Stir, Laugh, Repeat
These are few ways to refine our meals to reduce fat and cholesterol:
1. Use fresh vegetables whenever possible. If it is necessary to used canned or frozen, read the label to insure that the product does not contain saturated fat, such as lard, bacon fat, palm oil or coconut oil. If the label lists "vegetable fat" without revealing the specific source, assume that it is palm oil or coconut oil and don't purchase the product. (Now and then I can find fresh vegetables but we all know that during the winter months they aren't exactly fresh since they have to sometimes be shipped from other countries. What I now do is buy frozen in the bags. To me, they are better than canned and don't normally have anything added.)
2. Use only those salad dressings made form olive oil or form an unsaturated vegetable oil (safflower, corn, cottonseed, sesame, soybean and sunflower). Use homemade rather than commercial salad dressings for maximum control over the oil, salt, sugar and preservatives. Avoid dressings made with cheese. Serve dressings on the side as only 1 tablespoon can be 75 to 100 calories. (This is a big one for me to change. I simply love creamy dressings like Ranch or Onion or Poppyseed. I've tried making these but they just don't taste the same so this is a gradual change that I'm trying to make.)
3. Use soft tub-type margarine made form an unsaturated liquid vegetable oil in place of hydrogenated stick margarine. Again, label reading is the key. To be acceptable, the label must list liquid vegetable oil as the first ingredient and show that the product contains twice the amount of unsaturated as saturated fat. (Another tough one for me. I love my butter and I love to cook with it. Not sure how I'll handle this change.)
4. Reduce the amount of margarine used on breads. Even tub margarine made form an unsaturated vegetable oil is 99% fat and contains 95 calories per tablespoon. Eliminate margarine as a sauce for vegetables, rice and potatoes; instead use herbs, spices, wine, lemon juice or flavored vinegars. (I'm getting better at this one. I cooked some frozen lima beans last week and where I would normally use either a piece of fat meat or butter to flavor them I used salt free bouillon. They were delicious. Gonna try this with my rice and potatoes too. As for my bread, I've learned to enjoy spreading a little hummus over my toast.)
#5. Avoid commercial bakery products and desserts that are high in saturated fat and calories. (No problem here. If I eat desserts they are usually those that I make. Now if I can just not cook them with too much fat I'll be ok.)
#6. Increase the amount of complex carbohydrates (such as rice, beans, pasta) to satisfy in a low-fat manner and reduce the portion size of the entrée. (I love my carbs so this is no problem as long as I season and smother them with the right sauces.)
So, on my quest to lower my cholesterol, I've found that I still need to make a few changes in not just my eating but also my cooking. Some of these changes won't be easy but I'm getting there.
Now that I know I'm ok in the red meat dept. it's time to look at the meats that I do eat the most which are poultry, fish and seafood. One of these may be the cause of my raised cholesterol level. So here is what I found.
Skinless, white poultry is only about 20% fat. Only 19% of the calories in trout are fat, and only 6% of those in water-packed tuna are fat. In addition, poultry and seafood, with the exception of shrimp, are generally lower in cholesterol than red meat. Although shrimp is high in cholesterol, many medical professionals now feel that the healthful benefits of fish oil allow shrimp to be eaten on a moderate basis.
A 3 1/2 oz. serving of cooked trout yields 55 mg. of cholesterol; halibut 60 mg.; and chicken 79 mg. Four ounces of cod contains just 57 mg. and 3 oz. of tuna just 54 mg. While 4 oz. of sirloin steak contains 107 mg. (One of my favorite fish is the cod. I usually buy the thicker 'choice' cuts which are a little more expensive but still cheaper than a prime cut of steak and a lot healthier.)
To insure that you lower your fat and cholesterol as much as possible, follow these steps:
1. Reduce poultry and seafood portions in size. Although lower in cholesterol than red meat, poultry and seafood are still sources of cholesterol. (As much as I love a good piece of fish it's hard for me to keep the portions to 3 1/2 oz. As for the chicken, I love chicken but to me chicken has no flavor of its own so I try to provide it with flavor which I'll have to be careful of so I don't increase the fat and cholesterol. As for eating just 3 1/2 oz. that isn't a problem. I often just bake my chicken with some herbs and add it to a good salad.)
