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


Food Supp5

food supp-3  With so much information in the news today about nutrition, what is one to believe?

Eat healthy food, Take your vitamins, fats, calories.  People are spending a lot of money on food supplements, powders, potions, and vitamin and mineral supplements.

The best answer has been and remains today – is to eat a balanced diet from the basic groups in the amounts recommended –

We are all well aware that inadequate intake of nutrients can lead to deficiency problems. In our effort to avoid deficiency problems, many of us have turned to supplements.  Can too much also be a problem and the answer, with many nutrients is Yes!

Food supp

We know that too much carbohydrate, protein and/or fat can cause overweight. But there can also be other problems.

Too much protein can cause stress on the kidneys and dehydration.

Excess vitamin B6 can cause nerve problems,

Excess Niacin can cause flushing

Excess Vitamin C can cause kidney stones,

Excess folic acid may mask a B12 deficiency, especially in people over 50.

Excess Fat-soluble vitamins are stored in body tissue and can accumulate to dangerous levels.  Too much Vitamin A can lead to birth defects, excess Vitamin E may increase the risk of hemorrhaging.  Excess Vitamin K can lessen or reverse the effect of blood thinner medicines and prevent normal blood clotting.

Excess intake of minerals can also be problematic.

Excess Selenium can cause reversible balding and brittle nails and give a garlic odor to the breath and cause intestinal distress, weakness and slowed mental functioning.

Excess  potassium can cause an irregular heart beat.

Excess Zinc can cause gastrointestinal irritation (upset stomach), diarrhea and nausea and can cause copper deficiency.

Excess calcium intake can interfere with kidney function, cause kidney stones and constipation and interfere with the absorption of iron and zinc.

Excess doses of antioxidants can turn into pro-oxidants.

Natural foods contain components that interact in highly complex ways to benefit ones overall health.  We need adequate vitamins and minerals and all nutrients to function optimally, but extra vitamins and minerals do not give a competitive edge.

Through much research the government has established the Recommended Daily Dietary Allowances (RDA) –the amount per day of each nutrient, that an individual should consume to maintain adequate health and the Tolerable Upper Intake Level (UL). The Tolerable Upper Level is the highest level of a daily nutrient intake that is likely to pose no health risks. Above the UL there is potential for increased risk.

food supp4

Many persons believe that that our food supply is not nutritionally adequate and that they should take extra vitamins and minerals to supplement their diets. The various nutrients from natural foods that we ingest perform biochemical reactions in the body that supply energy, growth and the needed chemical reactions for the body to function. These nutrients are found in the plants we eat and are created by the plants themselves. Minerals are natural substances that plants absorb from the soil.  If the soil is deficient in a needed mineral, the plant fails to thrive or yields small fruits and vegetables with a poor appearance. Depleted soil does not yield depleted plants; depleted soil produces no plants.  Thus all tomatoes or apples or whatever have the same nutrient content.

food supp-2

Other’s believe that they need additional nutrients because they are very active, they exercise daily or are in athletics.  All individuals need adequate vitamins and minerals to function optimally but extra (beyond the recommended amount) vitamins and minerals does not give a competitive edge.  Vitamin supplements do not enhance performance, increase strength or endurance, provide additional energy, or build muscle in healthy active people.   Athletic persons and persons who exercise more also eat more and if eating a balanced diet, they do consume adequate nutrients to do their activity. Eating 1200 calories per day of “natural” foods will supply the recommended daily allowance of most nutrients for most individuals.  (Deficiencies are more likely to occur in sedentary persons who eat very little, such as elderly persons who eat very little and thus do not consume their daily recommended allowances of all nutrients.  Also persons with anorexia or who eat an inadequate vegetarian diet may not consume all needed nutrients.)  Vitamin and mineral deficiencies do not develop overnight but rather over months or years.

Thus consumption of additional supplements, protein enhancers, energy bars, vitamin and minerals do not enhance activity and health but may be dangerous.  In addition, many foods today are fortified with additional nutrients.  Breads, milk, cereals, etc.  have extra vitamins and minerals added.   The combination of eating whole foods, fortified foods and supplements  raises safety concerns.  Eating fortified foods while taking supplements can cause a person’s diet to exceed the safe upper limits and potentially lead to a toxic buildup.

