food crumbscooking, food preparation, recipes, nutrition, food science

choc-1Many of us love chocolate, but due to its high fat content, we must resist eating as much as we would like. There have been several efforts to reduce the fat content in the past. But removing even small amounts of fat have been unsuccessful because in the liquid state when fat is removed from the chocolate, the consistency of the chocolate changes and the mixture clogs the processing equipment.

However, scientists at Temple University have found a way to reduce the fat content of chocolate. They run an electric field through the chocolate in the same direction as the flow, rather than the conventional perpendicular method. This reduces the viscosity and allows the fat to be removed. (Temple University has a patent on the process.)*

It is estimated that soon we will be seeing the fat level in chocolate reduced by 10-20 percent.

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*Gerrard, Jeremy, Scientists find ‘shocking’ way to reduce fat in chocolate, Food Engineering, June 28, 2016.

fish6Confusion is occurring when buying fish. What about mercury content, which fish have omega-3 fatty acids and wild varieties or farm-raised?

The 13 best fish as listed recently in Us News & World Report,*follow:

  1. Wild Salmon – versus farmed salmon which may experience overcrowding, exposing fish to chemicals, bacteria and disease.
  2. Artic Char – or iwana on a sushi bar, It is farmed but in a chemical free environment.
  3. Mackerel – Atlantic mackerel is fine. Spanish and King mackerel have potential for mercury contamination.
  4. Sardines – fishing has been closed due to decline in sardine population.
  5. Sablefish/black cod – Go with Sablefish caught off California, Alaska or British Columbia where there is less likelihood of getting another species. It does have moderate mercury content and children under 12 should limit to 2 times a month.
  6. Anchovies – has low mercury levels and high omega-3’s.
  7. Oysters or kaki on the sushi bar.
  8. Rainbow trout – indoor farming with a series of filters to keep the fish clean control chemical pollution and render these fish safe.
  9. Albacore tuna – Use those caught in the North Atlantic Ocean or Pacific Ocean where fishing methods are used that do not snag other species. Children under 5 should limit to 2 times a month.
  10. Mussels – or murugai on the sushi bar. Farmed are OK as they are done in an   environmentally responsible manner.
  11. Pacific Halibut is available and fine.  Atlantic Halibut is almost depleted.  Children 5 and under only 2 times a month.
  12. Rockfish – all species are good.
  13. Catfish – Use only U.S. Catfish. They are low in mercury. Avoid Catfish from Vietnam, Thailand and China.

Another report suggests to buy wild varieties (versus farmed) whenever possible. Fish from the large commercial fisheries are fine.  Look for the blue and white symbol from the Marine Stewardship Council on wild Alaskan salmon, Oregon pink shrimp and North Pacific sablefish.  The symbol proves that the fishery is meeting all local, national and international laws  of keeping its fish population at a sustainable level and minimizing environmental impact.**

Also they suggest to buy domestic fish as the U.S. has the most closely regulated fisheries in the world, except for the northern European fisheries which are also certified by the Marine Stewardship Council.  Fish are labeled according to the origins of the fishing boat.  Thus if a fish is caught off the European coast by an American boat, the fish is labeled as domestic.

Organic does not always mean “organic”. The U.S. Department of Agriculture does not have a certification program for organic seafood. A few shrimp farms do have a USDA organic certification as they qualify as livestock farms. If fish are labeled as “organic” it may mean that the fish ate organic foods in the farm where they were raised or that the fish were not treated with antibiotics or hormones.

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The fish that contain the most omega-3 fatty acids are:**

  • Anchovies
  • Arctic char
  • Atlantic mackerel
  • Herring
  • Rainbow trout
  • Sablefish
  • Sardines
  • Wild salmon
  • Yellowfin tuna.

