Category Archives: Fooooooood

Detox: Day Two

I went to see a nutritionist last week.  My goal was to bring down triglycerides, bring up good cholesterol, and bring down bad cholesterol.  I figure if I do those things, my weight will go down, my energy will go up, and I’ll feel generally better.

This week I began my diet modification.  I say “modification” because it’s not a diet – a diet suggests a start and stop.  This is a slow modification of what and how I eat.

All good low-glycemic diets, she says, begin with a detox period.  I’ve been asked many times about the detox, so I’ll detail it here:

This is my own summary, as relayed by my nutritionist and interpretted by me. I am not a doctor, a dietician, or an expert, but rather, an avid and curious reader, and you shouldn’t make diet or medical decisions based on what I’m telling you. But here you go anyway:

Your liver’s primary job is to filter toxins from your intake. In many cases, especially in overweight people busy eating bad food or, at best, enough calories to at least stay overweight, its busy digesting fats, protein, etc. most of the time. Sometimes, it has so much work to do, it can’t keep up. So it packages and stores fats and proteins as triglycerides and fatty acids. They are packaged for later, and the liver moves on to other things. The liver has lots of roles, though, and part of it, as you’re digesting, is to clean up after the digestion process.

When you eat carbs (sugars), your pancreas secretes insulin. The insulin response triggers the chaining together of glucose molecules from the blood into glycogen. The glycogen is “animal starch,” and it’s what we use for energy. As your body begins to get “full” – on in this case, more accurately and objectively, “postprandial,” which indicates glucose levels – insulin levels subside as production is decreased. Digestion is pretty complex, I understand a fraction of a fraction of a percent of how it works, but clearly, the liver plays a critical role and remains busy.

Most people, it seems, go through a constant cycle of sugar highs. They get hungry, they dump sugar into their bodies, they mass-produce insulin, the sugar is “dealt with”, and they crash, which makes them hungry for sugar, repeat ad nauseum. There’s another cycle of salt to sugar. I can remember times in my life of eating saltines and Chips Ahoy alternatively.

Now, when you detox – in my case, by eating ONLY certain veggies (and 3 servings of fruits a day for some simple sugars) – your liver doesn’t have anything to do most of the time. It digests your food quickly, its job is done in one to three hours. So, sitting idle, it eventually says, “Well, I might as well take care of that stuff I stored.”

It will start burning off the old stuff you’ve had stored. This process, apparently, doesn’t work forever. Eventually, the low calorie intake and the lack of carbs and protein can get very unhealthy very fast. So it’s only a week long. Then we add things like nuts and fruits and beans and fatty foods like avocado.

It does, however, in most people, “teach” your liver to go back to the stored fats and process them. And the idea is to adjust your food intake, both in quantity and in quality, over time. You want your organs working off of what you eat, not storing your food. It seems pretty evident to me that this requires you to reduce carbohydrate intake. Sugars are carbs, carbs are calories, so most low-calorie diets are actually masking the source of success: low carbs.

I’m entirely convinced that carbs are the problem in diets. Not carbs in general, but low-fiber, simple carbs that exceed the amount we need and expend. Look at all the shit we love to eat: chips, fries, cookies, ice cream, candy – it’s all carbs.

Back to the detox: in the first few days, I’m told to expect a massive drop in energy, general discomfort at the hunger pangs, unease that may come from any toxins being released from within those stored fats, and, of course, irritibility from the sugar withdrawal. But so far, so good. I’m about 36 hours in, and I’m still feeling okay. Yesterday late afternoon was tough, but I found some veggie burgers – Dr. Praeger’s – that were amazing. So good that I’d eat them off this detox. But sadly, I’m limited to 2 a day by the nutritionist, otherwise, I’d eat 10 a day.

By day 4, I’m promised that energy level should shoot up as body is growing more efficient and is oil and fat starved. Given the efficiency (and purity?) the metabolism ought to have by then, I think this is realistic. I’m optimistic about where this change is going to lead me, because I’m encouraged by everyone around me.

