Friday, 30 August 2013

Root Vegetables are Pets not Food!

The rare tentacled chariot kumera sea-pony that lives near water, but not in it...How could I go back to eating starchy tubers after returning from holidays to find this in my kitchen? Surely such a magnificent creature has an irrefutable right to life? Surely something with such a will to live should not be slain for my mere nutritional benefit?

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Duck Breast Confit with Baby Bok Choy and Shallots for Breakfast :)

I make no apologies. Eating this way is amazing. I feel completely sorted for the whole rest of the day. It probably seems extravagant, but it was actually very easy to prepare. The trick is my trusty old slow cooker crock. Just plug it in and leave it, and wake up, or come home, to something that smells amazing. The goose or duck fat is a little pricey, but can be re-used after straining. I don't eat this way every day, but for a treat now and then, it is nice special yum. I have some reflections on sumptuousness and emotional eating on another page.

So I bought frozen organic pastured duck filets (2). After defrosting them for a day in the fridge, I smothered them with salt, rubbing it into the flesh. Medium course sea salt is best for this. I used Himalayan rock salt this time, but it is actually a bit too strong. Sea salt is milder. So the salted filets then go back in glass bowl, covered, and left in the fridge for 24 hours.

The next day, I remove the filets, wash them thoroughly to remove all the salt, and actually, it is probably better to let them sit in some fresh water afterwoods for 10-15 minutes too. I neglected that step and ended up with confit that was still delicious but a bit more on the salty side than I prefer (my salt taste tolerance is quite low because I didn't eat it at all for years).

The filets are then patted dry with a cloth (don't use tissue - it will stick to it). I then put them in the crock pot side by side with the fat side down. I poured about 300g of goose fat over them (duck fat of course is fine too), just enough to cover the filets. I turned the cooker on its higher of the 2 settings and left it for about 4 hours. The time is not crucial. It might only need 2 hours, or you might leave it for 6 and still have a great result. The minimum is the time it takes for a fork to pass through the filets with no resistance. Then they are cooked.

I removed the filets, strained the fat through a fine sieve, then poured it back over them in a glass bowl. Refrigerated this covered until the next day but actually you could just leave it there up to a week or until you want to eat them. There is a traditional technique for storing them for longer (up to a few months), but I will explain that another time.

On the morning of reckoning.....I fished the filets out of the fat and cooked them on low heat in a cast iron pan covered (for about 15 minutes) until the fat-side was browned, then turned them over and cooked them until and other side was warmed and sizzling. I ensured that the fat on the duck was browned on all sides and crispy.

While that was happening I chopped 2 Asian shallots, and the stems only of 3 baby bok choy, added a dash of tumeric and some cracked pepper, and I sautéed these in another cast iron pan using some of the goose fat. I added 2 cloves of crushed garlic and the baby bok choy leaves just in the last 30 seconds, covered.  This is just the time for the leaves to wilt slightly and the garlic to warm and release its flavour into the fat.

That's it. Garnished with a mouthful of beetroot/cabbage sauerkraut and sprinkle of unwashed organic ripped-up parsley.

If you like bacon and you have never tried are missing out. The crispy skin is absolutely in the bacon genre of superlative delectability, only better. Need I say more?

Tuesday, 27 August 2013

My favourite breakfast - prawns with fatty vegetables and salad

Prawns are breakfast food in our house. There is something about the non-conventionality of it that makes us both grin every time someone proposes it.

A protein breakfast has been a valuable tool for me in overcoming sugar addition. I always found that when I ate porridges and mueslis and fruits for breakfast all those years, it really left me down and out within a few hours and I was back on the hunt for more quick carbs. Even if I managed to resist the urge for sugary treats, I still always had the sense that my REAL nutritional needs (for good fats, phytochemicals, and protein) were yet to be addressed. And if I got busy during the day, I could easily end up missing out, not getting around to eating until I was really hypoglycemic and then just pouncing on the first fragrant hot food I came across.

In this meal, I feel like I am ahead of the game from the word go. It is only 7:30am and I have already had much of my protein requirement for the day, most of my carbohydrate in the form of 4-5 different coloured vegetables, and a nice amount of the kind of fat (medium chain triglycerides) that is used directly as metabolic fuel. I could pretty much just eat some nuts, some butter and an egg from this point on until I go to bed. That is damn handy on days when I am out teaching or in meetings or in a library and don't have access to my kitchen to cook a nutritious lunch.

In this version of the breakfast, I have king prawns, spices, coconut oil, baby asparagus, Tuscan cabbage, dulce seaweed flakes, garlic, rocket, and beetroot sauerkraut. The amounts are for 2 people.

