Monday, January 21, 2008

When was the last time you thought of Mad Cow Disease?

Okay, so I know I haven't posted in a while, but... I think this is worth the read. It's seriously making me reconsider if I should continue eating beef, let alone any meat for that matter. I always try to by organic meat in general, but this article solidifies it for me.

Mad Cow and Prions
Randall Neustaedter OMD, LAc, CCH Published 07/18/2004

If you choose to eat beef, let it be only organic. Cattle are fed and treated with so many toxic products that their meat could literally kill you. Commercial beef is laden with numerous cancer-causing chemicals including pesticides, growth hormones, estrogen, antibiotics, worming medicines, vaccines, and their chemical constituents (mercury, antifreeze, aluminum, formaldehyde). Now we also have prions (pronounced pree-ons) in cattle from the US.

The lone case of mad cow disease discovered in Washington has led 29 countries to ban the import of US beef. More cases of the disease will invariably be reported, and contaminated meat may have already made its way into our food supply since cattle have not been tested for the disease in any significant numbers until this incident. Only four percent of "downed" cows (unable to walk and therefore dragged to slaughter) have been tested for mad cow disease. In Europe, 25 percent of cows meant for human consumption are tested; in Japan, all such cows are tested. Until now, just 1 in 1,700 cows have been tested in the United States.
Prions are simple abnormal proteins that kill cattle with mad cow disease, and also kill people if they ingest beef that contains these prions. The disease is spread when cattle are fed animal products that contain prions. This is the official explanation, which is disputed by some scientists who insist that no scientific study has ever documented the spread of mad cow disease through ingestion of prions by cattle or humans. Other theorists insist that organophosphate insecticides (Phosmet and Malathion in cattle and lice medications in humans) can deform prion molecules and cause the devastating nervous system disease.
Cows may ingest prions through beef or blood that is recycled into feed. Calves are routinely fed cattle blood protein, and cattle are fed chicken meal from chickens who have been fed ground up cattle. Prions cannot be destroyed by heat or radiation. They are virtually indestructible. Prions have been isolated from muscle tissue of infected rodents and humans, but not from beef.

Whether the dreaded diseases (known as spongiform encephalopthies, mad cow disease, and variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans) are caused by cannibalistic cattle or cattle treated with dangerous insecticides, beef from organic cattle and cattle raised on completely natural feed without chemicals or animal byproducts are significantly safer.

My advice: Do not eat beef from commercial sources. Eat only beef from organic, grass fed, or vegetarian fed cattle, whose histories are capable of being traced by the butcher. Do not ever allow your children to eat beef in school lunch programs or at fast food restaurants until all cattle are tested for disease.

Something to keep in mind:

  • The US government refuses to test American beef. Bear in mind the Beef industry is a huge contributor of the Republican party.

This is some pretty serious stuff. I have a roast in my freezer... and to be honest, I don't know if I can make it. I would love to read your comments, let me know what you think.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

No excuses!

Chicken Noodle Soup with Rosemary and Lemon
Delicious Apple Spice Muffins

The beginnings of a chicken pot pie with filo dough crust.
Chive Buttermilk Biscuits

Okay, so I haven't posted in more than a month. Totally lame, I know. Here's the thing, I have actually been cooking but I am also in play, work 40+ hours a week and generally like to bathe so I haven't had the time to elaborate on my delights. Fortunately today I was able to get down to it! The pictures above are from some of my favorite culinary adventures from recent times.

There's something so wonderful and comforting about this time of year. I constantly feel compelled to make soups, pot pies, roasts, and cookies. Oh cookies... spice cookies, chocolate cookies... Not to mention the apples this season have been lovely! I have made two batches of the muffins above! Made with Golden Delicious apples, apple sauce and low-fat buttermilk ... they are just as healthy as they are delicious. Only 1/4 cup of oil (i.e. fat) in the entire recipe

Proudest moments:

1) I have learned how to properly cut cold butter into flour. Now I know how to correctly make biscuits, pie crusts, etc. It took me a while to learn all of the little techniques but lemme just say, those biscuits were amazing- complete fluffy goodness.

2) I made individual chocolate souffle cakes for our 1/2 anniversary. I was so nervous I would not be able to whip the egg whites enough or, god forbid, would over beat them but the cakes came out wonderfully.

Here's the thing, I do everything by hand. I do have a hand beater but generally speaking I do all baking and cooking the old fashion way. Not to say I wouldn't love my own Kitchen Aid, I would, but there's something great about doing it the ole' hard complicated way. I feel like I understand the science behind cooking versus "dump" and "pour"- like with a food proccessor.

Anyway, I have more pictures and more delights to come. I am making cookies and chocolate truffles to go along with my Christmas cards so I can't wait to upload those babies!

Enjoy the seasonal delights by making apple muffins:

Cooking spray
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/4 cup chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup whole-wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup canola oil
2 large eggs
1 cup natural applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup lowfat buttermilk
1 Golden Delicious apple, peeled, cored and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Coat a 12-capacity muffin pan with cooking spray.

In a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons of the brown sugar, the pecans and cinnamon. In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and whole-wheat flour, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, whisk the remaining 3/4 cup sugar and oil until combined. Add the eggs, 1 at a time, whisking well after each addition. Whisk in the applesauce and vanilla.

Whisk in the flour mixture in 2 batches, alternating with the buttermilk. Whisk just until combined. Gently stir in the apple chunks.

Pour the batter into the prepared muffin pan and sprinkle with the pecan mixture. Tap the pan on the counter a few times to remove any air bubbles. Bake for 20 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center of 1 of the muffins comes out clean.

Let cool on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Run a knife around the muffins to loosen them and unmold. Cool completely on the rack.

Nutritional Analysis per Serving:
Calories: 219
Total Fat: 8 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Protein: 4 grams
Fiber: 2 grams

Monday, October 29, 2007

What are you drinking?

No exciting pictures today folks. I made a delicious homemade chicken noodle soup saturday night. Accompanied with some crusty rosemary garlic bread and some homemade cookies. However, I did not have time to shoot any photographs because Doan and I were running late for a date at the Viper Room to watch his friend Ryan play. But, have no fear! I liked the meal so much that we're having it again on Wednesday night! It was super comforting and healthy. Plus, it strikes me as a great Halloween meal because we'll want something a wee bit lighter while we snack on Halloween candy. Otherwise our food from this past weekend was pretty mundane. We did try a new thai place on Pico and Westwood, Thai Chili, after seeing Lars and the Real Girl at the Landmark. The movie was great, the restaurant? Not so much.

Anyway, be prepared... some great recipes comin' up!

Tip from

What kind of oil are you gulping?

The BiteExtra-virgin, but of course. But all of us are consuming petroleum too, since it goes into the energy it takes to produce, transport, refrigerate, market, and dispose of products (embodied energy). Next time you shop, consider the embodied energy of what you're buying.

The Benefits:

Less overall energy use. Creating that plastic bottle of H20 you chug after a workout involves water pumping, bottling, plastic manufacturing, label printing, shipping, store refrigeration, and advertising. And that's before you drink it and throw it away. Whew.

Less oil consumption. An imported, one-liter plastic water bottle uses 1/4-liter of oil (and that's just for the pumping, bottling, and shipping).

Longer lasting products. When you consider embodied energy at the store, you'll be inclined to pick better quality products (like a reusable water bottle) that last longer.

Money savings. Not paying for that extra energy makes for cheaper products. Example? Average tap water costs $0.0015 per gallon while a 16-oz bottle can cost up to $2.

Just something to think about, check out you can buy their products at wholefoods. They are lined with copper so they keep the water tasting fresh, stay cold and remain clean.


Friday, October 26, 2007

Naughty Double Chocolate Cookies

Sometimes we must admit defeat, last night was one of those times. That's not to say the cookie above was a total failure but here's the thing about baking low fat baked goods. There's little fat, obviously, so there's a very slim margin for baking time error. My first batch of 12 were a little too crispy (chatting with Doan for a wee bit too long) and these cookies are supposed to be moist and crumbly. Fortunately my second batch was much better!! Hence, the delicious cookie above.

It's worth the extra effort, in my humble opinion, to bake lowfat cookies. That's not to say I don't indulge in a really scrumptious fatty Martha Stewart recipe every so often but why not treat yourself midweek with two of these wonderful 110 cals cookies? Instead of feeling like I am on a diet, I feel like I am indulging in delicious foods. I think a common myth is that you constantly feel deprived when on a diet. However, with sound nutritional education, creating new habits and embracing such recipes, like the one below, it's easy to feel completely satisfied, maybe even a wee bit naughty. (wink)

Double Chocolate Cookies:

1/4 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 granulated sugar
1/4 cup canola oil
1 egg
1 teaspoon of real vanilla extract
1/2 all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder (not Dutch processed)
1/4 teaspoon of salt
2/3 cup milk chocolate (chopped)
2/3 cup chopped pecans

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a large bowl, mash together the butter and sugars with a folk until well combined. Add the oil and egg and beat until creamy. Mix in vanilla.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the flours, cocoa powder, and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well (add the dry ingredients a little at a time, like in 1/3 parts). Stir in the chocolate and pecans and mix well. Using a tablespoon scoop the batter onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Also, I like to separate my batter into half, scoop each half into parchment paper, roll into a log and freeze. Once the batter has chilled it's much easier to slice cookies and place on the baking sheet. Not only can you make sure you have the correct serving sizes, but you can make sure all cookies are the same pretty size.

Bake for 12 minutes. Transfer cookies to a cooling rack to cool.


Nurtritional Information per cookie:
Cals- apx. 110/ Total fat- 6 grams/ Saturated fat- 2.5 grams/ Protein- 1 gram/ Fiber- 1 gram.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Slow and Easy Thursday

For some reason this day always represents easy dinner night. Most Thursday's I am off at casting director workshops so I always bring my dinner along. However tonight I have the luxury of staying home, baking cookies and celebrating Anne's birthday. Does this mean I am going to make an elaborate dinner? No, not tonight. Instead, since it's easy dinner night in the La Sawyer home we are going to enjoy the last bit of the veggie chili from our pumpkin carving party extravaganza!! It's super healthy too, so it fits into my weekly night mode. What's my weekly night mode you ask? Well, I try to keep our dinners super healthy, no major snacks, low cal breakfasts and fruit for desert. It's a new strategic move to help maintain my 1-2 pounds a week weightloss. Fortunately everyweek I usually make one exception where I allow myself to have something a bit sweet. I still manage to make up for it by cutting something else out but some examples are a latte with a friend or, as with the case tonight, 2 cookies to celebrate Anne's birthday. The recipe I chose is an Ellie Kreiger recipe so it's as healthy as a cookie can be, some whole wheat flour/ healthy heart fats. Not to mention each cookie is only apx. 110 cals so I can have two without feeling guilty. I have already made the dough so I just have to put them in the oven when I get home, hence, no photo. But I will add it tomorrow along with the recipe. Which leads me to my next item of business, per Malika's request I have included the Barely Salad recipe, please enjoy.

Scary Fact:

Satellite images show a floating patch of garbage in the middle of the Pacific Ocean that's twice the size of Texas. It's mostly plastics, which will never biodegrade- ever. One simple way to reduce trash is to reuse grocery store bags. Come on, do you really need more plastic bags from the super market? I say, be super cute and hip, carry a chic reusable green bag from whole foods, it's like $1. Totally worth it!

