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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

(Almost) Bulletproof Coffee, Rationale for integration of the Paleo Diet

Bulletproof coffee. What is it? It is: low-toxin coffee mixed with grass-fed butter and coconut oil. Why? To infuse your body with energy from both the coffee's caffeine as well as the fats' multi chain triglycerides (MCTs).

There's a lot of great science out there, research conducted by folks that are both smarter and more qualified than I am, but as a personal trainer I am at the forefront of how all these nutritional developments effect sports performance, and it is things like MCTs, low-toxin coffee (low-toxin everything, for that matter), and with the things I am learning on this Bulletproof/Paleo path I am finally gaining sight of what the full picture of health and energy are.

Why am I so fascinated with the Paleo Diet? For me it starts with the romantic attraction that the mountain man's life has always held. Native Americans' ways of honoring nature, men who live in tune with the land, hunter-gatherers have all fascinated me since very early. After reading Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, I begain thinking of grains differently; my mindset shifted. I realized that grains were introduced because of cultural factors, not biological factors. No one back in 8000 BCE, or whenever agriculture became part of our culture as humans, decided wheat was the next super food because of health benefits--the benefit was that you could make bread and avoid starvation! And only with the food surplus could our society developmet the way it has, so I'm not hatin'. I'm just saying it is time things come full circle.

As my intellect matured, I always felt something was off with commercial farming, but in those early days of the internet the proliferation of information wasn't on the scale that it now is, and the science was only just getting there. Lately, however, there has been an explosion of information that has focused my nutritional approach to mine and my clients' lives, and that information lies in the fields of 1) The amount of toxic mold found in grains and our coffee, 2) the bio accumulation of hormones in meat from commercially farmed animals, and 3) The deficit of nutrients created by not being on a diet that is based on grass-fed proteins and a high vegetable intake.

Now, on the first point my research is yet incomplete, however the statistics I've seen and their interpretation is compelling. (And I'll try to get those up soon.) The short version is this: toxic mold is found on a high percentage (up to 91.7% in one year's crop) of rice, wheat, corn, coffee, and other grains that come into the U.S. In addition to all farmed animals eating that toxic grain, it ends up in our bread. masa, maize, cereal, and of course, coffee. This toxic mold causes inflammation that hinders body and brain performance, and can result in other dysfunction as well.

The bio accumulation of hormones in meat is a scary one. I'm paraphrasing Dave Asprey as interviewed on the Joe Rogan Experience, but what happens in commercial cattle farming is that the cows are given a hormone that increases "feed efficiency." A higher feed efficiency means more weight gained per unit of feed. These hormones acccumulate in the meat, we eat the meat, and then voila--we have greater feed efficiency. That means it is easier to be FAT!

Beyond those hormones, we have a great dietary deficit due to a surplus of long-chain triglycerides and a lack of medium-chain triglycerides. I will post a link within in the next week on some solid research that I've found summarizing the extreme difference in how your body uses these two types of fats.

In summary, gone are my days of counting calories. Now I count toxins. Besides, if you eat everything you need to to be healthy, there won't be any time or stomach space (or desire, for that matter) to eat garbage. Make the switch--grass-fed beef or bison, pastured chickens and pork, and an extremely high intake of vegetables (especially dark, leafy ones).

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Grass-fed EVERYTHING

It makes almost four weeks now that I have been transitioning to Dave Asprey's Bulletproof version of the Paleo diet, and my energy levels have not been this high since ephedra was legal!


I found out about Dave from the Joe Rogan Experience, and I've now been through the almost-three hour podcast twice as well read countless internet articles on the subjects of Medium Chain Triglycerides, mycotoxins, grass-fed sources of protein, and bio accumulation of hormones found in industry-farmed meats.

I woke up this morning at 2:00 am, one hour before my alarm went off, and I was full of energy. This now happens once to twice per week and has been allowing me greater efficiency in my daily routine. I attribute this directly to my diet.

