SUGAR is bad, I repeat, SUGAR is bad! (and FAT is fine)

I have told almost every single person that is close to me repeatedly that it is not excess fat consumption that makes us fat, but it is the excess consumption of Sugar.  To back up my claim, I often reference a YouTube video of a professor giving a speech at the Harvard Law School Food Society that gives the best argument that Sugar is the culprit in the Western Worlds Obesity Epidemic.

After watching this video, there should be no reason for any reasonable person to believe that Fat is the culprit.  So I recommend you watch the video and I will make a list of things you should look out for.

If you do not have the time, I recommend you read this blog posting that goes over the major points of the video, I suggest you visit this page right now as it will change your life:

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/sugar-101-how-harmful-is-sugar-part-i

The person talking in the video, is a personal hero of mine and his name is Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

If you don’t have the time to even visit the web page above, just remember these two points from the video:

“Eat less sugar and more fiber”

The Paleolithic and Atkins diets have two things in common, they work and they are “low sugar, high fiber”

Otherwise, the video really is a pleasure to watch, the speaker is very good with his delivery of his analogies and everything, starting with the first one “people don’t choose to be fat” from a real perspective.

How To Make Kombucha

So I drink Kombucha on a pretty much regular/daily basis. In Queens, you can buy a regular-sized bottle of GT’s Kombucha for about $4.00, while in midtown Manhattan you can buy the same bottle for around $5.00. So if you are cost-conscious and want to prove to your friends that it doesn’t cost a fortune to eat and drink healthy foods, I have prepared some instructions for how to brew your own Kombucha in the privacy of your own home for a fraction of the cost of buying it in the supermarket.

Before you read the instructions, check out GT’s website to see how many flavors they have. My favorite flavor is Cherry Chia: http://synergydrinks.com/index.php/products#enlightened-synergy/enlightened-synergy-cherry-chia. Eventually you will be so good at brewing Kombucha that you too will start to flavor your own homemade brew as well.

Ingredients

  1. 1.5 liters of water
  2. 4 x Black Tea Bags (http://www.twoleavestea.com/organic-earl-grey)
  3. 1 x Kombucha Starter aka SCOBY (http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-tea-starter-culture.html)
  4. 1 x cup white vinegar
  5. 1/2 x cup organic white sugar
  6. 1 x glass mason jar
  7. 1 x rubber band
  8. 1 x cheese cloth or paper towel
Four Tea Bags that I used as my starter tea for brewing Kombucha

Four Tea Bags that I used as my starter tea for brewing Kombucha

I like using two leaves and a bud TEA COMPANY brand tea

I like using two leaves and a bud TEA COMPANY brand tea

Instructions

Step 1 – Boil 1.5 liters of water

Step 2 – Steep 4 tea bags for 3-5 minutes.

In order to avoid steeping the tea for too long and making your tea too strong, I take my tea bags and tie them to a big wooden spatula and use that to quickly insert and remove my tea bags.

Wooden Spoon with Tea Bags tied to it

Wooden Spoon with Tea Bags tied to it

Step 3 – Wait 5 minutes for water to slightly cool then add sugar

How I steep my tea

How I steep my tea

Step 4 – Allow tea to cool to room temperature.  This can take a while and the best part is that once the tea cools to room temperature it won’t get any colder!

Step 5 – Add SCOBY and 1 cup of white vinegar  (you can also use existing Kombucha, the vinegar is used to make the solution acidic to prevent molds and other bacteria from growing)

Add a SCOBY – Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  This is a picture of my SCOBY from my last batch of brewing Kombucha.  After a while the SCOBY gets so big that a baby SCOBY comes off of it and you can then start to brew two batches of Kombucha at the same time!

 

This is my scoby, it was hard to take a picture of but it is pretty big.

This is my scoby, it was hard to take a picture of but it is pretty big.

