Eggs and Oil

I have a confession to make.

To me, it’s not really a confession; but to you, it may come as a shock:

I LOVE MAYONNAISE.

Mayonnaise XSmallThis conversation came up over a side of potato salad on the Fourth of July. I confessed my love of mayonnaise and was immediately asked, “is mayonnaise your splurge food?” No, mayonnaise is not my “splurge” food. Mayonnaise, in it’s best form, is a delightful mixture of eggs and oil, full of fats that my stomach will use to tell my brain that I’m full and will provide my body with the nutrients it needs to build healthy skin, hair, nails, cell membranes, and produce essential hormones. It also tastes delicious.

Our fear of mayonnaise came about because of the low-fat food craze and many concerned parents passed this unnecessary fear on to their children. One friend at the table confessed that as a child she believed mayonnaise to be actual whale fat, and convinced all her classmates to believe likewise.

Let’s take a deeper look at what’s really in that jar we’re all so afraid of:

Egg Yolks: Egg yolks are one of the richest sources of the B-complex vitamin choline, which is associated with better neurological function and reduced inflammation. Choline is essential for the production of hormones that promote mood stability like serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine. Yolks also contain lutein and zeaxanthin, which protect against vision loss and are also high in sulfur, promoting healthy skin, hair, nails.

Olive Oil (or other unsaturated oil): The monounsaturated fats in olive oil have been shown to reduce total cholesterol and LDL levels and its high polyphenol content has been shown to reduce inflammation.

Lemon Juice (or vinegar): Rich in vitamin C, lemon juice provides nutrition to support the immune system and is also an excellent source of antioxidants and other anti-cancer nutrients.

Salt: Salt is an essential nutrient necessary for muscle function, taste sensation, proper functioning of the brain and nervous system, and important digestive functions.

Mustard: Mustard is rich in vitamin C and many of the B-complex vitamins as well as important minerals like potassium, phosphorous, calcium, and magnesium. Mustard often gets it’s yellow color from turmeric, which is a nutritional powerhouse all on it’s own.

To ensure the best quality, make your own mayonnaise (everyone needs to do this at least once in their lives)! Here’s a great video on how to make mayonnaise (unfortunately Julia Child didn’t make a YouTube video).

I like to make my mayonnaise in a mason jar using an immersion blender – fewer dirty dishes!

Mayonnaise should last about 2 weeks in your refrigerator. You can add ¼ cup of whey, leave it on the counter for 7 to 8 hours, it will ferment and last in your fridge for 2 to 3 months.

If making your own is too much trouble, try these store-bought alternatives:

DeLouis Fils Mayonnaise

Hain Pure Foods Safflower Mayonnaise

Selina Naturally Organic Mayonnaise

Wilderness Family Naturals Organic Mayonnaise

Note: Avoid mayonnaise made with canola oil. Though canola oil is high in brain boosting omega 3 fats, it goes rancid very easily which requires manufacturers to deodorize the oil to hide the smell. This process results in the creation of trans fats, which is not listed on the label.

Of Seeds and Stress

“A crust eaten in peace is better than a banquet partaken in anxiety.”
 – Aesop, Fables

Summer has arrived! I couldn’t be more ready for summer to bring beautiful and tasty delights to the farmer’s market, longer days, warmer weather, and color, color, color. Summer used to mean long days at the beach, staying up late and playing all day without a care in the world. This view of childhood summers is in sharp contrast with what I currently experience.

I’m not at the beach all day – I’m in the office.

I’m not relaxed – I’m stressed. You?

I recently returned from a delightful trip (new tastes, sights, smells, friends…) to Charlotte, North Carolina where I participated in a leadership training program with Apex Performance. Among other things, we talked a lot about stress. This training program wasn’t about nutrition, but our conversations sparked so many thoughts about the role food plays in stress management that I just had to share them with you.

Are you stressed? (Is that a dumb question?)

