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The New Gluten Free Products. Are They Any Good? I Put Them to the Test.

I'm almost certain that a few years back I must have laughed and joked about the advent of gluten free products. F-bombs, probably. "Still not Paleo," probably. It seemed to me to be mostly cupcakes and other sugary baked goods. At the same time, because I'm on lists, I'm getting about a new "Paleo" cookbook every couple of weeks in the mail, hoping for a review (I review some, getting pickier and pickier). I always at least browse them. And I must say, the omega-6 PUFA load in the cups and cups of highly concentrated almond in the form of flour used in so many of the baked goods is WORSE than gluten and sugar combined. My view.

So, I was content, from time to time, to just grab a nice, real baguette or some water crackers for a cheese, wine & fruit indulgence with guests. But since I go to Whole Foods often enough, I kept seeing more and more gluten free products. They have a label on the shelf now, making them easy to spot. I began reading some ingredient labels. One day, I just grabbed a box of Glutino's original crackers. For something that's not going to be eaten every day (took two weeks for Bea & I on that one box of 32 crackers), I thought the ingredients pretty reasonable.

CORN STARCH, WHITE RICE FLOUR, ORGANIC PALM OIL, MODIFIED CORN STARCH, DEXTROSE, EGGS, SUNFLOWER LECITHIN, SALT, GUAR GUM, SODIUM BICARBONATE, AMMONIUM BICARBONATE, ROSEMARY EXTRACT.

I always give good points for short lists. Thing is, it wouldn't have made a difference if they tasted like crap. But they don't at all. They're really damn good qua cracker. Macro wise, just under a gram of fat and 3 grams of carbs per cracker.

Then I went without Beatrice on a short, 2-day hang-glide & camp trip, sleep in the car deal. Didn't want to deal with cooking or restaurants, so brought a cooler with boiled eggs, fruit, cherry tomatoes, whole milk and...Bakery On Main's gluten free Nutty Cranberry Maple Granola (which I ate as cereal & milk). Careful. That stuff is crack in a bag! But still, nothing like an average cereal box ingredient list.

Above all, none of these products made me feel bad, by which I mean: heartburn or coma. And so I thought, 'might as well test pasta & bread,' so I did.

I began with Ancient Harvest Quinoa Spaghetti (ingredients: non-gmo organic corn flour, organic quinoa flour, water) and I must say, I think I like it better than wheat pasta. First, there's an interesting aromatic element that takes you slightly aback, but then became quickly enhancing for me. Second is that wheat never, ever on its best day had al dente down so good. I actually found it hard to ruin, cooking it substantially longer the second time, just to see. I have some Glutino rice-based pasta to try next.

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Mom's Spaghetti Sauce - Click for Hi-Res

The garlic toasts are gluten free (and yes, I like them al burnte, and I go to great lengths watching the broiler until they're just right). Here's basically mom's sauce, which is fabulous, and the celery is the star. The marjoram is dope, too, just not too much.

Half of people's whole problem with pasta, any pasta, is that they eat such fucking enormous portions of it (and "all you can eat" Olive Garden). What you see above is the size I was served by my Sicilian friends in their restaurant down the street a few times a week when I lived in France, so that's the portion size I never exceed.

On to bread and this is where I was blown away the most. I'd noticed gluten free breads in the Whole Foods freezer for years. Maybe it's just me, but I really am not interested in $5-6 for a loaf of frozen bread. Then suddenly there's a couple in the regular bread section and since Udi's White Sandwich Bread was the least cost at $4.99, got that one. I'm gobsmacked, because it's just like decent sliced bread. It makes me wonder if fresh baguettes are not too far behind. All it takes is enough of a market. Very, very impressed. Duplicates good sliced bread on every level.

Here, I get a bit carried away. Given your toasted bread and mayo as substrate, here's what you can do with tuna salad, tomato, medium boiled egg, dill pickle and yellow onion.

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Click For Big. Hurry, While It's Still Pretty.

