Don’t Hate Me

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http://www.taste.com.au/recipes/25056/gulab+jamun

Imagine the worst thing you can eat, now double it. That is what I thought would happen when I prepared Gulab Jamun, an indian dessert. I remember having it when I was a kid, we had an Indian friend and were visiting him in Melbourne and he made it on our last night there. It was lovely! Soft, moist, squishy, and bursting with sugar. Basically deep-fried cake which has been soaked in rose sugar-water. Seriously what ten year old wouldn’t love that!

Now lets jump forward 12 years. I have this great assessment to do and what better way to prepare a dessert than to revisit my childhood! The brief is to use an unfamiliar cooking method and while this doesn’t exclude non-core foods I did some research to see how this delicious dessert compared. I found that in fact Gulab Jamun has 1228* Kj (per 100g) which is less than chocolate (2206 Kj^) and mud cake (1415 – 2124Kj#). This was super surprising and interesting to think that my perception of a foods energy content was exacerbated to heights seen only from the window seat of a jumbo jet.

gulab jamun

I realised that most non-core foods we eat have been packaged up without a hint of the way they have been cooked or processed. Think of chocolates, lollies, and ice-cream, colourful packets and even brighter food! This buries the thoughts of sugar and fat (aka inherent ‘evil’) to the back of our minds. Even pre-made cake mixes can hide their sugar in bags of chocolate-coloured goodness. For gulab Jamun sugar and oil are unavoidable fact, maybe all foods should be made this way, making us more accountable! This was very apparent as followed the very first step; to combine the 2 cups of sugar with water and spice. As well as thinking “I’m gonna pay for this during my next workout”, it was also an odd concept for me. I thought It would be like cooking caramel which I did in cooking class at school, but this was miles from that. Most of us melt sugar into our tea and coffee and this was just like that but on a larger scale. One point of frustration was that the recipe calls for milk powder. Who uses milk powder any more? AND you can only buy 1 kg bags! This was definitely a weakness of the recipe.

The part that I was not looking forward to was the job of deep frying. I have never cooked with lots of oil before. I anticipated the oil spitting out at me because that’s what my cooking-buddy said happened to her while cooking chicken; super-annoying. I was pleasantly surprised about the lack of pain, finding that the oil doesn’t need to be super hot which is great (no spitting). Controlling the temperature of the oil was like patting my head and rubbing my stomach at the same time; taking several batches before I was able to cook the middle through. In hindsight I should have bought a thermometer, as the recipe gives a temperature for the oil (170 oC). While the recipe calls for a large pan, we would definitely go for a deep pot/pan with a smaller base. This would allow the oil to completely surround the Gulab Jamun, lessening the need for continual stirring and achieving even cooking.

I was anticipating efforts of a herculean proportion would be required, that this was the type of cooking that would have left me victim to my at-times-tyrannical behaviour. That I would be left sobbing silently and alone in the corner. But alas, no! I’m going to say that this one was 7/10 for success. We found that the middles were cooked but tough, and think that this could be because the dough may have been over worked. So not quite as I remember them, but edible!

Until next time!

Jack

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* The left over sugar-water component (50%) and left over oil component (67%) being accounted for and removed from the nutritional analysis.

NUTTAB 2010 ID: __02E10420 to ID: __02E10428

^ NUTTAB 2010 ID: __12C10352

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

Soylent

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There’s this guy, he decided one day that he never wanted to eat again, so he didn’t. Seven months on and rather than wasting away or dying Rob Rhinehart is set to make a LOT of money. Remember that name!

Have I got you hooked? Good, he’s an engineer from atlanta which might explain his views on food! He’s very busy and says that he didn’t like food much to start with, explaining that “there’s a difference between eating and dining”. The engineer wanted to find the fastest most efficient method for fueling his body. He did a lot of research before combining a number of powdered nutrients and minerals with water and oil, a concoction that he named “Soylent”.

The product now has over $1 million worth of pre-orders and has far-reaching applications and consequences. This may be the start of a new era in fighting obesity in the developed world and starvation in the developing one. There have been meal-replacements but never a food-replacement on the market. So

While I think this product is a positive development overall, as a dietetics & nutrition student a lot of immediate questions and concerns pop into my head such as:

1. What about chewing? 

Rhinehart glosses over this, seemingly unaware of the physiology involved with satiation. This is despite admitting extensive research was done before picking up the tools as they were, giving it a whirl … then a chug. Chewing can be an important factor in feeling full for some people, which is lost on a liquid diet. Rhinehart offers chewing gum and eating meals occasionally as his best guess in combating this for the moment.

