than our parents, but we won’t live longer, not even with a good medical plan.
LIFE EXPECTANCY AND INCOME
Fifty years has passed: we eat worse, exercise less, and we our life expectancy has quit increasing. Back in 1966, men and women could live on average to age 67 and 73. Now those numbers are 76 and 81 in 2016. Back in 1933, men could expect to live to age 61 and women to 65. At least we aren’t going back to those “really good old days” when life was harsh, medicine lacked modern advances, and sanitation was poor.
Today poverty often impacts life expectancy due to food deserts in neighborhoods, lack of health insurance, and low incomes. The wealthy live longer. The poor in some cities — big ones like New York and Los Angeles, and also quite a few smaller ones like Birmingham, Ala. — live nearly as long as their middle-class neighbors or have seen rising life expectancy in the 21st century. But in some other parts of the country, adults with the lowest incomes die on average as young as people in much poorer nations like Rwanda, and their life spans are getting shorter.
CHOOSE YOUR FAT WISELY
This Study of Dietary Carbohydrate Intake and Mortality explored how the source of fat affected deaths in the group. The more meat fat a person ate, the more it impacted their life span for the worse (table 2).
The low-carb group was split into two separate groups:
1. The plant-based low carbohydrate dietary score was associated with higher average intake of vegetables but lower fruit intake (appendix p 11).
2. By contrast, the animal-based low carbohydrate dietary score was associated with lower average intake of both fruit and vegetables (appendix pp 9, 10).
3. Both low carbohydrate diets were associated with higher fat intake in exchange for carbohydrate, although the plant-based low carbohydrate diet had higher average polyunsaturated fat and lower saturated fat intake compared with the animal-based low carbohydrate diet (appendix pp 9–11).
ANIMAL FATS VS. PLANT FATS
People choosing an animal-based diet had an overall, higher, total protein intake. Five foods differed most significantly between the highest and lowest quantiles of animal-based and plant-based low carbohydrate dietary score (appendix p 9):
1. The animal-based low carbohydrate diet had more servings per day than did higher carbohydrate diets of beef, pork, and lamb as the main dish; beef, pork, and lamb as a side dish; chicken with the skin on; chicken with the skin off; and cheese (appendix p 10).
2. The plant-based low carbohydrate diet had more servings per day of nuts, peanut butter, dark or grain breads, chocolate, and white bread than did higher carbohydrate diets (appendix p 11).
3. Both low carbohydrate diets were lower in average regular soft drink intake (appendix pp 10, 11)
DEATH BY GIANT RIBEYE STEAK
Exclusionary diets, unless for medically necessary reasons, are not the best choice. Just because we want to jump off a cliff doesn’t mean we should do this! Someone who wants to eat only white food, as my child did for a time, is going through a phase. An adult who won’t eat anything white is missing out on some food groups, or doesn’t want to spend the time learning about food. If we have time saving machines all around us, why don’t we have the time to care for our embodied selves in this spare time? Do we value our work more than the worker? This devaluation of people is a slippery slope to other ills, not only to self harm but to disparagement of others or outright hatefulness.
1. In the ARIC cohort and in meta-analysis, increased consumption of animal-based protein and fat instead of carbohydrate was associated with a significant increase in all-cause mortality (table 3). Eat more animal fat and die sooner.
2. Alternatively, increased consumption of plant-based protein and fat instead of carbohydrate was associated with a significant decrease in all-cause mortality (table 3). Trade animal fats for healthier plant fats from nuts and seeds, such as olive oil. Use in moderation.
3. The animal and plant-based findings were consistent for cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular mortality (appendix pp 3, 4). Both heart disease and other diseases are made worse by animal fats. Let’s eat leaner, greener, and add more plants into our menus.
4. Similarly, in the meta-analysis, mortality increased when animal-derived fat and protein were substituted for carbohydrate, and decreased when these substitutions were plant-based (table 3). Eating more plants would do us better.
THE SWEET SPOT
The model for carbohydrate caloric intake is about 50% of total calories per day. It seems to be a sweet spot for life expectancy. In the diabetes world, most of us work to control our blood glucose readings by diet, so many of us will reduce our carbohydrates until they’re minimal at best. We may get good readings on our glucose meter, but what about our heart health? We don’t have a home health test for this. Since people with diabetes also have high rates of heart disease, we need to think of our whole body as one interconnected system, and not focus only on one symptom. We are complex and wonderful, so finding a balance for our finely tuned instrument is important.
ALL CARBS ARE NOT EQUAL
What carbohydrates we choose are another factor. If we think a bag of potato chips is equal to a baked potato in calories and nutrition, we have another think coming. Learning to read nutrition labels might cure us of this delusion. In the meantime, avoiding the snack aisle at the grocery store can keep us from bringing this ersatz food product into our home.
In “Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association Clinical,” the trials that used polyunsaturated fat to replace saturated fat reduced the incidence of cardiovascular disease. In contrast, trials that used mainly carbohydrates to replace saturated fat did not reduce CVD.
CHOOSE CARBS WISELY
However, the types of carbohydrate-containing foods were often unspecified and typically included sugar and other refined carbohydrates to maintain energy balance. When carbohydrates from whole grains replace saturated fat, evidence from prospective observational studies indicates reduced CVD. The two best interventions for menu modification are DASH and the Mediterranean Diet.
The other way we can help keep our blood sugar in range is lifestyle modification. This is the most difficult of changes most of us have to make. Exercise, meditation, journaling, adjusting recipes, cooking meals, making menus, and setting a bedtime or wake up schedule all seems like too much at once. Of course it is! And if it were easy, everyone would be doing it, no one would blog about it, and there’d be no great 25 year long studies to tell us not to wrap two pounds of ground beef in two more pounds of fatback bacon.
Actually, Aristotle, the Ancient Greek philosopher, spoke about the “golden mean.” Moral behavior is the mean between two extremes: at one end is excess, and at the other deficiency. Find a moderate position between those two extremes, and you’ll be acting morally, or rationally. This was his goal in life.
If we were to pick only one of these lifestyle modifications per week to work on, then in the next, do another one the best we can, and do on in the following weeks. Soon we’d all be more comfortable with the routine, and all of us would be doing them all without even realizing it. This is how you sneak in your learning! Before you know it, you have a transformed life. No one waved a magic wand over you, but you grew into your grown up shoes slowly but surely.
Best wishes for a better life, with more exercise and more joy!
The Lancet Public Health Journal, August 18, 2018
Dietary Fats and Cardiovascular Disease: A Presidential Advisory From the American Heart Association | Circulation