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!

Categories

Spicy Foods; Keeping Chipotle in Adobo; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I like hot peppery foods like Mexican, Indian, Szechuan, etc., and wonder if there is any advantage or disadvantage to them.

A: It would be great if eating spicy foods sped up your metabolism, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately, the research we have just doesn’t support the idea, although there might be other benefits to eating chilis. Eating spicy foods »

Q: I love a nice sauce or marinade made with canned chipotles in adobo sauce occasionally. Since I do not use the entire can at once, I store them in a small plastic container with lid in the refrigerator. I recently tossed some out which had been in the fridge about two months because I did not know how long they may safely be stored. I know that the peppers and spices are probably safely stored for quite some time, but because the adobo contains tomatoes and I have heard some horror tales about tomato sauces stored too long, I want to make sure. Please advise.

A: This is a tough question to answer and basically no one will. I have written and called two different companies that produce chipotle in adobo and neither will commit to an exact amount of time. Keeping chipotles in adobo »

Q: I have recently had to change the way I cook because my fiancé has been diagnosed with very high levels of cholesterol. We do love sushi though, and as a treat we ordered out the other day. I assumed that certain types of sushi were high in cholesterol, but since we had done so well prior to the sushi, I thought he deserved a little treat.

I think I know the answer before I ask it, but some of the sushi we had was probably a bad choice. We ordered a red parrot roll that contains lobster tail tempura with asparagus, cream cheese, masago and spicy mayo layered with avocado, and fried shrimp tempura roll with spicy tuna on top. The concern is of course the cream cheese and mayo, and it being fried. Is it as bad as I think it is or can he have it as a treat if everything else he eats is cholesterol free? I don’t want him to fall off when I am not around if he is feeling like I am depriving him.

A: I do eat sushi and I do love it. Sushi can be really healthy given that much of the fish served is high in monounsaturated fats and lower in cholesterol. There can be a few areas to consider, however. Choosing healthier sushi »

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.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Why should you eat less salt? : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

We eat too much salt. It might be hard to believe, but the average person eats over 6,000 milligrams (mg) of sodium every day. That works out to about 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt, which is about 2 1/2 times the recommended amount of 2,400 mg per day.

If you are used to eating a lot of salt, we do have great evidence that your tastebuds can learn to do without all that sodium. A great study placed a group of people on a sodium restricted diet for five months (Am J Clin Nutr 1982;36:1134-44). Their subjective response to the saltiness of salt in solutions, soups and crackers were measured before and while they were following the diet. The same measurements were made in a control group that didn’t change their diet. In the group that lowered their salt intake, the perceived intensity of salt in crackers increased over the five month period. The amount of salt needed for “maximum pleasantness” of taste fell in the study group but not in the control group.

This is a profound problem for us. Research estimates that reducing salt intake could save 150,000 lives each year. That’s a lot of our friends, family and co-workers. How to reduce the salt in your diet »

Salmon Mac and Cheese

There is creamy Mac & Cheese and baked Mac & Cheese. Both dishes are similar but in many ways worlds apart. I like both and when you add a bit of salmon and peas it is a complete meal that’s easy to make, delicious, and makes great leftovers.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Special Issue: Barbecue Sauce : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Classic Barbecue Sauce

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

Sweet Chipotle Barbecue Sauce

This is a spicy and a sweet barbecue sauce. If you don’t like your sauces too spicy, cut back on one or two of the chipotles.

Cajun Barbecue Sauce

Barbecue gets a bad rap. This is because people only think of ribs or other high fat cuts of meat. This sauce is great on shrimp, fish, lean pork chops or pork tenderloin. There’s no sodium in the sauce but you can add a little to the food you are cooking – about 1/8 teaspoon per serving.

Smokey Barbecue Sauce

There are millions of variations of barbecue sauce, of course. Everyone has their favorite and their magic ingredients. This is the one place that you can get creative easily and likely not mess up your dinner.

