Monday, September 18, 2017

Dear Mark: Ketosis and Methylglyoxal, Microwaving Vegetables, the Role of Salt in Cooking, and More Veggie Ideas

mailing list drawn by hand isolated on blackboardFor today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering three questions. First, what’s the deal with the relationship between ketosis and methylglyoxal? Second, why did I recommend using the microwave to cook vegetables in the post from last week? Third, why do chefs use so much salt in their cooking? After all the questions, I throw in a couple more vegetable cooking tips I missed last week.

Let’s go:

Hey Mark,

Did you see this study? Ketosis unlocks a “new” antioxidant system. Pretty cool stuff, just thought I’d pass it along.


Thanks, Noel. That was totally new to me. I knew that ketogenic diets had antioxidant effects, but I didn’t know the ketone bodies themselves were directly involved in detoxification of otherwise toxic compounds. Very cool. I agree.

What’s going on?

Methylglyoxal is one of the most reactive agents our bodies encounter. Many of the basic diseases of civilization, like diabetes, hypertension, and heart disease, feature elevated methylglyoxal levels. Causation is likely. Heck, it even possesses the ability to corrupt HDL.

What makes this newest study so interesting is that ketogenic diets have gotten a bad rap for their supposed effects on methylglyoxal levels in the past. Detractors commonly cite a 2005 study of the Atkin’s diet, which found that dieters who reached ketosis doubled their methylglyxoal levels. Sounds bad, but is it?

According to this latest study, maybe not. One of the main ketones, acetoacetate, gloms on to methylglyoxal and converts it to a harmless metabolite. Elevated methylglyoxal might mean very different things depending on what kind of a diet produces it.

Other studies have found methylglyoxal to be a potent anti-cancer agent whose users “benefited greatly,” some even becoming “free of the disease.” Methylglyoxal has a hormetic effect, too. That means it can provoke a beneficial response in the right dose, making us stronger and healthier than if we’d never encountered it at all.

I’m kind of shocked you include microwaving anything as an option.


I hear you. I’ve always been on the fence about microwaves.

The purist in me feels guilty whenever I microwave something. Cooking over fire or on the stove is intimate. You’re close to the food. You’re touching it. You’re putting yourself into the dish. Cooking in the microwave is putting food in a box, closing it, pressing some buttons, and walking away. It’s very clinical.

The “suspicious of modern food processing” part of me tingles when I think about microwaving. Maybe, just maybe it is destroying the integrity of the food, forever altering the molecular structure of the water within, and creating carcinogenic compounds. Sure, the studies don’t really show it, but couldn’t they be industry-funded?

But another part of me realizes that microwaves save a ton of time. They’re very convenient. And that studies seem to vindicate microwaves. Some even show that microwaving is the most gentle way to cook certain foods and preserves the most nutrients. I can’t come up with a good, evidence-backed reason not to use the microwave.

I wouldn’t microwave breast milk. But I would microwave my bone broth.

Some additional thoughts regarding salt… Processed foods, fast foods, and restaurant foods can contain considerably more salt than what most of us would cook with from scratch at home. This is because salt covers up the fact that shortcuts have been taken in the preparation, sometimes to the point that such foods have little flavor of their own.


While I agree salt is often used in lieu of quality and creativity, I’d also suggest that ultimately salt isn’t there to make food taste salty or cover up imperfections and mistakes. It enhances flavors. It highlights them. Try turmeric by itself—a dash of powder on your tongue. Virtually tasteless. Now, add some salt. It’s a totally different experience. You can actually taste the turmeric more when you pair it with salt than when it’s by itself.

One reason is that salt suppresses unpalatable flavors (like bitterness) more than palatable flavors (like sweetness), thereby tipping the balance toward the enjoyable flavors.

Another reason is that sodium enhances sensitivity of sweet receptors. You actually taste more sweetness when you add salt. That explains the sudden and meteoric rise of salted caramel-flavored foods.

