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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Breakfast Burritos from Amy's Foods : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Amy’s Foods

Breakfast Burrito and
Tofu Scramble Breakfast Wrap

This week we’re continuing what my wife is calling “the breakfast burrito tour of the frozen food aisle.” A couple of weeks ago we discovered two breakfast burritos from Sweet Earth Natural Foods, a company new to Dr. Gourmet, that our panel thought were truly excellent. Today we’re returning to a company we’ve known for years: Amy’s Foods.

Over ten years ago we reviewed Amy’s Breakfast Burrito and gave it poor marks. After ten years, we thought it might have improved. According to the numbers on the package, it would appear to have been changed somehow: there are 20 more calories in today’s burrito, along with slightly more fat and saturated fat (1g and 0.5g, respectively), 1 gram more fiber, 1 less gram of sugar, and more protein (3 grams more). Amy’s Breakfast Burritos »

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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Root Vegetable Pasta : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Root Vegetable Pasta

This is a quick, easy weeknight pasta with a few twists. The all veggie sauce has the savory taste of a meat sauce because of the umami from the parmesan but offers sweetness from the carrots and parsnips, tang from the tomato sauce and a slight bitterness from the radishes. A great balance.

Ratatouille

This is a recipe that I almost decided not to work on. I served ratatouille in my restaurant because it was made by an old hippie that worked as a prep cook. I had his recipe and, as with most vegetarian dishes, it was full of fat (and not very good fat I might add). I am so glad that I worked on it. The key is the highest quality fresh mozzarella you can find. But even more important, the fresh herbs make the dish possible. I am not sure I would do this with dried herbs – it would taste like it was made in a bad vegetarian restaurant.

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Fish for your brain : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Fish for your brain

We know that following an overall Mediterranean-style diet can reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease by as much as 60%. Some research has suggested that it is the fish intake that has that effect, and yet other studies focus on the Omega-3 fatty acids found in fish. For example, in 2007 I reported on a prospective study that looked at the effect of eating fish on the participants’ scores on a common cognition test, the Mini Mental Status Exam (MMSE). In a five-year study of over 200 Netherlanders, those who ate the least fish had their scores in the MMSE fall four times faster than those who ate the most fish – regardless of the type of fish consumed. On the other hand, in 2006 researchers in Sweden gave participants with mild to moderate dementia either an Omega-3 supplement or a placebo for 6 months. Those with Alzheimer’s Disease saw their cognition decline more slowly if they were taking the supplement.

With today’s research, a team in Pittsburgh sought to clarify this distinction. They made use of data gathered through the Cardiovascular Health Study Cognition Study (CHS-CS), which is part of the larger Cardiovascular Health Study, a large-scale, long-term prospective study of risk factors of heart disease and stroke in persons over the age of 65. Those in the Cognition Study were evaluated for signs of dementia or mild cognitive impairment and had an MRI done of their brains. For their research, the Pittsburgh team limited their study to those participants who had no sign of dementia or cognitive impairment (Am J Prev Med 2014;47(4)444-451). Fish and your brain »

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Substitute for Cilantro; Baron of Beef; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I am from Vancouver, Canada and I am curious to know what Americans call a “baron of beef inside round.” I find it very difficult to find recipes for this cut on the Internet due to the fact that I am not sure what this cut of meat is called in the U.S. It is a boneless lean cut and I was wondering if I should cook it pot roast style or can I cook it 20 min. a lb. and still have a nice tender roast.

A: A Baron of Beef is alleged to have originated when Henry VIII was served a spit roasted double sirloin of beef and was so taken by the roast that he dubbed it Sir Loin, the Baron of Beef. Whether this is true or not, the term has come to refer to the large joint of beef that includes the loins and both legs. A ‘Baron of Beef’ »

Q: Could you please tell me how important it is to our system and how can we tell if we have a cell salt deficiency? Can we actually tell by a facial diagnosis?

A: Sodium is extremely important to the operation of the human body and having a low serum sodium is a very dangerous condition. This is known as hyponatremia (hypo = low, natr = salt, emia = blood). It is difficult to have a low blood sodium level, as most diets are very high in salt and sodium comes from multiple ingredients. Cellular Salt Deficiency »

Q: I’ve noticed that many of your recipes include cilantro. Realizing that a large percentage of the population loves the herb, I absolutely detest it. And seeing as how I love your recipes in general, I was hoping you could offer some advice on a good substitution for this soapy herb when you create your recipes.

