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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Chicken Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian

Chicken Curry and Chicken Tikka Masala: Serves Two

We’re inaugurating a new category of frozen meals today: the “Serves Two.”

I’m seeing more and more of these in the freezers: meals that are intended to actually serve two people, as opposed to meals that are disingenuously labeled as two servings when practically speaking they’re only one. CedarLane’s Spinach & Feta Pie is a good example: the numbers look great until you realize that not only is this two servings, but who’s going to cook it, then cut it in half and only eat half of it? Then reheat the leftovers? Never!

Today’s offerings from Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian are labeled “Serves 2″ right on the front of the package, and judging from the amount in the dish, they should be a good, light meal for two people. Two from Sukhi’s Gourmet Indian »

Did You Know?

We’ve reviewed over 675 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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Spring Holiday Menu : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Whether you’re celebrating Easter or the return of Spring (finally!), here’s a healthy holiday menu that everyone will love. Enjoy!

Roast Leg of Lamb

I love roast lamb and for me it’s the quintessential holiday meal. It’s so simple and you can use almost any variation for this recipe. Rosemary, sage, thyme or any combination of herbs works because the savory flavor of the lamb will hold up to almost any other ingredients.

Creamed Spinach
or Herbed Zucchini

Even when you don’t like spinach, creamed spinach is good. To me it’s great comfort food. The bitterness that you might not like about cooked spinach is balanced well with the creaminess of the cheese, and the nutmeg adds just the right touch of aromatic spice.

Porcini Mashed Potatoes

This is a rich, rich, rich side dish. It is a great example of how powerful flavors in a side dish can be the star of the plate. Combine the best quality extra virgin olive oil with the porcini mushrooms and then serve the potatoes with a simple pan roasted steak or fish filet.

Chocolate Cheesecake

This dessert has less calories and fat than a Kit Kat bar.

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Parents' portions, kids' portions: Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Back in 2012 I shared with you a study that showed that when preschoolers are presented with larger servings, they tend to eat more. On that occasion I pointed out that parents who were trying to get their children to eat more vegetables could make that work for them by serving larger portions of vegetables at mealtimes.

This can be a great strategy if you’re serving those vegetables alongside age-appropriate servings of main courses. On the other hand, a team of researchers sponsored by the US Department of Agriculture, Agricultural Research Service (USDA/ARS) and partially funded by both the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases and Kraft Foods, Inc. have found a way that strategy might backfire (Am J Clin Nutr 2014;99:763-70).

They noted that the types of research into children’s eating behaviors I mentioned above is performed in “tightly controlled laboratory studies.” Reasonably, they wondered how that might play out in the home – and given that most dinner meals with preschoolers include at least one adult, did what the adult serve themselves have any relationship with what was served to the child or how much of it they ate? Parents’ portions, kids’ portions »

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Alcohol in Vinegars; Asian Flavors; Pureeing Ideas : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: My guy has been sober for sixteen years and prefers that there is no alcohol in the foods that I make. I do use extracts but never heavily. I have avoided the wine/champagne vinegars, but I wonder about balsamic vinegar and the alcohol content. I would love to know what to use to make up for the lack of wine vinegar. Some recipes I feel I can interchange, but I really wonder about something like gazpacho, where the flavor is really needed.

A: There are traces of alcohol in vinegar but a very small amount. Wine vinegars such as red or white wine and balsamic vinegar do start with a dilute wine which is then fermented. Instead of the bacteria fermenting sugars, as happens when the wine is made, bacteria from the acetobacter family use the alcohol in the fermentation process. Most of the alcohol is used up, and much like the extracts you are using, there may be traces of ethanol remaining. Alcohol in vinegars »

Q: My daughter is allergic to all forms of sesame and peanuts. What can I use in stir fries to substitute for sesame oil yet maintain a nice Asian flavour?

A: This is a bit of a challenge and I don’t feel you will get all the flavor that comes with sesame oil with any alternative oil. Your best bet would be to use an oil with less flavor such as canola or grapeseed oil and find the Asian flavor in other ways. Asian flavors »

Q: I just had a hiatal hernia repair and am supposed to be on a liquid/pureed diet for at least a month. Nothing tastes good and short of getting retail baby food, do you have any recipes that are tasty and easily pureed? I am lactose intolerant with GERD and Barrett’s esophogus, healing well, but definitely need some protein as I have lost 11 pounds in only 7 days. Thanks so much!

A: There a number of options for you. Smoothies can be a good choice for breakfast. Here are two recipes and these have been designed to be GERD friendly:

Strawberry Banana Smoothie
Tropical Melon Smoothie

Cream soups are a good choice as well. More pureeing suggestions »

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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Thai Basil Chili Tofu and Bibimbop with Tofu : Saffron Road

Thai Basil Chili Tofu and
Bibimbop with Tofu

All in all we have had good experiences tasting Saffron Road products. There is a lot to like: they are certified halal, made with great ingredients, often gluten free, and many are vegan or vegetarian. Many of their recipes are more exotic, with dishes from all over the world. Their premade chicken stock is the best on the market.

There are a few new meals in the freezer case from Saffron Road and we started by tasting their Thai Basil Chili Tofu. This dish is full of great Thai flavor with Asian spice and even a taste of fresh basil (not bad for a frozen dish). New Meals from Saffron Road »

Did You Know?

