About Dr. Gourmet

My name is Timothy Harlan and I am both a physician and a chef. This blog is a general collection of information and random ideas on eating great food and eating healthy.

You can find out more at the Dr. Gourmet web site. Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

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Diet drinks may encourage long term weight gain : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Diet drinks may encourage long term weight gain

Back in May I wrote about a study that seemed to show that drinking beverages sweetened with calorie-free sweeteners would actually help you lose weight. The problem, however, is that the study was funded by The American Beverage Association and two of the researchers involved had been paid consultants for Coca-Cola, who (surprise, surprise) is one of the three largest members of The American Beverage Association.

Other, more reputable research into the effects of drinking these types of beverages is rather more mixed, with some research suggesting that those drinking diet drinks instead of sugar-sweetened beverages were more likely to become overweight or obese over time. Research in rats has suggested that drinking beverages sweetened with calorie-free sweeteners may affect the individual’s ability to judge the number of calories actually consumed.

A team at Texas Christian University theorized that the effect of these beverages sweetened with non-caloric sweeteners (NCS) might be far more subtle and long term than had previously been thought (Appetite 2014;83:82-88). The designed a set of three experiments to assess people’s psychological and behavioral responses to consuming beverages sweetened with NCS. Diet beverages and weight gain »

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Comfort Food : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 There are two ways to eat fewer calories. One is to eat smaller portions and the other to reduce the amount of calories in a particular dish. With Dr. Gourmet recipes I work at both of these approaches, enhancing the taste and satisfaction of a recipe by choosing lower calorie ingredients that maximize flavor. One example of this is paying careful attention to foods that have a high number of calories by weight. Foods that are calorie dense, like those having higher fat and or sugar content, are one of my first targets when working on a recipe. The other key to eating fewer calories is controlling portion size.

There has been research showing that eating larger portions of food and eating food that is more calorie dense causes weight gain. It appears from research that these two variables are independent of each other (meaning that either would have an effect if the other was not present). Proof that you can eat less, eat fewer calories, and still be satisfied »

Comfort Food Spotlight

While calling something “comfort food” is pretty subjective, you’re sure to find one of your favorite comfort foods on our complete list of Healthy Comfort Food Recipes.

Chicken Fried Steak

Chicken fried steak reminds me of my childhood. Crispy on the outside but (when done right) tender on the inside. I learned the secret from a friend who tells me that his mother used only top sirloin. A great choice, but that can be pricy, so a good alternative is bottom round. If you are going to use the top sirloin, have the butcher cut it pretty thin – about a half inch thick.

Tuna Noodle Casserole

I have had a lot of requests for a Tuna Noodle Casserole recipe over the years. I will admit that it is not one of my favorite recipes but people do love this. After I made this, however, I was so surprised to find out how good it is and how much I loved the recipe. There are so many variations on this, but the peas and cheese really make this one great.

Meatloaf

Meatloaf, next to Mac and Cheese, may be the ultimate comfort food. It’s great out of the oven and I like the tomato sauce topping. Served with mashed potatoes and a side of broccoli or lima beans and you can’t help but feel good. As with all recipes that use ground beef, look for extra lean or 93% lean. If need be, ask the butcher to grind you some from a piece of very well trimmed bottom round.

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Three Cheese Ziti and Cheesy Rice and Chicken from Banquet : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Banquet

Three Cheese Ziti and Cheesy Rice and Chicken

About a month ago we discovered Banquet’s so-called “entrees.” As I remarked at the time, Banquet was a company I didn’t expect to ever review. I learned better, however: the Queso Mac was given a thumbs up as being “better than evol,” while the Fettuccini Alfredo was aptly described as tasting like “their first white sauce:” bland, thin, and near-complete waste of our time (and yours, dear reader).

Honestly, far better than I had expected. So we return today with two more from Banquet. Once again, these are accurately described as “entrees” as opposed to “meals.” What the difference might be isn’t quite clear except for the entrees being lower in calories and sodium than many of Banquet’s meals.

This week our tasting started with the Three Cheese Ziti. After cooking for two minutes or so we pulled back the plastic to stir, and at the scent of the meal all of the tasters looked at each other. More “Entrees” from Banquet »

Did You Know?

We’ve reviewed over 700 convenience meals, ingredients, and even desserts! Check out our listings by main ingredient or brand name to find out if that meal that looks so good in the freezer case is really worth the money. Read more Dr. Gourmet’s Food Reviews »

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Chicken Tikka Masala : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Chicken Tikka Masala

I have had Tikka Masala all over the world. The best is, by far, at a restaurant in Las Vegas (not on the Strip) called Mantra Masala. Period.