A: I’m sorry that you don’t like cilantro. It’s a prevalent herb in a lot of cuisines from Mexican to Eastern European, Spanish to Thai.

You can, in most recipes, substitute what you love. Flat leaf (Italian) parsley would be the obvious choice, but it could add more bitterness than you might want for your recipe. You could tone that down with just a touch of honey, however. Cilantro Substitutes »

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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Healthy Lasagna with Eggplant : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Lasagna with Eggplant

This is a big portion of lasagna that is rich and cheesy. The best part is that the recipe is so simple and takes about 30 minutes prep time. The hardest part of this is mincing the garlic – or maybe lining the pan with foil, but you will be happy you did because clean up is so much easier.

Acorn Squash Pasta Bake

This is a warm, rich, and very filling meal just made for chilly Autumn days. You can use a butternut squash for this too but they are generally much larger and you would have to double the rest of the ingredients in the recipe (making four servings). I had originally thought about making this recipe using leeks but decided on the more economical white onions. Leeks would bring more sweetness to the dish as well as a lot more fiber.

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Breast Cancer : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I would like to know if a daily breakfast diet of Mung beans would be allowed for a woman who is estrogen receptor positive for breast cancer. I see that Mung beans are closely related to soy products, which have phytoestrogens. Soy products are not allowed for women who are estrogen receptor positive breast cancer patients.

A: This is a very interesting question. Phytoestrogens are naturally occurring chemicals that resemble natural estrogen. There is a lot of controversy about this topic and many oncologists feel strongly about the chance of these chemicals increasing the risk of recurrent cancer for those women with estrogen receptor positive breast cancer. Some of the controversy arises from the fact that there are a lot of different phytoestrogen compounds found in foods. Mung beans, phytoestrogens, and breast cancer »

Q: I have always wondered about the effect of caffeine on breast cancer. Does caffeine encourage breast cancer or increase the risk of breast cancer or any other cancer because it speeds up the body’s metabolism? I use decaffeinated coffee (about 1/2 teaspoon of decaffeinated coffee crystals daily). Am I putting myself at risk?

A: The good news is that we have research from large studies to show that there’s no increase in risk of breast cancer for women who drink coffee.

he largest study was of over 38,000 women and did not reveal an increased risk in breast cancer (Arch Intern Med 208; 168(18):2022-2031). The research did reveal that for those women with benign breast disease (fibrocystic disease and the like) there might be an increased risk of certain types of breast cancer. Breast cancer and coffee »

Q: My husband is diabetic, and I am a cancer survivor. With the guidelines given to me to minimize recurring of the cancer, as well as my health in general after chemo, it seems easier for me to follow a diabetic diet than it would be to try and fix 2 different meals twice a day. Would I be starving my cells and ultimately doing more harm than good if I were to follow his diet?

A: You would be doing yourself a great service to follow a diabetic diet.

We now know that the most effective diet for diabetics is a Mediterranean style diet. There’s information about this in ourDiabetes Diet section.

At the same time the Mediterranean diet has been shown to help lower the risk of cancer. Mediterranean diet and cancers »

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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Acorn Squash Pasta Bake : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Chef Tim Says….

 There are so many different kinds of squash that it’s almost like having to take a high school biology test. (Interestingly, they are biologically fruits and not vegetables.) I know them all because growing up I was one of those weird kids that actually liked squash.

One of my favorites is the acorn squash. I love it roasted simply with a bit of butter and maple syrup. This Roasted Acorn Squash recipe is a variation of one that I had growing up – my dad loved acorn squash cooked this way. As acorn squash ages, the skin turns a mottled orange yellow color, so choose those that are more green than yellow. It should be firm with no dark or gray spots and tapping it should result in a sound that is hollow, not dull. Squash Varieties »

Acorn Squash Pasta Bake

This is a warm, rich, and very filling meal just made for chilly Autumn days. You can use a butternut squash for this too but they are generally much larger and you would have to double the rest of the ingredients in the recipe (making four servings). I had originally thought about making this recipe using leeks but decided on the more economical white onions. Leeks would bring more sweetness to the dish as well as a lot more fiber.

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Breakfast Burritos from Sweet Earth Natural Foods : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Sweet Earth Natural Foods

Big Sur Breakfast Burrito and
Baja Breakfast Burrito

Until now we’ve largely avoided entering the breakfast food portion of the frozen food market. Early this year we reviewed two breakfast meals from Amy’s because one of my patients said that she liked to eat them for lunch, and would I review them? Sweet Earth Natural Foods is another company that makes only vegetarian (lacto-ovo) foods and is based in Northern California. (Their packaging states, “The burrito abides,” which may well tell us all we need to know about their company.)

