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Monday, 28 March 2011

What's It All About --Proteins?

I honestly don't know what all the fuss is about regarding high protein diets?!

So many 'experts' push 'high-protein' dietary regimes as a way to achieve BEST RESULTS in:

1. losing weight,
2. getting maximal fitness benefits,
and as
3. THE panacea for athletes and people who are training to be SURE they have optimal muscle protein synthesis and maintenance of lean body mass(LBM) WHILE effecting in having a lower body fat percentage or making sure the weight loss, if needing to lose weight, IS fat -- not muscle.

NOW, I totally AGREE with ALL of the above desired BEST RESULTS scenarios, BUT....
as an experienced nutritionist, I see NO reason to PUSH high-protein diets because most people, certainly, in the developed countries of the world, are ALREADY eating MORE THAN their requirements of protein. In other words, they are already on high-protein diets. What they often just need to do is to LOWER their intake of the OTHER macronutrients in their diets -- the carbohydrates and the fats -- ESPECIALLY the SIMPLE CARBOHYDRATES(SUGARS) AND SATURATED FATS(which, of course, includes trans-fats) so that the PROPORTION of protein to carbohydrates and fats is better/best.

Let me try to put this in perspective for you by explaining a bit about PROTEIN REQUIREMENTS,SOURCES, and FUNCTIONS. Maybe, then, you will understand how all of the 'high-protein diet' hype translates to what you need to be buying, cooking, eating, and seeing on your plates each day. I'm sorry that this will turn out to be a sort of LESSON in proteins, but that's just the way it is if you really want to understand what it's all about.


Dietary proteins are one of the macronutrients (carbohydrates and fats are the other two) found in a wide variety of foods. The building blocks of proteins are called amino acids and there are about 20 amino acids, 9 of which are classified as ESSENTIAL -- that is --those that we HAVE to get from our diets DAILY as our bodies do not make them. Understand that this does NOT mean that these essential amino acids are more important than the NONESSENTIAL amino acids because the non-essential amino acids are very necessary for our bodies -- but our bodies can MAKE these amino acids. The terms 'NONESSENTIAL and ESSENTIAL' are very misleading, I know.

So, we MUST obtain ESSENTIAL amino acids from our foods. IF we don't get essential amino acids, we DO lose our ability to make the proteins we need for our bodies for their various PROTEIN FUNCTIONS:

1. Cell growth, repair, and maintenance -- blood; tissue -- not JUST muscle cells, but organs, and ALL body tissues, including bones. Proteins are needed for NEW growth -- such as a fetus and newborn body which has more than 10 trillion NEW body cells and in adults, new cells that are made after old cells die -- such as our red blood cells which live for 3-4 months and then need to be regenerated, the cells in our intestinal tract that need replacing every 3 to 6 days, and so on. Cells are damaged/broken down EVERY day from our normal,'HEALTHY' needs, such as activities of daily living, organ use, sun and weather damage,and exercise -- let alone damages from bruising, disease, or illness. So, we need to be sure we have long-term adequate protein nutrition, for sure, but also DAILY adequate protein intake for our short term needs.

2. Various Enzyme and Hormone reactions of the body -- Enzymes actually ARE proteins and are involved in all the various chemical reactions of the body -- in speeding up reactions, binding substances together or breaking them apart and transforming substances from one to another. Whereas many hormones are made up of lipids, there are several important hormones that ARE made up of amino acids, such as insulin, glucagon, and thyroid hormone. Hormones are the vital substances of our bodies that drive reactions and act as chemical messengers.

3. Proteins help to maintain fluid and electrolyte balance -- proteins attract fluids and act as conductors

4. Proteins maintain acid - base balance -- proteins act as buffers

5. Proteins help maintain a strong immune system -- Antibodies ARE proteins!

6. Proteins are also a source of energy providing 4 kcalories per gram, although the body PREFERS carbohydrate (also provides 4 kcals per gram) and fat sources (provides 9 kcals per gram) for energy so that protein can be spared for all of the other functions above. It's IMPORTANT to know that protein does NOT have a special way that it is STORED in the body for energy use -- it is found in the tissues, blood, organs, bones. FAT is stored as triglycerides and carbohydrate is stored as glycogen and is much more easily transformed into fat than protein! This is nature's way of pointing to the fact that diets that are exclusively based on protein, as the main source of energy, are actually a bit counter to how the body optimally functions.


