What’s the Beef About Red Meat?

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Here’s an excerpt from my book, The Enlightened Cook: Protein Entrees. In addition to recipes, you’ll become smart about choices at the market. It’s all designed to help you navigate your way though some pretty treacherous food choices out there to healthy proteins.

So what’s the beef about red meat?

It may be a surprise to some to find red meat in a health food cookbook, but it’s my contention that consuming animal products in moderation and eating the purest ones available are the factors that count most. For instance, though pricey, grass-fed, free-range beef is by far the healthiest beef available. These animals live the life nature intended before commerce stepped in and both they and we are far healthier for it. Roaming steer eat no grain or commercial feed, but instead consume only grass when they are provided with the physical space to graze for it. Their robust health doesn’t require the stream antibiotics that commercial livestock receive. Free-range animals in general also aren’t riddled with stress hormones that are a natural response to the inhumane living conditions most commercial livestock are forced to tolerate.
Then there is the much-discussed protein benefit of meat. Because nine of the twenty- two amino acids essential to a healthy body that must be derived from diet are present in red meat, it’s considered a “perfect protein.” Although those amino acids (histidine, lysine, threonine, methionine, isoleucine, leucine, valine, phenylalanine and tryptophan) can be derived from combinations of plant-based foods, only animal protein contains all nine.
In addition, the protein in red meat makes the healthy dose of iron it also delivers more absorbable. That’s especially important for menstruating women, because they need to replace lost iron each month. Blackstrap molasses is a fantastic source of iron, too, but a juicy steak is certainly more sumptuous!
True, red meat has saturated fat, but saturated fat is essential to the body and especially to brain function. Much data points to the understanding that cholesterol in the bloodstream has little or nothing to do with dietary cholesterol and heart disease. What’s more, coronary health’s relationship to cholesterol is suspiciously linked to pharmaceutical companies’ interest in marketing statin drugs. I recommend researching extensively on line and making your own assessment of data available, before viewing red meat as a compromise to health.

Porterhouse Steak with Portobello Mushrooms

Cucumber Coconut Manna Hors’d Oeuvres

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Cucumber Coconut Manna Canapés

Organic, Persian or Kirby cucumbers
1 cup plain yogurt
1 cup  coconut manna
1 t dulse (optional)
½ t coarse salt
½ t pepper
¼ cup hemp seeds
1/2 oz red coconut oil

Choose cucumbers at the market according to best freshness and price.

Wash and cut chilled cucumbers on an extreme bias into thick, ½” oval shapes. Do not peel.

Heat coconut manna until liquefied. In a deep bowl, mix salt, pepper and dulse into yogurt to evenly blend. Pour in coconut manna and mix quickly and vigorously until it stiffens into a stiff cream, which takes only moments.

Pile 1/2 teaspoon of the mixture on to each cucumber slice. Sprinkle with hemp seeds and garnish with coarse salt and 1-2 drops red coconut oil. Serve immediately.

Nothing makes me happier than showing people superfoods are delicious and Nutiva certainly makes them. This recipe features 3 of their sensational products: coconut manna, hemp seeds, and their new responsibly harvested red palm oil! Party goers at Nutiva’s party during the Natural Product Expo gobbled up over 700 of these delicious, nutritious finger foods! Yum!



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California’s Prop 37 requiring manufacturers to indicate on the label that genetically modified ingredients are contained in their products, was unfortunately failed defeated by a small margin of 53/47. Until it comes up for a vote again we can arm ourselves just a bit. Finally, those annoying, tiny, little stickers put in every piece of fruit actually have a code we can decipher to detect organic, conventional and GMOs. See the graphic and try to memorize it.

A Day of Cooking, a Nite of Sampling!

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Yesterday, I made Pistachio-Crusted, Stuffed Chicken so I could shoot its portrait for the book. Light off the glass building up the street at 5:55 p.m. provided just the light I needed. Plated on a vintage cream and white  plate and on top of a wine colored doily my great-grandmother crocheted, it looked delectable.

That evening an impromptu gathering of four met to eat the pistachio-crusted stuffed chicken and some turkey from a catering gig on Saturday. Then on to sampling latest bake of Phlip n Nick’s outrageous brownies. A little port, a lot of music and conversation and suddenly it’s 1:30 am!!

Cuisinart Steak Knives for Less

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Cuisinart Steak Knives

Steak Knives

America’s Test Kitchen rated Cuisinart’s steak knives among the best in a product rating segment. I eat so little red meat, I couldn’t justify the expenditure, but yet I did want to own more than the 2 Henkle paring knives I do for better tabletop presentation. Alas, there’s nothing like a bargain to simulate the economy. I found a set of the Cuisinart knives at a Los Angeles Ross Dress For Less store for a fraction of the $42 list price I found here on the Cuisinart site

Had any good Sodium Tripolyphospate lately?

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If summer fare means eating lighter for you as it does for so many of us, you may have involuntarily ingested sodium tripolyphosphate. Many packaging plants “wash” shrimp and scallops in the harmful chemical before freezing. It gives the manufacturer the safety of killing every living bacteria (excuse me, but some of those are actually useful), so they’re not liable there. In the process, they’ve bleached away the delicate flavor those lovely crustaceans.

It seems the solution is often the same: shop in a health food market that understands you don’t want to ingest a industrial chemicals. There you are likely to pay more per pound, but in reality it probably works out just the same as purchasing untreated goods because the sodium tripolyphosphate makes foods retain water. If for instance Whole Foods is charging $8.99 for shrimp and more downscale market is charging $5.99, it could be without the additional water retention in the treated shrimp, you are getting just as much actual shrimp  spending $8.99 per pound.

Other sources of this harmful chemical with which you may come in contact are–are you ready for this— household cleaners.

Wikipedia says:

STPP is a solid inorganic compound used in a large variety of household cleaning products, mainly as a builder, but also in human foodstuffs, animal feeds, industrial cleaning processes and ceramics manufacture. STPP is widely used in regular and compact laundry detergents and automatic dishwashing detergents (in powder, liquid, gel and/or tablet form), toilet cleaners….

Food Applications: It is common in food production. In foods, STPP is used to retain moisture. Many governments regulate the quantities allowed in foods, as it can substantially increase the sale weight of seafood in particular.

Many people find STPP to add an unpleasant taste to food, particularly delicate seafood. The taste tends to be slightly sharp and soapy and is particularly detectable in mild-tasting foods. The increased water holding properties can also lead to a more diluted flavor in the food.

Toxitcokinetics and acute toxicity: Polyphosphates are hydrolyzed into smaller units (orthophosphates) in the gut before absorption, which may induce a metabolic acidosis[citation needed]. The acute toxicity of polyphosphates is low, as the lowest LD50 after oral administration is > 1,000 mg/kg body weight