I love smoked paprika and it gives this simple and quick sauce a lot of depth of flavor. Use a spicier version like hot paprika or even Chilean merken to really bring a new flavor to your next barbecue.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Italian Fried Rice : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Italian Fried Rice

This recipe is slightly higher in sodium than I like to have on the website, but rice dishes are that way. They take a little more salt to create a balanced flavor profile. We do complain about prepared meals in our reviews that more than about 500 milligrams of sodium, but those dishes are generally 1/3 the volume of this one and have half the calories. It took about 20 minutes active cooking time to make this, it is 3 times the amount of food of a similar Lean Cuisine meal, costs half as much, tastes worlds better and has about the same amount of sodium.

Mexican Fried Rice

This recipe happened because my wife and I were talking about the different types of fried rice dishes and realized that they were all restricted to Asian flavors. That makes sense, but the fact is fried rice is a simple, essentially one pot meal that is both quick and a great way to use leftovers.

So why not a Mexican fried rice? The interesting thing is that this took a few tries. There is a key component of Asian food and fried rice: soy sauce. That rich umami flavor is what makes fried rice, well, fried rice.

For this dish the chicken helps provide that umami flavor, as do the onions, but the key was the cheese. By adding just a bit this strikes the right balance of being both Mexican/Southwest flavors but also a fried rice.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Avoid distraction : Dr. Gourmet’s Health and Nutrition Bites

Back in 2006 and 2007 I reported on two studies that showed that both adults and children tended to eat more while they watched TV. Listening to music also seems to affect how much you eat. The theory is that being distracted from what you’re eating appears to reduce your attention from physical or mental cues to stop eating.

Researchers at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom sought to gain greater understanding of the distraction phenomenon by adding the question of snacking to the equation (Appetite 2015;92:287-294). They designed three brief studies to find out if being distracted in various ways while eating a meal would have an effect on how much a person ate later. In all three studies, the participants were split into three groups, with one group serving as a control group. They were served a standardized lunch followed 2-3 hours later with the opportunity to snack on as many cookies as they wished. Appetite and mood questionnaires were administered before each eating session. Avoid distractions »

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Casein; Kidney Beans; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: Do kidney beans contain Omega 3 fatty acids?

A: Kidney beans and most such legumes have very little fat of any kind. Peanuts and soybeans are exceptions to this, however. Omega-3 fatty acids in beans »

Q: How much salt in milligrams should a person on a low salt diet intake each day? Can you eat Kosher salt on a low salt diet?

A: Most physicians will ask their patients on a low sodium diet to consume less than 2,000 mg per day. We know from research on the D.A.S.H. diet that folks who eat less than 1,500 mg per day have much lower risk of high blood pressure. In our patients with the most severe of issues, such as Class IV heart failure, we will occasionally have folks on 1,000 mg per day, but this is a pretty tough diet to follow. Low sodium »

Q: I have psoriasis on my hands. I was told to stop eating dairy, as the casein in it is an inflammatory. So I have eliminated dairy from my diet and my hands are much better. It seems that I can still eat goat cheese. I haven’t tried buffalo or sheep cheese.

Have you seen or heard of any situations like this? It is quite a challenge for me. Do you have any advice?

A: I checked with a number of sources and looked long and hard at the medical literature. There’s no evidence of casein being “inflammatory” or that it provokes psoriasis. Here’s the reply from one prominent dermatologist »

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.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

The Importance of Planning : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Today’s column is #17 in our “How to Eat Healthy” series.

Dr. Tim Says….

So far we’ve gone over getting your day structured for eating breakfast and lunch as well as what makes sense for dinner. All of this takes some planning on your part and I believe that this is the most important part of eating healthy. The better you plan, the better chance that you will stick to eating healthy.

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?” The importance of planning »

Mexican Fried Rice

This recipe happened because my wife and I were talking about the different types of fried rice dishes and realized that they were all restricted to Asian flavors. That makes sense, but the fact is fried rice is a simple, essentially one pot meal that is both quick and a great way to use leftovers.

So why not a Mexican fried rice? The interesting thing is that this took a few tries. There is a key component of Asian food and fried rice: soy sauce. That rich umami flavor is what makes fried rice, well, fried rice.