There are some times when engineered sports drinks and food bars may be of help such as for high-level endurance cyclists, marathoners, triathletes, and persons who exercise intensely and who may have a sensitive stomach but these are best taken under the guidance of a Registered Dietitian. Each person’s body reacts differently and the use of supplemental products depends on the type of sport or activity and the timing to consume – several hours prior to the activity or a couple hours or immediately or during – speak with a trained Registered Dietitian.   The best rule is eating natural foods that are as close to the natural form as possible to improve and maintain health, prevent disease, optimize healing and enhance performance.

However if one decides to take a supplement, know the tolerable upper limit of nutrients and check labels and add in the content found in natural foods and fortified foods that one is also eating to be certain you are not exceeding a safe intake of nutrients.







soil,300    We all know that one of the secrets to having healthy and bountiful vegetables from the garden is to have great soil! But how do we know if the soil is great?  Well of course       one way is to Look.  If the plants look healthy and are producing an adequate or bumper crop, the soil must be good.  If not, one of the problems may be the soil.  (Of course      there must be ample sunshine and water, also.)  To learn if the soil is adequate, one can test the soil.

There are test kits one can get at garden centers or one can contact the local Cooperative Extension Office and they will test your soil – this could take a few days. The                 garden   testing kits are usually a testing meter with a probe that one puts into the soil and one can then read the results. Soil testing is usually a testing of the pH level.  Soil     pH indicates a plant’s ability to draw nutrients from the soil. PH is measured on a scale of 1-14.  7.0 being neutral. Below 7 is acidic and above 7 is alkaline.  Most plants prefer a nearly neutral soil with a pH between 6.2 and 7.2.   Test in various locations of your garden, as soil can differ from one area to another.

To correct:  for acidic soil – add lime; for alkaline soil – add sulfur or gypsum.  Lime can be added anytime of the year but it does take time to be effective. So autumn, winter or spring are preferred times.  Can use hydrated lime, ground chalk or limestone.   To reduce pH add decaying humus from a compost pile or add ammonia sulfate and flowers of sulfur.

I bought a new digital device to test my soil.  I tested in three different locations and my readings were all 7.0.  I am thinking that may not be correct as my plants are not all that great.  So perhaps I am doing something wrong, perhaps the probe is not clean or my soil sample is not wet enough or is too wet.  Guess I will be trying again!

In addition to pH, other factors in plant health as mentioned by Rodale’s Organic Life* is the soil structure and workability – is the soil clumpy or powdery; the amount of organic life present such as ground beetles, centipedes, spiders, earthworms, etc. -there needs to be enough organisms to ward off pests and disease and to make nutrients available for plant growth; and enough water.






soil tester















  • Rodale’s Organic Life (www.rodale’







1.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2.  Slice one small baguette (5 ounces) diagonally into sixteen 1/2 inch thick slices.

3. Brush both sides with a total of 2 tablespoons olive oil.

4, Bake on a baking sheet until golden, about 8 minutes.

5. Half 1 ripe avocado lengthwise and remove pit.  Scoop flesh into small bowl.

6. Mash with 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice.

7. Season with coarse salt and ground pepper.

8. Spread on toasted bread.

9. Top with 1 pint grape tomatoes, quartered.


Gr beans-1

TWO-BEAN SALAD   (serves 4)

3 Tablespoons white-wine vinegar

1 Tablespoon olive oil

coarse salt & ground pepper

1 pound green beans, trimmed and cut diagonally into 1-inch pieces

1 can (15.5 ounces) cannellini beans, drained and rinsed

1/2 cup minced red onion

shaved Parmesan cheese, for serving  (optional)

1.  In large bowl, whisk together vinegar and oil, season with salt and pepper.  Set aside.

2.  Cook green beans in a pot of boiling salted water until crisp-tender, about 4 minutes.  Drain in a colander.  Pat dry with paper towels.

3.  Add warm green beans, cannellini, and red onion to dressing in bowl.  Season with salt & pepper.

Toss well.  serve.

Garnish with Parmesan, if desired.