Unlike most burritos, which come wrapped in plastic, these come wrapped in brown paper (a lot like butcher paper) that is waxed or otherwise coated on the inside. The web site instructs you to just loosen the wrapper and microwave for 1 minute per side, but the packaging states that “for best results” you should wrap them in a paper towel before microwaving. Our first burrito, the Big Sur Breakfast Burrito, we chose to wrap in a paper towel. Breakfast Burritos »

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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Carrot Ginger Soup; More Chilis : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Carrot Ginger Soup

This is a lovely sweet soup with a spicy undertone from the ginger. It is made better by the tart and savory flavor from the roasted pepper. If you use a stick blender to puree this soup it will have a bit more texture than if you use a blender. I prefer the soup with a bit of texture, and clean up after using an immersion blender is so much easier.

Lentil Chili

This is a fine chili that’s a snap to make, full of flavor and really great for you. It has it all: low calorie, low fat, high fiber, garlic, cheese, sour cream — all the great things in life. It’s not too spicy and those with GERD should be fine if they leave out the chipotle pepper since there’s not much cumin or chili powder in each serving.

Mushroom Chili

Chili is the ultimate comfort food and this mushroom chili combines the great umami flavor of mushrooms with creamy beans and a nice spicy flavor. The dish is great with the cheese but you can also add a bit of freshly minced onion or your favorite salsa.

Six Bean Chili

This is a simple and easy chili that works great on the stove but just as well cooking for about 12 hours in the crock pot on high. Add all the ingredients, set the crock pot and go. If you are around, stir the chili occasionally, but this isn’t absolutely necessary. Like all pantry meals this recipe relies to some extent on what you have in the pantry. You can use fresh onions and peppers, for instance.

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Cinnamon; Fenugreek; More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: My doctor says I am a borderline diabetic, so I looked on the internet to see what home remedies they had to lower my blood sugar and it stated that Fenugreek would bring it down. But my question is can I take that as I am on warfarin, cardizem, dioxin, evista, zetia and zocor. Please let me know as soon as possible. I have stopped eating a lot of sweets and carbs. And I am trying to do more exercises.

A: It sounds like you are on the right track with cutting the sweets out of your life since your doctor has told you about your diabetes.

Do keep in mind that carbohydrates are not bad for you. Unfortunately, many people eat a lot of extra calories that they don’t need and such foods as soda, cookies, candy, chips, crackers and fast food are very high in carbohydrates. They are also often very high in fat and the combination leads to eating more calories than you need. By making these occasional treats and eating healthier you may be able to control your blood sugar better (especially by exercising more). Fenugreek for blood sugars »

Q: I’ve been following a Weight Watchers type diet for 2 1/2 months now. I’m 44 yrs old, 5′4″ and weigh just over 150 lbs. In the past, as recently as last year, I have been able to go a month or two with a WW type diet and lose 5 lbs minimum. This time I have not been able to lose even 1/2 lb.

I have really been careful about sticking to eating well, but I feel at a real loss right now and don’t know what to do next. Any advice you can offer to help me lose weight would be appreciated. What would you advise as the next steps?

A: This is a great question. There’s some evidence that as we get older – into our 40s and 50s – that it can be more difficult to lose weight. Everyone is different, of course, and there’s been some research focusing on this but nothing conclusive as to the actual cause.

What we do know is that this requires more attention to calorie balance. The first thing to look at is your amount of exercise. Folks tend to be less and less active as they move toward their 50s. A lot of factors contribute to this – job, home, stress – quite simply, the time constraints of modern life. Age and weight »

Q: I have read that cinnamon helps control blood sugar levels. Is this true, and how much cinnamon would one have to eat daily?

A: There has been good research on this spice and how it might help control blood sugars. These have been well controlled, blinded studies. Unfortunately, the research has had small study groups — generally less than 60 participants. Some studies have shown benefit of a reduction in the Hemoglobin A1c (a 90 day average of blood sugars) by almost 1%.

This would be great as there is a major difference between a normal Hemoglobin A1c of 6.5% and one at 7.5% with the higher number indicating poorer control of blood sugars and more risk for diabetics. Cinnamon and blood sugars »

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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