Let’s put this new fructose study into perspective

Monday, October 20, 2008 17:24
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Let’s put this new fructose study into perspective

Mpj031440700001 A recently published study is going to fuel the hysteria over high-fructose corn syrup. It’s a terrific study. But, contrary to the headlines you are sure to see over the next days and weeks, it does NOT prove that high fructose corn (HFCS) syrup is the cause of the obesity epidemic. Let’s take a closer look.

Researchers at the University of Florida found that rats who were fed a diet that was very high in fructose eventually became resistant to the hormone leptin.  Leptin is a hormone that regulates your appetite and disposition toward weight gain.  In the second half of the study, they switched the leptin-resistant rats to a high-calorie (high-fat) diet. The rats ate a lot more and gained a lot more weight than rats who had not been on a high-fructose diet. (Read more about the study: "Fructose hampers hormone that controls appetite.")

Now, what does this tell us about the effects of high-fructose corn syrup on humans? Very little. 

Aside from the obvious issue (the study was done in rats, not humans), the study had absolutely nothing to do with high fructose corn syrup. The diet that brought about leptin resistance was about 60% fructose, and contained no other form of sugar.  The typical (awful) American diet contains about 35% sugar, about half of which (roughly 17%) is in the form of fructose.

Incidentally, if every bit of HFCS in the food supply was replaced by regular old cane sugar, our fructose intake would still be around 17%.  That’s because high fructose corn syrup contains about the same amount of fructose as sugar.

Like the best research studies, this one poses far more questions than it answers. For example, I’m dying to know whether you’d get the same results at 50% fructose. Or 40% or 30%. What’s the threshold at which the effect starts to set in?

Secondly, I’d love to know whether you’d get leptin resistance with similar amounts of glucose or sucrose?  In other words, how much of this effect is specific to fructose and how much is just sugar? What’s more significant: the amount of total sugar in the diet or the amount of fructose? How does dietary fat affect things? (In the study, the rats ate an extremely low-fat (5%) diet and the fat was lard.)

I imagine that researchers are queueing up to design studies that will answer these questions and more. (And we’re still only talking about rats…)

Those who read this blog (or listen to my podcast) know that I think the hysteria over high-fructose corn syrup is misplaced. We should be alarmed by the amount of sugar in the American diet and what it is doing to our health. I think it probably is directly connected to our rising rates of obesity, whether through leptin resistance or other means. But I don’t think it’s worth worrying about high-fructose corn syrup, per se, while we’re still getting 35% of our calories as sugar.

This whole thing reminds me a little of people who are freaking out about gas prices and dependency on foreign oil.  They’re trading in their cars for models that will improve their gas mileage from 27 to 30 mpg.  But it never occurs to them to drive fewer miles.

Here’s what we all agree on

I am sure that large quantities of fructose will cause health problems in rats and humans. I’m pretty sure that large quantities of any form of sugar will do that. Of course, the specific problems that develop will vary depending on what type of sugar you’re over-consuming. Fructose is hard on the liver while glucose is more challenging to the pancreas.

But rather than argue about which form is more dangerous, what about working the problem from the other end of the equation? I"m talking about the "large quantities" part of the sentence.

Eat less sugar and you probably don’t need to worry about HFCS

The World Health Organization recommends that you limit your intake of added sugars to 10% of calories.  They’re not talking about sugars that are found naturally in whole foods, like fruit or milk. They’re talking about refined sugars in things like candy, baked goods, soft drinks, and condiments.

For most Americans, this would mean cutting their sugar intake by two-thirds.  Whether or not HFCS is really that much worse than other forms of sugar (I’m still not convinced it is), I’m pretty sure that if we simply cut our consumption to a reasonable level, it simply wouldn’t matter.   

Call me crazy.

Chef Silva offers comfort via delicious warming soups…..

Saturday, October 18, 2008 13:04
Comments Off on Chef Silva offers comfort via delicious warming soups…..


During these difficult times Chef Silvia offers two of her delicious soup recipes & a tips on cooking any type of soup . “Soup, made in big batches, is perfect for feeding a crowd or a few for many meals. It’s easy, delicious and economical.

    For most soups, the technique is always the same–just the ingredients change.

