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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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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Sodium might make you... fat? : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Here at Dr. Gourmet we try to report on research that’s applicable to your daily life. That’s why our Health & Nutrition Bites always end with “What this means for you:” we report on research that’s strong enough, whether standing alone or taken together with other research, to warrant making some sort of change to the way you eat or live. That’s also why we don’t report on research done in vitro (performed in a test tube) or on rats or other animals: while such studies are often of very high quality in terms of their design and the results drawn, the fact remains that people are not test tubes. Nor are they rats.

We do, however, report on what is known as “cross-sectional studies,” which look at the characteristics of a group of people at a particular point in time, rather than following that group over the course of days, weeks, or longer, which are known as “prospective studies.” The conclusions drawn from these cross-sectional studies are not as strong as those from prospective studies, most often because it’s very difficult to tell from a single point in time whether Item A caused Item B – or if the reverse is true and Item B caused Item A. That said, these studies are useful for suggesting new associations for scientists to explore in the future. Sodium might make you… fat? »

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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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