Sunday, September 30, 2012

Roasted Chickpeas


As usual, I have failed at a timely leap onto the bandwagon. How long have roasted chickpeas been a thing? Honestly, I don't know, because I am that terrible at the bandwagon.

I love chickpeas, so the first time I heard of roasted chickpeas, maybe a couple of years ago, I instantly thought, "I will love this snack." And yet, I never made them until this week. I'm not sure why. I had no reason to doubt that I would indeed love them. It's not like it's a particularly labor-intensive recipe. I just... didn't.

The concept's pretty simple. Drain and rinse a can of chickpeas well, dry them thoroughly, remove the skins if you like, coat with olive or canola oil and the seasoning of your choice, and roast away. Try not to eat the whole thing.

These are a great snack, definitely a healthier alternative to chips (though I'm not sure they satisfy the same cravings), but the light crunch makes it very easy to overeat and consume a whole batch in one sitting. There are two major downsides to that: you've just consumed about 500 calories of "snack," and you've just consumed about 20 grams of fiber in as many minutes. I love fiber and regularly exceed the ~30g daily recommendation (by a lot), but still... yikes. That'll getcha movin'. So portion those bad boys out into about 1/3 cup servings, and share the love.

In that serving, you'll get about 6g fiber and protein each (I'm not sure how much difference skin on/off makes in fiber content), as well as a great boost to your daily intake of B6, folate, and manganese, and if you use canola oil, nearly half of the (small amount of) fat is polyunsaturated - and we love our essential fatty acids, don't we? Yes, we do. Say it now, "We love our essential fatty acids."

Ahem. Anyway.

I haven't quite honed my technique yet, but here are a few things I've picked up. Removing the skins is optional, but they take a little longer to bake if you don't, and I think I do slightly prefer the skin-off version. It might seem tempting to make a big batch of these at once and save them, but the quality takes a pretty steep nosedive about an hour out of the oven. We had some success reviving them in the microwave, but that process also resulted in a crazy lightning storm in our microwave (twice!), possibly due to this phenomenon (or the magnetron just bit the dust), so, uh... proceed with caution.

Roasted Chickpeas
Serves 3... or possibly 1
  • One can chickpeas, rinsed, drained, (optionally) skins removed
  • 1-2 tsp olive or canola oil
  • 1/4 tsp salt (optional - I skipped it, and the beans were plenty well seasoned)
  • 1 tsp seasoning blend of your choice (make sure you note if it contains salt)
Preheat oven to 400ºF (I used 350ºF and convection). Toss beans evenly with oil, salt, and seasoning, and spread on baking sheet. Bake 30-45 minutes, until crispy and dry but not hard. Shake pan once or twice during cooking time.

Optional: practice restraint.

Friday, September 14, 2012

The Incredible, Inedible Egg?

Oh, eggs.

Did you hear? Surely you did, since it was news a month ago, also known as "One of the many times during which Becka was not updating her blog." Eggs are killing us again.

I won't comment (much) on the quality of the study, other than to make sure we notice the "we didn't look at overall dietary patterns" thing, which... seems like something you might want to do.

I used to be an egg hater. Of course, I loved eggs in all things baked, and I had the occasional craving for a good eggs benedict (or variation thereof), but for the most part I was glad to take a pass. I thought they were bland and boring, and with their ~200mg of cholesterol each, I thought they were death traps. Within the last few years, though, I discovered good eggs. I'm not talking about the mass-marketed organic eggs that are a step up in quality but seven steps up in price. I'm talking about truly wonderful eggs from a local farm, or better yet, from a local friend. Eggs from chickens whose owners couldn't quite tell you what their birds eat, because their birds are allowed to hunt their own food. Eggs that are highly variable in shape, size, and - my favorite - color, and whose yolks burst forth when you crack them open, vibrantly orange and standing up proud and tall.

Yes, folks. I once was an egg hater, and now I wax poetic on eggs. But... look at them!


The thing about these eggs is that they're not just prettier and tastier. They may be healthier, too. Studies have found that eggs from pastured chickens may be lower in saturated fat and have a healthier ratio of omega-3 fats. And the cholesterol? Well, as far as my understanding goes, dietary cholesterol isn't a good predictor of blood cholesterol anyway.

Should we listen to the newest studies telling us our favorite foods are analogous to smoking a pack a day? Sure, but with a grain of whichever seasoning you like. This study has flaws, and doesn't seem to account for people eating truly good eggs.

So my advice? Keep eggs in your diet, but as always, practice moderation. Eggs shouldn't be your only source of protein. Pair a great diet with regular exercise, and hereditary factors notwithstanding, the saturated fat and cholesterol in eggs are likely to be a non-issue for you. But don't forget: eat some truly good eggs! Get them from a nearby farmer and support your local community and animal welfare. They'll cost more, yes, but they'll give you so much more in return.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Your RDA of Snake Oil is Zero

I've had this post floating around in my head for several months, but haven't put it to words for a variety of reasons. First, I feel a bit guilty about working on blog stuff when the semester that I believe is known among senior FND majors at my school as "Hell semester" has begun, and I should be working on homework. Somehow, twitter and facebook do not elicit this same guilt.

Second, it's just a touchy subject, and I have to be very careful here, because it's a direct criticism of one of my colleagues/peers. While what I have to say is important, and - obviously, in my opinion - valid, it's equally important to say it respectfully, and I'd rather take my time with a post like this and do it right than ruffle feathers in the wrong way. I'm okay with a little ruffle, though - think of it as flair.

I happen to know this young woman, who has graduated and is currently working on her internship. She was (is, presumably) a great student, very active in the department and community, and was in demand. I have no doubt she was on numerous internships' top match lists. Though we've never been close friends, I follow her on facebook. I noticed a few months ago that a significant portion of her posts were, essentially, shilling for the diet shake program she's a part of. Recipes, links to join or team or whatever, comments about the great indulgent 47 calorie shake she had for breakfast, etc.

So never mind the fact that I probably outweigh her by 40 pounds or more (because, really, that is not the issue here), and never mind every "Hi, I'm a pyramid scheme!" red flag in the book. My real problem here is that I believe, in selling this program, she is doing a great disserve to herself, to the dietetics profession as a whole, and to our clients.

Listen, as much as we'd like to believe otherwise, eating a great diet is kind of hard. If it weren't, most of us would be out of a job, right? So it's important to acknowledge that to our clients. To help people through a challenge, it is absolutely vital that you agree with them that some challenge exists. But you have to balance that with a commitment to the path through the challenge. You have to show your clients, and the community as a whole, that while it does take some work to eat healthfully, it can be done, and it can be done with food. I believe a dietitian whose diet is significantly comprised of diet shakes is sending the message, essentially, that the only way to a healthy diet is cheating. As I've said before, by no means do I believe that dietitians should be required to set a flawless example with every bite they eat, but in the big picture, practice what you preach.

And whether this person is advising whole foods nutrition while her own diet is filled with low-cal shakes, or whether she is actually advertising this product as a dietitian (and not just as an independent person), she is wasting her intelligence and her skill, and not providing the service she has the capacity to do.

Please, please: do not be that dietitian. We can do better than this.