We’ve reviewed over 675 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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Red Beans and Rice Risotto : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Red Beans and Rice Risotto

I love red beans and rice and I love risotto. The former is a rich blend of rice, veggies and beans spiced just right. The latter is a subtle, creamy dish that cooks fast. This is the perfect blend of the two so you don’t have to wait for Monday’s all-day simmering to get your red beans.

Note that this doesn’t contain added hot sauce. Take your bottle to the table with you and spice it up to your liking.

Sausage and Yellow Pepper Risotto

For those eating gluten free risotto can be a good choice when eating out. Chefs are more sensitive these days to diners who need to eat gluten free and I have had a few tell me that they have risotto in house even if it is not on the menu so it could be worth asking.

It can often be disappointing, however. Recently I was in a restaurant and ordered the risotto. It was done perfectly but there was far too much sausage – more meat than rice. This recipe is what I had hoped that dish to be. Great food is all about balance: the right amount of each ingredient so that each complements the other.

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Smart Phones and Childhood Obesity: Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Smart phones seem to be more and more common, even in school age children. And they don’t appear to be limited to those children whose families are in the higher income brackets: those who are minorities or are in lower income brackets are just as likely to have a smart phone as their peers. With childhood obesity a major concern, researchers are investigating ways to make use that ubiquitous technology to help treat or prevent obesity in children.

In a recent issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (2014;46(4):404-408), a team of researchers in Kansas City, Kansas, and Kansas City, Missouri reported on a pilot study they performed to see if a mobile application like those used on smart phones could help improve adolescents’ intake of fruits and vegetables, reduce their intake of sugar-sweetened beverages, and reduce their “screen time,” or time in front of a computer or television. Smart Phones »

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Cottage Pie; Almonds; Diabetes : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: Your recipe for Low Sodium Cottage Pie looks good, but for reducing fat, how do you think it would be to substitute ground turkey (either 93% fat or ground turkey breast) for the ground beef? My mom uses Coumadin and Dad has to watch his fat intake. I am always looking for recipes to make for them that best meet both of their needs.

A: Ground turkey can be a good choice, but do be careful and read the package carefully. A lot of packaged ground turkey products contain a variable amount of fat and saturated fat. Some ground turkey can have as much as 20 or 25 percent fat. (See also: Is ground turkey better for you than ground beef?)

More importantly, they can also have added sodium. I have seen some packages with as much as 300 mg of sodium in a 4 ounce serving.

Q: I’ve been told a snack of few plain almonds a day is good for me. I’m a 58 year old female diabetic with heart stents & a defibrillator taking Coumadin. In the past I’ve had a handful a day. Are Vitamin K levels low or high in almonds?

A: You’re right that almonds make a great snack. There’s good evidence that they can help change your cholesterol profile by improving the good cholesterol (HDL) and also having a positive effect on the LDL (bad) cholesterol. Even though they are high in fat, the fats are the ones that are better to be eating. Almonds »

Q: Are there any particular diet plans or guidelines in your diets that would acommodate a medicine-controlled Type 2 female diabetic aged 66, 5′3″ and 185 lbs.

A: Diet is one of the cornerstones of treating diabetes. For diabetics that don’t make any insulin (juvenile or Type I diabetics) eating similar meals at similar times of day is important because they are working to time insulin release to their eating habits. Diet Plans for Type 2 Diabetics »

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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Sausage and Yellow Pepper Risotto : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 People will plan almost every aspect of their lives. They know when they have to be at work, what meetings they will go to, times for the kid’s soccer game, when they are going to mow the lawn and on and on. Any successful project requires a plan. You wouldn’t think of building a house without architectural drawings and a construction plan. But folks just don’t take the time to put their meals into their plans, so they end up stopping off at Burger King or standing in front of the fridge at 6:00 P.M. thinking, “What are we going to have for dinner?”

That said, you can make a plan for the week’s meals, but you will also need to figure out how to fit them into your life. If you know that you will be running late on Tuesday, that’s a good day to eat out or have a convenience meal. The single most important thing you can do for eating healthy and losing weight is to know what you are going to eat and when – in advance. How to plan your weekly menus »

Sausage and Yellow Pepper Risotto

For those eating gluten free risotto can be a good choice when eating out. Chefs are more sensitive these days to diners who need to eat gluten free and I have had a few tell me that they have risotto in house even if it is not on the menu so it could be worth asking.

It can often be disappointing, however. Recently I was in a restaurant and ordered the risotto. It was done perfectly but there was far too much sausage – more meat than rice. This recipe is what I had hoped that dish to be. Great food is all about balance: the right amount of each ingredient so that each complements the other.

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Lasagnas from Udi's Gluten Free : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Italian Sausage Lasagna and
Broccoli & Kale Lasagna

Lasagna seems like it would be a good choice if you were a company making frozen foods. It is a single, self contained meal that is easy to package. The pasta can be a little underdone before it is put in the microwave, and the filling only needs to be sufficiently creamy with a bit of texture. One of the easier dishes to freeze.

Udi’s new lasagnas looked promising. The numbers on the Italian Sausage Lasagna are pretty good at 340 calories, 400 milligrams of sodium and 3 grams fiber. Not sure that it could live up to the expectation but coming out of the microwave the aroma was sweet and tomatoey. Udi’s Gluten Free Lasagnas »

Did You Know?

We’ve reviewed over 675 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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