Making wonderful soup is literally as easy as 1, 2, 3……

1. Saute some onions in olive oil in the bottom of a large pot +meal, poultry or other flavorings
2. Add water +beans, pasta or rice, etc.
3. Cook until ingredients are tender, then add chicken, vegetable, clam or beef base ( these are available in small jars by the canned or packaged broths in most supermarkets)

Chicken Soup with Escarole, Sausage and Pasta


Traditionally, this soup is made with small meatballs. I find that the sausage adds even more flavor and is much easier. You can leave out the pasta if you like, but adding it makes it even better and heartier. This soup is sensational.

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
1 lb sweet Italian sausage–cut into bite sized pieces
1 small sweet onion (or half a large) medium diced
8-10 cups water
½ lb small pasta (such as tubettini)
2 – 3 tablespoons chicken base
2- 3 tablespoons tomato sauce (optional but add for color and flavor if you have some leftover sauce)
1 head of fresh escarole (washed and cut into large pieces)

In a large saucepan add oil and sausage and cook over medium heat for about 3-4 minutes or until golden brown. Add the onions and cook until softened (about 2 minutes).

Add water and bring to a boil and then add the chicken base (a bit at a time until the desired flavor is reached) followed by the tomato sauce. Lower heat and let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes until the sausage is fully cooked.

Bring the water back to a boil and add the escarole and pasta and cook for about 10 minutes until both the pasta and the escarole are al dente. Serve and enjoy…

Split Pea with Ham and Pasta

Certainly split pea with ham is a classic. What makes this a bit different is of course the pasta. It offers a wonderful contrast to the intensity of the peas and serves to neutralize it in a wonderfully, satisfying way. This basic recipe can be followed whether you’re using peas, lentils or beans…so experiment.

2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil (or enough to cover the bottom of the pan)
1 lb ham (pre-cooked) cut into bite size pieces
1 small onion — diced
2 cups split peas
8-10 cups water
2-3 tablespoons chicken base
½ lb small pasta (such as small shells or tubettini)

In a large stockpot over medium heat add oil, onions and ham and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions are softened.

Add water and peas and simmer for about 20-30 minutes or until desired tenderness is reached. Stir in the chicken base, a bit at a time until the desired flavor is reached.
Bring water to a boil, add the pasta and cook for about ten minutes until the pasta is cooked but still al dente.

Halloween Survival Guide

Wednesday, October 15, 2008 20:23
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Halloween Survival Guide


Halloween is coming and that usually means a big increase in how much sugar our kids are eating. (And I don’t know about your house, but the kids aren’t the only ones that get into the Halloween candy around here!)

Obviously, the ideal  amount of candy for kids (and kids-at-heart) is NO candy.  But this is not the time to play the hard cop. Here are some tips and strategies for allowing everyone to enjoy the holiday while containing the damage.

  • Don’t let your kids start eating the candy they collect while they are still out trick or treating. If they’re eager to get home to have a piece of candy, they might be willing to stop with a slightly smaller payload.
  • Set (and enforce) limits on how much candy may be eaten each day and when (i.e., only after meals).
  • Halloween candy should be enjoyed instead of and not in addition to other sweets that the kids might otherwise have. Limit other sources of sugar such as sodas and sweetened drinks, sugary breakfast cereals, cookies, and desserts, while the Halloween candy is around.
  • The World Health Organization recommends limiting added sugars to 10% of total calories. For a 90-pound 11-year-old, that’s about 50 grams of sugar per day. For a 40-pound six-year-old, it’s closer to 25 grams of sugar.

You can look up the amount of sugar or calories in most popular candy brands using our nutrient search tool. You’ll notice that the candies that are lowest in calories are not necessarily the lowest in sugar. Candies with peanuts or other nuts, for example, are higher in calories but lower in sugar (more of the calories come from protein and fat).

By the way, although they are low in sugar and calories, I don’t recommend giving sugar-free ("diabetic") candy to kids…the sugar alcohols can cause diarrhea, especially they you eat too much.

Candies that are lower in sugar (less than 20 g per “fun size” serving):

  • Hershey’s Reeses Sticks
  • Nutrageous
  • Chocolate covered peanuts
  • Hershey’s Chocolate Almond Bites
  • Mr. Goodbar
  • Reeses Pieces
  • Kit Kat

Candies that are lower in calories (less than 100 calories per "fun size" serving):

  • Bubble gum
  • Twizzler’s Bites
  • Jelly Beans
  • Bit-o-Honey
  • York Peppermint Patty
  • Tootsie Rolls
  • Raisinets
  • Gumdrops
  • Skittles
  • Starburst

Are there any candies that are both low in sugar AND low in calories?