Barley Salad with tomatoes, zucchini and fresh feta:

Serves 2-

1 teaspoon Olive Oil
3/4 cup chopped onion
1 garlic clove, mixed
3/4 cup of uncooked barley
2 cups of chicken stock
1 1/2 cups of chopped zucchini
1 1/2 cups of halved cherry tomatoes
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons of fresh feta
zest of 1 lemon
Juice from 1/2 to whole lemon, depending on juicy-ness

1. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic; saute 2 minutes (Be careful to make sure it's truly medium- high heat because it's easy to burn garlic and burnt garlic tastes mighty bitter.) Add barley (to toast); cook 1 minute. Add chicken stock; bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat, simmer for 30 minutes. Stir in zucchini, tomatoes, salt, pepper, lemon zest and lemon. Cook for 5 minutes. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon of feta.

Note* I tend to buy sodium free chicken broth, in which case I add a little extra salt. Keep in mind if you do the same.

Nutritional info per serving:
cals- apx. 355 cals/Fat- 6.6(1.8 sat.; the rest heart healthy poly. and mono.)/protein 12.4 g/
Fiber 15 g/cholesterol 5mg.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Barley Salad with Cherry Tomatoes, Zucchini and Fresh Feta

This is what we had for dinner last night. Beyond being healthy it was also delicious! I have made this once before in honor of a girl date with the lovely Meredith Hines and Meredith Gray. And let me just say, second time around? Just as yummy! One of the reasons I love this salad is that it's super hardy so it makes a great lunch or dinner but it also has light flavors like lemon zest and fresh veggies (you add the veggies towards the end of the cooking process so they're still fairly crisp). I actually adapted the recipe a bit and added extra ground black pepper for bite and lemon zest/juice for a bright citrus punch.
Furthermore, this dish is great for lowing cholesterol and is extremely high in fiber. There's hardly any saturated fat which would be due to the modest amount of feta cheese. Since feta is such a strong flavor you need very little to feel indulged in creamy cheesy goodness. I would be happy to share the recipe with anyone just shoot me an email. This is actually a side dish but instead I served Doan and myself two servings to make a full meal (apx. 350 cals/ 2 cups of salad each) and sliced apples on the side. It was a great way to enjoy the fall's bounty while still being healthy.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Every journey begins with a fork...or spoon.

To be honest, I am a novice chef. In fact, I much prefer the idea of being a cook as opposed to chef because there's something more innately human about being a cook. I mean, everyone can be a cook, a chef... seems so elite. Regardless, I am new to cooking and baking. For the past few years I have been able to cultivate my skills past the requisite microwave and prepackaged food to things slightly more complicated.
I first started really paying attention to food when I was trying to lose weight, about three years ago. After successfully losing 60 lbs I became even more interested in cooking. I began to realize what an impact food can have on your body but also on your life in general. More and more I have gained my own food convictions and have been trying to implement them into my daily life. For instance, I am a firm believer in recycling and sustainable practices.
I use a great reusable water bottle (Sigg Bottle- Whole Foods) instead of buying a large case of plastic bottles. Also, I try my best to buy organic and local farm produce whenever possible. I just believe that ultimately food is a huge part of our lives and whether we spend it at McDonald's or in our own kitchens we should be aware of it's impact on ourselves and our community. Don't get me wrong, I love a #1 with cheese, but is it worth it?
However, a large part of this blog is just about relishing in the pleasure of cooking and baking. The more recipes I read the more I want to make cakes and cookies and braises! My poor boyfriend is constantly forced to eat things like pumpkin spice cookies (which he does not particularly enjoy) all for the sake of making me happy. Not only is cooking fun but it's relaxing. I tend to be a little high strung (wink) so after stressing out about my acting career, job, family .... global warming.... conquering a new recipe is just what I need to calm down.
Be prepared for photos and opinions, I can't wait to share my love of cooking and baking with all of you, all three of you who actually read my blog. lol.