The Maker's Diet

Cook From Scratch--Fast?

An introduction to my series on how to Cook from Scratch fast while eating a whole-foods diet.

Why Butter is Better

I have been following the progress of Sean Perkey in his blog Watch My Loss. His goal is to lose half his body weight (250 lbs.), and to raise $50,000 for diabetes research in the process. Not only is this amazing in and of itself, he has a very entertaining writing style, and it has been wonderful getting to "know" him a bit through his blog. If you would like to help encourage him, feel free to drop him a comment over there. (Talk about accountability partner--he went for a team!)

In the process of being a "Watcher", as he calls his readers, I have done some additional research on certain types of food that I would like to share with you, my own readers. I will be doing a series over the next few weeks on some of the information I've come across. (Not every day--about once a week, or something. So for those of you who find this insufferably dry, and say "bring on more pictures of your cute kids!" just skip that day, 'kay?)

Butter:

Okay, first of all, I would like to point out two of the posts I've already put up about fat processing: Extraction and Hydrogenation. If this doesn't gross you out so much that you never want to have margarine again, I don't know what will.

Now, on to why you should have butter:

First off, we have been lied to. Our government and elected officials--shockingly--do not have our best interests in mind the majority of the time with the things they allow "experts" to let us believe. Why do I say this?

Since the beginning of time, butter and butter-like products have sustained peoples all over the world. In the Bible, "curds" (which Dr. Jordan Rubin believes is a mis-translation of a word that means something very similar to "butter") is mentioned several times--Abraham offers "curds and milk" to the angels that visited him, as one example. (Genesis 18:8). Dr. Weston Price found that the healthiest groups of people he studied treasured butter for the valuable nutritional properties it carried. From an article called "Why Butter Is Better" on the Weston A. Price Foundation site:
 

When Dr. Weston Price studied native diets in the 1930's he found that butter was a staple in the diets of many supremely healthy peoples. Isolated Swiss villagers placed a bowl of butter on their church altars, set a wick in it, and let it burn throughout the year as a sign of divinity in the butter. Arab groups also put a high value on butter, especially deep yellow-orange butter from livestock feeding on green grass in the spring and fall. American folk wisdom recognized that children raised on butter were robust and sturdy; but that children given skim milk during their growing years were pale and thin, with "pinched" faces.

Does butter cause disease? On the contrary, butter protects us against many diseases.

So when did we start believing that butter, and saturated fats, were the root of all our bodies' evils?

Margarine was invented in 1869 by a French scientist, Hippolyte Mege-Mouries, originally using beef fat and pig gastric juices. Much cheaper than butter to make, with a much larger profit margin, it was touted by food processing companies as "better than butter." However, it did not take hold in America until around the 1950's, when they figured out how to make it from domestic vegetable oils. Thanks to Ancel Keys and his faulty Lipid Hypothesis, health-conscious Americans (and Canadians too, I'm betting) started buying it in droves, thinking they were doing their bodies a favour.

Butter was made out to be the enemy, due to it's high saturated fat content. Margarine was the champion spread of those trying to prevent heart disease. Meanwhile, the food processing industry was laughing all the way to the bank.

Consider this:

Heart disease was rare in America at the turn of the century. Between 1920 and 1960, the incidence of heart disease rose precipitously to become America's number one killer. During the same period butter consumption plummeted from eighteen pounds per person per year to four. It doesn't take a Ph.D. in statistics to conclude that butter is not a cause. Actually butter contains many nutrients that protect us from heart disease. First among these is vitamin A which is needed for the health of the thyroid and adrenal glands, both of which play a role in maintaining the proper functioning of the heart and cardiovascular system. Abnormalities of the heart and larger blood vessels occur in babies born to vitamin A deficient mothers. Butter is America's best and most easily absorbed source of vitamin A.

Butter contains lecithin, a substance that assists in the proper assimilation and metabolism of cholesterol and other fat constituents.

Butter also contains a number of anti-oxidants that protect against the kind of free radical damage that weakens the arteries. Vitamin A and vitamin E found in butter both play a strong anti-oxidant role. Butter is a very rich source of selenium, a vital anti-oxidant—containing more per gram than herring or wheat germ.*

Also--NEWS FLASH!!--our bodies need saturated fat! Please see this post.

