Monday, October 29, 2012

Food for Thought 2

I'll continue presenting some of the information gleaned at a continuing education conference with Dr. Merrily Kuhn.  For more about her credentials, please see my first post "Food for Thought 1".
I've been reading more and more about the role inflammation has to play in all sorts of diseases.  Merrily spent quite a bit of time talking about chronic inflammation and its negative effects on the body.  Our bodies are pre-programmed to deal with inflammation.  If we have a tissue injury of any kind our bodies respond with inflammation which increases the blood flow to the area and the ultimate purpose is to prevent infection in the injured tissue and to heal.  This is an acute response and is 8 - 10 days from onset to healing.  However, chronic inflammation is another story.  Our bodies become inflamed through toxins in the:

~water we drink
~air we breathe
~products we put on our body
~food we eat (hormone laden produce and dairy, omega 6 fatty acids, transfat, chemically lined cans   with BPA and High Fructose Corn Syrup)
~household products we touch
and from sleep deprivation and obesity (62% of Americans are overweight.) 

Toxins cause oxidative stress (basically our bodies become rusty) which leads to inflammation.  Inflammation has been linked to cancer, arthritis, Alzheimer's disease, diabetes and heart disease, to name a few.  So, we need to counter this inflammation and oxidation through ingesting anti-inflammatory foods and engaging in activities that promote health. 

Healthy habits that assist in decreasing inflammation include:
~Maintaining a healthy weight (especially losing belly fat)
~Avoiding excessive alcohol intake, especially beer and spirits because they have a depressive effect on the immune system
~Getting adequate sleep

Nutrients, foods and herbs that assist in decreasing inflammation include:
~Green tea
~Dark chocolate (at least 70% cocoa...not the milk chocolate kind)
~Red wines (these contain resveratrol found in the skin of red grapes.  Since white wines are not made with the skins, there is not the health benefit in white wine as there is in red.)
~Fish oils
~Red and blue fruits
~Cruciferous vegetables
~Fresh ginger, thyme, rosemary, basil and oregano
~Vitamin D

Merrily elaborated on several of the items listed above.  I'll write more about some of the most interesting ones in future posts.  I've just been trying to include more of the items from the list in my menus.  I really don't want to rust.  It just doesn't sound fun.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Smoked Salmon Quiche

Try this yummy quiche with a twist.  Instead of the traditional crust, it has a crust made of potatoes.  Fun!!  Although this isn't exactly speedy, it would be great for a special brunch, luncheon or have it for a weekend dinner like we did.  I think the smoked salmon gives it a wonderful flavor, but it could be made with shrimp or another type of smoked fish.  If you're in our area, we found some great and relatively inexpensive smoked salmon at Blacktail Grocery in Lakeside.  This recipe used four dollars worth.  The original recipe was from Emeril Lagasse, but I changed it up a bit like I always do.  The leftovers make a great cold lunch.


3 and 1/4 cups grated cooked potato or frozen hashbrown potatoes, thawed and squeezed dry (I used the frozen hashbrowns and they worked great)
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients listed above and toss to combine.  Press mixture into a deep pie plate or quiche plate, spreading to evenly cover the bottom and up the sides.  Bake until the potatoes are golden brown, 25 to 30 minutes.  Remove from the  oven and cool on a wire rack.

Reduce the oven to 350 degrees F.


1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium leeks or 1 large leek halved and thinly sliced, about 1 cup
1/2 teaspoon minced garlic
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperatrue
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 eggs
1 cup heavy cream
4 - 6 ounces smoked salmon
2 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (I used 1 tablespoon of dried and it worked)
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pour olive oil in a small skillet and set over medium heat.  Add the leeks and saute until softened, about 4 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.  Remove from the heat.  Place the cream cheese in a large bowl and using a wooden spoon, stir in the leeks and lemon juice.  Add the eggs one at a time, stirring just until comibined.  Add the cream, salmon, dill, salt and pepper and mix well.  Pour this mixture into the cooled potato crust and bake for about 30 minutes, until golden and the batter is set.  Cool quiche for 20 minutes before serving.  Serve warm or chilled.

