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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Shellfish vs. Fish; More: Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I just watched your video on eating more fish. Is shellfish (shrimp, lobster, etc.) included when you are speaking of eating more fish?

A: This is a great question. There is certainly benefit from eating shellfish including crustaceans like shrimp, lobster and crabs. Likewise, mollusks such as oysters, clams and mussels have shown benefit as well. Both crustaceans and mollusks are generally not as high in Omega-3 fats as other seafood. Dark fish including tuna, salmon, sardenes and mackerel are associated with the most benefit. Shrimp, clams and mussels are great choices, also.

There has been some recent evidence that some fresh water fish, including tilapia and catfish, might be lower in Omega-3 fats and higher in Omega-6 fats. It’s been shown that the most beneficial ratio is higher Omega-3 with lower Omega-6. Fish and Shellfish »

Q: Please explain the difference between Sorbet, Sherbet and Ice Cream. I am not Lactose Intolerant, but milk only sometimes bothers me. I did not realize Sherbert has milk in it. I know they have Light Ice Creams but what is better for you?

A: The difference between sorbet and sherbet is that sherbets contain milk or another fat making it similar to ice cream. Generally thought of as being fruit based, sorbets can be made with any ingredient. For instance, I have had wonderful chocolate sorbet as well as one made with champagne. Sherbert vs. Sorbet vs. Ice Cream »

Q: Could you please tell me how I can calculate the Body Mass Index of my husband? He is an athletic person with a muscular body and you have said that the regular Body Mass Index would not apply to people like him.

A: We know that obesity is a major problem and one way that we track this is the Body Mass Index (BMI). It is not a perfect measure, however. It’s used because of how simple and inexpensive it is to collect the data for research purposes. We use it as an indirect measure of body fat. BMI, WHR, and Obesity »

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 Coconut Soup : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Today’s column is the fourth in our “How to Eat Healthy” series. Each week we’ll post the next in the series, and if you follow the suggestions and make small changes each week, by the end of 2015 you’ll know how easy it is to eat great food that’s great for you.

Dr. Tim Says….

Almost every day I have patients ask me what they should weigh and how much they need to lose. I will admit that sometimes I am a bit evasive, saying such things as, “Start working on your weight, and I’ll tell you when to stop.”

Why am I not always more direct in helping them set goals? Because folks can often be pretty unrealistic about their health and their weight. Usually people are shocked when I tell them what an ideal weight would be for them. How much should I weigh? »

Thai Coconut Soup with Shrimp

Bottled Asian sauces are quite high in sodium. Check the label carefully. Fish sauce is listed as containing about 1,400 mg of sodium per tablespoon by the USDA. The bottle in my fridge, Thai Kitchen Fish Sauce, is 690 mg but I have seen sauces with over 2,000 mg of sodium per serving. The same applies for the red curry paste. Check the label and shop around a bit.

It is key to finely mince the ginger. Take your time and get the minced bits as small as possible so that they cook evenly and you are not biting down on a large piece of ginger.

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Boston Baked Beans : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Boston Baked Beans

They are called “baked beans,” and you can put the pot in the oven instead of cooking these on the stovetop, but I find it easier to control the cooking using the range.

Black Beans & Rice

Slowly cooking the sausage so that the fat renders out of it is the key to giving this recipe fullest flavor without adding fat in the form of a roux (which is butter and flour). Be patient and cook this slooooowwwly. The beans will break down and thicken the dish (and of course mashing a few against the side of the pot with your spoon as it cooks won’t hurt either).

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Mind over matter? : Dr. Gourmet's Health and Nutrition Bites

Mind over matter?

Recently one focus of obesity research has been into the way the body registers hunger and satiety, or fullness. We’ve discovered an amino acid (these types of amino acids are known as peptides) called ghrelin which appears to help signal hunger as well as fullness. When the stomach is empty or immediate stores of energy are low, ghrelin is secreted from the stomach and passed through the bloodstream to the brain, where it connects with certain receptors in the brain – somewhat like a key in a lock – to help produce the physical feeling of hunger.

When the person eats, ghrelin is no longer secreted by the stomach, and the receptors in the brain stop signaling hunger and start signaling satiety. (Please note that this explanation of the process is somewhat of an oversimplification.) Short version: high levels of ghrelin = hunger; low levels of ghrelin = no hunger.

In theory, the ghrelin response would rise and fall in proportion to the amount of calories a person ate and would help keep the body at a stable weight. In practice, however, it’s not that simple: the communications system involved is far more complex than this description, and abnormalities in other gut hormones can profoundly affect the process. Mind over matter »

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Corn Syrup; Tomato Seeds; More: Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: Will you please give me some information on how to eat for diverticulitis – do I really have to ’seed’ a can of tomatoes? Can I still be a spontaneous cook?

A: There’s a lot of controversy about this, but the answer from the most current research indicates that you don’t need to worry.

For years doctors have told their patients with diverticulosis to not eat seeds, nuts or foods that contain seeds, such as those found in tomatoes and cucumbers. Because those with diverticulosis have small out-pouching of the colon, the theory has been that the seeds might become stuck in the small diverticula (pouches) and create a setting for infection. Cooking (and eating) for diverticulitis »

Q: I’ve been reading a lot about the benefits of goji berries. Is there a conflict with Coumadin – I take 8 pills a week, 5mg.

A: The benefits of goji berries are not well tested. There are countless substances and supplements that people make claims about that have no basis in fact. Coumadin® (warfarin) and goji berries »

Q: I know that high fructose corn syrup is bad for me. Now that I’m reading labels more carefully, I’m very surprised at how often it shows up in prepared foods, even as an additive in supposedly healthy whole-wheat bread. I love to bake, and occasionally a recipe calls for corn syrup. What’s the difference between the corn syrup in my pantry and the high fructose corn syrup found in so many commercial products? Is Karo syrup as bad for me as HFCS, and should I try to find a substitute?

