Healthy Cooking

What We Learned From Cats

In the 1950’s a medical doctor named Francis Pottenger, Jr. was conducting research into the endocrine (hormonal) systems of cats in an attempt to standardize dosages of hormones needed to sustain their lives.

The cats in the study were being fed a seemingly healthy diet of raw milk, cod liver oil, and cooked meat scraps of liver, muscle, and other organs.  Organ meat contains the highest quality nutrition. Cats are strict carnivores (meat eaters) so this diet was considered to be the best for them. However, the cats were not thriving and more cats had to be added to the research, straining the food budget. Dr. Pottenger ordered raw scraps of meat from a local meat plant.

The raw scraps were fed to one of the animal groups. In very short order Dr. Pottenger and his research assistants noticed that the kittens born to the mother cats being fed the raw meat were friskier and better formed than the cooked meat group.

The teeth, skeletal formation, and tone of the musculature of the raw meat group were superior to the cooked meat group. Dr. Pottenger became so interested in the evidence of nutritional superiority of the raw meat group that he began to document his findings and his famous “Cat Study” was begun.

Although Dr. Pottenger never said that cats were exactly like humans, the evidence of the importance of the quality of nutrients in physical health is too startling to be ignored. The vitamins, minerals, and protein quality of the raw meat were clearly of much greater benefit than the cooked meat.

What this says for human health is that paying attention to the source of the nutrients may be vitally important. It is pretty easy to figure out that a well-done hamburger from a fast-food chain might be of inferior nutritional quality to a hamburger from a higher end restaurant. But how about a hamburger from a fully grass-fed cow cooked rare or even served raw? Restaurants used to serve raw meat as “Steak tartare” often.  The Tatars were a warring tribe and legend has it that they did not stop to cook their meat, but preserved it under their saddles as they rode. http://allrecipes.com/recipe/60315/original-steak-tartare/

Some of the healthiest cultures in the world have eaten raw animal products. Sushi is a prime example. African tribes have been known to drink the blood of their herd animals for a meal. Native Americans cut the hearts from animals killed in hunts and served them up to the warriors of the tribes.

Perhaps one of the reasons red meat has gotten a bad rap is because we so often eat it cooked to the point of protein-death, and eat far too much at a time to be able to digest it.

If you do indulge in raw animal foods, you may have a higher number of parasites, since little critters like sushi, too. Strong stomach acid, herbal preparations, and avoiding sugar and processed foods can all help keep down the population of hitch-hikers, but everyone has some in their body. You just want to keep them from getting out of control. So, cleanses, probiotics, and herbal preparations should be part of your regular health regimen. You change the oil in your car, and doing a cleanse is just as important.

Nature does not demand that foods be cooked or processed to be nutritional. Our modern diet of processed and chemical foods is too far from a natural state to maintain the kind of robust health that makes life fun and a body disease-resistant.

Even if the idea of raw meat does not appeal, take a cue from Dr. Pottenger’s kitties and include raw foods every day. Vegetables and fruits, unrefined oils, and raw cheese are all good choices. Even raw honey has benefits, as long as it is used in moderation because of the natural sugar.

Live cells need living food. In Nature, big cats are always sleek and svelte. It is only when domesticated cats eat commercial food that they get chubby and develop Diabetes.  So we can learn something from our feline friends. Play a lot, sleep a lot, and eat plenty of raw foods. Purrrrfect!

 

 

 

 

 

 

How To Tell if Your Food is Real

Well, of course, your food is real if it is not packaged processed chemicals. Fruits and vegetables are hard to fake. Finding good organic sources might be a bit tougher, but at least you can’t (yet)make cardboard look like a banana.

But how about your fish and meat? How can you be sure that the expensive fish you are eating is really the type you ordered? According to Larry Olmsted, author of, “Real Food, Fake Food”, there are many scams being run on those willing to pay top dollar for highest quality food.

Olmsted claims that there is rarely real lobster in Lobster Bisque. Langostino is substituted, which is a type of crayfish, but not a type of lobster. And he says that there is almost no genuine red snapper, salmon or tuna used in Sushi restaurants.

Although beef labeled “grass-fed” may come from cows raised on grass, much of the time the cows are “finished” on grain to fatten them and increase weight before slaughter. (Note to anyone wanting to lose weight that it is grain that is used to fatten up farm animals.)

So, just when you are trying to do the smart thing nutritionally, and you are willing to pay top dollar, you find out that the gourmet food industry is also corrupt. You need to be educated and aware to weed out the pretenders.

Don’t go to the cheapest sushi restaurants. Real fish is expensive. Talk to the staff and see if they know the menu. Use your eyes and nose. How does the fish look and smell? Are there a lot of sauces and rolls using mayo and cream cheese and other non-traditional ingredients to cover up the fish itself? For more tips on good sushi go to www.thrilllist.com/eat/nation/bad-sushi-crappy-sushi-joints.