Even macaques know this. Given access to both salt water and fresh water, they dip their food in the former to enhance the taste.

And now for the vegetable cooking tips I promised up above….

Treat whole garlic cloves like vegetables.

Unless you enjoy peeling dozens of cloves, get yourself a sack of peeled garlic. I like the big bag sold at Costco.

You have to really love garlic for this to work. But if that doesn’t describe you, I’m not sure we can be friends anymore.

Whole garlic cloves go really well with roasted cauliflower. For whatever reason, they both cook to perfection in a cast iron pan at 425° in about 30 minutes, tossed in EVOO or avocado oil.

Got a stir fry going? Throw in some garlic cloves. Smash half and leave the rest whole. Mix up the textures and flavors (smashed, garlic cloves become more pungent and display more potent polyphenols).

Want to get crazy? Roast an entire pan of garlic cloves. Nothing but garlic, fat, and some salt. Try not to eat them all in one sitting.

Fair warning: Garlic is extremely high in inulin, a potent prebiotic fiber. You will fart. Prepare for that. Most people aren’t eating garlic in volume, but those who embark on this challenge will.

Torch your veggies.

Get yourself a little butane torch, read the instructions, make sure you know what you’re doing. Avoid open gas lines. Start exploring.

I find almost everything takes to the torch. In fact, I haven’t had any bad experiences. Of course, don’t try torching cucumbers or anything silly like that.

Torch it dry, then dip in oil and sprinkle with salt. This retains the crispness and the sweetness without causing conflagrations (fat is flammable).

Learn the fine line between blackened and burnt. Traverse that line as often as you can, for it is where flavor lies.

That’s it for today, folks. I hope you enjoyed today’s set of questions and answers. If you have anything to add or ask, do so down below. Thanks for reading!


The post Dear Mark: Ketosis and Methylglyoxal, Microwaving Vegetables, the Role of Salt in Cooking, and More Veggie Ideas appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.

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Weekly Eats + Workouts (9/18)

Hi, guys! Happy, happy, HAPPY Monday to you! I hope you had a wonderful weekend! Mal was away for a bachelor party in Nashville, so I was flying solo, but Qman (and Murphy) and I still had an awesome time. We went to Touch-a-Truck in our town, and I can’t even Quinn’s excitement. His face along when we walked into the event was epic. His eyes were huge and his mouth literally dropped open. It was the cutest thing ever!

And, my gosh, he had THE BEST time running from truck to truck, climbing in and exploring everything. It was serious so fun for the both of us! 🙂

Ok, first things first, I’ve received a ton of questions about products/apparel in my life lately, so I conveniently added them to the SHOP page on CNC. What’s featured is a mix of new and long-time favorites – everything from just-purchased athleisure tops to my tried-and-true running sneakers. Feel free to pop over whenever the shopping mood strikes, and I’ll be sure to keep the page updated on the regular. And, of course, THANK YOU for supporting CNC! 🙂

And now for a recap of my EATS + WORKOUTS from last week!

Ok, so I started strong taking photographs of all of my meals and snacks, but then it started to feel kind of overwhelming. Not that it was difficult to snap photos of what I ate, but I felt a pressure to keep things interesting and add variety to my eats, so my followers weren’t seeing the same foods over and over again. This is totally fine for the most part – I like to switch up my meals and snacks – but it started to feel like I was making food choices for the blog/Instagram and not for myself. It was just starting to bug me, so I decide to cut back and just do my thing. Long story short, I’m going pick a few days each week of my meals and snacks to feature. That way, I can just go back to eating like I normally do, which, timing-wise, is perfect because I’m starting the Post-Summer Slim Down today. We use a 3-day approach with our meal plans, which definitely fits with my lifestyle (aka simple, delicious food)! Anyway, with that, here’s a snapshot of my eats from last week! 🙂


