This blog is about the intersection between evolutionary biology and food. But also about practical applications, sustainable agriculture, and general tasty things.
I'm not big on making desserts, but for special occasions this is a great quick recipe and I think it's quite a fun project for kids. It's also very filling and makes small servings, which makes it an ideal treat.
It's simple: just halve a Lara Bar of your choice and either use a silicone cupcake mold or your hands to make it into a "cupcake" shape. Then I made some icing with mixing some coconut manna/butter with a dash of honey, lemon juice, and vanilla. Then I mixed some delicious Kelapo Fair Trade coconut oil into that until it was the right texture to ice. I decorated with coconut flakes.
Coconuts of French Polynesia is a fascinating blog I found though the coconut Google group. Unfortunately, it's in French, so I read in in Google Translate. Since most of us eat coconut products imported and processed far away, we don't really think about what kind of coconut those foods came from. Apparently many traditional cultures use many types of coconuts. There are oil coconuts, water coconuts, medicinal coconuts, and fiber coconuts for example. I asked the author what these rare red coconuts taste like and he said they are very tasty and sweet, with a pink color inside.
Personally the only difference I have tasted in commercial coconut waters is between coconut water from Brazil and Thailand. The latter tastes so much better to me, particularly the Taste Nirvana brand. Perhaps someday we will be able to chose from coconut water from different places and different types of coconut.
I was home for a little while last week and noticed all my family members had So Delicious Coconut Milk in their fridges. I admit that I was excited when this product came out because it acts a lot like real milk. It doesn't form an oily film when you put it in coffee, for example. However, unless you really need it for that, I kind of think it's a scam and not really a "real food." Also, I don't know how their food scientists modify the fat to make it act like that, it's possible that like milk homogenization, this process affects the digestibility of the final product.
First of all, the ingredients:
INGREDIENTS: Coconut Cream (Water, Coconut, Guar Gum), Organic Evaporated Cane Juice, Calcium Phosphate, Magnesium Phosphate, Carrageenan, Vitamin A Palmitate, Vitamin D-2, L-Selenomethionine (Selenium), Zinc Oxide, Folic Acid, Vitamin B-12.
So it's fortified and fortified foods are questionable in my book. Vitamins you get from fortification are not the same as those in whole foods and studies have shown some questionable results. Googling any of those nutrients + fortification is illuminating. Folic acid, for example, has been tied to cancer. Some of them are harder to figure out. For example, I know that Vitain A Palmitate is a form of retinol, but not everyone knows that. Retinol supplementation has been tied to birth defects. Sorry, I prefer to get my nutrients from food, not from products.
Then we have the additives. I don't like to consume foods with additives in general, though some are harmless. There are a few here that might cause GI distress and other negative effects in some people. Carrageenan, for example, was discussed on paleohacks as a potential cause of GI ulcers and cancer. Chris Kresser recently discussed why guar gum might cause stomach aches in his great article on "why coconut milk may not be your friend."
Then there is the value. 1 cup So Delicious coconut milk has only 45 calories. The coconut milk I buy has 440 calories in a cup. If I need something with less calories I can dilute it. In fact I often buy coconut cream, which has twice the calories, and dilute it into milk since a can is the same price! Either way, for extremely thinned-out coconut milk, So Delicious is rather expensive.
Overall, I'd say this is an industrial product and not a real food. Avoid.
What do you eat when you've overslept and you have 10 minutes to spare before a big meeting? Or you have to go straight from work to a concert where there will be dancing and you want to have energy. I try not to make these situations a habit, but they do happen, particularly in NYC. Luckily I also work next to a Fairway, a glorious giant grocery store from heaven. I've stocked my desk with ten million trillion types of tea and also these things:
Tanka Bar: a Lakota jerky and dried cranberry bar that has a little bit more fat than regular jerky.
Macadamia nuts: a great source of monosaturated fat and less PUFA than most other nuts
Dried coconut: saturated fat for the win!
Roast chestnuts: starchy energy, quite similar nutritonally to the Stone Age "bread" that's been in the news lately.
The mix of what I eat depends on the situation. Yesterday for my reaaaaaally long meeting I chose two Tanka bars and a bunch of macadamia nuts. For the dancing I'd want more of the saturated fat and starch for quick energy.
Chestnuts are kind of under the radar in paleo because they do have a bit of sugar, but I find them very satisfying and tasty.
They are relatively uncommon in the US because a blight killed off most of our trees. But foresters are working to bring them back. They are kind of annoying to roast because you have to score them, which for clumsy me usually means stabbing them with a screwdriver.
Prof Loren Cordain announces a new cookbook and a sea change in his email newsletter:
PB: Do you cross-reference any of your other published work in the cookbook?
LC: The Paleo Diet Cookbook is consistent with most of the work from my prior three books. However, I have completely updated it based upon the most recent scientific evidence. A couple of key points are different from my first book, The Paleo Diet, which was published in 2002. First, I no longer advocate the use of canola oil, for reasons explained in the book, and I have also taken a softer stand on saturated fats based upon my own article on the topic, published in 2006, and available as a free PDF download from my website. Further, I now advocate coconut and coconut oil consumption.
Sounds like the paleo community is coming closer to a tasty consensus.