This article also suggests to avoid or limit eating some fish:**

Know which fish contain the most methylmercury and avoid or limit consumption of them.  Pregnant women, women who may become pregnant, nursing mothers and young children should avoid:

Atlantic swordfish                 shark

King Mackerel                       Tilefish

Marlin                                    Tuna (bigeye or ahi)

Orange roughyFish-4

Fish to eat no more than

Fish to eat no more than three times per month because of mercury content include:

Bluefish

Chilean sea bass

Grouper

Mackerel (Spanish or Gulf)

Tuna (albacore or yellowfin)

Fish to eat no more than six times per month because of mercury content include:

Alaskan cod                         Bass (striped or black)                  Carp

Halibut                                  Jacksmelt                                      Lobster

Mahi mahi                            Monkfish                                       Perch (freshwater)

Sablefish                               Skate                                             Snapper

Fish-2Tuna (canned chunk lite or skipjack)

Weakfish (sea trout)            White Pacific Croaker

* Hobson, Katherne and Zunderhill, Allison, 13 Best Fish: High in Omega-3’s & Environment-friendly, US News & World Report, June 29, 2016.

** 7 Facts and Tips When Buying Fish, Nutrition Dimension, Fall 2015.

vit E

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We have been saying that most Americans get enough Vitamin E and that a deficiency is rare.  However in recent years as we have learned about the antioxidant properties of the vitamin, there has been renewed interest.  And recent research has presented even more interest.  Recent research at the Ohio State University is showing that Americans who have metabolic syndrome do not absorb dietary vitamin E as effectively as other Americans.

Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of at last three of the five factors that increases the risk for heart disease and diabetes – excess belly fat, elevated blood pressure, low ‘good’ cholesterol and high levels of blood glucose and triglycerides.  An estimated 35 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome.

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In the recent study persons with metabolic syndrome absorbed less vitamin E than the other participants and thus possibly receive less of the beneficial antioxidant properties of vitamin E.

The amount of vitamin E absorbed after it is consumed refers to its bioavailability or the amount of the vitamin that enters the bloodstream.  From previous research it has been known that humans absorb about 10 percent of a vitamin E supplement it eaten without fat.  The bioavailability of vitamin E is influenced by processes that regulate fat absorption and the delivery of fat to the bloodstream.

It was expected that persons with metabolic syndrome had lower bioavailability of vitamin E, but had never been studied.  This research shows that at least one-third of Americans have higher vitamin E requirements than persons without metabolic syndrome.

Researchers concluded that the study may imply that persons with metabolic syndrome either have an impairment of absorption of vitamin E at the intestine or an inability for vitamin E to get out of the liver or both.*

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*   The research was funded by the National Dairy Council and is published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.

The study was also supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences.

For additional reading about vitamin E, see www.foodcrumbs.com, Vitamin E, 10/30/2011.

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Thinking about Gardening?  Now is the time!

As soon as danger of frost is over, many of us get anxious to get plants and seed in the ground and watch them grow.  If you are an “old hand” at gardening, you know what I mean.  If you have never gardened – get started and enjoy the wonder of plants growing and vegetables and flowers emerging.  Oh yes, there will be problems.  Some plants will die and there can be animal and insect infestation.  I guess its -take the bad with the good.

Get started.  Think of what you would like to grow.  That will depend on the amount of space you have.  If you have a little spot in the back yard that you can spade or roto-till, you can probably plant several plants.  Plants must have sunshine, so choose a location that receives plenty of direct sun.    If you are in an apartment,  you may have space on the front or back step or on a balcony.

Small or cherry tomatoes do well in hanging baskets or get a couple planters or containers.   Get a bag of potting soil and a couple plants.  You may like to try something like a dwarf blueberry bush garden5in a container on the back patio.garden3

If no outside space, try inside in a window sill or patio door where the plant can get sunlight most of the day. A fluorescent light can be a good substitute for sunshine. Many people like to grow herbs on the kitchen windowsill or try a tomato plant inside.

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You will not need a lot of tools.  If a large garden, maybe a spade and rake and a trowel.  (If you have a large space you can rent a rototiller.)  You may need to keep critters out, so some fencing.  For a patio or inside gardening maybe just a trowel.

After the plants get started (have grown a couple weeks) depending on the soil you used, you may need to get a box of fertilizer at your garden center.  Don’t forget to water.  Water when you first plant and water every week or so.  Don’t drown the plants in water and let them dry out between waterings.  You’ll get the hang of it – water as needed.

You may want to try a couple of pepper plants or onions.  You possibly will not save any money on your grocery bill, but get started and enjoy a new venture.

