Welcome to my whole foods cooking blog. I believe that food and eating are essential to our life as human beings and in forming a strong social connection to the world around us. This blog is a way to experiment with recipes and educate myself and anyone else who stumbles by on the history and benefits of eating slow, whole foods.

Monday, May 31, 2010

Chipotle Spiced Meatloaf with Sweet Onion Gravy

Prep Time: 15 min Cook Time: 75 min

Chipotle Meatloaf

1# grass-fed, organic beef (90/10 or 85/15)
2 Chipotle pork sausage links, meat taken out of casing (can sub hot Italian)
1 egg
1 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp salt (alder wood smoked if available)
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 TB plus coconut oil for greasing pan


1. pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F
2. Grease a loaf pan with coconut oil
3. Put all ingredients in a 2-4 qt. bowl and mix thoroughly
4. Put mixture into loaf pan and press down until it is even and place in oven
5. 30 min into cooking, spread TB coconut oil on top of loaf
6. 45 min into cooking, spread 1/3 onion mixture onto top of loaf
6. After 1 hour of total cooking time, remove loaf from oven checking temperature with a thermometer (should read at least 155 degrees F)
7. Let rest 5 min
7. Slice either in pan or on cutting board and top with Sweet Onion Gravy (recipe follows)

Sweet Onion Gravy

1/3 c organic, virgin coconut oil (can sub butter or olive oil)
2 large Vidalia onions
1/2 750 ml bottle white wine (preferably dry such as Sauvignon Blanc)
2 c good quality low sodium organic chicken stock
1/2 tsp smoked salt (optional)


1. Heat a cast iron or stainless steel skillet to medium-low, add coconut oil
2. slice onions in half, remove root by slicing diagonally, then slice 1/4" thick
3. Add onions to skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until light brown and soft (about 45 min). Turn heat lower if they begin to burn.
4. Turn heat to medium-high
5. Add wine and let reduce until only 1/3 of the original liquid remains
6. Add Stock and reduce until is resembles a gravy consistency, hold warm

But Jocelyn, wine couldn't be hunted or gathered! True enough, but although the wine and the sophisticated production of it that we know now did not exist. Most likely the first human to leave grapes outside to find it fermented a few days later came a lot earlier than the large-scale production of it. However, I also am not physically hunting or gathering my food so I feel some exceptions can be made in the spirit of blending stone age and new age cuisine. I will be delving into the history of wine and winemaking in a later post, so stay tuned if it peaks your interest.

Happy Cows Eat Grass

You may have seen the shiny green packages accompanied by their somewhat breathtaking prices or heard about it on Good Morning America: grass-fed beef is making its way back into the mainstream supermarket after living over 50 years in the shadow of conventional beef. You heard it right: grass-fed beef isn't a new-fangled, hippy fad- this was actually considered the norm before Big Agro moved in. Rising back to the spotlight after biding its time at farmers markets, grass-fed beef is becoming more and more prevalent in grocery stores today as some stores such as Wegmans have begun buying grass-fed beef from various countries, processing, and packaging it under their own label which actually lowers the premium price on grass-fed beef. Of course, if the green labeled beef you pick up in Syracuse comes from Japan it begs the question of just how "green" it really is. Buying local from either a farmer's market or straight from a farmer found at eatwild.com is the best way to avoid racking up a hefty carbon footprint score and to support your local farms that are fighting an uphill battle against Big Agro.

Another word of caution before we move on to the nutritional boons of eating grass-fed. Organic is a term that has been used fast and loose in the grocery stores these days and when it comes to beef, confusing grass-fed with organic can leave you with a mouth full of corn. Organic beef can come by the label by merely switching their conventional, genetically modified grain (GMO) with organic grain which on one hand does reduce your exposure to GMOs but on the other it still leaves you eating the same basic beef in the Club Pack that just happens to cost up to 3x as much. If your going to break out the Benjamins for organic, make sure it's grass-fed to boot.

All of this of course begs the question: Why go grass-fed?

If you've ever driven by a feedlot and seen the rows of inert, penned cows straining through their bars to reach just another morsel of GMO grain you may already have started to wonder if there wasn't a better way. To understand why eating cows that eat grass ultimately benefits you it is important to first delve into the biology of cows. Cows, like bison, sheep, and goat, digest their food by a process that is called rumination that is designed to break down highly fibrous grass, plants, and shrubs. When cows are moved from pasture to the feed lots and are instead fed grains with low fiber to fatten them up many of them become ill. In order to keep conventional cows "healthy" until slaughter they are given antibiotics mixed in with their feed to stave off bacteria growth. This excess treatment with antibiotics, some used to treat humans, contributes to the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria that has already become a problem for humans. Furthermore, feeding cows a grain-based diet creates a more acidic environment in their intestinal tract which can lead to growth of E. Coli which in turn can make its way into our diet if that club pack burger isn't cooked well-done.

Another thing you may have noticed driving by that feedlot, especially if your window was down, was the nostril-burning "fragrance" that pervades the air. I grew up in West Texas for a good portion of my life and every time the weatherman predicted winds from the south we knew we would be getting a good whiff of the feedlots that sat just outside of town. What was worse was that this was considered "normal" for cattle ranching areas. Of course, it does make perfect sense that a bunch of cows shoved together would create a heck of a lot of concentrated manure but this starts to get scary when you think about where this manure is getting filtered in to. It ends up polluting our streams as well as releasing large quantities of methane gas that contributes to global warning. It is estimated that the agribusiness, especially from feedlot cattle, accounts for 15-20% of these gases.

If E-coli scares, images of cows spending the last 3-4 months of their lives knee deep in their own waste, and global warming seem a little scare tactic to you then this next section is for you. Grass-fed beef is nutritionally better for you body regardless of whether the cow died happy and could pave the way to making sure you die happy as well. Of course, we're speaking on the cell level here because no amount of grass-fed beef is going to make getting fired or dumped less painful. It does, however, provide the following boons over its conventionally raised brethren:

-Lower total fat, including saturated fat*
-Better omega 3 to omega 6 ratio: 1:3 vs. 1:20+
- 7% of total fat is Omega-3 in grass-fed vs. 1% in grain-fed
-Increased load of vitamins and minerals such as E (4x higher), C, and beta carotene
-3 x higher levels of CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) which is being studied for its potential cancer-fighting properties

*this is not to say that saturated fat is bad. I love saturated fat, but what I don't love is saturated fat filled with antibiotics, hormones, and by-products of grain feed that results in the higher low quality fat, marbled beef chefs often desire.

The next time you roll up to the meat counter or your favorite steak restaurant take a look at the selection in terms of what it has to offer you not just in price value, but something a little harder to put a price tag on: your health.