What the jar looks like before covering it with a paper towel and rubber band

What the jar looks like before covering it with a paper towel and rubber band

Step 6 – Cover jar with paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Then let it sit somewhere for 7 to 28 days.  Check the kombucha by tasting it every few days or at your discretion. The best way to taste it is to stick a straw inside the jar and to then cover one end with your finger so that you avoid contaminating the kombucha with anything from the straw. After a few days you will notice that the Kombucha does not taste as sweet and its carbonation level will start to increase. Once the kombucha tastes satisfactory, remove it from the dark place and place it into the refrigerador to stop the fermenting process.

If you are lucky, you will also now have two kombucha scoby’s in your original jar. This usually does not happen during your first brew if you purchased a dehydrated one such as the one I referenced in the ingredients section above. That is how it happened for me and now I have 4 Kombucha SCOBYs! As a side note, if you know me personally and would like a Kombucha SCOBY please contact me and I would be more than happy to give it to you along with a mason jar so that you can get started with brewing your own Kombucha as well.  Have fun!

Text-to-Speech Software – How I do my research

Now you may be wondering, how do I know so much about health and nutrition? Where do I find all of the free time to do all of this reading and research if I have a day-job as a computer programmer? Well, the answer lays in Text-to-Speech software. You see, as a computer programmer, I find it very easy and convenient to have my headphones on while I code. When a programmer is in the “zone” having their headphones on and listening to music often helps them do a better job. Well, not for me, I have Text-to-Speech software and I listen to health articles and research papers while I work. It is this that has allowed me to consume hundreds of articles all while doing my regular work.

Of course, since I am very adept with my computer skills, I have also written several Python scripts that extract article text from newsletters. Additionally, if I download a research paper, I open the PDF in Adobe Reader and use the “Save as Text” option. Then I use my knowledge of regular expressions, an advanced programming concept to remove all headers and footers, along with long urls to make my listening experience more efficient.

I will list out a few of the applications which I have sampled and continue to use here:

TextAloud

  • http://www.nextup.com/TextAloud/
  • Cost: $29.95
  • Voice Prices: $35 each
  • My Favorite Voice: British English Peter (by Acapela)
  • Sample: http://ttsdownload.com/acapelasamples/Peter.wav

I purchased a license to the TextAloud system because it supports many foreign languages including Greek. I like to listen to articles all of the time and sometimes I come across an article that is published in a Greek newspaper. The voice of “Dimitris” costs $45 and is worth the price.

IVONA Reader

This is my favorite text-to-speech application. It has a nice voice – “Salli” and can export many documents to mp3 and other formats. IVONA Reader can also read a pdf document to you as well.  They offer many bundles and options, but all you really need is the cheapest edition that comes with the Salli voice.  Don’t worry about missing out on all the other voices, all you need is one really good voice.

Cepstral

The first text-to-speech application that I purchased and was able to install onto my work computer before I got my Administrative rights restored. Give this application a try if you do not have Administrative rights on the computer you are using.  

 Compatibility

All three applications should work on Windows XP and Windows 7 and are suitable for the workplace.

If you want to laugh a little… I initially started researching Text-to-Speech software about a year and a half ago when I was handed a 150-page document which contained an “abridged” version of the Dodd-Frank legislation and was told that this was my “design document” for implementing a portion of a Swap-Execution Facility. So I said… why not listen to it while I scan through the document myself? And after a month… I found the best Text-to-Speech applications listed above.

How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home

You can make Greek yogurt in the comfort of your home using kitchen supplies that you probably already have.  All you need is the following:

  1. Half a gallon of milk (preferably organic, grass-fed pasteurized goat’s or cow’s milk)
  2. a pot with lid that can fit at least half a gallon of milk
  3. A nice thermometer
  4. A towel (Yes, that is a bath towel in the photograph)
  5. A small, porous kitchen towel
  6. A spaghetti strainer
  7. A pot to catch all excess whey

01_Equipment

 

02_Empty Pot With Thermometer

Step 1 – Pour the milk into the pot with the thermometer attached

03_Pot with Milk Pouring In

 

Step 2 – Turn on the heat – not too high, and not too low.  You don’t want to burn the milk that is towards the bottom of the pot, so the higher the temperature, the more you have to stir the milk to keep it from burning.  If you are in a rush, keep the heat high and constantly stir, if you are not in a rush, keep it low and stir it occasionally.

