Archive for November, 2015

First Thanksgiving Menu

first thksgiving

The Norman Rockwell vision of Thanksgiving we see today looks timeless. But, according to Smithsonian.com the first Thanksgiving menu had a decidedly different feel in 1621 when approximately 90 Wampanoag Indians and 50 Pilgrims gathered at Plymouth (in what is now Massachusetts) to celebrate the harvest.* Here are some of the differences:

MAIN COURSE

2015: Turkey (or perhaps Tofurky in vegan households)

1621: Although there might have been some wild turkey (the bird, not the bourbon) it wasn’t the highlight and it is more likely that other fowl such as goose, duck or even swan were served. It is highly probable that a main entree was carrier pigeon which is now extinct in the wild. Because Plymouth is on the coast, water birds (seagulls?) may have been on the table along with fish, muscles, lobster and eel. Records show that venison was brought by the Indians. It was common to cook using a combination of boiling and roasting over a spit.

STUFFING

2015: Bread stuffing with celery is most common

1621: Herbs and onions were used. (That is what I’m doing this year along with apple and a cinnamon stick.) Nuts may have also been included.

BREAD

2015: Wheat dinner rolls

1621: Corn (this was pre-Monsanto, so it would have been Non-GMO) prepared as a porridge or possibly cornbread. That would probably have been made in a skillet as they didn’t have ovens yet.

SIDE DISHES

2015: Green bean casserole with mushroom soup, candied sweet potatoes, mashed potatoes

1621: Turnips and according to The History Channel: “onions, beans, lettuce, spinach, cabbage, carrots and perhaps peas.”

GARNISH

2015: Cranberry sauce (the canned type that is sliced contains over 5 teaspoons of sugar per serving due to its content of high fructose corn syrup and additional corn syrup.)

1621: Although cranberries were available, sugar was too rare to squander tamping down the tartness of the berries.

DESSERT

2015: Goodness, where do I start? When our extended family gets together there is a whole second buffet of desserts including pecan pie, various bars, cheese cake and maybe pumpkin pie just to say we did.

1621: Although pumpkin was available, they didn’t have wheat flour or butter for the crust and see notes above about sugar and ovens. They may have used hot coals to bake a hallowed out a pumpkin filled with a custard of milk, honey and spices.

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m very thankful for your support.

*Due to a lack of cell phones at the time, I’m pretty sure that photo was not taken at the original feast. In fact, this re-creation looks to me a bit like a skit on Hee Haw.

Easy turkey recipe and gluten free sides

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Let’s talk turkey and the trimmings…specifically an easy turkey recipe and gluten free sides

Because of tradition and family pressures, I imagine any suggestion to turn the Thanksgiving feast into a health food buffet would fall onto deaf ears. So, instead let’s talk about delicious and easy.

TURKEY

  • My recipe for a fall-off-the-bone moist and easy peasy roasted turkey is in our website Library. Link here to the article / recipe. It also has tips on thawing the bird. Note that it is in the oven for 1 hour per pound so advanced planning is crucial.
  • Last year I tried a different method. It was more complicated, but baked in a couple of hours. It was scrumptious. Alton Brown (Good Eats) recipe. It calls for Canola oil, but most of that is GMO. So, for that and many other reasons I use MacNut Oil instead. It is the healthiest and most delicious. If you don’t have that and are sure none of your guests are allergic to peanuts, peanut oil is good for high heat and gives a nutty flavor. (The other thing I changed was to add celery stalks and orange sections to the bird filling.)
  • If you want to FRY your turkey, please do it outside and be very, very careful. Tips.
  • Leftovers. These gluten free ideas courtesy of Natural Grocers are in our library.

SIDE DISHES

In my holiday file I found a recipe that sounds yummy and reasonably healthful. It was obviously torn out of some booklet, but unfortunately I can’t give proper credit.