For real fish you can buy online from Vital Choice www.vitalchoice.com and Copper River Seafoods for salmon, cod and halibut www.copperriverseafoods.com. Never buy farmed fish, but only wild-caught.  Tilapia is always farmed and salmon is often farmed. These fish are raised in pens, not allowed to swim free. They are fed soy and chicken waste, as well as pesticides and chemicals. http://www.whydontyoutrythis.com/2013/10/8-foods-even-the-experts-wont-eat.html

Most shrimp sold in the U.S. is from other countries, and is unregulated. Beware of farmed shrimp, like that sold at Costco. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/4-things-never-to-buy-at-costco/  Trader Joe’s may be a better choice due to their pledge to supply only sustainable seafood.

Farmer’s Markets are good choices for poultry, meat and fish. Knowing the small local vendors and developing a relationship may provide peace of mind and value for your dollar. Burbank Farmer’s Market now sells beef from Autonomy Farms that is either grass or grain “finished”, with the grass-finished at a slightly higher price. This means that the cows are fed grass up until the time they are slaughtered. The steak from Autonomy Farms is some of the best I have ever eaten anywhere. They also offer ground beef with ground beef heart added. Native American Indians fed deer or buffalo heart to the warriors and hunters only so they could stay strong enough to feed and defend the whole tribe. The inferior muscle meat was given to the women and children. Autonomy Farms also offers chicken and lamb, as well as homemade sausage with ground kidney added. These organ meats are super nutrition.

So, now we have a new definition of real food as food that is all it is promoted to be. And even if you are willing to pay a premium for higher quality, you still have to be an educated, savvy consumer. Since nutrition is the major avenue for building and maintaining a sound, healthy body, eating well is the only option for our loved ones and ourselves. The other benefit to eating the “realest” food is that it is the most flavorful. Ground beef mixed with heart is an exotic tease for your taste buds, and just might bring out the hidden warrior you need to be for your own tribe.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Skinny on Cooking With Oils

 

What kind of oils are you cooking with? If you are using Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, you are over-paying for oil that should only be consumed in its raw state. Heating oil changes it, altering and destroying the healthy compounds called phenols. Phenols are beneficial for liver detoxification and immune support.

There is a point where heated oils lose their health benefits. This is called the “smoke point.” The oils not only lose their benefits, they also become harmful to consume. 

There are some oils that can be safely heated to high heat for cooking and their rich flavor will hold up. Avocado, extra-light olive oil and ghee are good choices. Ghee is butter that has been simmered so the milk solids caramelize with the fat.

Medium high heat is used most often for cooking vegetables and browning meat. The best oils for medium heat are virgin (not extra-virgin) olive oil and nut oils, like macadamia, almond or hazelnut oils.

For cooking with medium heat, unrefined coconut and sesame oils work well.

Extra-virgin olive oil and flaxseed oil can be used for salad dressings. Flavorful oils like pistachio, sesame and walnut oils can be used to drizzle over salads and foods for extra flavor and nutrients.

If you have never experimented with nut Oils, like Walnut, Macadamia or Hazelnut,

you are in for a treat. These oils are wonderful for making unique salad dressings.  Try mixing with lemon juice, white balsamic vinegar, and adding a touch of aged or reduced balsamic vinegar, along with herbs you like. You can buy reduced balsamic vinegar at Trader Joe’s. I like to drizzle it on top of a salad for extra flavor.

Generally, it is better to go for unrefined, raw oils. Heat-treated, lose their health benefits. You can use heat treated oils like toasted sesame oil to add rich flavor to salads or Asian dishes, but be sure to eat plenty of unrefined oils for the benefits of the essential fatty acids. EFA’s are vital for heart, brain, skin and general nutrition. Processed oil such as Canola, Soy or Corn Oils should be avoided altogether.

 

Adding plenty of healthy oils to your diet can help with weight loss, because rich-tasting foods are more satisfying and will keep your blood sugar balanced, curbing appetite and giving you sustained energy.  Don’t settle for chemical bottled dressings-carry your own to work.

 

Here is a quick guide to cooking with oils:

High heat, 450-650°                         Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Pecan Oil, Ghee (or clarified        

                                                          butter, Extra-Light Olive Oil (not Extra-Virgin Olive Oil)

Medium-High Heat 375-449°         Virgin Olive Oil, Almond Oil, Hazelnut Oil, Macadamia Nut

                                                         Oil, Refined Coconut Oil

Medium Heat 324-374°                   Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, Lard, Butter, Unrefined Coconut Oil

Medium-Low Heat 250-324°          Unrefined Sesame Seed Oil, Unrefined Walnut Oil

Low Heat 225-249°                          Pistachio Oil

 

Now you can cook smart and delicious!