Dr. Gourmet Newsletter: October 13, 2008

Dr. Tim Says....

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.I've written about this many times but there's no doubt that portion size is key to eating healthy.

In the last few decades it has become a major issue with portions in restaurants increasing dramatically. 40 years ago a 32 ounce milk shake with 1,160 calories would have been unusual. There was no such thing as a Quarter Pounder (let alone a Double Quarter Pounder) and getting a mountain of nachos would be rare. These huge plates have spilled over into how we choose food.

For instance, one study evaluated the difference in the last two decades of how college students select meals at a buffet. Research had been done in the late 1980s and was repeated in 2006. 177 students freely served themselves meals which were then weighed. The portions were scored against the recommended portion sizes. The portion sizes chosen for breakfast and lunch were found to be more than 125% of the standard portion. Overall, larger portions were taken by the students than in the 1984 research.

This proof that folks now have trouble is reinforced by the fact that much of the difficulty folks have is with the larger portions themselves. They just can't tell the difference when the size is larger. Portion Size

Featured Recipe

Curried Eggplant

Sliced EggplantPaneer is a great cheese especially for those on a low sodium diet. It is an Indian cheese that is sort of a cross between mozzarella and tofu. It has a good firm texture and soft milk flavor. The best part is that most are made with very little salt. It used to be hard to find but is now widely available in many groceries. If you can't find it, use fresh mozzarella, but add only 1/8 tsp. salt.

This recipe is safe for Coumadin® (warfarin) users and is low in sodium. Those who are lactose intolerant but can tolerate cheese might be able to tolerate it. Those who are gluten-sensitive and those with GERD / Acid Reflux should avoid it.

Eggplant and Salt

EggplantThere are as many variations on the reasons for using salt on eggplant as there are celebrity chefs.

First and foremost, there is only one reason to use salt on eggplant and that is because it has a very high moisture content. When eggplant is broiled or cooked in a pan, it will usually steam and end up being mushy. The solution is to draw the moisture out. By sprinkling salt on the eggplant, water is drawn to the surface.

I have seen recommendations for using kosher salt. The only difference between kosher salt and regular table salt is the size of the granules. Crystals of salt (no matter what the size) dissolve in the moisture on the surface of the eggplant and form a concentrated salt solution. The high concentration of salt then pulls moisture from inside the fruit. Rinsing and patting the eggplant dry won't result in it absorbing a significant amount of water (it is porous but not a sponge). The more salt you use or the longer it is on the eggplant, the more effective this technique will be.

The other reason given for salting eggplant is to remove bitterness. This simply would be a waste of your time. Eggplant becomes bitter as it ages. All of the salt in the world can't change that. The key is to buy fresh eggplant and use it quickly. (See Choosing Eggplant.)

Eat well, eat healthy, enjoy life!

Timothy S. Harlan, M.D.
Dr. Gourmet

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Hand on Heart

Hand on Heart

Dr. Harlan's latest cookbook, Hand on Heart, includes several of the recipes from drgourmet.com, plus a few that were developed specifically for the book, like Banoffee Pie! More on what's inside.

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