04_Pot with Low Heat On Thermometer In - Start Time 815

 

Step 3 – Take a small cup of Plain Fage yogurt and open the lid and leave it on your counter.  We are doing this to allow the temperature of the yogurt to go to room temperature.

06_Starter Yogurt - Opened to get to Room Temperature

 

Step 4 – Monitor the temperature of the milk, keep heating it until it reaches 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit.

07_Stirring Pot Occasionaly for Equal Heat Distributio

Stir the milk inside the pot occasionally for equal heat distribution and to avoid burning any milk towards the bottom of the potAfter 30 minutes, the temperature of the milk is 150 degrees Fahrenheit

After about 1 hour, the temperature of the milk has reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

After about 1 hour, the temperature of the milk has reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5 – Turn off the heat once the milk reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and preheat your oven to the lowest temperature – usually 200 degrees is good enough.  Once your oven beeps letting you know that it has been “preheated” aka has reached 200 degrees Fahrenheit, turn your oven off.  This is not necessarily a required step, I simply do this to make sure that when I incubate the yogurt in the oven it is inside a warm environment that will ensure that the milk doesn’t cool down too much at any point during the incubation process)

Start preheating the oven to the lowest possible temperature - 200 degrees Fahrenheit should be fine.

Start preheating the oven to the lowest possible temperature – 200 degrees Fahrenheit should be fine.

Step 6 – Wait for the milk to reach a temperature that is just above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  This usually takes about half an hour to 45 minutes.  (Depending of course how cold your kitchen is…etc)

Wait for the milk to cool to just over 115 degrees Fahrenheit

Wait for the milk to cool to just over 115 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 7 – Once the milk has reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, take the yogurt from the Fage cup and mix it in to the milk in the pot.

Add yogurt starter to milk and stir it so that the yogurt spreads out and does not clump up into one small area.

Add yogurt starter to milk and stir it so that the yogurt spreads out and does not clump up into one small area.

Step 8 – Take the thermometer out of the pot, put the lid back on and wrap the pot in the towel.  Remember, the goal here is for the pot to maintain as much of a constant temperature as possible.  Don’t worry about air not being able to get into the pot or anything like that.

Wrap the pot which contains  milk which is roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit and contains the starter yogurt.

Wrap the pot which contains milk which is roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit and contains the starter yogurt.

Step 9 – Place the pot wrapped in the towel into the oven and set the oven timer to 8 hours.  Note: Make sure the oven is off!  (Yes, if you forgot your oven on, a fire may break out, or you will start smelling a burning towel before realizing you forgot it on…)

Place pot wrapped in towel into the oven and set the oven timer to 8 hours.

Place pot wrapped in towel into the oven and set the oven timer to 8 hours.

 

Setting the oven timer...

Setting the oven timer…

Step 10 – Take some raw honey (yes, unpasteurized honey that you can get from your local farmers market) and place some into the yogurt that you were unable to scoop out of the fage cup and eat it!  This is a treat and the last time you will likely buy yogurt from the supermarket other than to use for making yogurt)

Treat time - add some honey to your the remaining starter yogurt and eat it!

Treat time – add some honey to your the remaining starter yogurt and eat it!

Step 11 – Return after 11 hours and remove the pot from the oven and enjoy your yogurt!  Or, you can continue this guide to turn this regular yogurt into Greek yogurt…

After 8 hours of incubation...

After 8 hours of incubation…

 

What the yogurt looks like.  Notice the slimy, clear liquid on the top.

What the yogurt looks like. Notice the slimy, clear liquid on the top.

Step 12 – Gather the yogurt straining equipment.  A pot or other similar container to catch the whey is required, a regular wire mesh strainer, and a thin towel.

Straining Equipment 1 of 2

Straining Equipment 1 of 2

 

Straining Equipment 2 of 2

Straining Equipment 2 of 2

Step 13 – Pour the yogurt inside the towel, which is placed over the strainer, which is placed over the pot.