My German grandmother always used to make sandwich variety plates with what she had on hand, including liverwurst, and always on French bread. This platter was for Bea & I for Sunday Night Football, where the 49ers were embarassed two weeks in a row. Wish they could do as well as Beatrice in her fantasy football league. 14 teams comprised mostly of her sports junkie brothers, brothers-in-law and nephews, and she's not only 3-0 and in 1st place, but the top scoring team. I knew she was getting into it yesterday when I got into her car and KNBR Sports Talk 680 is on the radio.

Here was desert.

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A Pat of Unsalted Kerrygold, and TJ's Salted Creamy Peanut Butter

Bea had never had toast with butter and peanut butter. She basically thought it was crack on wheels.

Like I said, I got a bit carried away. Plus, I haven't made tuna salad in many months, and so I did a 4-can batch. Accordingly, this was first meal of the day, last two days in a row.

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No Explanation Necessary

There's a good reason I do 1/2 tomato sandwiches (a tomato sandwich is toast, lots of mayo, thick sliced red ripe tomato—sprinkle of salt & pepper and not one thing else). I seem to be able to stop there. If I have a whole tomato sandwich, then I will automatically have three tomato sandwiches.

In all, results are fantastic. They just don't make me feel like wheat products do at all. No heartburn, no coma. We still intend to keep it pretty reasonable, though, and plus the products are quite expensive relatively. In all, for two people, it's 4 servings of spaghetti and 1 1/2 small loaves of bread in two weeks time. So, probably no need to call out the Paleo Cavalry to haul us off. You can tell the folks on Exile Island to stand down.

Deciding For Yourself: 13 Pretty Good Low Carb Resources

To say that I've grown weary of endless debates and criticisms of various approaches within a whole, real food approach to diet is an understatement. I've always been about promoting anything that's "Pretty Good," and not about slamming everything that may have errors, some "bad science," too much marketing—you name it. The problem with the latter is that it becomes only and exclusively about tearing down the work and accomplishments of others—which really helps no one when such accomplishments do tend to help people.

...It becomes an exercise in discounting the real health improvements others have achieved and makes it less likely that still others will find similar benefits because the resource now operates under a cloud of distrust or derision.

If you're one who likes to promote and celebrate the life saving work of others, sure, do check things out, verify it's helping people, and make sure there's enough good going on to say: "check it out." If, on the other hand, you want to make it about tearing down the work of others, that's easy as shit. Click on any link, find something to disagree with, tear into them. Wash, rinse & repeat. The few dozen or hundred folks who go for that sort of thing exclusively will thank you.

For the record, I'm not anti low-carb, though I do believe calories count and also, it's probably going to be hard to reach your goals by ladling added fat on everything you eat. In my own experience, going natural on the fat (reasonable amounts to cook with, no adding fat—or very little), more modest protein portions—usually but not always—and more starches—sometimes but not always—is working. But this isn't about me. On average, I'd say I'm still LC-to-MC if you averaged out my carbs over a week, but some days might be virtual ZC, and some days, HC. I believe in mixing things up.

So in the same spirit as my PGP post (Pretty Good Paleo), trusting YOU to decide what works and not assuming you're a dumbass who needs a post every few days about what's wrong with everyone else in the world, I give you 13 low-carb resources to check out and see which one(s) might give you an insight or tidbit here and there to manage your own health and weight loss.

So please, check each one out, scan through, take in a post or two or three, and see which ones you might want to revisit regularly or from time to time. Above all, relax, and...BREATHE.

  1. Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt - http://www.dietdoctor.com
  2. Tom Naughton - http://www.fathead-movie.com
  3. Dr. John Briffa - http://www.drbriffa.com
  4. Dr. Jonny Bowden - http://jonnybowdenblog.com
  5. Jimmy Moore - http://www.livinlavidalowcarb.com
  6. Laura Dolson - http://lowcarbdiets.about.com
  7. CarbSmart - http://www.carbsmart.com
  8. Jamie Van Eaton - http://yourlighterside.com
  9. Dr. Peter Attia - http://eatingacademy.com
  10. Danny Albers - http://primalnorth.blogspot.com
  11. Dr. Colin Champ - http://www.cavemandoctor.com
  12. Dr. Jay Wortman - http://www.drjaywortman.com
  13. Dr. Jeffry Gerber - http://denversdietdoctor.com

