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Mrs. Samurai's Kitchen



Eggs-cellent!

Posted by Mrs. Samurai, in Nutrition, Local farms, Health 18 March 2012 · 1,345 views

We go through a lot of eggs here at the Samurai household - about 3 dozen a week.  We like 'em scrambled, fried, in omelets or frittatas, even raw!  The simple, humble egg has been much maligned in the press and by the mainstream "healthcare" establishment at times, but we don't let that bother us - we recognize it for the little nutritional powerhouse it is, and know that it's been a valued part of traditional diets for ages.  Eggs are an inexpensive source of a complete protein (in the white) combined with a variety of essential healthy fats and nutrients in the yolk.  They're good brain food!

But here's the tricky part:  those eggs you buy in the grocery store are not as healthful as they could be.  Most of you have probably seen the stories about the poor chickens crammed in cages at the factory farms - not a good life for the animals, but it also turns out that the eggs aren't as nutritious either.  

When a chicken is actually allowed to live a more natural life outdoors with exposure to sunshine and insects, their eggs have lots more Vitamins A, D, and E as well as beta carotene and Omega-3 fatty acids.  Awesome!  Kinda makes sense, doesn't it?  A healthier, happier bird will produce better eggs.

Now here's one more tricky part - deciphering the language used to describe the hens' conditions.  Is there a difference between "cage-free", "free-range", and "pastured"?  Turns out there's a big difference.  The only way to be sure you are getting eggs from chickens that actually spend their days pecking around outdoors, thereby producing those healthier eggs, is if they are labeled "pastured".  Anything else means they might have still spent their whole lives indoors.  (Note: don't confuse that term with "pasteurized", which is a whole different thing ;) )

Here's a very nifty video explaining this egg terminology further: UPDATE- for some reason this video was made "private" recently.  I hope that will change, but in the meantime I'll link to an article discussing this further down below...



How do you find pastured eggs?  We live in a semi-rural area, and our local farm stands and farmer's markets sell them as well as our natural food store.  It shouldn't be too hard to find them wherever you live, and it's great to support the local farmers!  Around here the pastured eggs average around $4 to $5 per dozen - a little more than the conventional eggs, but still a good deal considering how much you are getting from them.

 

For more info, see this article at Food Renegade's site!


Here's a photo of some of our own hens that we had a few years back and their trusty guard, Ouzo.  Good times!

Posted Image




Let's Hear it for Healthy Fats for a Healthy Body!

Posted by Mrs. Samurai, in Nutrition 02 February 2012 · 848 views

Once upon a time the local medical establishment was concerned that the Samurai's cholesterol levels were too high. Rather than follow their advice, he followed the more cutting-edge nutritional advice we'd been reading on our own questioning the popular "cholesterol theory" of heart disease. He reduced the amount of processed and/or carbohydrate foods he was eating, and increased consumption of good quality fats, meats, and eggs. His cholesterol numbers went down, and he was pronounced very heart healthy. (Of course, any of you who know the Samurai knows he has a good heart :wub: )

Note that you can't just add any old fat to your diet and expect good results - there are some that should be avoided.

Read on...

From Dr. Mercola's website:

A new study from the Netherlands has aroused a great deal of interest, especially as it comes immediately in the wake of an ill-conceived Danish tax that unfairly targets saturated fats.

The study found that dietary intake of saturated fatty acids is associated with a modest increase in serum total cholesterol -- but not with cardiovascular disease.

However, replacing dietary saturated fats with carbohydrates is associated with an increase in cardiovascular disease risk.

Let me repeat that:

Replacing saturated fats in your diet, like those from healthy grass-fed beef, raw organic butter, and other high-quality animal foods, with carbohydrates like bread, bagels, pasta, rice and doughnuts will increase your risk of heart disease.

Saturated Fats Are GOOD for You

I can't stress this point enough, as I realize it may take some of you reading this by surprise.

Unfortunately, this is the result of misguided and downright incorrect information that has been widely circulated from public health agencies, as well as further "cemented" in people's minds with the introduction of saturated fat replacements like trans fats and vegetable oil, which are far worse for your health.


Read the rest of the article here! Then go enjoy some good quality saturated fats.


Honey Laundering!

Posted by Mrs. Samurai, in Nutrition 09 November 2011 · 428 views
food safety, honey
Of all the products on the grocery store shelf, would you suspect simple, golden honey to be controversial? Unfortunately, few food stuffs are beyond the reach of corruption, as this story illustrates.

