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Sunday, May 24, 2009

Breakfast On The Run

Don't have time for breakfast?

Think outside the square. Don't assume cooking takes a lot of time. If you give it a try, you will find that you can turn a bacon rasher and two fresh eggs into a great breakfast via the frying pan in less than five minutes.

Consider some of these, just as examples of what you could do.

EGGS

Eggs are a wonderful breakfast food. Not only are they full of goodness if you eat the whole egg, but they can be very, very quick to cook. Use free range eggs if that is possible and if cholesterol worries you, read this: Eggs, Carbs and Cholesterol

Instant scrambled eggs.

Break an egg into a mug or cup, add a slosh of milk, season to taste, beat lightly with a fork and microwave for 60 seconds on high. Check, stir, repeat in 15 second bursts if necessary (time varies because microwave powers vary). After the first time you will know how long to set it.

Save on washing up time - eat direct from the mug with the fork you used to stir it.

If you want to get fancy, a little chopped parsley added before cooking is good. If one egg isn't enough - use two or use duck eggs.

Omelette.

Put your skillet on moderate heat. Break two eggs into a bowl, add a splash (about a tablespoonful or less) of water, whisk briefly with a fork, add oil to the skillet and pour in the egg mix. Use the same fork to gently move the liquid from the edges to the centre and vice-versa and as soon as it is not quite set fold it over and serve it. The whole process should take less than five minutes from opening the pantry door to sitting down to eat.

If you have the time add extras like chopped herbs, or grated cheese, or sautéed veges. All those can be pre-prepared the night before to save time.

CASSEROLES

Make up a large batch of your favourite casserole. Choose one (or more) that is high in protein and reasonably low in carbs, so that an individual breakfast-sized serve won't spike your blood glucose levels. When it is cooled after cooking store individual serves in appropriate containers in your freezer.

For a quick breakfast grab a serve from the freezer, decant it into a bowl and re-heat it in the microwave while you have your morning shower.

Try a few ideas of your own; far tastier and healthier than expensive "shakes".

Cheers, Alan, T2, Australia.
Everything in Moderation - Except Laughter

Monday, May 04, 2009

Aspartame

On the subject of aspartame, never in the field of human diet has so much nonsense been so credulously believed by so many (with apologies to Winston Churchill).

Do some searching on the web or just listen to your well-meaning friends next time you reach for a diet drink. It happened to me again yesterday. I opened the fridge and took out a Coke Zero and my friend immediately said "Don't drink that - it's got that poisonous aspartame stuff in it!" Regardless of my answer, I was unable to change his conviction that he was saving me from a terrible fate.

If you are a type 2 diabetic and that hasn't happened to you yet, rest assured, it will. The sweetener police are a Special Squad of the Diet Police, always out to save us from ourselves.

Let me put it politely and succinctly. It is ALL utter nonsense.

We can thank a few individuals for this myth. The truth is lost in the mists of time. This anti-aspartame web-page claims that a certain Betty Martini was the originator, but this equally anti-aspartame page is dedicated to Nancy Markle (original link is gone by 2016, I have linked to the Wayback Machine archive) who is more often accredited with the "discovery." Some believe they were the same person. There are several disciples on the web these days, busily spreading the gospel according to Nancy Markle (note added 11th March 2011. That Nancy Markle page has disappeared and the various Betty Martini web-pages now claim Markle never existed).

If you do some searching on the web you will find that the followers of these kooks are very web-savvy and have ensured they will be on the first page of your search results. If you have the time, read some of them. You will find a web of inter-woven "supporting" research papers, some real, some not, most quoting each other, rarely peer-reviewed by any reputable journal and most performed using unlikely levels of aspartame on unrepresentative rodents.

On the other hand, if you go to more reputable sites such as the US National Cancer Institute, a division of the US national Institutes of Health, you will find some more credible references. Their summary (the emphasis is mine) is as follows:

"A study of about half a million people, published in 2006, compared people who drank aspartame-containing beverages with those who did not. Results of the study showed that increasing levels of consumption were not associated with any risk of lymphomas, leukemias, or brain cancers in men or women.

Researchers examined the relationship between aspartame intake and 1,888 lymphomas or leukemias and 315 malignant brain cancers among the participants of the NIH-AARP Diet and Health Study from 1995 until 2000. Development of these cancers was not associated with estimated aspartame consumption, refuting a recent animal study with positive findings for lymphomas and leukemias and also contradicting claims regarding brain cancer risk."


