Monday, February 22, 2010

Bison vs. Hamburger

Herd’ of Bison Burgers?
Flower bearing Laugh-In star Henry Gibson waxed poetic, ‘But what about the buffalo?’, and peals of canned laughter ensued. If only he knew Bison has become one of the fastest growing segments of American Agriculture, and for a very good reason.

Were you aware Bison and Buffalo are distinctly different animals? True buffalo's are native only to Africa and Asia. An estimated 30 to 75 million buffalo, or bison crossed over a land bridge that once connected the Asian and North American continents. By the time America’s earliest peoples had established villages about 20,000 years ago, the bison dominated the rolling grasslands and forested hillsides that stretched west from the Mississippi River west to the Rocky Mountains. . "The moving multitude...darkened the whole plains," wrote Lewis and Clark, who encountered a herd at South Dakota's White River in 1806, then killed them.

Ruminant, 2000 pound Bison obtain their food from grazing on grass, herbs, shrubs and twigs the way the Universe intended. They are not fed, God-awful tidbits like corn, chicken droppings or other dead cattle scraps as in Factory Farm grocery versions. Nor are they injected with questionable drugs, antibiotics or growth hormones. Genetically altered, cannibal, chicken-poop eating cows bears resemblance to a B-Horror Movie, but that’s your contemporary choices.

Our four-footed, furry friends have a clear-cut advantage in our 'heart healthy’ search for meat alternatives that do not cause heart disease. Did you know grass-fed Bison tastes like beef, has similar protein content, but is lower in fat and cholesterol? They are much healthier than other meats yet contain very high levels of protein. Bison has 35% more protein than beef so you can eat 1/3 less volume and still come away satisfied. A 3.5 ounce serving of cooked bison, my friends, contains 2.42 g. of fat, 28.44 g protein, 143 calories, 82 mg of cholesterol, 3.42 mg of iron and 2.86 mcg B-12. The same portion of choice beef contains 18.54 g. of artery obstructing saturated fats, 29 g protein, 201 calories, 86 mg of cholesterol, 2.99 mg iron, and 2.64 mcg B-12.
Now we know why Native American Indians affixed such value to the magnificent large hoofed mammal.
Other than for clothing and warmth, Bison was the main diet of the Plains Indians who never had cancer, never had heart disease or heart attacks and lived to be 85-90. It tastes similar to the best beast you ever eaten; hearty, sweet and rich with no gamey after-taste. Enlightened carnivores are also attracted to the information that Bison are raised with no growth stimulants, hormones or antibiotics. Bison has more iron as well as some of the essential fatty acids necessary for human well being. Readers' Digest magazine has even listed bison as one of the five foods women should eat because of the lofty iron content.

Because it has so little fat, bison needs to be cooked differently. Do not overcook; the meat dry out. It can be successfully used interchangeably with beef in most recipes, so enjoy all your favorite dishes made healthier - buffalo chili, buffalo lasagna, buffalo stew - the list is endless.
With ground bison, what you see raw is what you get; there’s precious little shrinkage. No matter what you call it, join the herd. Bison, Buffalo, tomato, tomaato; please don’t call the whole thing off.

Give the noble beast the green light. Your family’s health will be at home, home on the range, stove, or grill. Don’t forget to support your local, sustainable Bison growers. It may cost a bit more, but considering the $60,000 expense of a trip to ICU, open-heart surgery or worse, Bison is a wise investment into your family’s collective health equity.
Ask your grocer to start carrying it or explore Indiana’s Wild Winds Buffalo Preserve or Brad at Miller Bison Farms.


Monday, February 15, 2010

Celebration: A Nutritional Paradox

“Hey, it’s Uncle Miltie’s birthday. Let’s party with a super-sized, double-cheese, pepperoni and sausage Pizza; one with gooey cheese in the crust. Oh, yeah, and on the way to KFC, (where the one thing missing is ‘U’), stop by the grocery and score a gooey, psychedelically painted sheet cake with tons of icing and a bottle of Chardonnay?” Why not plunge a corkscrew into the ole’ boys heart.
We’re a creative, kind and fun-loving species. We’re also gullible and adore taking chances like bungee jumping, driving without seat belts, smoking, texting and drive, cheating on taxes, sending money to Jim and Tammy or reclining buck-naked in one of those gen-u-ine, imitation sun-tan chambers. When we get stressed, depressed or feel the need to celebrate, we find comfort and oral entertainment from food and beverage; our best buddies.
As long as I can recall, birthdays, holidays and life’s romantic mile markers green-light human’s penchant for over-indulging in America’s beloved party foods; traditional no-so-healthy social-gathering-icons which suck health out of the temple leaving one spread eagle to chronic disease. Without thinking we devour disease-incubating dead foods that weaken immune response plus the temples glorious ability to repair, sustain, reproduce and protect. Science explains this irresistible lust is hard-wired into our DNA via a lifetime of watching TV, repetitive reinforcement through advertising, peer pressure and catastrophic federal dietary guidelines.
A gander at the miles of grocery aisles plus the American food and hospitality industry, indicates we’re encouraged to forgo our future family health equity for a moment of instant gratification. “Oh, one day of eating these yummy foods won’t kill me.” Aha! What you must know is it’s accumulative. The ‘funkified’ compounds lurking in these seductive food-like substances accumulate over time, making your inner ecology toxic, bloated, anemic, flatulent and brain dead. These succulent industrial toxins are stored in your fatty tissue. Cholesterol, over time, builds up in your hardening arteries. Balancing with 7-9 portions of fresh fibrous sun dappled produce daily goes a long way in defusing damage, but it’s best not to poke the beast. The reality is our humanness weakens resolve.
Next time add a variety of taste, texture, excitement and color by encouraging everyone to experiment with new foods and combinations; an old fashioned pitch-in. For goodness sakes return to the joyous act of cooking. Assemble an aesthetically composed veggie platter from scratch. Try a zesty bean dip rather than the predictable sour cream and onion. Prepare a pizza pie from scratch with whole wheat flour. It’s a delightful activity for the entire family. You’ll never buy store-bought again and the camaraderie is bonding. Bake a tasty batch of nachos with homemade salsa, lean ground turkey breast of soy crumbles, low-fat cheddar or Jack and creamy guacamole. Pop ‘real’ popcorn in olive oil with the kids. Make a cake from scratch where you control the ingredients, not an insincere ‘scientist’ playing chef. When baking a cake, substitute lard or shortening with Smart Balance, for example. You could add fibrous wheat germ and no one would know. Place bowls of nuts around the house. Bake white meat chicken strips dredged in taco spice or teriyaki rather than breaded and deep fried in grease. Get creative.
We live in a nerve-racking, teetering world. Everyone wants, needs and deserves to feel good, but you needn’t capitulate. Grasp the reality of your intentions. Is your intention to celebrate life’s meaningful moments by consuming bogus foods that shorten it? All it takes is a plan. Your wallet will dig it as family medical bills decline and everyone starts feeling each morning like they could conquer the world.
Nutrition when done correctly should be center plate. You can do it.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Celiac Disease

