Salmon Quinoa Cakes with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce

A cold and rainy day in Wisconsin greats me as I ready myself for the day.  Ice and wind is a good possibility on my way to work.  So I have to take care on my drive into work.  A cautious morning drive is on my plate.
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I have been wondering what to make for dinner tonight.  Yesterday was poached salmon with sesame ginger sauce and curried quinoa.  So today I plan on taking the leftovers and making salmon cakes.  Great on this cold day.

Salmon Cakes
1 lb salmon cooked and flaked
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 small onion chopped
1 small red bell pepper chopped
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
2 eggs
1 teaspoon sriracha sauce
2 tablespoons yogurt
2 tablespoons flour plus extra flour if needed to firm up the salmon cakes do they don’t fall apart.

Garnish
2 sliced avocados
Pico sauce

Sauce
2 cups yogurt
1 tablespoon sriracha sauce
2 roasted red peppers
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon coriander
1 garlic clove

I make the sauce first. Place the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth. Set aside.

In a food processor mix the quinoa, bread crumbs, eggs, sriracha sauce, yogurt and flour.  Put mixture in  bowl and mix the rest of the ingredients in add more yogurt to moisten if necessary.  Chill mixture for 30 minutes.  Form into patties and set aside.

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Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a pan.  Place cakes in pan and cook on each side for about 10 minutes until brown and patties are cooked through.

Serve atop sliced avocado and top with pico sauce.  Serve roasted red pepper sauce on the side.

Enjoy will enjoy the cold day more knowing I will be coming home to the salmon cakes and roasted red pepper sauce.

Baby It’s Cold Outside.

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Brrrr….I’m chilled to the bone.  As January comes to an end, winter lets us know that it is not over yet.  The weatherman is using terms like wind chill, arctic blast, polar vortex.  Each term used with a dramatic fervor  to scare the bejesus out of you.  Well stop it!  I know that it’s as cold as a witch’s tit out there.  I don’t need your melodramatics to help me to remember to put my hat on before I venture outside.  This is Wisconsin and yes it does get this cold in the winter.

So, with that off of my chest.  I could see my breath as I spoke.  It is time to cook up a heaping pot of veggie chili.  As I dig through my pantry to find all the fixings, here is what you’ll need if you too want to cook up some chili to heat up your insides.

28 oz can of chopped tomatoes
28 oz can of stewed tomatoes
1 quart of tomato juice
1 tbsp Better than Bullion soup base
1 onion chopped roughly
2 pablano chili peppers roasted chopped roughly
2 anaheim peppers roasted chopped roughly
2 hungarian peppers roasted chopped roughly
1-2 jalapeno pepper chopped fine
2 red bell peppers roasted chopped roughly
2 cups pumpkin that is cubed and cooked in vegetable broth until soft
Two 16 oz cans of black beans
One 16 oz can of pinto beans
6 garlic gloves chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp ground cumin
1 tsp fennel seed
3 tbsp chili powder
1 teaspoon red cayenne pepper
1 tbsp Vindaloo Seasoning
1 cup bulgar wheat
1/4 cup fresh chopped cilantro

Empty the canned tomato products in a deep stock pot.  Add the soup base and chopped garlic and all the seasonings.  put on medium heat until it starts to boil and then begin to simmer.  In a pan saute the onion and jalapeno peppers in olive oil until the onion softens.  Add them to the stock along with the roasted peppers.  Add the pumpkin and beans.  Simmer for about 2 – 3 hours.  Added the cilantro and bulgar wheat.  Simmer for 1 more hour.  If the chili is too thick stir in more tomato juice or water.

I like to serve it with sour cream and crusty bread but it is also great without the dairy as a vegan dish.

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A great way to beat the cold weather.

This pot will serve 12 healthy appetites.

You can freeze it for the next day the wind chill drops to 40 below.

Cheers.

