Sunday, June 21, 2009

Heroin Wings - Delicious Internet Chicken!

I'm a big fan of trying recipes I found on the Internet. I'm a daredevil like that.

Tonight I'm trying heroin wings.

4 lb chicken wings (I'm using chicken nibbles)
1/2 cup butter
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp dried parsley (I'm not using this, blech!)
1 tbsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly-ground black pepper

(I'm adding garlic powder baby!)

Roll your chicken bits in melted butter then roll in the combined cheese and spices. Bake at 180C for an hour or less depending on the sizes of your chicken pieces. My little nibbles are quite small so maybe only 45mins for those. Anyway use your common sense.

Here's what mine look like before I baked them. As you can see they are all unevenly coated. I'm not sure if it was because I was drinking or I'm just uncoordinated either way I'm sure no one will be complaining when they're cooked!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Auckland City Farmers Markets - Which One is Worth Getting Out of Bed For?

I had a whole morning to myself as husband was on a song writing course and stepson didn't finish rock climbing until 12, so I thought I might get up early and check out the Farmers Markets in town.

But who can drag themselves out of bed early on a cold winter morning? No one, thats who. Except those freaks who like jogging in a chill factor of minus one. Really you guys? You like that stuff? My lips get chapped just thinking about going outside.

Anyway so I dragged myself out of bed eventually (fark my house is cold!) and headed to britomart. Urgh Inner city Auckland. Surprisingly got a park right outside the market ($2 an hour) and wandered over, first impressions...

Its small! Where are all the people? Poor souls trying bravely to bring spirit and atmosphere to the britomart car park on a clear cold winters morning. Still everyone was friendly enough.
I bought Macadamia nuts, only to find they were Californian...WTF!! I thought farmers markets were supposed to be about local produce. Tricky Bastards. But then I bought some coastal honey from Barrier island. Yum and toxin free! Then I saw the muffin stand, I was sans breakfast and they looked so perfect! Made by The Godmother bakery and only $2 each. I chose passion fruit and it was glorious people! Absolutely glorious! Best cupcake I've had in ages. Perfect for the next morning tea shout at work I think, must make a note of it for my boss........

Then I was all about the free range eggs, a must have for todays conscientious consumer. By then I had walked around the tiny market what felt like a dozen times and I still had an hour to kill. So I drove the short distance to the Parnell farmers market at La cigale.
Now this was more like it! Traffic chaos, a good sign, I turned around and parked further down the street and wandered up. Already I could smell aromas of garlic and baking bread. Now this was worth getting out of bed for. More stalls and more chaos. People were speaking french all over the place and the salmon man was actually hawking his wares. Game meats, sausages, petite fours, nuts, cheeses, breads, fresh fruit and veges, fish, spices and heaps of other stuff. Inside I grabbed some kind of almond french pastry thing , it was still warm, perfection. As I nibbled my pastry aimlessly wandering the market I was tempted into buying some smoked Gouda and not long after some Cajun garlic chicken sausages, no filler all meat, sooooo goood! Just then I spotted Peta Mathias, shocking red boots and a shock of red hair, buying a hot ham roll. This must be the better market for foodies then. Before I knew it I had to leave and go pick stepson up, I could have stayed for a coffee and maybe more french pastry delights but alas, responsibilities call.

Its definitely worth a repeat visit, even just for a pastry. I'll be going to one of the Weds/Thurs night dinners at La Cigale, they serve slow cooked meats (good ol' comfort food for winter) and fabulous desserts all for very little money. $20 main, $8 dessert and complimentary fresh roast almonds with pre-dinner drinks. Sounds Divine.... any takers?

Monday, June 15, 2009

This Book Changed my Life - "Good Calories Bad calories" by Gary Taubes

A calorie, is a calorie. All that matters is how many you eat.

Or so I thought.

This book examines the deeper metabolic interactions of our food. Did you know insulin can affect your blood pressure? So eating that doughnut can raise your blood pressure! Or that low cholesterol is linked to higher incidences of strokes, so by taking all those cholesterol lowering drugs you could be at greater risk from stroke. It actually makes a huge difference to your body what type of foods you eat and where you get your calories from.

I think the main aim of this book was to sort out "fads" from "facts" about food. Gary Taubes has been interested in this avenue of science for a long time and he first caught my interest when I stumbled upon his article from the New york times "What if its All Been a Big Fat Lie". In his book Taubes shows how scientific method was pushed aside so the conventional dogma could remain unchallenged for decades. Everything is backed up with scientific papers and there is over 100 pages of footnotes. This is a well researched book that anyone who cares about their diet should read.

