Category Archives: Food

Who are you calling fat, eh?

Wow, the weight-loss topic is still going strong in the blogosphere (see that post for links for several initial posts).
Pal MD has more and some more.
Dr.Isis is on a roll.
Janet is now in the discussion.
Bikemonkey joins in.
Larry’s had something related recently.
It is interesting to see how experts differ on the topic…and the comment threads are enlightening as well. Take-home message: don’t trust a “TV dietitian”…or diet advice in your local newspaper or Cosmo….
As you know, my problem has always been the opposite. How to gain weight?!
The only time I managed to put on a few pounds was when I was working at a horse farm back in 1991/92. I was outdoors for about 13 hours a day. I walked many miles each day catching horses on distant pastures to bring them in, then walking them back to let them out again. I helped feed and muck stalls. I caught, groomed, tacked-up and rode a few young, strong, unruly horses every morning. I taught a couple of riding lessons every afternoon (never standing still – always walking or running along, sometimes hopping on a pony to demonstrate, etc.) and more on Saturdays. So, it was a time when I exercised a lot.
It was also a time when my diet abruptly changed. I just moved to the USA. I had no idea what was what, food-wise. I was also, for the first time in my life, free to make my own food choices. This is also the only time when I ate breakfast regularly – don’t cringe: a big bowl of Coco Puffs, Cocoa Pebbles and Coco Crispies with chocolate milk – I needed all that raw energy to operate! Lunch break was short, so it was either some greasy Stouffers microwaveable crap, or a quick run to Burger King. Dinner consisted of enormous quantities of home-made spaghetti or pizza or steak/potatoes (all very yummy) with a big bowl of salad with lots of cheese and dressing, followed by a beer or two. And in-between those meals I constantly grazed from my hidden stash at the barn: chocolate, bananas and Coke.
What those few extra pounds were – muscle, fat? – I have no idea. They disappeared as soon as I stopped working there and started grad school.
So, some people look at my skinny body and think I am weak or unhealthy – oh, how wrong they are! On the other hand, I wonder how many people who look huge are also strong and healthy. Here are some pictures of top athletes, Olympic gold medalists and World Champions, super-fit, super-strong, super-healthy, yet if you saw them in the street you’d think they were obese – am I mistaken?
Big boxer.jpg
Big wrestlers.jpg
Big Sumo wrestler.jpg
Big dressage horse.jpg

Weight Loss – what works, really?

You may remember Dr.Charles whose blog was here on for a while two years ago. He took a hiatus from blogging, but is now back at it with a vengeance at his new site which I warmly recommend you visit.
Today’s post is interesting – and not just because it is partially about a PLoS ONE paper – Why Exercise is Not the Best Prescription for Weight Loss which fits perfectly within the ongoing discussion about weight-loss and dieting going on a couple of my SciBlings’ blogs right now.
PalMD is going on a diet and monitoring his progress publicly, on his blog.
Dr.Isis tells him he is doing it wrong.
And don’t forget that a couple of years ago Chad went on a successful – and also highly public – diet: see his updates (each with some additional thoughts about dieting) here, here, here, here, here and here.
So, who’s right? What are your experiences? And what can I do with my 6’1″ and 126lbs – weight I’ve had since I was a teenager? Nothing seems to work to help me gain – I eat a lot, actually….

Science Cafe Raleigh – The Science of Chocolate

The Science of Chocolate
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh 833-8898

From drinks to desserts, chocolate is a favorite that is loved by cultures worldwide. Can a food as delicious as chocolate also be good for your health? Join us to learn about the history of chocolate from ancient times to modern day manufacturing, and find out what current research is telling us about the science of this special food.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Gabriel Keith Harris is an Assistant Professor of Food Science at North Carolina State University. His research interests involve the functional properties of plant foods. His specific interests include the antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects of flavonoids and related compounds.

