Monthly Archives: July 2013

Discovery of New Weight-Controlling Gene Mutation

Discovery of New Weight-Controlling Gene Mutation

And now with what we know about epigenetics, the next step is figuring out what food or lifestyle habit is making that weight-controlling gene mutate or disable, and start making some big changes, and fast.

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The Danish Diabetes Bomb

The Danish Diabetes Bomb

Today in the Berlingske – one of the many reputable newspapers here in Denmark – there are two separate articles that attempt to address the issue of some recently released statistics that suggest that, by 2025, the number of Danes diagnosed with diabetes will have doubled from its current mark of 300.000 people, to 600.000.  The big concern everyone is sounding the bells about, is that the health administration has not currently allocated enough money to properly care for this inevitable rise in diabetics over the next 12 years.

Articles like this infuriate me for a variety of reasons.  First, and probably most notably, the blanket statement that the government should prepare for a diabetes “bomb” by 2025 by boosting the budget today is totally one-dimensional and reactive.  Has it occurred to anyone that we might use the current statistic (which states that the number of diabetes has doubled in the past ten years) to change our behavior now, and instead prevent the number from continuing to rise?

Diabetes is one of those diseases that is 100% caused by lifestyle.  You can argue this point with me until the cows come home and I will still stand by this fact.  If you have Type 2 diabetes, you make up 90% of all diabetic diagnoses, and your lifestyle and diet are what caused it.  You may have been genetically predisposed to the disease because of your parent’s diet, but your lifestyle is what pushed you over the edge.  If you have Type 1 diabetes, this is a genetic disorder, but the science of epigenetics (which, by the way, still hasn’t been added to my computer’s dictionary it’s so new) makes a clear case that even here, with a healthy lifestyle and a diet, anything you might have otherwise been genetically predisposed to, can be reversed (to clarify, the disposition can be reversed, not the disease itself, thus preventing the disease from occurring in later generations).  Look it up if you don’t believe me.  In fact, look it up even if you do.

Before I moved to Denmark, one could claim I lived in a hole that we will call New York City.  My closest friends and allies were either in the health industry, or actively involved in it, and we all got off on talking about body chemistry, physiology, spiritual energy, lifestyle, real food…  I’m not joking when I say that it was, and still is, rare to go to a party with these people where one of those topics does not come up, and then proceeds to get discussed ad nauseum for the next three hours.  I will also be totally honest that this fact is one of the biggest among many reasons why I love my friends so much.  They aren’t just interested in maintaining what works and passively listening to the media promote fad diets that serve as an easy button but ultimately never work – they are interested in challenging their threshold of what it means to be healthy, and finding out if it’s possible to feel even better than they do right now, in this very moment.

So suffice it to say, I’m still on the hunt for my crowd in Denmark who is willing to entertain a conversation about sugar, the definition of “healthy” food and what this all means for your body.  I’m feeling pretty thankful that my crossfit friends seem to be totally on board with the topic, so I’m obviously super jazzed about spending more time with these people.  Just last Friday we spent two hours talking about the negative effects of grain and sugar on the body, how that effects your genes if you’re sensitive to it, inflammation and what it means, how certain types of exercises can actually influence the way your cells behave…to sum up, I think I’ve found my kindred spirits of the Danish variety.  🙂

But alas, I digress, as I am wont to do.  I simply do not believe that no one in this 12-party Danish political system has come up with the brilliant idea of attempting to reverse reversible diseases via education, knowledge, and access to healthy foods so that the government doesn’t have to keep paying for sick people who wouldn’t get sick in the first place if they knew better, or their parents knew better (how’s that for a run-on?).  I know in the past the most prominent and minimally successful suggestion has been to add taxes to foods that are unhealthy (and we saw how long that lasted before everyone figured out people were just making more trips to Germany for their Haribo fix), but I also wonder if the gains from those taxes were then directed to caring for the very same people who ate the foods that made them sick in the first place.  I honestly doubt it.  At least not directly.

The sad truth is that I can almost expect this sort of reaction from an enormous, capitalistic society like the US, where not just the medical system and insurance companies, but also the agricultural and food industries, rely heavily on people staying sick and addicted to food that is slowly killing them (doesn’t make it right, but unfortunately this is the cold, hard truth).  But when the relationship is [supposedly] directly from people to government, and back again, as it is in Denmark, I believe we should expect more.

Either way, we cannot continue to live in an ignorant world where we blindly consume sugar and cake and candy and soda and then point our fingers at the government to support us when our bodies finally revolt and become diabetic (or develop any other dietary/lifestyle influenced disease).  BUT, in a welfare state like Denmark, we do have the power (and the money) to instead allocate energy and funds toward education, so that people might eventually understand how to live, and then maybe also aspire to maintain, a healthier lifestyle.

