Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Nutrition Debate #199: Food Preparation: Tips and Tidbits

This post is a bit of a hodgepodge. It is an aggregation of subjects that have accumulated over time. They are: coconut oil, ghee, “Healthy Sauté,” and my recipe for home-made mayonnaise. It is also an opportunity to promote one of my favorite web sites and a chance to introduce another that is a very useful resource.

Coconut Oil: Coconut oil is 100% fat, virtually all saturated. Zero cholesterol, protein, carbs, water and ash! I buy Spectrum brand, a refined, expeller expressed, organic coconut oil. It does not require refrigeration. At room temp, it is liquid or soft. It is also a medium chain triglyceride (MCT), which means it goes directly to the liver to be metabolized (“burned” for energy), making it less likely to be deposited in your body’s fat reserves. I use it instead of butter for browning meats since it is very stable for medium-high heat applications. Smoke point for refined coconut oil is 450°F.

Ghee: Ghee is clarified butter. It is slow cooked to remove water, lactose, casein, and milk solids. I use Ancient Organics brand because 1) it is made from 100% organic Straus Family Creamery Butter, batch churned from grass fed and pastured cows; and 2) the golden liquid left behind has a caramelized and nutty taste. It is like no other ghee. Ghee also has one of the highest smoke points of any cooking oil (485°F), making it an excellent choice for “sautéing, baking or frying.” It is very expensive, though, so I use it sparingly. On a radish, with a dash of salt, the flavor is unsurpassed.

Healthy Sauté: I put this in quotes since I have borrowed the phrase from a web site, “World's Healthiest Foods.” The site is a very good source for recipes and for all kinds of nutritional data. It is operated by the George Mateljan Foundation and has 2 million hits a year. Check them out. Anyway, “healthy sauté” is their construct, as follows: “Start your Healthy Sauté by heating 1 TBS of broth in a stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Once the broth begins to bubble, add onions and sauté stirring frequently. After the onions have cooked for about 5 minutes, you can then add other ingredients such as garlic, or fresh ginger. Once they have had a chance to cook together for just another minute, add other vegetables. This method enables you to have flavorful sautéed vegetables without heating oil.”

This is a great idea if you still use vegetable oils for sautéing, which of course I sincerely hope you do not. But if you don’t adopt either coconut oil or ghee (both saturated fats), you can use this method to sauté without using vegetable and seed oils (all polyunsaturated oils), which have been damaged in manufacturing and you further damage in cooking. Even olive oil, which is monounsaturated, should only be added as a flavoring after cooking is complete, or used as a salad dressing. What oil you cook with is really so important that it bears repeating over and over again. Another of my favorite web sites, “Authority Nutrition,” has an excellent piece of dietary fats here. Of course, Mary Enig and Sally Fallon (Weston A. Price Foundation) addressed the issue a few years ago in three wonderful reads here, here and here.

Finally, My Homemade Mayonnaise. Why is it necessary to make homemade mayonnaise? Because Hellmann’s (Best Foods out West) makes their “Real Mayonnaise” from soybean oil (and water, whole eggs and egg yolks, vinegar, salt, sugar, lemon juice and preservatives). Even their new product, “Mayonnaise with Olive OilMayonnaise Dressing, (in light green that blends with the background color) is made with mostly soybean oil (but this time after water, which comes first), and then olive oil. In case you missed it, the first ingredient is WATER. This is a DRESSING! It IS lower in total and saturated fats, if that is what you want. But the soybean oil is reason enough for me to avoid both of these products.

Even Hellmann’s “CANOLA Cholesterol Free Mayonnaise” is a poor choice for my kind of “healthy eating.” Once again, the first ingredient is WATER, then Canola oil, then modified food starch (corn or potato), eggs, vinegar, sugar, salt, lemon juice and preservatives. Note: no mention of “whole eggs and egg yolks;” the label says that the “eggs” in this “cholesterol-free” product “adds a trivial amount of cholesterol.” Notice also that sugar moves up a notch in the list of ingredients; it’s now ahead of salt. And note also, the addition of modified food starch (carbs!). But, if that isn’t enough, check out this analysis at “Authority Nutrition” on Canola oil as a food product. Hint: among other things, it’s a GMO!

So, here’s my recipe for a really good-tasting homemade mayonnaise. It is made with “good” fats (2/3rds saturated and 1/3 monounsaturated), no starch, no sugar and no preservatives. I make it a pint at a time, using an immersion blender (“smart stick”). I think it is indistinguishable from the “Real” thing.

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