This is a public service announcement, and it won’t take long. If you’ve been reading Heated this month, you may have noticed that we’ve been talking a lot about meat alternatives — such as high-tech burgers that “bleed” like beef but are made mostly of plants (that sort of thing), and this mushroom-nut burger. Well, before any of this stuff existed, people who wanted something “meaty” without eating meat ate mushrooms. For better or worse, the default “oh, so you don’t eat any meat?” dish served to vegetarians at restaurants and parties was a portobello “burger” or some analogous concoction where the mushrooms masquerade as meat.
Whether you cook mushrooms constantly, infrequently, or somewhere in between, there’s a decent chance you’re cleaning them wrong.
There’s this myth that you should never ever wash mushrooms because they’ll absorb too much water. Instead, what we’ve been taught to do is daintily wipe the dirt off with a damp cloth or paper towel.
This is maddeningly slow and a huge waste of time. To clean mushrooms, you should rinse them under running water. Yes, mushrooms are porous, and if you leave them sitting in a bowl of water they will soak it up like a sponge. But a quick blast of running water to wipe the dirt off will not make them any worse for wear, and will save you a lot of time and frustration in the kitchen.
If cleaning mushrooms is less frustrating, maybe we’ll cook more mushrooms. If we cook more mushrooms, maybe we’ll eat less meat. If we eat less meat, maybe (definitely) we’ll be healthier and so will the earth. PSA over.
Long before 2016, when fifth-generation dairyman Henry Schwartz decided to shut down Elmhurst Dairy in Jamaica, Queens, he saw the writing on the wall. Dairy consumption was declining and profit margins were increasingly squeezed, making it nearly impossible to turn a profit. Schwartz had kept the company, which his family had run since 1925, chugging along well past its life as a viable business. But the time had come, and in August 2016, he closed the doors of the last functioning dairy plant in New York City limits.
Then, a proverbial door opened. Through business connections, Schwartz was introduced to Cheryl Mitchell — a food scientist who has spent decades of her professional life focused on nondairy milks — those made from nuts, seeds, and grains. Her patents were instrumental in founding the modern-day alternative milk industry, and now she had a new method that she thought could revolutionize the field. Schwartz owned another business, Steuben Foods, that produces aseptic paperboard packaging — the kind used to package things like soups, juices, and the wide array of alternative milks found in the grocery store aisle. All of a sudden, a new path forward appeared.
Schwartz, now 86, no longer gives media interviews. But Elmhurst’s vice president of marketing, Peter Truby, recalled a conference call where Schwartz said, “milk runs through my veins.” The thought of pivoting his family’s long-standing dairy legacy toward a plant-based product was almost unimaginable. But as he got to know the alternative milk industry (and taste Mitchell’s products), he made up his mind. “I remember he came to the plant in November of 2016 and saw the milk coming out for the first time,” Mitchell recalled. “And he said to me, ‘I want to sell it.’”
Today, Elmhurst Dairy is simply Elmhurst — a new company producing milk and creamers made from almonds, cashews, hazelnuts, walnuts, oats, and hemp. Its products, which are remarkably milk-like in creaminess and flavor, are in 6,000 stores across America and shipped all over the country via its website.
“Elmhurst was around as a dairy plant for close to 95 years,” Truby told me. “Now, it has a chance to be around for another 100.”
Schwartz’s path of personal and professional evolution is remarkable. And it is just one of many stories in the modern alternative milk industry, which, according to Truby, currently makes up 13 percent of total sales in the dairy market (and growing). These milks have long been consumed by vegans and lactose-intolerant consumers. And they are increasingly favored by people not looking to fully give up dairy products, but seeking out ways to cut back for ethical, environmental, or health reasons.
Every six months or so, there seems to be a new darling of the industry. For decades, the story was mostly about soy (think Edensoy, Pacific, and Silk) and rice milks. Then came the almond milk craze at the turn of the 21st century, followed closely by coconut milk. More recently, Oatly captured the hearts of the nation’s nondairy lovers, and suddenly grocery stores couldn’t keep the Swedish oat milk company’s products in stock. (Sales of oat milk rose a staggering 425 percent between 2017 and 2018.) There are even milks made from flaxseeds, macadamias, and, advisably or not, bananas and yellow peas. Some scientists have turned their attention instead to lab-produced milks which aim to mimic the microbial structure (and therefore taste and texture) of dairy — but without the cow.