As a person with leukemia, those conclusions were of direct interest to me. I should note that I rarely consumed aspartame in any form before my double-diagnosis in 2002; I have consumed it daily since. Both conditions have improved; I don't credit that to aspartame, I am just making the point that neither got worse.

2016 note: that report is no longer available on the web. This is the orginal study underlying the assessment (pdf): Consumption of Aspartame-Containing Beverages and Incidence of Hematopoietic and Brain Malignancies 
Results: During over 5 years of follow-up (1995-2000), 1,888 hematopoietic cancers and 315 malignant gliomas were ascertained. Higher levels of aspartame intake were not associated with the risk of overall hematopoietic cancer (RR for z600 mg/d, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.76-1.27), glioma (RR for z400 mg/d, 0.73; 95% CI, 0.46-1.15; P for inverse linear trend = 0.05), or their subtypes in men and women.  
Conclusions: Our findings do not support the hypothesis that aspartame increases hematopoietic or brain cancer risk. (Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev 2006;15(9):1654 – 9)

Similarly, another organisation that gives credible support using reputable studies for their conclusions about aspartame is Green Facts. You can read their reports here: Scientific Facts on Aspartame.

For further reading, start with Snopes: Kiss my Aspartame

No matter what food substance you test someone, somewhere will have problems with it. Of course some people will have problems with aspartame. Some people have deadly problems with peanuts, or fish, or gluten or even lactose. But that does not mean that any of those substances necessarily have any dangers, if ingested in moderation, for the rest of us.

I have also consumed almost all of the other artificial sweeteners available to us these days, including Splenda, saccharine, and several others. None have harmed me in any way.

I repeat, I never drank diet sodas until AFTER my cancer and diabetes diagnoses and the only effect it has had on me has been to let me enjoy soft drinks without harming my blood glucose levels.

You must make your own judgement and test for yourself.

Cheers, Alan
Everything in Moderation - Except Laughter

PS. Comments from the kooks will not be published, so don't waste the effort of typing.

Friday, May 01, 2009

Stuffed Mushrooms


Breakfast for one, low carb.

Ingredients

½ a small onion
Two or three medium to large, or one very large, mushrooms
Two or three tablespoons of Napoli Sauce or chopped canned tomatoes
Cheddar and grated parmesan cheese
A little olive or canola oil for cooking.


Skillet method.

I use a 6" cast-iron skillet.

Remove the stalks from the mushrooms, peel the mushrooms if appropriate.

Pre-heat the skillet and your grill (broiler if you are American).

Chop the onion and the stalks and sauté them in the skillet in a little oil.

When the onion is translucent spoon the vege mix into the mushrooms and add a spoonful of Napoli Sauce or tomatoes to each mushroom, adjusting to slightly overfill each cap.

Place the mushrooms in the skillet, add a few tablespoons of water to the exposed area of the skillet to provide instant steam and also deglaze juices, cover and cook over low heat for two or three minutes until the mushrooms have wilted. The stuffing will leak or spread a little and mix with the water to make a rich sauce.

Remove the lid and lightly cover the mushrooms with grated or sliced cheese. Sprinkle a little parmesan over the top. Place the skillet under the grill (broiler) until the cheese is bubbling and browning.

You can transfer it to a plate, but I usually eat it direct from the skillet on a trivet.


Oven Method.

Preheat oven to 200 C (390-400 F)

Prepare the mushrooms in the same way, but don't pre-cook anything. Assemble the mushroom caps, chopped onion and stalks, Napoli sauce and cheese in a suitable size ramekin or small baking dish. Add sufficient water to give a depth of about 6mm (1/4") in the ramekin after the mushrooms are placed in it.

Cook for approximately 15 minutes.

After the first time, you may need to adjust the time to suit your own oven.

I like this method for a fast breakfast because I can prepare it the night before and leave it in the oven pre-set to cook in the morning; ready when I wake. Allow a few minutes additional cooking time for the oven to reach the right temperature.

Nutrition.

This is very approximate. The fat is from the olive oil and cheese, cut back on those if it worries you.

Calories................335
Protein.............12 gm
Total Fat.........25 gm
Sat. Fat..............9 gm
Mono. Fat........14 gm
Poly. Fat............2 gm
Carbohydrate..13 gm
Fiber...............4.5 gm

Bon Appetit

Cheers, Alan
Everything in Moderation - Except Laughter.