Also, my workouts kick ass lately.
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Here is my daily diet (not totally Bulletproof or Paleo yet, but gettin' there):

NLT 6:00 am:

  • 1/2 cup all-natural, organic granola + 
  • 1/2 cup raspberries (organic when I can) + 
  • 1 Wallaby's yogurt (made from grass-fed cow's milk, from cows that are pastured here in Northern California
  • 1 blue Rockstar (my wolf's bane)
**A couple days per week I workout mid-morning, and a couple days per week I work out in the early evening. Either way, immediately post workout I drink a Naked Green Machine and/or a coconut water, preferably the brand C2O, and some sashimi or bison/grass-fed beef. I eat this with rice and ideally some broccoli or asparagus*.


From 9:00 am to 3:00 pm:

  • Guayaki tea beverage (a Sebastopol company!), 
  • Trader Joe's trail mix of some sort (I'm critical of the ingredient list--no added sugars!), 
  • Dark chocolate and a coffee in the afternoon when I need a kick in the pants
Later Afternoon/Evening:

**If I haven't gone to the gym yet, I'll eat a piece of toast or two with coconut oil and jam on it. After Thanksgiving, I'm starting on Ezekiel bread.

Dinner: A large salad, known as "The Meal". The key is here is the inclusion of healthy fats from avocado and olive oil, a large diversity of nutrients due to the variety of vegetables present, and the aggressive antioxidant profile of the kale and spinach.

>I rotate this will meals like grass-fed beef lettuce wraps, bison burgers and sweet potato, and spicy beef with wild rice, all of which I will post soon!


Quick Recipe
*If you're on the Paleo Diet, and you're only consuming proteins from grass-fed or pasture-based sources, you need to keep your intake of Medium Chain Triglycerides, or MCTs, up. One super yummy way to do this is take butter from grass-fed cow's milk (I use the Kerrygold), and after allowing it to soften add the zest of 1/3-1/2 of a lemon and a pinch of kosher salt. Mix well with a fork, refrigerate, and serve over broccoli or asparagus!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

The Best Wings I've Ever Made

Lately the majority of my cooking has been oriented towards a healthy life and taking off the 25 pounds that I put on when I moved from southern California to northern California and began cooking like crazy.

Having said that, Game Day is still something I take seriously, and although my beloved San Francisco 49ers came up short against their opponent, my Game Day menu brought praise. The Lineup:

  • Italian sausage paninis with garlic mayo, mozzarella, and a caramelized trio of onion, garlic, and red bell pepper
  • Soy-molasses wings with peanut sauce
With the sausage paninis being as straightforward as the title would suggest, I'll only describe the wings, as they were a hit (and my first time doing them):

1. Place approx 20 wings in a wide shallow bowl. Drizzle/sprinkle with:
  • 1 tbs molasses
  • 1 tbs honey
  • 2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 1/4 low sodium soy
  • 1 tsp sriracha sauce (Rooster sauce)
  • ~ 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ~ 1 tsp black pepper
2. Toss with tongs and let set at room temperature for 45 minutes.
3. Grill and when done, toss in 1/4 cup of the peanut sauce, reserving the rest for dipping.
4. Peanut sauce ingredients:
  • 1 cup cream peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup low sodium soy
  • 2 tbs red chili paste
  • 1/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 tbs white vinegar
Mix all ingredients in a bowl, and then thin the sauce and season to taste using soy and vinegar. If desired taste is reached before the desired consistency, use up to 3 tbs hot water.

