An Ode to Sexy Summer Tomatoes; Spicy Gazpacho

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In case you haven’t figured this out for yourself yet, summer tomatoes are the absolute best. Forget winter tomatoes, or spring tomatoes; summer tomatoes are where it’s at.

Their sweetness is incredible, especially when you’re dealing with the old school heirloom varieties and I do promise you, there is a distinct difference when it comes to flavor. Don’t let their awkward appearance pull one over on you because they’re WAY more flavorful and delicious than those perfectly round tomatoes that you’re getting from  your local grocery store that have been shipped to wherever you are from Florida. Unless of course you’re from Florida. In that case, good on you for buying local, but still hunt out the heirloom variety.

Don’t know what heirloom tomatoes are? Okay, fair enough. They’re tomatoes that have been grown using seeds that have been handed down through the generations that retain the characteristics of each tomato species. The tomatoes that you get in the grocery store have been bread to be uniform in shape and size at the sacrifice of flavor. The same is true for other heirloom vegetable varities. Basically the seeds are “pre-industrialized” so the vegetables often grow in a variety of weird, albeit more natural shapes, and they often have a much higher natural sugar content which makes them a lot more palatable.

Don’t believe? Well, you’re going to have to go and do the taste testing yourself, but the extra buck or two you might spend on them are certainly going to be worth it.

Anyway, getting on with it…

In honor of these delicious tomatoes that have been grown in my home garden, along with a bounty of spicy jalapenos, and cool cucumbers, I give you to this recipe for a sexy, spicy, summer gazpacho. You’re going to love this. The flavors are so crisp and clean, yet with the addition of canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, you get a slight smokey flavor that elevates the whole thing to another level. Make this and you’re welcome.

An Ode to Sexy Summer Tomatoes; Spicy Gazpacho

An Ode to Sexy Summer Tomatoes; Spicy Gazpacho

Ingredients

  • 5 large heirloom tomatoes; cut into 1/8's
  • 2 cucumbers; coarsely chopped
  • 1 large onions; sliced
  • 1 jalapeno; de-seeded and sliced
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons of adobo sauce
  • 2 lemons; cut into halves
  • 1/4 cup of basil
  • 1 cup cilantro
  • 5 sprigs fresh thyme; cleaned from stems
  • Olive oil
  • Sherry vinegar
  • Salt & pepper

Instructions

  1. Place tomatoes, onions, jalapenos, chipotles, and lemons into a baking tray and drizzle with approximately 2 tablespoons of olive oil and about a table spoon of sherry vinegar.
  2. Set oven to broil and place baking try into the preheated oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes or until vegetables start to brown and char slightly on the edges.
  3. Once cooled, squeeze the juice form the roasted lemons over the remaining vegetables.
  4. Add the roasted vegetable mixture, the fresh herbs, and the cucumbers to a blender along with approximately 2 more tablespoons of sherry vinegar and blend until smooth.
  5. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add more sherry vinegar for more acidity if needed.
  6. Chill until soup is completely cold and serve.
  7. Garnish with a few basil leaves and a drizzle of olive oil or with creme fraiche and buttery croutons.
http://foodstoned.com/an-ode-to-sexy-summer-tomatoes-spicy-gazpacho/

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RAW MILK; THE DEBATE UNFOLDED [REPUBLISHED]

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[Originally Published on 08/16/2010]

Attention has been brought back to the raw milk debate recently. A great deal of information tends to fly back and forth between both sides of the argument, but as with any debate the facts on the matter tend to get blurred by overheated levels of interest. Farmers and consumers alike want to buy and sell the products they want without hindrance by outside opinions. Private and government agencies try to represent consumer interest yet they become befuddled by the likes of special interest groups which tend to leave small, local economies confused as to who can be trusted. To the untrained researcher, uncovering some of the hard, mutually agreed upon facts can be extremely difficult. But using both resources available to the general public as well as private scholarly data bases we have tried to sum up the issue.

