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Sous-Vide and Nutrient Needs

Nutrition Info

You can imagine my surprise when I walked into our bathroom recently and found this in our bathtub:

Peter!

Those of you who have been reading THIH for a while know that Peter has been experimenting with sous-vide cooking for several months. Sous-vide involves cooking food that has been vacuum-sealed in plastic in a tightly-controlled low-temperature water bath. The resulting food (carefully handled and cooked for food safety purposes, of course) is tender in texture and rich in flavor.

As sous-vide devices are quite expensive, Peter set out to make his own. His first attempt yielded a device that could control the tempy of the water bath to 1°F accuracy. Not bad! So far, he’s made salmon, lamb chops, and, of course, his “perfect” egg.

Of course, typical Peter doesn’t want just 1°F accuracy – he wants 0.1°F accuracy. Go figure. So, a few weeks ago, he set out to make the perfect sous-vide device, following directions on this website and adding his own improvements (such as separating the heating device and thermometer from the control box). Here is the result:

This box is the temperature control for the water bath in the bathtub. It does seem a bit overkill to use the huge basin to cook two eggs, but Peter wanted to test the temperature control in a large vat of water.

And here is our perfect egg!

What? Bonnie, you want some of dat?

One of my favorite ways to eat soft-boiled eggs is to break them over a big bowl of veggies and enjoy it like dressing.

With all the wonderful stuff in eggs, this dressing is one of which you can be proud (if you eat eggs, of course 🙂 ). Stay tuned to see more of Peter sous-vide creations!

*Griiiiiiind*

Hear that? That’s me shifting gears.

… My lovely German friend Sandi sent me this question recently:

I’ve been meaning to ask you if you have any advice for people who live vegan? I’ve been vegetarian for 15 years but I’ve always liked dairy products. But for a while now I’ve been getting sick after eating dairy, even milk chocolate bars and ice cream 🙁 I’ve been to the doctor to check it and he agrees that I might be lactose intolerant. So is there any advice you could give me for my diet? Are there even vegan sources for all nutrients, for example vitamin D?

Great questions, Sandi! I’m glad that you check with your doctor, as he can help you determine the degree to which you may be lactose intolerant (and check for other reasons why you may be getting sick). In general, lactose intolerance is common, especially in adulthood, with some ethnic groups more affected than others (African American, Asian, American Indian, for example). People vary tremendously on just how lactose-intolerant they are, with some people able to handle a cup of milk 2x a day, while others cannot handle low-lactose cheese. Your doctor and/or registered dietitian can help you determine what you can handle.

Some foods tend to contain more lactose than others: for example, hard cheese and yogurt tend to have less lactose per serving than milk. Also, full fat milk tends to have less lactose per serving than low fat and nonfat milk (although I would not condone regular consumption of full fat dairy due to the high amount of saturated fat!). With your doctor’s supervision, you can experiment to see just how much dairy you can handle.

Bonnie ponders whether or not to taste my hand.

Why am I pushing dairy so much? Some people choose not to include dairy in their diet, which is A-OK. However, for someone who DOES wish to include dairy in their diet, dairy is the easiest source of calcium. Of course, if any dairy makes you feel sick or you choose not to include dairy in your diet, there are some great vegan sources of calcium. The best is spinach and other leafy green vegetables, followed by beans, peas, nuts, and orange juice and cereal that’s been fortified with calcium (I’m not sure if Germany has these!). Try to eat several servings of these calcium-rich foods per day, and maybe consider a calcium supplement.

As for vitamin D, the best way to get vitamin D is to expose your skin to the sun – ALERT!! – but I don’t advise too much sun, because that can damage your skin! In the U.S., the best (and easiest!) food source for vitamin D is fortified milk, which I’m not sure you have in Germany. Some foods, like liver, sardines, and eggs, have a little bit of vitamin D, but it’s hard to get enough from just those foods (especially if you choose not to include them in your diet). I actually take vitamin D pills (they’re the only supplement I take, besides the occasional omega fatty acid supplement), because research is showing that vitamin D is very important, and even with milk I’m not getting enough in my diet. The literature on vitamin D is too rich to get into at this point – maybe I’ll devote a post to it later.

