Does Chinese Diabetes Epidemic Holds Seeds of Change?

Need some motivation to begin growing and changing your taste buds?

Two recent posts have explained how our taste buds are like gatekeepers between our good eating intentions and the hand that holds the fork.  If these gatekeepers can be recruited as allies, they can be a huge help on the healthy eating journey.  While that’s easy enough to understand, you may need a little motivation to begin training your taste buds for helpful service.  In this respect, consider the plight of the poor Chinese.

For years, they have toiled to catch up to the West in terms of material wealth.  Now they find themselves plagued by the same chronic diseases that are afflicting Western populations.  A recent report disclosed an alarming increase in diabetes among the Chinese population with 10 percent already afflicted and another 16 percent are on the verge of developing it—figures that are equal to or surpass U.S. and other western nations.  Some kind of “progress!”

The conditions that led to this unfortunate calamity sound ominously familiar:

Greater wealth has led to sweeping diet changes, including eating heavily salted foods, fatty meats and sugary snacks – boosting obesity rates, a major risk factor for Type 2 diabetes. * * * ‘As people eat more high-calorie and processed foods combined with less exercise, we see an increase of diabetes patients,’ said Huang Jun, a cardiovascular professor at the Jiangsu People’s Hospital in Nanjing.*

What does this have to do with those of us an ocean away?  Sometimes, it’s hard to see the quagmire you’re sinking into because it’s grown so big you mistake it for the normal landscape.  What’s happening in China is the same thing that has been happening in our country for years, but so slowly that the enormity of the situation doesn’t fully register.   Maybe, watching the dietary devastation taking place in another country can help us see our own predicament more clearly—and provide us the necessary motivation to do something about it!

Speaking from the winning side of the taste bud battle (pretty much, at least) I can sound a warning that the problem foods at issue are dangerous on several levels.  Not only do these “heavily salted foods, fatty meats and sugary snacks” make our taste buds lazy and sedentary.  They are also positively addictive and warp our taste buds, to the point where we can no longer appreciate the incredible flavors of real foods in their natural states.

So be prepared to get into the trenches as you go to battle in the taste bud war.  Give things time, be persistent, and most importantly, invest the effort to prepare meals that are delightfully delectable.  After just a little time tasting the vibrant flavors of real foods, you may be surprised to see your taste buds give up the fight and voluntarily surrender!

Don’t feel like you’re alone on the taste bud battlefield.  We’re here to help you make vegetable-rich, whole grain, wholesome meals that are irresistible.  Visit Vegetable A Month, the Definitive Guide to a Delicious Vegetable Life.

* “China Faces Diabetes Epidemic,” March 24, 2010, CBS News World

Mary’s on Fox 31–Quick Tricks for Fast Gourmet Green Beans

I’ll be on TV again tomorrow, just one day before Thanksgiving with ideas for how to make a dish festive without a lot of fuss. We all know that Thanksgiving can be a huge undertaking.  To keep from getting overwhelmed, it’s nice to plan a couple dishes on the simpler side.  This recipe incorporates four tricks for easy, gourmet flair:

  1. Save time with high-quality frozen vegetables
  2. Stir in a dollop of roasted garlic
  3. Add flavor-rich sauteed mushrooms
  4. Sprinkle with fresh herbs

Green Beans with Roasted Garlic and Sauteed Mushroooms

  • 1 lrg head garlic (to make about 2 Tbsp. roasted garlic paste)

The night before or at least an hour in advance, roast garlic:  Preheat the oven to 350 (F).  Rub a head of garlic with about ½ to 1 Tbsp. olive oil.  Place inside a garlic roaster, small glass baking dish with a lid, or just wrap in foil.  Bake about 45-60 minutes, until garlic head is soft when squeezed from the sides.

  • ½ lb. cremini or portobello mushrooms, sliced about 1/8” thick
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

In a large saute pan, heat oil until quite warm, then add mushroom slices and cook over medium to medium-low heat about 10-15 minutes, until their moisture is evaporated and they are lightly browned.  Stir occasionally to prevent burning.  Remove from heat.

  • 1 ½ lbs. fresh green beans, ends trimmed then cut diagonally into roughly 2” lengths (about 6 cups, trimmed)
  • 1 cup Pacific Foods chicken broth
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

While mushrooms cook, prepare beans then combine with broth in a large saute pan with a lid. Cover, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 5-10 minutes, until almost tender when tested with a fork.