Tests Show Most Store Honey Isn't Honey

Ultra-filtering Removes Pollen, Hides Honey Origins

BY ANDREW SCHNEIDER | NOV 07, 2011


More than three-fourths of the honey sold in U.S. grocery stores isn't exactly what the bees produce, according to testing done exclusively for Food Safety News.

The results show that the pollen frequently has been filtered out of products labeled "honey."
The removal of these microscopic particles from deep within a flower would make the nectar flunk the quality standards set by most of the world's food safety agencies.

The food safety divisions of the World Health Organization, the European Commission and dozens of others also have ruled that without pollen there is no way to determine whether the honey came from legitimate and safe sources.


In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration says that any product that's been ultra-filtered and no longer contains pollen isn't honey. However, the FDA isn't checking honey sold here to see if it contains pollen.

Ultra filtering is a high-tech procedure where honey is heated, sometimes watered down and then forced at high pressure through extremely small filters to remove pollen, which is the only foolproof sign identifying the source of the honey. It is a spin-off of a technique refined by the Chinese, who have illegally dumped tons of their honey - some containing illegal antibiotics - on the U.S. market for years.

Food Safety News decided to test honey sold in various outlets after its earlier investigation found U.S. groceries flooded with Indian honey banned in Europe as unsafe because of contamination with antibiotics, heavy metal and a total lack of pollen which prevented tracking its origin.

Food Safety News purchased more than 60 jars, jugs and plastic bears of honey in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

The contents were analyzed for pollen by Vaughn Bryant, a professor at Texas A&M University and one of the nation's premier melissopalynologists, or investigators of pollen in honey.

Bryant, who is director of the Palynology Research Laboratory, found that among the containers of honey provided by Food Safety News:

76 percent of samples bought at groceries had all the pollen removed, These were stores like TOP Food, Safeway, Giant Eagle, QFC, Kroger, Metro Market, Harris Teeter, A&P, Stop & Shop and King Soopers.

100 percent of the honey sampled from drugstores like Walgreens, Rite-Aid and CVS Pharmacy had no pollen.

77 percent of the honey sampled from big box stores like Costco, Sam's Club, Walmart, Target and H-E-B had the pollen filtered out.

100 percent of the honey packaged in the small individual service portions from Smucker, McDonald's and KFC had the pollen removed.

Bryant found that every one of the samples Food Safety News bought at farmers markets, co-ops and "natural" stores like PCC and Trader Joe's had the full, anticipated, amount of pollen.

And if you have to buy at major grocery chains, the analysis found that your odds are somewhat better of getting honey that wasn't ultra-filtered if you buy brands labeled as organic. Out of seven samples tested, five (71 percent) were heavy with pollen. All of the organic honey was produced in Brazil, according to the labels.


Click here to read the whole, sordid story.


My Food Filosophy

Posted by Mrs. Samurai, in Nutrition 18 September 2011 · 387 views
nutrition, Weston A. Price
I have a few simple guidelines for the food I like to cook at home.

1. It should taste really good (duh)
2. Our meals should have some variety and interesting flavors
3. Nothing should be too time-consuming or difficult to prepare
4. The meals should largely be nutrient dense

Number 4 is often considered to be the undoing of Guidelines 1-3, but I've discovered that's not the case, particularly when you consider what kind of food is truly nutrient dense. I'll write more later about what I consider to be good nutrition, but will sum it up to say I have come to the conclusion that traditional, whole foods are the best things for us to eat. 'Traditional' meaning the kind of food humans have eaten for most of our history. Meat, cheese, traditional fats (butter, olive oil, coconut oil, etc.), veggies and fruit - awesome! That is, if you are eating reasonably good quality sources of these items (again, more on that later). Processed, refined, sugary, "20th century" foods - these have to be considered "treats" to be eaten on occasion (which is a hard truth to face up to, since we all tend to get addicted to these). I do love to bake treats, and will share these kinds of recipes at times, but I usually wait to make these for when I'm feeding a crowd or on a special occasion.

If you are curious, check out the Weston A. Price Foundation. Their work and writings, combined with others and our own experiences here in the Samurai household, have shaped my opinions on healthy eating a lot over the last few years.

Eating should be enjoyable from start to finish. Cooking should be fun, the meal should taste yummy, your digestion should feel good afterwards, and your health should flourish. Wow, I'm hungry now. Time to go make dinner!





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