Lastly, sometimes vegetarians and vegans have trouble getting enough vitamin B12 in their diets because the best sources are meat, eggs, and dairy.  I know you said you don’t like eggs, Sandi, so those are out.  There aren’t really any plant sources of B12, unless you eat cereals or other foods that have been fortified with vitamin B12. B12 is really important, so if you’re not eating any dairy or eggs, it might be good to take a multivitamin, if you can. Nutritional yeast is another possible source of vitamin B12, but you MUST be sure that the label says the yeast has been fortified with B12 – not all of them have it!

A few good resources for a vegetarian or vegan diet are here and here.

(… You may be wondering why I interspersed my discussion of nutrients with pictures of Bonnie. Well, I thought about finding some generic pictures of milk or yogurt to break up the text, but I figured that was boring. This way, I can show off our adorable doggies. Goodness know I never exploit their cuteness. Case in point:

That would be my vampiric little Maddles, with Gussie in the background. What, you don’t believe me about the vampire thing? Look at this closeup, my friends:

Q.E.D. )

Q: What should Peter cook next in his sous-vide device? If I like your suggestion, we may try it!

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40 Comments

  1. Hey Jessie!

    Yes, I do remember your salmon and lambchop post after clucking on the links, but I don’t remember your perfect egg post. Must’ve been before I started stalking you ;-). And my oh my is that a perfect egg! I love that you called your egg, “dressing”. That’s exactly what it is! Perfect dressing on ramen noodles too, mm mm good. Wow! Peter is quite the sous vide machine builder! I’m super impressed with his skills! It was on your blog that I first heard of sous vide style cooking. Then Valerie had a couple great posts about it on her blog. I don’t remember if I sent her your link or if I sent you her link. Either way, she has some great sous vide posts up too @ A Canadian Foodie.

    Great job answering that question! Extremely informative answer. Remember in the email you said it’s unfair cause you’re just learning from me? Totally not true my friend! I learn something from your bloggie all the time. That’s why I love blogging so much, I get to learn new things everyday. So thank you again for teaching me many things from this post. You’re always a joy to read. Have a lovely day Jessie! HUGS!

  2. Haha. hilarious!

    What about cooking something like ahi tuna? I always love ahi when it is gently seared so that the inside is tender and raw-ish, so I imagine you could do a pretty artful job cooking it sous-vide?

    Great info on the dairy bit and vitamin D. Question about that though – is it possible, that, after going off dairy for a prolonged period of time (ie. going vegan for a year or two) you can become lactose/dairy intolerant? I’ve heard before that it you can “lose” the enzymes necessary to digest dairy after a while of not having it.

    1. Hi Darryn! 🙂

      That’s a question that’s come up many times, and I don’t have a good answer because there isn’t one. One of the biggest problems with trying to determine how someone becomes lactose intolerant is that you can become LI for ANY reason. You can become LI from pregnancy, surgery, illness, or even from a bout of diarrhea. Since most people become lactose intolerant after childhood, it’s possible that the time period someone stops drinking milk corresponds with the time his or her body stops making the digestive lactase enzyme anyway. Causality can be hard to determine (like with many aspects of nutrition!)

      Hope that helps a little! Let me know if you have any more questions 🙂

      1. Super interesting. I’ve definitely noticed that since my stomach issues earlier this year (no doubt exacerbated by India), I have had some issues with dairy. Good to know!

        Thanks for the info!! 🙂

  3. PS
    Um…still super jealous that you got Lynn to guest post on your blog. Haha. You know how much I adore that woman.

    1. Ok ok I promise I’ll stop spamming you. Forgot to answer your question. How ’bouts some kinda shrimp dish or scallops? You know I’m all about my seafoods 😛

      1. Haha, oh LeeQs. You always bring a huge smile to my face 😀

  4. Peter is hardcore! Very cool, I am so impressed with his sous-vide skills!!

  5. So sorry about the 3 in a row comments!! I thought it wasn’t going through!! OOPS!!

    1. Haha! You are too cute, Em. Thanks for sticking with it – I know glitches like this are frustrating! xoxo 🙂

  6. hahahahaha!!!! That’s a perfect way to celebrate the start of new semester!!! I wish I have that cool stuff in my apt too!

    The running yolk looks so enticing. with the egg recalls, somehow I feel my desire for egg has increased a lot! haha

  7. I am SO impressed with Peter’s sous vide machine! Whoa. I was pretty sure those things could only be had at five star restaurants….

