Monday, August 31, 2015

Your Lights Are Out- Emergency preparedness

One second you are happily making a seasoned tofu stir fry for lunch, bopping along to the tunes from the radio, hearing the responsive beats from your neighbor's electric guitar, hoping the predicted storm won't interrupt the fun of a Saturday.

The next, the sounds of silence blanket the neighborhood.
Power is out, the winds are up and it sounds like a BIG branch is down.

What to do next?

Low Dose Glyphosate (Roundup) exposure

Another Medical Monday post where I translate a research article into plain talk. My comments in Italics 

Transcriptome profile analysis reflects rat liver and kidney damage following chronic ultra-low dose Roundup exposure

Rat liver and kidney damage shown following ultra low dose Roundup exposure. 

Environmental Health 2015, 14:70 doi:10.1186/s12940-015-0056-1
No GMO crops here

Glyphosate-based herbicides (GBH) are the major pesticides used worldwide. Converging evidence suggests that GBH, such as Roundup, pose a particular health risk to liver and kidneys although low environmentally relevant doses have not been examined.

Glyphosate (Roundup)  used worldwide, poses a health risk to liver and kidneys at low dose. More research needed. 

To address this issue, a 2-year study in rats administering 0.1 ppb Roundup (50 ng/L glyphosate equivalent) via drinking water (giving a daily intake of 4 ng/kg bw/day of glyphosate) was conducted. A marked increased incidence of anatomorphological and blood/urine biochemical changes was indicative of liver and kidney structure and functional pathology. In order to confirm these findings we have conducted a transcriptome microarray analysis of the liver and kidneys from these same animals.

2 year rat study with very small doses of glyphosate given in drinking water results in microscopic and functional changes in liver and kidney cells. 

Rats fed Roundup traced water develop kidney and liver function toxicity

The expression of 4224 and 4447 transcript clusters (a group of probes corresponding to a known or putative gene) were found to be altered respectively in liver and kidney (p < 0.01, q < 0.08). Changes in gene expression varied from −3.5 to 3.7 fold in liver and from −4.3 to 5.3 in kidneys. Among the 1319 transcript clusters whose expression was altered in both tissues, ontological enrichment in 3 functional categories among 868 genes were found.
First, genes involved in mRNA splicing and small nucleolar RNA were mostly upregulated, suggesting disruption of normal spliceosome activity. Electron microscopic analysis of hepatocytes confirmed nucleolar structural disruption.

Typical cell functions were altered by very low dose ingestion of Roundup. Cellular level malfunction of gene expression and repair occurred.

Second, genes controlling chromatin structure (especially histone-lysine N-methyltransferases) were mostly upregulated.

The way cells use and store DNA were structurally altered by exposure to glyphosate

Third, genes related to respiratory chain complex I and the tricarboxylic acid cycle were mostly downregulated. Pathway analysis suggests a modulation of the mTOR and phosphatidylinositol signalling pathways. Gene disturbances associated with the chronic administration of ultra-low dose Roundup reflect a liver and kidney lipotoxic condition and increased cellular growth that may be linked with regeneration in response to toxic effects causing damage to tissues. Observed alterations in gene expression were consistent with fibrosis, necrosis, phospholipidosis, mitochondrial membrane dysfunction and ischemia, which correlate with and thus confirm observations of pathology made at an anatomical, histological and biochemical level.

Low dose exposure to glyphosate caused scarring, cell death, leaking from energy stores of the cells, cellular powerhouse malfunction and lack of oxygen to cell structures. 

Our results suggest that chronic exposure to a GBH in an established laboratory animal toxicity model system at an ultra-low, environmental dose can result in liver and kidney damage with potential significant health implications for animal and human populations.

Isn't much need to translate that. 

How do I avoid Glyphosate?
Avoid the plants that have been modified to use Roundup without being killed.
These Roundup Ready crops include.
Corn-Maize- used in food,  corn oil and animal feed.
Canola-used in oil, and animal feed.
Alfalfa- used in animal feed.
Cotton-used in clothing, oil and animal feed.
Soybeans-used in food, soybean oil, and animal feed.
Sugar Beets-used in food and animal feed.
Green and Yellow Squash- not available for home consumers-used in food and animal feed.
Sweet Corn-not available for home consumers-used in food and animal feed.
Papaya- used in food and animal feed.
Monitored crops with close relationship to the above:
  • Beta vulgaris (e.g., chard, table beets)
  • Brassica napa (e.g., rutabaga, Siberian kale)
  • Brassica rapa (e.g., bok choy, mizuna, Chinese cabbage, turnip, rapini, tatsoi)
  • Cucurbita (acorn squash, delicata squash, patty pan)
  • Flax
  • Rice
  • Wheat
  • Potato
Tomatoes, Potatoes, Pigs and Rice are not in current production although there were genetically modified versions of these. 