So, how much protein should we eat? Although requirement recommendations vary -- depending on a person's age; overall state of wellness, trained condition of body, and nutritional status; usual activity levels, including exercise; any over-riding disease conditions; any acute increased needs, such as with burns or protein-losing enteropathy -- the recommendations, according to most experts are designated as:

Most adults need 0.8 grams per kilogram body weight
Non-vegetarian athletes need 1.2-1.7 grams per kilogram body weight
Vegetarian athletes need 1.3-1.8 grams per kilograms body weight

So, how does this translate to what you see on your plate and how much protein food you need to eat per day. Well, first, to calculate how many KILOGRAMS BODY WEIGHT you are, you must divide your weight in pounds by 2.2. The result is your weight in kilograms.

Next, multiply your recommended dosage of protein per kilogram, as stated,above. IF you ARE engaged in some sport REGULARLY (5-7 times a week for 1-hour or more sessions) AND at a moderately intense level, then you can choose the athletic category. Otherwise, you are at 0.8 gms per Kg per day.

Also, growing children need more -- I advise closer to 1.2 gms/Kg/day.

FURTHERMORE, based on the literature and my experience, OBESE and OVERWEIGHT people appear to lose weight better on a dietary intake that includes closer to 1.2-1.5 gms protein per day. NOW , AGAIN, let me reiterate, that most people are ALREADY taking in this amount AT LEAST, and often much more, so a person who needs to lose weight often doesn't have to go through hoops to increase their protein intake -- they simply have to work at DECREASING their carbs and fats, so that, in the end, they achieve the type of dietary intake that APPEARS TO EFFECT IN OPTIMAL FAT LOSS WHILE HELPING TO BUILD AND RETAIN MUSCLE TISSUE, METABOLIC EFFICIENCY, INCREASED IMMUNITY, BONE STRENGTH AND INTEGRITY, and OPTIMAL ORGAN FUNCTION especially if they are regularly exercising. If you look back at the FUNCTIONS OF PROTEIN that I have delineated above, it makes sense, doesn't it?! And, in the end, when trying to lose weight, you HAVE to make sure you have your overall DAILY ENERGY(KCALORIE) INTAKE lower than your daily ENERGY (KCALORIE) expenditure and even NEEDS to lose fat tissue so that the your storage fats (adipose tissue)is mobilized for energy, and eventually decreases. You DON'T want to eat SO much protein or IT will be used to provide you energy (kcalories) and the fat stores don't budge! You want to make sure, though, that the PROPORTION OF PROTEIN kcals from your dietary intake is on the high side COMPARED to your kcalories from carbs and fats. THIS WILL happen AUTOMATICALLY when you limit fatty and sugary foods -- JUNK FOODS -- the stuff you KNOW you shouldn't be eating daily -- TREATS! GOT THAT.

You DO NOT have to go on some uber high protein diet!

I KNOW I'm being somewhat repetitive, but I can't emphasize this point enough.

OK, now that we got that cleared up, let's get back to how recommended protein requirements translate to total amounts of protein per day and how to achieve these amounts from the foods that you eat.


First point to make about sources of protein are that there are TWO TYPES OF PROTEIN -- INCOMPLETE and COMPLETE.

COMPLETE PROTEINS are food sources that contain all 9 essential amino acids and are generally derived from animal food products such as meats, fish, poultry, eggs (especially the whites), and dairy products -- milk, cheese, yogurt, cottage cheese, etc. Soybeans also contain all 9 essential amino acids as does quinoa.

INCOMPLETE PROTEINS do not contain all the essential amino acids. HOWEVER, incomplete protein foods can be COMBINED to make COMPLETE protein when you know HOW TO COMBINE foods so as to make the limiting amino acids in one food complement the amino acids limiting in the other foods. If this is done, then the QUALITY of the protein from these food sources are no LESS than complete proteins!

Here is some information to help you turn INCOMPLETE PROTEIN into COMPLETE PROTEIN by

If you mix legumes with grains, nuts and seeds such as rice with bean or lentils, and hummus (which is chickpeas and sesame already mixed), you get complete protein.

Likewise, eating grains with legumes, such as peanut butter on bread, barley and lentil soup, a corn tortilla with beans yields complete protein.

