For today’s edition of Dear Mark, I’m answering 5 questions from readers. First, I give my desert island cookware material—the type of pan I’d choose if I could only have one. Next, I explain whether carnosine, creatine, and taurine supplements are suitable for vegetarians. After that, I give a good option for bulk frying oil that’s safe and won’t break the bank. Fourth, I explain how you can get enough B12 on a keto vegetarian diet (and it’s not that difficult at all). And finally, I explain how a small change can have huge effects on the quality of one’s life.

Let’s go:

I’d like advice on what types of cookware are safest/most functional, if you’re only going to have one type

That’s tough.

Aluminum is out. There’s controversy over whether it leaches into the food, but I’d rather not take the chance. It’s flimsy and doesn’t retain heat very well. Hard pass.

Cast iron is fantastic. There’s nothing better for searing steaks, they retain heat incredibly well (they’ll still burn you a half hour off the heat), and if you season them well they are virtually non-stick. I have a couple cast iron pans that are so well-seasoned I can scramble eggs in them without sticking. But it took me a long time and a lot of bacon to get them to that point. They’re also heavy, which makes them poor everyday pans for some folks. There’s also the fact that cast iron leaches iron into foods, particularly acidic foods. Seasoning prevents some of this, and some people can actually benefit from extra iron, but some people need less iron. Whether it’s the perfect cookware is entirely dependent on the person’s situation.

Stainless steel is my choice. Get it hot enough and use enough fat, and it’ll give a great sear while limiting sticking. The one limitation I’ve found with stainless steel is in scrambling eggs. Fried eggs? Sure. Omelets? Definitely. But no matter what I try, scrambled eggs always end up sticking to stainless steel. (Good that I prefer fried anyway…) Maybe I’m doing something wrong, in which case I’d love to hear any tips or tricks you guys have.

Dr.RhondaPatrickFan wondered:

Are creative, carnosine, and taurine supplements derived from animals? If so, is there a company that does it humanely? I eat meat, but the supplement part for people who eat vegan or vegetarian for animal rights is interesting to me.

The vast majority of creatine, carnosine, and taurine supplements are synthetic. No animal involvement, other than the humans manufacturing them.

Brad asked:

This Thanksgiving my cousin deep fried a turkey. It was awesome! So this Christmas I borrowed my neighbor’s fryer and did one myself, followed by a deep fried pork loin (super moist). My cousin used peanut oil and my neighbor recommended canola. I ended up using peanut oil but wonder if avocado oil could be used? Also, do you know where one could purchase 3 gallons of avocado oil without taking out a second mortgage?

That’s a tough one. Avocado oil is inherently expensive to produce, since the picking, growing, and extraction processes are so involved and time-and-labor-heavy. If you’re just going for a quick deep fry project and need vast amounts of relatively stable, neutral oil, I’d recommend you use high-oleic sunflower or safflower oil. It’s not the most nutritious, being low in antioxidants, but it is high in monounsaturated fat and therefore quite resistant to heat damage.

This looks to be a solid source of high-oleic oil by the gallon.

Eileen wondered:

Will the vegetarian keto diet supply a good amount of vitamin B12? Thank you in advance!
Eileen

Yes, as long as you eat eggs. Five average grocery store eggs will provide 100% of the RDI for vitamin B12. If you can throw in 7-8 eggs, you’ll have a solid B12 intake.

Dairy is another decent source of B12 that’s even more bioavailable than synthetic B12, so that’ll help you get there as well. Pasteurization reduces the B12 content of milk, so consuming raw dairy when possible (and safe) will provide even more B12.

Chad asked:

One thing I would love to know is this: not only *what* do you have in your kitchen, but also *where* is it? How have you re-arranged your kitchen to be more efficient in recent months?

For example, this weekend I moved all of my coffee supplies (coffee, electric kettle, aeropress, cacao and maca powder) from way across the kitchen to a drawer right beside the sink. Has made a daily part of my life much more streamlined.

Anyone else made any recent changes like that?

Great question. I won’t speak to the specific layout of my kitchen today, as that’s great fodder for a dedicated post and I’ll save it for that. I will speak to the general concept of small logistical changes having big effects.

Every morning, I make coffee with a French press. If I’m in a rush to get out of the house, get working, or I just wander off with the finished product and forget to clean the pot, I always regret it the next day. My day goes much more smoothly when I can start out with a clean French press that’s ready to accept coffee and water.

I get up, do basic personal hygiene, and go to the kitchen. I start boiling water, grind the coffee, transfer it to the French press, and add the water. There’s no lag. No interruption. I don’t have to think about anything and I can focus on the day ahead.

But if I go to the kitchen and have to clean out day-old coffee grounds, wash the grimy sludgy press, and then start making coffee, I feel off. There’s a huge kink in the day. It’s probably “just” placebo, but placebo has a huge effect. Don’t underestimate the effect of placebo, especially if we’re talking about something entirely psychological—how I “feel” about the trajectory of the day.

That’s it for today, folks.

I’d love to get your take on these questions. What’s your desert island cookware? What do you use for large deep frying operations? Have you made any changes to your kitchen layout—or life in general—with large streamlining effects?

Thanks for reading, everyone. Take care!

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