Sunshine Stolen from the Summer Sun Warms my Winter

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When I worked as a chemist for a well known scientific instrumentation manufacturer.  Ok, well known in some circles.  Scientific instrumentation is certainly not the rage on 5th Ave in New York or Bourbon St in New Orleans.  And it is not what I am writing about in the blog entry.  Thank God!  I am writing about my journey into the world of orchids.  Their wondrous blooms coaxed by the warmth of the summer months and the humidity that they crave.  I fell in love with their vibrant beauty, their delicate look, their rare charm.  They are the sunshine in my winter.  They soak up the sun on those ungodly hot summer days.  Those days that cook the brains in your head like a hard boiled egg.  Those days wet with water that hangs on the stillness in the dark steamy shade.  Those lazy summer days where the orchids capture rays of sunshine that slide down each slick green leaf warming their roots.  Rays that are locked safe away until the frozen depths when father winter releases them with his icy key.  Glorious blooms warm me.  Red as the cherries picked on a summer day, purple and pink as if they stole the rays of July’s setting suns, yellow like the ears of corn piled high on the dinner table in August.  They have captured this all for me and warmed my snowy winter home with the golden rays that they stole from the summer sun.

Yellow Cattleya

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My friends say things like.  “green thumb” and “To hard to grow.”  They compare my orchids to delicate babies that will wither in their pots if not treated with the utmost care.  Well, all I have to say is think again.  Anyone can grow an orchid.  You do not have to have the menagerie that fills my winter home and office.  Just one that with the right amount of water and summer warmth they will bloom for you each winter after the warmth of the summer has retreated to our fading memories.

First pink cattleleya

Taking care of your orchid should be a enjoyable journey.  First you find a sunny window to put your orchid in when it is winter.  They love sunny rooms with a southern exposure.  I don’t give them extra humidity just fill a couple of dishes with water in the room to provide a little extra humidity.  While they are in bloom I take them to the sink and drown them in water once a week.  I put them back in the window and spritz them with a spray of water once or twice a week.  After the blooms die back I trim the stalks down or pluck the dead buds of the cattleyas.  I then fertilize them once a month until the weather is warm.  I then replace the bark with new orchid bark/soil and put them on a northern wall in the shade outside.   They love it there.  They can drink in the summer rains and enjoy the humidity on their roots.  I spray them down every other day when the days are dry.  They are happy.

About August I can see new shoots reaching out from the rubbery foliage. They are ready for the winter.  When the temps at night dip down to the 40s I bring them in to their winter home.  I water them and fertilize them once or twice after they are brought into the house.  They will start to bloom in October and finish in late spring.

Soft purple baby love cattleyas

I say let the summer sun in your home this winter and buy an orchid.  Find a good greenhouse that has healthy specimens and you too can have orchids blooming on these cold winter days.

Yellow and pink laleocattleya

Aside

Pewitts Nest 100

I recently responded to a post that allowed me to look back at my past loves.  I have had the pleasure to experience love in many forms.  I have always been hard wired for a long term relationship.  That is not to say that I have not wondered from the traditional.  The journey of life leads us along many different paths and I have had the pleasure of experiencing many.  I take with me the wisdom my experiences have given me.

When I was younger I confused by love and my sexuality.  Coming from a strict Catholic family I was taught to shun my gay sexuality.  I dated girls and broke many hearts as I could not commit to the relationships knowing deep down I yearned for a man to share my life with. I could not live a life that was a lie to both me and the one I was to share my life with.  So I wandered; not really looking for love but living life as I could while embracing my past.  In my late twenties I had a talk with my mother that was transitional in my life.  She said to stop worrying about how other feel and live your life as you. Find yourself and live your life as that person.  It was a defining moment that I have carried with me always.  I started dating men.

I looked for love in the gay scene in the eighties.  Bars, nightclubs. and the sort.  The men were only looking for one thing….sex.  I wanted more.  A deep bond that I would carry with me through my life.  In that bond would be love, sharing, friendship and truth.  So I stopped looking. I concentrated on my career and my life around me.  It was then that I found my first love in my neighbor.  It was awakening.  I was attracted to his love for life.  He was a person that filled everyday with wondrous events; looking at each day as a new beginning.  We were as one.  Sharing loving and experiencing our life together.  He was my soulmate. But alas, it was the eighties and we were gay men.  AIDS took my first lover on July 20, 1991.

