Saturday, May 17, 2014

Avocado Stuffed Pork Patties / Thiamine Chat

Oy, tax time again?  It's so hard to be enthused about it. I wish there were an incentive. Like, you pay the government their (*cough*) share, and in return, they send you a tax-recovery care package that contains NZ chocolate and wine. But nah, not even a thank you card. It's so cold.

Before getting into today's recipe, I'd like to have a little chat about Thiamine, also spelt 'Thiamin', a.k.a. Vitamin B1.  That's because these pork patties are not only scrumptious, but also an excellent source of it.

How important is Thiamine? Very.  It's a VIP in carbohydrate metabolism, and also crucial in the breakdown of BCAA's and fat. Without thiamin, we can't get the energy from our food, and that's bad. 

A few little things for the vitamin info database in your brain:

Thiamine is a crucial component of the enzyme Thiamine Pyrophosphate. The main (but not only) role of this enzyme is the -*big words alert*- 'decarboxylation' of pyruvate into acetyl coenzyme A, which is an important substrate in the krebs (energy creation) cycle. Click here for a nifty krebs cycle animation.

Thiamine is required for alcohol metabolism, and chronic alcohol intake is the main cause of deficiency in developed nations. Deficiency by other causes is rare, however it can develop in prolonged strict fasting or dieting (especially if alcohol is still being consumed), or if you've been doing lots of vomiting - e.g. morning sickness, have Crohn's disease or are on dialysis. 

There are two deficiency diseases: Beri-beri, which primarily affects the cardiovascular system, and Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which is a brain disorder.  The latter accounts for the permanent memory impairment seen in alcoholics.

The symptoms of Thiamine deficiency mirror many other nutrient deficiences: fatigue, water retention, confusion, bounding pulse, as well as a few more specific symptoms: tingling and burning in hands and feet and (in severe cases) problems with eye movements - either paralysis of certain movements, or random uncontrolled movement. 

The main source of thiamine is cereal foods. However, white flours and polished rice lack thiamine. In many countries (including Australia) mandatory fortification has taken care of this issue, but in NZ this is not the case.

The RDI for adults is 1.1 mg/day for women and 1.2 mg/day for men.  That's about the amount in 100g of lean pork, or 50g of sunflower seeds.  For some reason known only to animal nutritionists, the meat from piggies contains twice the thiamine of other meats.

More reading on Thiamine:

Thiamine at the Linus Pauling Institute

Thiamine at the Nutrient Reference Values for Australia and New Zealand

In conclusion: today's recipe and a nice glass of vino are perfectly complementary. Use some thiamine, put some back.  

Avocado Stuffed Pork Patties


Makes approximately 10

500g 'cage free' pork mince*
1 medium sized apple, grated
1 small-to-medium onion, finely chopped**
1.5 Tbsp fresh (or 1/2 tsp dried) sage or thyme
1/2 tsp salt

1-2 tsp oil for searing (coconut, olive or butter)

1 Avocado


Mix all ingredients except the avocado in a bowl or processor until fully combined.  Don't worry about the apple. The final result doesn't taste 'apple-y', it just has a nice sweet flavour tone and the grated apple keeps the patties moist.

** If you hate chopping onions, a nice trick is to put them in the food processor first and let the blades chop them up before adding everything else.  Of course, if you're hand mixing, you'll just have to cry.

Mould the mix into patties, inserting a small amount of avocado into the middle of each and then sealing them up so that all the green is hidden.

You can also make these patties with a different filling (pesto and/or feta is nice), or just leave the filling out completely.

Heat the oil in a non-stick pan and sear the patties on each side, Then pile them into a baking dish.

Place in the oven for about 15 minutes at 180C until they are cooked through.

* Kiwi's, I'd definitely recommend Havoc Farms pork mince. There's a list of stockists on this page. They used to do mail order, so it might be worth contacting them if there's no outlet near you.  Freedom Farms do good pork too, but they don't seem to have mince.

I hope you are enjoying your weekend. I'm looking forward to the market tomorrow. It's become quite the social event. Last weekend I ran into two friends that I hadn't seen for ages. Don't you just love that?

It's like...   THIS:

Haha, and you don't even care who's looking.  ;)



    1. Thanks Honora :D One of the things that inspired me to write about Thiamine was an article I read about its importance to fatloss, but I can't find that article! It's so frustrating because it was really good and well referenced... :-/


I love to hear from you! Tell me what's in your brain, your heart or your dinner plate :D.