Who couldn't find something to disagree with at each of those links? And how many of them couldn't find something to disagree with here? However:

  1. I don't assume you're a moron, ignorant, or especially in need of blindness by science ad nausium.
  2. I do assume that you're none of those things (you're here, not out loading a supermarket cart full of crap), generally competent to not take anything as paleo or LC gospel, try stuff, adjust.
  3. I believe that all of those people have a sincere desire to help you and others and in that endeavor, evolve their thinking and approaches over time so as to increase the good accurate stuff while decreasing the errors and bad stuff.
  4. I believe that for whatever errors or inaccurate information, the good and accurate information far outweighs, and that as such, in my judgment, they are net benefactors of the overweight, obese and health challenged. Conversely, those who add nothing but to tear down others are net liabilities; net disvalues to everyone. That is, were they to not exist at all, most people would be better off.
  5. Building and creating values is never ultimately done by tearing down. Tearing down is just tearing down; it's value destruction, an easy fake for the actual hard work involved in creating values for others and society. Values are not created by tearing down a few errors, destroying the good along with it—you're left with errors still, less values, less potential for good. Errors are corrected by honestly evaluating the good and continuously improving it over time, leaving less and less room for error.

Keep up  and improve the good, best parts of your work, laddies & gentleman. You are a life saving and enhancing value to many out there—doubtless many hundreds and thousands you don't even know about.

James Briscione’s Jack Daniels Pork Chops Sous Vide

photo

Yesterday morning I already knew I was doing pork chops sous vide for six that night. I just didn't know which recipe to use. I've done them SV different ways before (here and here and here), but wanted to do something different.

...Way back when Drs. Mike & Mary Dan Eades unveiled the new SousVide Supreme at The California Culinary Academy in San Francisco, I was lucky to be on hand to share Chef Heston Blumenthal's creations (pics here) with Dr. Mike and Tim Ferriss, while Dr. Mary Dan was in the kitchen assisting the chef and sous chefs. I still remember Mike telling me that he got started on this whole sous vide deal "in search of the perfect pork chop." Indeed. In my use of the SVS over the years, it's the cheaper things (pork, chicken, salmon) where it excels the most.

So, I just chatted Mike up on Twitter and he pointed me to this recipe on the SVS website (they have an extensive array of SVS recipes). He also suggested Apple Cider Pork Chops, but I'll save that one for next time. Hey, using this one gave me a good excuse to buy a bottle of Jack. The recipe is also on Chef James Briscione's website with some preparation pics and the finished product.

Ingredients:

  • 4 bone-in pork chops (I adjusted for 6)
  • 1 cup ( 250 ml) flour (I used gluten free)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 ml) ground cumin (the "secret ingredient")
  • 4 tablespoons (60 ml) high-smoke-point vegetable oil (divided use)
  • 1 large red onion, peeled and sliced
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) prunes, pitted and cut in half
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) Jack Daniels whiskey
  • salt to taste
  • black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream

Instructions:

  1. Fill and preheat SousVide Supreme™ to desired serving temperature (134F/56.5 C for medium rare; 140F/60C for medium)
  2. Sprinkle pork chops well with salt and pepper. Combine flour and cumin on large plate and coat chops on both sides.
  3. Heat 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of the oil in a skillet over medium high heat.
  4. Brown the chops on each side, then remove from the pan and allow them to cool slightly.
  5. Reduce heat to medium, add the onions to the skillet, and sauté to caramelize them.
  6. Add the prunes and then deglaze the pan with the whiskey, scraping up any browned bits. Reduce the sauce until it thickens to desired consistency.
  7. Remove from heat and allow the mixture to cool; set aside for use in step 12.
  8. Put one or at most two chops per vacuum pouch. Divide the sauce and onions among the pouches. Evacuate as much air as possible and seal.
  9. Cook the chops for at least 2 hours and up to 6 hours in the water oven.
  10. When ready to serve, remove the pouches from the water bath, open, and remove the chops.
  11. Finish the dish by heating the remaining 2 tablespoons (30 ml) of high smoke point oil in skillet and browning chops again on both sides to create a golden crisp surface.
  12. Remove the chops to a warmed plate, return the onion-prune mixture to the skillet, add the pouch juices and rewarm; stir in the heavy cream, and reduce by a third.
  13. Serve the chops topped with the sauce.