I wandered for a while stunned by my loss.  I found several lovers but none compared to my first.  It was when I stopped looking for a love that would rival my first love that I found my second.  My realization came.  I needed to look for love in my life as I was living it.  In places where I enjoyed life.  I found my second love on a bike ride.  He became my friend first and lover second.  It was a relationship of a new type.  We shared everything.  My best friend as lover.  It was a godsend.  We had many nights of long talks, days of exciting experiences, afternoons of love.  The days grew into a rich relationship that I hope every person has the chance to experience. Yet it was to be short lived.  He left this life after only knowing him for three short years.  He had a heart attack in his mid forties.

I now had lost two loves and thought I would live my life in the rich memories of the past.  I would journey down my path in life alone. I took with me the experiences of the past and found new interests and relationships in friends and family.  But as I have said I am hard wired for long term relationships.  My third love found me.  He contacted me by email through a gay website.  Not really what I had expected.  As you have said these sites are filled with men looking for hookups.  But I saw in this man something else.  We have been together ever since.  I saw in him a bit of myself.  That need to share my experiences with another.  To grow with one another.  He is my friend and lover.  I found in him something that I was not looking for and he has made my life complete.

I say to you live your life and don’t look for love.  It will find you.  Even when you give up on love it finds you in the most unexpected way.  Live each moment and revel in your friends and experiences.  Your love will be the man that enjoys your life as much as you do.  You will find him on your journey through life on a path that you have chosen.  Choose paths that you love and the people along them will be those that enjoy the things that bring you pleasure.  Love is there.  Let it find you.

Something for Everyone. Its the Holidays!

My brother held Thanksgiving at his home this Year.  He cooks a mean turkey and delicious sausage stuffing.  There are usually mashed potatoes, broccoli puff, orange fluff , a salad, and other assorted side dishes.  This year I brought vegetarian/vegan items to the dinner.  I wanted to give a twist to the Thanksgiving dinner and have something for everyone.  My brother was very accommodating.  We had all the regular items, turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, etc. along with vegan items.

I slimmed down the broccoli puff with a maple glaze root vegetable.  The sweet potatoes were not as sweet this year with a recipe provided on Martha Stewart’s website.  I made a couple of changes to make it a vegan dish, yet it is a vegetarian dish as it is listed on the website.  And last was the seitan.  I have to thank Isa Chandra who posted the recipe on her blog Post Punk Kitchen.  The seitan turned out wonderful and was a delicious addition to our Thanksgiving meal.  Everyone loved it.  And they were all meat eaters.  They now have a better understanding of my mysterious vegetarian diet and do not think that I sit at home munching carrots and cellery.  I have included links to the recipes with my variations written below.

Leek and Mushroom Stuffed Seitan

http://www.theppk.com/2011/11/seitan-roast-stuffed-with-shiitakes-and-leeks/

I used 8 oz or porcini mushrooms and 8 0z of shiitake mushrooms.  I also added a 6 leaves of fresh sage chapped fine.  I skipped the lemon juice and added white wine.  To the seitan I added 2 tablespoons of fresh roasted ginger and two additional tablespoons of olive oil.  I did cook the roast for 100 minutes instead of the 60 recommended but this is covered in the blog.  This was an easy recipe and I had little trouble rolling the seitan.  Not one break in the dough!

Sweet Potato Bake

http://www.marthastewart.com/317532/sweet-potato-and-sage-butter-casserole

I used olive oil 4 tablespoons nstead of the butter and silk instead of the milk.  I have thought that a light vegetable brough would have been good also.  I topped the casserole with crushed pretzels instead of bread crumbs.  Very crunchy. Yum!

Maple Glazed Root Veggies

3 parsnips julienne
3 carrots julienne
3 blue potatoes julienne
1 red torpedo onion julienne
Some brustle sprouts quartered
4 tablespoons olive oil
nutmeg and salt and pepper
1/4 cup maple syrup

Add olive oil to pan and warm on medium heat.  Add the root vegetables and cover.  toss every couple of minutes.  After 10 minutes remove cover and add maple syrup and seasoning.  heat until the sauce thickens tossing the veggies to coat them thoroughly.