The laws regarding pasteurized milk date back to the early 1900’s in Chicago, Illinois. To help curb the spread of tuberculosis, the city imposed a law stating that all milk that wasn’t produced by certifiably tuberculosis free farms had to be pasteurized. By 1916 all milk in the Chicago area was required to be pasteurized. Pasteurization laws spread throughout the U.S. as part of a social reform led in part by an organizer for the Chicago Democratic Party, Nathan Struass. Struass went on to donate pasteurization facilities to cities throughout the U.S. (Czaplicki, 2007-10). Today the sale of raw milk in the U.S. is highly controversial, and as such it’s is illegal in many states as it’s thought to lead to many food borne illnesses, primarily E.coli.

According to an often cited article in the Journal for the American Medical Association:

“Meaningful differences in nutritional value between pasteurized and unpasteurized milk have not been demonstrated, and other purported benefits of raw milk consumption have not been substantiated. Conversely, the role of unpasteurized dairy products in the transmission of infectious diseases has been established repeatedly” (Potter, Kaufmann, Blake, & Feldman, 1984).

Most of the scientific community appears to back this claim. In another article by the Journal for the American Medical Association, an E.coli epidemic is described in scientific detail that took place in Clark County, Washington. 45 families participated in farm-share arrangement where they paid monthly dues to receive raw milk from a supplying farm. Within 43 of the families that were interviewed, 18 cases of E.coli were uncovered and 8 of those cases (44%) went on to be laboratory confirmed. Of these cases reported, 5 individuals were reported as being hospitalized (Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infection Associated With Drinking Raw Milk—Washington and Oregon, November- December 2005, 2007).

In a study done on Philadelphia farms, 248 raw milk tanks were examined for forborne pathogens. The test confirmed that 32 of the tanks (13%) were in fact contaminated. Of the pathogens found the most prevalent were; Campylobacter jejuni, Escherichia coli (E.coli), Listeria monocytogenes, Salmonella, and Yersinia enterocolitica (Jayarao, Donaldson, Straley, Sawant, Hegde, & Brown, 2006).

On the other side of the coin, of course, lie the potential health benefits. In the interest of journalistic integrity I must note that much of the scientific information supporting additional health benefits of raw milk appears to be mostly speculative, and I have found no actual supporting journal articles advocating the mass production of raw milk. The CDC does make a foot note to the outbreak article that does report that:

“Some believe that it has potential benefits (e.g., vitamins that are present naturally rather than added, enhanced fertility and protection against tooth decay). However, the validity of any health or nutritional benefits from consuming raw milk has not been proven scientifically” (Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infection Associated With Drinking Raw Milk—Washington and Oregon, November- December 2005, 2007).

A website called Raw Milk Facts.com, which appears to be run as an independent site that claims ties to the Weston A. Price Foundation (a charity that supports natural food and healing arts), make several unsubstantiated claims about the health benefits of raw milk. It does not state that pasteurized milk does not contain the same benefits. The anonymous author mentions that vital, heat sensitive proteins are cooked out during pasteurization. S/he also makes claims about the homogenization of milk that;

“Homogenization is the process of forcing whole milk through small orifices under very high pressure. This breaks the fat globules into much smaller particles and prevents the cream from rising to the top. The intense pressure also subjects the milk to high heat for a second time, alters color, flavor and, very likely, nutritional value of the end product” (Heatlh Benefits, 2010).

Many of the reference sources used on the health benefits page of Raw Milk.com are extremely dated. One source, for example, dates back to 1929. Many other sources listed are non-peer reviewed websites.

Ron Schmid, ND, of Real Milk.com also makes health claims for raw milk. Schmid, a naturopathic physician states;

“I was quite ill with gastrointestinal problems. I began living mostly on seafood, fresh vegetables and salads, and raw milk and eggs purchased from a local farmer, with a little meat and whole grain bread. My health problems, which had been intractable for years, disappeared” (Schmid).

Schmid does not at any point within the article detail or name his infliction. Schmid adds that he recommended and prescribed raw milk to several of his patients.

While it does appear that instances of forborne pathogens in raw milk are not very common, the potential health risks are in fact quite severe. If you’re a consumer that actively enjoys your right to purchase raw mil,k please keep in mind the old adage: buyers beware.