I was off and running. Having done thin pork chops at 141F in the SVS before and getting pink moist meat, I opted for 140F and had it in the bath for 5 1/2 hours. First, I had to get the pork. I found these Niman Ranch Naturals at the butcher counter at Lunardi's, one of the high end markets here in the South Bay and just a few minutes away.

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Just over 5 pounds total

The first change I did to the recipe was to use Red Mill Gluten Free Flour (garbanzo bean flour, potato starch, tapioca flour, white sorghum flour, fava bean flour). The downside to this is it tends to blacken more than brown, which carries through the whole recipe so my sauce at the end is significantly darker. I doubt it makes a difference in taste.

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Seasoned with salt & pepper, dredged, and browned in high oleic sunflower oil

I opted for the high oleic sunflower oil (completely different from standard sunflower oil, with only 4% total PUFA) because its high heat tolerance is really unmatched.

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All sealed up, along with the onion, prune & JD goodies

I was able to use the dry setting on my vacuum sealer and didn't have any liquid make it all the way to the opening before it sealed. I always double seal my bags, top & bottom. You never know when there's going to be just the tiniest little opening to allow water into the bag and ruin food.

Another thing with SV cooking is that it doesn't pull the moisture out of the proteins. This is why, for example, you can do a pork belly for days and the fat remains intact, just soft and creamy, not liquified. As such, at the end there was not a significant amount of juice in the bags so I ended up adding about a cup of chicken stock to the mixture. My other change to the recipe is that instead of using heavy cream at the end, I used about a half tub of crème fraîche.

To go along with, I chose fingerling potatoes that I tossed in a wok with half coconut oil and red palm oil (the latter which imparted a nice color to the potatoes) and sea salt. Those went in the oven all face down, skin up, on a baking sheet at 500F for about 20 minutes while I finished the chops on the gas grill on high—a few minutes per side with the lid open (no cooking, just searing)—and completed the sauce.

JDchop
Best pork experience ever (click to enlarge)

I was really blown away at just how good it was, especially with the hint of cumin that comes all the way through. I seriously could have eaten a whole second plate like that. I use straight edge, not cerated steak knives, but you didn't even need to slice, just push down. The pork was moist, tender, all the fat succulent, and the texture of the whiter portions of the meat was of an indescribable nature. The SVS is the ultimate way to do any sort of white meat.

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Beatrice, Julie & Robert, Jon & my aunt Brigitte

Didn't get a closeup of the salad Julie put together but in addition to the greens, it had green apples, currants, bacon bits and blue cheese in a very light tossing of EVOO with a balsamic reduction drizzled on top.

For dessert, I made real Orange Julius smoothies with fresh squeezed Valencia oranges, raw whole milk and pastured raw eggs & added yolks. I used half the sugar called for in the recipe. Dammed modern 'fraidy-cat society. Every recipe I found for orange julius omitted the raw eggs. You actually have to search 'orange julius raw egg' to have a real recipe show up on the first page of results.

I've been putting raw eggs in blended stuff all my life. Never, ever had a problem, nor anyone I know. I also make caesar dressing the way it's supposed to be made.

Sound the Bugles: A Crap-Bag Snack That May Not Be So Bad

220px Bugles package
 

My other indulgence yesterday, whilst in my dark cave watching Breaking Bad with all means of communication shut off, was a single serving-sized bag of Bugles.

I don't know whether for lack of attention or that they just have not been around enough to grab attention, but I recall as a kid that they came in a box, and I always really liked the taste & light crunch. I don't even recall eating them non-stop or anything, or very often at all. They just have a nice corny taste & crunch.

Couple of months or so ago, I noticed seeing them again, regularly, like at convenience stores & such. I was curious. I looked at the label of ingredients, used to seeing 2 inches of unpronounceable ingredients for almost everything in a bag out there.

But I thought wrong: "Degermed yellow corn meal, coconut oil, sugar, salt, baking soda."

