Pureed carrots

I have a Beaba Babycook (beabausa.com/product-babycook.php) (NOT USED TO COOK BABIES, by the way) that was a gift from my lovely, wonderful and talented cousin. I’ve been using it to make purées for the babies since they were 6 months old. They are now nearly 8 months old, so I’m not yet a pro.

I love the Babycook (NOT USED TO COOK BABIES), but my one (minor) complaint is that it doesn’t really tell you how to purée simple things. It comes with a chart that breaks down some of the common veggies and water levels to add, but that’s about it. The way you use a Babycook (NOT USED TO COOK BABIES) is you fill the water reservoir to either level 1, level 2, or level 3. Then you pour the water in the machine, add the food you want steamed to the basket, pop it in, and set it to steam. Once the food is steamed – about 15 minutes for a level 2 – you then remove the basket and drain out some or all of the water (again, not that well explained), and put the now-steamed food in the bowl and purée. It’s also not clear how much food to make at once. But for all that, it’s very forgiving – experimenting is fun, and with the Beaba, it’s also easy.

I buy my veggies from my local CSA, Canticle Farm, which I have written about before here (in the interest of full disclosure, I am now on the marketing committee at Canticle Farm, and proudly so). I had a quiver of carrots (or whatever that group would be called), and wanted to make carrot purée for the twinsies. Here’s what I did:

Peel and dice 6-7 medium sized carrots

Add water to level 3 (since carrots are so dense), place basket of carrots in the bowl, lock the contraption, and let steam. Stuff and fold diapers while waiting. Wash knife and cutting board. Re-read little instruction booklet from Beaba (they have a cookbook that is probably very thorough, but I don’t have it). Browse baby food cookbooks that I do have.

Carefully remove the bowl from the machine. This, alone, is a challenge. The machine gets very hot, so there isn’t a very good place to hold it. Proceed with caution.

Remove the basket of steamed carrots – there is a special spatula tool included to do this.

Debate how much water to pour away. End up pouring away all but about a teaspoon.

Lock the bowl back onto the machine. It’s still hot.

Dump the carrots into the bowl. Add a teaspoon or so of olive oil. Olive oil helps the beta carotene in the carrots absorb into the babies’ intestines. True story.

Purée until smooth. The purée function is completely custom; it’s like a pulse button on a blender – you simply hold it for as long as you want to purée. I stopped a few times to spatula the carrots of the walls of the bowl.

I wanted to feed the babies the purée immediately, so I removed one portion. The rest amounted to about 6 or 7 ounces of purée. I poured it into an ice cube tray, put that in a sealed Tupperware container, and then put the whole thing in the freezer. Once they were fully frozen (like a day later), I popped them out of the ice cube tray (so I could do this again/make ice cubes) and just left them in the Tupperware.

The carrots were a huge hit, as it turned out.

An extended hiatus

So I’ve been on hiatus. But I have a really good excuse! As you probably recall, I was pregnant with twins. Well, I’ve now had the twins. They’re 5 months old. I’ve been very busy. I’ve barely cooked, much less made any new recipes.

Fortunately, the twins will begin on solids soon. I plan on making much of the food they will consume, and then – I daresay – the posts will once again increase.

In the meantime, I’m thinking very seriously of starting a blog of my musings. We shall see!

Red meat and diabetes

Experts at the Harvard School of Public Health recently had a study published in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition on the link between red meat consumption and type 2 diabetes. It’s the largest study of its kind. You can read the abstract here: http://www.ajcn.org/content/early/2011/08/10/ajcn.111.018978.abstract?sid=c3e3247b-e031-48e8-bbb1-8a1fd1c877c9. You can read a review of the study here: http://news.yahoo.com/red-meat-boosts-diabetes-risk-us-study-161043220.html.

The basics are as follows: Eating about 100 grams of red meat per day (the size of a deck of playing cards, approximately) increases the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 19%. Eating about 50 grams (so half of the previous amount) of processed red meat (hot dogs, bologna, etc.) per day increased the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 51%. Fifty-one percent! That’s like a hot dog a day. There’s good news however: you can offset these risks by just swapping out the red meat and processed meat for other high-protein foods, like nuts (I like almonds and peanut butter), dairy or whole grain proteins. The article suggests white meat as well; however, the study does not.

Should you feel compelled to shrug this scientific data off, bear in mind that there are rising incidences of type 2 diabetes worldwide that correlates to the rise in red meat consumption globally. Also bear in mind that the increased risks bear true even after factoring in other things like already being overweight or not working out enough – these statistics are the same for a healthy, athletic 20 year-old as they are for an out of shape 40 year-old.