Works Cited:

Czaplicki, A. (2007-10). “Pure Milk Is Better Than Purified Milk”:Pasteurization and Milk Purity in Chicago, 1908-1916. Social Science History , 31 (2), 411-433.

Escherichia coli O157:H7 Infection Associated With Drinking Raw Milk—Washington and Oregon, November- December 2005. (2007). Journal of the American Medical Association , 1426-1428.

Heatlh Benefits. (2010). Retrieved 07 19, 2010, from Raw Milk Facts.com: http://www.raw-milk-facts.com/raw_milk_health_benefits.html

Jayarao, B. M., Donaldson, S. C., Straley, B. A., Sawant, A. A., Hegde, N. V., & Brown, J. L. (2006). A Survey of Foodborne Pathogens in Bulk Tank Milk and Raw Milk Consumption Among Farm Families in Pennsylvania. Journal of Dairy Science .

Potter, D. M., Kaufmann, D. A., Blake, M. A., & Feldman, M. R. (1984). Unpasturized Milk; The Hazards of a Heatlh Fetish. Journal of the American Medical Association (15), 2048-2052.

Schmid, N. R. (n.d.). Health Benefits of Raw Milk From Grass Fed Animals. Retrieved 07 19, 2010, from Real Milk.com:http://www.realmilk.com/healthbenefits.html

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HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP; WHAT DO THEY SAY ABOUT IT [REPUBLISHED]

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[Originally published on 01/05/2011]

For quite a while now The Corn Refiners Association has been asking us “What do people say about High Fructose Corn Syrup?” Well, as much as the commercial may try to imply that the answer is a simple nothing, it’s actually quite the contrary. The information regarding high fructose corn syrup (HFCS) is abundant to say the least. It appears science has taken on the issue and tried to identify the actual affects of HFCS and the results have been nothing shy of interesting.

First let’s start with some sugar 101. Sugar is sucrose. Sucrose is a disaccharide which in layman’s terms means two sugars. The two sugars that comprise basic table sugar are glucose and fructose. Simple table sugar is comprised of a 50/50 glucose/fructose make up. The difference between basic table sugar and HFCS; the average composition of HFCS is a 45/55 glucose/fructose split. There are a variety of different ratios of glucose to fructose HFCS that get used ranging from a similar 42/53 to a staggering 10/90. What does this mean? Really it all boils down to is an overall 10% average increase in the consumption of fructose. The question now is, what is the difference between glucose and fructose?

Glucose is a carbohydrate that the body uses for both energy and metabolic functions. Glucose is crucial to the production of proteins in the body as well as lipid (fat) metabolism. Fructose is a simple sugar that once split from its glucose counterpart is absorbed into the body through the upper part of the small intestine. Little is known about what it does in the body once absorbed.

There are a few studies that indicate increased levels of fructose do not affect the body any differently than normal levels of fructose intake. One such article, titled, “No differences between sugar and high fructose corn syrup in CVD, weight gain or diabetes,” makes the claim that there is, “no difference between the effect of the consumption of table sugar and high fructose corn syrup on weight gain or any changes in risk factors for metabolic syndrome or insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes,” (“No differences between sugar and high fructose corn syrup in CVD, weight gain or diabetes.”, 4 Jan. 2011.). This article is based off of a study that claims to provide the first glimpse at long term evidence that HFCS is just as harmful as regular table sugar. The study was also funded by a research grant provided by The Corn Refiners Association.

Several other studies indicate that increased levels of fructose can lead to several extremely serious problems. Many studies seem to agree on the fact that the increased prevalence of HFCS is directly correlated with the increased level in the obesity rates. One article claims that the amount of refined sugar ingested per year, per person has exploded over 800% over the course of the past 100 years (BC, JC, C, E, & M, 2010 ). The same article indicates a direct correlation between the increased levels of obesity linked to HFCS and increased levels of dementia.