To me? Impressive, for crap in a bag. So, next time you get the urge, go for some of those instead of...like, Doritos, with a solid inch plus of "gluten free" ingredients.

Potato Diet Hack Practicalities (that means new recipes)

After a couple of days banging away on theory, time to once again revert to the practical. You know my ethic of the hack: make it highly palatable and rewarding, trust the potato to do its job.

So let's get right to it. I'd already shown you the mashed potatoes and then the hash browns from the initial day of what began our week away for the holidays. Other than a sensible meal or two at a restaurant during those initial 3 days up at the cabin, I stuck with the potatoes exclusively. While I didn't do pics, one thing I learned was that a nuked, chilled, then peeled and sliced potato with salt & malt vinegar is grand.

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The above was a combo of leftovers from the night before: mashed potatoes, no-fat gravy, 2-3 oz of steak from one of the restaurant trips. Make the cold taters into tater balls, nuke 'em, chop the leftover steak into chunks, add to the gravy, add some more stock to make soupier, and you're done. Divine. Eat with a spoon. We ate that while watching San Francisco dominate and annihilate Chicago.

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On Tuesday, we headed down from Arnold, CA, to Vista, CA for the Xgiving holiday with family. I was undecided about continuing the potato deal and since I hate being a pain in the ass in person, I opted to set it aside and to be a good and gracious guest. Bea's sister lives right next door to her parents, her sister and family went to Vegas. We took their place, they have this pool and it was 75 on Black Friday, and this is where I spent it.

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Last Saturday we took off. It was 89 on the drive through LA and still 75 in the afternoon when we stopped in Pismo Beach for the night.

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We took a stroll Sunday morning with Rotor and Nuke before heading home, eventually catching the 2nd half of the tenuous 49er win against the Saints.

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Half of 1 chicken breast between the two of us, 2-3 potatoes, a bit of onion, citrus, reduced chicken stock, zero added fat, but lots of things like cumin, curry, etc. I've never made Mulligatawny and have no idea of the recipe, but that's what it reminded me of.

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There comes a time. I still had a breast & a half of chicken, so a low fat version of chicken piccata was in the making. Here was how I spelled it out for my brother who wanted to make it for himself the next evening.

Ingredients

  • 1 quart Kitchen Basics chicken stock. Get it in a pot on boil, reducing even before you start
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 lime or lemon
  • 2 chicken breasts, sliced longitudinally and latitudinally (4 pieces per breast)
  • 2 potatoes, mashed
  • 2 tsp sour cream (or butter....for the potato mash)
  • capers
  • gluten free flour
  • bit of coconut fat (I used only a tsp)

Directions

Get the pot of stock going and the salted water for your 2 potatoes. heat up the cocnut oil, dredge your chicken, brown well in the oil, 2-3 min per side. Take off, set aside (all the other stuff is going).

Deglaze the pan with the wine, let it reduce. Then add a bit of stock from your boiling pot, let reduce, add more, etc. In the meantime you should have put the potatoes in the water once at a boil.

The bits of gluten free flour you deglazed should be enough for a saucy consistency once reduced enough, but make sure you have enough volume, reduction, etc.

At the end, add the juice from the lime or lemon and a tsp or two of drained capers. Make sure the sauce is just as you want it, turn off the heat, put the chicken back in, cover and let sit while you drain potatoes and mash with the sour cream or butter.

30 minutes.

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Beef stock reduced from a quart to a half pint with 1-2 oz of chopped roast beef for two servings. No added fat. Line the bowl with your mashed potatoes, ladle in your reduction. Eat it with a spoon. 

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Lunch yesterday. Oven fries (very little fat), lots of salt, and a bit of TJ's Organic Catsup and malt vinegar on the side.

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POUTINE!

For all my Canadian friends. After the touch of drama, I just had to make my version of it, with what I had.

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That was Bea's portion. This was mine.

Same oven fries. Little fat. While they've been going, reduce 1 Qt Kitchen Basics unsalted chicken stock to about half a pint. I thickened slightly with about a tsp of potato starch in a slurry of cold water, introduced to the boil. A bit of salt & pepper, nothing else added. So, the gravy is zero fat.

