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Archive for March 24th, 2014

Interesting Information: The Worth of Bananas

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Interesting Information:  March 24, 2014

The Worth of Bananas

 

A friend was here recently, and she was SHOCKED that I rarely eat a banana.

“What about potassium?” she said.

“Well,” I said, “bananas being a good source for potassium is mostly food industry hype and does not take into account the down side of eating bananas.”

“What???”

One medium banana of the type in our stores has 450/mg of potassium–and a whole lot of starchy carbohydrates that aren’t much good for anything.  (Highly colored bananas in other parts of the world carry a better nutrient load than the yellow banana to which we have standardized–an incredible loss of diversity through monocrop cultures run by industry.)  I don’t know about you, but I’d like to lose another 20 pounds, and I can’t do that by eating useless, starchy carbs.

And there are better food sources for potassium:

Flounder (6 ounces) has 996.

Winter squash (1 cup cooked) has 946.

One medium white potato has 844.

Salmon (6 ounces fresh) has 756.

Cod (6 ounces) has 690.

Parsnips (1 cup cooked) has between 573 to 758.

Avocado (1/2 medium) has 602.

Asparagus (1 cup lightly cooked( has 558.

Orange juice freshly squeezed (1 cup) 496 and collard greens (1 cup cooked) 468

Broccoli (1 cup) comes just below banana at 440.

Other sources are chicken, sweet potato, celery, and tuna.

(I left out the dried fruits as they aren’t especially good for you even if they have good doses of potassium.)

Potassium is a mineral that works as an electrolyte that carries “tiny electrical charges throughout the body, and especially ensures the proper functioning of the heart,” according to Rachel Albert, B.A., in “Charging Up With Potassium” in Well Being Journal, Jan/Feb 2013 (35-37).  (I love Rachel Albert’s The Garden of Eating–it has wonderful recipes and a plan for how to manage to always have really good food available in your home by cooking multiple dishes at once and adding to them as you go along in the week.)

Potassium deficiency “may include fatigue, weakness, irritability, loss of muscle strength, muscle cramps or spasms (charley horses), swollen ankles, general edema, and recurring headaches that come at the same tie each day” (35).

Albert writes that “potassium and sodium play a tug of war across the cell walls in your body, with the delicate balance of your body chemistry at stake.  So, when the sodium concentration is high, potassium is literally stolen from your body.  It is leached from your tissues, poured into your blood stream, then dumped into your urine and excreted.  Conversely, when the potassium content outweighs sodium, your body is able to release and let go of excess sodium and water.  Potassium in its natural state acts as a mild diuretic and can counteract hypertension, which is more common among individuals and ethnic groups who consume few potassium-rich goods (37).  In hot weather, Albert notes, we need more potassium as we sweat potassium levels out of our bodies.

The more I read about our bodies, the more I am realizing how delicate the chemical balances can be.  I often have muscle cramps–especially after I eat some chocolate, I’ve noticed.  Or, when I hike.  And I know that my potassium can get too low–from a blood test the last time (March 2013) I had a bad food allergy attack.  The minute I take a potassium tablet, the cramps stop.

BUT, this article is the first time I’ve made an association between potassium and salt.  I eat and LOVE a LOT of salt–sea salt.  So maybe I’ll cut back a bit.  Salt is not the demon it has been made out to be for years–I’ve written about that on this blog–but I often put even more salt on foods before tasting them.  So…time for a bit of a change.  Perhaps I’ve been throwing off this potassium/salt balance in my body.

 

Written by louisaenright

March 24, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Turkey Tracks: Georgeanne Davis’s “Purely Pancakes” Can Be Gluten Free

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Turkey Tracks:  March 24, 2014

Georgeanne Davis’s “Purely Pancakes” Can Be Gluten Free

 

Update:  Since I posted this blog entry, I’ve come to realize that ricotta cheese is even nicer in the pancakes.  It’s dryer.  AND, you don’t need to whip egg whites.  I just mix up all the ingredients and fry up the pancakes.  Whipping the egg whites makes the pancakes almost too light…

 

I got back from Virginia on a Monday two weeks ago, and the next day set out to retrieve  neighbor Sarah Rheault from the Owl’s Head Airport in Rockland.

I got there a few minutes early and idly picked up last week’s copy of THE FREE PRESS.

Georgeanne Davis’s column on pancakes caught my eye, and I confess, I extracted that page from the rest of the paper.  After all, it was old by now…

I was drawn to the recipe for Cottage Cheese Pancakes, but thought the Potato Latkes and Asian-Style Pancakes looked good too.   All of these recipes could be made gluten free without much ado I thought.

* * *

So, this morning I made the Cottage Cheese Pancakes–and boy was I happy!!!  They were light, fluffy, and totally delicious and garnished with Margaret Rauenhorst’s maple syrup, local raw butter, and served alongside some bacon.  (I used the bacon fat to grease the pancake pan.)

