How do you know if your turmeric is safe?

March 15, 2021

Turmeric is often adulterated with cheap ingredients (one of which might be LEAD, for crying out loud!). I used to think I was up on what is toxic and what is not, but totally missed this one until recently. I use turmeric a lot — it’s not just an infrequent seasoning to me — I occasionally take it in a fairly high dose (500mg – 1g) as a supplement, and sometimes as an anti-inflammatory. I’m not telling you to do that. This is not medical advice. I’m just saying… I use a LOT of turmeric!

So, guess what? There are some ways you can test your turmeric at home to see if it’s been adulterated! One of those ways is the water test There are many articles and videos — google it, you’ll see. For your convenience, here is one looks like it is from the Ministry of Health & Family Welfare of India. I can’t vouch for the accuracy of this information, but I have seen this test listed in a variety of places, many of which seemed legit. But keep your skeptic pants on and do your research into the validity of this if you’re going to take action on it.

I tried it myself, with the four types of turmeric I currently have in my house, and I was shocked at the difference! I cropped the photo close, so that you can’t see my labels, because I don’t want to disparage anyone, especially since this is very unscientific. But check out my results!

According to the test, it seems like the one on the left is the best one, and if this test is really a way to tell if turmeric is adulterated, it certainly looks like the one on the right meets that criteria. (I put the turmeric in the water left to right, so the one on the left actually had the turmeric in it the longest.)

Though I won’t give out actual brands/names on this, I will tell you the source types for each. From left to right:

  1. A turmeric/curcumin supplement (I opened the capsule)
  2. Small, family farm (US-based)
  3. US-based company that sells turmeric in bulk packages.
  4. Small, family farm (international)

Now, I need to find a source for concentrated hydrochloric acid, to do more of these tests! And from now on, it will only be third-party lab-verified turmeric for me! I don’t care if it costs more!


Replacing tomato in soup?

November 12, 2020

Short answer:

  • deglaze your pan with lemon juice, after sauteeing aromatics
  • use a bit of chopped spinach in the soup to balance the lemon
  • stir in white miso toward the end of cooking

Long answer:

I made lentil soup today, and it tastes like it has tomatoes in it. I am nightshade-intolerant, so I don’t add tomatoes to anything, but I remembered that a while ago, I got a question about how to replace tomatoes and/or tomato paste in soup, which I didn’t answer because I didn’t know what to do.

[Full disclosure: I’ve been out of the nightshade-eating game for well over 10 years now, so my determination of tomato-like flavor could be off. My nightshade-eating husband said the soup did not taste particularly tomato-y to him, but had a nice umami flavor, and he recommended half of whatever was the “zing,” which I’m assuming was the lemon – see recipe below.]

Today, I made soup to use up a bunch of random stuff, and the soup came out amazing, so I thought I’d share.

Cook in heavy-bottom, oven-safe pan
makes 6 servings

  • 3 TBS pork fat or ghee (I used pan drippings from last night’s pork chops)
  • 1/2 cup tasso ham, trimmed and diced
  • 3 large leeks, trimmed and diced
  • 1 small lemon (juice only) – [husband suggested 1/2 lemon’s juice would be better]
  • 1 cup raw butternut squash, trimmed, peeled, de-seeded, diced (if you have leftover already-cooked squash, I’m sure it would be fine)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 lb fresh spinach, well-washed, well-drained, chopped (if you have some that is already cooked with excess liquid squeezed out, that’s fine, but the amount would be around 1 packed cup)
  • 2 cans Bioitalia Organic Lentils (14 oz / 400 g each), well-rinsed (These are the only canned lentils I will use – if I didn’t have these, I’d just cook the lentils myself – I don’t know why these are so good, but they just are.)
  • 1 Bonafide Frontier Blend Bone Broth, 24 fl oz (or your own bone broth – just note the ingredients in this bone broth so get the flavor right – also, for you no-nightshaders, this is a safe broth)
  • 2 TBS white miso (I used Miso Master Organic Mellow White Miso)

Sauté diced leeks over medium heat, and ham in pork fat until leeks are translucent and fragrant, and there just starts to be some browning on the bottom of the pan.

Deglaze pan with fresh lemon juice, stirring to get all browned bits incorporated.

Add butternut squash, carrots, spinach, and continue stirring, until everything is coated nicely. If you need moisture in the pan, add a little more fat, or a little bit of stock, so nothing burns.

Then, making sure the lentils are drained and rinsed, add them to the pot. Add the stock as well. Pre-heat oven to 300ºF. Stir everything in pan well, and (still over medium heat) bring to a boil.

Once soup gets to a boil, shut off heat on stove. Stir in miso, incorporating it well throughout the soup (you might need to break up the miso a bit). Then, (optional) put the pan, uncovered, in the oven for approximately 30 minutes.

You can just eat the soup after it’s cooked for a while on the stove, but the low, slow cooking in the oven really tenderizes the ham chunks, thickens the soup, and brings the flavors together really nicely. When I took it out, it was more flavorful than it was on the stove, and it was very thick, like a stew. I’ll probably add more broth or some water when I reheat it again.