In addition to making awesome Game Day food, I've also been really into salads, eating one every night as my staple. In the desire to not get burnt out I have been really creative in my approach, and this is one I have yet to tire of:

"The Meal" with a warm shallot vinaigrette:
  • 1/2 cup chopped spinach
  • 1/2 cup chopped kale
  • 1/2 cup arugula
  • several thin slices of red onion
  • 1/4 cup kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 cup roasted vegetables*
  • 2 tbs chopped walnuts
  • 2 tbs dried cranberries
  • 1 tbs goat cheese
1. Combine all ingredients except the walnuts, cranberries, and goat cheese
2. Make the vinaigrette:
  • Saute 2 finely chopped shallots in 1/4 cup good olive oil until transulcent
  • Whisk in 1 tbs dijon mustard, 1 tbs honey, 1 tsp kosher salt and bit of fresh cracked black pepper until thoroughly mixed
  • Add 1/4 cup white wine vinegar
  • Taste, if necessary add up to 1/4 cup more vinegar to taste
3. Toss the majority of the warm vinaigrette over the salad. 
4. Plate salad and top with the goat cheese, cranberries, and walnuts as well as leftover vinaigrette.

*Roasted veg: Chop into large pieces any veg you like, drizzle with olive oil and season with kosher salt and roast for 25 minutes at 375 F. My favorite medley is yellow squash, zucchini, brown button mushrooms, white/yellow onion, whole garlic cloves and bell pepper. 

Monday, August 20, 2012

Catching Up...Again

It feels good to finally be back. To say I have been taking some time off would be an enormous understatement. Last semester's move to San Francisco for fifteen semester-units of Spanish indeed left little time for extracurricular activities. However, I did manage to perfect my pulled pork, get a whole hog roast setup for my crew at the Delta (although I missed it due to car problems), and tried just about every form of tapas, sangria, steamed dumpling, Banh Mi, food truck, and donuts (including jelly-filled donut holes off 9th and Irving) available to me in the City by the Bay. I also took time to continue getting to know the lineup at Thirsty Bear, my still-favorite watering hole in the downtown area, while continuing my search for unique cocktails past the varieties available at Trad'r Sam and Cioppino's

But I find myself again working as a personal trainer, and my physical fitness goals trump my taste bud's daily goals so lately the name of the game has been fresh produce. I feel great since making the relatively small change of adding a leaf of kale to my morning protein shake and cleaning up my diet by decreasing starch intake overall and processed starch specifically. I've also again been diligent on taking proper vitamins, including a chelated multivitamin by Apex, nootropics by Alpha Brain and generic fish oils, and I feel as sharp as I've felt in a long time. 

Morning Protein Shake:
2 cups frozen fruit (choice)
15-25g hemp or whey protein
1/2 cup oats
1 leaf of kale

1. Put all ingredients in blender with 1-2 cups of water. Blend, adding water as necessary to achieve desired consistency. 
Note: For more calories, use skim milk or orange juice.

Although don't take cleaning up my diet to mean that I've lost my sense for flavor. On the contrary, my use of  all types of onions, many more varieties of peppers, herbs, and vegetables in general has exploded, leaving me with delicious recipes like Soy-Almond Green Beans, Butternut squash "Risotto", and a number of variations on the meatball using 99% lean ground turkey, 95% lean ground pork, and 93% lean ground beef.

Soy-Almond Green Beans:
2 cups fresh green beans with tips cut
1 teaspoon butter
2-3 tablespoons low sodium soy
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2-3 tablespoons finely chopped almonds

1. Blanch green beans in boiling, salted water for approximately 2 minutes, move to ice bath.
2. When ready to serve, melt butter in skillet over medium-high heat. Quickly saute almonds and greens beans in butter.
3. Add soy sauce and reduce until the sauce is thick and coats all the beans and almonds.
4. Plate and garnish with green onion.

All-in-all, I feel great about my recent culinary development and I believe I'm finally able to verbalize my culinary perspective: The New American Cantina. For a definition of this, stay tuned to my coming onslaught of recipes!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Catching Up

Well, suffice to the say the semester got ahead of me and blogging had to take a backseat to academics. But that's not to say that I stopped cooking! On the contrary, I covered a lot of culinary ground as my desire for fall flavors hit full force when the leaves fell. And when I wasn't cooking, I was out enjoying the Journey.