Obesity and type 2 diabetes have increased in prevalence in the last half-century and have been associated with increased dementia risk. Specific changes in nutrition may also represent a direct risk. A diet transition in the United States has occurred in the intake of refined sugar, particularly high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) from a yearly estimate of 8.1 kg/person at the beginning of the XIX century to a current estimate of 65 kg/person. (BC, JC, C, E, & M, 2010 )

High fructose diets have been shown to drastically increase triglycerides and LDL cholesterol, both major factors in the development of heart disease (Schaefer, Gleason, & Dansinger, June 2009, Vol. 139 Issue 6). In addition to the increase in TG and LDL cholesterol, high fructose diets lead to an increase in the intestines absorption of sodium. As one study states, “increased dietary fructose intake stimulates salt absorption in the small intestine and kidney tubules, resulting in a state of salt overload and thus causing hypertension,” (Soleimani, January 2011). Insulin resistance and hyperlipidaemia (a condition in which an abnormal amount of fat cells are found in the blood) are also noted in this study as noted side effects of a high fructose diet.

In addition to the direct health effects that increased levels of fructose have been attributed too, it has also been found that the process for making HFCS involves the use of mercury compounds. The Institute of Agriculture and Trade Policy found that over a third of brand name products tested that used HFCS as a sweetener were found to contain trace elements of mercury. Whereas The Corn Refiners Association makes the claim that now 90% of HFCS products are now mercury free a study conducted by The Journal of Environmental Health found that over half of the samples of HFCS tested contained traces of mercury (Ask EN. Is mercury lurking in high-fructose corn syrup?, 2009-04-01).

So, as we can clearly see here, there is in fact a lot being said about HFCS. The extraordinary prevalence of HFCS has lead to a much higher consumption rate of fructose. The fact that HFCS can be found in such everyday items from the obvious sodas, energy drinks, and juice cocktails to the more unpredictable items such as breads, cereals, dairy products, condiments, canned vegetables, and so on, has lead to an inevitable spike in our fructose intake. According to some studies, this means very little, and according to others it stands to threaten the very way we live. All in all, next time you here the phrase, “What do they say about HFCS?” you know the answer is , “A lot!”.

Works Cited:

“No differences between sugar and high fructose corn syrup in CVD, weight gain or diabetes.”. (4 Jan. 2011.). Food Engineering & Ingredients , 5.3 (2010): 26. Health Reference Center Academic. Web. .

ADA demystifies a hot topic: HFCS and weight… high fructose corn syrup. (2009-05-01). Food Insight , 5(1).

AS, B., VK, D., DA, S., CA, A., LM, S., WD, R., et al. (2010-04-01). Sugar-sweetened soda consumption, hyperuricemia, and kidney disease. Kidney International , 609(8).

Ask EN. Is mercury lurking in high-fructose corn syrup? (2009-04-01). Environmental Nutrition , 7(1).

BC, S., JC, W., C, B., E, A., & M, S. (2010 ). Increased fructose intake as a risk factor for dementia. The Journals Of Gerontology , Vol. 65 (8), pp. 809-14. Date of Electronic Publication: 2010 May 26.

Glucose. (n.d.). Retrieved 01 04, 2011, from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glucose

Is high-fructose corn syrup safe? And other common questions about which sweeteners are, or aren’t, good for you. (2010-05-01). Consumer Reports on Health , 8(2).

J, B. (2009-01-01). Healthy solutions. Sweet but not safe. Better Nutrition , 22(2).

JM, R. (2010 Jul 01). The health implications of sucrose, high-fructose corn syrup, and fructose: what do we really know? ournal Of Diabetes Science And Technology , Vol. 4 (4), pp. 1008-11.

L, L., & M, K. (2009-11-01). Soft drinks and body weight development in childhood: is there a relationship? Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition & Metabolic Care , 596(5).

Schaefer, E. J., Gleason, J. A., & Dansinger, M. L. (June 2009, Vol. 139 Issue 6). Dietary Fructose and Glucose Differentially Affect Lipid and Glucose Homeostasis. Journal of Nutrition , p1257S-1262S.

Soleimani, M. (January 2011). Dietary fructose, salt absorption and hypertension in metabolic syndrome: towards a new paradigm. Life & Biomedical Sciences , Acta Physiologica. 201(1):55-62.

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