Previous gardening articles on food crumbs that you may enjoy:

5/26/10 – Home Vegetable Gardening

5/31/10 –  Home Grown Tomatoes

3/31/11 –   Garden Soil

4/30/11 –  Garden Compost

6/30/15 –  Garden Soil Tests

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Ted's melon 7-6-08

Ted's Tom, radishes, broc-7-6-08

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Meat -1

ataco-1  America’s eating habits have changed over the years. Oh, my Yes!  The foods we eat and the way we eat, have certainly    changed.  Today’s diet and eating customs would be almost unrecognizable by our Grandparents and Great Grandparents.

Gone are the dinners of roast meat, mashed potatoes and gravy, with biscuits and milk or coffee.  Today it’s tacos, wraps  and colas.  Today we may hear vegan, organically grown, gluten free, or global cuisine.

Grandma and Grandpa would have had a garden even if they lived in the city. So they enjoyed fresh fruits and vegetables    during the summer and many would “home can” the foods for meals during the winter.  Meats were either fresh or cured. Fishing was enjoyed by many and provided many a meal.  Lard a saturated animal fat was used for cooking, baking and frying. Today one will use an unsaturated vegetable oil.  Bread, biscuits or muffins and butter was ate at every meal.  Milk was a favorite beverage and for the adults, coffee and tea could be purchased at the local grocery store.

Today, in our modern age, we like our foods with some “flavor”.  We like spicy, smoky, tangy, sour or bitter, or hot and spicy with chili sauce, cayenne, Sriracha, habanero or ancho peppers. We like specialty cheeses like Gouda, Brie, bleu, goat cheese, Mediterranean and Hispanic cheeses.  We think of Grandma’s foods as being more “plain”, – plain potatoes or fresh or cooked vegetables with butter and plain roasted meats. However Grandma would have made sauces, butters, gravies, salad dressings and mayonnaises to embellish her foods. She would have made jams and jellies from fresh fruits and made her own pickles.  There must have been a zillion pickle recipes. She would have made her own chili sauce and her own catsup.  And to add some zip, she would make her own horseradish.  Horseradish sauce over roast beef is a fine dish, even today.  And how about homemade mint sauce!  She even made her own juices.  Maybe not orange juice, if she lived in the East or Midwest, but apple juice, grape and  tomato juice. Grandma would make her own applesauce.  And the flavor would depend on if she used the Jonathans or the McIntosh.  When you tried the jelly you would determine if she used the berries from her garden or the wild berries at the creek!

Milk, cream, butter and eggs were always available and Grandma would make home made chowders, puddings, ice creams and sherbets. (Before refrigeration there were ice houses where ice from the rivers was cut into blocks and stored and available for special needs, such as a grand dessert.) Maple syrup and honey were easily available and Nuts -walnuts, hickory nuts, etc., were used in candies and desserts.  Popcorn and popcorn balls have been a treat for a long time.

Oh yes, food was plain and boring a hundred years ago!  Umm, but it was also very good.

A lady was mentioning the other day that the doctor complained to her husband that he did not eat vegetables. I guess the doctor asked if he was eating broccoli (the wonder food) and he answered that he didn’t care for broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  So the doctor said he had to eat vegetables even if he doesn’t like vegetables.  Well the fellow is 80 years old and until the last ten or so years, he had not heard of broccoli and Brussels sprouts.  However what the Doctor needs to learn is that there are other vegetables with lots of nutrition also, such as, tomatoes, green beans, Lima beans, carrots, squash, potatoes, corn, red  beets, cabbage, turnips, onions,  and on and on and on.  The man has been eating these all his life and possibly the reason at 80 years old he is still quite healthy and can out-work (more physical work) than many 20-year old fellows.

So before we think that only today’s foods are delicious, with lots of flavor, spices, preservatives, etc., think back what Grandma used to make. May want to omit the lard and frying, and use vegetable oils and prepare in non-fat methods. But preparing some of our basic foods with basic ingredients may not be as “plain” and boring as you think.

And if you’re saying you don’t have time to cook – they tell me it takes longer to get off the roadway and drive to a deli or restaurant, go inside and wait for your order, get back into the car and back onto the road to go home than if one goes directly home and prepares one of Grandma’s recipes.