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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Eating healthy when you hate vegetables; more : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I am a finicky person, with a developed taste for sweets. I do not enjoy many vegetables, and the ones I do enjoy I feel are limited in nutritional value. I want to lose weight, but the thought of incorporating vegetables into my diet, let alone spending money on them just to not enjoy them is hard to swallow. Do you have any suggestions on how I can lose weight with the below listed vegetables?

Corn
Potatoes
Bell Peppers
Asparagus

A: There are a lot of folks out there who don’t like vegetables, but when I ask them to make a list they will often start with at least four like you have. I will often ask them about others, prompting on such things as onions, carrots, celery and such. Most of the time the list expands and people will add to it gradually. They will say that they can eat carrots or onions as part of a stew, for instance.Eating healthy when you dislike vegetables »

Q: Is the ethylene gas that is used to ripen tomatoes quickly in supermarkets safe?

A: Ethylene gas is produced naturally by most fruits, such as tomatoes, bananas, peaches, and avocados, and it promotes ripening. Most tomatoes today are picked green and transported unripe to protect them from bruising and spoilage. The green tomatoes are then ripened somewhat artificially by exposing them to ethylene gas. This is generally not done in the supermarket but at the produce distributors that supply local markets. Ethylene gas »

Q: I know fish has many health benefits. But here’s the problem: I hate fish. Absolutely hate it. No matter what kind and how you dress it up and what you try to do to it. Would taking fish oil in a capsule do the trick?

A: The best research we have says yes. For those who simply don’t like fish, like you, taking fish oil capsules is a great choice. The recommendation is 1000 mg two or three times a day. This will give you more than adequate amounts of Omega 3 fats. If you are allergic to fish, there’s some good evidence that using flax seed oil is a good alternative to fish oil. Fish oil »

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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Paella Salad; Antioxidants : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 Antioxidants. You hear the term all the time but what does it mean? The word sounds so important, so sciency and there is, of course, science involved.

When the cells in your body use oxygen, the interaction with other molecules results in their oxidation. The by-product of that oxidation is free radicals — molecules or atoms that lose one or more electrons. Free radicals are unstable, and in a sense, are looking to replace or give up their unbalanced number of electrons. In scavenging for electrons, they cause damage to cells in the body. That is known as “oxidative stress” and this cellular damage contributes to disease.

I don’t mean this to sound like the oxidation process is bad. On the contrary, these chemical reactions are necessary for life and are not only critical for ongoing function but also repair of your cells. What are antioxidants? »

Paella Salad

When I go to Spain I love to eat paella and when I come home I love to cook it. The challenge is that it doesn’t keep very well: cold paella always ends up being gummy. Thinking about this (and it was very hot outside when I was), I realized that a chilled paella salad in the summer made sense.

Not only is brown rice better for you than white rice, but it also holds up quite well in salads. I use long grain brown rice because it is easy to find, but short grain works well too and has a little creamier texture.

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Dr. Gourmet Reviews Two from Healthy Choice: Baked Taste

Chicken & Spinach Alfredo and Chicken Enchilada Bake

We’ve reviewed over 50 frozen meals from Healthy Choice, and sad to say, only about 2 in 5 got a thumbs up from Dr. Gourmet. It used to be that Lean Cuisine was the brand I (we, now) dreaded tasting, but now the green packages throw fear into the hearts of our tasters (including my wife, who persists in bringing Healthy Choice products home “because some of them have been good,” she said).

Our panel chose to start with the Chicken & Spinach Alfredo. There’s lots of spinach in this dish, dotted with chunks of diced tomato for more color. The sauce is hard to find, however. In a dish boasting an Alfredo sauce one expects to see a white sauce, but there is none to be seen. There’s a sauce, sure – just a little and fairly clear – but despite the listing of heavy cream in the ingredients, nobody looking at this meal would guess it. The panel agreed that this does not bode well. Healthy Choice Baked Taste Meals »

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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Green Bean and Mushroom Salad : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Green Bean and Mushroom Salad

Simple is best and this salad is just that – but complex at the same time. The sweet green beans are balanced by the umami flavor of the mushrooms along with the tang of the mustard vinaigrette. This is a great side dish served chilled topped with a seared piece of fish.

Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

This is one of those recipes inspired by words from my wife, who said, “I want a pasta salad that tastes like a plate of pasta with tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and cheese.” The key to a good pasta salad is to cook the pasta, drain, rinse quickly under cool water and the shake off the excess water. Then add the pasta to the dressing and toss well so that the pasta doesn’t stick together.