It is very quick. I buy the prawns raw but shelled direct from a fish market (about 200g). I chuck them in pan on medium heat with 3 tablespoons of coconut oil and a generous amount of turmeric and black pepper, then reduce the heat after the first minute, let them sizzle for another 2-3 minutes while I get the vegetables out of the fridge. Then I turn the prawns over one by one (or as carefully as I could be bothered), and throw in the baby asparagus and the Tuscan cabbage. I will have crushed my garlic at least 15 minutes ago and now throw that in as well along with the dulce flakes.

I always buy my rocket organic - it keeps for several weeks in the fridge, compared to store bought stuff that only lasts a day or so before looking yellow and floury.

I didn't make this beetroot sauerkraut myself, but I do make such things sometimes. It is a nice way to get the sweet vegetables that are otherwise ill-advised on a low carbohydrate diet because the micro-organisms in the sauerkraut consume most of the sugars and leave you with a nice sour, tangy fibre-rich probiotic and prebiotic food that adds a splash of colour to the plate.

Monday, 26 August 2013

Breakfast of Lamb Livers with Bacon and Zucchini

Many people know now how beneficial it is to eat animal organs for the key vitamin K2 they contain, which is lacking in muscle meats and hence rare in most modern diets. But many people also struggle to chug organ meats down if they have not been raised on their consumption. Anglosaxons up until the Second World War ate them often, but the affluent post-war times brought a reaction against the rationed fodder of the dark years, and muscle meat has been the dominant Anglo-Americo-Aussie preference since. In France of course, it is another story altogether...

I recently found nice a source of organic lamb's liver. I like eating organs in part too because they are so often thrown away in favour of the blander parts of the animal's flesh. For every 1 liver eaten, a multitude of lambs are slaughtered for their muscle alone. Like a scavenger picking up the scraps, I like the thought that I am making use of the discarded parts, the secret elixir of life, while the fashionable but nutritionally-impoverished muscle meats are chewed away at by the stylish but ignorant.

Lamb liver has a delicate flavour, is a gentle pink tone and a nice size for a 2 person meal. Chris Masterjohn has some helpful advice on keeping the flavour of liver fresh - use grass-fed animal onlys, buy it frozen and use it as soon as it is defrosted.

I soak it for 20 minutes in milk, since casein causes the blood to coagulate so that the liver does not bleed much when cooking.

I remove any tough sinewy bits of membrane as much as possible and cut it into small chunks.

I trim the fat from some bacon (about 200g for every liver) and melt it in a cast-iron pan on low heat, removing the crispy browned parts and nibbling them as I cook, then cooking the chopped bacon meat along with 2 finely chopped green zucchinis in the fat. If it is not already VERY fatty then I add a little butter to it as well. I keep everything LOW temperature. It takes a little longer but is yummier and avoids carcinogenic activity that increases with temperature in dry cooking of saturated fats.

I season with turmeric and black pepper, and in the last minute of cooking I throw in a generous amount of crushed garlic (always left to sit for at least 10 minutes before it goes in the pan).

The livers go in the pan for only a minute or two. As soon as they begin to firm up even a tiny bit, they are done. Turn off the heat and let it all sit for another couple of minutes to integrate the flavours

I serve this on top of butter-lettuce leaves. It is one of those breakfasts that makes lunch seem pretty optional.

Today's Butter Soaked WOW....


Kefir Sprouted Buckwheat/Almond Buttery Pancakes, Cooked in Butter and Smothered in Crème Fraîche

Oh yes! So this is heart-attack material is it? Funny, because there is plenty of evidence suggesting that it might just be high blood glucose that contributes most to high triglycerides and the inflammatory processes now understood to be behind atherosclerosis, not fat per se. And both short-term clinical studies, such as this one, and long-term epidemiological studies in which other risk factors have been appropriately excluded have failed to so any correlation between high-fat diets and cardiovascular disease.

I made a couple of these pancakes spontaneously, just felt like them and had no other particular plan for nice fatty quick lunch. They were so heavenly, I keep checking to see if I am hungry for them again, which would be good because I still have a bit of batter left that I don't want to waste. Hmmm, a certain tired hungry philosopher I know might have them foistered upon him when he gets home from work, because I still don't seem to have my appetite back again some 6 hours after eating just 3 of these, even though they were heavenly.

I put this down to 2 things: firstly the sprouted flour is very high in fibre and protein and relatively low in carbohydrate. The fibre does get broken down into available energy, but this is not a quick process and it is not OUR cells that do that work. It is the bacteria in the gut and their metabolism of it converts it fatty acids, not glucose. Among the actual carbohydrates that it does contain, there are non-starch polysaccharides in the form of inulin derived from agave cactus (no, not the yucky fructose syrup extract you see marked as a 'health food', but rather the vegetable polysaccharides in the fibrous parts of the plant). I seem to recall in one of my nutrition textbooks in biomed sciences claiming that NSPs have been found to be associated more than any other molecule with satiety...