Research into the effect of liquids over solids for satiation are inconclusive but is leaning towards solids (here and here). My thoughts are that there will be a sensitisation effect that is so often seen in all parts of physiology whereby the body will become satiated with the liquid-meals after a period of time. I’m not sure what would happen for those still consuming normal meals as well as Soylent meals. That is, I’m not sure that there would be any sensitisation so the consumer may go on to remain hungry after their Soylent meal.

2. The name

When I first told a friend about the product they laughed, and I don’t blame them. Gen Y and Z are the ironic generations after all right? Where everything has to be done, said, eaten, listened to ironically? Well I say not this (in my best high-and-mighty authoritative voice). My first thought was how degrading it will be when the starving masses get this product. Or when the obese/overweight are prescribed in by their doctor or given it during hospital stays. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that these people should not get the product, rather that our most vulnerable should be treated like human beings and with the same respect as all people deserve. They shouldn’t be the subject of cruel jokes that normalise their treatment as second-class citizens of the world. While Rhinehart reminds us that the 1966 novel ‘Make Room! Make Room!’ on which the 1973 film was based, does not contain human-derived food products. But I ask which version is ingrained in our heads? (The film) I thought so.

3. A turning point

In some ways the production of this product and the billionaire that creates will signal the end of an era; the era of whole foods. While I don’t mean to say we’ll be on Soylent in the next few years, but I believe Soylent will ingrain itself in certain niches of society: prisons, hospitals, school camps, and the defence force. But most of all I think unfortunately, everyday people living on a low income (like the lady at the checkout, the bus driver, and students) could become soylent-dependent. Just think for a moment on the social ramifications of that. It would be a big addition to the class divide which has been building for quite some time; the very rich and everyone else. We might inadvertently find ourselves in a famous 1973 film. If we’re not careful that is.

It feels a bit like this is the start of society giving up on feeding the world. Have we become too desensitized the world’s problems? The starving? The malnourished? Are some problems are just too big and too far removed from economics for market-based societies? For me if Soylent is given to developing countries for their starved then we are doomed anyway, how will we retain knowledge of farming and remain self-sufficient? We’ve stopped aiming for the best-case scenario and started to accept the bare-minimum, and that’s in every aspect of our lives.

With each population boom farming and agriculture has become more innovative, more efficient, and met the challenge. Most recently this has taken the form of GM crops such as golden rice and Monsanto’s round-up ready Canola. These are complex but controversial products in an ever more competitive industry, have we reached our limits in farming innovation and efficiency? Maybe we should start aiming for self-sufficiently, I’ve heard of people being able to live off relatively small plots of land, which might just be the best option!

Until next time!

Jack

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

VICE article

http://www.vice.com/read/rob-rhinehart-no-longer-requires-food

VICE follow-up

http://www.vice.com/read/rob-rhinehart-interview-soylent-never-eat-again

Rob Rhinehart’s blog

http://robrhinehart.com/

Backyard self-sufficiency

http://visualizing.org/visualizations/how-big-backyard-do-you-need-live-land

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17160577-one-acre-homestead

http://www.motherearthnews.com/homesteading-and-livestock/self-sufficient-homestead-zm0z11zkon.aspx#axzz2cHCCqF47

Inconclusive evidence for satiation

E. Almiron-Roig, Y. Chen and A. Drewnowski. (2003). Liquid calories and the failure of satiety: how good is the evidence?. Obesity Reviews. 4 (1), p201-212.

Leaning towards solids over liquids

An Pan and Frank B. Hu. (2011). Effects of carbohydrates on satiety: differences between liquid and solid food. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care. 14 (1), 385-390.

Tempeh! Ah?

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Tempeh! Ay?

 

As I wrote that title I was cringing and laughing at the same time. I can’t help but use humour in my writing. The thought helps me relax and have a crack at making some great content  for anyone out there (Ha! – like I have any readers! But if you are there … THANKS).

 

So, I live in a semi-industrial area and nearby there is a factory that makes soy products for supermarkets. They also happen to sell direct to the public! Usually, I just get tofu (my family loves the stuff.) We use it mostly for salads, but also shallow fried for laksa, or fried in a flour, salt and pepper coating (my favorite). During a recent visit I discovered tempeh and decided I’d give it a try. “But Jack what’s tempeh?”- After doing some research I found that tempeh is made by fermentation of soy beans with a starter (culture). Whereas tofu is made by curdling soy milk. I was thinking back to a kitchen class from a couple of months back, I was interested in the little shapes that you can make out when the slab is cut. I realised that these were whole soybeans! We were told that it is quite nutritious and a good meat substitute for vegetarians and vegans.