Yogurt has been poured into the towel, which has been placed over the strainer, which has been placed over the pot.

Yogurt has been poured into the towel, which has been placed over the strainer, which has been placed over the pot.

Step 14 – Tie up the towel and hang it up to allow the yogurt to strain.

Towel has been tied up and has been hanged up to allow for the excess why to leave the yogurt.

Towel has been tied up and has been hanged up to allow for the excess why to leave the yogurt.

Step 15 – Unwrap the towel after at least 4 hours.  The longer you leave the yogurt hanging the more dry the yogurt will be.  This all depends on taste.  I personally like my yogurt to have some of its juice in it, but I don’t like it to have all of its juice/whey.  Of course, if you strain it too much you can always add back some whey and stir it back in.  Here is the end result of the batch that I made:

End result

End result

Finish – Amount of yogurt produced:

Amount of yogurt and whey produced from a half gallon of milk.

Amount of yogurt and whey produced from a half gallon of milk.

 

 

 

Chobani – Evaporated Cane Juice Yogurt

What is the biggest mistake that people make on a regular basis when trying to eat a “healthy” diet?

… well, they substitute fat for sugar.

So when I decided to try a store bought brand of “Greek” yogurt, I opted for a Pomegranate flavored Chobani “Greek” Yogurt.  There was no fat in the yogurt, but that is more of a bad thing than a good thing… As you may know, the FDA, requires that ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance according to the weight of each ingredient (21 CFR 501.4) .  So… what is the first ingredient? Nonfat yogurt.  What is the second ingredient? Evaporated cane juice. That’s right, the 2nd largest ingredient of that yogurt is sugar! … And you thought it was good for you???

 

Let me read the Ingredients list off to you:

  • Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk,  Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei)
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Pomegranate Juice Concentrate
  • Pectin
  • Natural Flavor
  • Locust Bean Gum
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate
Picture of ingredients list in Chobani Pomegranate flavored Greek Yogurt

Picture of ingredients list in Chobani Pomegranate flavored Greek Yogurt

Think of it this way, if the ingredient after sugar is pomengranate seeds followed by pomengranate juice, then that means that the amount of sugar is greater than each of these ingredients individually.  So when you are eating this yogurt, just look at the massive volume of pomegranate seeds and pomegranate juice and say to yourself, would I add that much sugar to my yogurt?

Surely, your answer would be a strong resounding NO!

But the truth is that there is already that much sugar in the same yogurt which you are eating right now!  So if this product is called “Greek”, when it has nothing to do with coming from the nation of Greece, if it is called “Yogurt” and “Pomegranate”, then why isn’t it called “Evaporated Cane Juice Yogurt”? Because there is more Evaporated Cane Juice in this product than there is pomegranates.

Stop eating low-fat high sugar “Greek” yogurt!

Stop eating sugar laced “health” food products and start eating full-fat yogurt made from whole milk.  This is very simply to do, all you have to do is purchase yogurt that contains a very simple ingredients list: The ingredients on the product must not contain ~any~ sugar or sugar substitutes.  Pomegranates are supposed to have a nice flavor naturally without having to add sugar, so why is Chobani doing so?

Oh yeah, did you continue reading the label? Did you notice another funny ingredient called “Natural Flavor”?  I made it red for a reason…

Natural Flavor

Natural Flavor is a convenient method for manufacturers to sneak GMO’s into their products.  Don’t believe me? Google it…

Heart Disease

Also, for those who may not know this yet, but sugar has recently been vindicated as the cause for heart disease.  Yes, that’s right, sugar is what causes inflamation of your veins and other bodily organs, which as a result become weaker and weaker and then one day they collapse causing what is known as a heart attack… Avoiding fat and cholesterol is so 80s.

It gets worse….  See Fage

Even Fage puts sugar as the first ingredient in most, if not all of its fruit flavored yogurts, except for in their honey flavored yogurt.

Noosa

Noosa has to put sugar even in its honey flavored yogurt.  Tell me something is not wrong here…  Noosa yogurt is supposed to be some new “hot” thing which is Aussie-style yogurt.  I purchased a cup today and noticed that not only was sugar the 2nd ingredient after yogurt, there were various other forms of sugar listed throughout the ingredients list.  So be warned, soon Fage and Chobani will be moving their sugar into other forms of sugar so that they can be moved further down the ingredients list.

As for Noosa, stay away from it right now! As for Fage and Chobani, opt for the plain flavored yogurt and get the higher fat version.  Nonfat doesn’t work, neither does diet or light.  Just look around you, do you see any healthy looking people eating nonfat yogurt? I only see fat people and anorexic looking people eating nonfat yogurt.

IMG_20130624_124343_988

 

Γιατρός (Doctor)

I was at a dinner party where the food was served family style and thought this is a great way to share germs and antibodies!  Our table had a doctor which meant I could consume a lot and get a doctor's note.

At one point, I saw the doctor picking at all the food in the communal plate with his fork.  I thought, how rude? That is almost as disgusting as double dipping in the salsa dish and leaving extra crumbs in there.  I paused, and then I realized why?… he doesn't believe in germ theory!  Germ theory states that if a microscopic germ is present in your food, and you injest that food then you will get sick, whereas the 'other' theory, known as "Soil Theory" says that germs thrive in a toxic environment, rather than creating that toxic environment.

This means that it doesn't matter if the doctor spreads any of his germs via his fork to other members of the table because if each of us is healthy, the germs will avoid us, however, if we are sick or have a toxic environment in our bodies due to eating unhealthy food…etc, then his germs, and all the germs already on your fork will infect you..

Therefore that explains why this Doctor was double-dipping in the lamb plate!  So even though Seinfeld doesn't like you to double-dip, maybe it's more funny than bad for you!

For the curious, here is what the lamb looked like (no, it was not from Butcher Bar, nor was it "organic" or "grass-fed" or "pasture raised"): 

IMG_20130510_220825_498

Notice the abnormal amount of fat on this cut of meat.  That means the animal was probably a lazy couch potato that followed the SAD diet – Standard American Diet.

Home is Healthy

 Lentil-Soup

Today, April 8th, 2013 is Food Bloggers Against Hunger Day!  This means we are donating our blog post to this wonderful cause.  We and 200 other food blogs are part of this.  This has hit the mainstream media which makes it even more exciting!  There are two call to actions by you the readers at the end of this post.

Good food is not just about being tasty and looking attractive.  It's also about being healthy.  Healthy, organic, local food tends to be more expensive and harder to access by all.  Today we are providing a low-cost, healthy recipe for this cause.  Our recipe is a traditional Greek lentil soup provided by our loving mother, someone who always strived towards healthy home cooked foods.  She is among the inspirations for this blog.  Growing up, she made sure we ate healthy which meant we would eat at home.  After all, Home is Healthy!  Lentil soup is high in iron & protein and doens't cost an arm and a leg!

Lentil soup

Ingredients

  • One pound lentils

  • ½ cup olive oil

  • one medium onion shredded

  • 3-4 cloves garlic chopped, two bay leaves

  • half cup fresh tomato puree (4 plum very ripe tomatoes)

  • 4 cups water

Instructions

  1. Wash the lentils well in strainer (sourotiri)

  2. Put the olive oil, onion, and lentils in a 6 quart pot

  3. Start stirring them with a wooden spoon (koutala) until the lentils are well coated , with the olive oil.

  4. Add the tomato puree, the garlic and continue cooking for a few minutes longer.

  5. Total time 4-5 minutes

  6. Add water, two bay leaves, salt to taste and continue cooking until they are tender soft but not over cooked.

  7. Add more water to make the soup more watery or thick, the way you like it.

 

We've done our part, now you do your part.

1) go to this link https://secure.strength.org/site/Advocacy?cmd=display&page=UserAction&id=113 

and 

Tell Congress: Federal nutrition programs are crucial for hungry children!

2) Check out the film A Place at the Table in select cities, iTunes, or Amazon.

 

P.S. Thanks mom for the recipe!