Instead of cheese curds, it was a sprinkling of very ripe crumbled blue cheese I had on hand for a while. That's the secret the French know about cheese: the riper, the less you need.

Alright, go forth and experiment.

Put all authorities trying to tell you what to do in the proverbial short pants.

The Easiest & Quickest Wok Liver, Onion & Fried Potato Recipe Ever

Both my wife & I grew up eating a fair amount of liver & onions, often along with fried potatoes. It's a big chore and a big mess. My mother's method calls for everything to be fried in bacon fat, and you need a lot. If you don't have enough, you have to fry up a lot of bacon.

Both the onions and the potatoes require a lot of time if you want the potatoes nicely browned and the onions beyond slimy worms. So it really requires three fry pans if you want things done at the same time. Enter spatters all over—it's a big mess, a big production that takes quite a bit of time.

Enter the wok, a cookie sheet, and coconut oil. My interest in this is to give people easy options for getting liver into their diet if they can—the world's most nutritious food, ounce for ounce. Toward that end, I've also put up two other completely different liver preparations, Smothered Beef Liver and Barbecued Beef Liver. I particularly like the former and I think offers the best chance at liver not tasting so much like liver, given the tomato sauce.

So this preparation takes about 30 minutes and there's almost no mess. And, I think that the coconut oil instead of bacon drippings really balances things out wonderfully, surprisingly so. One other thing. Every time I do a post on liver preparations I get the folks who either eat it raw, or flash fry, with no flour dredge, etc. Knock yourselves out. I'm not interested in raw, though I would be intrigued to try a sushi-like preparation. I plain old like the flour dredge and the texture it affords. I use gluten free all-purpose flour (garbanzo & fava bean based). It's a very small amount and if it helps someone include liver in their diet, I'm all for it—even if its plain old white flour. The benefit to liver outweighs puritanism. So here goes.

Preparation

  1. Slice your liver into small strips & pieces and pat it dry
  2. Slice your onions
  3. Dice your potatoes
  4. Preheat oven to 400F
  5. Heat coconut oil in wok on medium high
  6. Spread out flour (gluten free if possible) on a plate

Now you're ready to go. First step is to toss your onions into the coconut oil, enough so they are deep frying.

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Onions

This is basically for the purpose of coating the onions in coconut oil, but I kept them in about 2 minutes to get them started. Then remove with a slotted tool of some sort onto the cookie sheet and really shake off as much fat as possible. Then do the same with the potatoes.

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Potatoes

Just a couple of minutes, those go on the cookie sheet as well, and then it goes into the center rack for about 20 minutes, or until both are brown. I prefer some part of the onions to be toasty, blackened. Now wait. Turn down the flame on the coconut oil but keep it hot. At about 10-12 minutes, toss your potatoes and onions and place them back in the oven.

Turn the heat back up on the coconut oil to medium high, then individually dredge each slice of liver and put it immediately into the oil. Have enough oil so you're basically deep frying them. This is why you use a wok. I turn them continuously in the oil and it takes only ~2 minutes per piece until the flour is browned. I let them drain on another plate on a paper towel. Note that because liver is so moist, you really need to dredge in the flour one by one and immediately into the oil, else your flour will become a gummy, yucky, clumped together mess (experience, here).

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Liver on a plate

You should be done with the liver about the time your potatoes and onions are done and they should look something like this.

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Yes, Bea & I like very crispy onions, almost burnt.

Now it's just a matter of plating.

IMG 1153
Wok fried liver, onions and potato

As another thing to try for those who like it or who are trying to acquire a taste, I very much like dijon mustard (Maille is preferred) as a condiment with the liver. Learned that in France where it's quite common.

Bon appétit.