  • Overnight oats made with chia seeds, ground flaxseeds, SFH churro protein powder, collagen, almond milk, and peanut butter (recipe)
  • Decaf latte made with unsweetened almond milk and a splash of half & half
  • Ground chicken with leftover red potatoes, green beans, and grainy mustard
  • Pumpkin Spice Cheerios with banana slices and almond milk x 2 (because who can eat just one bowl of cereal?)
  • Spinach & Kale Greek Yogurt Dip with veggies
  • Same as lunch with steamed spinach and crumbled feta
  • Cinnamon Toast Crunch straight from the box

FYI: If you’re still looking for Pumpkin Spice Cheerios, I’ve seen them at Target and Stop & Shop. If you’ve seen them near you, please leave a comment on this post. They’re a hot commodity and everyone is looking for them! I swear, they’re THAT good! 🙂


I finally feel like I’m getting back into a groove with my workouts. I went through a slump where I was only working out a couple of times a week and just felt blah about myself. Apparently, I need those post-workout, feel-good endorphins in my life! Recently, though, I’m dividing my time between CrossFit and running with 3-4 CrossFit workouts and running 1-2 times per a week with at least 2 rest days mixed in. Usually, on the rest days, I’ll take Murphy for a long walk (2-3 miles). All this to say, I’m feeling much about and during my workouts!

Monday: Orangetheory – My heart-rate monitor died toward the end of the workout, which is why there’s so much black!

Tuesday: CrossFit – I think my time was just under 8 minutes, but I used a #35 kettlebell. The #53 always screws up my back, so I mostly avoid it nowadays.

Wednesday: Rest/long walk with Murphy

Thursday: Rest 

Friday: CrossFit – 7:37 Rx

Saturday: CrossFit – Loved this bodyweight workout! My quads are still sore today!

Sunday: 4-mile run with Marisa 

Question of the Day



The post Weekly Eats + Workouts (9/18) appeared first on Carrots 'N' Cake.

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Week Begin

I’m looking forward to the week ahead, and for this week to begin! Thomas was away on a bachelor trip this weekend, so it was very quiet around the house… except for when it was filled with children!


On Friday night I went out with two girlfriends to Lampo!

We had all the usuals: kale salad, marinated olives, Prosciutto pizza, plus some meat balls, and the mushroom pizza.

Gus wouldn’t settle down and waited up for Thomas all night. Poor guy missed him too!


I was up bright and early for Saturday AM breakfast. The cheese was a lovely addition!

On Saturday morning I went to the gym for a quick session and then got dressed up to head to a baby shower for my friend Jess who is expecting #3 this fall! It was great to catch up with all the mom crew. Now that most of our kids are in school, we don’t see nearly as much of each other.

I had butternut squash soup and a spinach salad with salmon and fried goat cheese, plus a pistachio cake my friend Sarah made, and a taste of dessert bites!

I was stuffed after this lunch!

Mazen and I are totally hooked on the game Best Fiends that I blogged about early this year. When he came home, we spent some time playing outside and getting all sweaty and then relaxing and beating a few levels together.

Sylvia and Sawyer came over on Saturday afternoon for a sleepover Saturday. I didn’t capture many pictures except for this one of them eating their salad course before I brought out a yummy pizza. The whole “give them salad first while they’re hungry” rule worked well! But, of course, they still had plenty of room for pizza. Sylvia looks thrilled, doesn’t she?!

It was a miracle that everyone was bathed and asleep by 8 p.m. or so. Truly. I had my leftovers from lunch and watched Big Little Lies!


…I forgot to knock on wood because Mazen and Sylvia got up for the day at FOUR FORTY FIVE AM! Thankfully, they didn’t wake up Sawyer, who slept until 6:30 a.m., but it was still quite the long morning.

For breakfast we had blueberry muffins with fruit that Sarah left for us, and then headed to ACAC for playtime for the kids and a shower and a little work time for me. I had overnight oats for breakfast while I was there.

Sunday afternoon was spent on the soccer field, as I had 2x games, and Sunday evening I was glad to reconnect with this guy! *Heart eyes*

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