Archive for June, 2013

Greetings, fellow Fat Heads.

A few weeks ago, The Oldest Son found a great low-carb pizza recipe.  We already had a couple of recipes, but after this one, I don’t think we’ll be going back.  The other ones we had kept were really good, but we had to eat them with utensils.  With this one, the only way you know you aren’t holding a “real” slice of pizza in your hand is that, as mentioned in his write-up, you get full after a few slices, instead of going into that “I’m stuffed — give me another!” gluten-induced spiral.

He told Tom about it, and Tom suggested he write it up to share with all of you.  I have to say, for a guy who never liked reading or writing for fun, he did a pretty good job.  Be sure to try this at home, kids.

Cheers!

The Older Brother

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An odd thing happened for the first time in a long time:


… Leftover pizza!

Part of this is because I rarely eat pizza, but mostly because it is incredibly filling (and healthy), so I highly recommend trying it even if you aren’t suffering from the new obesity disease… I hear that’s going around.

To give credit where it’s due, I am basing this recipe on one I found at cookyscreations.blogspot.com.  A friend and I then made a couple modifications. Go ahead and buy a few bags of mozzarella — you will be making more of this very soon.

The Crust:

1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella
¾ cup almond flour
2 tbs cream cheese
1 egg
Garlic salt
Parchment paper and cookie sheet

Instructions:

-put  mozzarella & cream cheese in a medium size  microwaveable bowl


After making some keto recipes, I found it best to cube up the cream cheese before melting with other cheeses

-Microwave for 1 min, stir and then another 30 sec, stir (very hot!)

-Stir in egg &  almond flour

-Wet hands and spread “dough” thin on parchment paper. It should spread evenly with dough-like consistency (if “stringy” then your cheese has hardened too much—just put it back in the microwave for maybe another 20 seconds)

-Dock (poke rows of holes) with a fork to avoid bubbling

-Sprinkle with garlic salt

-Put in 425 degree oven

-After about 8 minutes, check it and poke holes where any large bubbles may be.

-continue cooking for a total 12-14 min, or until slightly brown on top.

It should look like this:


Here is what I do for the toppings:

[Keep in mind that the toppings only cook long enough for the cheese to melt. Therefore, any meats you add need to be fully cooked.]

Before you begin making your crust, place the sausage on medium-low heat in a cast iron pan. I prefer ground Salciccia sausage—it is similar to Italian sausage. Do not stir too much or you will end up with taco meat consistency. After a few minutes you may need to use a baster to get excess water/grease out, but not too much. You want fully cooked, dime-sized sausages.

Put the sausage in a separate bowl, keeping the grease to sauté your veggies in!

Add a thin layer of pizza sauce, your desired amount of meats, veggies, cheese, and then sprinkle on oregano and basil. I prefer a lot of mozzarella and a handful of cheddar.

This is a double batch which filled up a cookie sheet and five hungry adults. (I would normally space the sausage better, but I was rushing making three at once.)

Although higher in carbs, due to the extra sauce, my next attempt will be my “Achilles heel”: Chicago style (deep dish) pizza.

Hope you enjoy it.  In the meantime…

 

 

— The Older Brother’s Oldest Son

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Quick, somebody get the nine-year-old media hero and her mom on the phone.  Turns out that despite ads featuring cartoon characters and other means of “tricking” kids into eating at McDonald’s, very few of the total calories youngsters consume come from sodas and french fries consumed in fast-food restaurants.

That’s the good news.  The bad news is that people of all ages consume a lot of junk they buy in grocery stores – which is a point I’ve made several times.  The same people who like to heap blame on the fast-food industry are curiously silent about all the boxes of Cocoa Puffs and bags of potato chips sold in grocery stores.

In a study I read awhile back, researchers compared eating habits in areas with lots of fast-food restaurants and areas with almost no fast-food restaurants.  They found virtually no difference in how much sugar and other carbage people consume.  All that changes is where the sugar addicts go for their fix.  Blaming a McDonald’s restaurant for the sugar addicts who live nearby is like blaming a tavern for the local alcoholics.  Yes, sodas are cheap at McDonald’s … but if you want to see really cheap sodas, visit a Kroger.  (Then write a thank-you letter to the USDA for subsidizing corn and thus corn syrup.)

But I digress.

The figures about where Americans get their calories come from a new study published in Nutrition Journal.  Let’s look at some quotes about that study from an online article:

A new analysis of where Americans are getting their calories from has thrown up some surprising results, with the percentage of energy derived from so-called ‘junk-food’ such as soda, burgers and fries from fast-food chains proving to be somewhat lower than is often claimed.