Plant-based milk companies — like Elmhurst in New York, Califia Farms in California, and Good Karma Foods in Colorado — understand that coffee shops are important gateways for introducing new customers to their products. So in addition to analogues for regular cow milk, many companies are also developing special “barista blends” designed to make froth thick and billowy enough to produce latte art and yet, the modern alternative milk industry has more to do with packaging than plants. People have been making beverages from grains, legumes, and seeds for thousands of years. According to the “History of Soymilk” by nondairy disciples William Shurtleff and Akiko Aoyagi, soy milk (doujiang) — always homemade and often served warm for breakfast — was in wide use in China by the mid-17th century, though likely originated earlier. And the creamy fermented rice beverage amazake (the barely alcoholic cousin to sake) has been brewed in Japan since at least the 6th century.
A handful of manufacturers in China, Japan, and the United States began bottling and selling plant-based (primarily soy) milks in the early 20th century. But it wasn’t until the late 1960s that aseptic paperboard packaging was created, allowing companies to offer shelf-stable products that could last without refrigeration for six months or longer. This development was a boon for the fledgling alternative milk industry because it took the pressure off of immediately selling these products — which most American consumers were either unfamiliar with or skeptical about — before they spoiled.
Mitchell has been there since nearly the beginning. In the 1970s, a health food advocate and restaurateur named Robert Nissenbaum approached Mitchell for advice. He had been serving housemade amazake to customers at his Sunshine Inn restaurant in St. Louis, Missouri, and was receiving enthusiastic feedback. As Mitchell recalls, “He came to us and said, ‘I’d like to get it in a package. Can we manufacture it so it can be on the regular shelf instead of the refrigerator case?’” The short answer turned out to be yes, and with Mitchell’s expertise, Nissenbaum went on to found industry giants Rice Dream and Imagine Foods.
The success of these early companies helped to bring alternative milks to the mainstream, or at least closer to it. But Mitchell was not satisfied. The dominant process for “milking” the rice, which typically began with grinding the grain to make a flour or paste, removed a lot of its inherent nutritive aspects — things like fiber, protein, and antioxidant oils. The result was a milk that was thin (“It did not have the richness or milk-like opacity that customers expected,” Mitchell said) and not particularly nutrient-dense.
To compensate, they added many of these qualities back in, using safflower oil, carrageenan, and calcium carbonate. “I still feel guilty about it,” Mitchell said. The technique worked so well for Rice Dream that other companies began to mimic their methods. Consumers went crazy for these “healthy” alternatives to dairy, but there was ultimately no nutritional value. As Mitchell put it, “You are basically paying for water, gums, and a couple of nuts or grains.”
Over the last two decades, Mitchell paid a form of professional penance by devoting her work to maximizing the nutrient value of nondairy milks.
“I spent a lot of my own money on research because no one else was doing it,” she said. Her efforts paid off in a new patent called HydroRelease, which uses very high water pressure to slough off layers of whatever ingredient is being milked. Some plant based milks, particularly almond milk, have gotten a bad reputation for their environmentally unfriendly water usage. Mitchell’s technology, however, mitigates this impact by recycling the water used during HydroRelease. “Once we start spraying, it is the same water over and over again, so the milk gets more and more concentrated.”
The process also “releases each of the macro- and micro-ingredients — the natural lecithins, the oils, the binders,” Mitchell said. These components can then be recombined and emulsified into a creamy, nutritious, functional, and frothable milk. There is no need to add gums or anything extra (many of Elmhurst’s products contain only two ingredients, one of which is water) — it is all there in the plants.