The best option I could find were CocoaVia brand chocolates. Their bars and bites (with various fruits and nuts) are a bit lower in sugar and calories than most similar candy bars. Plus, they are extra high in those flavonoids that make chocolate so good for you. Unfortunately, they’re not cheap.

Helping your kids enjoy the holiday in moderation is probably your best bet.

Garlic Revisted

Thursday, October 9, 2008 21:00
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Garlic Revisted


A while back one of our monthly emails was on Garlic, we also did a blog post on garlic peeling tips from a wonderful garlic farm. A few days ago in the Dining section of the New York Times, Florence Fabricant wrote about a resource for black garlic. We have been hearing much about black garlic recently, and it is starting to be used by many chefs in NYC restaurants. The resource she mentions is from California called simply, Black Garlic
What is black garlic? It is garlic that has been aged for a month using a special fermentation process under high heat. It develops a dark color, a soft texture, and a very sweet taste. We will also be listing this new resource in our Spice and Herb section of the Food411 directory for your easy access in the future. Check out Black Garlic’s website for recipes. It is always fun to use new ingredients!

Cheese Lovers….Let’s wrap it up!

Thursday, October 2, 2008 22:55
Comments Off on Cheese Lovers….Let’s wrap it up!


It is time to treat our beloved cheese with the respect it deserves – caring for cheese correctly protects your investment! We all know that good cheese is quite the investment, but it is well worth it. For the best possible flavor, try to avoid buying plastic-wrapped, pre-cut pieces. If you must buy cheese pre-cut never buy it more than 1 day after the cut date. If you wrap your cheese in plastic wrap – STOP. Cheese is alive, it needs to breath, plastic cuts off the air and can trap moisture onto the surface of the cheese. If your cheese has come wrapped in cheese paper, keep it wrapped in this.

Cheese paper is 2 layers – the first is a breathable layer that takes the moisture away from the surface of the cheese, the outer layer is a waxy paper that keeps moisture in to prevent the cheese from becoming dried out. We have found a resource, Formaticum, that sells cheese paper online ( the paper is imprinted with a wonderful map of the US pinpointing founder’s favorite artisinal cheese farms). Here is a video from Formaticum, that show the cheese paper and how to correctly wrap your cheese. So much care and hard work goes into making cheese lets not ruin the taste and good looks by not caring for it properly.

Ever heard of a Fish Boil?

Monday, September 15, 2008 19:24
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Ever heard of a Fish Boil?


Upon arriving in Door County, WI – we saw advertisements for restaurants serving “Fish Boil’s”/ We had never heard of this and the name alone just does not evoke good thoughts! However being food obsessed as we all are, we had to investigate. Several in the group protested – boiled fish….ugh! We didn’t let the naysayers get us down. First we learned the history….fish boils have been a tradition in this area dating back over a 100 years. The tradition originated from the large Scandinavian population. They are made with the whitefish native to the area. The whitefish are caught fresh each day by local fisherman, it is then cut into small chunks, place in a large metal basket and cooked in boiling water with red potatoes (and some restaurants add onions as well). A large amount of salt is added, which is the only seasoning used. Once the fish oils rise to the top of the water, kerosene is added to the fire. This causes the fire to “explode” and the water boils over the top taking the fish oil with it. What is left is perfectly cooked whitefish with out the fishy taste! You are serve a plate of fish, potatoes (onions) & coleslaw, with cherry pie for dessert ( tart cherries and apples are the main crop of this area)

When you make your reservation ( the boils are set times each evening). they ask that you to arrive a half hour early to experience the entertaining procedure. It is a fun experience and we recommended it highly. One downside, the portion is usually not sufficient for most men.

Slice & Bake, Southern Style!

Saturday, September 6, 2008 15:30
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Slice & Bake, Southern Style!