Here's some more facts and figures for you:
 

  • Margarine eaters have twice the rate of heart disease as butter eaters (Nutrition Week 3/22/91 21:12).
  • The fatty acids found in artery clogs are mostly unsaturated, not saturated. (The Lancet 1994 344:1195)
  • Butter is a natural fat, made from cream. Margarine is an artificial concoction of chemicals. Not only does butter taste better, but it's good for you. Butter is a source of fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and K, and important trace minerals magnesium, zinc, chromium, selenium and iodine. (Taking The Fear Out of Eating Fat)
  • Butter is also a good dietary source cholesterol. What?? Cholesterol an anti-oxidant?? Yes indeed, cholesterol is a potent anti-oxidant that is flooded into the blood when we take in too many harmful free-radicals—usually from damaged and rancid fats in margarine and highly processed vegetable oils. A Medical Research Council survey showed that men eating butter ran half the risk of developing heart disease as those using margarine. (Why Butter Is Better)
  • When research was done in the 1940's about saturated fats causing cancer, researchers lumped in the naturally saturated fats of butter with the artificially hardened fats of margarine and shortening. However, "when researchers from the University of Maryland analyzed the data used to make such claims, they found that vegetable fat consumption was correlated with high rates of cancer and animal fat was not." (Nourishing Traditions, Sally Fallon and Mary G. Enig, Ph.D.)
  • Eating fats not only make your foods taste better, but they help you lose weight. "Fat actually sends a signal to your brain to tell you when to stop eating. So, if you don't get enough fat in a meal, you will never feel completely satisfied and will usually end up overeating." Low-fat diets also usually end up being high-carb and low-protein, both of which make you gain weight, instead of losing it. (Taking The Fear Out of Eating Fat)

If you have the time, please read the following articles for more information:

The Truth About Saturated Fat
Why Butter Is Better
Making the Transition: Taking the Fear out of Eating Fat

For my own part, I switched to a "natural fat" diet over a year ago. I was three months pregnant with my third child. I started using only whole milk and whipping cream (of which I used plenty, due to my tea habit and how much I love cream soups). Butter was already a staple in my house, but I switched to organic, and--more recently--to raw organic butter, which I use in nearly all of my cooking, plus try to eat plenty every day, even if it's just on some sprouted-grain toast. We eat plenty of (home-made) yogurt that is made from whole milk. I have a whole-milk kefir shake nearly every day. I abolished canola, peanut, corn, safflower, and all other rancid and oxidized vegetable oils from my house, substituting them with Extra Virgin Coconut Oil (another saturated fat with wonderful health-promoting qualities, which I have a tablespoon of every day in my shake), cold-pressed Extra Virgin Olive Oil, organic Flax Oil, and occasionally some expeller-expressed sunflower oil (which I mix with Olive Oil to make mayo to temper the strong flavour.) And have I gained weight? Have I ballooned up like a puffer fish that just found out his teenage daughter is pregnant?

No! In fact, my body slimmed down while I was pregnant, yet I delivered a full-term, 8 lb. baby, who is healthy as a baby should be. After the pregnancy was over, I did not reduce my fat intake, but kept it right up as I was breast-feeding, yet I slimmed down to a size and weight I thought I would never see again--one I passed sometime in high school.

Eat fat to lose fat? Try it. You'll like it.

Shingles, New Job, Rice Pudding and Rice Pilaf

*Long sigh.*

Well, our house is our own again. My mother and her husband were staying here since Sunday night, visiting from ye olde U. S. of A. In that time, Mike re-shingled the entire back side of our roof, which covers about 1000 square feet. Mom helped him, and I spent most of my time cooking for the crew.

What a blessing that was. When we purchased this house, we knew that the shingling needed to be done sooner rather than later, and our insurance company would not even give us full coverage until the job was completed. Well, in addition to the free labour, Mike also blessed us with about 2/3 of the shingles required for the job, which he had had taking up space in his barn in Montana. This saved us mucho grando casho! Thank you, a million times thank you, you guys!
 