 

American Meat – Film Review

When you watch a Kurosawa you don’t expect the shock and awe of a Michael Moore.  Like the increasing sugar levels in many foods, we are expecting more shock and awe from our movies including food documentaries such as Food Inc. and Super Size Me.   Unless you’re a vegan or vegetarian, you won’t get this from the film American Meat, a solutions-oriented documentary directed by Graham Meriwether.

American Meat is subtle, tells several real stories from the U.S. meat industry, points to some solutions as well as things that haven’t worked [yet], but doesn’t freak you out.  It builds on the body of work of existing food documentaries and has a focus.  It assumes we already know about industrial farming's methods from Food Inc or that eating too much McDonalds is bad for you as told by Super Size Me.  American Meat could go into how Americans eat too much meat but it assumes that’s a constant limiting the fronts it takes on.

Key points that we liked in the film:

  1. We need more people to go into farming, it is an industry where the average age is over 50 where a healthy average age for an industry is around 35.
  2. Many animal farmers do not own the animals they raise.  The big food companies such as Tyson and Perdue make the farmers take the risks of owning the equipment and land but keep ownership of the animals which leaves less money in the hands of the farmers.
  3. While technology can be demonized in places such as industrial farming, people like Joel Salatin of Polyface Farms has built contraptions such as eggmobiles and pigaerators.  This is technology which enables him to efficiently replicate the natural ecosystem of land rotation so that poultry, cattle, and pigs can use the same land in a way that nature intended.
  4. Transparanecy is important.  Joel at Polyface Farms has an open door policy and is not afraid of being inspected, visited, or asked any questions.  Good luck getting that from companies like Monsanto.
  5. Food subsidies from the US Government help keep industrial farming cheaper for people who do not have the luxury to buy the higher priced grass fed or organic meats.
  6. Some farmers have tried to move to grass-fed farming but have not been able to get customers to sustain their business.  These farmers do prefer the taste of grass-fed meats over the industrially farmed meats.
  7. Vote with your dollar.  Everytime you buy something, you are making a statement.  Farmers get as little as 10 cents for every dollar you spend at a supermarket.  Joining a Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) gets more of that money directly to the farmers which means [in theory] that they can make a healthier product.  We are joining the CSA in Flushing, New York.

We attended the screening at New York University on March 26, 2013 hosted by the NYU Earth Matters group.  According to the IMDB page of the film, it will premier on April 12, 2013 in New York City.

 

Eggs on the Table

We’re big fans of Bare Burger.  One of the first places we saw with Hunts Ketchup with no High Fructose Corn Syrup (HFCS) on the guest tables; this made John a fan!  Getting people to think in terms of organic, local, and sustainable foods is a great thing.  We need more of this.

I’ve had brunch and lunch and dinner, many times.  Always going for a burger as I thought anything else would be like getting salmon at a steakhouse.  Today, while having brunch at the Bayside Bare Burger, I ordered one of the Mexican Egg sandwich (not exact name on the menu).  I ordered them over easy.  The plate came and looked good but then I noticed the egg yolks.  Not the orange we’ve come to expect from places like Queens Farm but pale yellow that we’ve been warned about.

I’ll be back but not to order eggs and Bare Burger, please put your eggs on the table!

 

Response From Solgar Regarding GMO usage in Brewers Yeast

Solgar got back to me in a timely fashion to my request for information regarding their use – if any – of GMO's in the production of their Brewer's Yeast Powder.  (I am just late in posting the reply here…)

They claim that they do not use any GMO's in their products, which is very good, I just don't find it as re-assuring that they have not been able to label their products as such.  I hope they get the proper labeling authority soon and when they do I will consider purchasing their products again.  Thank you Solgar!

 

Reference No. 1302-5460


Dear John,


Thank you for contacting Solgar, Inc.  Brewer's Yeast Powder 14oz (Product No. 380, Bulk No. 67723) is a non-GMO product.


If you have any further questions, our Consumer Affairs Representatives can be reached toll-free at 1-877-765-4274, Monday through Saturday, 9am-7pm EST.  We look forward to serving you in the future.


Kindest regards,


Chris

Product Information

http://www.solgar.com/