So just cut back, ok?

Jell-o is people (kind of)

We all know that gelatin is made from animal by-products (bones and whatnot) – now they’re making gelatin out of human genes (see the link below for the story from Fast Company). It looks like, so far, it’s being used for stabilizers for vaccines and perhaps in pill capsules. Regardless, I find it off-putting.

http://www.fastcompany.com/1767744/coming-soon-human-derived-gelatin-in-your-marshmallows

Protein

A question I get frequently concerns how I can manage to eat enough protein while pregnant without eating meat. My answer is that I eat dairy (milk, eggs, cottage cheese) and tofu. This tends to leave people skeptical that I don’t understand where protein comes from – oh but I do.

And here’s an article that explains the Environmental Working Group’s top five best sources of protein and top five worst sources of protein (four of the top five worst are meat, by the way – also cheese, sadly).

http://shine.yahoo.com/channel/food/the-1-best-protein-for-your-health-and-the-worst-to-avoid-2512800/

Dangerous (well, scary) Additives

I came across an article on scary additives that I thought I’d share. The link will be at the bottom. Note that the “found in” sections are not exhaustive lists – read your labels.

Here’s the top 10 scariest additives, as according to the editors of Men’s Health.

  1. Olestra (found in Lay’s Light chips and Pringles Light chips) – causes diarrhea, blocks the body’s ability to absorb beta carotene and lycopene; animal studies show that olestra causes more weight gain than real fat.
  2. Caramel coloring (found in colas and other soft drinks, La Choy soy sauce, Stove Top stuffing mix) – when produced with ammonia, it puts off 2-methylimidazole and 4-methylimidazole, chemicals that have been linked to cancer in mice.
  3. Saccharin (found in Sweet’n’Low and TaB cola) – linked to bladder tumors in rats; shown to cause more weight gain than real sugar.
  4. Potassium Bromate (found in Johnny Rockets hoagie rolls) – causes thyroid and kidney tumors in rats; banned in most countries
  5. Butylated Hydroxyanisole (BHA) and Butylated Hydroxytoluene (BHT) (found in Goya lard, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Golden Grahams, Orbit gum) – BHA is reasonably expected to be a human carcinogen, according to the department of health and human services; BHT is less dangerous but causes cancer in lab rats.
  6. Partially hydrogenated vegetable oil – aka trans fats (found in McDonalds McChicken, Long John Silvers cheese and broccoli soup) – trans fats cause about 70,000 heart attacks per year.
  7. Sulfites (found in wine, Sun-Maid Mixed Fruit, Jolly Ranchers, Fig Newtons) – can trigger asthma symptoms in certain individuals.
  8. Azodicarbonamide (found in Dunkin’ Donuts bagels, McDonalds burger buns) – also used in the production of industrial foam, potential cause of asthma.
  9. Carrageenan (Weight Watchers Giant Chocolate Fudge Ice Cream Bars, Skinny Cow Ice Cream Sandwiches, Creamsicles) – linked to cancer, colon trouble, ulcers in animal studies.
  10. Ammonium Sulfate (Nature’s Own bread, Subway rolls) – found in fertilizer and flame retardants, but NOT shown to have adverse health effects in animals.

http://health.yahoo.net/experts/eatthis/top-10-scariest-food-additives

The secret to portobello burgers

This isn’t rocket science.

You have to marinate them.

And you have to start with some good caps. Shriveled caps don’t work for me – they’re tough. I don’t mean fully dried ones, I mean ones that are old enough to shrivel. Skip those and go for some good, fresh, fleshy caps. The shriveled ones work better chopped up.

So get some good caps (one per burger), clean (use a damp paper towel – mushrooms absorb water so running them under the tap will make them bloat), pat dry, and put into a ziplock bag (or a container, whatever suits your fancy – just make sure it seals) with your marinade of choice. Good options include garlic/red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, teriaki sauce, even Worcestershire sauce. Choose something that you like. If you need a recipe try this:

1/4 cup red wine vinegar (I use marsala in a pinch)

a tablespoon or two of crushed garlic

a few tablespoons of Worcestershire sauce (to taste)

a teaspoon of crushed red pepper (to taste, more if you really want some heat)

Mix up in the bag (or bowl – whatever), and then add the caps. Let them sit for 10 minutes on a side, then remove. If they marinate for too long they will get mushy.

Toss on the grill (start with the smooth side on top) and grill on each side for about 4 minutes. Put on a bun. If you’re making cheese burgers, top the portobello with cheese after your first flip and it’ll melt nicely (try Swiss!).

Serve with the regular lettuce, tomato, etc.

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