Categories
food recommended reading

A surprising new way to eat – no lectins!

I’ve recently begun cooking, shopping and eating in a new way.  It all came from a book, The Plant Paradox – the hidden dangers in healthy foods by Steven R. Gundry, MD which I learned about from Peter Diamandis.

All Roads Lead To The Gut

While I’ve been very much a conscious eater for the last 30 years of my life, I’ve begun discovering how much of our health is sourced back to the health of our gut.  The microbiome inside our stomachs are what keeps us healthy and when not, is responsible for something like 90% off disease!

Having battled skin issues like eczema, acne and dry skin patches for years with over the counter steroid creams, I knew I was only removing the symptoms and not the true root of the problem.

The Plant Paradox book goes into heavy detail, with scientific reasoning and anecdotal results, though from over 10,000 patients of Dr. Gundry.  The basic message is, we’ve been told all the wrong things about food.  It’s not about eating more protein, or eating only vegetables or only whole grains, in fact it’s all about lectins.

Lectins are a protein found in plants.  It’s what the plant produces to ward off bugs and predators as it gives anyone who eats them a bad stomach.  But over the hundreds of years, we’ve disconnected this cause and effect.  It’s the reason why peanuts cause so many issues, some immediately life-threatening.

So big surprises in my new shopping list and meal plans.

Good Fats are the Most Important

Olive oil, avocados, chocolate, walnuts, pistachios, almonds are my new favorite friends.

No nightshades!

This includes eggplants, peppers and tomatoes, all big favorites of my old diet!

No grains at all!

We humans are basically not meant to eat grains.  It’s the outer husk that is most problematic.  Brown rice is actually worse than the white rice, which is probably why the Chinese have been removing the shells from rice for thousands of years!    Whole grain bread – no way!

In my early reading of this book, I’ve found that the Yes list and No list of foods are pretty helpful and can be easy to follow.  It’s just the old habits and cravings that make it hard.

Bread?  Pizza?  Chips? Beer?

Well, it was nice to have known you once.

At least I can still have some wine and cheese, oh French cheese that is.  You’ll have read the book to get all the details.  I especially like the new food pyramid he offers.

Categories
Fiction and Poetry Writing

Fan Tong! Rice Bucket

by Andrew Ingkavet

Ahh rice
Ahh rice

I eat rice every week. It used to be every day. My digestive system seems to just work better with rice. I like all kinds of rice, from wild rice to long grain white and brown to sushi short grain from Japan, to red rice from Northern Thailand to yellow Dominican to soy-sauce and cilantro infused fried rice of Singapore… But most days, Thai  jasmine is my favorite.

Every Asian family, and probably Hispanic too, has a large bag of rice somewhere in their kitchen or pantry. It doesn’t make sense to buy these small  bags for ridiculous prices when you can get a 25 pound bag that will last your family about 3 to 4 weeks. The main issue is where to store it.  In my apartment, it’s rather tight for space, so I bought a decorative brass bell that also conveniently hides a 25 pound bag of rice.

My mom used to make a delicious Korean Bulgogi that I would go and grill on the charcoal fire. I loved being involved in cooking. She would teach me even though I wasn’t doing it, just watching.  But, then it was my turn to go and grill it. Luckily, because we all liked it well done, it turned out pretty good: crispy, blackened and burnt –  just how we liked it!  And mounds and mounds of white rice!

My mom used to make Carolina brand long grain white rice in an old rice cooker. It was white, a Sanyo, medium sized pressure cooker. And for a long time, this was my gold standard.  When we ate in Chinatown, I was astounded at the difference in the taste and smell of their rice.  My Dad used to say that’s because they don’t wash the rice. He would yell at my Mom not to wash the rice. I never believed him.

In college, I discovered a whole new world of rice. I ate in Dominican restaurants where the rice was salty and yellow with little pigeon peas mixed in. Delicious! Then, I discovered the longer almost bread-like basmati rice.

For awhile I lived in Asia. Some of my local friends called me a “rice bucket,” because I ate 4 to 5 bowls of rice with every meal. Later, I learned that that’s what they called a very lazy person.

While traveling in Vietnam in the early 1990’s, I rode a motorcycle across the rice paddies on the little mud lanes separating the marshy, swampy ponds.  Rice was everywhere.  It was even drying in heaps along the sides of paved roads and one could drive over it if not too careful.