And just like that, BOOM, no more diabetes bomb.

(Oh, and apropos, it seems efforts toward becoming healthy and better educated can alter previously negative forecasts with other things too, like Dementia – glad to see Denmark was a part of this study, maybe there’s hope yet.)

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Comeback Cabbage

So summer is in full swing here in Copenhagen, and it’s been about 9 months since I’ve written a post, and I’ve gotta be honest, not only have I not really been cooking up a storm, but I have also just not felt like writing about it.  A lot of my meals at home in the past several months have been makeshift versions of what someone might consider a meal – typically something thrown together that isn’t really worthy of a photograph, or the pain of giving someone the idea of making it themselves.  I have also eaten a lot of roasted chickens.

But alas, I spent some time wandering around Torvehallerne yesterday looking for some much-needed inspiration, because who are we kidding, I love to cook, and I should do it more often.  I was craving vegetables, and wanted something in season (which obviously is your only choice at a farmers market), and had just read a whole chapter in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle about all the beautiful leafy greens that are in season this time of year.

Admittedly I was after kale.  I’m pretty much always after kale when I’m craving leafy greens, and typically I never can track it down unless I go to Istedgade in Vesterbro, where they sell kilo bags of it for 15kr.  At Torvehallerne the greens on display right now are romaine hearts, various fresh sprouts, something resembling buk choy, and heads of savoy cabbage.  Figuring savoy cabbage might roast the same way kale does (getting crispy on the darker leaves), I picked up a head, a bag full of cherries (to munch on while roasting my cabbage), and went on my merry way.

Until this afternoon I wasn’t exactly sure what to pair the cabbage with, and then I opened my fridge and stared at the contents (for probably way too long): butter, yogurt, bacon, eggs…

It’s at this point that should admit that I have an unhealthy preoccupation with poached eggs.  They intimidate the hell out of me – I mean, the idea of dropping an egg into a pot of just boiling vinegar water making a funnel…it all sounds so complicated and the opposite of fool-proof (and I know from experience that attempting this would result in the sacrifice of at least a couple eggs before I got it right).  But even despite this reality, I still believe that poached eggs are the perfect way to cook an egg.  Lots of studies out there suggest that over-cooking the egg yolk can lead to health problems (while eggs themselves are actually very good for you), so that only validates my love.

One of my favorite brunch places in Copenhagen, Manfreds, makes a killer poached egg.  I have always admired their talents, and a craving for their eggs and homemade sausage is all I need as motivation to pull myself out of bed on a Sunday morning.  On a recent trip, I sat at the bar with friends, and I finally learned their secret: they don’t actually poach the “french way”.  They throw the whole egg, with its shell, into a sous vide!!!  While anyone who knows me knows I love an awesome kitchen appliance, I’m obviously not about to go buy a sous vide in order to have a poached egg (yes, I want one, really bad, because seriously look at the meat you can make with it – Relæ has been known to make meat slow-cooked in sous vides for up to 68 hours), so I decided to go for the next best thing – makeshift sous vide with a pot and some good old fashioned hot water.  AKA: coddled eggs, onsen tamago (japanese method), slow-poached eggs.

And the final addition to my three ingredient dinner?  Bacon.  Obviously.

ROASTED SAVOY CABBAGE WITH POACHED EGGS & CRISPY BACON

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1/2 head of savoy cabbage
  • three eggs, at room temperature
  • 4 strips of bacon
  • salt, pepper, olive oil

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 180C/375F.

Cut your savoy cabbage head half in half (to make two quarters), and cut out the core.  Halve the quarters and slice into 1-inch cubes widthwise.  Separating the layers, throw into a large bowl and toss with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.  Spread the bite-size leaves onto a pan covered with parchment paper, and put into the oven.  Toss after 7-8 minutes, and roasted for a total of 15.

Once the cabbage is in the oven, bring a small pot of enough salted water to completely cover an egg to boil.  Once boiling, remove from heat, add the eggs, and cover with a lid.  After 3 minutes, rotate the eggs to ensure that the whites distribute evenly.  Let sit for 15 minutes total.

Cook bacon according to instructions and to desired crispiness (I assume we all know how to cook bacon here…).

Assemble the roasted savoy cabbage on a plate making indents for your eggs, and gently crack the eggs and release them onto the cabbage (if you’re worried they might not be cooked enough, it might be a good idea to first crack the eggs into a bowl).  Egg whites should be relatively runny, and the yolks will be creamy and just perfectly thickened.  Season with salt and pepper, and sprinkle crumble bacon on top.

Makes enough for 1 – double the recipe for 2

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