Thursday
Apr052012

Healthy Change Scorecard, Vitamin D Survey; Egg Recipes

Grade Your Progress

Last week we finished the 1st quarter of 2012 with a review of the 13 themes that we rotate through each quarter.  You've likely adopted some of the Healthy Changes for eating smarter, looking better, and living longer.  But change doesn't come easy so how are you doing?

We inserted a scorecard in the post To Live More Fully, as an afterthought so some may have missed it.  You can print a PDF copy by clicking on “report card” in the post.  Or just click here. Please grade yourself and report your grade as a comment below.  You can score up to 65 points for the quarter (13 Healthy Changes, 5 points maximum each).

There’s a prize:  We’ll give a copy of Mike Pollan’s In Defense of Food, to the comment with the highest score.  If you get behind this, we’ll repeat the scorecard and prize each quarter, and give a grand prize (to be announced) at the end of the year.  (Maximum score for a year is 260 points.)

Vitamin D Level Report

Last week we asked you to comment if you had even been tested for vitamin D (a really good idea), and what the result was.  From people I've spoken with, I think less than one person in five, on average, has been tested. You readers, however, are not average.  Here's what you said:

  • Of the 25 who responded, 9 had never been tested and 16 had. 
  • Of the 16 tested, the average initial serum vitamin D level for those not taking any vitamin D was 17.7 ng/mL That's a scary low number.
  • What’s a good target?  There are various definitions for vitamin D deficiency, but all agree that a number below 20 is too low.  Most tests set 30 as the minimum healthy range; 50 is the target for some doctors.  You can take your pick, but I’m thinking that 30 is a good winter minimum for me, and 50 a good summer target. 

There are three ways to get vitamin D:  1) diet, 2) sunshine, and 3) pills.  It makes sense to eat a healthy diet, and get a sensible amount of sunshine.  If you live in the northern latitudes your doctor will likely recommend pill supplements in the winter.  Of source a two week stay on a sunny beach is a nice alternative, but a tanning booth could work too.

One reader maintained a healthy level of 41 with normal sunshine.  Another achieved 69 with 10 minutes noon sunshine per day.  The local dermatologist thought 15 minutes of midday sunshine with skin exposed, most days of the week, a good program. 

The champ for managing vitamin D lived near the Canadian border, was age 77, and maintained a level of 50 ng/mL with 4500 IU by pill in the summer, and 6500 in the winter. 

This is just a horseback estimate and everyone’s different, but looking over the data for the people who responded, it seems you can add about 10 ng/mL to your serum vitamin D level for each daily 1000 IU you take. (What other blog gives you such a useful rule-of-thumb?)

Recipe of the Week

Because the Healthy Change is to eat eggs, I looked for a recipe with eggs.   I’d been reading Tamar Adlar’s primer on cooking, An Everlasting Meal.  Adlar talks about real basics, like boiling water.  She’s a big fan of homemade mayonnaise (hereafter, simply mayo).

By coincidence, I had recently spent an hour in a supermarket studying the labels on all the mayo products.  This is a scary exercise.  I had two main concerns:  First, the mayos mostly use refined oils—mainly soybean but more lately canola—and I’ve just not seen anything that speaks for the healthiness of refined oils; they’re suspect to me.  Second, all the mayo is in flexible plastic containers now and because mayo is full of fat, I worry about the extraction of chemicals from the plastic into the fat.  Until there’s longterm information available, I’m uncomfortable with any fat-based product sold in such containers.

So I’ve been trying recipes for homemade mayo.  The ingredients are pretty simple:  oil, egg yolk, lemon juice (or vinegar), mustard, and salt.  Maybe a little pepper, white pepper if you don’t want black specks.  Most recipes use olive oil, but I didn't like the taste when I tried it.  I got the best result using a 50:50 mix of extra light olive oil and cold-pressed sesame seed oil.