Sometimes my Mom would cook rice not in the automatic rice cooker, but in a stove-top pot for “extra iron” as she said. This was very strange to me as she wasn’t cooking in an iron pot but a stainless steel one. Perhaps the basic thinking was sound because a cast iron pot is what they would use in ancient Korea.

She would burn the rice deliberately to get a crispy browned layer of rice at the bottom. By pouring some hot water over it, we had rice tea! The scraps of rice, hard and burnt, but so deliciously soothing. It was more like rice soup than tea. Sometimes she would mix in a mixture of roast barley or corn.

Korean comfort food. The equivalent of the Jewish Mom’s chicken soup.

My Dad taught me the Thai way to make rice.

  1. Fill a pot halfway with rice.
  2. Rinse and discard water and any husks, debris r
  3. Refill until water line is one finger knuckle (about an inch)  above the rice.
  4. Cover and bring to a boil.
  5. As soon as it boils, reduce heat to lowest simmer and let cook for 15 to 20 minutes.

I taught an Italian retiree the above method. He was ecstatic saying how much everyone loved it.

 

© Copyright 2014 Andrew Ingkavet.

Categories
food travel writing

Flying Morning Glory – A Journey Across Thailand

Flying Morning Glory

Back in the early 1990’s, I made a trip to Thailand to visit my father’s relatives.  It was the first time I was back since I was 6 years old when I came for a 2 week visit.  All I had remembered was the heat, the humidity and the rain as we were there in rainy season.  This time, I was there in the beautiful month of September and the air was much drier.   I had recently relocated to Hong Kong to join MTV-Asia as one of their first VJ’s for their new satellite channel on Star TV.  Being just 2 hours flying time away was too irresistible and within a month I was there.

My uncle Janjai, the third eldest, but clearly the leader of the family, decided that I must go see the north of the country and so we set off in a small beat up BMW with 2 of my other  my uncles on a week-long road trip to the northern city of Chiang Mai from busy, bustling Bangkok.  Not speaking any Thai, I had no idea where they were taking me, only that it was to see the country of my roots.

Our first day included stopping in and seeing the great temples and ruins along the way.  I especially remember Ayutthaya, with it’s many beautiful Buddhas and temple ruins.

Lunch was at a roadside restaurant beside a river under a canopy of trees.  Simple yet beautiful.  My Uncle said that this river ran through the entire country and on to Vietnam.   The rice server stood by us with a silver serving bowl and heaped serving after serving of lovely hot steaming jasmine rice to cool the flames of the red hot chili peppers.  I remember saying to myself, “I will never forget this moment as my senses are so alive.  My mouth as on fire!”  It’s no wonder Thailand is a Buddhist country.  I never felt so “in the present moment.”  You could say that chili peppers are a meditation device.

We reached the small town of Phitsanulouk by early evening.  The town is almost exactly halfway between Bangkok and Chiang Mai.   The skies were turning dark and we were hungry.  We checked into a reasonable hotel and ventured out looking for something to eat.

In the center of the town was a large open air restaurant.  It spanned across the street and on either side were tables with customer and waiters running back and forth.  All were ordering variations of the same thing:  Flying Morning Glory.  What the heck is that?  And just then a waiter took a tray and ran up a ramp to the top of a tractor trailer where large English words were emblazoned: “Flying Morning Glory.”

The waiter yelled out something like “Ready!”  The cook standing street-side with a roaring flame and huge wok, scooped up a bunch of green vegetables and flung them across the street above our heads to the waiter high on the top of the truck.  The waiter caught the goods and came running down the ramp to the serve another customer the specialty, hot, fresh and recently airborne.  Flying Morning Glory.

Recently, I went out to dinner with my Dad and my son in Queens, New York where there is a pocket of authentic Thai restaurants and groceries.  This is nowhere near as abundant as Los Angeles, but there are some tasty places.    We went to the now “discovered,” Sripraphai Restaurant, which even boasts Zagat ratings and a large crowd of mostly non-Thais.  My Dad spoke a few words in Thai and somehow we were whisked past the crowds and seated in a large spacious dining room.  When I first came to this restaurant back in the late 90’s, there was only one tiny storefront with plastic chairs and tablecloths.  Now, almost a decade and a half later, there’s 3 storefronts with modern decor, wine list and even a garden.  We quickly ordered and I asked for the “pad pak boong fai deng”  which is listed as “Thai Watercress” on the menu.

And suddenly…I was transported back to the roadside table in Phitsanulouk with the flying morning glory.