--by John Celona
Health Care: It's Up to YOU!
Last February I wrote a column entitled "Good Health Doesn't Come in a Pill," which you can go read here if you're so inclined.
In it, I recounted some recent results on the issue of what doctors can do for you versus what you can do for yourself through diet and exercise. In view of the uproar over the launch of HealthCare.gov (try visiting if you feel adventurous), I thought more on this subject might be timely.
The proposition, which I've been testing over and over with doctors, is that the whole system we call "Health Care" should be called "Disease and Injury Care" because that's what they really do: intervene and try to treat diseases and injuries. As many have noted to me, this system is extremely good and dealing with trauma and acute conditions (broken bones, auto accidents, etc.) but not so good at dealing with chronic conditions.
Those chronic conditions include all the things associated with metabolic syndrome (being overweight), which include: Type 2 (adult onset) diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, etc. It also includes arthritis and all the aches and pains we all deal with as we get older.
Let's face it: for most of humanities' existence, people had babies as soon as they were able and by around age 30 or so had been eaten or died of something. Only in the last few thousand years (and particularly the last few hundred years) have people started to live significantly longer--not enough time for evolution to catch up with different adaptations.
Put simply, most of us are lucky enough to outlive the design life of the equipment. And medicine hasn't yet advanced to where it can overcome the effects of aging through pills or surgery.
However, thankfully, there is something at all of our disposal which dramatically effects the aging process and how healthy you are: diet and exercise.
Hence my Radical Theory of Health Care:
Health Care is Diet & Exercise
Go to a doctor if you feel you have a disease or injury that's not taking care of itself.
The last point seems lost on most people when they go to the doctor to "get fixed." As I've discussed before, people some hung up on the mechanism versus organism problem. Mechanisms wear out with use, and replacing parts fixes them. Organisms get stronger with use, and the replacement parts are not yet anywhere near as good as the original equipment.
So, rather than go to an orthopedic surgeon for shoulder issues as many of my friends have and do, I keep working on the set of exercises that keeps my shoulders doing what I want them to do. Sure, I don't bench press heavy weight any more. But my shoulders, although sore after working out, don't really bother me. Decades ago when I dislocated my collar bone after being hit by a car while bike riding, the orthopedic surgeon told me I would get really bad arthritis and they had a great surgery for it. Twenty-seven years later, me and the 10-pound dumbells are still holding out.
Likewise for diet--a subject I never seem to tire yacking about! What ca
Click me to Look Inside!
n I say: I like the way eating healthy food makes me look and feel! And it can taste great, too! I should write a book about that--oh wait, I already did!
So I'm really concerned about the whole premise of the
Affordable Care Act: that people should spend more on health insurance so they can use more of doctors and hospitals. (I understand, healthy people pay more so unhealthy people pay less, but if utilization is going up so will total cost.)
I would say just the opposite: that people should do more Health Care (diet and exercise) so they need less of doctors and hospitals! And that doesn't require a government program.
In past columns, I've also recounted the growing contra-indications on all the stuff cited as "preventive health care": PSA screening, colonoscopies, etc. Please: don't give me more tests; just give me more broccoli!
I'm also very mindful that the most common diseases and injuries take care of themselves whether you go to the doctor or not. I've a 74-year-old friend I swim with, Barry, whom I can keep up with on good days and mostly not on the rest. Barry gets back troubles every now and again. He told me, "I used to go to the doctor, and they would give me an MRI and tell me to rest it. Now I just know if I take it easy it will be fine in a week or two." We need more people like Barry.
Here's hoping that you give yourself more care for your health by getting a little bit better with your diet and exercise and sticking with it!
First Video OUT!
Well, I had the good fortune to be one of the authors asked to speak at "Authors for Literacy," a fundraiser for the Martin Luther King Foundation, and the second good fortune that someone was there to videotape me.
With a little (lot!) of editing, I have the first segment up where I do a little introduction and then a live demonstration of my super great and easy coffee recipe--with a volunteer from the audience?
Did she like it or not? Was it one of those very embarrassing live moments?? You'll just have to look for yourself! Below is the link to the YouTube video on my channel.
|"Authors for Literacy" presentation (Part I)|
If you'd like the recipe in written form, search for "John Celona The Power Chef" to find the ebook in the iTunes bookstore or the paperback or Kindle versions on Amazon.
You can also follow me on The Power Chef Cookbook Facebook page by clicking the link below.
At the "Authors for Literacy" I had sample of my likewise super great and easy barbecue steak recipe for people to try. It was very funny seeing peoples' reactions as they made their way down a table laden with books and suddenly came to a large tray of BEEF. Will have the video with that part for next month.
For this month, read on for how to do a grand-slam home run Turkey for Thanksgiving!
The Power Chef
Superb Stuffed Roast Turkey
Thanksgiving is probably the biggest Kitchen Trauma day of the year: everyone stresses so much about producing a great turkey! I break it down to two easy steps: (1) brine it; (2) roast it. Both make a huge difference in turning out the most moist, tasty turkey you've ever had. Use the deluxe roasting method if you're feeling adventurous, or just brine and roast how you usually do. Both will come out great!
|Crispy top and bottom and oh so good! |
The turkey gets marinated for one or more days in a strong salt, pepper, and herb brine, then stuffed and roasted at 450˚F. At this temperature, it has to be flipped part way through to be cooked evenly, but will cook faster. If you're not up to flipping it, turn the temperature down to 350˚F and cook it longer.