I HALVED the recipe and used coconut flour instead of wheat flour.  I think I could have used brown rice flour or, even, the gluten free local pancake mix I keep on hand–Fiddler’s Green Fiddle Cakes.  Next time I’m going to try the brown rice flour, just to see.  HALVING the recipe gave me enough pancakes for two people, easy.

For the Asian pancakes, I think I’d use coconut, for the oil and either the brown rice flour or the pancake mix for the flour.  I think coconut flour works ok in small lots rather than a whole cup size…  That’s just me though…

* * *

It’s two hours later, and my tummy still feels warm and happy.  What’s not to like about 3 eggs, cottage cheese, butter, and bacon for breakfast?  Lots of good protein and fats.  Also, apparently real maple syrup has a lot of good minerals in it.  Who knew?  I’ll reheat the three/four remaining pancakes for breakfast tomorrow…  In the oven as I gave away my microwave some years ago.

Here’s the column from THE FREE PRESS, March 6th (17):

 

Home & Garden: Purely Pancakes

by Georgeanne Davis

Call them crepes, latkes, blintzes or just plain pancakes. All are appropriate fare on Shrove Tuesday, also known as Pancake Tuesday and more familiarly known as Mardi Gras, which occurred earlier this week. Mardi Gras, literally “Fat Tuesday,” is known for its hedonistic celebrations and elaborate parades, especially in New Orleans in the U.S. and Rio’s Carnival. Mardi Gras is in fact the final day of lush living for Catholics before Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Traditionally, at midnight on Shrove Tuesday, the Lenten fast of 40 days begins.

Why pancakes? Starting back in medieval times, pancakes were a way to use up milk, fats and eggs, which were forbidden during the fasting period. Today’s pancakes can be topped with a melting lake of butter or cloud of whipped cream, but they can also be primarily made up of vegetables – perfectly in keeping with leaner Lenten fare. One of our family’s favorite all-time pancake recipes contains no fat. Cottage cheese pancakes, originally from the “Tassajara Bread Book,” the kitchen bible of the back-to-the-land movement in the 1970s, are still unbeatable for any meal of the day.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes à la Tassajara 

6 eggs

6 Tbsp. flour

1⁄4 tsp. salt

2 cups cottage cheese (nonfat, low-fat or full-fat)

Separate eggs. Beat egg whites until stiff and set aside. Mix yolks with flour, salt, and cottage cheese, then gently fold the egg whites into this mixture. Fry like regular pancakes on a lightly greased skillet. Serve topped with applesauce, jam, or just enjoy plain with a swipe of butter.

Potato pancakes, or latkes, make a perfect last-minute supper or brunch fare. Starchier potatoes are usually preferred for latkes, but we like to use Yukon Golds or our own Nicolas. Sweet potatoes work well, too.

Potato Latkes

1 pound potatoes

1⁄2 cup finely chopped onion

1 large egg, lightly beaten

1⁄2 tsp. salt

1⁄2 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 250°. Peel potatoes and coarsely grate by hand, transferring them to a large bowl of cold water as you grate them. Soak potatoes for a few minutes after the last batch is added to water, then drain well in a colander. Spread grated potatoes and onion on a kitchen towel, gather it up and twist towel tightly to wring out as much liquid as possible. Transfer potato mixture to a bowl and stir in egg and salt. Heat oil in a heavy skillet over moderately high heat until hot but not smoking. Ladle two tablespoons potato mixture per latke into skillet, spreading into three-inch rounds with a fork. Reduce heat and cook until undersides are browned, about 5 minutes. Turn latkes over and cook about 5 minutes more. Transfer to paper towels to drain and season with salt. Add more oil to skillet as needed. Keep latkes warm on a wire rack set in a shallow baking pan in oven. Latkes can be made ahead and reheated on a rack set over a baking sheet in a 350° oven for about 5 minutes. Serve with applesauce and sour cream.

Another savory pancake is Asian in origin, found in Japan, Korea and China. Hold the syrup and use the accompanying dipping sauce for these.

Asian-Style Pancakes

2 cups flour

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus more as needed 

5 scallions, cut into 3-inch lengths and sliced lengthwise

1 medium carrot, peeled and grated

1 small yellow or green squash, grated

Dipping sauce:

1 tablespoon rice or white vinegar

3 tablespoons soy sauce

1 teaspoon sugar

In a medium bowl, mix flour, eggs and oil with 1-1⁄2 cups water until a smooth batter is formed. Stir in scallions, carrots and squash. Place an 8-inch skillet over medium-high heat, then coat bottom with oil. Ladle in about a quarter of the batter and spread it out evenly into a circle. Turn heat to medium and cook until bottom is browned, about three minutes, then flip and cook for another two minutes. Repeat with remaining batter. Drain pancakes on paper towels. In a small bowl, mix together vinegar, soy sauce and sugar. Cut pancakes into small triangles and serve with dipping sauce.