  • Do you crave a lift from sweets or alcohol, but later experience a drop in energy and mood after ingesting them?
  • Do you eat as a reward or for pleasure, comfort or numbness?
  • Do you feel nervous, jittery, irritable, headachy, weak, or teary on and off throughout the day; may be calmer after meals?
  • Do you suffer from mental confusion, decreased memory or find it hard to focus or get organized?
  • Do you have difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep?
  • Do you feel light-headed, especially when standing up?
  • Do you crave salty foods or licorice?
  • Do you often feel “stressed”, “overwhelmed”, or “exhausted”?

If you answered YES to any of these questions, you may be stressed!

Many of us are aware of the emotional stressors in our lives that come from our relationships, work, finances, etc. and there is ample evidence that living a highly stressful lifestyle can cause physical damage leading to heart disease, high blood pressure, digestive problems, depression, and premature brain cell aging. But many of our stressors are out of our control – what can we do?

We can eat well. Did you know the foods we eat can affect our stress level? At each meal we have the opportunity to either create additional stress by consuming nutrient-depleting foods (or no food at all), or nourish our bodies to support our brain chemistry so we can better manage stress.

How diet can lead to stress:

  • Low blood sugar (skipping meals, not eating enough) can raise cortisol levels and send our bodies into “starvation mode.” This is stressful.
  • Refined sugars and flours, alcohol and drugs (including some prescription medications) can actually inhibit the production of the brain’s natural pleasure chemicals. This leads us to feeling like we need these foods to make us happy.
  • A diet too low in protein won’t provide the raw materials (amino acids) necessary to manufacture the brain’s mood-enhancing chemicals.
  • Many people are unknowingly sensitive to common foods like caffeine, dairy, gluten, eggs and soy. Consumption of these foods leads to a heightened immune response and additional stress on the body.

Drew’s To-Do’s:

  • De-stress before eating. Sit down, put away your computer, turn off the TV, put your hands on your belly to stimulate your digestive function and say a prayer of thanks. You’ll feel better and absorb more nutrients from your food this way.
  • Pack your protein! The four key mood chemicals (neurotransmitters) are made of raw materials (amino acids) found in protein. Animal proteins contain the all the essential amino acids, so be sure to eat meals containing high-protein foods like fish, eggs, chicken and beef.
  • Very few foods are high in tryptophan, which is the only nutrient that the body can use to make serotonin. Foods high in tryptophan are seeds (pumpkin, sunflower, sesame), filiberts and almonds, pork, beef, wild game, shrimp, chicken, turkey, tempeh, kelp, banana and milk. Tryptophan also promotes restful sleep, so enjoy a double benefit by eating these foods at dinner or before bed.
  • Don’t skip meals! Keep your blood sugar steady by eating a meal or snack every 4-5 hours.
  • Eat your vitamins! Colorful fruits and vegetables contain nutrients essential for brain function, health and happiness; eat a rainbow each day.

Spiced Seeds

Tired of your standard trail mix? Spice it up with this fresh take on seeds and a delicious piece of summer fruit.

Ingredients:Pepitas

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup pepitas (raw, hulled pumpkin seeds)
  • 1/4 cup sunflower seeds (hulled)
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • sea salt

Method:

Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium-low heat. Add seeds and spices; stir to coat. Toast for approximately 5 minutes, shaking the skillet frequently to move the seeds around and prevent burning. Pull skillet off the heat once the seeds start making a popping sound. Let cool and enjoy!


Seedy Crunch Bars

Yield: 18 servings

Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup sunflower seed butter
  • 1 cup raw, organic honey
  • 1 tsp. sea salt
  • 3 cups sesame seeds
  • 2 cups sunflower seeds, hulled
  • 1 cup coconut, grated
  • ½ cup cashews, chopped

Method:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Mix together sunbutter, honey and salt until well blended. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.
  3. Press flat into an oiled 13” x 9” baking dish (use wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent sticking to fingers).
  4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until edges start to brown. Remove from oven and cool before cutting into 1” slices.