4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (about 6 ounces each) cut crosswise into ½ inch strips.

2 tablespoons sweet paprika

Course salt and pepper

2 tablespoons butter

1 onion, finely chopped

4 plum tomatoes, cut into ½ inch dices

½ cup reduced fat sour cream

  1. In a medium-sized bowl, toss chicken with 1 tablespoon paprika, 1 ½ teaspoons salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper.  Heat 1 tablespoon butter in large skillet over medium heat.  Add chicken.  Cook, tossing occasionally until opaque throughout, 4-5 minutes.  Transfer to a plate.
  2. Heat remaining tablespoon butter in same skillet over medium heat. Add onion.   Cook, stirring and scraping up browned bits from bottom of pan, until softened, 5-6 minutes. Add remaining tablespoon paprika, and cook, stirring, 30 seconds.
  3. Add tomatoes and ¾ cup water.  Cook until saucy, 4-5 minutes.  Return chicken(and any accumulated juices) to skillet.  Stir in sour cream and cook just until heated (do not boil)).  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve

Serve over cooked egg noodles tossed with a little butter and fresh or dried dill.





Zucchini-Honey Bread

(2 loaves (12 servings/loaf)

3 cups all purpose flour                                      2 large zucchini

1 teaspoon baking powder                                 2 eggs, slightly beaten

1 teaspoon baking soda                                       1 ½ cups sugar

1 teaspoon salt                                                      ¾ cup honey

1 tablespoon ground  cinnamon                         1 cup vegetable oil

1 cup chopped pecans                                          2 teaspoons vanilla



  1. Combine first five ingredients;  stir in pecans.  Peel Zucchini, if desired; Shred enough zucchini to measure 2 cups.  Combine zucchini and remaining ingredients; add to flour mixture;  stir until dry ingredients are moistened.
  2. Spoon batter into 2 greased and floured 9x5x3-inch loaf pans. Bake at 350 degrees for 65 minutes or until toothpick inserted comes out clean.  Cool in pans 10 minutes;  remove from pans and let cool on wire racks.





            (Serves 8)


3 pounds (5-7 ripe pears, peeled and cut into ¾ inch piece

1 Bag (12 ounces) frozen mixed berries

2 Tablespoons flour

3 Tablespoons sugar

1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice



Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Spread berries in a single layer and thaw at room temperature for 30 minutes.

Make Oatmeal Topping  (opposite)  Refrigerate.

In large bowl, combine pears with lemon juice, thawed berries, sugar, and flour;  toss well.

Put in a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

Sprinkle evenly with chilled topping.

Bake until fruit is tender and topping is golden, about 45 minutes.

Cool at least 20 minutes.

Serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt, if desired.




1.  In a large bowl, mix together:

3/4 cup flour

¾ cup light-brown sugar, packed

2 Tablespoons granulated sugar

¼ teaspoon ground allspice

Pinch of salt

Stir in ½ cup rolled oats.


2.  Using a pastry blender or knife, add 4 Tablespoons cold butter (cut into small pieces) into flour mixture until large, moist clumps form.











image slipping

We have been told all our lives to drink milk for strong bones. Eat more yogurt and cheese. And to be sure we are getting enough calcium to protect our bones, take a calcium supplement.

This thinking is based on the fact that osteoporotic bone contains less calcium than healthier bone and dairy products have lots of calcium per serving, so the logical conclusion is to drink milk and eat dairy products to get more calcium into the body.

So as a nation, we have increased our overall calcium and dairy intake; however, at the same time our osteoporosis rates are skyrocketing? If milk and supplemental calcium are the answer, shouldn’t hip fractures rates be declining?

Many are questioning this advice and with thorough testing and research they are advancing additional theories.

The highest rates of hip fractures are in Western countries:  North America, Europe –especially northern Europe, Australia and New Zealand.  Hip fracture is much less of a problem in Africa, Asia and South America.

Calcium consumption in the United States and Western Europe averages about 1,000 milligrams a day, whereas in China, Peru, Sri Lanka and other non-western countries, calcium consumption  is only about 500 milligrams a day, yet fracture rates are very low.