2. Always cook poultry without the skin so that the fat in the skin doesn't drip into the meat. (This is no problem for me since I almost always buy skinless chicken.)
3. Select the white meat of the chicken or turkey rather than the dark meat, as the white is lower in cholesterol. (This really isn't a problem since I don't like dark meat. I know it does have a little more flavor and is juicy but I can't bring myself to eat a piece of dark meat. Too many things still attached to the meat that you don't find in white meats.)
4. Broil, roast, bake, steam, poach or barbecue poultry and seafood as these methods allow the fat to drip away during cooking. (This is where my pan with the rack comes in handy. I used to boil my chicken but found that even with seasonings added the meat was dry and lacked flavor. I now place my chicken as well as my fish on the rack and bake. It is juicier and cooks fairly quickly. Yes the fat drips into the pan but it still comes out juicy. This is also the way I make baked 'fried' chicken. The rack allows the batter to stay crispy.)
5. Use wine, herbs, lemon juice or flavored vinegar, rather than margarine, oils and sauces to flavor poultry and seafood dishes. (I do use the herbs, especially rosemary, to flavor my chicken. My fish I coat with an egg wash, dip it into Panko and then cook it in the oven using my baking rack. It cooks quickly, comes out crisp and is delicious with a little Malt Vinegar sprinkled on top.)
6. Avoid packaged, canned or frozen poultry and seafood dishes. (There again, after seeing the salt content on the package of most packaged foods, I've completely stopped buying them.)
7. When ordering seafood and poultry in restaurants, avoid any sauces and gravies, and select only heart-healthy cooking methods. (I normally order grilled chicken when eating out but have to admit that I do order fried fish. I just have to have that kick now and then. When I do order chicken that has been fried I always order the white meat and try really hard to eat just the meat and not the crust or skin. Hard to do so I don't order this often.)
I haven't been able to bring myself to eat food that use ground chicken or turkey but I have made Chicken Chili and I have to tell you it is delicious. I've even added a recipe for it on my site Think With Your Taste Buds - Chicken. I'll continue to find healthier ways to eat my chicken, fish and seafood and continue to stay away form red meats. Nest I'm going to investigate other ways to reduce cholesterol and fat through the substitution of oils and salad dressings.
1 baked, boneless, skinless chicken breast
2 Tbsp. Fresh Food Concept Spinach Dip
5 almonds, sliced
Cut chicken into bite size pieces. Mix in dip. Sprinkle with almonds.
Comment: Recently I saw a Dr. Oz show where his guest talked about losing weight by not counting calories but by counting sugar. Sucker that I am I bought his book, have been reading it and it does make a lot of sense. With his program you're supposed to eat as few carbs and sugar as possible, like below 100 a day. Didn't know if I could do this or not. His plan has you eating a good bit of chicken but as I've said before - plain chicken simply has no taste. There has to be a healthy way to give it some taste. So... I took my mid to the grocery store and started reading labels. I was really surprised to find that there are many foods that are healthy and contain very little sugar. One that I found was Fresh Food Concepts' Spinach Dip made with Greek Yogurt. It contains 1g of sugar for 2 Tbsp. That is the perfect amount to make a delicious, moist chicken salad using just 1 chicken breast. This is one you really need to try even if you aren't trying to eat healthy.
I got a call from my Doctor (yes, I have a rare doctor who calls me.) He called to tell me my blood test results were back. Good news, my iron count was up some. Bad news, my cholesterol was up over 50 points or whatever they call them. So I've started looking up information that will stop it from rising and hopefully bring it back down. I'll be passing this information along to you with hopes it will help you too.
#1 - Reduce meat portions in size and increase complex carbohydrates (vegetables, fruit, grains and legumes). (I eat red meat maybe 3-4 times a month. I'm just not a fan and besides, cows are cute. But when I do eat red meat I eat very small portions so I'm ok here.)
