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Archive for March, 2009

Pistachio Recall: Here We Go Again!

Tuesday, March 31st, 2009

Back on the 24th of March, Kraft Foods rang the alarm, reporting to the FDA their latest batch of Back To Nature Trail Mix had been found to be contaminated with Salmonella.

The culprit? My Mom’s favorite, the peculiar pistachio. :(

Six days later, Setton Pistachio, out of Terra Bella, California, from whence Kraft Foods obtains this ingredient of its trail mix, announced a major recall, multiple thousands of pounds in magnitude.

As with the peanut prosecution, the FDA has set up a special page where you can find the details and a growing list of affected products. So, check those cupboards and stay safe.

Earth Hour 2009

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Oh my, this one snuck up on me. I’d been meaning to post about it earlier. Hope it gets to you in time.

The idea is for everyone to turn off your lights tonight at 8:30 PM (your local time) for one hour as a gesture of solidarity for the environmental well-being of our planet.

All the details, including videos and Twitter hash tags, can be found on the Earth Hour website.

See you (or not see you, as the case may be) then. ;)

Calorie Restriction on Oprah

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

What an exciting week it’s been for calorie restriction!

You know CR is hitting the mainstream when Oprah Winfrey covers it and resveratrol supplementation on her show. (These two life extension practices are often discussed in the same breath due to potentially similar mechanisms.) To learn more about what she and Dr. Oz had to say, check out this section on her website. I guess several of our CR Society members were featured, but alas, I no longer have cable and so will have to wait for the video archive.

The other highlight was The Immortality Institute’s (ImmInst.org) “Sunday Evening Update” on Ustream. This channel was new to me, but they’re always broadcasting fascinating presentations about biotechnology, etc.. Anyway, this Sunday, the members of the CR Society were invited to join the regulars to listen to a live interview with prominent researcher Dr. Luigi Fontana regarding his thoughts on the human applicability of the animal studies and what future studies have in store. You can watch the replay here.

Did you know you can now get my cookbook, Vegan Done Light, for FREE? Just scroll to the bottom of that page and click on the Get It Free button. (Note: You may have to refresh for all the images to load properly.)

Pouring Off Nut Butter Oil

Friday, March 20th, 2009

A while back, in a vegan forum to which I belong, someone asked whether it made any difference (or rather, how much of a difference it made) in the fat content of a jar of nut butter to pour off that layer of oil at the top of natural nut butters.

I described a method whereby you could determine it on a case by case basis, but they weren’t up to the hassle. So, I said I’d get back to them with my results. I’m now ready to report on some preliminary measurements.

First, let me say, if you’ve never seen a layer of separated oil floating at the top of your jar of peanut or other nut butter, you’re eating the wrong kind! ;)

Seriously, the way the mainstream nut butters avoid this natural separation is by — you guessed it — unnatural means. It’s one of the many wonders of hydrogenation that this pesky process is perturbed at room temperature.

It’s really not much of a hassle and can be kind of a fun visceral experience to dig in there and stir things up. And, there’s always the trick of turning the jar upside-down for a while to get the oil at the bottom for easier mixing.

But, this post isn’t about making it easier to keep that fat (healthy though it may be in an unadulterated nut butter), rather to satiate our curiosity about this vegan equivalent to “blotting” — that oh-so-disgusting, napkin-drenching, pizza-eating preparation.  

Here’s what I did. Using my kitchen scale on the grams setting, I weighed what I was able to pour off from four different nut butters (peanut, almond, cashew, and sesame [tahini]). Over the course of several months (it’s just me, after all), I managed to accumulate 3-4 measurements for each type.

I’d planned to take an average for each type and use that for my calculations, but I soon discovered sometimes you just don’t get much to drain off at all. This can happen if it hasn’t sat for long or has had a rough ride in the car or had been tipped on its side for a while, etc.. So, what follows are from the most successful separations and serve as an indication of what’s possible. I figured, if there wasn’t much savings in the best examples, then we’d know it was a vain attempt, a waste of time, and not worth the dryer nut butter thus obtained.

Note: About that last point, stirring in a little water helps keep it spreadable.

Here’s what I found. Given a 16 oz jar of nut butter, with 14 to 15 servings of 2 Tablespoons each, it is possible to save up to two grams of fat per serving. Not too shabby.

Servings Fat Per
Less Per
Almond 255 g 15 17 g 25 g 1.7 g
Cashew 225 g 15 15 g 23 g 1.5 g
Peanut* 238 g 14 17 g 21 g 1.5 g
Tahini 252 g 14 18 g 28 g 2.0 g


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