I live in the land of expensive food boutiques that sell absolutely nothing practical and can only exist in a place that is wealthy enough to view food as mere entertainment. Either way, some of them actually have some decent house-made cured meats and other delights. One of my favorites is BKLYN Larder and what they have that is truly outstanding is gelato made with high-quality dairy and very little sugar. Occasionally other shoppers have remarked to me that they are not fans of flavors like Fior De Latte, which tastes mainly of bright fresh cream, or honey-mascarpone, because they don't taste much like desserts. That's obviously OK with me since my usually low-sugar diet has made my tastebuds more sensitive to sweet. I also like the fact that the dairy, rather than the sugar, is the showpiece here. Good dairy by itself isn't appreciated enough, which is sad because there is a massive taste advantage for quality fresh dairy like milk, ricotta, mascarpone, sour cream, or yogurt. I don't do dairy very often, but when I do I made sure it tastes like grassy fields speckled with yellow wildflowers.
I unfortunately got the idea to do Panna Cotta because there is something wrong with my freezer and it won't freeze my ice cream cylinder very well, leaving me with some very cold slush when I last attempted a batch. I had another batch to do and decided to just eat it as it was in the fridge. I use gelatin in my ice creams and it had become a very nice jelly. If you believe the Weston A. Price foundation, gelatin is also very good for your skin and digestion.
At a local restaurant, Thistle Hill, I had a goat's milk pannacotta recently and decided to attempt one myself. It was fairly easy and also allowed me to use up some crappy nectarines that weren't ripening. The texture of the pannacotta allows the creamy dairy flavor to linger on your tongue enough to really taste the butterfat. It's a delight to eat.
1 teaspoons unflavored gelatin
2 cups good whole milk or coconut milk
.5 cup heavy cream or coconut cream
a few drops of stevia or a little maple syrup/honey to taste, plus a dash of vanilla
1. Place 1/4 cup water in a bowl, sprinkle with gelatin, let set for 5 minutes
2. Heat up dairy in saucepan until just about to boil, turn off heat, flavor with sweet and vanilla to taste, add gelatin mixture and let dissolve for 5 minutes
3. Pour through sieve into a bowl set in ice water bath (i'm not sure this actually does anything...)
4. Set in fridge
I just made this up myself with the fruit I had on hand. I boiled some sliced nectarines until the flesh broke down (about 15 minutes), blended them, and added a gelatin mixture described in step one of the panna cotta. Then I set up the jelly in fridge. Thankfully gelatin is pretty forgiving.
Bergen, Norway dinner with mussels, wolf fish, vegetables, and potatoes...the only thing missing was some lamb or mutton
Louisa asked what carbs I recommend. I did low carb when I started paleo to reduce the excessive amount of bacteria that seemed to cause my IBS. But as I got better I added in more carbohydrates. Personally I enjoy life more with moderate carbohydrate consumption and none of my problems returned. I think low-carb approaches like PaNu are a great approach for losing weight, but I don't think carbohydrates are going to make a slim insulin sensitive individual like me fat. I also think many paleo advocates selectively ignore the large amounts of evidence that roots were important to early humans. I think the best blogs that advocate a sensible approach to carbohydrates for healthy people are Whole Health Source(start with his Kitavan posts) and Primal Wisdom(start with Primal Potatoes).
I do carb cycling. I divide my favorite carbohydrates into rather unscientific categories, trying to rotate them to reduce the odds of me being affected by any antinutrients. My categories are tropical, local winter, and local summer.
The local winter carbs include carrots, squash, potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, rutabagas, parsnips, beets, and other vegetables that grow locally. In the winter I often eat a serving or two of these a day.
The local summer carbs include fruits, with a basis towards wild fruits, which I particularly enjoyed in Sweden. When I lived there I would often simply go out into the woods in the morning and gather a basket of lingonberries, sea buckthorn, blueberries, or currants. I think berries can be enjoyed daily in season and more domesticated fruits like apples or apricots with more moderation.
Tropical carbs are more like supplements or treats. They don't grow in New York, but with the Caribbean/SE Asian population in NYC I'd be amiss if I didn't enjoy some plantains, taro, cocoyam, mango, coconut, and other tropical delights similar to what the Kitavans or Okinawans are so healthy eating about once a week or so. Thai coconuts are my favorite because they pack a punch of potassium and it's possible to ferment most of the sugar out of the water.
Last year I read a certain book that extolled the virtues of fermented coconut water, but gave no instructions for making it. Instead, the author's website sold the drink and it wasn't cheap. I wanted to try it myself, so I went on Ebay and bought water kefir grains for about $6.
Now water kefir is kind of like dairy kefir, but it supposedly thrives in just sugar water rather than milk. The problem was that my grains never really thrived. There is a host of conflicting and bizarre information out there about how to treat them and somewhere along the way I did something wrong. I tried all kinds of different fancy sugars, spring water, artisan dried fruit....but they never reproduced. Whatever, I still got benefits from them even if they are pain to take care of. Since you don't ferment kefir as long as kombucha, cleaning and feeding them was a chore I had to do every other day. Maybe they were unhappy because I went on vacation and left them in the fridge....it's hard to find babysitters for tiny gelatinous bacterial and yeast colonies. However, I plan on buying more soon and hopefully I can figure it out, because I really enjoyed the drinks I made.
I suspect the reason that people buy expensive coconut water is that the way to make it is NOT to put your kefir grains in the coconut water. You should do a normal water kefir ferment that consists of sugar and lemon for a day or so. Then use that fermented water and mix it with coconut water or whatever juice you want in a nice bottle with a good stopper. A couple of days later you should have carbonated fermented coconut water. It's probiotic and has less sugar than normal coconut water. Ferments of other fruit juices are delicious too and water kefir is less harshly acidic than kombucha.