We recently tried an exciting creation, Mamie’s Cheese Wafers. Homemade, in a frozen slice & bake log these cheese wafers ( aka cheese straws) are delicious & ingenious. Real sharp cheddar combines with pecans and butter – the aroma alone is worth baking them. It is an instant conversation starter for your next get together, in the south no one would consider having a party without them. For everyone it is time to experience this southern tradition. We all loved the crispy texture and the wonderful taste.

Who will win in November? – Let chocolate predict!

Thursday, August 21, 2008 13:38
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Who will win in November? – Let chocolate predict!


Artisan chocolate producer, B.T. McElrath has created dark chocolate melt-a-ways in the form of “campaign buttons”. The two varieties are : Democrat or Republician! On their website they have an ongoing poll showing the sale results. Sounds like a great way to call this election! We sampled these and our verdict is delicious. They are not only excellent quality but they provide a fun way to imformally “poll” any group of people, Place a few boxes of each your work’s lunch room and see which “variety” has more takers–of course, we are sure if one runs out, people will be happy to switch parties to get another delicious chocolate fix.

Tips for Easy Entertaining……

Thursday, August 7, 2008 13:13
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Tips for Easy Entertaining……


Chef Silvia recently gave two diiner parties, one was a buffet, the other a 4-course sit down meal. Both were 10 guests and both executed “almost efforlessly”. She began to wonder, ” What is it about meal preparation that makes some meals – even if only for one or two–a complete hassle, while others with many guests seem to flow with the ease of a catered event?”. She says it is all in the planning and is willing to share her secrets with us!

Easy entertaining requires menu planning, prep work & timing. As an example she points to her buffet meal. It consisted of six different platters. All except one were made ahead of time. Tomato with mozzarella, tubetini pasta salad, caesar salad with homemade dressing & marinated eggplant were all made in advance. The last platter was sausage, pepper & onions. She par boiled the sausage the night before the party. With the guests milling around at the start of the party she sauteed the sausage, peppers & onions in a large wok – which doubled as its serving bowl.

The advance work allowed her to enjoy the party, the guest got to see some of the meal being prepared – which only adds to the fun. A fun time was had by all.

A sit down dinner party takes a bit more skill. Silvia is confident that it can result in the same effortless meal. First course: grilled vegetables tossed in a simple vinaigrette which was made & plated ahead. Second course: Linguini with a putanesca sauce – which she made in minutes while her guest were eating their first course. The next course was tilapia ( preped ahead) – which she put inot the oven while she & her guest were savoring the linguini. The final course was a blueberry/peach cobbler topped with a polenta crust & served with warm vanilla ice cream. Again made ahead of time. Silvia says the dinner was relaxed, impressive but easy to execute. The only tricky part is the timing, which she made easy by chossing simple dishes with take only minutes to cook.

To sum up her tips:

1. Several days before the party, plan your menu – keeping in mind a mix of items that can be made ahead or in minutes during the party. Being in the kitchen preparing during a party is part of the fun! Not everything has to be ready.

2. Two to three days prior to the party, do your shopping. If there are titems that need to be purchased the closer to the party make a seperate list for those.

3. Make anothe list of what can be prepared the day before, the day of, and during the party. Then make each dish according to the schedule you have created. Most importantly, remember, part of the fun of giving a party is enjoying the process!

Once again, thank you Chef Silvia! Most of the recipes for the above items can be found on her website.
Click here

Preserving that fresh picked taste

Saturday, July 26, 2008 12:15
Posted in category Nutrition
Comments Off on Preserving that fresh picked taste


Last year at the Fancy Food Show we discovered Harvest Song. We told you about their unique (and oh so good) fresh baby walnut preserves. This year they were on top of our list for a return visit. All their preserves start with their own hand picked fruits that are very minimally processed – no additives- just fresh fruit, pure cane sugar & lemon juice. The result is pure fruit. The preserves are looser than we are accustomed to but the flavor is intense. This time we enjoyed their sour cherry, apricot & plum. Outstanding flavors – when you taste these preserves you feel the warmth of the sun on the fruit – we are not kidding. Add these to your Greek yogurt at breakfast or lunch and you will be transported to another world. Pair them with chesses for an exciting party starter. These preserves are exceptional, and their beautiful packing add to their uniqueness. We compared them to farm jams we had just received that use pectin ( like most jams do) no comparison – with these preserves all you taste is the fruit – and what exceptional fruit it is!

Page 507 of 507« First...102030...493494495496497498499500501502503504505506507