Common Ingredients Derived from GMO Risk Crops
Amino Acids, Aspartame, Ascorbic Acid, Sodium Ascorbate, Vitamin C, Citric Acid, Sodium Citrate, Ethanol, Flavorings (“natural” and “artificial”), High-Fructose Corn Syrup, Hydrolyzed Vegetable Protein, Lactic Acid, Maltodextrins, Molasses, Monosodium Glutamate, Sucrose, Textured Vegetable Protein (TVP), Xanthan Gum, Vitamins, Yeast Products.

Look for this label on food products you purchase.  These products have been verified to not contain genetically modified genes.

Or purchase certified Organic products.

The meats we eat unless certified organic are almost 100% feed some sort of genetically modified foods with glyphosate residues. So far, no studies have been run on health detriments.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

When you eat out, can you trust the Chef?

When we eat out, our health depends on the honesty of the chef in the kitchen.
Estuary Soup Chef
Even a cutie like this one. 

We hope that our chef will cook us a meal that satisfies our hunger and our health.
Sometimes, individuals will lie.
And we have to let the world know about them.
This chef decided to talk about his opinion of gluten free clients on Facebook.

Here is his post, just cut and pasted since I think the original will be taken down just as soon as he realizes how horrible this is. and I was correct, it vanished within an hour. 

I'm going to be kind and take his name off of the post. Many months have passed since this event. So perhaps he has changed his tune and attitude

"Gluten free is bullXXX!! Flour and bread have been a staple of life for thousands, THOUSANDS of years. People who claim to be gluten intolorent dont realize that its all in there disturbed liitle heads. People ask me for gluten free pasta in my restaurant all the time, I tell em sure, Then I serve serve em our pasta, Which I make from scratch with high gluten flour. And you know what? nothing, NOTHING! ever happens! People leave talking about how good they feel gluten free and guess what, They just had a full dose! Idiots!"
Here's his info on his profile...
Chef has apprienticed under Swiss, Master Chef ****.
Chef was the Executive Chef at the S*** Chalet Restaurant. Executive Banquet Chef at the Tavern on the Green N.Y.C.
He is currently unemployed.

With folks like this in the kitchen, being scared to go out to eat makes some sense.

When I'm making the decision to eat out, I have process to determine if I'm in the right place BEFORE I eat.  So many times, eating out is all about visiting with friends or a business opportunity.  Don't want to miss those at all.
First, I choose a restaurant that serves at least one of these three choices-Fried Eggs, Steak or Salad. I know, given no other options, I could make a meal of one of those choices, without sauces or dressings. Might not be the most amazing meal of my travels, but I wouldn't get sick.
Dedicated French Fry Potatoes from the County Fair
Dedicated French Fry Potatoes from the County Fair

Looking at the menu, I scan for known gluten-full items:
Anything covered in Breading,
Anything deep fried,
Anything Stuffed
Any creamy sauce,
Any gravy,
Sushi-especially California Rolls due to surimi (that kinda icky fake crab)
Any Asian Sauce due to soy sauce. Yes, I know that Thai food shouldn't have soy sauce but frequently enough it gets used.
Processed meat products like hot dogs, sausages.
Pancakes/Waffles etc
Bread bowls
Leaving me with .... Sometimes not much but my "safe" foods.
Salad- Gluten-Free

Then comes the first conversation with the service staff.
In Asian restaurants, "Is there any gluten-free soy sauce?"
And I WATCH their face for hesitation, or quick response.  Hopefully, they say YES! but if they hesitate, then I know that gluten free education is NOT a priority for the restaurant.  I choose one of my safe foods and enjoy that.
In a sushi restaurant, that means sushi rice, fresh fish, steamed vegetables and edamame plain. No dipping sauces, no prepared sushi rolls since many are seasoned with soy sauce or use the surimi (fake crab).
If I'm truly prepared, I have some packets of gluten-free soy sauce in my purse to season.

In fast food restaurants the question is simple,  "is all your food fried in the same fryer?"
Yes, means that nothing fried is safe for me. So no french fries. I already know the burger line has a possibility of cross contamination.
Back to safe foods. Even the grilled chicken is likely floured. Sometimes I ask for a bunless burger but personally, I love Wendy's baked potato with sour cream (no margarine) and side salad for a quick meal on the go.

Breakfast restaurants-First question is asking about the meats, "Is the bacon/sausage/ham gluten-free?"
Any hesitation means the staff hasn't been trained well enough for me to keep it truly safe.
My meal is Easy Over Eggs with fruit. Never assume that scrambled eggs are safe. Especially in mass market restaurants, the eggs can be stabilized with the addition of some flour or pancake batter.

Fancier restaurants- I ask to see if there is a gluten-free menu.
Once again, hesitation means I choose one of my safe choices.

See the pattern?  I ask the Servers, not the chef.
Why?  I've been the chef who gets interrupted in the midst of service.  If the restaurant hasn't trained their front of house to answer those questions, then the kitchen won't take a request seriously.

My ideal answer from a server is something like this.

Yes, we have a gluten-free menu and will happily cook your gluten-free pasta in fresh water, but we could cook ours as well. We use ______ brand of gluten free pasta.  These items are prepared in a separate area of the kitchen with dedicated tools.  We source our breads from a dedicated gluten-free facility and store them in the Gluten-Free area of the kitchen.
We have gluten-free soy sauce.

The front of house needs to know, cause if only the kitchen staff is aware of the needs of a gluten-free consumer, then I'm likely to get croutons on my salad.

Now, when that kind of thing happens, I'm polite but adamant.
The mis-made dish needs to be replaced BEFORE I let the incorrect one leave my table.  I've had too many incidents of finding a crouton or scraped off sauce when I've requested new food.
They can't reserve the incorrect food anyway.

How do you handle getting a gluten-free meal when you eat out?

Friday, August 21, 2015

10 Hand Tools Every Kitchen Should Have

When I was teaching my teenage cooking class at the Coop this month, several of my students asked for a list of hand tools that they NEED to have in their kitchen.

Honey Lemon Curd Tart with Fresh Raspberries
Honey Lemon Curd Tart with Fresh Raspberries
One of the dishes we made at class. 

The requests got me to thinking.
As I'm considering a move to a tiny home,

What are my essentials?

Everything should have a couple of jobs, not just one.
They should be durable, healthy-no toxic no-stick for me, and preferably made in the USA.
So how lean can I get and still be able to turn out the meals and baking I love?
I'm going to assume that everyone has a wonderful pot and pan set to begin the setup.
Cutco knives are made in the USA and come with a lifetime guarantee. Even better, they let you send the knives off to Olean NY and send them back SHARPENED! for life.
You have to have a good cutting board. These are big enough to chop everything for stirfry. Love the colors and have 3 so one can be vegetables, one meat and the 3rd is my baking board. These are restaurant quality and durability.
Bench knives are used to move food into pans, clean up counters, cut doughs. I use mine daily.
You have to have a grater to make macoroni & cheese or zucchini bread. This one has 4 different grating sides and folds flat for storage.
But using a huge grater for just a bit of lemon peel is overkill. This flat Microplane works perfectly and comes with a plastic cover for safe storage.  This is the professional version with metal sides.
Now that we have saved a bit of space, let's use it all up with these colanders. I know, they are a bit big, but you can't steam Thai Sticky Rice in a silicone colander. I store room temperature produce on the counter in the unused ones.
Stainless steel bowls are essential for all cooking, this nested set gives lots of options.
Got to have a way to grab things from the oven or stove.
Silicone spatulas and spoonulas are my favorite mixing tool
Ok, so this one is a bit of a cheat, gathering the spoons, spatula, pizza cutter, whisk, can opener, tongs and turner into one convenient holder, but it is so cute for the counter. And it is OXO so you know the quality is there.
This is my list of the ten hand tools I couldn't live without.
What's on your list of tools?

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Bug Out Bag

I'm not much of a ''Prepper", but have always lived by the motto of Be Prepared.
My Dad and Mom were scout leaders my entire childhood, that's what comes from being the 5th of 6 kids.
Some of my earliest memories are of Boy Scouts bandaging my ankles, while I acted as if I had sprained it, and getting splinted when my Dad changed the scenario.
I followed in their footsteps, leading my twins Girl Scout troop for 7 years. Dr. Jean Layton in a very different role as Girl Scout Leader

Be prepared is essential for all of us. You never know when a fire, earthquake or chemical spill could occur, necessitating escape with little or no preparation.