Saturday, March 27, 2010

Is it in YOUR genes?

I never thought that I would be blogging about the effects of asparagus on the smell of urine, but here I go!

I got started on this topic one night after my roommates and I enjoyed some steamed asparagus along with our dinner. The discussion arose shortly after dinner about the pungent urine smell that occurs after asparagus consumption. When some of my roommates mentioned never having such odorous urine, I was shocked. I wanted to get to the bottom of this odd occurrence!

While researching this topic, I found many different explanations for the smell or lack of there of. Researchers have described the odor associated with the asparagus phenomenon as a “rotten or boiling cabbage” smell (Mitchell 2001). Some studies suggest that that not every individual exhibits odorous urine following asparagus ingestion as the ability to produce a funky urine smell is genetic (Mitchell, 1989). While other reports claim that odorous, asparagus urine is a universal trait (Lison et al., 1980).
However, there is yet another twist to this story. Another study was performed to test the hypothesis that the excretion of odorous substances in the urine was universal, but the ability to detect the odor varied from person to person. This could be due to a specific smell hypersensitivity. Results showed that those that could smell the “rotten or boiling cabbage” odor in their own urine could smell it in the urine of everyone else who consumed asparagus (Lison et al., 1980). Only 10% of the 307 subjects were able to smell the odorous urine. This research study suggests that not everyone has smell receptors that are sensitive tor methanethiol, the culprit of the stinky asparagus urine.

So I decided to do a test of my own, I surveyed fifteen friends and family to find that only 60% could detect an odor in their urine. But now the question is…are they lucky enough to possess the gene to produce the smell or are they gifted with hypersensitive noses?

This great debate requires further investigation. But for now researchers have concluded that “some people are excretors while others are nonexcretors; some people are perceivers (able to smell the odor) while others are nonperceivers” (Sugarman and Neelon, 1985).

Works Cited:
Lison M, Blondheim SH, Melmed RN(1980) A polymorphism of the ability to smell urinary metabolites of asparagus. Br Med J 282:1676–1678.
Mitchell SC(1989) Asparagus and malodorous urine. Br J Clin Pharmacol 27:641–642.Medline
Mitchell SC. Food indiosyncrasies: beetroot and asparagus. Drug Metabolism and Disposition 2001;29: 539-43. [PubMed]
Sugarman J, Neelon FA(1985) You're in for a treat: Asparagus. North Carolina Med J 46:332–334.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

A Special Venison Homecoming

It's quite a challenge to understand what military families go through each time our loved one embarks on a deployment and returns. So much time has gone by and with that comes change, Children have grown, animals pass, and seasons shift. Like so many of my closest friends, this is my life. Today marked the end of my tenth deployment (technically my husband's deployment, but it's ours too!)  I breathe a sigh of relief when I watch him approach me for the first a long time. It feels wonderful, especially as the huge weight of worry lifts off of my chest and my heart.  

My attitude is to keep positive and stay busy (super busy). For me, it's my way of coping and getting through each day. Life is beyond precious and I firmly believe it should not be wasted--whether with my husband by my side or on my own two feet. I have traveled many times and embarked on exciting adventures all on my own, and for that I am thankful. This community that I live amongst has taught me to be the independent person I know I can be.  We have suffered many losses over the years since 9/11, and a wonderful friend asked the other day, "can't we turn back the clocks?" and "what would our lives be like if 9/11 never happened?"  Ahhh, the "what ifs.."  All I know is that today I breathe, I walk, I speak, and I love and for that I am thankful to God. It's a choice I make to live and one I remind myself of each day. I hope you choose to live, too! If you would like to learn more about the Naval Special Warfare Foundation and all that they do to support the active duty members, spouses, and families please check out this link: 

Enough of that..let's be honest...I am happy he's home so he can start on my "honey do list."  ;o) For those who know me well will laugh, because most things I enjoy doing myself. Although, it sure is nice to have a helping hand and have my best friend back to talk with each night. And all the other fun stuff that comes with being blessed with a significant other. So before he begins on my list I need to feed him. For his first night home I made Venison Meatloaf, Braised Cabbage, and Sourdough bread (the latter purchased). Tip: you never want a heavy meal on a romantic night! ;o)

Hope you try this out--especially if you are blessed to have venison on hand!  Yum--thank you again to my nephews, brother-n-law, and folks for my stash! 

