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Visit the Cook for Good blog for wildly good cooking tips, money-saving ideas, book reviews, and more from Linda Watson and guest bloggers.

Wednesday
Apr092014

8 steps to a great stir-fry

There are at least seven reasons to learn to stir-fry. Stir-fries are quick, easy, delicious, healthy, can be filling without being fattening, require little fuel to cook, and .... drum roll please ... showcase seasonal vegetables. If your CSA box came stuffed with greens or your intentions at the farmers' market were bigger than your desire to cook at home, then get out your wok.

Number 8? Stir fries are handy make-ahead, ready-in-a-minute meals.  They take less than thirty minutes even starting from scratch, but most of that work can be done ahead of time. If you don't know when little Johnny will be home from soccer practice or when your sweetie's plane will land, then prepare the ingredients for a stir-fry and start up the rice cooker. When it's time to eat, you can heat up the wok and have dinner on the table under ten minutes.

getting ready for a great stir-fry

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Friday
Apr042014

Solar cooking with home-made Fun-Panel solar oven

I've been hoping for sunny days more than ever lately. I'm testing several solar cookers so I can share my results and tips at the Mother Earth News Fairs in Asheville next week and in Seven Springs in September. Today is cloudy again, good timing for the conference call with the International Solar Energy Society on all the latest and greatest in solar cooking.

Fun Panel Solar Oven

I'm thrilled to find so many great designs on the web, like the Fun-Panel Solar Oven above, designed by Teong Tan. This collapsible version will work perfectly ...

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Thursday
Mar272014

Is WAO a "diet tailored to embracing corporate-industrial agriculture"?!?

I'm thrilled that Mother Earth Living is featuring the first chapter of my book Wildly Affordable Organic (WAO) in its March/April issue. Some of the online comments on the site, though, snapped my head back. Am I a self-satisfied sneak who embraces corporate agriculture by foisting empty calories on the poor? If I am, please stop me before I cook again! My intention with the Cook for Good project is to support local farms, empower families with core skills, and to help people live lightly and joyfully on our planet. To put it in Cadillac vs. Ford terms, I give a damn, n'est-ce pas?  

I've responded to some key comments in detail below. Decide for yourself and, if you'd like, join in the conversation ...

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Tuesday
Mar182014

Shopping at the Bastille Market in Paris

My friend Kathy invited me to join her last week in Paris. She had rented an apartment which turned out to be just across from the Bastille Market. The market was in full swing when we arrived on Sunday morning and is also open on Thursday. Clay Williams says "The vendors at the city markets are not farmers, but local shopkeepers who source their meat and produce from Rungis, the large wholesale market that replaced the famous Les Halles some forty years ago."

We left the following Sunday afternoon, so I spent my last euros on a box of fresh raspberries.

Wednesday
Mar052014

How much protein is enough? What are the best sources?

A major new study in the journal Cell Metabolism is getting a lot of attention right now because it links high consumption of protein to a 75% higher death rate. It says that people 50 to 65 years old who eat a high level of protein (20% or more of calories) compared to those who eat a low level (9% or less) are:

  • 4 times more likely to die of cancer
  • 5 times more likely to die of diabetes
  • 73 times more likely to get diabetes if you have no current symptoms

People in the mid-range of protein eaters (10 to 19% of calories) would be 3 times more likely to die of cancer than someone who eats 9% protein or less. They are be 23 times more likely to get diabetes, too.

Proteins from animals "promote mortality"

The increased risks of disease and death from eating high levels of protein are even more startling when you realize that the risks are higher for those who eat a lot of protein from animals. The study says:

However, when the percent calories from animal protein was controlled for, the association between total protein and all-cause or cancer mortality was eliminated or significantly reduced, respectively, suggesting animal proteins are responsible for a significant portion of these relationships. When we controlled for the effect of plant-based protein, there was no change in the association between protein intake and mortality, indicating that high levels of animal proteins promote mortality and not that plant-based proteins have a protective effect.

The researchers recommend that the Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine change its current recommended protein intake to its current minimum. That puts it right in line with The China Study and the menus and recipes here at Cook for Good. The board's current recommendation is 1.0–1.3  grams of proteins per kilogram of body weight per day, with a minimum intake of 0.7 to 0.8 grams per day. For someone who weights 100 pounds, that would be a drop from a range of 45 to 59 grams of protein a day to a ranger of 32 to 36 grams. That is the amount of protein in a cup of shelled walnuts, a half cup of raw spinach, or a half ounce of cooked salmon.

Plants can provide plenty of protein, often more than meat per calorie

If you've become used to the restaurant slang that uses "protein" to mean "beef, pork, chicken, or fish," take a look at the two charts below. The first shows top plant sources of protein. (Cook for Good supporting members can log in to see my complete chart showing the protein in 38 vegetables, fruits, grains, and nuts in the Bonus Material section). The second chart shows common animal sources of protein. Notice that basil has more protein per calorie than pork chops, raw spinach has more than salmon, and red cabbage has the same amount as pepperoni--all at a fraction of the cost.

Chart plant protein as a percentage of calories

Read on for a chart of protein from animal sources and more on the study, plus how you can eat for health...

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