One of the more shocking stories in this book is how low fat, low calorie diets came to be promoted to diabetics. This type of diet has actually been shown to increase the need for blood sugar controlling drugs and metabolically is not ideal for anyone with a blood sugar problem.

Also worth noting was how little doctors actually know about nutrition. Even more shocking is how little nutritionists know about nutrition, because neither of these groups have been talking to the biochemists, the scientists actually studying metabolism. Sciences have become so specialised that information sharing is almost nonexistent between some groups.

This book is a culmination of over 5 years of research with a lot of direct conversations with the researchers and not just reading their papers. The author is not out to sell a diet, a weight loss system or any products aside from the book and I believe this a a genuine attempt to promote facts about food and health.

This book has completely change the way I look at food and it was a timely reminder to read those science articles in newspapers carefully, to go to the source rather than reading some journalist interpretation. The first thing I wanted to do after reading this book was to run out and buy a copy for every person I care about. But that would have made me look like some sort of evangelical nut! But I do become quite passionate about scientific information and getting the truth out. I feel even the local health organisations are sending out often misguided information on nutrition, health and weight loss.

I completely recommend reading this book, you will be amazed, you will find yourself shaking your head in amazement as some of the bad science that has been presented as hard truths.

If you are wanting to get to the truth about food with some real science then this is a great place to start.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Whats the big Deal about omega 3 anyway?

What the frack is an Omega 3 anyway?
Okay we are going to have to go into a little chemistry here (and not the sexy kind unless you're a biochemists who specialises in lipids, and if you are, well I'm already married so that ship has sailed my friend!)
Omega 3 refers to a whole family of fatty acids, not just a single compound. An omega 3 fatty acid has a double carbon bond c=c in the third (n-3) postion. These fatty acids vary in length and can have a chain of carbons from 16 to 24 long. They are essential fatty acids, meaning the body can't produce them, you have to eat them!

So they are a bunch of fatty acids, big whoop, who cares?
Mostly your brain and your heart care! There are several studies showing that Omega 3 fatty acids can prevent depresion, improve memory, reduce risk for alzhiemers, reduce cardiac risk, lower your triglycerides, are fuel for your heart, are good for your joints and are improves immune function.

Okay so they are good for you but why Omega 3 why not Omega 6?
Good question, both are essential, but our modern (western) diet is pitifully low in Omega 3, so we end up with an excess of omega 6 metabolites (all kinds of hormones) in the body which can alter metabolic function. Omega 6 metabolites have a more inflammatory effecton the body than Omega 3 metabolites. Inflammation = Bad, diseases like atherosclerosis and ischaemic heart disease are thought to be caused by non-immune derived inflammation.

Where can I get these Omega 3 fatty acids?
There are three main Omega threes we need to get from our diet

GOOD! ALA = α-Linolenic acid

BETTER!! EPA = Eicosapentaenoic acid

YEEEHAA!!! DHA = Docosahexaenoic acid

Our bodies can convert ALA to ----> EPA and EPA to -----> DHA but only in small amounts so its better to get EPA and DHA from our diets. A great source of EPA and DHA is oily fish.
Flax seeds are very high in ALA, and walnuts to a lesser extent.
Aside from fish and flax, you can get omega 3 from grass fed animals. Lamb, beef and even the eggs from free range chickens can have significant amounts of omega three.
Grain fed animals however have high ratios of omega 6 to Omega 3.
If altering your diet seems to hard you can of course just buy fish oil tablets :-) Check the label to make sure it contains plenty of EPA and DHA.

1 Minute Flaxmeal (ground linseed) Muffin - Microwave power!

This tasty flaxseed muffin is so quick to make and is perfect for breakfast of afternoon tea!
I've stared eating linseed aka flax as a better way to get omega 3. I have been taking fish oil tablets, but I occasionally get reflux from them (ew fishy burps!) and apart from bad breath there is a concern about mecury in fish, so I'm trying a plant based alternative. This healthy treat is gluten free and full of fibre.
Anyway heres my favourite way to eat flaxseed.

1/4 Cup ground flaxseed (I use the Healtheries brand which you can buy at most supermarkets now)
1 tsp of butter (be generous! go for an extra half teaspoon)
1/2 tsp of Baking powder
1 teaspoon of splenda (or crush a splenda tablet for no fillers! or real sugar if you don't artifical stuff)
1 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 egg

I combine all the dry ingredients in a coffee cup while the butter is melting.
I whisk the egg into the melted butter and then add to the dry ingredients. MIX WELL! You definitely don't want any dry spots. Microwave on high for 1 minute or slightly longer depending on your microwave.

My muffins just slide right out when up ended onto a plate, I then cut in half and eat with cream cheese and a cup of coffee. Delicious!