A Turkey (as big as you can lift comfortably)
1 cup salt
1/3-cup fresh ground pepper
1 cup chopped fresh rosemary or sage
approximately 1 gallon of cool water
a 16-quart stock pot or 5 gallon bucket
stuffing (your favorite recipe)
4-6 poultry skewers
Thaw the frozen turkey. Overnight in cold water will do it (a big garage sink works wonderfully for this). In the fridge, it will take several days to thaw.
Once, the turkey is thawed, rinse thoroughly in cool water. Reserve the giblets and neck for gravy. Then combine the salt, pepper, and herb in the stock pot. Add about a gallon of cool water and stir until the salt is dissolved. There should be just enough water that the turkey would be submerged when pressed down, though it will actually float. That's fine because it gets turned over through the marination process.
Give the turkey a few turns to get it thoroughly drenched on all sides, then marinate for 24 hours in the fridge, flipping every 6 hours or so. If you have time (and I highly recommend this), it can soak for days more. I find that a minimum of 3 days is required to get the flavors to penetrate all the way.
|Ms. Birdie in her beauty bath!|
On Thanksgiving day, take the pot out of the fridge and set on the counter first thing in the morning so the turkey can begin to warm up.
Start your oven preheating to to 450ºF, then make the stuffing while the oven is heating. Remove the turkey from the marinade and discard the marinade (no re-using!). Stuff the turkey and use the poultry skewers to pull the skin together over the openings. I like to stuff the main cavity and to put some in the front. There's usually plenty of skin around the neck to make a pocket and, in my opinion, the stuffing roasted in the neck cavity directly under crisped skin is the best part. You could use thread to close the openings, but I find the skewers much easier to use and remove after cooking. Before putting the turkey in the oven, add about 1/4-inch of cold water to the bottom of the roasting pan so the drippings don't burn.
Set the turkey in a roasting rack, put the rack in the roasting pan, then roast it breast down for 1 to 1-1/2 hours, depending on how big it is.
Remove the roasting pan from the oven. Have a turkey-sized platter ready. Using several layers of paper towels in each hand so you don't get burned, lift the turkey and rack out of the pan and flip them together onto the platter. Then lift the rack off the turkey and set it back in the roasting pan. Still using the paper towels, flip the turkey over and set it breast side up on the rack.
Roast for another 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Replenish the water in the bottom of the pan if necessary. The turkey is done when a piercing in the deepest part of the thigh produces juice with just the faintest hint of pink. Or, if you have a meat thermometer, roast to an internal temperature of 150˚F.
Remove from the oven and let rest at least 30 minutes. A full hour is better, and the bird will still be warm two hours later.
Scrape the drippings and add them to the gravy. Remove the stuffing and put it in your serving dish. Carve the turkey as nicely or not as your inclined to (it tastes great in any shape!), then you're ready to eat.
The skin over the stuffing in the neck cavity will turn very dark during the cooking process, but won't actually burn. If you like, cover just this area with foil to keep it lighter in color.
I usually do a turkey weighing somewhere in the mid-20's. It's big enough to feed up to around 15 or 20 people and small enough that I can still flip it over. If I'm expecting more people than that, I'll usually do the non-traditional Thanksgiving menu with smoked turkeys instead of roasted stuffed turkeys because they cook faster and it's not too bad to do one after the other. Two roasted stuffed turkey is really hard unless you have two large ovens.
I usually get a frozen turkey. Fresh are a lot more expensive and I don't see the difference in the result. Most turkeys are dry because people overcook them. There should still be hints of pink in the finished result. An overcooked fresh turkey is just as dry as an overcooked frozen one.
If you're nervous about telling when the turkey is done, use a meat thermometer. However, only roast to an internal temperature of 150ºF-not the 180ºF temperature commonly recommended these days. Cooking to 180ºF will give you Roast Turtankahem (mummified turkey) for sure, and now amount of gravy will erase the impression that you're eating something which was not alive any time recently. 150ºF really is cooked enough to eat safely. In addition, out of "an overabundance of caution" as the lawyers would say, we're being extra-safe by: (1) thoroughly rinsing first; and (2) soaking in a brine salty enough to kill bacteria.
I've cooked hundreds of turkeys over the years, and no one's gotten sick yet. But, everyone does say "Your turkey is so moist! What did you do?"
It's simple: don't overcook it. There will be hints of pink. Blame it on the marinade.
I also don't bother with covering with cheesecloth or anything else, or with basting. Both interfere with the skin browning. In addition, with enough marinading time, the flavor's already in the meat. And basting is not necessary if, again, you just don't overcook it.
The cooking method given here of using high heat and flipping the bird gives you a result similar to a fried turkey without the bother of special turkey fryer and all that hot oil. The finished bird is beautifully browned and crisp on all sides while still juicy and moist inside. It's not that hard if you just use enough paper towels to insulate your hands against the heat.
If it's more than you'd like to try, just reduce the oven to 350ºF and roast the turkey breast down. That's right: breast down. I know this is contrary to all the photos and recipes you've seen. I've tried it many times both ways and find that, breast up, the white meat is dry by the time the thighs are done. Roasting breast down gives you wonderfully moist breast meat when the bird is done. Sure, it won't look as pretty if you flip if over. Just don't!