Updates to follow for sure.

Häagen-Dazs Five

Recently, ice cream maker Häagen-Dazs released a new line of ice creams called “ Five “. The idea behind this brilliant product is that the ice cream contains only five basic ingredients: including milk, cream, sugar, egg, and a flavor such as chocolate, mint, ginger, or brown sugar.  Haagan-Dazs Five

Color me intrigued.  I love natural foods and foods with few ingredients.  I’m amazed that so many potato chips can list ingredients as: “potatoes, salt, safflower oil.”  I love when foods don’t include preservatives.  I think natural foods are better for you and your environment.  And I love simple flavors in quality foods.  So I was definitely going to track down a pint of this goodness.  

So I ventured to my local Publix to check this ice cream out, only to be disappointed by the fact that they don’t have it. Marketing fail.  

Why? First, they enticed me with this: Kevin Rose tweeted about Häagen-Dazs Five a few weeks ago. So Häagen-Dazs sent him an entire case of ice cream! Then, Slashfood got their case of Häagen-Dazs Five .  So after this brilliant ploy to get me interested by invading all of my social media outlets, the ice cream isn’t even available mainstream yet? 

Poo!

One of the Greatest Sandwiches I Ever Had

I don’t know how I came up with it – mostly by doing a mashup of several of the sandwiches on the lunch board at The Virgin Olive Market yesterday.  I’ve dubbed it “The Mushmerry,” because it’s a totally random name that makes no sense.  Here’s the build:

  • Smoked turkey
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese (must be fresh, not slices)
  • Crispy bacon
  • Mixed green lettuce
  • Bartlett pear slices
  • Croissant

Now, this sandwich might sound a little weird, but let me explain. 

There are several varieties of pears, but Bartletts work best for a sandwich

There are several varieties of pears, but Bartletts work best for a sandwich

First of the all, the trick ingredient is the pears.  I’ve had turkey sandwiches with apple slices before – usually with some sort of cranberry chutney or something – but in this case, the pears provide a lovely crunch, a sweet but crisp texture that gives the whole sandwich I fresh taste you can’t emulate with lettuce or tomato.  

It also serves as a beautiful complement to the salty bacon.  Bacon makes everything taste better, and when you use real thick cut bacon, it’s just that much better.

The fresh mozzarella is also briney, but soft and rich as well.   I don’t know if there’s a better cheese than fresh mozzarella balls.  Although pretty mild in flavor, the texture is killer.  

The mixed green lettuce is perfect with it.  Rather than standard iceberg lettuce, which is good, but mostly bland and tasteless, this is like a small but elegant salad atop your sandwich.  The grassy green flavor adds a subtle complexity.    

Lastly, the sandwich is served upon a croissant, the second most regal of the breads (behind brioche, natch), which is buttery enough to sustain the sandwich without something as offensive as mayonaisse, something as greasy as oil and vinegar, or something as strong as mustard.  

Yes, the Mushmerry is my new favorite sandwich, and I’d highly recommend you try it too.

Update: Behold, the Mushmerry!

 

The Mushmerry sandwich

The Mushmerry sandwich

The Omnivore’s Hundred

I found this interesting link today from a renowned foodie’s blog.

Here’s what I want you to do:

1) Copy this list into your blog or journal, including these instructions.
2) Bold all the items you’ve eaten.
3) Cross out any items that you would never consider eating.
4) Optional extra: Post a comment here at www.verygoodtaste.co.uk linking to your results.