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Something I forgot to mention in my "Lifemarks" post on Saturday is that Jason started a new job on Monday--again. This is his third job since moving up here in December, and even though it is just covering a maternity leave, the 30% increase in pay for the year he will be there was too tempting to turn down. And you never know, a lot can happen in a year--perhaps the job will become permanent. That's what we're praying for, anyway.

He's working at the DMI pulp mill about 25 minutes out of town, in their computer department. His job description has nothing to do with the side of the computer industry he was working in before, or even what he trained for in college, so it is going to be interesting to say the least. He will be running new software through its paces before it is released into the company, finding every flaw possible, and then training the staff how to use it. A total desk job. He's hoping he likes it, but I guess the advantage of it being temporary is: If he doesn't like it, in a year, he can go back to fixing hardware and computer networking!

The other perk of this job, besides the jumped income, is that he can work a schedule that allows him to get off early on Friday half the time, and get every other Friday off. Bonus! Long weekend with my honey every other week! 'Course, the days are a little bit longer, and he is getting up at an hour in the morning that should be reserved for robins and worms, but I guess you can't always have your rice pudding and eat it too.

Speaking of Rice Pudding, I've been promising this recipe to a friend of mine, among others, so here you go. My famous, modified-to-be-Maker's Diet-friendly-Rice Pudding:

Talena's Awesome Rice Pudding (I'm so modest, eh?)

1 c. uncooked or 4 c. cooked brown or white rice, preferably basmati (see below for how to prepare)

In 2-qt. casserole (stoneware is best), mix:
3 eggs
1/2 c. maple syrup
1/4 tsp. sea salt
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 c. whole milk or coconut milk

Add cooked rice and 1/3 c. unsulphured raisins. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Cook for one hour in 350 degree F. oven, or until a knife inserted in the top comes out clean. Stir and serve with cinnamon and cream.

Serves about 6-8 as a dessert or 3-4 as a meal. (Sunday nights are "Rice Pudding Night" in our family, a tradition that dates back to my grandparents.)

Brown Rice

I usually use basmati rice, but you can use regular brown rice, too. Basmati just has such a wonderful nutty flavour and texture.

Melt 1/4 c. butter in medium saucepan. Rinse 1 c. of rice twice in cold water, then add to butter. Stir on medium-high heat until rice takes on a milky appearance. Then add 2 c. filtered water and 1/2 tsp. sea salt. Cook, uncovered, on med.-high until water reduces to just above the level of the rice. Cover and put on lowest heat for approximately 1 1/2 hours, or until all liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and let sit for about 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving.

For a more flavourful version, to be served as a side dish to a meal, saute 1/2 cup chopped onion in the butter before adding rice. Substitute homemade chicken stock for all or part of the water.

For Rice Pilaf, add spices (dried oregano, dried thyme, dried basil) and sliced mushrooms to onion when sauteing. Add vegetables (peas, carrots) along with the rice.

For Coconut Rice Pilaf, add dried cinnamon stick, a few cloves, nutmeg, minced garlic and crushed ginger to the onion when sauteing. Substitute whole coconut milk for about 1/2 - 2/3 of the chicken stock, and add 1/4 c. unsulphured raisins with the rice. You may want to add a little more liquid (stock) with this one, as the thicker liquid tends to disappear faster, allowing this one to burn rather easily.

Soaked version: To speed up the actual cooking process, rice can be soaked in advance to remove phytates. (Rice has a very low phytate count, and most of them are neutralized during a long slow cook, but soaking works, too.) Soak rice in a medium saucepan with 2 c. water and 2 tbsp. kefir, plain yogurt, buttermilk, whey, lemon juice, or vinegar for 7 hours or overnight in a warm place. Without removing lid, bring to a boil and skim. Add 2 tbsp. butter and 1/2 tsp. sea salt, cover tightly and simmer on low heat for about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before removing lid and fluffing with a fork.

Happy cooking!

After this rather eclectic post, I would like to leave you with this:

Quote of the Day:

"Never think that God's delays are God's denials. Hold on; hold fast; hold out. Patience is genius." - Comte de Buffon (1707-1788)