NOTE: I used a 5.5-Qt All Clad D5 dutch oven to cook this in. <— the link goes to an amazon page where the dutch oven is $384.95 at the time of this writing. I just want you to see what it looks like. I just bought mine through HomeandCookSales for $182.80 in Sept 2020, and I love it! HomeandCookSales runs “VIP Facotry Seconds” sales for All-Clad and other brands, and while it’s hit or miss what they’ll have, they’re totally legit. I mention this pan specifically, because the D5 line is made in America (some All-Clad is, and some isn’t), AND because the D5 indicates there are 5 layers of metal (alternating aluminum and steel), so it’s a heavy-weight pan (things don’t burn as easily), it’s oven-safe, and the lid fits nice and tight (great for braising). If you can get one of these things on sale, DO IT!!!!

Lunch meat?

January 2, 2018

Normally, I don’t really like lunch meat, because it often has shady ingredients.

Autolyzed yeast extract? Corn Syrup Solids? "Contains wheat" - what?!

Autolyzed yeast extract?  Organic corn syrup solids? “Contains wheat” ???

However, Diestel Organic Turkey Breast is the best-tasting packaged lunch meat I’ve ever had, and the ingredients are the cleanest I’ve ever seen.  I wish I could get it on the East Coast, but no dice. I would eat this every day if I could.  If you’re on the west coast, I’d stock up on it!  IMG_9449

What is the perfect diet?

January 2, 2018

Because the game keeps changing, there is no way to have a truly perfect diet, or a truly perfect life. It’s a moving target, which means you have to keep adjusting your aim. The way to keep making your diet (as well as your life) better is to do more stuff that makes you feel good in the long run and do less stuff that makes you feel bad in the long run. 

If you can’t tell what makes you feel good and what makes you feel bad, keep a journal and track what you eat, what you do, and how you feel. Look for patterns. Do you have more or less energy? Are you happier or sadder? Is life better or worse?

It is always a good idea to consult with a trusted medical doctor and tell her what you have in mind, and what you’re trying to accomplish.

If you can only do one thing to get closer to what you want to achieve health-wise, I’d say cut down or eliminate added sugar to your diet.  Here’s a great list of how sugar is ruining your health (references are at the bottom).

Gluten Free Breads?

January 7, 2015

Julian Bakery Gluten Free Bread

Julian Bakery Gluten Free Bread

photo 4

If you’re trying to eat gluten-free, be careful with breads and baked goods because a lot of the time, grains are replaced by starches and they are very carb-heavy and you just end up trading one problem for another.

There are only two gluten-free breads I like.  Canyon Bakehouse Cinnamon Raisin Bread and Julian Bakery Paleo bread (Coconut Paleo Bread pictured above – it also comes in Almond, which is in a brown package).  I also like to substitute bread all together for a delicious Julian Bakery Coconut Wrap (I actually had no idea that my favorite paleo bread and my favorite coconut wrap was made by the same people until I started writing this post and looking for links, because I never use the brand name when talking about them!)

The Canyon Bakehouse bread is a nice, tasty treat, but a bit carby/starchy, as most gluten-free baked goods are, because most use starches to replace the grains that have gluten in them.  So, this isn’t the kind of bread I’d eat every day or anything.

The Paleo Bread is low carb (because it’s not starchy), is moist, has a fairly strong baking soda taste (which is well-tempered if you eat it with something, as opposed to eating it with nothing on it), and really needs to be toasted, IMHO.  The Coconut “flavor” does not taste like coconut at all to me.  It just doesn’t have any nuts (as opposed to the Almond one), and is made with coconut flour.  It is sold as a frozen bread, so I let half a loaf thaw out at a time in the fridge.  If you try to toast a frozen piece, it takes forever, and will likely be unsuccessful.  Even thawed, I don’t usually crisp it up like regular toast in the toaster, it just kind of gets warm.  I like it moist for sandwiches.  My diet-twin and BFF Joe B. (hi, JOE!) says he likes to put the slices in the oven for 15 min at 350.  I don’t know if that’s frozen or thawed, though.  If you’re looking for a grain-free, gluten-free, low carb, fairly low-sodium bread (that is also yeast-free, starch-free, soy free, GMO free, and nut free), Coconut Paleo Bread is the one!

What kettle do you use?

November 17, 2014

What kind of kettle do you use? I think we’re v. similar in terms of doing a ton of research & trying lots of things out to find the best solution to a problem, and I’m currently in the process of doing this for a kettle, and would love your opinion. Bonus points if you know anything about electric kettles…

My favorite kettle.

My favorite kettle.

I use this kettle – the Jenaer brand (now called TrendGlas) all-glass kettle.  I have used this kettle for at least 10 years (I think I’m on my second one – I broke one, but they don’t break easily).  The glass ball at the top does not last at all – it will break off sooner or later, but there is a metal thing inside of it, so even after the glass ball breaks, you can still lift the lid with that metal thing, though I need to use a small towel or an oven pad when the water is boiling.  (You can slightly see the metal nub at the top of my kettle with the glass broken off in the photo that goes along with this post.)

