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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Belly fat and sodas : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Belly fat and sodas

Belly fat fixes seem to be ubiquitous: “Flatten your stomach with this one weird trick!” “Lose 10 pounds of belly fat by doing this!” The problem is that there’s belly fat… and then there’s belly fat. What most people don’t realize is that there are two types of belly fat – and one is far worse for you than the other.

As I’ve discussed in previous Health and Nutrition Bites (“Whole Grains and Belly Fat,” 05/18/11“Mediterranean Diet Helps Prevent Central Fat Distribution” 05/11/11), the two types of belly fat are Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue (SAT: fat deposited beneath the skin) and Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT: fat deposited around the internal organs). While both contribute to belly bulge, Visceral Adipose Tissue is a component of Metabolic Syndrome and is more strongly linked to reduced insulin sensitivity and greater risk of diabetes as well as heart disease.

In other Bites, we’ve seen that increased intake of fructose (a component of HFCS: High Fructose Corn Syrup) has been linked to greater formation of VAT as opposed to SAT (“A Serious Look at Fructose” 01/06/10). Recently a team of scientists at Harvard, Tufts University, and the University of Massachusetts decided to take that research a step further by assessing the impact of drinking sugar-sweetened beverages (usually containing HFCS) on a person’s Visceral Adipose Tissue (J Nutr 2014;144:1283-1290). Belly fat »

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Orzo, Cornsilk, More : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: My husband is on Coumadin (warfarin) and his reading this past week was below the 2.0. He was told not to eat any green leafy vegetables and when I asked about zucchini I was told I would have to peel it. I had never heard or read about that before. His diet for the next 7 days is to be limited to non-green veggies but he could have one serving of green vegetables during that 7 day period.

Where can I find research on this? Especially interested in zucchini because I buy that all year long and cook it along with eggplant, etc.

A: I am not sure why your husband’s physician might have suggested peeling the zucchini.

Zucchini and other squash varieties are low in Vitamin K. Eight ounces of zucchini, including the peel, contain only 9.8 micrograms of Vitamin K. This is a medium sized zucchini and should be safe for those on Coumadin (warfarin). Peeling zucchini »

Q: Seems to me I read somewhere to fix fresh corn for the grill, you don’t need to peal all the silk from the corn, but if you soaked it, before putting it on the grill, that after it is done, you can just cut the end, and silk and all will just come off in one bunch. Is this true?

A: Yes, this is true.

I like the method of peeling the husks back prior to grilling for two reasons, however. Cooking corn »

Q: I would like to know if Orzo (coffee substitute drink) is ok to drink if someone is on 5 mg of Warfarin?

A: Orzo is a coffee substitute that originated in Italy and has not spread widely to the rest of the world. There are varieties of the drink found in Spain and South America.

It is made from ground roasted barley and is made much like espresso. Barley is caffeine free and contains very little Vitamin K.Orzo »

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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Baked Eggs with Mushrooms : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 Back in the 1970’s and 80’s eggs got a really bad rap – and not for very substantial reasons. Much of what happened in the late 1960’s that laid the groundwork for the egg’s poor reputation wasn’t based on sound science, but over the last 30 years research has shown that for most people, dietary eggs and cholesterol is not a problem. The truth is that the amount of trans fat and saturated fat in your diet has much more impact on your cholesterol levels – and therefore your risk of heart disease – than the amount of cholesterol you eat.

We do know that there are folks who are considered “hyper-responders” to cholesterol consumption, meaning they have a greater increase in their blood cholesterol after consuming dietary cholesterol (although not a tremendous increase). About 1/3 of us might be more sensitive (Am J Clin Nutr 1985;42:42 1-431).

Even so, in large studies looking at cholesterol consumption (especially eggs) it doesn’t seem to matter all that much. All About Eggs »

Baked Eggs with Mushrooms

I had almost this exact dish for dinner while in Spain. It was deceptively simple but amazingly delicious. The version that I had used wild mushrooms so if you want, that’s a great choice.

Serve this for dinner with a side salad.

There are two key techniques to this that can help your dish be perfect. Cooking the potatoes so that they are just slightly (slightly!) underdone and letting them cool before topping them with the hot mushrooms means that they will finish cooking in the oven. Topping them with the mushrooms means that some of the intense, umami flavor will mingle as the mushrooms give up a little moisture.

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Chipotle Glazed Carrots : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Chipotle Glazed Carrots

This recipe is a riff on a side dish from an Austin restaurant. Sweet, spicy, salty and simple. The spiciness of the smoky chipotle is just subtle enough to not overwhelm the carrots and allows their sweetness to come through.

Southwest Cobb Salad

This recipe is a riff on traditional Cobb Salad with Southwestern flavors and ingredients mixed in. There are a lot of variations and substitutions that you can consider. Pinto beans rather than the black beans will give you a milder flavor, and of course you can take the dressing spicier with more cayenne pepper if that is to your taste.

You can easily replace the chicken with fish or shrimp, or you could use a lean cut of beef. Romaine lettuce will be nicely crispy and spinach would offer a bit of bitterness that balances the salad well.

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Exercise because it's fun : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Exercise because it’s fun

As you know, you can lose weight just by cutting calories, but it’s much easier to lose weight if you diet and exercise. The trick for many people, however, is that exercise makes them hungry – and so they eat more than they should. But not everyone does – there is research to show that some people are less hungry after exercise. Why?

Researchers in Germany suspected that the difference was not only physiological – that there was some psychological or behavioral piece that also affected whether people wanted to eat after exercise or not. To test their theory they looked at what happened when people performed a standardized exercise that was labeled in two different ways (Appetite 2014;81:1-7).

They recruited 96 healthy men and women, both students and employees, from their university to participate in their study on exercise. Each participant was randomly assigned to one of two different forms of exercise: either a “fat-burning” workout or an “endurance” workout. Exercise »

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Coffee : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I have atrial fibrillation and have had one small stroke. I take 5 mg. of warfarin per day. I stopped drinking my 2 cups of coffee in the morning and am looking for a substitute healthy, hot drink in the morning. Is one tea bag of Yogi Tea brand Chai Black per morning OK? What else would be safe to drink?

A: Coffee is perfectly safe to drink. It is one of the safest drinks we have and we know it is very good for you. It has more antioxidants than almost any food we consume.

It should be safe for you to drink coffee while on Coumadin. We know also that drinking teas can be safe, but in any case, when you are starting the tea you should discuss it with your doctor and have your INR monitored a little more closely at first. Substituting tea for coffee »

Q: 1) Are there as many antioxidants in caffeine free instant coffee as in regular? My husband has an enlarged prostate and the doctor told him to avoid caffeine; perhaps that is because caffeine makes one urinate more and not that it is bad for the prostate.

2) Are there more antioxidants in coffee or in caffeine free green tea? You are such a wonderful source of information.

A: There’s a tremendous amount of research showing the benefit of both coffee and tea. One of my favorites shows that coffee consumption may actually reduce the risk of diabetes. The feeling is that these benefits come from the large amount of antioxidants in coffee. Antioxidants in coffee »

Q: I am on Coumadin, do I have to drink Decaf coffee only. If I drink regular coffee, would it give me a headache?

A: Many physicians wish for their patients to not consume caffeine. There is scant evidence to support this posture, but many people do feel better drinking coffee or tea with no caffeine. You would need to ask your doctor how he or she feels about this for your case. Regular vs. decaf »

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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Southwest Cobb Salad : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Chef Tim Says….

 I had someone say recently how much they envied me being able to make up recipes. It’s funny because I don’t see creating a new dish as being all that hard, and thinking about it I realized that it isn’t difficult. The key is to think of it like learning a new language. I’ve used the same analogy when telling prospective medical students that organic chemistry isn’t all that hard when you realize that it’s simply learning the words (atoms) and the syntax (chemical reactions) of how those words combine. Not much different than learning how to do crossword puzzles or gardening. Learn the “language,” learn the skill.

Recipes are in many ways just the same.

Take a summer salad. Like stews, these make fantastic complete meals and are a great example of how you can create your own recipes by thinking about the building blocks and how to combine them. The Summer Salad Construction Kit »

Southwest Cobb Salad

This recipe is a riff on traditional Cobb Salad with Southwestern flavors and ingredients mixed in. There are a lot of variations and substitutions that you can consider. Pinto beans rather than the black beans will give you a milder flavor, and of course you can take the dressing spicier with more cayenne pepper if that is to your taste.

You can easily replace the chicken with fish or shrimp, or you could use a lean cut of beef. Romaine lettuce will be nicely crispy and spinach would offer a bit of bitterness that balances the salad well.

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Sushi : Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: Is sushi high in cholesterol?

A: Sushi in general should not be high in cholesterol. The fish used does contain cholesterol. For instance, a 1/2 ounce piece of tuna that would be served in a typical nigiri sushi contains about 7 milligrams (mg) of cholesterol. Salmon and other fatty fish served at sushi bars like mackerel, eel and abalone can be higher in cholesterol in the range of 10 – 15 mg per piece.

That said, cholesterol content of foods is important to consider, but a more important factor in eating a healthy diet to lower cholesterol is the amount of fat and types of fats in the foods you choose.Cholesterol in Sushi »

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. Sushi »

Q: I am on a low salt program and managing quite well. Is Sushi acceptable on a low salt diet?

A: Most all sushi will be lower in sodium. You should take some care with your choices because some of the sauces used are high in salt so eating the dishes that don’t use a lot of sauce is a good choice. Sodium Levels in 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 ourAsk Dr. Gourmet archive.

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Cornbread Stuffed Barbecue Chicken : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Dr. Tim Says….

 After every holiday I always have patients who put on some weight when they had been trying to take it off. While they blame the holiday, it’s clear that it’s not just overeating. The problem is that when they splurged on the holiday the whole idea of eating healthier went out the window. Eating well and eating healthy means there are times when you overeat – and allowing yourself to do so. It’s part of life, and it’s really good for you, in my opinion. The challenge of holidays is to think of them as a time to splurge on eating delicious food – not junk. This means planning.

Planning is the single most important thing you can do to eat healthier. Most people plan their holiday meals, and I bet you already have a good idea of what the menu will be for the Fourth of July. As part of eating healthier, plan that menu with better choices. Here are some guidelines »

Cornbread Stuffed Barbecue Chicken

The key is to pound the chicken flat enough that it is large enough to accommodate the cornbread – but not too thin. You want the chicken to roll around the bread with at least enough to have an extra lip on the final side so that the chicken is sealed but one side has just a little extra and everything will hold together with the skewers.

You can use plain cornbread for this recipe and even a bottled barbecue sauce (careful on sodium content) but this recipe is actually a lot simpler than it seems. The cornbread takes about 10 minutes to throw together and the barbecue sauce even less. You will have leftovers of both to use for other recipes or meals.

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Steak Fajitas and Chicken Fajitas from Weight Watchers : Dr. Gourmet Reviews

Fajitas of any kind would seem an unlikely candidate for a frozen meal, but I have said that Mexican and other strongly-spiced foods stand up well to microwaving, so I brought these to Dr. Gourmet World Headquarters for tasting by our panel.

We began our tasting with the Steak Fajitas. The meat and peppers/onions filling comes in one side of a plastic tray, with the rice in a smaller side. Microwave, stir, microwave some more, and allow to sit, then microwave the separate pouch of two flour tortillas on its own. Fajitas »

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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