Currently 10 million Americans over age fifty have osteoporosis – 8 million women and 2 million men.  Another 34 million have osteopenia (bone and mineral density considerably below normal).  Each year 1.5 million Americans suffer an osteoporotic fracture.

One of the most interesting and convincing  programs  recommended to prevent bone loss is the low-acid or vegan diet.  In Building Bone Vitality* the authors over many years have directed and reviewed many clinical trials regarding bone health.  They conclude that the vegan or low-acid diet is the best answer to prevent osteoporosis. They explain that bone health begins in the blood.

  • More than 99 percent of the body’s calcium is found in teeth and bones.
  • Bone is approximately 40 percent calcium.
  • As osteoporosis develops, bone mineral density (BMD) declines.
  • Blood transports oxygen and many nutrients to every cell.
  • Blood collects metabolic wastes and delivers them to the lungs, kidneys, liver and digestive tract for elimination.

They explain that the blood self-regulates its acidity and alkalinity -its pH.  As Hydrogen ions increase, the solution is more acidic.  In review, the pH scale ranges from 0 to 14.  A neutral solution – neither acidic or alkaline (basic) – has a pH of 7. A pH below 7 means the solution is acidic and a pH above 7 is alkaline.  Blood is slightly alkaline.  Its normal pH varies from 7.35 to 7.45. If the blood’s pH falls below 7.35 or rises above 7.45 the body does not function properly and the body expends considerable energy to keep the blood’s pH within normal range.

Milk and dairy foods contain calcium and also contain protein. Proteins are combinations of 20 amino acids.  Digestion breaks proteins into their component amino acids and sends them into the blood stream.  The more protein in the diet the more amino acids enter the blood stream.  A high-protein diet reduces the blood’s pH. The body takes steps to raise the blood’s  pH.    Calcium is alkaline. So when the blood needs alkaline to neutralize the acid, it can find calcium in the bones and draws the calcium compounds out of bone into the blood to neutralize the blood.  This then reduces the amount of calcium in the bone.  As this occurs more calcium is drawn into the blood than is needed.  The kidneys then filter the excess calcium into the urine.  The National Academy of Sciences says that 1 gram of dietary protein increases urinary calcium excretion by 1 to 1.5 mg.  Thus if an individual eats a four ounce serving of meat, which contains about twenty grams of protein, one then loses twenty to thirty milligrams of calcium.  Over a lifetime, if this loss is not returned to the bones, the loss is significant and osteoporotic fractures can occur.

Many believe that it is not possible to get enough calcium for strong bones without milk and dairy foods.  However they do not realize how much calcium can be obtained from fruits and vegetables and that about one-half to two-thirds of the calcium in dark green leafy vegetables gets absorbed, whereas less than a third of the calcium in milk and dairy is absorbed by the blood stream.  In addition plant foods are alkaline, so they do not force the body to draw calcium from the bones.

In the United States the recommended calcium intake is 1000 mg/day.  Residents of many countries around the world consume less than 500 mg of calcium per day and have substantially lower fracture rates than Americans.

Sources of calcium:

Mg Calcium

Tofu, firm, 1 cup                                  506

Soy milk, calcium fortified, 1 cup          368

Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup              356

Spinach, cooked, 1 cup                        292

Figs, 10 dried                                      269

Turnip greens, cooked, 1 cup               248

Fortified-ready-t-eat cereals, 1 oz      236 – 1,043

Soy milk, calcium fortified, 1 cup         368

Thus the authors are saying, -to save your bones, eat a low-acid or vegan diet.

We need to eat some calcium, but much less than recommended.  The best sources are greens and beans.

They say – Eat two servings of fruit and/or vegetables at every meal and snack on fruit and vegetables.  Cut down on, or reduce animal foods and go easy on cereals, breads and pastas.  Pair this with walking (or other weight-bearing exercise) for at least a half hour a day from childhood to old age and your risk of osteoporotic fractures is reduced by 50 percent, a decrease most osteoporosis drugs can’t match.*





  • Lanou, Amy Joy, Ph.D., and Castleman, Michael, Building Bone Vitality, McGraw Hill, 2009.