#2 - Use only lean-grade meat and trim it of all visible fat before cooking. (I actually quit eating red meat, especially ground beef, after learning what was actually in the so called meat. Pink slime, by-products and fillers. If you want a good education on what is in your burger, look these up. When I do eat red meat I buy organic only. The price is another reason I seldom eat red meat.)
#3 - Broil, roast, bake or barbecue meats as these methods allow the fat to drip away during cooking. (I'm good here too. I almost never fry anything but I have learned that you can coat a piece of meat with egg wash and bread crumbs (etc.), quick fry to brown the crumbs, place the meat on a racked baking dish and finish cooking in the oven. This allows the grease absorbed while browning as well as what is naturally in the meat to drip out but still keep your meat crispy.)
#4 - Cook meat to medium or well-done to maximize the fat loss during cooking. (I have to admit that IF I eat a steak I want it medium rare. All other red meat I want well done.)
#5 - Avoid frying foods in hydrogenated margarine or animal fats; instead use chicken or beef broth, wine, water, flavored vinegar, or use a non-stick pan. (If I do the quick fry I use canola oil so I'm ok there. For any other cooking I've actually found that most red meat is so full of 'water' or whatever that you need to cook that out before you add any type of flavoring other than salt and pepper. I actually brown my meat, such as a roast, without oil, place it in a slow cooker and when the liquid has cooked out, (shrinking the meat to half the size it was when I put it in the pot) I strain the liquid through a white paper towel removing all grease. Then I add flavoring and cook until done.)
#6 - Always de-fat meat drippings and broths by refrigeration (the fat coagulates and can be skimmed and discarded) before using in gravies or sauces. (I have used this method of removing fat but like the straining better.)
#7 - Avoid packaged, canned or frozen meat dishes as their fat content cannot be controlled. (When I started reading labels I found the salt content in most canned meats was terrible so I don't buy packaged, canned or frozen meat dishes. Due to this I have no idea how the cholesterol count may be. And processed meats in the deli is another type of food I don't buy. Look up fillers and by-products and you'll be careful about buying them too. From what I've found there are 2 companies that states their deli meats are 85% real meat. The others are from 16% meat and slowly up.)
#8 - Be careful of restaurant foods, especially fast foods, as their fat content cannot be controlled. (Most of my eating out consists of 2 meats - fish and chicken. I can't remember the last time I ate beef at a restaurant so I'm ok there too.)
My next research on cholesterol will be for poultry and seafood so stay tuned.
As many of you already know, I rescue books
. All books. Any book. I simply can't stand to see a book destroyed. This started when I went to a thrift store and the owner told me her church had a room full of books. She said there were over 1,000. I ask if I could get permission to go through them and she said that if I had ask that a week before the answer would have been yes. Since then, they had sent ALL of them to the recycle plant.
Books are becoming a thing of the past and I really hate to see that happen. Everything is going to ebooks. Don't get me wrong, I have a Nook and a Kindle and love both. I can slip them into my purse, take them anywhere and enjoy reading my books even in the dark. But I still love to hold a book in my hands and turn the paper pages. I also love the smell of a library. But, as I said, that is becoming a thing of the past. So many book stores are and have closed. Libraries are closing. Our reading is now done on our little devices after we've ordered our books using the same device.
So, my quest is to save as many books as possible. I find them through Estate sales, thrift stores, and yard sales. At the moment I have about 700 books in bookcases that actually cover one of the walls in my bedroom. I love to read these books and even cook from them. Some are old and if you follow my blog you may have noticed some of the older ones that I've modernized. But... as I found out a year or so ago, all good things must come to an end. That is why I started an Ebay store that I call "Book Resque
." Since then I've found homes for about 300 books. I buy them cheap and sell them cheap just to keep them in circulation. So, if you love books as much as I do, check out my store and help me find homes for those that are lucky enough to be rescued and not sent to the recycle plant.
Most of my books are cookbooks but I've started picking up children books and am always on the lookout for those really old ones. Some of my books are over 100 years old and need a good home. Oh yeah. I do throw in a few stamps and older small items now and then that need a home.