A: Like you, I find high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) in so many products and am often amazed at the number of foods that contain this ingredient. You’ll find it in processed foods in very high amounts, like soda and sweet drinks, baked goods and other processed foods. There is a lot of controversy about whether this ingredient is a worse for you than other sweeteners. HFCS vs. corn syrup »

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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Black Beans & Rice : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Today’s column is the third in our “How to Eat Healthy” series. Each week we’ll post the next in the series, and if you follow the suggestions and make small changes each week, by the end of 2015 you’ll know how easy it is to eat great food that’s great for you.

Dr. Tim Says….

When I was growing up we had the typical diner Blue Plate Special of “a meat and two veg.” This isn’t too far from what makes sense for a healthy dinner. We know that combining protein with carbs helps you to feel satisfied for longer after a meal. One problem many people have is that they don’t know what to actually put on their plate.

Contributing to the problem is that serving sizes have become so large in many restaurants. This has carried over into folk’s dinner tables at home, and so portions at home have gone from big to bigger to huge. So when you’re considering dinner ideas, think in terms of right-sizing your meal. What is a healthy dinner? »

Black Beans & Rice

Slowly cooking the sausage so that the fat renders out of it is the key to giving this recipe fullest flavor without adding fat in the form of a roux (which is butter and flour). Be patient and cook this slooooowwwly. The beans will break down and thicken the dish (and of course mashing a few against the side of the pot with your spoon as it cooks won’t hurt either).

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Falafel : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Falafel

Falafel are generally deep fried, but traditionally they were pan fried. It doesn’t take a lot of oil to get the outside crispy. The key is to use a very hot oven and let the falafel cook long enough until it doesn’t stick when you shake the pan.

Lebanese Chicken Stew

This is a lovely, soft and seemingly unassuming stew. As with most Middle Eastern food the flavors are complex and rich. The combination of saffron, cinnamon, chicken and mint is sweet, savory and spicy. Perfect for a cold winter night.

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Fish Oil; Juicing; More: Ask Dr. Gourmet

Dear Dr. Gourmet,

Q: I recently had my cholesterol checked and my doctor said that everything is ok except that my LDL is high. I’m confused when I look at the nutritional information on foods. I’m finding a lot of foods that may be low in cholesterol but high in saturated fat OR they are low in saturated fat but high in cholesterol.

When choosing foods to help lower my LDL, is it better to go by the saturated fat or the cholesterol number?

A: It is always better to use saturated fat as your guide. The amount of cholesterol in the food you eat is important but we now know that it has nowhere near the impact of the types of fat you eat. (Here’s more information on cholesterol in food.)

The key is to choose recipes, foods and ingredients that are low in saturated fat. Choose lean meats and eat less red meat. Use butter and fats sparingly and replace them with oils such as olive oil, canola oil, and grapeseed oil. Improving cholesterol scores: saturated fat vs. cholesterol »

Q: I am on Coumadin and was wondering if it is safe to drink a batch of various fruits and vegetables made in a juicer every morning. I understand it is very energizing. Can you help?

A:Juicing is safe as long as you are juicing with the right fruits and veggies. You’ll find an extensive list of the Vitamin K content of foods at this link.

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 instead of fish »

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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Lebanese Chicken Stew : Dr. Gourmet Newsletter

Today’s column is the second in our “How to Eat Healthy” series. Each week we’ll post the next in the series, and if you follow the suggestions and make small changes each week, by the end of 2015 you’ll know how easy it is to eat healthy – and more importantly, you’ll know why.

Dr. Tim Says….

There’s so much good to be said for how much you can change your health by making your own lunch. We know from research that skipping breakfast or lunch (or both) makes it harder to lose weight or maintain a healthy weight.

One of the first questions that I ask my patients is what they have for lunch. It’s clear that not many people take their lunch to work and that’s key to making sure you get the highest quality calories. When you are getting started eating better it’s important that you make lunch and take it to work with you. The easiest thing for most folks is to make a sandwich. Here are some guidelines for items that you should pick up at the grocery and keep on hand for making a quick and easy lunch. What is a healthy lunch? »

Lebanese Chicken Stew

This is a lovely, soft and seemingly unassuming stew. As with most Middle Eastern food the flavors are complex and rich. The combination of saffron, cinnamon, chicken and mint is sweet, savory and spicy. Perfect for a cold winter night.

Help start a Culinary Medicine program!

Our colleagues at University of Colorado at Denver are running a Kickstarter to get their project going. They need $2,500.00: not much! If every one of you gave $2.00, they will get to their goal. That’s less than a Starbucks large (excuse me, “grande”) coffee!

Give a dollar or five dollars. Every little bit will help!

Help fund the Culinary Medicine project at University of Colorado School of Medicine »

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Cream of Spinach Soup : New Recipes @ DrGourmet.com

Cream of Spinach Soup

Spinach soup is great. I used to have this at a small restaurant served with a small dollop of sour cream and a touch of dry sherry. Sweet, bitter, savory, and not too salty. With this soup it’s easy to want to oversalt, but too much and you’ll overwhelm the delicate flavor of the spinach. Serve with a side salad and a roll for the perfect cold night’s meal.

Spinach Mushroom Lasagna

Lasagna is the perfect winter meal. You can make it in advance without a lot of effort and this rich, sweet, savory dish is perfect for a cold winter’s night. The lasagna keep well and makes a perfect dish for lunch or dinner the next day.

Note that this is a little higher in sodium than most Dr. Gourmet recipes, but the spinach and mushrooms both need a little added salt to bring out their flavors.

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