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Archive for the ‘food’ Category

Vegan Carob Protein Balls

Sunday, April 13th, 2014

The recipe that follows is one variation of a peanut butter carob protein ball that I make frequently to snack on during lunch meetings at work or while playing at chess tournaments. They are a superb and tasty source of energy, rather filling for their size, relatively healthy compared to store-bought protein bars, and easy to make.

Recipe makes about 21 Tablespoon-sized balls.

As usual, most ingredient measurements are exact, i.e., by weight. I’ve tried to approximate the volume measurements in parentheses.

  • 120 g oats, ground to a flour (1.5 cups)

  • 10 g spirulina (1 Tb)
  • 10 g rice protein powder (1 heaping Tb)
  • 20 g hemp protein powder (2 heaping Tb)
  • 40 g carob powder (4 Tb)
  • cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
  • 24 g raisins (2 packed Tb)
  • 1/2 cup non-dairy milk
  • 64 g chunky peanut butter (1/4 cup)
  • 64 g chunky almond butter (1/4 cup)
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 70 g liquid sweetener of choice (3 1/2 Tb)

Step by step pictorial…

oat flour, cinnamon, spirulina, and nutmeg

rice and hemp protein powders

carob powder


non-dairy milk, nut butters, and sweetener

One thing I often do with the sweetener is to cut it in half calorically with an all-fruit jam, in this case, strawberry.

Pour wet into dry and mix well

A thick, chocolate-like dough is the result

Scoop up the dough by the Tablespoon and roll into balls. If it’s too sticky, like this batch, which had a bit more than a 1/2 cup of soymilk, moisten the palms of your hands with water. Place on a cookie sheet or, as above, in the wells of a cupcake pan, and freeze for a couple hours. Enjoy! :)

Note: If you use one of the links above, I get a small cut of the sale (at no extra cost to you). Even without this incentive, I recommend them for these treats.

Is Carrageenan Safe?

Sunday, February 9th, 2014

Recently, I wrote White Wave, the makers of Silk soymilk to ask if they would reconsider the use of carrageenan in their products as the safety of regular consumption seems still an unknown. What follows is their response, to which I’ve added links to the various studies they referenced.

For the most part, I tend to err on the side of caution, in this case preferring soymilk made without this additive. Better yet, should time allow, I like to make my own, which tends to be almost as creamy as those manufactured with this thickener, and certainly creamier than those without.

Thank you for your recent email to Silk®. We appreciate your interest in our products.

Carrageenan is a naturally occurring thickener derived from red seaweed. It is also known as chondrus extract or Irish moss. There are two different types of carrageenan, food-grade and degraded. Silk® Soymilk uses only food-grade carrageenan as a natural thickening agent. It is used in many other food products such as cottage and cream cheeses, pie fillings, chocolate products, ice cream and salad dressings, among others. Degraded carrageenan is never used as a food ingredient.

Recently there has been some negative press on the safety of carrageenan. An article published in 2001 by Joanne Tobacman, a researcher at the University of Iowa, claimed that carrageenan may cause lesions or cancer in the gastro intestinal tract (Tobacman: Env. Health Per., Vol. 109, No. 10, Oct 2001). However, the Tobacman study was performed using only degraded carrageenan, not food-grade carrageenan, an entirely different substance.

Many consumers express concern that stomach acid could turn food-grade carrageenan into degraded carrageenan during the digestion process. However numerous studies on the digestion of food-grade carrageenan have shown that “it is either not degraded, not degraded to the same molecular weight, or not degraded in the same way” as the degraded form, and that the limited degradation that has been detected, has had “no effect on the gut wall”
(Carrageenan & furcellaran, WHO Food Additives Series 19, Sept., 2003).

The safety of food-grade carrageenan was substantiated at a joint meeting of the FAO/WHO (United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Health Organization) Joint Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) in June 2001. JECFA recommended an Acceptable Daily Intake of “not specified”, the most favorable ADI a food additive can receive. The JECFA review was based on extensive safety studies of food-grade carrageenan, including evaluation of such matters as degradation and carcinogenicity.

Additionally, a review paper by Samuel Cohen, M.D., Ph.D and Dr. Nobuyuki Ito, adopted by the JEFCA in their deliberations, evaluated and rebutted the evidence of claims of carcinogenity. The paper states, “In long term bioassays, carrageenan has not been found to be carcinogenic, and there is no credible evidence supporting a carcinogenic effect or a tumor-promoting effect on the colon in rodents.” Drs. Cohen and Ito are well-known and respected cancer researchers.

A review of existing scientific literature indicates that food-grade carrageenan is safe for all food uses. It is neither toxic nor carcinogenic. Silk products contain only the highest quality food-grade carrageenan available. We will continue to use only natural and safe ingredients in all of our products.

Our Silk® Almondmilk products are the only products right now that we manufactured without the use of carrageenan.

We hope this information is helpful.