The VGT Omnivore’s Hundred:

1. Venison
2. Nettle tea
3. Huevos rancheros
4. Steak tartare
5. Crocodile (or alligator, in my case)
6. Black pudding
7. Cheese fondue
8. Carp
9. Borscht
10. Baba ghanoush
11. Calamari
12. Pho
13. PB&J sandwich
14. Aloo gobi
15. Hot dog from a street cart
16. Epoisses
17. Black truffle (it almost killed me, I’m really allergic)
18. Fruit wine made from something other than grapes
19. Steamed pork buns
20. Pistachio ice cream
21. Heirloom tomatoes
22. Fresh wild berries
23. Foie gras
24. Rice and beans
25. Brawn, or head cheese
26. Raw Scotch Bonnet pepper
27. Dulce de leche
28. Oysters
29. Baklava
30. Bagna cauda
31. Wasabi peas
32. Clam chowder in a sourdough bowl
33. Salted lassi
34. Sauerkraut
35. Root beer float
36. Cognac with a fat cigar
37. Clotted cream tea
38. Vodka jelly/Jell-O
39. Gumbo
40. Oxtail
41. Curried goat
42. Whole insects
43. Phaal
44. Goat’s milk
45. Malt whisky from a bottle worth £60/$120 or more
46. Fugu
47. Chicken tikka masala
48. Eel
49. Krispy Kreme original glazed doughnut
50. Sea urchin
51. Prickly pear
52. Umeboshi
53. Abalone
54. Paneer
55. McDonald’s Big Mac Meal
56. Spaetzle
57. Dirty gin martini
58. Beer above 8% ABV
59. Poutine
60. Carob chips
61. S’mores
62. Sweetbreads
63. Kaolin
64. Currywurst
65. Durian
66. Frogs’ legs
67. Beignets, churros, elephant ears or funnel cake
68. Haggis
69. Fried plantain
70. Chitterlings, or andouillette
71. Gazpacho
72. Caviar and blini
73. Louche absinthe
74. Gjetost, or brunost
75. Roadkill
76. Baijiu
77. Hostess Fruit Pie
78. Snail
79. Lapsang souchong
80. Bellini
81. Tom yum
82. Eggs Benedict
83. Pocky
84. Tasting menu at a three-Michelin-star restaurant.
85. Kobe beef
86. Hare
87. Goulash
88. Flowers
89. Horse
90. Criollo chocolate
91. Spam
92. Soft shell crab
93. Rose harissa
94. Catfish
95. Mole poblano
96. Bagel and lox
97. Lobster Thermidor
98. Polenta
99. Jamaican Blue Mountain coffee
100. Snake

Not too bad. 46/100. I’d love to see some readers’ or OSNewser’s results.

Halfway Homemade Chicken Soup & Grilled Cheese

“Halfway Homemade chicken soup” starts with a mirepois. Then you add pre-made chicken broth and two leg quarters of a chicken and egg noodles. The grilled cheese is hand wrapped fresh mozzarella and peasant bread lightly brushed with grapeseed oil griddled until golden brown. A perfect rainy evening combo.

Exotic Meat Party

Last night, three of my friends and I got together for an “exotic meat” dinner. Below is the proof and a short write-up of each meat.

First Course: American Kobe Beef

American Kobe beef is an off-shoot of Japanese Wagyu beef. It is super tender, exceedingly well marbled, and delicately flavorful. This steak was a top sirloin, not typically one of my favorite cuts. However, it came out beautifully, and tasted fantastic both raw and cooked.


American Kobe top sirloin

Second Course: Elk Tenderloin
Elk is a delicate meat that can be gamey if not properly prepared, but I have found, in my limited elk experience, that it can be an amazing dish if done right. We made ours in a beef and cream sauce, heavy on the tarragon, with carrots. The tenderness, no doubt, can be attributed to the cut more than anything, but the fantastic texture can only be described as buttery soft, and the flavor, while suggesting a hint of game, was uniquely tasty. A lamb lover, I think, will appreciate elk’s flavor.


Elk Tenderloin

Third Course: Buffalo Steak
Buffalo and bison meats are not quite as exotic as some of the forthcoming meats, but they both have a slightly sweet taste to them that makes them very similar to beef. We coated our steaks in chimichuri and grilled them to medium rare. I found this particular steak “good,” but not great. I don’t think it was just the cooking style – I love chimichuri and the steak was perfectly cooked.


