Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Granola with Less Sugar

I've been reading Robert Ludig's Fat Chance: Beating the Odds Against Sugar, Processed Food, Obesity, and Disease. It's all about the hideous amounts of sugar that's added to processed food. He says that practice began when our high-fat American diet was declared the cause of all the rampant metabolic disease. So the fat was taken out and sugar was added because they (the big food companies) had to add "something" to make it addictive ... I mean, make it taste good.

I'm still digesting the book, so to speak. And I plan to check out a couple of other books recently out on the subject, Grain Brain and Wheat Belly, to see what they have to say about it. I'm still not completely convinced that we need to eliminate ALL sugar and ALL carbs from our diet. Cut out processed food -- as much as possible, if not totally -- yes. But every bit of carb, such as fruits (fresh and dried), whole wheat breads and grains? I'm not so sure.

I'll continue to read and dwell. Meanwhile, it has caused me to think twice about the amount of sugar, and carbs, in everything we eat.

For instance. Granola. The four recipes that I consulted to make the granola for this entry each had a good amount of sugar -- brown sugar or maple syrup or agave (all considered equally bad by Mr. Ludig). Upwards of 1/2 - 3/4 cup. Sounds like a lot. So I first combined all the dry ingredients and then added the maple syrup, a little bit at a time to see how little I could get by with. I did the same thing with the oil (extra virgin olive oil). After all, I like granola that's crunchy, not sticky with extra oil and syrup. And I want to taste the oats, nuts, and seeds, not just pure sweetness.

It didn't take much -- just 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of maple syrup. It's plenty sweet enough, and it's nice and crunchy. I think you really can reduce the sugar in lots of recipes out there, and maybe even eliminate it.

Just-Sweet-Enough Granola 
2 cups rolled oats
1/4 cup raw sunflower seeds
1/4 cup raw pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
1/4 cup raw almond slivers
1/4 cup pecan and walnut pieces
3 tbsp flaxseed meal
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil or extra virgin coconut oil (melted)
2 tbsp maple syrup

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl and mix well. Spread out in a single layer on the baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned.
(Watch the baking time carefully to make sure the smaller ingredients don't burn.)

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Beet Chips & Kale Chips and Gun Control

These are so good ... better than potato chips. They really have to be sliced extra thin to get them crunchy, so a mandoline slicer is a must. Two beets will make enough chips for two people.

Beet Chips

2 medium-sized beets (golden beets are a good choice, but red is fine too)
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a couple of baking sheets with parchment paper.

Chop off the greenery, leaving enough stem so you can use it as a handle while slicing on the mandoline, then peel the beets. Using the thinnest setting on the mandoline, slice the beets. Toss the beet slices in a bowl with the olive oil and salt & pepper (to taste). Place the slices in a single layer on the sheets. Bake until most of the slices have dark browning (see photo above). This will probably take 30 minutes or more.

Kale Chips

bunch of kale
extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper
garam masala or other spices (garlic powder, cumin, etc.)

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Cut the kale into bite-size pieces (keep in mind they will shrink a bit), leaving the stems on the chopping block. Toss in a bowl with the olive oil and salt & pepper (to taste) and garam masala (or other spice). Spread leaves onto the sheet and bake for about 10 minutes.

Sensible Gun Control

Everyone should read Henry Porter's opinion piece, "American gun use is out of control. Shouldn't the world intervene?", which appeared September 21 in The Guardian:


A piece written by David Byrne (of Talking Heads fame), "If the 1% stifles New York's creative talent, I'm out of here", is also very good: