Saturday, October 19, 2013

kale and sweet potato clam chowder

chowder4AGC copy

     I've only had chowder two other times before this and it was the creamy, loads of bacon and carbs kind. All the delicious stuff right?  Well this time using milk instead of cream and more sweet potatoes then the mighty white to make a much more lighter healthier version. One that doesn't sacrifice flavor or all the things that make chowder, chowder. 

chowder12AGC copy


2 pounds small hard-shelled clams, scrubbed
2 slices smoked bacon, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, chopped

1 cup corn kernels, from 2 cobs or 1 cup frozen
1 large handful of kale, rinsed and chopped
1 celery stock, chopped
1⁄2 cups vegetable or seafood stock, low or no-sodium 

2 1⁄2 cups Natrel lactose free milk
1 1⁄2 cups sweet potato, chopped into 1inch chunks 
1 cup mini-red potatoes, quartered
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1⁄4 tsp cayenne pepper

juice of one lemon
1 large tomato, seeded and diced
1⁄4 bunch scallions, sliced
2 tbsp all-purpose flour
2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley or dill
1 tbsp fresh chopped chives
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste


In a small saucepan over high heat boil the sweet potato and red potato until cooked half way.
Preheat a large stockpot over medium high heat, add the bacon and cook until almost crispy. Add the garlic, onion, corn, celery and kale. Continue to cook for several minutes. Add the flour to the milk and combine. Add the broth, milk-flour mixture both potatoes, herbs and spices. Bring ingredients to a simmer then add the clams. Continue to cook until the clams start to open. Add the tomatoes and lemon juice and season with salt and pepper to taste.
When the clams have opened all the way, the chowder is ready to serve. 

Serves 4-6 

PS. My man loved it. I was lucky if I was even able to get a second helping!

Happy Weekend everyone! 

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Discuss This Food Allergy Research At The Dinner Table Tonight!

FARE's name change ruined
my awesome pun headline
My mom and I went to a reunion this summer with her first cousins, ladies I had not met before. On the way to the restaurant, I was telling my mom about my summer research into intestinal flora and fecal transplant.

The poop had definitely been circulating in the news all summer, with the popular science journals joining in:
We ran into the cousins in the parking lot and introductions and hugs were passed around. Just as I'm opening the door to the restaurant, my mom says "so FAB, tell my cousins what you were just telling me about transferring pooh into people's colons." 

Not the ideal way to be introduced. 

But you can see the difficulty. This is an astonishing new area of exploration in science...and just not great dinner conversation. I'm going to plunge ahead anyway, but be forewarned that you might want to put your snack down before reading further. 

Here's a cartoon to get us started:

From Three Word Phrase - very funny guy!
I first encountered fecal transplant in the literature as part of my day job. It has been extraordinarily successful in treating C. difficile, an often hospital-acquired infection that can ravage its victims. 

If simply transplanting poop from a healthy person into a compromised person can have such amazing results, then why not for other conditions that involve the gut, like food allergies? 

The science of all this is daunting. The human gut contains as many as 100 trillion separate types of bacteria, which is why I always giggle a bit when people talk about "probiotics" as a treatment for food allergies. Typical probiotic supplements contain only the bacteria we can grow outside the body:  usually one of only FIFTEEN strains.
It's a bit like throwing dye into the ocean in the hopes of coloring it red. 

Scientists are working on categorizing these bacteria. One of the more notable efforts going on right now is called the American Gut Project.  That project has already demonstrated that the gut bacteria of older vs. younger Americans, and of Americans vs. less developed countries, is vastly different. All of this comes together very well with the Hygiene Hypothesis II, which says that our decimation of gut bacteria through the use of antibacterials (including triclosan, which I've called the smoking gun for development of food allergies) is at the heart of the rise in intestinal and autoimmune disorders. Even the connection to pets and reduced food allergies makes sense. When we pet our dogs and cats and they, in turn, lick us, different types of bacteria are transferred into our bodies via the skin. Families with pets have different gut bacteria than families without.  

As with everything I read, I am extremely impatient to just cut to the chase. If fecal transplant has the potential to mitigate food allergies, where do we sign up? 

At the moment, fecal transplant is only officially being performed in teaching hospitals, and these facilities are starting to look over their shoulders. Right now, this is an unregulated treatment and the FDA seems to want in on the action. 

On the other hand, if you are adventurous, you can DIY with this helpful Youtube video:

So...all I need is a blender, a way to knock my child senseless so he doesn't know what's about to occur, and a donor! Preferably someone older, whose gut bacteria were colonized before the introduction of antibiotics and the advent of infant formula. Someone in excellent health with an appropriate body weight, who has used only limited antibiotics over the course of their life. 

Gonna see my father-in-law later today. Any suggestions on how to open that topic of conversation? 

Or...maybe I should hold out for the poop pill. At least I could still look my father-in-law in the eye, come Thanksgiving. 

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Sunday, October 6, 2013

Examples of Food Allergy Backlash

I've been pretty busy over the last couple of weeks. So, instead of writing a long blog post, I think I'll just leave a few things here that I've recently run across.

Stores are increasingly putting signs up about allergens. Not all of them are friendly.
This is from an album entitled "Guess What Mark Is Allergic To." His oh-so-helpful co-workers put these notes on food at work.

Someecards has a card for us now.

From Your Food Allergy Is Not My Problem.

Do you guys feel there's more or less of this kind of stuff happening now?

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Friday, October 4, 2013

Pamela Kennedy is Raising Money for SAMH This Weekend

2nd Year Mental Health Nursing student is raising money for SAMH by taking part in the Great Scottish run on 6th October 2013.

Pam's motivation for this challenge is the memory of her uncle Gordon who completed suicide in 2012. Pam says 'Everyday Gordon felt it was a challenge to live with the psychotic disorder schizophrenia which he was diagnoised with in his early 20's. Most importantly, Gordon had a heart of gold and touched the lives of those he came in contact with. He was a true inspiration and I am proud to call him my uncle.'
To donate go to  Pam's Just Giving page