For this dish the chicken helps provide that umami flavor, as do the onions, but the key was the cheese. By adding just a bit this strikes the right balance of being both Mexican/Southwest flavors but also a fried rice.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Whatever works : Dr. Gourmet’s Health and Nutrition Bite

Choose the diet you can stick to

There’s a lot of controversy over which diet is best if you want to lose weight. Low fat? Low carbohydrate? High fat? Mediterranean Diet? DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension)? Weight Watchers? Jenny Craig? Vegetarian? Vegan? Omnivore? Pescetarian? The list is endless, and people will argue for their favorite diet with the zeal of a recent convert.

Studies pop up all the time that seem to show that one type of diet helps people lose weight faster than another type of diet. Just last Fall I shared with you an article that concluded that a low-carbohydrate diet would help you lose more weight than a low-fat diet. Unfortunately, many of those studies (including that one) that compare one diet to another are poorly designed, limit people’s food choices in unsustainable ways, or both.

A team at the Veterans Affairs Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina took the approach that rather than being prescribed a specific diet, for the purposes of weight loss alone people might do better and lose more weight if they could choose the diet themselves (Annals Int Med 2015;162:805-814). Makes sense, but as we know, just because something “makes sense” doesn’t mean it holds up to controlled trials. The diet that works »

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Balsamic Vinegar : Ask Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: Is there a universal star rating system for foods, namely Aged Balsamic Vinegar? If so please direct me where to find it. Also, which is more popular, Tuscan olive oil or Sicilian?

A: True balsamic vinegar is made from the Trebbiano grape and its rich brown color comes from aging in wood casks, often for decades. Although it is made from grapes, balsamic vinegar isn’t produced from wine (as is wine vinegar). The authentic product may not contain any wine vinegars. The grape juice is simply reduced and then made directly into vinegar. Rating system »

Q: Several years ago I bought 25-year-old Modena vinegar while in Modena. It has since gotten very thick. Is it still safe to use or should I throw it out? Can it be thinned down somehow?

A: This is exactly what your vinegar should be like. As it ages, balsamic vinegar thickens and takes on sweeter and more complex flavors. There’s no need to thin it out. Thickened vinegar »

Q: What is the percentage of alcohol in Balsamic Wine Vinegar – Modena Brand?

A: Your bottle may say Modena, but it may or may not be “Modena Brand.” The best balsamic vinegars are made in Modena, Italy and many bottles will have the Modena name on them. There is no requirement by the FDA or the USDA that manufacturers report alcohol content of their products (except for wine, beer and spirits).

Because vinegar is made in a two step process, first by fermenting alcohol and then by fermenting the alcohol to acetic acid, there will be some residual alcohol in vinegars. It is, however, very little. I found an article from 2004 in the journal Science Direct that indicates the amount of alcohol in a wine vinegar is between 0.1% and 2%. There are a lot of factors that go into this. Alcohol in vinegars »

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.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites

Popcorn : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

A few weeks back I did a cooking demo, and as part of the presentation we included a discussion of snacks. There are a lot of great snack choices, but near the top of my list is popcorn. Why? Because corn is a whole grain and popcorn is corn.

As part of the demonstration, we threw a 100 calorie popcorn pack in a microwave, set the timer for 90 seconds, and all of the sudden, boom! – there’s a snack.

After the talk someone came up and asked about the popcorn that we used and the added oil and chemicals in the commercial varieties available (not to mention that she brought up the GMO issue). Truth is, there are some microwave popcorns out there with oils that aren’t all that great, and some of the ingredients in microwave popcorn do look to be pretty dubious. We used a natural popcorn with organic ingredients, but the challenge is always cost – such products are generally up to double the price. But there’s a solution. »

Creamy Peach Yogurt Pops
Key Lime Yogurt Pops

This recipe can vary depending on the size of pop mold you have or can find. I use 4 and 6 ounce frozen pop molds but you can often find 8 ounce molds as well. The best part is that if all you can find is 4 ounce molds you can have two pops and they will still be less than 60 calories.

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • MySpace
  • Digg
  • del.icio.us
  • Technorati
  • StumbleUpon
  • LinkedIn
  • MSN Reporter
  • NewsVine
  • FriendFeed
  • PDF
  • Reddit
  • Yahoo! Bookmarks
  • RSS
  • Add to favorites