Tuesday, October 20, 2015

factual fats

I don’t mean to be mean-spirited*, but it’s Sunday again and I’ve just read the paper and there’s skinny little Miss-New-York-Times-Health spouting about What To Eat to Live Forever. Actually, she’s not a miss and she’s almost surely older than I am, although that’s neither here nor there, proving only that we’re both still alive and with conflicting notions of what one should eat to be healthy and still enjoy it. The photo accompanying her column makes her look more glamorous than mine does me, but I’ll bet it’s at least as old as mine and possibly older. Mine was taken in 2007, so imagine. 

So, this newspaper personality – Ms NYTH – has almost become reconciled to the fact that saturated fat – mostly animal fat – is not going to kill you, probably, but old ideas die hard, and she still hasn’t accepted the fact that good grass-fed animal fats might be GOOD for you and that a preponderance of vegetable oils are probably not. It’s the old Omega3 vs 6 controversy Actually, she doesn’t seem to know the importance of differentiating between industrial meat and grass-fed and pasture-raised meats. She does get her mind around white bread being a refined carbohydrate and probably poison to her body. That’s something I have a hard time with, simply because I love it so much. She picks on potatoes more than white flour, which is okay, too. But as for bread, I like to fool myself that if I slather it with enough very good cultured butter I will have mitigated wheat’s nascent nastiness.  Butter, by the way, is at the top of the list of foods rich in Omega3s.
Although farmers are said not to use glyphosate, Round-Up, on wheat seeds, they do, possibly, use it as a side dressing or aerial spray before harvesting, as a desiccant. If they do, that might go a long way towards explaining our growing allergy to wheat. In my opinion, Snopes lacks authority on this matter.

Ms NYTH quotes a doctor who obviously has not kept up with the latest in nutritional wizardry either, and then she quips, on her own, “Olive oil, like canola, avocado and nut oils, is monounsaturated, and while it has as many calories as meat and dairy fat, it does not raise serum cholesterol or foster fat-clogging deposits in blood vessels.” These are her words. I mean, So What! Has she not studied the studies, seen the headlines, read the many many utterly flabbergasted articles  confessing that butter is good for you, that cholesterol in food does not translate to cholesterol in the blood stream? After all these years?

Then she gets into the glycemic scale, and glycemic load, mostly in an attempt, I think, to excuse pasta as a food. I mean, if white flour is anathema, what is pasta but purely white flour. Unless you eat whole wheat pasta, which defeats the whole idea of pasta. Unless the mere pressing of white flour into a ribbon changes its composition? I’m complicit in that I tend to think that if you make your own bread and start with a tiny bit of yeast, say ¼ teaspoon to a pound of flour, and make it work hard all night in a cool place to rise, in the process fermenting itself a little bit, that you will make a loaf that is not quite as bad for you as a more quickly rising loaf. Which only goes to prove that we all have methods of lying to ourselves.

She likes skim milk, too. I would say that there’s probably nothing much worse for you than skim milk, especially for kids. Good milk is whole milk, especially unpasteurized, unhomogenized whole milk, which I buy at the farmers’ market from Larson’s Farm. Growing brains need good fats, and dairy fat from healthy, grass-fed cows is a good one. I think it hardly needs saying anymore that a whole food, as a rule, is better than one of its parts. Think of broccoli and beta-carotene – people were becoming ill from ingesting lots of beta-carotene tablets – it is the whole food and the synergy of its parts that is the important thing.

But, then again... How many times must something be said? Well, every week, perhaps. Over and over.
The destruction that the war on fat has wreaked on this country, on the whole middle of the continent, on the waters of the Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico, on our bodies, has been astounding; almost as destructive as the war on drugs. Once in a while we seem to be coming to our senses about both, but I was appalled to look at the front page of the Herald the other day, and find Rutland’s new police chief quoted as saying, "I am not a proponent of legalizing marijuana, and it is my sense it is not taken seriously."

What does that even mean? That we continue to be bullied into not putting certain seeds into the ground? That we continue to rely on drug cartels to supply us with the most innocuous “drug” of all? That we can continue to drink our livers to death but are prohibited from inhaling or ingesting a naturally grown plant that can lessen pain, side-effects of other drugs, nausea, and even epileptic seizures; the oil of which is said to cure all kinds of things, even cancer, but research on which is prohibited? That we continue to fill our prisons with marijuana users?

My, we are enlightened, aren’t we. I’d say over my span of years we’re averaging one step forward and two steps back! Have another piece of bread. Maybe it’ll change your life!

Because one must have something like bread, something crisp and tasty to eat along with all the raw vegetables, mustn’t one? A year or so ago I found a recipe for The Life-changing Loaf of Bread. It was developed by Sarah Britton on her blog My New Roots, or at least that’s where I first found my iteration of it. I see that David Lebovitz recently reposted a similar recipe on his blog that he called Josey Baker’s Adventure Bread. Almost everyone has a version by now.

This recipe is a bunch of varied seeds and nuts held together with psyllium seed husks rather than flour. It is scrumb-tious. I made it every week for a long time, sliced it thinly and froze it. It was easy to take out a slice or two every day and griddle them before slathering them with good butter. Then I started to press it onto a cookie sheet into a thin sheet, which could be broken up into crackers, and thereby no need to toast it. I haven’t made it in a while, but it’s a good habit to keep up.

The Life-Changing Loaf of Bread
This entire loaf has about 90 grams of carbohydrate (minus the optionals) and makes the best toast ever!

  • 1 cup / 5 ounces sunflower seeds
  • ½ cup / 3 ounces flax seeds
  • ½ cup / 2.3 ounces hazelnuts or almonds
  • 1 ½ cups / 5 ounces rolled oats
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
  • 4 tablespoons psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
  • 2 hands full of raisins * (these burn if they’re on the surface, so don’t use them in crackers)
  • coconut *
  • sesame seeds*
  • 1 tsp. fine grain sea salt
  • 1 tablespoons maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
  • 3 Tbsp. 2 ounces  melted coconut oil or ghee
  • 1 ½ cups
*=optional
1. In a mixing bowl combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Combine maple syrup (or stevia), oil and warm water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Spoon into a thin bread pan, either silicon or lined with parchment, tamp down, smooth out the top. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it.
2. Preheat oven to 350°.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing.
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast.
To make crackers, follow the recipe then line a flat cookie sheet with parchment, upturn the bowl of ingredients upon it, smooth out in a rough rectangle, cover with another sheet of parchment paper and roll it out into a thin sheet with a rolling pin.  Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. For thinner crackers you can divide the ingredients in half and roll and pat them out on two baking sheets. Bake them for slightly less time once they’re flipped.
Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C. Bake for 20 minutes. Remove cookie sheet from oven, flip the whole cracker over (if it breaks a bit, don’t worry!) and peel the baking paper off of the back. Return to oven to bake for another 20 minutes, until fully dry, crisp, and golden around the edges.
Let cool and break into pieces that suit you. They can be stored in an airtight container or frozen.
*Really. Well, I don't think I've ever written a more mean-spirited column. Only including it here because it was published, and this is a record of publishment. 

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