Of course, with so much competition crowding the field, the bottom line for Elmhurst — or any nondairy milk — is, how do they taste? Flavor has been a concern of the industry for years. In the 1960s, write Shurtleff and Aoyagi, Cornell University scientists isolated the enzyme lipoxygenase as “responsible for the ‘beany’ flavor in soy milk,” and developed processes to help remove it.
Still, during the two years I spent as a vegan in college during the early 2000s, I tried and failed to convince myself that I — a born-and-bred, dairy-guzzling Midwesterner — really enjoyed Silk and Edensoy with cereal, or leaving curdled flecks on the surface of my coffee. I never worked my way up to drinking straight glasses of the stuff. It definitely wasn’t milk and, more importantly, it wasn’t very good.
But while nothing quite compares in flavor or texture to cow dairy, the field of options has improved tremendously. Today, my family’s fridge, like many other fridges, is multi-milked. Despite my lifelong love affair with dairy, my kids’ digestive systems seem to tolerate it less well. So there’s dairy half-and-half for coffee, and a rotation of cashew and oat milks (often from Elmhurst) for cereal, smoothies, and cooking. And I have come to enjoy the nutty, chai-like quality of So Delicious’ cashew milk ice cream nearly as much as regular dairy vanilla.
Mitchell has never been fully vegan herself. (One of her daughters is, however, and her other daughter eats meat but cannot handle dairy.) But despite being a flexitarian, she, like Schwartz, believes the future lies in plant-based milks — particularly ones that hold on to their natural nutritive qualities. And she is excited by their growing epicurean potential.
As it turns out, when the milks retain their proteins and fiber, they just work better in culinary applications. “You can make an amazingly convincing nondairy bechamel because the building blocks are there,” Mitchell said. “There is so much more we can develop using these ingredients. I’m happy to provide the tools to take us to the next generation.”
Parkinson’sisthe second most common neurodegenerative disease after Alzheimer’s. Each year in the United States, approximately 60,000 new cases are diagnosed, bringing the total number of current cases up to about a million, with tens of thousands of people dying from the disease every year. The dietary component most often implicated is milk, as I discuss in my videoCould Lactose Explain the Milk and Parkinson’s Disease Link?, and contamination of milk by neurotoxins has been considered the “only possible explanation.” High levels of organochlorine pesticide residues have beenfoundin milk, as well as in the most affected areas in the brains of Parkinson’s victims on autopsy. Pesticides in milk have been found around the world, so perhaps the dairy industry should require toxin screenings of milk. In fact, inexpensive, sensitive, portable testsarenow available with no false positives and no false negatives, providing rapid detection of highly toxic pesticides in milk. Now, we just have to convince the dairy industry to actually do it.
Others are not as convinced of the pesticide link. “Despite clear-cut associations between milk intake and PD [Parkinson’s disease] incidence, there is no rational explanation for milkbeinga risk factor for PD.” If it were the pesticides present in milk that could accumulate in the brain, we would assume that the pesticides would build up in the fat. However, the link between skimmed milk and Parkinson’s is just as strong. So, researchers have suggested reverse causation: The milk didn’t cause Parkinson’s; the Parkinson’s caused the milk. Parkinson’s makes some people depressed, they reasoned, and depressed people may drink more milk. As such, they suggested we shouldn’t limit dairy intake for people with Parkinson’s, especially because they are so susceptible to hip fractures. But we now know that milk doesn’t appear toprotectagainst hip fractures after all and may actuallyincrease the risk of both bone fractures and death. (For more on this, see my videoIs Milk Good for Our Bones?.) Ironically, this may offer a clue as to what’s going on in Parkinson’s, but first, let’slookat this reverse causation argument: Did milk lead to Parkinson’s, or did Parkinson’s lead to milk?
What are needed are prospective cohort studies in which milk consumption is measured first and people are followed over time, and such studies stillfounda significant increase in risk associated with dairy intake. The risk increased by 17 percent for every small glass of milk a day and 13 percent for every daily half slice of cheese. Again, the standard explanation is that the risk is from all the pesticides and other neurotoxins in dairy, but that doesn’t explain why there’s more risk attached to some dairy products than others. Pesticide residues are found in all dairy products, so why should milk be associated with Parkinson’s more than cheese is? Besides the pesticides themselves, thereareother neurotoxic contaminants in milk, like tetrahydroisoquinolines,foundin the brains of people with Parkinson’s disease, but there are higher levels of these in cheese than in milk, though people maydrinkmore milk than eat cheese.