Grains, Vegetarians, Vegans and Nutritional Density

Yesterday I posted about how well it's going with the book and its 2nd Edition. Here's an excerpt from Chapter 3 on grains, vegetarianism, veganism and a bunch of nutritional comparisons. This is first draft stuff, so it has yet to go to the editor or proofreading. Those who read the first edition will notice this section as being tremendously expanded.

~~~

Even when not considering the problems with grains in terms of gluten, and other lectins, be aware that they are not very nutritious.

Listen, everyone, and listen closely: if you eat grains as a significant part of your diet, you are getting CRAP nutrition as compared to a Paleo-like diet. It's simply a fact, the "healthy-whole" fraud notwithstanding. And if that’s not enough to convince you, then ask yourself why virtually all grain products have the word "fortified" stamped on the package. Good nutritional sources need never be "fortified."

How about a visual representation? What if we compared the nutrition in an average loaf of bread (about 1,400 calories) to say, the same number of calories of beef liver and salmon?

Bread

Screen Shot 2011 09 26 at 2 43 09 PM
 

Beef Liver

Screen Shot 2011 09 26 at 2 43 28 PM
 

Salmon

Screen Shot 2011 09 26 at 2 45 13 PM
 

Don’t look just at the height of the bars, but at the numbers at the top of the bars. A bar at the top means “off the scale.” Examining the numbers gives you an idea of how proportionally off the scale each nutrient is relative to the same nutrient in ”fortified” bread. For most micronutrients, a Paleo diet outstrips a standard, grain-based diet by 100–300% in terms of nutritional content. The livers of all animals and fish are nature’s true “multi-vitamin.” For a more thorough look, see my post at Free the Animal that incorporates these images.

Let’s run the actual numbers above, comparing 1,400 calories of bread to the same amount of beef liver for the 21 different nutrients listed. On average, for bread—adding up all the numbers at the tops of the bars— you get average nutrition across the 21 nutrients of 85% (1,777 / 21). That is, if you eat the entire loaf in a day, you’re still 15% under the government’s established recommendations.

Now let’s have some fun with the liver: 2,640%! No, that’s not a typo: Two Thousand Six-Hundred Forty Percent! (55,403 / 21), almost 25 times as much nutrition as the bread. Think of that the next time you hear nonsense about “superfoods”—and it’s always some silly berry, or leaf, or something else that while decent, never holds a candle to animal foods in terms of nutrition. When is that last time you heard of any animal food being referred to as a superfood in any mainstream outlet? Probably never. That’s how backwards everything is and just another example of what you’re up against.

Want another example? How about raw oysters on the half shell, which I happen to love. Thing is, it’ll be tough for you to get 1,400 calories worth. In fact, 24 raw oysters, a large serving indeed, has only 230 calories, 1/6th of that 1,400 calorie loaf of “fortified” bread. But guess what? in that 230 calories you’ll find 400% of the USRDA for those same 21 nutrients in our comparison. So, one-sixth the caloric energy, almost five times the nutrition!

So how about if we compare a relatively nutritious plant food to bread? Potatoes are just such a thing. Sweet potatoes are slightly more nutritious than plain white potatoes, so let’s use those. Another thing about potatoes in general is that they’re gluten free, unlike bread, but—depending on the variety—can have 10—13% protein and it’s a quality amino acid profile; whereas, the tiny protein in bread is virtually all gluten, a big problem for increasing numbers of people. One large sweet potato (excluding any garnishes like butter and not eating the skin) will provide you with 200 calories, one-seventh of that loaf of bread. But the nutrition over those 21 nutrients is 25% of your USRDA. Yes, one potato per day gets you 25% of your nutrition. If you were to eat seven of them—in order to match the caloric energy of the bread—you’d get 175% of your USRDA, or exactly two times the “nutrition” in the loaf of bread. ...For centuries, potatoes have been considered a poor man’s food, yet their nutritional density is such that eating only half of an average male’s daily caloric requirements gets you twice your recommended allowance in vitamin and mineral nutrition! Bread is the true poor man’s food.

[...]

What About Vegetarianism and Veganism?

First, it's important to draw a clear distinction between vegetarianism and veganism: vegetarians traditionally consume nutritionally-dense animal nutrition in the form of eggs and dairy. Vegans do not. Nutritionally, this makes a world of difference. Either you consume animal products or you don’t, and that’s the real distinction to understand.