    Oh runny yolk. How delicious. I rediscovered eggs this week. They are amazing.

    Also, I know that almond milk is fortified with calcium and vitamin D! Could be a good source!

    1. That’s true, Joanne – many milk substitutes are fortified with calcium and vitamin D! Thanks for the reminder! 🙂

  8. Wow, I am seriously impressed with Peter’s sous-vide contraption! Amazing! I like to do the same thing with soft-boiled eggs…absolutely delicious. 🙂 Maddles has probably the cutest little face I’ve ever seen.

  9. Egg as veggie “dressing” — I like that! I’m on a huge egg kick lately — I’ve had them for breakfast for work the past 2 mornings. That never happens!

    Peter is hardcore – I love it! And I am tottttally embarrassed to admit that prior to this post, I had no idea what sous-vide even was…and I TOOK FRENCH! I think he should try marinated mushrooms or something like that…yum!!

  10. All I can say is….wow. I’ve actually never heard of sous-vide. That contraption is crazy (in an amazing way). The whole things seems really difficult, so I’m extremely impressed! I don’t even have the slightest idea what he should cook in there since I don’t know much about it. But I’m so intrigued! And I can’t wait to see more culinary creations! 🙂

    1. I think you’re the only one who caught that, Lauren! Nice work! 😉

  11. My God! Sous vide??! I’m impressed….. and a bit scared LOL How about sous viding *grin* ribs??

    I don’t eat much meat, especially red meat. In fact I eat mostly a vegetarian diet though I can’t let go of my beloved cheese! Thanks for all the information – helpful for someone like me, who’s contemplating the vegan lifestyle….

  12. That machine looks pretty neat.

  13. Fantastic informative post. Creative sous-vide cooking. Best of luck with your future s-v adventures.

  14. Whoa, what a contraption! I watched Master Chef yesterday and one contestant used a sous-vide thingy and it all looked very confusing. Now it looks even more confusing but the results seem delightful 🙂 Yum yum

  15. loving the sous-vide techniques–you’ll have to know how the fish turns out if you try it! 🙂 thanks for the great tips and advice for dairy/calcium/vitD–i think a puppet show would be perfect to describe this lol. see you in class tomorrow!

  16. Peter…He’s SO COOL. Seriously. Wouldn’t I love to have a guy be so precise with trying to make cooking a cooler art. Or science. I hate science, so I’l leave all the brainy things to him. 😉
    Since you already cooked my favorite protein, egg, why not fish? Butter-poached fish? Mmm…

    I love that you don’t shun dairy and treat it like the devil like many other people do. Dairy is my friend. Thank goodness I don’t have lactose-intolerance!

  17. that is truly amazing that Peter made his own sous-vide machine! I am impressed! You provided a lot of great information in your post, I think I could live with out meat, but never cheese, I do so much with all the different types, and I do love Greek yogurt!

  18. I have never heard of sous-vide so this is really interesting to me! I love learning about new ways to cook food (even if I’ll probably never try them ;P)!

    Thanks for all of the nutrient info! And the pictures of your adorable dogs. 🙂

  19. wow Peter is crazy, but in a good/brilliant way!!! i love how u walked in and was taken back for a moment.. “uhhh Peter, what are you doing!?!” haha.
    wow vacuum cooking…CRAZY!

  20. The sous-vide device is sooo cool! And the egg looks simply perfect. In my opinion, there is nothing better than a perfectly cooked soft boiled (or poached) egg running over veggies… 🙂

  21. Oh how fun! You have an Alton Brown on your hands! 🙂 haha Thankfully Johnny doesn’t have that much spare time, or I bet I’d run into a lot of kitchen experiments like that.

  22. Have you considered the SOus Vide Supreme? Is it too small for you? I think you read all of my reviews – and it is not expensive. I am getting one shortly after doing the reviews…. had to have one.
    🙂
    Valerie

    1. Hi Valerie! I DO remember your reviews, and it seems like an excellent machine! For now, Peter loves tinkering with machines (especially kitchen-related!) too much to buy one. I don’t blame you for getting one though! I can’t wait to see what you make in it! 🙂

  23. That sous-vide thing is crazy. I could even see my husband experimenting with that. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next. Has he done veggies yet or tofu?

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