Creatine is a chemical that is normally found in the body, mostly in muscles. It is made by the body, from the amino acids glycine and arginine, and is made primarily in the kidney and liver and is transported by the blood to the muscles and stored. It is also obtained from certain foods – mostly fish and meat.

Creatine helps to supply energy to all cells in the body and primarily to muscle. This is done by converting creatine into creatine phosphate or phosphocreatine and then into adenosine troposphere (ATP). ATP produces the contractions of a muscle’s proteins. When muscles are performing work ATP is broken down into ADP (adenosine diphosphate) and energy is given off.

The concentration of ATP in skeletal muscle is enough to result in a muscle contraction of only a few (10-15) seconds. Fortunately during times of increased energy demands, the system rapidly resynthesizes ATP from ADP. Creatine acts as a reserve for the ATP. Thus the increased amounts of creatine will allow the body to supply ATP as a faster rate. This allows the individual to workout longer and maintain a high level of strength. (With creatine as a supplement the body is exposed 4 grams of creatine per kilogram whereas red meats give 1 gram of creatine per large serving.)*

Creatine supplements are popular among athletes, bodybuilders, wrestlers, sprinters and others who wish to gain muscle mass and enhance athletic performance, particularly during high-intensity, short-duration sports like jumping and lifting weights. There is some evidence supporting the use of creatine in improving the athletic performance of young, healthy people during brief high intensity activity.

Many think creatine is effective for athletic performance. The effectiveness is influenced by several factors including the fitness level and age of the person, the type of sport and the dose. It does not seem to improve performance aerobic exercises or benefit older persons, or highly skilled athletes.**

Neither the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) or the International Olympic Committee have banned its use, although there is controversy.***

Vegetarians and other people who have lower total creatine levels when they start taking creatine supplements seem to get more benefit than people who start with a higher level of creatine. Skeletal muscle will only hold a certain amount of creatine; adding more won’t raise levels any more. This “saturation point” is usually reached within the first few days of taking a “loading dose”.**

Not all studies have shown that creatine improves athletic performance, nor does every person respond in the same way. ***

Studies have shown little or no adverse impact on kidney or liver function from oral supplementation and that oral creatine supplementation of a rate of 5-20 grams per day appears to be safe and devoid of adverse side-effects. ****

However there is always the potential for side effects and interactions with medications. Therefore dietary supplements should always be taken only under the supervision of a knowledgeable health care provider. Side effects can include weight gain, muscle cramps and pulls, stomach upset, diarrhea, dizziness, high blood pressure, liver dysfunction and kidney damage. Some persons may gain weight. This is because creatine causes the muscles to hold water, not because it is actually building muscle.

There is some concern that creatine supplementation can harm the kidney, liver or heart function. However such effects have not been proven.

Creatine causes muscles to draw water from the rest of the body and causes minor water retention. This can also cause dehydration. Also do not exercise in the heat as one can become dehydrated. Thus WHILE CREATINE IS BEING TAKEN IT IS NECESSARY THAT THE INDIVIDUAL REMAINS HYDRATED.

It is recommended that persons with kidney or liver disease should not use this supplement. Also persons with asthmatic symptoms should use caution. It is advised that pregnant and breastfeeding person should not use creatine as there has not been sufficient study. If there should be problems with metabolizing creatine, this has shown to cause low levels of creatine in the brain which can result in mental retardation, seizures, autism and movement disorders. * There has not been a lot of long term, unbiased, research done with this product and in such instances, it is sometimes advisable to proceed with caution.

There has been some mention that with creatine’s ability to increase muscle mass and strength, that it may help fight muscle weakness in illnesses such as heart failure and muscular dystrophy. Much more work needs to be done in this area.

(To clarify – Creatinine is a breakdown product of creatine and is produced by the body. It is a chemical waste product produced by muscle metabolism and to a smaller extent from eating meat. Healthy kidneys filter creatinine and other waste products from the blood. A creatinine lab test is done to learn how well the kidneys are functioning. An increase of creatinine in the blood means that the kidney is not functioning well.)





* Hogans, Tavarus, Creatine Monohydrate, Psychology Department, Vanderbilt University.
** Web MD, Creatine
*** University of Maryland, Creatine
**** Wikipedia – Creatine