Buffalo Steak

Fourth Course: Roasted Llama Steak
The Llama steak was one of the scarier meats for me in this process, because I have a problem picturing it as not gamey. I wasn’t able to find any grilled llama recipes, but I wish we had braved it anyway, because I think it would have been better than the “sweet onion roast” we chose to use. The llama was prepared like a roast, seared stovetop then cooked with onions, carrots, garlic, salt, and a slew of other goodies for about 12 minutes. The resulting steaks were fairly neutral tasting. They were distinctly not familiar meat, but not especially odd tasting. The llama steaks might be fantastic if cooked better, but in our preparation, it was just a little too much like a poor quality steak from the round or the chuck that just didn’t cut it. I didn’t need a third bite to know that if I ever eat llama again, it won’t be via that recipe. I think next time through, I might season the steaks and grill them.


Roasted Llama

Fifth Course: Yak
Having never had yak before, I envisioned it as a gamey and tough meat. I used a modified tenderloin recipe and adapted it for what were essentially trimmed strip steaks. The yak bits were seared in a saute pan, then crusted with dijon mustard and a custom breadcrumb mix, then seared again to brown up the coating. The yak was served medium rare.

Surprisingly, everyone liked the yak and three of us finished our entire portion. The yak was neither gamey nor tough, and was actually quite enjoyable. The meat has a uniquely stringy texture, rich yet unassuming, beefy but still humble. It was both flavorful and tender, certainly not something you’d mistake for beef, but not altogether crazy tasting at all. If you’re interested in exotic meats, but tentative about some animals, yak is a pretty exotic one with an incredible accessible flavor.


Yak Medallions

Sixth Course: Frog’s Legs
Frog’s legs are not very exotic – they are available in many places – and they are pretty tasty in general. This was, however, my first time frying them at home. Previously, I’d baked them in a slight olive oil drizzle much less successfully. This time through, we battered them and fried them, as they are usually found. The frog legs were tasty – I had one fishy bite that I wasn’t too happy with, but other than that, they were very good. Frog legs have the texture of a whitefish, but really do taste like much more like chicken provided they are well washed and properly cooked.


Fried Frog’s Legs

Seventh Course: Rabbit Loin
Rabbit is, again, not terribly hard to find at a decent supermarket. Many butcher shops either carry it or can order it at a reasonable price – maybe $10-$15/lb. We marinated our rabbit loin in oil, red wine vinegar, paprika, and other spices. The directions called for grilling over indirect heat for 35 minutes(!). Knowing it seemed long, we let it cook for most of that chunk and were a little upset by how dry the meat was upon serving. The rabbit was mostly a miss because of the prep.

There is both dark meat and white meat in a rabbit, and although I generally prefer white meat, the dark meat is very tasty.


Rabbit Loin

Eighth Course: Snapping Turtle
We all confessed to being terrified of the turtle meat. First off, the turle looked disgusting in its frozen, freeze dried form. Secondly, it’s not easily accessible; the pieces are all random chunks in odd sizes and often you can see where it comes from. It’s easy to spot a leg or foot, the backbone, the neck, etc. And it’s scary.

The turtle had a slight lakewater smell to it on defrosting, and we were instructed to marinate it in lime juice before cooking. Marinating is a common was to remove gaminess, people often soak fish in milk, for example. After grilling the turtle, I can assure you that milk would have been a better choice, because the turtle tasted like lime meat. It seemed to have so little flavor of its own, but when you did taste turtle, it was just dull, gray meat. I do not have to have turtle again, but if I do, it will certainly be in a stew, which is a much more traditional preparation.


Grilled Minnesota Snapping Turtle

Overall, it was a great experience and it was a lot of fun. Our next order will likely be more common fare. We’ve discussed alligator tail steaks, rattlesnake, and python, but we’re also tossing around the idea of order real kobe beef rib meat, the kind that costs well over $100 a pound. Nonetheless, having had so many meats for the first time was a great man-style adventure, one I recommend to the culinarily adventurous.