Venison Meatloaf

1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 red bell peppers, chopped
8 garlic cloves, smashed
2 roma tomatoes, chopped
2 bay leaves
1/2 cup catsup
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
3 Tbsp parsley, chopped
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper or chili powder
1 Tbsp tabasco (I used the chipotle version b/c I had it!)
2 slices bread
1/4 cup milk (to soak bread)
1 egg
2 Tbsp Thyme leaves, crushed in your hands to get the oils
S&P to season 
1 lb ground venison
1/2 lb venison sausage
3 slices center cut bacon strips (for the top)

  • In a skillet, saute onion, peppers, garlic, and tomatoes for 4 minutes. Add in catsup, worcestershire, parsley, cayenne, and pepper sauce. With a blending wand (you can do this in a food processor or blender, too), blend until smooth. Add in bay leaves and cook for another 10 minutes. Turn off, and remove from heat to cool. 
Meanwhile, soak the bread in milk.  Spray a bread pan with cooking spray and preheat oven to 350*F. 
  • Mix together meats and season with thyme, salt, and pepper. Add in egg, milk/bread mixture, and mix with hands. Add in 1 cup of tomato mixture and mix together.
  • Place meat loaf in bread pan. Top with 1/4-1/2 cup tomato mixture and lay bacon strips on top. 
  • Bake at 350*F for 1 hour (internal temperature of 155*F-165*F). Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes to allow the juices to return to the loaf--this is a moist meat loaf!
  • Adapted from a recipe by Sean Rabeaux

Serve with braised cabbage and enjoy! (See hyperlink for recipe)
Oh, and for those thinking that I made this tonight all the way through are wrong--I actually made this a couple weeks ago and saved some of the tomato sauce and froze it for tonight. So, tonight's dinner came together with ease!  PS--these freeze wonderfully, too!!  

Monday, March 15, 2010

Love Leftovers! Pics of the Chicken/Broccoli Bake

Perhaps the saying "it's better the second day" is true in this case, although it's hard to say because it was so wonderful last night, too!!  As promised, pictures of my reheated leftovers. Sorry for my lack of brain function last night in failing to take the photos as I prepared the Chicken and Broccoli Bake.

I definitely hope you try this!
~Wendy Jo

Chicken & Broccoli Bake

Yesterday I was tearing up my house to find my Chicken cookbook from Williams Sonoma. My wonderful husband bought it for me ~13-15 years ago and I have cherished it ever since. Unfortunately, I am notorious for lending out my cookbooks to help inspire my friends to become foodies, too. [I have created many converts!]  So, back to the story...I must have lent it out, and I fail to remember who may have it!  So, I must recreate the Chicken & Broccoli bake recipe without it.  I won't be following it completely (in my head that is), and I know I am already going to be making many changes, but the end product....was amazing!  Hope you enjoy the recipe, too!


Chicken & Broccoli Bake 
partially adapted from Chicken Cookbook by Williams Sonoma
6-8 cup frozen broccoli (I prefer florets, and get a big bag from Costco)
4 chicken breasts, skinless & boneless (cut these in half to make 8 pieces)
8 slices ham (you can use pancetta, bacon, Canadian bacon, prosciutto)
Dredging station (see below and you decide what mixture you have on hand)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, shredded
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp butter
2 cloves garlic, smashed
1 cup vegetable stock/broth
1/4 cup vermouth, white wine, or marsala wine
fresh parsley for garnish (optional)

Directions: Preheat oven to 350*F (325*F for convection). In a baking dish (like a sheet cake pan), place broccoli and set aside.
Now, set up a 3 plate dredging station of the following:

  • Station 1 - flour (plain old all purpose flour seasoned with S&P)
  • Station 2 - mayo (oh I know, but I did not want to use up all my eggs and mayo works as a great binder! Season this with herbs, S&P, and garlic powder. I used 1/4tsp sage,  1/4 tsp thyme, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
  • Station 3 - panko bread crumbs (again, season with herb mixture)
Note: in order to bread a product you generally need to dust it with flour, then dip into a binder (like egg, mayo, buttermilk), and then dip into outer coating (more flour, panko, cornmeal, cornflakes, etc.)

Dredge all of your chicken in the above mixture.
In a skillet, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil.  When it's hot, add chicken pieces.  All you want to do is brown the pieces on both sides. Once browned (2-4 minutes on each side) place on top of broccoli.

Note: avoid over crowding the pan, because this drops the heat of the oil and your food will absorb more oil. 