 

This post can be seen at the following blog carnivals: Show Me What You Got, Tempt My Tummy and Fat Tuesday. Hop on over to check out some other posts you might enjoy!

A Letter to Paula Deen or A Butter Eater’s Manifesto

“If you’re afraid of butter, use cream” – Julia Child

Paula DeenDear Paula,

Surprisingly, you and I have something in common.

I was sorry to hear about your diabetes diagnosis, but even more sorry to hear about some of the responses you’ve gotten from the public about your personal health. Now, as the Queen of Traditional Southern Cooking, you embrace all things fried and sweet and your recipes have titles like “Krispy Kreme Bread Pudding”, “The Heavyset Cheese Ball”, “Laurie’s Bacon Biscuits”, and “Ultimate Fantasy Deep Fried Cheesecake.” As a nutritionist, I can’t not point out that these recipes are loaded with refined sugar, processed flour, huge amounts of pasteurized cheeses, processed meats and doughnuts. I would not encourage my clients to eat any of these foods, and doing so may contribute to blood sugar dysregulation, diabetes, and a myriad of other diseases.

However, you are most widely known for your love of butter.  You even promote butter flavored lip balm. This is where you and I see eye-to-eye. Like you, I love butter.

You’ve been told that butter causes diabetes. You’ve been told butter makes us fat. Butter clogs your arteries. It becomes cellulite. Fatty. Unhealthy. Dangerous. Butter is the root of all evil.

Some people are willing to throw these concerns out the window because butter tastes that good. Although I enjoy the richness only butter can add to a dish, the taste is not the only reason I cook with butter.

Why I use butter in my kitchen:

  • Butter pairs fat along with all the fat-soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K2) for optimal absorption. These nutrients are responsible for a wide range of functions, from maintaining good vision to keeping the immune and endocrine systems in balance.
  • Butter slows digestion of carbohydrates when eaten as part of a balanced meal so we can go longer without feeling hungry.
  • Butter provides good amounts of short and medium-chain fatty acids, which support immune function, boost metabolism, and fight against pathogenic microorganisms in the intestinal tract.
  • When butter comes from cows eating green grass, it contains high levels of conjugated linoleic acid (CLA), a compound that gives excellent protection against cancer and also helps the body build muscle rather than store fat.
  • Butter contains cholesterol which, despite what you may have heard, is necessary to maintain intestinal health, hormone balance, and for brain and nervous system development in young children.
  • Butter is a stable fat that is suitable for cooking at high temperatures and is ideal for baking.

Nutrients in butter have been found to aid the following conditions:

  • Heart Disease
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Osteoporosis
  • Thyroid Imbalance
  • Gastro-Intestinal Infections
  • Overweight
  • Infertility

Packed with healing nutrients and satiating fats, butter may be the healthiest ingredient in many of your dishes. While there are many ingredients in your recipes that should be avoided, butter is not one of them. When part of a whole-foods based diet of fresh fruits and vegetables, animal proteins, nuts, seeds, and prepared grains, butter is the key ingredient to health and happiness. Please continue to cook with butter – I’ve got your back on this one.

Regards,

Drew Parisi


My Favorite Sources:

Best – Raw butter from grass-fed animals

Good – Pasteurized butter, preferably grass-fed

A word about ghee:

Many of you may be sensitive to the casein or lactose in dairy products and avoid butter for this reason. Ghee, or clarified butter, is a wonderful source of stable fats and nutrition that is casein and lactose-free. Ghee can be found in the refrigerated section of most health food stores, but can be stored in the pantry for maximum spread-ability.


Green Beans with Toasted Almonds and Lemon (Inspired by The Art of Simple Food)

Serves 4Green Beans

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound green beans, ends trimmed
  • 3 Tbsp. butter
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds
  • Juice of ½ lemon
  • Salt

Method:

  1. Melt butter in a heavy pan over medium heat. When the foam has begun to subside, add almonds. Cook, stirring fairly often, until the almonds begin to brown.
  2. Turn off the heat and add lemon juice and salt.
  3. Cook the beans until tender in salted boiling water. Drain well and toss with the almonds and butter. Taste for salt and adjust as needed.