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The Challenge of a Busy Lifestyle; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I live in New Orleans and love your website. Most of my family are individually doing diet plans through the site. I have done that too, in the past, but now find myself on chemo for lymphoma and just wondered if you all had done any research at all on how to make things palatable when the tastebuds go awry. I know what to eat and what not to – I just don’t know how to make it taste bearable.

A: I haven’t had the opportunity to do the research into cooking while on chemotherapy (or in some cases radiation therapy). I have, however, found a book that I think is excellent. The title is Healthy Eating During Chemotherapy by José van Mil. It is one of the most innovative approaches to the issue of eating while on chemotherapy.

Q: I work in Television / Film industry. We usually work a 12 hour day and have catered food. I’m not a meat or chicken eater and have trouble picking and choosing enough food to eat from the usual salad, fruit and vegetarian entrees (usually a lasagna with spinach), and a vegetable side that is usually mashed potatoes, or something with too much oil and fat.

I also have to watch my sodium and fat for cholesterol, so processed meats and cheese are out. I get frustrated and end up with bread and dessert and have gained weight. I need more than the [vitamin K] list I already have downloaded on my palm pilot. I’m hungry, and the depression makes me hungrier. I don’t have the time always to cook a whole recipe for myself. I need more variety in my grocery list besides carrots, radishes, zucchini and yucky iceberg lettuce. Coumadin is to me more a “life sentence” than a life saver! Is there a “keep in the pantry and fridge” shopping list?

A: There are many jobs today that can be a challenge when it comes to eating healthy. Certainly in your industry this is true given the long hours. Such jobs often offer meals as a perk to compensate for the longer hours. Such food is generally not very good – or very good for you.

The key for you is to plan for eating great food. This means taking the time to make your own. I hear the same argument from patients all the time that “I don’t have the time.” This is far from the truth.The challenge of a busy lifestyle »

Q: My wife is on Coumadin® (warfarin) for life. She loves broccoli and cauliflower, but from the endless lists one can get on the Internet, broccoli and cauliflower appear to be a no-no for those on warfarin due to their high levels of Vitamin K. Yet they appear in quite a few of your recipes. Can you explain, please?

A: Because it is clear that eating Vitamin K is important to users of Coumadin® (warfarin), I don’t try to eliminate it from the diet completely. (See my column, “The Right Dose of Vitamin K.”)

For main course meal recipes, I consider those that are under 30-35 micrograms of Vitamin K to be safe. This is a moderate amount of Vitamin K. Ingredients for Coumadin users »

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 ourAsk Dr. Gourmet archive.

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Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 Dairy products are one of the nine elements of the traditional Mediterranean Diet. Even so, dairy products eaten by those in Mediterranean cultures are usually consumed in the form of processed products like yogurt or cheeses. Milk is not often drunk as a beverage.

Specific research on dairy is more conflicting and much of it is funded by The National Dairy Council. The studies performed are often very small and in many cases appear biased. Dairy products in the Mediterranean Diet »

Tomato and Mozzarella Pasta Salad

This is one of those recipes inspired by words from my wife, who said, “I want a pasta salad that tastes like a plate of pasta with tomato sauce, basil, oregano, and cheese.” The key to a good pasta salad is to cook the pasta, drain, rinse quickly under cool water and the shake off the excess water. Then add the pasta to the dressing and toss well so that the pasta doesn’t stick together.

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Eggplant Dishes from Angel Foods : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Three Eggplant Meals

I love eggplant. When my wife found today’s meals at our local Rouse’s grocery store I have to admit I was jealous: none of their meals are gluten-free.

Angel Foods, according to their web site, used to be known as Dominex Foods: The Eggplant People. They pride themselves on having all vegetarian products with no GMO ingredients. These meals come packaged in recyclable paper bowls rather than plastic and are microwaved for 4 minutes or so. Simple and straightforward.

Eggplant, like white rice, tends to need salt to have good flavor. (Take a look at my Eggplant Parmesan recipe for comparison.) The three varieties we tasted for today’s review all have between 500 and 600 milligrams of sodium – which is really reasonable for an eggplant dish. Meals for Eggplant Lovers »

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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Tuna Caprese Salad : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Tuna Caprese Salad

I love tuna. I love Caprese Salad. The two of them together are just perfect. There’s not much more to be said than that.

Dinner doesn’t have to be complicated to be fantastic. A lovely salad like this one with a slice of good bread is quick, simple and delicious.