This recipe is easy and quite delicious. Because the dish is full of great spice you don’t need much salt to have a great salty flavor. Serve over brown rice or lentils.

Tarragon Mustard Scalloped Potatoes

I conceived of this recipe while traveling in Spain, where I encountered a similar dish. It was too, too rich and creamy. That is, of course, the standard of scalloped potatoes, but I wanted something more subtle and softer. The key seemed to be in the vegetable stock, where the slow simmering would create a lighter sauce as the potatoes soaked up the stock but gave up some potato starch.

The result is a rich sauce that is enhanced by a little bit of butter and oil. You could flavor this with any number of seasonings, but be careful not to overdo it. Tomato paste and basil would work, but use just two teaspoons of tomato paste and a half teaspoon of dried basil. As the liquid reduces during cooking, the flavor will intensify and too much of the flavorings will overwhelm the dish.

These potatoes are great served with pan seared fish or a simple grilled steak.

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Tea and Ovarian Cancer : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Drinking black tea may reduce your risk of ovarian cancer

Judging from the women in my practice, ovarian cancer may well be the most-feared diagnosis, even more than breast cancer. Why? Because the vast majority of ovarian cancers are not detected until they are quite advanced: only 15% of all ovarian cancer patients are diagnosed at an early stage of the disease (ovariancancer.org). While about 44% of all women diagnosed with ovarian cancer survive for at least five years after diagnosis, that statistic is for all women diagnosed at all stages.

Over 60% of ovarian cancers are diagnosed at Stage III: metastatic cancer. Only 27.4% of women at Stage III when diagnosed live for 5 years or more. By comparison, 61% of breast cancers are diagnosed at Stage I, when the cancer is still localized, and 98.5% of those women survive for 5 years or more (seer.cancer.gov).

We don’t know what exactly causes ovarian cancer. We do know that while about 10% of cancers are caused by a faulty gene, like many cancers diet plays a role. Recently antioxidants, particularly the subtype known as flavonoids, have come under scrutiny for their role in preventing heart disease, diabetes, and Alzheimer’s disease, not to mention cancers. Tea and Ovarian Cancer »

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Nuts and Cholesterol; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I hope you can help me. I eat peanut butter on wheat toast for breakfast. I eat 1/4 cup of nuts at lunch. My LDL is 89, which is a little high. Does eating lots of nuts cause a higher LDL? My cholesterol is 196 and my HDL is high at 99. Would a high HDL cause my cholesterol to be a little high?

A: You have an excellent cholesterol profile. Congratulations! We love to see HDL (good cholesterol) over 40 and 99 is fantastic. Having a target of less than 100 for LDL (bad cholesterol) has been shown to lower the risk of heart attack and stroke. Nuts and cholesterol »

Q: Love your food list. I see that green peppers are high in Vitamin K. Does the same hold true for red, yellow and orange bell peppers?

A: An early version of the food list you’re referring to does have a typo with respect to green peppers. Green bell peppers should be listed as Low in Vitamin K. A cup of diced green pepper has only 11 micrograms (mcg) of Vitamin K and this would be considered low enough to be safe. I am sorry for the misunderstanding.Vitamin K Food Lists »

Q: I am a fairly healthy 56 year old female. I have been on hormone replacement therapy for 15 yrs. and have put on about 30 lbs. I stumbled upon your Dr. Gourmet website by accident. I am just so disgusted with diets….they never seem to work for me. I walk 30 minutes a day about 4 days a week. I try to eat low fat & low sodium, low carbs. I just cannot seem to lose any weight. Do you think your 1000 calorie diet might work for me?

How can you offer this online diet for free without charging money like ediets and weight watchers do?

A: The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan may work very well for you. My belief is that you shouldn’t be dieting but embracing food and making changes in how you eat. To this end I have created recipes that are very satisfying but lower in calories and total fat while using fats that we know are good for us.

If you follow the plans through from the start it will help you decide on the amount of calories you should be eating based on your height and whether you wish to maintain or lose weight. This plan has now helped many people and we receive emails all the time about their success and how much they like the program. Cost of The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan »

Have a question? Send it to askdrgourmet@drgourmet.com and your question may be answered in this newsletter. Dr. Harlan regrets that due to time constraints, he can not answer all questions submitted. Your question may already have been answered in our Ask Dr. Gourmet archive.

