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
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
- Measure all ingredients except the oil into a bowl and mix well, about 30 seconds.
- 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.
- Adjust seasonings to taste. Place mayo in a labeled, dated container and refrigerate.
- 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
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.