And lastly, vegetables, which of themselves are not complete protein, when combined with grains, nuts, and seeds such as spinach salad with pine nuts and beans, or broccoli and tofu with almonds -- provides a meat-free dish that is complete protein.


Most 3.5 oz servings of any meat, poultry, fish (bones excluded) contain about 24 gms
of protein

An 8 fl. oz of milk contains 8 gms protein
An 8 oz. portion of plain yogurt contains 13 gms protein
1 oz. cheese contains 6 gms protein
1 cup cottage cheese contains 31 gms protein

1/2 cup tofu contains 10 gms protein
3.3 oz. tempeh, cooked, contains 18 gms protein
1 cup soy milk contains 7 gms protein
3.5 oz. edamame contains 12.4 gms protein
3,5 oz cooked quinoa contains 14 gms protein

Most 1/2 cup servings of beans contain approx 8 gms protein

2 Tablespoons PB(Peanut Butter) contains 8 gms protein
1 0z. dry roasted peanuts contains 5 gms protein
1 oz. almonds contains 6 gms protein
1/3 cup sunflower seeds contains 7 gms protein
1 oz. pecan halves contains 5 gms protein

A medium slice of most breads contains approx 2 gms protein
1 cup of most cereals contains an average of 3 gms protein

1 cup of most vegetables contains approx 2 gms of protein

A piece of most fruits contains about 1 gm of protein

These are just ESTIMATES -- to get EXACT amounts per serving of various foods, check food labels, look up, or ask me! I'm VERY HAPPY to help you!

So, with all the information I've now given you, let's go through an example of finding out how much protein a person needs, how they can meet their requirement, and how easy or difficult it is:

Example: MJ is an active 55 y.o female. She weighs 148 lbs. She racewalks every day for about 45 minutes. In addition to her daily racewalk,she rides a stationery bike for 15 minutes and works out on a cross trainer for 15 minutes 4-5 times a week and often exceeds these times, too. She engages in planned and alternating resistance training 4-6 times a week. She is also trying to lose about 20 lb, so she really watches her total kcalorie intake, but she loves her carbohydrates -- pasta, bread, and homebaked cakes and pies. She's managed to keep off 60 lbs of the 80 lbs that she had gained in pregnancy 20 years ago, but the last 20 lbs is difficult and she's constantly fighting the battle to shed the 20 lbs against giving in to enjoying her carbs as carbs help her to feel 'satisfied'. How can getting her protein proportion RIGHT really help her feel satisfied while making sure she gets the right 'building blocks' for her body AND her particular nutritional needs?

I would say MJ would be wise to make sure she gets at least 1.2 gms protein per Kg per day. This translates into about 81 gms protein per day (148 divided by 2.2 = 67.27 Kg. 67.27 Kg x 1.2 = 80.72). I use 1.2 because even though MJ is NOT an athlete, she is working out enough to warrant increased needs and to get her out of the 'sedentary' classification whereby she would be fine getting 0.8 gms protein per day. BUT , ALSO, because MJ is trying to still lose that extra weight, it would also be good for her to get a higher proportion of her daily intake from protein for that reason, too! This way, as she gradually drops her weight, it will most likely be FAT tissue and not muscle and bone. At her age, THIS is very important. So, to make sure she gets 81 gms protein per day, I would recommend to MJ that she include 2 servings of low-fat dairy (16-20 gms),4 servings from the grain group (8 gms), 4 servings from the vegetable group (8 gms), 3 fruits servings (3 gms), and 2 to 3 servings of portion-controlled LEAN meats or, better yet from the non-meat sources of complete protein (which will absolutely provide her remaining 46 gms of protein EASILY if one 3.5 oz serving yields 24 gms from these sources), such as soy products, quinoa, or legumes combined with her grains. I would recommend she snack on nuts and seeds, but NO MORE than once a day -- she should better snack on fruit and her allowed dairy servings for her other 1 or 2 snacks. In fact, including some of the vegetarian-based sources of protein, like beans & rice, quinoa and edamame, etc -- she might feel fuller (higher fiber content) and thus not feel the need for so much bread and pasta! She absolutely MUST exert some discipline to avoid cakes, pies, and extra helpings of pasta and grains and I would advise her STRONGLY to avoid baking for awhile, even though I KNOW she enjoys it. You can't have everything in life!!! LOL!