Energy intakes of US children and adults by food purchase location and by specific food source, published in Nutrition Journal, is “the first-ever study of dietary energy intakes by age group, food purchase location and by specific food source”, claim its authors: Dr Adam Drewnowski and Dr Colin D Rehm from the University of Washington, Seattle.

As all foods consumed by participants in the government-run National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) are now color coded by location of purchase (eg. store, quick-service restaurant/pizza (QSR), full-service restaurant (FSR), school/workplace cafe, vending machine etc), it is possible to determine much more accurately where our calories are coming from, they explain.

The NHANES data is based on 24-hour recall.  I’m not a big fan of food questionnaires that ask people to remember what they ate for the past year or more, but I think most of us can recall what we ate yesterday.  The study’s authors note that people tend to under-report their junk-food intake, but I’m guessing that applies equally to fast-food junk and store-bought junk.  So let’s assume for the sake of argument that the figures are reasonably accurate when it comes to food eaten out vs. food eaten at home.

Quoting from the actual study:

Contrary to popular belief, restaurant-sourced pizza, burgers, chicken and French fries accounted for less energy than store-sourced breads, grain-based desserts, pasta and soft drinks.  For example, for adolescents in the 12-19y age group, QSR pizza accounted for 3.9% of total energy, whereas QSR French fried potatoes accounted for 1.7%. Interestingly, QSR sugar sweetened beverages provided 1.0-1.4% of dietary energy depending on age, whereas store-sourced beverages provided four times that.

So we’re looking at young people getting maybe 3% of their total calories from fast-food sodas and fries.  Toss in the burgers and we’re up to about 5%.  That would no doubt be a surprise to Roger Ebert and other people who believed Morgan Spurlock fingered the obesity-epidemic culprit in Super Size Me.

Fast-food consumption was highest among teens at about 17.5% of total calories.  But teens still consumed nearly two-thirds of their calories at home, as did people in other age groups.  But look at what they consume:

The top sources of energy for 6-11year-olds were grain-based desserts such as cakes, cookies, pies, pastries and donuts (6.9% of energy) and yeast breads (6.4% of energy). Those two food sources were among the top energy sources across all age groups.

Among adolescents, the top energy sources were soda, energy and sports drinks (8.2% of calories); pizza (7.2%); yeast breads (6.3%), and chicken and chicken mixed dishes (6.2%). Burgers contributed just 2% of energy and fries 2.7%.

Adults aged 20-50 derived 6.8% of energy from soda, energy and sports drinks; 6% from chicken and chicken mixed dishes; and 6.1% from yeast breads. 5.5% of energy came from grain-based desserts and 5.3% from alcoholic beverages.

Sounds like rather a lot of carbage.  The online version of the study includes some tables, so I took the data for ages 12-19 and popped it into Excel.  Then I marked the foods I consider carbage (sodas and energy drinks, pizza, pasta, fries, chips, donuts, cereals, breads, desserts and candy) and ran the numbers on those.

If the NHANES data is accurate, the nation’s teens are getting 47% of their calories from carbage — but only 9% of their total calories come from carbage consumed in fast-food restaurants.  Just over 32% of their total calories come from carbage they consume at home.  The remaining 6% of carbage-calories comes from full-service restaurants and “other” … whatever that means.

The same calculations for kids in the 6-11 group show that they consume slightly more carbage (49% of total calories) than their older siblings, but just 5.8% of their total calories come from fast-food carbage.  So I have to conclude that cartoon characters, Happy Meals and other “tricks” aren’t the reason kids get fat.  Kids consume five to six times more carbage at home than they do at fast-food restaurants.  Hannah’s mom is going to have to start writing speeches the little media hero can deliver at grocery-industry conventions.

The online article about the study also notes that while Hizzoner Mayor Bloomberg exempted grocery stores from his large-soda ban, that’s where people buy the vast majority of their soda.  There’s nothing I love more than a regulation that’s both onerous and ineffective.

Asked to comment on this interpretation of his data, co-author Dr Adam Drewnowski told FoodNavigator-USA: “Francis Collins and Griffin Rodgers (the director of the NIH and the NIDDK respectively) wrote in JAMA last  year that faced with the obesity epidemic, public health authorities took whatever action they could, without necessarily waiting for data to arrive.

Government officials jumping in with recommendations and regulations without waiting for data to support their actions? Well, I am shocked.

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After Charles Adler interviewed me on the Sun News Network in Canada on Monday, his radio-show producer called and asked if I’d like to do a segment on the radio as well.

Well, heck yes!  I enjoyed talking with Charles.

Our interview aired live today.  You can listen to a recording of it here.