The relationship between dairy and Huntington’s diseaseappearssimilar. Huntington’s is a horrible degenerative brain disease that runs in families and whose early onset may be doubled by dairy consumption, but again, this maybemore milk consumption than cheese consumption, whichbringsus back to the clue in the more-milk-more-mortality study.
Anytime we hear disease risks associated with more milk than cheese—more oxidative stress and inflammation—we shouldthinkgalactose, the milk sugar rather than the milk fat, protein, or pesticides. That’s why we think milk drinkers specifically appeared to have a higher risk of bone fractures and death, which may explain the neurodegeneration findings, too. Not only do rare individuals with an inability todetoxifythe galactose found in milk suffer damage to their bones, but they alsoexhibitdamage to their brains.
What do you start your day off with? For me it’s sometimes a green smoothie, an almond butter toast with flaxseeds and chia seed toppings. Today, it’s my oatmeal. Midway through devouring my breakfast, I just had to snap a picture and blog about it. This was so simple to make. It didn’t require any frying. I literally just added hot water and waited 10 minutes. Then I topped it with cinnamon, ground up flaxseeds, blueberries, blackberries and half of a banana. This is what a healthy breakfast should look like. People often say, “oatmeal is boring!” I could see that, but then you should jazz it up. Be creative! Add cocoa nibs, which are cocoa bean pieces with nothing added to them. This would be for those chocolate lovers. Shredded coconuts and raisins are delicious too, or even some nuts. I added bananas for some sweetness because I don’t use sugars.
I think oatmeal is one of the healthiest most nutritious meal you can start your day off with. It’s packed with so many vitamins, fiber, and minerals. It’s also cheap, and easy to prepare. If you were to have a cup of basic quick oats everyday, it would cost you $.043. Can’t beat that!
Government Shutdown Curtails F.D.A. Food Inspections
WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration has stopped routine food safety inspections of seafood, fruits, vegetables and many other foods at high risk of contamination because of the federal government’s shutdown, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, the agency’s commissioner, said on Wednesday.
Did you know that urinary tract infections or diseases affect both women and men? UTI’s can put men at risk for prostate illness as well. The British Journal of Nutrition recently published a study where research followed 42 men with lower urinary tract disease. They found that the men also had elevated PSA and non-bacterial prostatitis. The researchers assigned the men to take either a supplement with 1,500 mg per day of dried powdered cranberries or a placebo.
The researchers tracked the men for six months while they took either a powdered cranberry supplement of 1,500 mg a day or a placebo, and then evaluated them with the International Prostate Symptom Score. This test evaluates urination, average flow, total volume, and post-void residual volume. The men taking cranberry showed significant improvement. There was no improvement in the control group. It makes common sense that if cranberries help wipe out UTI’s, it’s responsible that they would also help your prostate as well. Also, the men who took the cranberry supplement experienced lower PSA levels. It is likely that one will have to take 1,500 mg of dried cranberry powder in order to have effective results as did the men in this study, a dose that is easily obtainable both in health stores and online.
There are many ways to incorporate cranberries into your diet. It’s not just an American traditional Thanksgiving side dish. Cranberries can be added at any time throughout the year. Dried cranberries especially are delicious in salads and baked goods. Swap out your usual raisins for cranberries. Another way to incorporate cranberries into your daily diet is by adding them to smoothies. Frozen cranberries are available all year round. both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients. It’s also worth noting that cranberries are a very good source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin E, two pivotal antioxidant nutrients. And in addition, they are a very good source of the mineral manganese, which is needed for proper function of some forms of the enzyme superoxide dismutase.
How do you incorporate cranberries in your diet? Please share…
Source: “The effectiveness of dried cranberries (Vaccinium macrocarpon) in men with lower urinary tract symptoms,” Vidlar A, Simanek V, et al, Br J Nutr, 2010; 104(8): 1181-9.
The simple walnut offers a wide list of benefits. For starters, a new study shows that eating whole walnuts or walnut oil can slow prostate cancer growth. But if you need more reasons than this, maybe the following reasons may persuade you to add these delicious nuts into your diet.
• A large study at Harvard found that people who ate a handful of nuts every day were 20 percent less likely to die from any cause in a thirty-year period.
• English walnuts decrease cardiovascular risk by decreasing LDL and total cholesterol.
• Walnuts help control weight.
• They help control insulin in diabetics.
• Eating walnuts increases male fertility.
• Walnuts enhance cognitive function and improve thinking ability.
• Eating walnuts has been shown to suppress breast cancer tumors, perhaps from their omega-3 fatty acids, antioxidants, and phytosterols.
• They have also been shown to inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer by decreasing angiogenesis.
• Walnuts are a source of highly potent, high-quality antioxidants.
• Ellagic acid, a major polyphenol found in walnuts, has remarkable bone-building activity at the cellular level.
• Eating walnuts and walnut oil can reduce the stress response and lower the resulting blood pressure.
Just a quarter cup of walnuts provides more than 100 percent of the daily recommended value of omega-3 fats as well as providing copper, manganese, molybdenum, and biotin. It’s better to buy walnuts raw and organic to avoid those that are irradiated and pasteurized.
Growing your own food is such a rewarding feeling because I’m in charge of the whole process. My food is healthy, fresh, and pesticide free. I have full control over everything, especially on the kind of fertilizers and lest control I use. Everything is done organically. There’s nothing like fresh picked vegetables. Food that ripens in my garden have more nutrients than many store-bought vegetables that must be picked early for shipping. The process has been quite easy with some minor bumps in the road. I do research and watch some ‘How to Videos’, because I’m not an expert and I want to get it right hopefully the first time.
I’m so proud of my tomato crop this year. I made sure I planted just the right mixture of just what I need. OMG! Last year I planted too many cherry tomatoes. They were over producing and I wasn’t pruning. It was a little disaster in the garden, and I was overwhelmed by cherry tomatoes. I ended up giving most of them away. This year I have all sorts of varieties for various different needs. Since the cherry tomatoes are my daughters favorite, I only planted one. As they ripen, she picks them and eats them like gum balls. Usually there’s none left for anyone else. That reminds me, I still have cherry tomatoes in the freezer from last year.
The picture above are my The Jersey Beefsteak. This variety is one of my favorite tomato’s to grow because they grow pretty large and the flavor is sweet with a little tart. I make a really nice tomato and onion salad with them. I also make my own apple cider vinegar and olive oil dressing. The juices from the tomatoes makes the dressing taste so fresh and sweet. I have three of these Jersey babies in the garden this year. I also use them for making my homemade marinara sauce. Recipe here.
These Early Girl variety grows quickly (hence ‘Early’) and they have high yields. They’re pretty common amongst home growers for that reason. I do believe it takes about 50-55 days after planting to maturity. You can easily grow these in containers too.
Check these green beauties out. I bought the sucker (baby plant) from the farmers market. The tag read, Organic Roma Tomatoes. These are obviously not because they are much longer. After some internet research, I stumbled upon a lookalike, they’re actually called, Long Tom. They can grow up to 9″. According to the website, they’re also known for bearing huge amounts of meaty red paste tomatoes with very few seeds in them. I can’t wait to taste them. Thanks for stopping by and reading about my organic tomato lifestyle. I hope I was able to inspire you a little to eat organically and grow your own organic garden.
Tomato Salad Recipe
Small Red onion
2 tbs apple cider vinegar
2 tbs olive oil
Simple dish that requires 10 minutes of preparation. Cut tomatoes in big chunks and set aside in a bowl. Peel, cut and discard cucumber seeds. Rough chop parsley place in bowl with tomatoes and cucumbers. Dice garlic and onions and place in bowl. Add the remaining ingredients and gently toss everything together and enjoy.