Some vegetarian societies, such as India, have thrived for millenia, but there has never been any such thing as a vegan society. A fruit-based, raw vegan diet that excludes all animal nutrition is only theoretically possible in narrow, niche environments, such as a rain forest. I say "theoretical," because even supposed primate herbivores are omnivorous. They eat bugs, worms, grubs and termites, and sometimes turn to actual predation and eating of other primates.

You’re already familiar with the nutritional comparison of bread versus animal nutrition and even potatoes. But how about fruit? While fruit is indeed a Paleo food, is it suitable as your only food? Some people think so. So let’s see.

The blog post in question was the result of a live Internet debate I had with a raw fruitarian vegan in April of 2011, with 1,000 people listening in on phone lines and many others streaming live over the internet. During that debate, I issued a challenge to vegans: compare a meal of just fruit to a meal of just beef liver, nutritionally. One vegan took up the challenge and this was the result: Nutrition Density Challenge: Fruit vs. Beef Liver. The comparison took place in two parts. The first part sought to find out how much raw fruit (various, mixed) would be required to roughly equal the vitamin and mineral profile for only 4 ounces of beef liver. The answer is that it took 5 pounds and 850 calories of fruit to roughly equal the nutrition of 4 ounces and 150 calories of beef liver!

But who eats only 150 calories for breakfast? What happens if, in addition to the liver, we add a sweet potato, some eggs, and a little fruit, in order to get up to equivalent 850 calorie meals?

The charts below represent the overall nutrition over 21 nutrients with the vegan, raw fruit meal on top and the omnivorous meal on bottom.

850 Calorie Comparison
850 Calorie Comparison

Again, look at the numbers at the tops of the bars that are off the chart in order to judge the real relative comparison. As with our other nutritional comparisons, here’s how these meals stack up:

  • 850 Cal Mixed Raw Fruit: 127% USRDA (4 of 21 nutrients over 100%)
  • 850 Cal Omivorous Meal: 440% USRDA (12 of 21 nutrients over 100%)

Yes, indeed, in the fruit meal there are only 4 of the 21 nutrients that provide 100% or more of the RDA, but 3 of those 4, just barely (vitamin C being the only one off the scale). So in essence, a single nutrient at 1,500% of the RDA skews the whole analysis pretty badly. If we were to take vitamin C out of the equation and just average the other 20 nutrients, the fruit meal provides only 57% of the RDA. As you can see, however, we do not have nearly this same problem with the omnivorous meal, because 12 of the 21 nutrients are over 100% and of those, 5 are off the scale. Just removing vitamin C as we did in the fruit meal changes nothing at all, because the general nutrition is excellent and widespread.

This is a very, very sad reality for vegans.

Vegans are experimenting with their lives to a profound degree, far beyond just tweaking a variable or two. Rather than eliminating the most egregious neolithic agents, like wheat, sugar and high-omega-6 industrial oils, they eliminate everything our ancestors ate going back more than 4 million years. The vegan diet requires the massive destruction of habitat for “fields of grain,” modern processing techniques, and delivery to markets far far away. Vegans hardly live in the pristine natural paradise they try to sell you on.

Veganism in general, and raw veganism in particular, is a recent human phenomenon that constitutes a mass nutritional experiment with its basis more in ideology, feeling, and myth than in biology, physiology, and nutrition. Vegans begin, as do many Western religions, with their own version of the doctrine of Original Sin.

They try to make you believe that you're guilty by nature. You love the taste and smell of grilling animal flesh, and that makes you a bad person. Vegans sacrifice their desire to eat flesh in favor of "higher ideals"—as if there was any ideal higher than to live the life of a human animal on Earth as nature has suited.

Those listening to the “experts” or buying into fundamentalist vegan ideals are getting fatter and sicker. If you forget what you’ve learned from the ADA and mainstream nutritionists, self-experiment with the lifestyle you were born to live, and follow your instincts to eat real food, the pounds will start melting away and your health will improve immensely.

Additional Resources

  • The Bible of the vegetarian and vegan zealots is, of course, The China Study, by T. Colin Campbell. For an exhaustive series of critiques of the book using Campbell’s methods to statistically analyze the Actual China Study Monograph data, see Raw Food SOS, blogged by statistics geek Denise Minger.
  • Want more proof that a diet with any significant grain content is nutritionally inferior, and woefully so? See this post at Free the Animal comparing an average day’s nutrition for a SAD eater with that of a Paleo eater.

See also:

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