*A note about leeks.  If you aren't familiar with them...they are usually very sandy.  I slice them, separate the rings and put them in a bowl of cold water, swishing them around so the sand falls to the bottom of the bowl.  Then scoop out the leeks with your hand, dry them on a towel and continue on.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Food for Thought 1

I went to a conference last Friday that was mind boggling.  The title was "Food for Thought:  How Nutrients Affect Mental Health" and was presented by Dr. Merrily Kuhn.  She is an RN who also happens to have three PhD's (Physiology, Holistic Medicing and Naturopathic Medicine).  All of the material she presented was very well researched and evidence-based.  The bibliography accompanying my course materials was seven pages of tightly spaced references.  In short, I believed her.  The day flew by as I listened with rapt attention. 

You know, I try to eat healthy.  I try to limit toxins in my immediate environment.  I try.  But, I also get confused.  One day I hear one thing and it is totally refuted the next.   The information I am presented with is often overwhelming and downright scary.  So, I was very pleased to get the information from this conference in a concise, thoughtul and organized manner.  But, I still was overwhelmed, and I must admit, a bit scared. 

When I met my daughter-in-law Kylene for lunch that day I tried to tell her just a few things I'd learned in the morning.  She was exceedingly interested as she sat next to her little baby Maeve.  This information is important for her.  It is important for children like Maeve.  It is important for all of us.  But, we need to be informed, not confused.  So, I decided to sort through the materials and post a few treasures that I learned.  I think I can best make use of the information in small doses so I will try to post it in bits and pieces that are easier to digest. 

I want to share the information about plastics first.  Of course, we are surrounded by it.  Merrily said, "I challenge you to go to the grocery store and not come out with a bunch of plastic and foam containers."  Here is the bottom line from the conference. Check the number in the triangle on the bottom of the plastic container and compare it with the list below.  Get rid of the crap.

What is NOT safe?
Polyvinylchoride is not safe.  Find it in #3 PVC plastic bottles such as some cooking oil bottles and in plastic wrap.

Polystyrene is not safe.  Find it in styrofoam and even clear plastic containers marked #6.  This leaches styrene which is a human carcinogen.  It's the same stuff used in the dry cleaning business.  Please don't drink your hot drinks from a styrofoam cup.
Plastics marked #7 PC.  This is sold as micro-wavable plastic; it is in plastic eating utensils and the lining for metal food containers (the industry lines the cans with plastic so that your food doesn't taste like the can).  It has also been used in Nalgene bottles and baby bottles in the past.

What is Safe?
Polyethylene is generally safe.
#1 PETE plastics that contain soft drinks and water bottles (but don't get them hot or put them in the freezer...this causes chemicals to leach into your beverage).

#2 HDPE milk and water bottles.

#4 LDPE wrapping films and grocer bags.

#5 PP yogurt containers and syrup bottles.

Why not change to stainless steel water bottles and avoid the confusion?  DON'T opt for aluminum bottles.  I found the excerpt below from The Mother Earth News website regarding how to tell the difference.
  • Aluminum sounds duller and has less of a ring than stainless steel. Rap your knuckles on the edge of the pot or bang it with a wooden spoon.
  • Aluminum feels slightly warmer than stainless steel at room temperature.
  • After being washed, aluminum tends to dull slightly, while stainless steel usually stays bright.
  • Because aluminum is softer than stainless steel, a key will scratch aluminum much more readily than stainless steel.
  • If a magnet sticks to the side of the pot (even weakly), it is definitely stainless steel and not aluminum. (Note: If a magnet does not stick, you still can’t tell which metal it is, but you can be sure it’s stainless steel if the magnet does stick!)
Read more:

Unsafe Handwashing Solutions
Please check your handwashing solutions to see if they contain Triclosan. Dial liquid soap has it.  This is a carcinogen that stays in your fat.  It has been banned by the European Union (EU), Canada and Japan.  Go to for more information.

All of these environmental toxins lead to oxidative stress and inflammation.  Inflammation is the leading cause of many diseases such as heart disease and cancer. 

I plan on going through my cupboards to see what I have.  And when I go to the grocery store, I think I'll start looking at the bottom of the plastic container as well as the ingredient label.  I don't want the bad stuff in my house.

Here's another sobering fact:  41% of the US population will develop cancer in their lifetime.  21% will die of it.