Posts Tagged ‘fat


my good friend protein

Chris Sturr, with whom I’ve shared many a fondue pot (so you know this is not too serious), recently suggested through J-P that I try the Zone Diet concept to make sure I get enough protein to prevent the cranky shakes. Basically, you think of foods as “blocks,” with 7 grams of protein equaling a block of protein, 9 grams (not counting dietary fiber) for a block of carbs, and 3 grams for a block of fats. You try to keep those blocks in a 1:1:1 ratio, and eat totals that bring you up to daily intakes recommended based on your lean body mass and activity level. Fair enough.

My biggest beef is not with the pseudoscience crufted around the basic idea (unavoidable in nutrition writing), but with the books’ inherent bias toward meat eating. To make it easy for you–so that you don’t have to “gram it out”–the books call certain amounts of meat or dairy “protein blocks,” with all greens and all beans except soy classed as “carb blocks.” What about spinach? It’s 1 protein to 0.4 carbs. Or broccoli and cauliflower, each about 1:1 (slightly in favor of carbs). Lentils and split peas, the same. And the rest of the beans aren’t so bad: 1:1.3 for black beans, 1:1.75 for chickpeas. Not that I’m going to go hippie, but Dr. Sears would have me eat three quarters of a pound of boneless, skinless chicken breast each day–and I’m not about to do that, either.

Speaking of skinless: I also routinely go way over my daily allotment of fat. But my cholesterol is fine, and my estimated body fat percentage is a couple of points below their “ideal woman.” It doesn’t seem to be hurting me.

Complaints aside, I will keep a food diary for a little while, to see what tweaks I can make, and whether coming closer to 1:1:1 has any noticeable effects. If I find anything interesting, I’ll let you know.


A Tex-Mix Manifesto

What exactly is Tex-Mix, besides a cute term I came up with for my own household cuisine?

Tex-Mix uses the Tex-Mex flavor base in preparations from other cuisines. Tex-Mix cuts bagna cauda with lime juice, eats hummus with jalapeños and tortilla chips, and adds canned tomatoes with chiles to French lentil ragouts. Tex-Mix puts comino in its candied sweet potatoes. Tex-Mix thinks Moosewood’s bulgur-based vegetarian chili is clever. Tex-Mix was spiking its brownies with cayenne long before Mexican chocolate was cool. Tex-Mix takes garlic for granted.

Tex-Mix plugs elements of other cuisines into the forms that define Tex-Mex. Tex-Mix swoons over Lebanese quesadillas and amardeen margaritas. Tex-Mix wonders about tamales filled with smoked duck and cherry demiglace. Tex-Mix even enjoys a broccoli and tofu burrito with Thai peanut sauce—sometimes.

But bland grilled veggie wraps are right out. And Tex-Mix would never dream of emptying that undercooked zucchini into a bowl with some hard black beans and a dollop of fat-free sour cream and calling the result Mexican. Whether its food is good for its health is not Tex-Mix’s main concern. Tex-Mix gets enough exercise. If Tex-Mix leaves out the lard, it’s probably because duck fat seemed tastier in that recipe.

Tex-Mix doesn’t care if duck fat isn’t authentic. In fact, Tex-Mix doesn’t care if it is. (The Mexica had Muscovy ducks, after all). Tex-Mix loves pickled jalapeños, flour tortillas, and pinto beans. It took Guatemala to teach Tex-Mix the joys of fully cooked black beans. It’s not self-conscious atavism but the need for a bitter note that puts cocoa powder into Tex-Mix’s Texas Red. That chili makes a great Frito pie, by the way. It’s also terrific over vermicelli—that’s not Cincinatti, that’s la abuelita’s home cooking. What’s more, esta abuela puts peanut butter in her mole, and has never touched a metate. But her cooking is absolutely authentic.

Tex-Mix loves and respects its grandmother, but it didn’t learn all its recipes from her. Did you? There’s no getting around it: Tex-Mix is mixed. (Before that was cool, too.) Tex-Mix owns it. Tex-Mix understands that innovation and eating what you like are as important to cuisine as tradition and eating what you know. Tex-Mix is not humble. Tex-Mix avers that it improves on its grandmother. Tex-Mix has a broad palate, and Tex-Mix knows how to cook.


things that are good for the soul

Slept in this morning (quarter til 8), then scrambled two 68-cent Clark Summit eggs, one of which was a pretty blue Araucana. Cooked them in duck fat left over from the holidays, finished them with black truffle salt. Ate them while gazing out the kitchen window: camellias, roses, weeping birch, orange tree, banana tree, palm.

Counting the per-egg price reminded me of my best episode of haggling while I lived in Guatemala–where it is not uncommon to buy eggs individually. I was asked to go to the market to buy fruit for the snack at a workshop I was helping out with. I finished shopping–a little friendly haggling here and there–and found myself toting probably 25 pounds of food, half a mile from where I needed to be. I asked one of the (usually long-haul) pick-up drivers how much he’d charge for the trip. He quoted me 40 quetzales, or $5–as much as it would cost to go 20 miles. I stared at him, told him to stop messing with me, and picked up the bags to go, even though it was clear I would never make it. He grinned and lowered his price to 5 quetzales. Which I accepted.

Jenny texted during breakfast, and we met at Atlas Cafe, where we talked about relationships and she gave me a bottle of apple cider syrup. I first had it a few weeks ago with a beautiful, crunchy cornmeal waffle at Brown Sugar Kitchen in Oakland. I have plans tonight to try the syrup over ice cream.


sweet, sweet barter

Not much time to post today, as I’m teaching at the Crucible, then doing my regular shift at the Bike Kitchen. So, a quick report on last night:

A couple of weeks ago, I altered an outfit for Jenny, and last night she paid me in the form of dinner at Firefly. It’s near my house, I’d heard good things, but I hadn’t been yet. Let me just say that hazelnut brown butter is where it’s at. I had it on halibut, on black rice, on endive–and we imagined dozens of other uses for it. On chicken, on other greens, on asparagus, artichokes, green beans, angelfood cake, on chocolate cake (very nearly my dessert), on ice cream…

Tex-Mix's Photostream