In the skillet, place crushed garlic, broth, and wine of choice.  Turn the heat to medium high and allow mixture to simmer and reduce (about 5 minutes).  Taste and season as needed with more herbs or S&P. Meanwhile, place ham slices over chicken.  Ladle thickened sauce over chicken & broccoli.  Top each piece of chicken with 2 Tbsp Parmesan cheese.  Cover with foil and bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.  Internal temperature of chicken should read 165*F if you are worried about an undercooked product. Top with parsley and serve!

If you have a lot of people coming for dinner serve with rice or pasta.   I sliced up my tomatoes from my garden and served it with naan bread instead. Let me know what you think!!

PS--I'll post a picture soon. I forgot to last night when I was serving it, so today I will get a photo of the leftovers.  It still looks really yummy!  Is it lunch time yet???

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Beet-iful Salad

Have you started to notice gorgeous red bulbs in your grocery store? When I was a child I had an allergic-type reaction to beets, but I have definitely outgrown that sensitivity!  When they are in season I am quick to get my fill.  The canned varieties are okay (at best), but the fresh, roasted variety are my favorite. To me they are almost artistic in nature with their bold color and tree-like rings. Be aware that beets can stain just about anything, so be sure to clean up any drips and wash your cutting tools immediately--oh, and wear an apron (from experience!)

Beets are also a good source of the following nutrients, making it a great pick for your next meal:

  • Potassium
  • Folate
  • Vitamin C
  • Iron
  • Manganese
  • Fiber
Roasted Beet Salad
Ingredients to serve 2:
2 beets, peeled and sliced
1 cup green beans, blanched and chilled
2 boiled eggs, chopped or sliced
4 cups salad greens
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar

Preheat oven to 400*F. On a shallow baking sheet toss beets with olive oil.  Bake beets for 20 minutes or until tender.  Drizzle with balsamic vinegar (basically you are deglazing the pan with the vinegar--this creates a hot dressing). On two plates arrange greens, beans, and eggs. Serve beets over top and drizzle with vinaigrette.  Season wtih S& P as needed. Please note that beets are naturally high in sodium so you really don't need much (if at all).

For me, this was a complete meal. This would be a great side dish with grilled chicken and quinoa.  I hope you think it is as "beet-iful"  as I do!  And please note, beets sometimes cause beet-uria (red urine) and other red things, so don't be alarmed if this happens to you. It's normal for some of us! ;o)

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Such a Blog Turnoff & Those I Like!

Perhaps this is just me but I absolutely hate long-winded blogs!  Say what you need to say in a short and concise manner so that I may get onto reading my next favorite blog. I enjoy the meaty facts and tidbits of juicy information, but time is important to me! I have heard many others critique blogs for this same thing, so perhaps it's not just me!  The rule of thumb is say it in <300 words (LESS THAN PEOPLE!)

  • So, to my blog followers, what is it that you like about food blogs and blogs in general? 
  • How do you suggest bloggers keep your readership or get you to become a reader?

Your tips and comments are what matters!  Thanks for reading and for all of the bloggers that I follow can you PLEASE shorten things up a bit and make your RSS feed show the full story, because I prefer to read your blog on my NetNewsWire account instead.  Thanks! ;)

Some of my favorite food and/or nutrition blogs:

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Brighten Up Your Morning with Orange Cranberry Muffins

The sound of the rain falling in San Diego. It's going to be a gorgeously green spring!  After dealing with the drought I am ecstatic about the rain, and truly it doesn't seem to stop me or my labs as we hit the trails. Just put some shampoo on them before we hit the trails and they come out washed! ;o)
This morning I am whipped up a batch of Orange Cranberry Muffins adapted from my favorite muffin cookbook by Williams Sonoma. I doubled the recipe so I could freeze some for a later day.

Orange Cranberry Muffins (adapted from Williams Sonoma Muffins Cookbook)
1 cup all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour (or just use 2 cps white flour in place of both flours)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 orange, zested
1 large egg
4 Tbsp butter, melted (I used 1/2 butter and 1/2 canola oil)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
1/2 cup orange juice
1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
1/2 cup pecans (I toasted mine in a skillet)

Preheat oven to 375*F. Toss together flours, sugars, baking powder, salt, and zest in a large bowl.  Melt butter in a liquid measuring cup (should measure 1/4 cup) in the microwave.  Add in 1/2 cup milk to measuring cup.  Make a "well" in the dry ingredients and pour milk/butter mixture into well.  Add in egg, orange juice, cranberries, and nuts and mix until moistened--you NEVER over mix quick breads (aka make it smooth). Spray muffin cups with cooking spray and fill pan 2/3's full. Makes 10-12 muffins. Bake for 20-25 minutes. I have a convection oven; thus, it only took 20 minutes.  Cool for 5 minutes and serve.