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Scalloped Potatoes : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 Every time I hear someone say that carbs are bad for you I just want to scream. Go outside and start hollering as loud as I can. It’s just silly. Take this as gospel, carbohydrates are good for you!

Carbohydrates are chains of sugar molecules called saccharides. A single sugar molecule is known as a monosacchride, while two sugars joined together are called a disaccharide. These are called simple sugars because they easily break down in the body into monosaccharides. The monosaccharide glucose is important because it’s the primary fuel for your body, and all usable carbohydrates contain glucose molecules. Combining the monosaccharides glucose and fructose results in the disaccharide called sucrose (good old fashioned table sugar). Are carbohydrates good for you?

Tarragon Mustard Scalloped Potatoes

I conceived of this recipe while traveling in Spain, where I encountered a similar dish. It was too, too rich and creamy. That is, of course, the standard of scalloped potatoes, but I wanted something more subtle and softer. The key seemed to be in the vegetable stock, where the slow simmering would create a lighter sauce as the potatoes soaked up the stock but gave up some potato starch.

The result is a rich sauce that is enhanced by a little bit of butter and oil. You could flavor this with any number of seasonings, but be careful not to overdo it. Tomato paste and basil would work, but use just two teaspoons of tomato paste and a half teaspoon of dried basil. As the liquid reduces during cooking, the flavor will intensify and too much of the flavorings will overwhelm the dish.

These potatoes are great served with pan seared fish or a simple grilled steak.

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Barbecue Chicken Chili : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Barbecue Chicken Chili

This was inspired by a simple statement by my wife: “barbecue chicken chili.” Those three words just sound so great together and this chili is true to its name. It is chili with chicken and great barbecue sauce flavor. Sometimes simple is best.

Barbecue Chicken Pizza

This recipe uses my Barbecue Sauce recipe to make a pizza that’s much better for you than what you’ll get at a pizza chain. Making pizza at home is easier than you think and kids love decorating their pizza rounds with the toppings.

Barbecue Chicken

Barbecue sauce is a funny thing. Religion for some and with good reason. The complexities of making a good sauce are debated endlessly. This recipe relies heavily on the brown sugar and jam to create a caramelized glaze on whatever you decide to use it on.

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Foods with no calories; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: Are there certain veggies and fruits that have no calories – that we can eat as much of as we want?

A: All foods have at least some calories. Vegetables, as a rule of thumb, have very few calories by weight, but some can be higher than others. Fruits, vegetables, and calories »

Q: How do you feel about Morning Star Products – the vegetarian burgers, sausages etc.. They seem to be made from soybeans, possess high quantities of fiber and protein, low fat, high in B vitamins, but not overwhelming in sodium.

A: I am always challenged by these sorts of products. For those who are vegetarian but want foods that resemble meat they can be a good alternative. They are, however, highly processed and it’s hard to know what effect that might have on the otherwise healthy ingredients that they are made with. Meat substitutes »

Q: If corn has calories, how come popcorn essentially doesn’t? Where do the calories go?

A: The idea that popcorn does not contain calories is a myth.

100 grams of un-popped popcorn contains 375 calories, while 100 grams of popped has a similar amount at 387 calories. The difference is that 100 grams of un-popped kernels is about 1/3 cup and that will make a LOT of popped popcorn. Popcorn »

Have a question? Send it to askdrgourmet@drgourmet.com and your question may be answered in this newsletter. Dr. Harlan regrets that due to time constraints, he can not answer all questions submitted. Your question may already have been answered in our Ask Dr. Gourmet archive.

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Happy Labor Day! : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Happy Labor Day!

 It’s the unofficial end of summer here in the United States and most people are taking today off (we are, too!). We here at Dr. Gourmet hope you’re enjoying time with family and friends.

We’ll be back tomorrow with our regularly scheduled Ask Dr. Gourmet Newsletter. In the mean time, here’s a great recipe for Barbecue Chicken (below) which has you making your own barbecue sauce. If you’d rather use bottled sauce, however, read our recent review of bottled barbecue sauces. Happy Labor Day!

Barbecue Chicken

Barbecue sauce is a funny thing. Religion for some and with good reason. The complexities of making a good sauce are debated endlessly. This recipe relies heavily on the brown sugar and jam to create a caramelized glaze on whatever you decide to use it on.

Sugar adds calories, plain and simple. If you are really watching calories there are a lot of sauces out there with fewer calories that are actually pretty low in sodium. I use them actually more often than I make my own. I look for ones that are low in both calories and under 240 milligrams of sodium.

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