While beans cook, squeeze roasted garlic from skins into a small bowl.  When beans are almost tender, remove lid and push beans to the sides of pan.  Add roasted garlic to center of pan and, using a large fork, mash and blend with remaining chicken broth to form a thin paste.  Blend in olive oil, then stir garlic paste into beans to coat.

  • 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh tarragon
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Stir cooked mushrooms, tarragon, and salt and pepper into green beans.  Cook 2-3 more minutes, until all of broth has evaporated and flavors have melded.  Serve immediately.

Note on Green Beans:

If you can’t find decent green beans in the produce aisle (which can be tough between November and May), a 6-oz bag of frozen can be substituted–as long as they are the whole petite green beans or haricorts verts, a tender French variety of green bean.  Safeway’s O brand and CW are both good options.  To cook, use only 1/2 cup chicken broth and reduce the cooking time by about half.

Kitchen Coach on TV–Whips Together an Appetizer with a Difference

Kitchen Coach Mary Collette is doing a Holiday Cooking series for Fox 31 in Denver.  Her first appearance was last Friday, November 21, when she and host Ken Clark made an appetizer tray featuring:

  • Rosemary Yam Butter
  • Sauteed (or Roasted) Red Pepper Strips
  • Whole Grain Baguette

It was a beautiful presentation–and it tasted great, too!  And it was really easy.  The only addition I would have made:  some gourmet olives on the tray for a little contrast.  Here’s the recipe:

Rosemary Yam Butter Appetizer Tray

  • 2 medium yams, baked, skinned then cut roughly into 1-2” pieces (enough to make 2 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp. good quality olive oil (or more, to taste)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Place yam pieces in bowl of food processor or cup of immersion blender and process until smooth.  With processor or blender running, add oil in a slow stream.  Process a minute or two, until yam butter becomes creamy and fluffy.  Add salt and pepper to taste, then process briefly again.

  • 1 tsp. fresh minced rosemary

Add to yam butter and stir thoroughly to combine.  Taste and add more rosemary (in very small amounts) or more salt and pepper, to taste.

  • 1 lrg red pepper, sliced lengthwise into ½” strips
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil

Heat oil in large saute pan until hot but not smoking.  Add pepper strips and saute over medium
high heat for just 3-4 minutes until slightly browned and wilted.

  • 1 12” whole grain baguette, sliced ¼” thick
  • 1-2 cups gourmet olives, pitted

To serve appetizer:  Mound yam butter in center of serving platter.  Surround with a ring of sauteed peppers, then baguette slices.  Finish with olives around edge of plate.  Use butter knives and small appetizer forks to spread butter and serve peppers, respectively.  Spread yam butter on bread and top with peppers, if desired.  Best when yam butter is at room temperature.

Serves 12 as an appetizer

The Denver Post Quotes The Kitchen Dahla Blog

Last week, The Denver Post‘s Food section quoted us in an article by Kristen Browning-Blas:

Dealing with kitchen phobias head on

Here’s the intro:

Now that our political fears have been allayed or amplified (depending on whom you voted for), let’s put the attack ads behind us and face our kitchen phobias.

When I asked you to tell me your deepest, darkest doubts, I received e-mails about scary canned green beans, fear of the Fry Daddy and trouble baking cookies.

Boulder “kitchen coach” Mary- Collette Rogers e-mailed that she blames the Olympics for our perfectionist tendencies.

“I’m not talking about the actual athletic competition in the Olympic arena,” she writes on her blog.

“I’m talking about hyper-perfectionism, complexity and highly demanding spectators. Against this kind of backdrop, are we poor home cooks practically assured of an unnerving experience in the kitchen? Has it invaded the kitchen, forcing us to engage in an Olympian trial competition each night just to get our daily dinner on the table?”

She wonders if all the food shows, magazines, shops and gadgets, inspiring though they may be, actually cause performance anxiety in their audiences. “It’s easy to get overwhelmed by unrealistic expectations — and fear of not living up to those expectations,” she says.

Read the rest of Mary’s blog “Kitchen Fear?  Blame It On the Olympics!

Check it out The Denver Post article on-line!

Back to the Blog

My new website is up and running, which explains why there haven’t been any new posts–the website took priority.  Now you can check it out.  Comments and suggestions are always welcome.

Click here for the home page. For more specific information:

Click Here to find out more about my guide to kitchen sanity, Take Control of Your Kitchen

Click here to find out what a Kitchen Coach is and does.

And bookmark this page for a schedule of classes, many of them teleclasses that anyone, anywhere can join.

Looking forward to many good blogging days. . . .

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