Crab Avocado Shrimp Salad

It is critical to not over blend this recipe. I like to use avocado in place of mayonnaise for salads but that is not the intention for this recipe. The crab and avocado should not be tossed too much or they will cream together. Just a light toss with the dressing is all that it takes.

This is great served stuffed in a large tomato or in sandwiches. It will keep well but only for a couple of days.

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Non-celiac gluten sensitivity : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

There’s been a fair amount of coverage in the health news on recent research into non-celiac gluten sensitivity (NCGS). A study that appeared to confirm the existence of NCGS was refuted by a later study, performed by the same team. Their conclusion was that despite their earlier research, they could find no evidence that non-celiac gluten sensitivity exists.

Today’s research is not the research performed by that team (although we’ll be covering some of their research in future Bites). It does, however, come to the same conclusion: that non-celiac gluten-sensitivity does not appear to exist when tested for under controlled conditions.

For their research, a team in Australia performed two studies: first, a double-blinded, placebo-controlled, crossover dietary trial, then an additional, briefer trial between 8 and 17 months later (Gastroenterology 2013;145:320-328). Non-celiac gluten sensitivity »

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Medifast; Lymphedema; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: From Aug to March of last year I lost 65 pounds on the Medifast diet which is typically less than 1000 calories per day. You eat five of their mini-meals per day plus one “lean & green” meal consisting of meat and vegetables. I like it because it seems like I’m getting away from food altogether, much like a person with an addiction to cigarettes or alcohol needs to get away from their addictions altogether. And I’ve felt really well while following it.

But recently, due to various usual work frustrations, holidays, etc. my weight has crept back up about 5-8 pounds. I want to shed this weight plus a little extra to make sure I’m well into my healthy BMI range. I suspect that my metabolism is pretty low from following that diet for so long, and it seems like the only way to lose this excess is to go back on Medifast, due to my body being used to so few calories.

I’ve done this (Medifast) without much success so far for the past month or two. But I’m tired of it! The profile I created on your Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan shows I should consume 1500 calories per day, but it seems like if I consume 1500 calories per day, I’ll either not lose any weight or maybe even start gaining! I feel like I’ve shot myself in the foot. Am I stuck with restricting my calorie intake to less than 1000/day?

A: Congratulations on your weight loss! It’s great that you feel better.

While I am not a fan of diets like Medifast, it does work for some folks. There are the issues with such diets of slowed metabolism when being on so few calories. Another concern of mine is that the programs seldom spend enough time teaching folks how to transition back to healthy eating. Consequently, there is often a creeping weight gain once you end the diet.

You may do very well on The Dr. Gourmet Diet Plan. The planner chooses a calorie target based on your height and weight. The computer is not, however, a doctor or dietitian sitting in a room with you discussing all of the factors that go into the amount of calories you eat vs. exercise, your likes and dislikes, your precise Body Mass Index, Waist to Hip Ratio, etc.. It may be that you will do better at 1,200 or 1,000 calories for a short period of time while you lose the 5 – 8 lbs. and get to your target and that the 1,500 calories is a good target for you to maintain your weight. This is why there is the option of selecting the number of calories yourself. Maintaining after Medifast »

Q: I am on a mailing list with other folks with secondary and primary lymphedema. We have reports from some people that low carb diets make them feel better with their disease. As you probably know, affected limbs go up and down, and with massage and wrapping we try to minimize the swelling as much as we can.

Can you think of any reason our unscientific but widely held view on carbs might have some science behind it?

A: This is a particularly vexing question as is the problem of lymphedema. I have had a few patients with both primary and secondary disease and, like your question, it is a difficult problem. I have not, however, been able to find any research that proves a low carbohydrate diet is helpful.

It may be that because some lymphedema is a problem with the difference in “oncotic” pressure between the veins and tissues that some have come to this conclusion. Because the oncotic pressure is controlled mostly by proteins one might consider that eating a diet with less carbohydrates (thus relatively more proteins) would help. Lymphedema »

Q: My question is really how much should I weigh? I’m a girl. Almost 13. I’m 5′3″ – almost 5′4″, and my weight is different every day! It’s from 114-118! It changes so much! Can you tell me why, as well?

A: This is a great question. There’s a lot of ways to look at weight but one of the most reliable guidelines that we use is the Body Mass Index or BMI. While the BMI works pretty well for adults, in children and teenagers it is something we use a bit more cautiously. This is because as you grow so much changes. There’s a difference in the amount of body fat as we grow, and boys and girls don’t grow in quite the same way. Healthy weight for kids and teens »

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 ourAsk Dr. Gourmet archive.

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