Ham and lentils, a variation on a previous recipe — also, articles about tastes buds in your stomach and the effect of sugar on your skin

Well, I didn’t try anything new this week, but I did try a variation on the Ham and Red Beans recipe I posted a few weeks ago.

Specifically, I came up with a variation for times when I have leftover ham, but no ham bone, and want to use lentils instead.

So, skip soaking the beans, and just start cooking the lentils. I used about two cups of lentils, and also added a cup of barley. All the rest of the ingredients went in as described in the previous recipe.

Then, to replace the thickening and richness that comes from boiling the ham bone for a while, I made a roux out of 1/4 c unsalted butter, 1/4 c Wondra flour and about 2 cups of broth from the soup. Once the roux was cooked and thickened, I added it back into the main soup pot.

The longest part about this recipe was waiting for the barley to cook, so it is quite a bit faster to make than the Ham and Red Beans recipe is.

It turned out well! 🙂


The March 27 2010 issue of Science News had a very interesting article about taste buds being other places than your mouth. The article is “Stomach’s Sweet Tooth” by Rachel Ehrenberg.

Specifically, scientists are finding taste buds all through your digestive tract. So when you taste something sweet, it sends a signal to the taste buds in your stomach to let your stomach know something with a lot of sugar (and likely calories) is on the way.

Which is where it gets complicated when you add in artificial sweeteners. The way artificial sweeteners are supposed to work is they taste sweet, so you get a sweet taste, but the molecules that produce that sweet taste don’t have as many calories as sugar — or maybe no calories at all — so your body doesn’t have extra calories that it puts away as fat.

But the whole point of artificial sweeteners is they fool your taste buds into tasting something sweet.

Which, as the article explains, then leads to your stomach thinking it will receive something with the calories that would come from something which tasted that sweet.

So, all of this is being looked at as a possible explanation as to why people who drink a lot of diet pop have a hard time losing weight. Various other theories have included the theory that drinking a lot of diet soda makes a person so used to sweet-tasting stuff they start craving a lot more sugar in all their food, or that maybe the other ingredients in diet pop have something to do with discouraging weight loss.

It will be interesting if it may turns out fooling your taste buds screws up your diet plan because you’re also fooling your gut.

No matter how you look at it, less pop is probably a good idea. (That last statement is my personal opinion, not from the article.)


And there was an article online from Bon Appetit about too much refined sugar in your diet prematurely aging your skin. The article was “The Truth Behind Excessive Sugar Intake Is All Over Your Face“, by Diane Chang in her April 7 2010 Conscious Cook blog.

2 thoughts on “Ham and lentils, a variation on a previous recipe — also, articles about tastes buds in your stomach and the effect of sugar on your skin

  1. I knew my taste buds were planning evil, I hate how much of a sweet eater I’ve become. Thanks for putting up the article links,good stuff.

    • The article I linked happens to mention “The mechanisms still aren’t clear, she says, but work suggests that activating gut bitter receptors can trigger reactions that convince a body that it’s satiated.”

      Although I’ve had a number of people look at me very oddly when I say this, the things that seemed to decrease my sweet tooth the most over the last few years have been: good black teas, dark beers such as stouts and porters, dark chocolate, and developing a taste for some of the stronger scotches.

      Interestingly, all of those foods are bitter.

      So, weird as it may sound, if you are having problems with a sweet tooth it might be worth your while to try developing at taste for some of the more bitter drinks or chocolate. I can’t guarantee that it’ll work but it definitely seemed to have an effect on me.

      I’ve also gotten hooked on roasted dandelion root tea the last couple years (the brand I buy is Traditional Medicinals) — and it’s bitter too.

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