Not everyone will choose to make their own mayo.  There's an interesting book, Make Bread, Buy Butter, by Jennifer Reese that discusses the issue of what to make yourself vs. what to buy. What did she say about homemade mayo?  If you have the energy, make your own mayo; if you're feeling tired, buy it.  Whatever you choose, try it once to see how you like this healthier version.  I read in Nourishing Traditions that adding whey will extend the life from 1 to 4 weeks, but I haven't found whey in any store yet.

Sticking my neck out, I used some of my mayo to make an egg sandwich for the beautiful wife.  She said it "was to die for."  Made me smile.  So we’re going to be eating more egg sandwiches.  Today, the Saturday before Easter Sunday, our family gathered for the traditional neighborhood Easter egg hunt.  Here are the recipes for our luncheon afterwards, Egg Salad Sandwich, made with Skip’s Homemade Mayo: 

Skip’s Homemade Mayo

Ingredients:

  1 large egg

  1 yolk of large egg

  ½ t salt

  2 tsp Dijon mustard

  2 T fresh lemon juice

  ½ cup extra light olive oil

  ½ cup cold-pressed sesame seed oil

Directions:

  1. Measure all ingredients except the oil into a bowl and mix well, about 30 seconds. 
  2. While continuously whisking or mixing, add the oil slowly, drop by drop.  All recipes agree on the importance of slowly adding the oil to start.  When about 1/3 of the oil has been added the rest can be added faster, in a steady stream, but not dumped in.
  3. Adjust seasonings to taste.  Place mayo in a labeled, dated container and refrigerate.

Notes: 

  • Homemade mayo is different from store mayo:  First, it has healthy oils.  Second, it isn’t white but a buttery color, more like the mustard and egg yolk.  Third, it won’t be as thick, though it will thicken after refrigeration. 
  • Because of the risk of salmonella, use clean, refrigerated eggs, free of cracks. 
  • Most recipes use the yolk of one egg but Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, suggests one whole egg plus the yolk of a 2nd egg.  I think eggs are healthy so follow Fallon’s precedent.
  • When I made mayo with all EVOO, it had too strong an olive oil taste for me.  Using extra light olive oil helped, and using ½ sesame seed oil was better.  Sunflower oil or almost any other healthy oil could be substituted if you don’t have sesame seed oil.
  • The lemon provides flavor as well as acid.  Some recipes use vinegar, or a combination of lemon juice and vinegar.  So if you don’t have a lemon handy, try your favorite vinegar.
  • I made this recipe two ways: hand whisking as some purists suggest (tiring, but good exercise), and mixing with an electric beater, on slow.  I didn’t see a difference.  A food processor should be fine also.
  • Refrigerate the mayo when done.  Recipes suggest a shelf life 3-7 days so don’t make more than you’ll use in that time.  Sally Fallon, in Nourishing Traditions, extends the life of her mayo to 3-4 weeks by adding whey. If I can find some whey I'll try it and report back.
  • Note the simplicity of the ratios:  1 yolk, 1 cup oil, ½ of a lemon, juiced.  The mustard and salt are for flavor so add to your taste.  Some add white pepper (black works, but it shows). 

Egg Salad Sandwich

Ingredients:

  2 eggs, hard-boiled, chopped

  1 stalk celery, washed and chopped

  1 green onion, washed and chopped

  2 T Skip’s Homemade Mayo

  2 T pickle relish (optional)

  Salt and pepper, to taste

  Whole wheat bread (homemade would be nice)

  Lettuce leaves, preferably dark green

Directions:  No one needs directions to assemble this tasty and healthy sandwich.  I hard-boil the eggs for 12 minutes.  The recipe makes 2 sandwiches, so you won’t have to eat alone. 

Please comment:  Use the scorecard noted above to grade your 1st quarter progress at living the Word of Wisdom Living Healthy Changes.  Share your results with any benefits you've gained as a comment below. 

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Reader Comments (18)

My score is 59. (I don't eat a green salad every day because I can't digest it due to a genetic disease, but I do have a green smoothie every day, so I figured that could count for that one!)