Friday, March 5, 2010

THAT'S A PORTION!?! Prepare for portion distortion...

Portion Distortion

I am the type of person who eats everything placed before them. No food is left untouched on my plate. So when I realized what an actual serving (the recommend amount of food referenced on the nutrition label) looked like compared to the portion size (the amount of food you decide to eat) on my plate, I was in shock.

American’s portion sizes have supersized over the last 20 years. Now the larger portions are what we consider “normal.” Understanding what a serving size is, along with making good food choices can help you eat healthier.

These comparisons can help you “eyeball” serving sizes to give you a better idea of how many servings make up your portion when eating out, grabbing food on-the-go, or simply eating at home.

1 baked potato/sweet potato should equal the size of a computer mouse

2 servings of cooked vegetables = baseball

1 serving of hard cheese = 3 dice

2 servings of cooked pasta, cereal, and rice = baseball
1 serving of bread = cassette tape

1 serving of meat = deck of cards

1 serving of ice cream = light bulb

1 brownie = dental floss

1 burrito = checkbook

Edible Nutrition’s Intern, Sarah Franz

Thursday, March 4, 2010


As spring approaches, I am reminded of how lucky I am to live in San Diego, a city with a temperate climate and fresh air. I grew up living in Bakersfield, the city ranked number one in the nation for the worst air quality. There, “Bad Air Days” prevent children from playing outside at recess because it is unhealthy for anyone to be outdoors inhaling the smog!  So since living in San Diego, I always find an excuse to get outside and enjoy my surroundings.

Physical activity is one of the most important things you can do for your health. Just 30 minutes of moderate physical activity several times a week can improve your mood, strengthen bones and muscles, prevent weight gain, and reduce your risk of many cancers and diseases.

Along with its weather, San Diego offers so many beautiful locations to enjoy physical activity. So take your spouse, kids, and/or dogs with you outdoors to enjoy some fresh air and exercise!

  • Hike Cowles Mountain
  • Take a bike ride around Coronado Island
  • Go for a hike in Torrey Pines and bring a picnic lunch
  • Take a stroll along Sunset Cliffs National Park
  • Take a day trip to Julian to enjoy a scenic hike

  • Go for a bike ride along Spanish Landing
  • Explore Balboa Park
  • Play beach volleyball on the sand courts at the south end of Mission Beach
  • Go golfing and instead of renting a golf cart, walk the course
  • Go for a jog on Mission Trails
  • Rent a kayak and explore La Jolla Cove

Edible Nutrition’s Intern, Sarah Franz

Monday, March 1, 2010

Homemade Sports Drink...Yes You Can!

"Really? I can make it myself? You mean there are not a bunch of chemicals I have to buy to make it?"
Yes, that's right--you CAN make your own sports drink.  Making your own sports drink is actually quite easy. Now you can replenish your body and your wallet ($ cha-ching $) at the same time! Using citrus zest is a great way to get a lot of flavor without the problems that are often associated with just drinking fruit juice (gut issues).  Your performance needs are something you need to speak with your sports dietitian about and coach.  When you have some training time you can play with the mix that best fits your performance needs/tastes.  Keep in mind there are some basics that you need to include: 

You take water (bottled, filtered, tap--your choice)
Add in flavor which can either be a juice or citrus zest (I like zest!)
Add in your carbohydrate(s) (start with table sugar, then add honey, molasses, agave nectar, or brown sugar--again, your choice)
Add in the electrolyte (aka salt)
Fifth and final....
Stir and Serve!

Here is an actual recipe, but feel free to play this to make your own Power-Packed Sports Concoction:
1 quart water (4 cups)
Zest of 1 orange, lemon, lime, or grapefruit (combos work great, too)
2 Tbsp honey (fructose)
2 - 4 Tbsp sugar (sucrose)
¼ - ½ tsp salt
Optional additions:
§  Molasses in place of honey
§  Fruit Juice (replace ½ cup of water with ½ cup juice)
§  Fresh ginger slices
§  Fresh mint
Mix and enjoy!