 

This sparked my creative side and I got into the kitchen and gave it a shot! The result was actually okay! I did much better than I thought I would. I applied a coat of flour, salt and pepper, before frying. I served these delicious cubes with hummus, squeezed some orange over to top and a sprinkling of chilli flakes. There seems to be some misconception that tempeh is unappealing because of the strong taste. I reckon people need to give this one a better chance, at least try seasoning and marinading. It’s a really simple food that can be appreciated as a base from which great flavours can be built. There are some pre-marinated varieties for sale and there are some great ideas on the web. Just be sure that they aren’t loaded up with salt and/or sugar!

 

Nutritionally tempeh is quite similar to tofu but is less processed so it has about twice the dietary fibre (1.5g vs 2.9g /100g*) and about a three times the amount of protein (8g vs 23g /100g*). Tofu and tempeh can be healthy choices, it just depends how they are prepared! There is a difference between fried tofu going into a laksa (which can have quite a bit of fat already due to the coconut cream), and grated tofu from the pack going into a salad.

*NUTTAB 2010 (Tofu: 13B20178 VS Tempeh: 13B20183)

 

I’ve included my recipe so that you can experiment, and I hope you do!

1. Cube the tempeh slab. (I used a pre-marinated one.)

IMG_0345

 

2. Coat the Tempeh in a mixture of flour, salt, and pepper. There should be enough pepper that the black specks are easy to make out when stirred. Dried herbs or chilli flakes could be added now too!

IMG_0348

 

3. Fry the coated tempeh with as little oil as possible (1-2 tbsp) for less than 10 minutes or until golden brown.

Tempeh

 

4. Serve however you want! In salads, as a side, or by themselves.

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practising Dietitian (that’s what they’re called in Australia at least) or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime

 

Until next time

Jack

That’s one semester down and one underway!

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This is just a quick entry to share my first week back at uni! It’s been really full-on,  with uni being nearly full-time. We got our assignment sheets for the semester. My fave is one that’s all about cooking, which is a weakness I’d like to improve upon. It’s about experiencing different foods; cultural and medical. I’ll be preparing four meals and documenting my progress. Strengths and weaknesses of the recipe, its price, and my ability will all need consideration.

 

The twist which makes things interesting is that there needs to be: 1 recipe that uses an unfamiliar cooking method, 1 from an unfamiliar culture, 1 which has been modified for health promotion (making bad food healthy), and 1 which has been modified for therapeutic reasons (like kidney disease). What this all means is that you peeps get four blogs about cooking! And I get to learn while having fun blogging 🙂 

 

I guess you want to know what got me interested in nutrition and dietetics, huh? It’s a good question which is difficult to answer! There are a few reasons, most of them are selfish, but hey it’s my life! I’ll try to be brutally honest so you can learn from its mistakes! In short, food (especially healthy food) has never been my forte. Sure, I was 80kg at 10 years old and worked hard to get all that excess weight off, but I have never bothered with adventurous cooking or menu planning. I knew what made me fat, so it was obvious to me that I needed to stop eating those things to lose weight. I should have probably asked for help from someone- but hey I was a kid with a great parent and not much to complain about.

In terms of all those skills to do with creativity in food … well, I’m still in the dark. Unless you can count adding food colouring to packet cake mixes!!! I feel like I’m probably not representative of the population (in terms of food and eating), and that interests me. Also I can’t just impose my beliefs or opinions onto patients and expect them to do well. It’ll be interesting to learn strategies to use when changing a person’s eating. Even if they are on board with the idea, they will probably have their own perspective on achieving that goal. 

My preconception of what a dietitian would be like has thankfully been shattered into thousands of pieces. I was afraid for a split second there that I would have to turn into a super strict food nazi of something, but no! When we think of a dietitian, what do we think of? Honestly?  For me, it’s someone that has never eaten one bad thing, exercises every day, and treat their bodies as temples …. Oh, and expects everybody else to! This is not me! And luckily for everyone, dietitians are NOT like this! So don’t be afraid of dietitians; after all, they eat McDonald’s and chocolate too. If you feel that you would benefit from seeing one, I would recommend giving it a try. Remember, there is nothing to be lost from trying and everything to be gained 🙂

Until next time 

Jack

 

Please remember that I’m a dietetics STUDENT, so none of my opinions should be trusted! PLEASE consult an Accredited Practicing Dietitian or your GP before applying anything discussed in this blog to your diet or exercise regime