  • Baked Yams with Roasted Pecans

3 large Jewel or Garnet yams, washed and cut into large chunks

¼ cup water

¼ cup maple syrup (the real thing please, not maple flavored corn syrup)

¼ cup tamari (gluten free soy sauce)

1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil

½ cup roasted pecans, chopped

Place yams in a baking dish. Whisk together water, maple syrup, tamari, and sesame oil and pour over yams. Sprinkle pecans on top. Cover and bake at 375° for 45-50 minutes. Uncover and bake and additional 5 minutes. Serves 4-6.

(I have problem in that I cannot resist monkeying with recipes. I’m thinking that I would put little bits of butter on top of the yams and to keep them crispy, not sprinkle the roasted pecans around until that last 5 minutes.)

Happy Thanksgiving. I’m thankful for you and for sharing our message with your friends and family.

How to reduce fructose intake

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As we’ve now been told by a wide range of experts including the World Health Organization (WHO), excess added sugar contributes significantly to not just obesity and diabetes, but also to many other conditions including arthritis, cancer, heart disease and Alzheimer’s. They are talking about added sugar which is hidden in something like 80% of processed foods…even in places you might not think to look like salad dressings, baloney and pizza. The WHO says we should aim for just 6 teaspoons of added sugar a day. (Oops, one candy bar can zap you with 7 teaspoons and one 20 ounce Coke contains 16.)

That white stuff in the sugar bowl is sucrose. It is made of glucose plus fructose (also known as fruit sugar). “Fruit Sugar” sounds quite innocent compared to “High Fructose Corn Syrup”. There is a difference, but it is perhaps less dramatic than you might think. Fructose on its own acts differently than sucrose. For one thing it goes directly into the blood stream during digestion. The effects of excess fructose intake include:

  • Tricks the liver into making that worrisome fat that clumps around organs
  • Lowers HDL (the “good” cholesterol)
  • Increases triglycerides (which may be a bigger cardio risk than cholesterol)
  • Increases blood pressure
  • Stresses the liver (“alcohol without the buzz” according to Robert Lustig, MD)
  • Reduces energy (ATP) inside cells
  • Slows the repair of genes
  • Generates uric acid (which in turn is a cause of gout)
  • Is linked to pancreatic cancer

Obviously, overdoing fructose is a bad idea. How to reduce fructose intake is the question, especially if sugars are added to seemingly everything. Here are my suggestions.

  • Avoid soft drinks. (Just one soda a day increases the risk of diabetes.)
  • Eat fewer processed foods–those are the boxes, bottles and cans sold mainly in the center of the grocery store
  • Since some packaged foods are better than others, there is no substitute for comparing labels. Sugar is masked in dozens of disguises, so the best guide is the total sugars in the nutrition facts panel. (Divide the number of grams by 4 to convert to teaspoons because that figure may be easier to visualize.)
  • Especially if you are having health problems, don’t get carried away with sweet foods even if they are not processed.

High Fructose Corn Syrup is worse than fructose from other sources because it picks up the toxin mercury during its processing. Also it is usually added to sodas and processed foods that have few redeeming qualities. The fructose contained in fruits and vegetables comes with fiber and important nutrients. However, the fructose intake from all sources during a day does add up and someone with a serious sweet tooth may be getting more than they realize even from what they believe is a healthy diet. For example the charts below show the approximate number of teaspoons of fructose in some common foods. Note this is just the fructose partthe total amount of sugar is higher. Note how sweetness is concentrated in juice and amplified in large servings.

Fruits

Banana, one medium, 1 teaspoon

Navel orange, one medium, 1 teaspoon

Orange juice, 8 ounces, 2.5 teaspoons

Grapes, one cup, 3 teaspoons

Red Delicious Apple, one large, 4 teaspoons

 Vegetable

Sweet potato (baked in skin), one cup, 1.4 teaspoons

Sweet potato (canned)*, one cup, 12 teaspoons

*These figures are computed based on stats from the USDA database which I’m sad to say would not include the extra brown sugar and marshmallows that might be added. Happy Thanksgiving.


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