If your earthly existence depended on it, could you stop eating one particular food if it just about instantly reinstated your health entitlement? Wouldn’t it blow your medulla oblongata if the guilty foodstuff, wheat of all things, was the source of your illness?
“I’m inexplicably depressed. My rumbling gastrointestinal tribulations, asthma, iron deficiency anemia, heart burn, low energy and early osteoporosis bring me down”. Unable to connect the dots, for decades, Ima suffered. The darling 65 year old, bless her heart, couldn’t understand why she was constantly bloated and cramping, flatulent and couldn’t summon the gumption to socialize. She already conceded her familial genes were responsible for her uncharacteristic early-life osteoarthritis.
After carpet bombing her innards with pharmaceutical drugs, her doctor tested for Celiac Disease (CD). Gluten intolerance appeared. One week into a wheat-free diet, she’d never felt better; human, joyful, eager to socialize by hanging with her silver-haired homeys; free. It’s startling how many seniors have undiagnosed CD because of wheat; one of the world's most important food crops. Her blessed relief lay right before her eyes.
Until the mid-1990’s people didn’t believe CD could develop in older people because it was considered a disease of childhood; ‘failing to thrive’. Foods made from wheat and certain grains contain a protein called gluten. If you have CD, every time you eat gluten an immune reaction aggressively attacks your vila destroying healthy tissues of the small intestine where nutrients are absorbed. This leads to a cascade of health tribulations. Even teeny amounts of gluten trigger the response.
In her mind she ate what she sincerely perceive as healthy cuisine; Raisin Bran with berries and walnuts for breakfast, whole wheat bread and lean turkey breast sandwich at lunch and in between some whole grain crackers and carrot sticks. At night, Ima ate brown rice, a breaded chicken breast with a dark green leafy salad with blue cheese dressing. Her absolutely favorite restaurant meal was a garden salad with croutons, Pasta Bolognese dusted with Parma and ‘more gooey garlic bread please’ washed down with a mug-o-beer. Sounds benign, however, most of these foods and beer contain various forms of gluten.
Ima Bovit, which she apparently wasn’t, is 1 in 10 Americans who needlessly suffer from the ancient malady; frightening allowing for the high death rate when undiagnosed. Mayo Clinic research teams studied data from the 45 year of follow-up of Air Force subjects showed those with undiagnosed celiac disease have a 400% higher risk of death than non-Celiacs. Two physicians I quizzed admit the medical fraternity has been sluggish to diagnose the ubiquitous disease which shortens life expectancy-- are you ready for this--- by a whopping 4.5 times. Its curious contemporary doctors can’t diagnose CD because as far back as 250 AD, Aretaeus of Cappadocia included detailed descriptions of a disease. He referred to his patients as kolliakos, meaning, ‘suffering in the bowels,’ later translated it to Celiacs.
Naturopathic PhD DR. Chuck Landon of Indianapolis shares “When CD symptoms should be the first condition that comes to mind, it’s often misdiagnosed. Modern medicine does not consider CD first because I believe they don’t have a drug for it. Celiacs get diagnosed as having irritable bowel syndrome, which in my opinion is a symptom, not a disease.”
It takes two to four weeks of a strict gluten-free diet before you start to feel groovy again, though some people get their mojo back within days. However, don't challenge your inner ecology by eating a large amount of wheat to see what happens. This is serious biz, so don’t loaf around. You could end up sicklier than before and cost you some serious bread. Gluten-free products abound at your community grocers. Not only is gluten found in grains like wheat, barley, rye, oats, malt and rye. It’s also added to countless foods. For example, some ice creams and ketchups contain gluten as a thickening agent. The simple answer: read labels to avoid wheat products and foods prepared with wheat. Be conscious and put food and disease in the same context; it may save your life. For excellent information and list of foods with gluten:
Read recently published books and then turn to websites / support blogs run by Celiac organizations, noted celiac research centers and trusted Integrative Nutritionists. Dr. Landon suggests, “If you have any of the symptoms mentioned, simply eliminate all gluten bearing foods for a month. If things clear up continue on. Consult with an Integrative Physician and nutritionist who specialize in celiac disease before you embark on your quest for a return to wholeness. Sun dappled vegetables, fruits, beans, seeds and meats are gluten free foods”.
Ima thought her diet was above reproach and accepted age. Get checked for CD and free yourself.
The simple act of transcending just one pleasurable food can be life transforming.