I hope that everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  And hope that you have many more.

Cheers.

Nomination for Versatile Blogger Award

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I am very proud to tell you that I have been nominated for a versatile bloggers award by my fabulous fellow blogger http://foodbod.wordpress.com/  to whom I thank for this endorsement and continued support  💜

A friend told me write a little every day to improve your writing skills.  I have found it both enjoyable and invigorating.  The act of putting virtual pen to paper stirs emotions deep within me.  My mind swims in joy as my ideas form with each word I type.  The emotions surface allowing me to smile.  Just a little.

7 randoms facts about me:

I have a recurring dream about riding a turn of the century steam train.

Whenever I drive on the tollway I pay for my own toll and the car behind me.

I once flew from Istanbul to Chicago with a gummy bear stuck in the front of my hair.

I like to sleep under a feather comforter with my bare feet stuck out at the bottom.

I like to go for walks on snowy winter nights and catch snowflakes on my tongue.

I love the smell of eucalyptus.

I like to drinking fresh squeezed lemonade with mint in it.

I am nominating these following 15 fellow bloggers for the same award, please don’t fret if I haven’t mentioned you, there’s so many blogs I enjoy.

http://liveblissful.wordpress.com/

http://rollerbaggoddess.wordpress.com/

http://veganmonologue.wordpress.com/

http://avocadosandales.wordpress.com/

http://chefindisguise.com/

http://lindymechefske.com/

http://soslowcuisine.com/

http://mykitchenventures.com/

http://bourbonlavender.wordpress.com/

http://muffintalk.wordpress.com/

http://harnerbrotherscsa.com/

http://alexsparrowhawk.wordpress.com/

http://middleagebutch.wordpress.com/

http://granitestatewalker.wordpress.com/

http://honkifyourevegan.com/

The rules are to
1) Display the award certificate on your blog
2) Link back to the person who nominated you
3) Present 15 awards to 15 deserving bloggers
4) Inform your nominees that you have nominated them
5) Write 7 random facts about yourself

Aside

http://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/pumpkin-shrimp-curry

Pumpkin Shrimp Curry

Today was one of those part time days.  I had oatmeal for breakfast and a tomato sandwich for lunch.  But for dinner I veered away from the vegetarian diet and had Pumpkin Shrimp Curry.  The recipe is from a chef at L’Etoile in Madison WI published in Bon Appetite.  I made some changes as I had fresh pumpkin so I cut it up and poached it in vegetable stock.  I then put it in the pan instead of the canned pumpkin and butternut squash.  I also added roasted ginger and red bell pepper.  I spiced it up a bit more with Sriracha.  Yummy!

Let It be a Thankgiving to Remember

As the autumn takes its strong hold on the land and winter edges closer with every day, I take time to reflect on the year past.   It is November and Thanksgiving is only weeks away.  It is time to gather friends and relatives together and give thanks for everything around us.  Yet, as my life moves forward I have become increasingly busy like so many others.  My mind becomes focused inward and I loose sight of those around me.  I find myself thinking in terms of me instead of focusing my attention on those people that I interact with everyday.

I walk through stores that promote the big Thanksgiving dinner and all the excess that surrounds the holidays.  I see commercial ads that promise happiness when we buy.  I see people rushing through the day with little notice of the person beside them.  In this season of thanks have I become so influenced by the avarice of our capitalistic society as to forget about the true meaning of Thanksgiving.  Am I or are we so busy with the Thanksgiving feast that we are forgetting to give thanks to all those around us that have influenced our life.

It has been a good year.  I have a good job that challenges me mentally and coworkers that take pride in a job well done.  My neighborhood is welcoming and friendships have become stronger between us.  My family has grown in its love over the year in the face of struggles.  My life is brighter because of the people around me that have influenced my life.

So with this realization, I am taking the time to thank each person for the kindness they have bestowed upon my life.

Thank you, my mother, who praises the goodness in me, who loves me unconditionally, who wants nothing but the best for me.  Thank you for guiding me through my life.  You have made me the person that I am.  I have a good heart because of you.