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I’ve mentioned several times that when I was a youngster, the “waist trimmer” meal served in restaurants was a burger patty with cottage cheese and tomato slices.  It was common knowledge (or a common belief, if you prefer) that bread, pasta and potatoes are fattening, so the way to lose weight was to cut those out of the diet.  I recall our high-school health teacher, who was also the wrestling coach, telling us in class that if we wanted to shed a few pounds, we should cut out sugar and starch.  (What the heck did he know?  He only helped hundreds of wrestlers over the years get down to their preferred weight categories.)

When I was channel-flipping late last night, I came across a movie I remember seeing in high school:  Silver Streak, starring Gene Wilder and Richard Pryor.  It’s a comedy-murder-mystery set on a train.  Two of the incidental characters are big fat guys who are (of course) played for laughs.  In one of the early scenes, we see what they ordered for dinner.  Take a look:

There’s the waist-trimmer meal, along with a bottle of TAB, the forerunner to Diet Coke.  That’s what people considered a “diet” meal in 1976, when the film was released.  No pasta with fat-free marinara sauce, no hearthealthywholegrains, no vegetarian burrito.  It’s fat and protein.  The audience in 1976 sees that meal and has a little chuckle of recognition:  Oh, look, the fat guys are on a diet! By the time Seinfeld was the #1 show 20 years later, that meal would prompt a joke about arteries slamming shut.

Which is exactly why the “waist trimmer” meal is a thing of the past.  In Good Calories, Bad Calories, there’s a chapter titled The Fattening Carbohydrate Disappears.  Taubes describes how the common belief that breads, potatoes and pastas are fattening was pushed aside after the McGovern committee released its Dietary Goals For Americans.  Since fat was now the dietary devil, grains and other carbohydrates had to be rehabilitated as health food — after all, we have to eat something.  So fat became fattening, and carbohydrates became slimming … at least according to the USDA.

Since then, of course, we’ve all so gotten incredibly lean, the AMA decided to declare obesity a disease.

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I was a guest on the Sun News Network in Canada this morning, talking about the American Medical Association’s decision to classify obesity as a disease – not as a marker of disease, but as a disease in and of itself.  (That will come as a shock to the many obese people who live into their 80s and 90s while suffering from the disease – and yes, that happens.)

Obesity is not a disease. Obesity correlates with disease because the main drivers of many diseases – chronically elevated glucose and insulin levels – can also make you fat. But lots of obese people are healthy in spite of being fat, and lots of lean people are unhealthy. I mentioned awhile back that a small, lean co-worker asked me to look at his latest lab tests. His HDL was abysmally low and his triglycerides were way too high. Meanwhile, back when I was still classified as “obese” with 31% bodyfat, my HDL was high and my triglycerides were low. My lean co-worker is at much greater risk of dropping dead than I was back in my “obese” days.

As for why the AMA decided to classify obesity as a disease, Dr. William Davis already spelled it nicely out on his Wheat Belly Blog, so I’ll just quote him:

Well, it’s hard to know how the internal discussions at the AMA went until we get a look at the transcripts. But let’s take a look at the Obesity Action Coalition (OAC). I believe it tells the whole story.

The OAC Board of Directors is filled with bariatric surgeons, such as Drs. Titus Duncan and Lloyd Stegemann, people who make a living from procedures and surgeries like gastric bypass and lap-band. The largest contributors to the OAC? Eisai Pharmaceuticals, maker of BELVIQ, the new drug for weight loss; Ethicon EndoSurgery, makers of laparoscopic operating room supplies; Vivus, Inc., another obesity drug maker; the American Society for Bariatric Surgeons; and Orexigen, developer of the combination drug naltrexone-buproprion for weight loss, now in FDA application stage. (Recall that naltrexone is the opiate blocking drug taken by heroin addicts but now being proposed to be gain approval for weight loss.)

In other words, while it is being cast as something being done for the public good, the motivation is more likely to be … money: Bariatric surgeons gain by expanding the market for their procedures to patients who previously did not have insurance coverage for this “non-disease”; operating room supply manufacturers will sell more equipment for the dramatically increased number of surgical procedures; obesity drug manufacturers will have the clout to pressure health insurers to cover the drugs for this new disease.

As always, follow the money.

Over the weekend, I dug out the original footage from my Fat Head interview with Dr. Eric Oliver, author of Fat Politics, and put together a sequence of clips addressing the topic of obesity and disease. He told me back in 2008 that insurance coverage for weight-loss drugs and procedures was behind the push to label obesity itself as a disease.  Looks like that push is working.

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Here’s the second episode of Fat Head Kids’ Club. We want to keep these videos short enough to be kid-friendly, so there will be another episode on this topic.

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