Secondly, there is a large amount of saturated fat in this meal. It is just one of those meals that seem to give you exactly what you want.

So this is what is responsible for my frustratingly profound satiation:

- 1 genuinely free-range egg
- 2 tablespoons of Living Intentions organic sprouted buckwheat/almond flour
- a splash of  home-made organic raw-milk kefir
- about 15g of melted cultured pastured butter
- a half teaspoon of sodium bicarbonate
- a drip of organic non-sugared pure vanilla extract

The batter was somewhat runny, and without gluten, these pancakes do not stretch. So I just put lots of butter in a cast-iron pan on very low heat and let the batter barely sizzle until the pancakes were barely firm enough to flip. I keep them small so that this is easy to do.

On removing them from the pan, I put more butter on them, let them cool a little and then smother them with a generous blob of crème fraîche.

 These are slightly crispy on the outside but softly spongy inside and when you bite them, the butter oozes down your chin causing a deep feeling of contentment, and a powerful sense that everything in your life is going to be just fine.


Sunday, 25 August 2013

Historian Ron Rosenbaum takes lipophobia to task, hurrah!

I am grateful to one of my favourite bloggers, Hyperlipid, for reproducing this article published earlier this year, written by the historian Ron Rosenbaum, author of a book I know well, Explaining Hitler.

It just goes to show how valuable a critical mind is for seeing through the bullshit of contemporary mainstream nutrition discourses....

Review of Tom Naughton's Documentary 'Fat Head: You've Been Fed a Load of Bologna'

Tom Naughton was deeply annoyed by Morton Spurlock (of 'Super Size Me' fame), in his hypocritical claims that it was the high-fat and inherent toxicity of MacDonald's food that caused Spurlock to gain weight (on purpose to sell his film...). Naughton, not content to simmer in his irritation, channelled his ire into a wickedly creative, intellectual and critical endeavour of his own: 'Fat Head: You've Been Fed a Load of Bologna', released in 2009, produced by Page Ostrow and Susan Smiley.

I recently found this entire documentary on Youtube, and it is well and truly worth a look:

Its quite a long doco, and could probably have done with a little more editing. But I found myself forgivingly patient about that because Naughton's deeply silly humour, stunning depth of research, impressive array of expert interviews, and charming animations all made it quite a pleasure to watch, all 144 minutes of it. The first half of it meanders somewhat repetitively through some pretty funny scepticism about Spurlock's claims. But the second half is particularly rigorous and informative, while still offering quite a giggle or two. By the end of it, I decided I loved Tom, wanted to tickle him, and give him a pony.

Fat Head manages to explore the question of diet and blood lipids from the angles of biochemistry and physiology, that of politics and nutritional policy history in the U.S., and from the perspective of critical interpellation of racialised and pathologising discourses of the 'obesity epidemic'. The real epidemic, as Naughton shows, is not fat bottoms and bulging bellies, but insulin resistance - and skinny white people get that too!

There is actually a much more detailed explanation of the roles of HDL and LDL in cholesterol transport, of the mechanism of atherosclerotic plaque formation, and of the effects of high insulin release on metabolism than can be found in most university level physiology textbooks. This guy talked to some very knowledgeable clinicians, did his homework, and actually presents an account of metabolic syndrome that remains up to date in 2013 in an area of high intensity biomedical research.

Every person who is trying to improve their blood lipid profile, stabilise their blood sugar or lose weight should watch this film.

Friday, 23 August 2013

Photo sharing: Some of my favourite fatty delights in images

 A favourite light meal: some sort of rich Swiss raw milk cheese, a few pieces of some kind of hearty artisanal hard cured meat (in this picture it is a German pork shoulder thing), with juicy green Italian olives and whatever vibrant green organic salady things I can source. This lucky day I found wild asparagus at the markets...

This is a classic favourite: wild salmon filets, cut into big chunks, gently sautéed at low heat in coconut oil with bok choy and turmeric and black pepper and a sprinkle of seaweed. I throw the garlic in last, so as not to kill off all the antioxidants in it, then garnish with sliced avocado and shredded fresh coriander (cilantro).

Salmon heads were a revelation to me the first time I thought of asking for them at a fish shop. They cost a pittance and have LARGE amounts of primo salmon meat on them, massive wads of Omega 3 fat, plus riches of Vitamin A, K2,  D, collagen and calcium in the brains, eyes and bones which all completely dissolve after a few hours of boiling. I usually add bay leaves, pepper, dulce or kombu seaweed, turmeric, an onion and garlic.  This makes for the most extraordinary anti-inflammatory stock that is lovely to drink on its own, or amazing to use to cook vegetables in.

This is a really fun fatty snack. Just tear up some curly kale leaves and lay slices of Emmenthal cheese over them then stick it under the grill for 30 seconds. Voila! Lipidy phytochemical lusciousness in under a minute....

Sprouted Buckwheat and Almond Sourdough Pancakes with Clotted Cream and Warmed Berries

This was taken before I went so low carb. But I wouldn't rule it out as a rare post-high-level-physical-activity treat on a day when I had not eaten much other carbohydrate. These are fresh raspberries, blackberries and blueberries that I have warmed in a pan until they are just starting to release a little juice. The white stuff is organic clotted cream (heaven, in other words).
The pancake is as follows:

- 2 tablespoons of sprouted buckwheat and almond flour. I like the Living Intentions product, but it is hard to source outside the US, unless one is prepared to pay exhorbitant postage for it (as I have been known to do...). It is not too hard to make one's own sprouted flours, however. Just soak the buckwheat and nuts for a day or two, drain, then dehydrate in a food dehydrator. There are special flour mill machines, but I don't have one. I just pass it through the slow juicer or the blender.

Once I have the sprouted flour I pour a little warm water over it and add some of my home-made kefir (either milk of coconut water versions work fine). Because kefir is full of various wild-yeast strains, it actually makes a damn fine sourdough base. I leave the flour in this mix, covered in a warm place, and lo and behold, after a day or so there is real deal sourdough puffing up with CO2.

To this I add:
-2 eggs and
-50 grams of melted butter.

The batter is quite runny, but I just pour small pikelet size pancakes into a pan with butter in it and let them cook at very low heat. Just a few minutes on each side and they are done. Minimal carbohydrate, lots of fibre, plenty of sumptuous saturated fat, anti-digestive enzymes nicely deactivated, and truly comfortingly magnificent on a cold day....Cream is essential, berries optional. These also work well with savoury things - a smear of butter and some olive tapenade, par exemple....

Today's food: Green kefir smoothie; creamy, cheesy eggs with mesclun salad; sashimi salmon, steamed organic bok choy with garlic, melted butter and roast almond butter


Green kefir smoothie and creamy, cheesy eggs with mesclun salad

This smoothie is a bit of a favourite. I make my own kefir using organic raw cow's milk. (I have non-dairy phases from time to time and make the kefir with coconut water instead - but I am not in one of those phases right now).

So, in the blender goes: about 300 mL raw-milk kefir (nice and sour); 3 chopped organic cucumbers; a handful of activated walnuts; a swig of MCT oil, a teaspoon of maca powder; a few leaves of organic Tuscan cabbage, a few leaves of fresh mint, 2 heaped tablespoons of organic mud cream (the thickest available), and cup of freshly brewed organic sencha tea.

Creamy, cheesy eggs consist of beating a few tablespoons of slightly less solid but still quite thick organic cream into a couple of eggs with cracked black pepper and about teaspoon (yes that's right) of turmeric, a dash of dulce seaweed flakes (very rich in iodine, to balance the goitrogens in the cruciferous vegetables I am so into), then tip it all into a cast iron pan in which 2 tablespoons of butter have been melted at low temperature. I cook this really low heat quite slowly until it is starting to form an omelette, then place slices of organic triple brie cheese on one side and flip the other side over it to make a half circle. It collapsed a bit this morning but it matters nought. The thing is heavenly yummy no matter how messy looking.

The beauty of serving it over mesclun greens is that all the buttery yum coats each leaf and makes the entire plate a holistic delicious wow....

This breakfast was consumed at about 9am and kept me going until 5pm.


Oh except that at about 3pm I had a cup of the bone broth that I am brewing on the stove today - made with the most amazing organic beef marrow bones I have ever managed to find. I just threw them in a lot of water with some organic fresh bay leaves, a roughly chopped red onion, lots of black pepper, some dulce seaweed and sprinkle of Himalayan sea salt.

Final Meal for the Day

The 5pm meal was two plates of sashimi salmon at my local sushi bar, then home for some steamed organic bok choy, tossed in lashings of melted butter and organic garlic, topped with roast-almond butter then rewarmed in a casserole dish in the oven for a bare minute.

A tiny dessert was had an hour later with a cup of kukicha tea. It was:
A few activated hazelnuts and a sprinkle of raw cacao nibs stirred into a tablespoon of that magnificent organic cream. The result is remarkably like hazelnut chocolate, except that there is no sugar high, and no feeling like I just can't get enough. On the contrary, the tiny dessert feels entirely  perfect. The end.