Thank you, my father, for your strength and direction.  With you wisdom I have found a life that has been fulfilling and gratifying.  You have molded me as you watched me grow.  It is your thoughtful words that I hold close to me and influence my actions.  You have made me strong and independent, able to face all adversity.

Thank you, my brother, who has the biggest heart I know.  You kindness and spirituality overwhelms me.  You give all of yourself to the needs of others.  I can only wish to be half the person you have become.

Thank you, my oldest sister, whose strength of family runs deep.  Your nurturing hand has guided your family to become a light in your community.  I am grateful to have you in my life for you are a beacon guiding my actions as well as your families.

Thank you, my second sister, your selflessness and forgiving heart provide a warmth to all those around you.  You traveled many miles to be by my side when I was stricken with cancer.  I thank you for that.  You also have a forgiving heart.  Your ability to forgive those who hurt you is a strength that I try to emulate everyday.

Thank you, my youngest sister, your faith in others is amazing.  You love those around you wholeheartedly and ask nothing in return.  You took me to the hospital on a day that I had hit rock bottom.  You were my angel and for that I am grateful.

Thank you, my partner, your love knows no boundaries.  Your trust is unfailing,  Your leadership and integrity gives strength to our community and your workplace.  You are my guiding light and rock.  As we grow together you have become a part of me that I cherish everyday.  I love you.

Thank you, my siblings partners, your additions to this family have made us all that much stronger.  Your kind words and acceptance are greatly appreciated.  Each of you have been so generous in your love.  It is as if you were always a part of this family.

Thank you, my nieces and nephews, you are made from love.  Each of you are your parents gift to the world.  You have taken their love and blossomed into caring beings.  Your smiles light up my heart.  Your kindness is precious and your boundless love is felt by each member of the family.

Thank you, my friends, for which I am forever grateful.  You picked me up when I was down.  You found time to talk when I needed an ear.  You helped me when I needed a hand.  You were strong for me when I was not.  You found me when I was lost.  It is wonderful to have people in my life such as yourselves.  May all your goodness bring you happiness throughout your lives.

Thank you, my neighbors, you were there when I was unable to care for my home.  You shoveled snow for me.  You watched my door when I was away.  You cared for my dog when was on business trips. You opened your door when I moved into the neighborhood.  You found kind words when I could not.  I will never forget your generosity.

Thank you, my coworkers, who work by my side and never work against me.  You have shared your lunch with me.  You have given me rides when my car needed repair.  You worked hard when the going was rough.  you visited me in the hospital when I was sick.  You sent me flowers when I was laid up at home.  You are the people that make me smile when I get up everyday.

Thank you to all the people that I meet each day.  The person that holds the door when I have my hands full.  The gentleman that bought my coffee out of generosity.  The person that help me fix the flat tire on my bike.  The girl that caught my dog when she ran out the front door.  I may not know you but your generosity is not forgotten for I pay it forward whenever I can.  You are the strength of our community and it is your small acts of kindness that give everyone hope that there is still good on this earth.

I would like this to be a Thanksgiving to remember.  So, I will give thanks to each of you and give of myself to thank you for your selflessness that you have shown to me.

Thank you to all of you.

Do We Know What’s in our Grocery Cart?

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Recently the FDA made a preliminary determination that partially hydrogenated oil is no longer recognized as safe.  Once the preliminary determination is finalized partially hydrogenated oils cannot be used in food without prior approval.  That means they will become illegal as food additives.  This got me to thinking.  What foods contain hydrogenated oils (trans fat).  The list is long and eye opening as many food contain trans fat as an additive for flavor, creamy texture, shelf life, etc.  This list does not contain dairy, pork, lamb or beef  as the trans fat is naturally occurring. The jury is out on whether these are harmful in your diet.