Kidding aside, the point of this example is to demonstrate to you that even when putting the protein requirement at an UPPER level of recommended, it is quite easy to achieve plentiful and more-than-adequate protein in the diet. It is MUCH more difficult to get the PROPORTION RIGHT of protein- to carb to fat. By the way, MJ gets plenty of fat in her diet from the meat sources, and possibly the dairy and certainly the nuts and seeds, but she can also include a COUPLE portion-controlled servings of margarine or polyunsaturated oil-based salad dressings or use oil if needed for cooking. But, again, as she's trying to drop weight, she needs to use fats sparingly.

I hope this helps you a bit to understand protein. Feel free to contact me if you have any questions, comments or want personalized advice.

Mary-Jo R. Overwater, MSc, MMSc, RD

Friday, 18 March 2011

Watch Your Amounts! and Keep in Perspective to Energy Requirements!

I've lately noticed that dietary recommendations are getting more 'you MUST eat' vs. 'you must NOT eat'. In principle, this is a GOOD thing, BUT -- do NOT let this make you feel that this means to eat MORE FOOD THAN YOU NEED!

For example, the emphasis on getting optimal amounts of omega-3-fatty acids in our diets -- an essential fatty acid that has been found to help tremendously with protecting us from cardiovascular disease, many cancers, skin ailments, mental dysfunction, and a host of other disorders -- is making many nutrition experts and institutes publish recommendations on what foods to INCREASE in diets so as to result in people getting omega-3-fatty acids. So, sources of 0mega-3's are foods like oily fish, flaxseed, walnuts, Brazil nuts, purslane. GREAT! But this does NOT mean that one has to gobble Brazil nuts all day or eat copious amounts of salmon and sardines.

The recommendations mean to increase PORTION-CONTROLLED servings of these foods more regularly into your daily dietary needs. GOT THAT!?

So, how much food DO you need?

This information depends on many factors and a registered dietitian or your GP or a practice nurse, or even, now, many personal trainers and gym instructors can help you determine the amounts of food you need to be eating for optimal weight regulation while affording you the best mix and amounts of nutrients for your individual needs. Alternatively, there are many websites that can help you calculate and derive this information for you, such as the MyPyramid Tracker site:

The bad thing about getting your information online is that it can miss a few issues in your particular situation that can really make the difference between getting it right for you and getting it wrong.

I am not a fan of any one particular diet. Some diets emphasize protein as the main source of nutrition, some emphasize carbohydrates, and even now some diets are coming into the mainstream advocating HIGH FAT. This last dietary regime, called the KETOGENIC diet, is NOT for the general public!!! It is a diet that has been used for children and some adults suffering from a particular pathology (epileptic seizures) that seems to respond to the high fat dietary intake in alleviating symptoms of the pathology. It requires tedious titrating and lots of supplementation of the other nutrients that are lacking in a high-fat diet and has NO place in the diets of people without this pathology. There's also been some noise about liberalizing intake of fat, even SATURATED fats, such as butter, whole milk and whole milk products, proclaiming that it makes no difference and may even help with losing weight and keeping it off. I stand by the practice of continuing to keep your intake of total fat at a prudent level of your dietary intake with MOST of it coming from sources of UNSATURATED (oils, nuts) or MONOSATURATED (olive oil, avocado). Of course, having A BIT of saturated fats like butter, cream, whole milk and whole milk products, here and there, is fine, especially if it is satiating and keeps you from overeating.

So, back to the protein vs. carbs issue -- I believe it really DEPENDS on how your body responds based on your genetic predisposition, your baseline nutritional status, your lifestyle, especially how physically active you are and what types of physical activity you regularly engage in, and your dietary preferences. The main issue is to choose the type of diet you will most likely STICK WITH that is a balance of all kinds of healthy foods such as whole grains, lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, lean and low fat dairy, plenty of vegetables and fruits, and ENOUGH UNSATURATED FATS, especially sources of essential fatty acids.