Variations:

  • Substitute chopped pecans or hazelnuts for the almonds.
  • Use romano beans or Dragon’s Tongue beans instead of tender green beans.
  • Add a clove of finely chopped garlic to the butter just before adding the beans.

Radishes with Herbed Butter and Salt (Inspired by Barefoot in Paris)

Serves 6 to 8

Ingredients:

  • 2 bunches of radishes, cleaned and end trimmed, but with the tops intact
  • ¼ pound unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp. minced scallions
  • 1 ½ tsp. minced fresh dill
  • 1 ½ tsp. minced fresh parsley
  • ½ tsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ tsp. sea salt, plus more
  • Pinch freshly ground black pepper

Method:

  1. Combine all ingredients, except radishes, with an electric mixer at low speed until combined. Do not whip.
  2. Serve with radishes and a sprinkle of sea salt.

 

Sacred Salt

“The cure for anything is saltwater – sweat, tears or the sea” – Isak Dinesen

Fall is generally categorized by the transformation that occurs around us. The leaves fall from trees, the weather cools, the night comes earlier, we celebrate the harvest, we all prepare for hibernation. But for me, this particular autumn is a season of newness. The birth of new opportunities is more like spring and it’s sprouts, awakening, and first steps.

I consider the first steps we can make toward good health. Most often, the simplest shifts in our daily habits can make a big impact. Some people switch the sweetener they use in their morning coffee, others upgrade their cooking oil. I’d like to focus on the most compelling flavor of all – salt.

You may assume I’m going to tell you to reduce your salt intake. I’m not.

Our bodies are filled with salt – our blood, sweat, tears, and even our urine – it’s all salty.  In fact, salt is so vital to our health that without it, we would literally die of thirst. As an essential nutrient (meaning our bodies cannot manufacture it on their own), salt is necessary for:

  • muscle function
  • taste sensation
  • proper functioning of the brain and nervous system
  • important digestive functions.

The Truth About Table Salt

The salt that you find in table salt and most processed foods is sodium chloride.  Like our sugar, flour and vegetable oils – this salt is highly refined; the product of a chemical and high-temperature industrial process that removes all the valuable magnesium salts as well as trace minerals naturally occurring in the sea. To keep salt from clumping, salt refiners add several additives, including aluminum compounds. To replace the natural iodine salts that are removed during processing, potassium iodide is added. To stabilize the iodide compound, processors add dextrose, which turns the iodized salt a purplish color. A bleaching agent is then necessary to restore whiteness to the salt. Even products called “sea salt” are processed like this.

Real Salt

It’s important to replenish the salt in our body, and using the right salt is what makes all the difference in the world. The best salt is sun-dried sea salt containing traces of marine life that provide organic forms of iodine. This salt is extracted by the action of the sun on seawater. Its light grey color indicates a high moisture and trace mineral content. This natural salt contains only about 82 percent sodium chloride; it contains 14 percent macro-minerals, particularly magnesium, and nearly 80 trace minerals. Red sea salt from Hawaii is also an excellent product, but is not easily found in the continental United States.

Considered in ancient times a “gift of the gods,” salt isn’t necessarily the killer it’s made out to be.  Yes, too much processed table salt consumed in unbalanced meals can be harmful, but flavoring homemade meals with real salt is essential for health and happiness.

Drew’s To-Do’s

  • Toss your table salt
  • Get rid of frozen or packaged foods with high sodium content. They’re not filled with real salt.
  • Stock your kitchen with real sea salt
  • You may need to replace your saltshaker – real salt can stick and may not shake out as nicely as you are used to. I prefer to use an old-fashioned salt box like the ones at Totally Bamboo

My favorite sources

Wilderness Family Naturals

Celtic Sea Salt

Real Salt

“Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.” Colossians 4:6