Foods that contain trans fat:

Cookies, crackers, muffins, pie crusts, pizza dough, and breads such as hamburger buns
Some stick margarine, vegetable shortening and processed cheese
Pre-mixed cake mixes, frosting, pancake mixes, and chocolate drink mixes
Fried foods, including donuts, French fries, chicken nuggets, and hard taco shells
Snack foods, including chips, crackers, candy, and microwave popcorn
Frozen dinners

This is a long list and yet it only contains a small amount of the foods that contain trans fat.  A another list is in the link below.  Yet again it is not a full list of products.

http://health-diet.us/transfat/

The FDA’s concern is that many foods contain a small amount of trans fat and when adding the total amount consumed in a day it is easy to have a much higher intake than the recommended 2 grams per 2000 calories.  The FDA estimates the average American eats about 4.7 pounds of trans fat in a year.  This equals 6 grams per day.  Three time higher than the recommended value.  There is another concern that leads to the insidious lie perpetrated at the supermarket.  Food labels can state that foods containing 0.5 grams or less of trans fat can state they contain 0 trans fat.  So if you were to eat 6 products during the day that were labeled 0 trans fat and yet each contained 0.5 grams of trans fat per serving you would have eaten more than the daily recommended amount of trans fat.

Labels as the one below state o grams trans fat and yet if you read the ingredients it contains partially hydrogenated oil.  The manufacturer can round down to 0.  This allows them to state they have no trans fat when in fact they do have trans fat.  Also portion sizes may not be realistic therefore when you eat a realistic portion you are eating large amounts of trans fat.

I am curious how much trans fat am I eating in my diet.  I eat very little meat in my diet if at all.  So I can eliminate anything on the list that would be meat related.  I also have cut back on my cheese intake but I do consume cheese most every week.  But crackers, baked goods, and pancake mixes which I eat regularly on on the short list.  So I make my way to the supermarket.

I decide to start with the vegan alternative foods.  (vegan cheese, meat substitute, milk or creamer)  I go the the dairy section and pick up a container of Tofutti cream cheese.  2 grams of trans fat per serving.  One serving of this and I would be at my limit for the day.  I heard that there is a 0 trans fat alternative but it is not offered at the supermarket in my town.  Next, Morning Star Veggie Meatballs.  0 trans fat and no hydrogenated oil in the list of ingredients.  Next, Silk Soy Milk.  0 trans fat and no hydrogenated oil.  Also the same for Silk creamer, Gardenburgers, Field Roast sausages and Tofurky dogs and tempeh.  Looks like the vegan alternative products are scoring well.  I have tried the Tofutti cream cheese but it s not a part of my regular diet.  I do like the silk products and eat Gardenburgers and Field Roast sausages once in a while and feel good about keeping them in my diet.

Now I move onto the other foods.  Frozen Pizza.  I picked up two brands one had trans fat of 1.5 grams the other had partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.  Two others had neither trans fat or hydrogenated oil in the list.  Several packages of frozen dinner contained partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredients list.  In the snack aisle it was actually scary.  SO many products contained partially hydrogenated oil in the ingredient list.  I only found one cracker brand that did not have the trans fat.  Mitton’s.  All the pototo chips had hydrogenated oil in them.  I didn’t even look at the cookies.  Most contain hydrogenated oils in them.  The Act I popcorn surprisingly did not contain trans fat but it contained palm oil so it was high in saturated fats.

Off to the bakery section.  No surprises here.  Most of the products contained partially hydrogenated oils.  The breads were the best bet with good grain breads scoring well and white breads not so well.

I looked at other processed foods in the store.  These contained partially hydrogenated oils.  It is not a complete list.  Potato Buds, Pancake mix, biscuit dough, cookie dough, coffee creamer, breakfast cereal, granola bars, pudding mix, cake mix, canned frosting, chocolate chips, candy, and many more.

I am not a fan of processed foods but the crackers that I eat and the cookies also the non dairy creamer.  If I were to eat two cookies, some crackers and coffee creamer I would be over the daily amount recommended.  I think about people that eat processed foods everyday and those who eat fast foods everyday that have high trans fat content.  It is scary.  I know children that eat at fast food restaurants two or three time a week.

I don;t like the FDA regulating what we eat but something has to be done about the unhealthy eating habits of Americans.  I am going to watch my intake of these products and find healthier alternatives.  No more crackers or coffee creamer.  Maybe a cookie every once in a while.  I just cannot resist those crunchy treats.

Below is an article from the mayo clinic that explains the health risks associated with a high fat diet.

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/fat/NU00262