What is actually MORE IMPORTANT is that your overall kcalories per day are not MORE or LESS than your needs. If you get the energy (kcalories) requirements right AND you get enough PROTEIN to support your body's needs for its tissue growth (mainly in children) and repair (both children and adults), the rest will follow. And this doesn't mean you have to be counting kcalories -- the point is to have a STARTING point of dietary intake that is MORE ACCURATE and individualized to your needs. Here is an easy, but uncannily accurate way to determine YOUR KCALORIE NEEDS:


1. Take your height in centimeters

2. Subtract 100 from your height measurement

3. This number gives you your IDEAL BODY WEIGHT in KG

4. Multiply your ideal body weight in kilograms by 2.2 to get your ideal body weight in pounds.

5. Multiply your ideal body weight in pounds by:

13 IF you are a sedentary person (no planned exercise per week)

15 IF you are MODERATELY ACTIVE (3 planned exercise sessions per week of AT LEAST 45 minutes duration per time)

17 IF you are VERY ACTIVE (5-7 planned exercise sessions per week of at least 45 minutes duration)

20 IF you are vigorously active (athlete in training, for example or someone who exercises 5-7 days per week for at least 1 hour HIGH INTENSITY sessions per time)

This final number will give you YOUR estimated DAILY ENERGY(KCALORIE) REQUIREMENTS.

Example: MJ is a moderately active 55 year old 5'4" woman. So, her height in centimeters is 162.56 (1 inch=2.54 cm). Her IDEAL BODY WEIGHT is, thus, about 62.5 kg. (162.56 - 100 = 62.56). Her estimated daily energy requirements = 2062.5 per day. ( 62.5 x 2.2 = 137.5. 137.5 x 15(moderately active)= 2062.5).

NOW, IF MJ finds that she is gaining weight or losing weight or eating more than she feels comfortable with or not eating enough, THEN, obviously the estimated calculated requirements have to be TWEAKED ACCORDINGLY. BUT, at least, it got her STARTED from a baseline workable point from which to work from. THAT is the whole purpose of this exercise. It is NOT meant to FIX or STATE ABSOLUTELY what the kcalorie requirement is.

And figuring out your energy or kcalorie requirements per day is just the BEGINNING!!  Ultimately, you need to know how to DIVIDE your kcalories into how much of your kcalories need to come from protein, carbohydrate, and fat and then how to translate these numbers into how much FOOD you need per day. I will cover this with you in subsequent postings. It sounds complicated, but it isn't.

So, stay tuned!

But, for now, it is helpful to know how to get a general idea of how many total kcalories you need so that you can look at food labels and start getting clarity on your dietary intake relative to your total needs. The good news is that foods that have no food labels are probably those items that you need to be eating more of, anyway, like fruits and vegetables!

Any questions or comments or for further information, feel free to comment or ask through comments at this site or contact me, directly:

Mary-Jo R. Overwater, MSc, MMSc, RD

Wednesday, 9 March 2011

Let Go and Let Life Unfold

"...the real challenge of surrender , for all of us, is not just letting go -- but letting go of something we yearn for...we only have to let go of what we want so badly and our life will unfold." Mark Nepo

I'm all for focusing on what we want out of life and going after it -- doing what needs to be done to achieve it. But, sometimes, there's something we want SO badly, SO much -- RIGHT AWAY -- and JUST SO -- that we can become obsessed, overwhelmed, frenzied, and in fact, totally ineffective and paralyzed in making it happen. And, THEN, we're just miserable and feel self-defeated, hopeless, unaccomplished, and incapable.

This often happens with those of us who want to lose weight or achieve a certain fitness level -- a certain look or feeling of wellness -- for ourselves. We try and try and try everything, anything, all that's out there -- and, in the end, we're worse off than ever!

THIS is exactly the time to LET GO. When you come to a point when you're trying TOO HARD at something, that you 'hit the wall' and/or just freeze, as if paralyzed -- then it's time to just 'surrender'. You know what you need to do. You know what you want to feel, look, and be like. So, just surrender. That's right! Give it up!

Now, wait a minute -- I didn't say GIVE UP! I said 'Give IT up'! What I mean is -- it's time to hand over that what you want SO badly to the One and to the Goodness of the universe. I mean it. Get off your own frenzied treadmill of the 'ups and downs and merry-go-rounds'.

Just take a deep breath and let go. Release all your good intentions, all the knowledge and skills you've pushed yourself to obtain and practice, all the desperate desires for yourself -- and start LIVING IN PEACE.

It's uncanny! What happens is that your life then truly 'unfolds' in just the way you need it to. You will actually start to see the results you've longed for. Even if it takes some time and. perhaps, a few crazy false-starts -- life will just 'emerge' in the way you've always envisioned it for yourself.

