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Monday, November 30, 2009

Pumpkin Pie for Everyone!

I was in charge of dessert for Thanksgiving in my family. So I made a pumpkin pie that everyone could eat-- even the vegans and the person with the wheat allergy. Plus, it's low in fat, so it's good for dieters.

The amazing thing is that everyone liked it!

Red Meat, Vitamin B2 Deficiency, and Parkinson Disease

Recently, someone in my family got a diagnosis of Parkinson disease, which is the same disease that Michael J. Fox has. So naturally I searched the medical literature to see if there was a dietary angle to the disease. There is, and it's very exciting! Removing red meat from the diet and correcting a vitamin B2 deficiency might prevent Parkinson disease, and it might even help reverse some of the effects of the disease. This would actually change the course of the disease, whereas all doctors can do at present is treat its symptoms.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Collards with Peanut Sauce and Mashed Potatoes

This meal takes a basic idea from the British Isles, namely mashed potatoes served with cooked greens, and gives it an African and Asian twist. Even people who aren’t keen on greens might like them if they are served piping hot and with a spicy peanut sauce! To balance the color and textures, it’s nice to serve carrot sticks with this meal. Fresh fruit is good for dessert.

Gorillas and People Can Get Scurvy, Rats Can’t

All Species’ Nutritional Needs Are Not Created Equal

Back in the Age of Exploration, the sailors on long sea voyages often died of scurvy. Yet the rats on the ship stayed perfectly healthy. So did the ship’s cat. The sailors quickly recovered their health if they could get some fresh fruit or vegetables to eat. The hard part was finding some form of fresh fruit or vegetable that could be stored on board without spoiling. Eventually, the British Royal Navy figured out that citrus fruit worked well, which is why British sailors came to be called "limeys." Bean sprouts or alfalfa sprouts would also have worked, but nobody thought to try them.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009


"Jerusalem Artichokes" Are Neither Artichokes Nor From Jerusalem, But You Probably Already Knew That.

A few years ago, I couldn’t be at my parents’ house for Thanksgiving, so I gave them a package of sunchokes (Jerusalem artichokes). I told them that sunchokes were an authentic food from the native peoples of Massachusetts, and would therefore have been among the foods that Massasoit’s people would have shared with the Pilgrims back in 1621. I told my parents that they could eat the sunchokes or save them for planting in the spring. If they planted them, they’d end up with great huge sunflowers whose blossoms supposedly smell like chocolate. Both of my parents are avid gardeners, so my dad planted the sunchokes, and you can see the results in the photograph.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"Salad Deficiency" Causes Ulcerative Colitis in Gorillas

It's Probably an Important Cause of Ulcerative Colitis in Humans, As Well.

"Ulcerative colitis" means open sores in the large intestine, which is also called the colon. This condition can cause severe abdominal pain and cramping as well as bloody diarrhea. The "leaky gut syndrome" that results can cause joint pain and make the person feel sick all over.

Wild gorillas eat an extremely high-fiber diet, consisting mainly of leaves. Captive gorillas that were fed a low-fiber diet were prone to severe ulcerative colitis. The same thing might be happening in people with ulcerative colitis.

Quick and Easy Bean Burritos

This is a quick and easy meal that everyone likes. It’s also very flexible. This usually makes enough for three people. If you are really hungry or have extra people to feed, just keep making more tortillas and fillings. If I have made too many tortillas, we have them for breakfast the next morning. I cheat by using an electric tortilla press and canned refried beans. You can also buy corn or wheat tortillas ready-made.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

How Much Protein Do Gorillas Get From Eating Leaves?

More Than Enough for a Human Being, and Even More Than Enough for a Pig!

Here’s a rather dry and technical article that describes the amount of “available protein,” as opposed to “crude protein,” in the foods that wild mountain gorillas eat.

The mountain gorillas in this study were getting more than enough protein, mainly because they were eating so many leaves. Although leaves are low in calories, a substantial proportion of those calories comes from protein. If gorillas eat enough leaves to get enough calories, the protein takes care of itself. A leafy diet is so rich in protein that the gorillas can afford to snack on some low-protein fruit.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Why Do Leaves Make Up So Much of a Wild Gorilla's Diet?

Because Gorillas Are Big.

“Large mammalian herbivores, according to accepted ecological theory, may be expected to feed on abundant, low quality food as a result of the relationship between their body size, metabolic requirements, and gut capacity. … Abundant low quality food means nonreproductive plant parts, i.e., stems and leaves, because fruit and flowers are too ephemeral to provide a regular source of food in bulk for large animals. So, large herbivores ought to be folivorous in a broad sense, and usually are.”

In other words, big plant-eaters mainly eat leaves.

How Do You Take a Gorilla's Blood Pressure?

Very carefully.

The easy part is designing a "Gorilla Tough Cuff." The hard part is persuading the gorilla that the procedure is worth his while.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Quick Cauliflower and Potato Curry, Jasmine Rice, Apple and Fennel Salad

This is a quick and easy recipe for entertaining. The extra turmeric is good for you, and it gives the potatoes and cauliflower an appealing yellow color, which looked good with the red tomatoes. I served it with white rice and some parsley for garnish. For the salad,  I had some fennel left over from the day before. The feathery greens from the fennel bulb dressed up the salad, and were tasty. I also had some carrot cake left over from the day before for dessert.

When Gorillas Eat Animal-Based Foods, They Get Fat and Sick

"Feeding gorillas animal products, including dairy and eggs, is not recommended as they may promote obesity and increase cholesterol concentrations."

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Roasted Autumn Vegetables with Mushroom Gravy, Apple Salad, and Carrot Cake

I put this meal together because the roasted vegetables and the carrot cake are both baked at 350 degrees. I prepare the vegetables and put them in the oven, then make the carrot cake. While the carrot cake is baking, I have time to make the mushroom gravy and the salad. Then I have time to tidy up the kitchen and set a nice table.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Monday, November 16, 2009

How Strong Are Gorillas?

Enormously strong

"No one knows [how strong gorillas are], because you can't take a gorilla down to your local gym, obviously, and if you did it would be at your own peril and the other gym members' peril. We don't know, but scientists estimate it to be about 10 times stronger than a full-grown man. And certainly some of the things I've seen here at the zoo, 10 times stronger is probably fairly correct. For example, when I'm moving things around inside their enclosure, there might be very large logs which I'm literally unable to move, so I might call a couple of other keepers over, and between the three of us, we will slowly manhandle it, perhaps a few inches across the enclosure. Bobby then will come in and then just with one hand will be able to swipe that same log a good few feet without any effort."

—Daniel Simmonds, Gorilla Keeper, ZSL London Zoo