Saturday, October 15, 2011

I should have been born French

I recently watched the movie Julie & Julia (I know it is a few years old) and was instantly enthralled by Julia Child. Honestly I could have done without the Julie character and her story (although that was a great accomplishment to have her blog turned into a major motion picture). They should have just done the movie about Julia Child. Anywho. Julia Child had spend years and in France "mastering the art of French cooking" which coincidentally is the name of her two volume masterpiece. I have not read it yet, but I am going to buy it and start working through it. She also has another book Julia's Kitchen Wisdom: Essential Techniques and Recipes from a Lifetime of Cooking which I think might be right up my alley. 

The real reason I am writing about this is because it occurred to me that she lived to be 92, and, from what I saw and know of her recipes, ate a high fat diet full of pastries and duck, beef and butter (among other things). This was back in the 1950's until the time she died in 2004. I do know that she used real, fresh, quality ingredients, and lots of love. She LOVED to cook and figure out the best ways to prepare any dish. A woman after my own heart. 

This raises the question... do the ingredient matter as much as the quality?

Let's take butter for instance. It is quite possibly my favorite fat and I will put it on anything that I can. According to SELF Magazine's Nutrition Data Website it is 99% fat and 1% protein. It is very inflammatory probably because it is a saturated fat from an animal source (I assume that they are rating this as bad as they are because it is high saturated fat and everyone is under the impression that saturated fats are bad- WRONG - unnatural fats are bad). It has upwards of 20% RDA of Vitamins A, D, E, & K as well as being a complete protein (a complete protein is a source of protein that contains an adequate proportion of all nine of the essential amino acids necessary for the dietary needs of humans or other animals).

So in butter's case, it is the saturated fat and cholesterol vs. all 9 essential amino "fatty" acids and 4 vitamins. Now obviously you can find these vitamins elsewhere in a wide variety of vegetables. The essential fatty acids are another story.

Two things:

  • The complete proteins are called "essential" fatty or amino acids because our body cannot make them. We need to get them from other sources, and our bodies will not function properly if we are deficient.   
  • The word "fatty" means they come from FAT. Therefore, you will be deficient if you eat a low fat diet. That means, if you only eat egg whites, boneless skinless chicken breast, no butter, and no meat you are running the risk of becoming deficient in one or several of the 9.
Yes you can find some of the 9 amino acids from other sources (legumes, grains, and vegetables) but they tend to be limited in the number of amino acids. Some are notably low, such as corn protein. Hmmmm, didn't I just find out that corn in the United States is genetically modified and shows up in a lot of the processed foods Americans buy? 

These are the foods naturally containing all 9 amino acids:  amaranthbuckwheathempseed, meat, poultry, soybeansquinoaseafood, and spirulina.

How many of those can you say you eat on a regular basis? Personally, I can say 1 regularly (seafood) and 5 occasionally. The three that I have never used in my cooking so far are amaranth, buckwheat, and hempseed. 

It is easy to get all of the essential amino acids if you eat a wide variety of unprocessed foods, but how many of you can say that?

So with all that technical stuff aside, let's get back to quality. After everything that I have read on the science of fats, dairy, the dairy industry, sugar, the sugar industry, soy, the soy industry, etc, it is my humble conclusion that the quality of the fats, sugars, and proteins are more important than the amount of saturated fat in something or the amount of carbs in something else. 

Instead of counting calories and grams of fat, try focusing on these few things that will make a tremendous improvement in your life:

  1. Buy organic egg and dairy products. If you are lucky enough to live in a state or country that allows the sale of raw dairy take advantage. The packaging must say "without antibiotics and growth hormones" and would be a HUGE plus if it says "comes from grass fed/pasture raised animals". Cage Free is does not mean that the chickens live on a farm. They are given slightly better living conditions than normal (which isn't saying much). If you want to know how "conventional" animals are raised look up some videos on YouTube...a lot of it is worse than your wildest imaginations.
  2. Buy meat from "humanely raised" animals. Grass fed is good too, but the regulations for raising grass fed animals go against what is natural for those animal. Animals eat other things than grass in nature. Organic means nothing unless it also says humanely raised or grass fed.
  3. Don't buy processed soy UNLESS it is soy sauce, tofu, tempeh, or miso. Check all ingredients though because manufacturers sneak in bad ingredients to cut costs. 
  4. Cut out as much refined sugar as you possibly can. Fruit sugar is different. We are meant to eat fruit. It has fiber in it which slows down the absorption into our blood stream. Fruit is also bursting with vitamins, minerals, anti-oxidants, and cancer-fighting nutrients. 
  5. NO TRANS-FATS. Partially hydrogenated and hydrogenated oils make up this category. They wreak havoc on your bodies in many different ways. 

She was funny too!

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