I can't explain it. All I know is, it's a much better dynamic than 'spending so much time, energy, emotions, and effort' with no results or worse yet, going backward.

'Letting go' and 'living joyfully' is alot more interesting and fun!


Friday, 4 March 2011

Nutrish and Delish -- 'Boerenkool' -- a Dutch Favorite!

I NEVER thought I would be giving out a DUTCH recipe that I could boast to be 'delish', but honestly -- this one REALLY is. It's ALSO uber-NUTRISH as it is made using ALOT of curly green cabbage, kale -- or what it is called in The Netherlands -- boerenkool -- which literally translates as 'farmers cabbage'.

We all know that this vegetable is chock full of anti-oxidant vitamins and minerals -- a very rich source of calcium.

This is a really neat way of preparing it as it is DIFFERENT that anything you've ever eaten....unless you're Dutch, that is! ;) This dish is also called 'Stampot' -- you'll see why in a minute. it's also classically served with smoked sausage (rookworst --NL), but I make it and serve it with meatballs made with lean beef and oats. Much healthier and very tasty. I've also had it served like this to me by health-minded Dutch women -- so it's not just my 'icky' nutritious adaptation of the original dish.


About 1 1/2 kg (6 medium potatoes) mashing potatoes (Maris Piper, for example). Do NOT peel. In the classic Dutch recipe, they peel them, but I leave the peel on -- remember, I'm an RD! ;)

1 kg curly dark green cabbage or kale, or collard greens -- washed very well, and chopped roughly

1/2 cup milk (I use skimmed)

1 T butter or margarine (I USUALLY omit this, but as I've gotten older, I add an olive-oil margarine INTENTIONALLY to get a bit of fatty acids to help with my aging dry

salt and pepper

Wash potatoes well and place in a large stockpot with water, to cover. Add all of cabbage on top. Bring potatoes and cabbage to the boil and then simmer until potatoes are soft. Take off heat and drain out slight amount of water from pot, if there is any! Set aside. and keep warm.

Make meatballs.


1 kg 5%fat, fresh lean ground beef

1 cup old-fashioned oats

1/2 cup or 1 small onion, chopped finely

1 T chopped parsley

1T chopped fresh celery leaves

2 eggs

1 T grated aged cheese -- can be Parmesan, but I use Old Amsterdam or aged Gouda -- it just 'fits' this recipe better

some cold water, if needed -- enough to keep mixture moist

salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients together. Go easy on the salt, using about 1/4 tsp here -- you can always sprinkle a bit more, to taste, on the cooked dish.
Form into meatballs, about the size of ping-pong balls. Pan-fry in a medium hot fry pan which you've sprayed with olive oil or vegetable oil to ease frying. Fry meatballs until cooked nice and brown. After all meatballs fried -- add a stock prepared from beef or onion bouillion to pan with the meat bits and drippings. Make a sort of gravy or 'jus' with this. Transfer this 'gravy' to a gravy pot and keep warm.

Go back to the potato/cabbage mix. Mash this with a potato masher, while adding milk and butter or margarine. Add salt and pepper, to taste. It should make a stiff, rough, 'mash' that you can now plate out onto warmed plates.

Add a few meatballs next to or on top of the mash. You can pour some of the gravy over this and tuck in.

I serve this dish also with pickles, pearl onions, or 'piccallili' a sort of mustard relish. I also sprinkle vinegar onto the mash instead of adding the gravy or 'jus'. My Dutch husband, however, ALWAYS adds gravy, the other condiments AND mayonnaise!! He is a mayo FREAK! Remember, the Dutch and Flemish eat frites with mayo -- yuk!

Plus, my husband is a big strapping man who has biked all his life, so I guess he 'needs' the extra kcalories for 'energy'. News flash -- I DON'T!

I also often make fresh, unsweetened applesauce to go with this.

Oh, another 'OPTIONAL' thing to do (but which I usually omit unless I'm having hard-core Dutch purists types over when I serve this )-- is to fry up some (about 100 grams or 3 ounces, I know in many Dutch recipes, they add twice this!) bacon bits or 'lardons' as they are called in French, speklappen in Dutch. Fry till done and crisp. Then after you've mashed the potato/boerenkool mixture, you fold these cooked bacon bits through it. It's kind of an extra 'seasoning', if you will. You CERTAINLY would need to decrease your salt seasoning, if you add the bacon.