Here’s Dr. Michael Greger’s brief take on the subject:

Lastly, it’s worth pointing out the way So Delicious handled the controversy. While they too are of the opinion that undegraded carrageenan “has been proven to be safe through rigorous studies,” they nevertheless are listening to their customers and have set about reworking their coconut milk over the last two years to exclude carrageenan. The new formula will start appearing on shelves in early 2014, and they have further pledged that “from now on, every new product we release will be carrageenan-free.”

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pumpkin Balls

Friday, November 29th, 2013

I was on dessert “duty” (oh no, twist my arm, lol) again this year for Thanksgiving. Here’s what I came up with. I’m happy to report it was well received. :)

(No Bake) Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Pumpkin Balls

As requested, the recipe follows with apologies for the gram measurements; the digital kitchen scale is my friend as it ensures consistency versus volume measurements and allows for more accurate calorie calculations. I’ve tried to approximate standard measurements in parentheses.

• 240g oatmeal (3 cups)
• 300g pumpkin puree (1 cup)
• 130g peanut butter (1/2 cup)
• 140g maple syrup (1/2 cup)
• 10oz bag chocolate chips
• 1 tsp cinnamon
• 1/4 tsp nutmeg
• dash ground cloves

  1. Process oatmeal in a food processor or blender to rough flour texture and empty into a large bowl.

  2. In a smaller bowl, stir together pumpkin puree, peanut butter (I use chunky), maple syrup, and spices (adjust to taste).
  3. Combine wet into dry and mix well until no dry spots remain.
  4. Roll mixture into balls and place on tinfoil or parchment and freeze for an hour or two. (The ones pictured were made using 2 Tb worth of mixture and resulted in 18 treats.) After the freezing time, we can move onto giving them a luscious chocolate coating or eat as is.
  5. Using the double-boiler method, melt 2/3 of the chocolate chips.
  6. Remove the chocolate from the steam and stir in the remaining chips until melted.

A smaller batch of melted chocolate

  1. Dip the pumpkin peanut butter balls into the chocolate and set back on the tinfoil, chocolate side up.

  2. Now dip the bottoms, place back on the tinfoil, and return to the freezer.
  3. After an hour, you can move them to the refrigerator until ready to serve.


Dr. McDougall on Paleo, Gluten Free, and GMO

Monday, October 14th, 2013

Here’s an interesting video from Dr. John McDougall that might prove a bit controversial (and he knows it). It’s his presentation at the September 2013 Advanced Study Weekend (Flamingo Resort and Hotel) entitled “Paleo, Gluten Free, and GMO – Distractions from Real World Food Problems.”

I certainly agree with his views on the Paleo diet (low carb diets in general), and it’s probably true that most people with self-diagnosed gluten issues don’t really have a sensitivity/allergy/etc.. Of course, neither of these critiques come as a surprise from the author of The Starch Solution. ;)

What did come as a surprise to me was his take on GMOs (genetically modified organisms) which starts around the 36 minute mark. He seems to brush it off (he is calling these things distractions, after all), and suggests that while food labeling would be nice on principle, it’s not a big deal because we can just buy organic — at least for now — and check produce labels to ensure their numbers start with an 9. He suggests the health risks are overblown and that rise in the incidence of various diseases correlated to the introduction of GMOs actually started well before and thus is more likely attributable to other factors (diet being primary). Valid point. He also questions the integrity of the animal studies. However, even if we grant that health may be unaffected, the environmental consequences of gene transference to non-agricultural crops and microorganisms could be dire.

If you haven’t been following the whole GMO debate to this point or if you just want to hear the latest from the other side, i.e., those scientists and activists who feel genetically modified foods really are a danger all-around, then you’ll want to tune in to the upcoming GMO Mini-Summit from October 25-27.

⊙ Thierry Vrain, PhD
    The Former Pro GMO Scientist Speaks Out
⊙ Vandana Shiva, Ph.D.
    Food Security In A Global Community
⊙ Ken Cook
    Sustainable Agriculture for a Hungry World
⊙ Robyn O’Brien
    Fighting Food Allergies
⊙ Andrew Kimbrell
    Your Right To Know
⊙ Senator Lisa Murkowski (Unconfirmed)
    The Truth About “Frankenfish”
⊙ Michael Hansen, Ph.D.
    What Does The Science Tell Us?
⊙ Rachel Parent
    How to Debate Biotech Industry Apologists
⊙ Claire Robinson, MPhil
    The Science, The Spin, & The Truth
⊙ John Robbins and Jeffrey Smith
    Protect Your Family and Make a Difference
⊙ And many more in the “Second Wave” sessions to follow

Topics to be discussed include:
⊙ Studies revealing the health effects of GMOs on animals, humans and the environment
⊙ The possible GMO connection to allergies, autism, and leaky gut
⊙ How to help your family eat healthier and avoid GMOs
⊙ Ways to get involved and become active in the fight for GMO labeling and the future of agriculture

Register for free today to catch this online event.

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