When August and September rolls around and you have a sea of freshly picked tomatoes, there’s only one thing I could think of, pasta sauce. After I’ve shared and eaten and picked, it’s time to preserve for the winter. As if I live in the wilderness. I don’t obviously, but it’s cost effective to preserve for later uses. My tomatoes were at its ripest and that’s what you want. The reddest, sweetest and densest tomatoes.
10 pounds fresh tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
4 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoon tomato paste
3 garlic clove, halved
2 basil springs
3 bay leaf
Step 1: Cut tomatoes in half horizontally. Squeeze out the seeds and discard, if you wish. Press the cut side of tomato against the large holes of a box grater and grate tomato flesh into a bowl. Discard skins. You should have about 8-9 cups.
Step 2: Put tomato pulp in a low wide saucepan over high heat. Add salt, olive oil, tomato paste, garlic, basil and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a brisk simmer.
Step 3: Reduce the sauce by almost half, stirring occasionally, to produce about 4 1/2 cups medium-thick sauce, 25 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust salt. It will keep up to 5 days in the refrigerator or may be frozen.
I freeze mines. Let it cool completely and insert desired amount in ziplock freezer bags. I like the quart sizes. Enjoy!!
Growing up, my mother never cooked or grew eggplants. I’ve heard stories of my late grandfather growing it, which he referred to them as Garden Eggs. In my adult life, I’ve grown to love the taste. I grow and cook them, and I even got my mother to enjoy growing and cooking with them too. Eggplants are extremely healthy and versatile to cook with. It is a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B1, copper, manganese, vitamin B6, niacin, potassium, folate and vitamin K. Eggplants also contains phytonutrients; such as nasunin and chlorogenic acid. The nasunin is the antioxidant responsible for providing your brain with food.
In animal studies, nasunin has been found to protect the lipids (fats) in brain cell membranes. Cell membranes are almost entirely composed of lipids and are responsible for protecting the cell from free radicals, letting nutrients in and wastes out, and receiving instructions from messenger molecules that tell the cell which activities it should perform. Nasunin is located in the purple skin of the eggplant so don’t peel it. It’s job is to search and defeat free radicals.
According to Rice University, free radicals are atoms or groups of atoms with an odd (unpaired) number of electrons and can be formed when oxygen interacts with certain molecules. Once formed these highly reactive radicals can start a chain reaction, like a dominoe effect. Their chief danger comes from the damage they can do when they react with important cellular components such as DNA, or the cell membrane. Free radicals are basically bad for you and they are everywhere. They can break down healthy cells and multiply.
What are free radicals?
Free radicals are highly unstable and reactive molecules that damage living cells. These can come from everyday pollution and other common stressors, like the ones listed below:
Everyday air pollutants
Smog / UV rays
Up to 80% of free radical damage is caused by the sun (1). Always wear a broad spectrum SPF!
Lack of sleep and exercise
Alcohol & Tobacco
Oxidative stress occurs when there are too many free radicals running amuck. It leads to stressed out cells that are broken down and weakened. Then, diseases like cancers, cardiovascular disease, emphysema, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, ulcers and a boatload of other inflammatory diseases can developed.
Free radicals are also associated with aging skin. That’s right! Sunblock isn’t the only defense for aging. What you feed your body/cells is extremely important too. Eating dark leafy greens and high pigmented fruits that are rich in vitamin C helps to protect your cells and support fighting off free radicals. Don’t forget to eat up your eggplant too because it will protect your skin from aging prematurely.
Did you know?
The high purple skin pigment on eggplants is also a form of protection for the plants. Researchers at the US Agricultural Service in Beltsville, Maryland, have found that eggplants are rich sources of phenolic compounds that function as antioxidants. Plants form such compounds to protect themselves against oxidative stress from exposure to the elements, as well as from infection by bacteria and fungi. If we eat the eggplant, these antioxidants protects us. Can you name a fast food chain that can do that? I think, NOT!
Resources: Protective effects of dietary nasunin on paraquat-induced oxidative stress in rats.