April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCindy Baldwin

Cindy—A+ for you. Way to go.

April 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

Hi. Love your blog! I make mayo in the blender by blending everything but the oil, then adding the oil in a slow stream while the blender is on. A little paprika is nice too.

April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBobbi U.

I came to a total of 47. I would guess I do better than the average American but poorer than the average WOWL reader :) I graded myself a little harshly, too.
The mayo recipe timing is great: I was going to buy some from the store the other day and most brands contained soy. I refuse to eat soy in any form so it looks like I'll be making my own mayo now!

April 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDee

I graded myself a 55, but if I tallied it for my kids then a 47. They eat different cereal than I do and don't have a salad for lunch every day.

Good thing there isn't a question about how many desserts consumed!

April 6, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjessica brown

Isn't the clear liquid that accumulates on the top of your plain yogurt actually whey? I think I read that in Nourishing Traditions.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCarol

My score is 53. I think the snacks are a big problem, and I need to stop being lazy and make bread instead of buying it.

April 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

You can get your own whey by straining plain yogurt. I put cheesecloth in a colander, place it over a bowl, then pour in some yogurt. Leave it for a while, come back and you will have thicker Greek-style yogurt and whey waiting for you in the bowl!

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlicia

Skip -
Your "mayo" sounds more like an aioli without the garlic. Since garlic makes many things better (IMO), may I suggest giving a standard aioli a try? It's a good replacement for Hollendaise sauce on cold cooked vegetables or boiled potatoes.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizA

Wow. My score is 31. I almost didn't post my score, but I'm guessing there's plenty of readers out there that felt bad about their scores too, so I'm here to represent them! But I'll tell you I feel okay about a 31. I've got plenty of room for improvement!

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterClaire

Hi Liz Now you've blown it for sure. The maiden surname of the beautiful wife's mother was Garlick and the family has a strange affinity for the smelly herb. If we drive through Gilroy, CA, she swoons at the redolent fragrance of the garlic harvest. I'm not so crazy about garlic, though I acknowledge that dollar per pound, it's the best bargain in spices. But yes, you're right, adding garlic to our mayo makes the Provencal variation known as aioli.

Alicia Thanks for the tip on making whey. I'll try it with my mayo and see what it does for the shelf life.

Claire Thanks for your honesty. Don't worry about the "31", there are thirty worse scores. Best to you.

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterskip hellewell

I'm a 42 that would like to become a 52. 3 ways I'd like to move up: eating more salads, writing weekly menus more consistently and using a snack plate. Maybe by next quarter those 3 will have become habits!

April 8, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLeeAnn

48 for us!

April 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkristi

I wanted to say too that the liquid that accumulates on homemade yoghurt (when you scoop it out in spoonfuls and leave a "dip" in the yoghurt it fills up with whey in just a couple of hours) is whey... If you can tell me how much to add to the mayo I'll try adding some today because I just made yoghurt last night and there is sure to be some swimming around on the top right now...

April 11, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSuzy

I mentioned Make The Bread, Buy the Butter in the comments section of another post. I'm so happy you checked it out! And I'm very excited about trying your mayonnaise recipe. I've been considering it for weeks, and this pushed me over the edge (I had lately relaxed about buying Hellmans, but I want to be strict again)

April 13, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJenna

I rated myself at a 57. I really need to get back into a better exercise routine. My excuse is that I just had a baby. I need to get more sunshine too. Hopefully that will change when the weather starts warming up. I had my vitamin D tested and I'm at a 16. This blog had really motivated me to do something about that and improve my vitamin D level.

April 14, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAmy

42 for me. I like the idea of the scorecard. It helped me identify the areas in which I have improved, as well as those in which I've done virtually nothing (ahem, exercising most days a week).

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMary

Skip, I read The Everlasting Meal in March, loved it so much I bought the hard-back. I was trying to think of how to recommend it to you, so I'm glad you've already enjoyed it. Our vegetable consumption has definitely doubled since reading it.

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

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