‘Special for Bora’

Earlier today I went up the street to Town Hall Grill and saw their white-board where they write the descriptions of Dinner Specials….and there is a new one today with the name “Special for Bora”! Wow! The perks of being a regular customer!
Well, of course I got one, brought it home, re-arranged it on one of my plates and took a picture:
special for Bora.jpg
Deliciously tender fried chicken, corn on the cob and fresh (probably locally grown) vegetables: carrots, squash. onions and broccoli. A very summery, light and delicious meal! Yum!

‘Fresh’ trailer (video)

The movie Fresh, about the way we produce (and should produce) food is out. Here is the trailer:

Does anyone know when it will be in wider circulation?

Do you love or hate Cilantro?

If you think that political or religious debates can get nasty, you haven’t seen anything until you go online as see how much hate exists between people who love cilantro and those who hate cilantro. What horrible words they use to describe each other!!!!
Last weekend, I asked why is this and searched Twitter and FriendFeed for discussions, as well
Wikipedia and Google Scholar for information about it.
First – cilantro is the US name for the plant that is called coriander in the rest of the world. In the USA, only the seed is called coriander, and the rest of the plant is cilantro.
Second – there are definitely two populations of people: one (larger) group thinks that it is the best taste ever, while the other group thinks it is awful. The latter group is not simply incapable of tasting cilantro – they can taste it in minuscule quantities hidden in food and describe it as “dirty dish-soap water taste”. People who cannot stand cilantro leaf are perfectly OK with eating the coriander seed. So, it is something in the leaf that makes the difference.
Third – anecdotal information from scouring the Web suggests (“me and my Dad hate it…”) that the type of response to cilantro is inherited. It is also not experiental (those who hate it, hated it when they were kids, those who love it sometimes first tried it when they were already old and loved it at first try, and the response does not change with age, amount, kind of food preparation, etc).
Fourth – there is no scientific literature that I could find on the genetics of this. Is the difference at the level of the gustatory (or olfactory) receptors, or at higher-level processing centers in the brain?
Fifth – there is one paper that shows that the type of response to cilantro taste has nothing to do with the individual being a supertaster or not.
Sixth – There are a few older papers that identified chemical compounds in the leaves of cilantro, and a few about the allergy to cilantro, but no final identification of the compound that makes the difference in taste to the two groups.
So, does anyone else know more about this? Let us know in the comments.
In the meantime, be nice to people who are not your cilantro-type – they cannot help it.

Next Science Cafe Raleigh: Think Globally – Eat Locally

Tuesday, April 21, 2009
6:30-8:30 pm with discussion beginning at 7:00 followed by Q&A
Location: The Irregardless Café, 901 W. Morgan Street, Raleigh 833-8898
Think Globally – Eat Locally
How much do you know about the food you eat? Were pesticides applied? Do you know where it was grown and how far it traveled to get to you? How much did its transportation contribute to global warming?
What can we do to bring about the revival of locally produced foods and all the benefits they bring – better taste, nutrition, stronger local economies and relationships with local farmers, reduced fossil fuel dependency, and improved land and animal stewardship?
At this Science Cafe we will discuss how to grow our own, how to eat seasonally, and where to buy so that you can leverage your dollars for change. We will also learn about organizations and restaurants supporting this work, farmers looking for membership clients, and Statewide Action Plans that are in the works.
About the Speaker:
Dr. Jeana Myers is a soil scientist at the NCDA&CS soil testing lab in Raleigh, with a lifelong passion for local food systems. Her undergraduate degree in International Agriculture Development in 1979 led to a Peace Corps mission in Zaire, Africa as an extension agent trainer. After returning to the US she received a masters degree in Crop Science and a PhD in Soil Science at NC State then settled in Raleigh with her husband, Will Hooker, who teaches permaculture in the horticulture department. They traveled with their 1½ year old son for 10 months around the world in 2000, visiting over 100 permaculture and organic farm sites in 11 countries. Over the years they have cultivated a mini city farm on 1/5 of an acre in the middle of Raleigh, with gardens, fruit trees, chickens and ponds. She consulted others who wanted to grow more food with her Beautiful Food Gardens business. Promoting the delights and necessity of a strong local food system is her on-going life’s work.