I absolutely LOVE this kettle and would definitely buy another one if I break this one.  I love the way it looks, I love that it’s glass, it’s easy to clean (and more importantly, easy to tell when it’s dirty).  I highly recommend it.

Two quick caveats about this kettle: 1. you have to hold the lid or take it off if you pour a lot of water out of it, or you have a low water level.  This seems like common sense to me, but in reading reviews, apparently, some people were surprised by this.  2. I believe my kettle was made in Germany.  It was called Jenaer when I bought it, and the company has changed over/changed its name/is somehow different, and I think this kettle is made in China.  It is definitely the same, exact style of kettle I have, but I don’t know if any quality changes have occurred.  I have purchased TrendGlas (the new company) products within the past few years and I’ve been happy with them (the glass tea mug I use is TrendGlas – I have posted it a bunch of times, here is one such post).

Prior to finding this kettle, I used a kettle very similar to this one (forget the exact brand), which is less than half the price of the one above, and still works perfectly well.

In case you’re wondering, I use my kettle on a gas stove, and the glass sits directly on the cast iron trivets.  (I think I’ve taken enough photos of my stove for you to get a few views of it.)

I will never buy a kettle for myself that is not all glass.  And, I will never, ever heat up water in plastic (I had a terrible, seemingly unsolvable health problem for years which turned out to be due to heating drinking water up in plastic, and it was completely cleared up once I stopped doing that).  So, if any electric kettles that you are looking into have the water held in plastic, or the hot water going through plastic, I would say in big, big letters AVOID!

Lastly, electric kettles confuse me.  I just don’t understand their purpose, except if a hot stove would be a safety hazard (like for a very elderly person, or in a dorm room or something).  Yes, they heat up stuff quickly, but not THAT much quicker than a stove would.  And, plus, I use my kettle mostly to make tea, and tea is a process.  It is a lovely ritual to make tea.  And, waiting for the water to boil, and to cool slightly, and to see those bubbles, well, it’s all part of the process, and I love it.  So, I am biased against electric kettles for these reasons.  It does not mean they are bad.

In fact, I can see the utility of having an electric kettle, especially if you have an electric stove, because an electric kettle would be MUCH more efficient, electricity-wise, as well as quicker.  This electric kettle seems nice, and it’s glass, but I would never pour the water through that plastic lid on top, and I’d never filter hot water (as it recommends in the description – BTW – I love that it’s referred to as a “high class glass designed electric” kettle).  You should never filter hot water to begin with (it should be filtered before it goes into the pot), and never pour hot drinking water through plastic (see above).

I know you wanted a simple answer, but simple is not my thing.  Neither is “concise,” whatever the hell that means.

How the heck do I choose a tomato sauce in Whole Foods?

November 12, 2014

First of all, wait for a sale.  I have noticed that most brands of tomato sauce go on sale at least twice a year.  Whole Foods prices are high, but their sales are pretty good!  If you don’t need organic and aren’t necessarily watching sodium levels, I would go for Rao’s Marinara Sauce ($7.99 for 32oz on sale).  Rao’s sodium isn’t topping the list of sodium heavy brands or anything, but my next recommendation has much less sodium per same-size serving.

If you want organic (and lower sodium), I buy Middle Earth Organics Organic Tomato and Basil Sauce ($6.49 for 19.8oz, non-sale price).  I personally don’t eat tomato sauce, because I can’t eat nightshades, but I buy it for my family and they are happy with either of these.  My recommendations are based on ingredients that are straightforward, with no sugar, no canola oil, and a “reasonable” amount of sodium (“reasonable” is a relative term, given the nature of pasta sauces in general!).  Below are photos of ingredients and nutritional stats.


IMG_5907 IMG_5909 IMG_5910

Middle Earth Organics

IMG_5911 IMG_5912

How do you pick a peach?

July 16, 2014

Dude, seriously!  I JUST wrote a Tumblr on this very subject!

Paleo dining in downtown Manhattan?

March 30, 2014

I wrote a dining guide to help you find great paleo / grain-free options around downtown Manhattan!  Enjoy!


Great place to have coffee and get some work done?

December 6, 2013

That place is Pushcart Coffee on 9th Avenue and 25th Street!  It’s my new favorite spot to get some tea, meet with writing partners or clients, or get work done on my own.  Nice people, nice vibe, there is tea I like (the green jasmine), they don’t use toxic tea bags, their snacks are great (my son loves the pumpkin bread, and I love the Brooklyn-made Rawpothecary Juices they carry), and their soup is wonderful (thanks for making me try it, Ashley!).  They also have a bunch of fancy ways of making coffee that boggle my tea-drinking mind. There is a community work table, a few individual tables, a comfy corner spot in the back and counter seats and there is free wifi (you have to sign up for it, but it’s free). Go there. You know I know what I’m talking about.

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