Cheese tasting plate from Thirsty Bear.
So I threw out some of the things I covered between Halloween and the New Year. I'll put up pics and the scoop on my trips to Boston and Orange County, in addition to my new approach to eating for 2012 and the lowdown on where the Journey takes me as I move to San Francisco until July!

Desserts

You know, when I watch cooking shows I realize that I have two major, gaping holes in my cooking game: fresh fish and pastry, or desserts. When it comes to dessert, I just have never previously had a great desire to play in the pastry world. But on the Journey, you can't avoid every obstacle; sometimes you've got to go through your obstacle. So I confronted some desserts:

  
Red velvet cake. It frickin' took me
three times to get this right!
Just a little bacon covered with chocolate on one side
and toasted-walnut caramel on the other, all finished
with Maldon sea salt.
While Trey's girlfriend, Katrina, made a cheesecake I
made a bitchin' cognac-raspberry sauce. Boom.
This apple galette recipe that I got from school
is the best pastry dough I've EVER tasted!



In addition to the above, I also tried my hand (and succeeded) at creme brulee (for which I acquired a torch), a variety of fruit tarts with my beloved pastry dough recipe, chocolate mousse from real chocolate, and berry pie (with seasonal berries).








Classic Sonoma County Produce
With the summer weather running late I had access to some incredible produce until well into the fall months. I got to bake my tail off and cook Italian food like it was going out of style.


Tomatoes from the backyard.
Tomatoes from the Tomato Festival.
Berry picking at Ragle Ranch Park.
 
A killer shot of some provisions from Sonoma.

Savory Scrum-diddly-umptiousness!
Of course I didn't just work on desserts! My love for savory dishes will always win out over any other type of cooking, and I in fact made some excellent dishes over the last several weeks. 

Venezuela's national dish, Pabellon Criollo.

Meat empanadas (ground beef with pork chorizo) next to
vegetarian empanadas (sweet potato, carrot, onion, garlic).

Making a pizza in class!

A nice, light meal to start Thanksgiving Day.
Pesto chicken roulade with
fettucine peppers over rice.

Mine and Kristi's first turkey. I traveled to Boston to see
her for Thanksgiving, and we made the full spread.


Honorable Mention
These are all the dishes that don't fit into their own little descriptive box, so they all get an honorable mention.

Chili cheese omelet from the Apple Tree in Sebastopol, CA.
Grill night with chicken and some late baby summer squash.
 
Sampler of pumpkin beers--2 lagers, an ale,
and a porter.

Croquetas of Serrano Ham from Thirst Bear.
Haha well I've reached the data limit for one post here, so to be continued...

Monday, October 31, 2011

Another rockin' course from SFSU's Professor Sarah Josef

School started in August, and the pace has been steadily accelerating since then. With midterms behind me, it is time to catch up a little bit on my food blog, because while my cooking opportunities have diminished somewhat, I have been fortunate enough to cook at school and pick up three units for my effort! 

Lemon souffle
The class, officially classified as HTM-352,  has a great organizational base, and my only complaint is that I don't get to cook every week, as alternating weeks are spent in the campus' restaurant, the Vista Room, which serves a three-course prix fixe menu from 12-1:30pm every week day.


So far this semester I have had the opportunity to cook a few things--salad and dressing, a souffle of corn and cheese and one of lemon and an apple galette--and sample several dozen other items, like soups, sauces, casseroles, custards, puddings, cookies, scones, muffins, and cream puffs. Often times I've been able to compare low-fat or gluten-free preparations side-by-side, which is truly a useful exercise.

This is about the size of a 10" round dinner plate.
Of the few items I've cooked, I must say the lemon souffle and the apple galette were both excellent and exceeded my expectations. The souffle surprised me because I don't typically enjoy things that are "eggy," but this was delightful.

Corn and cheese souffle


















If you'd like the recipe for anything you see, just ask in the comments section, or go to my facebook page, and I'll get it posted ASAP.

The nation's only 100% Native American-owned wine label!

Photo courtesy of PNWG's Facebook page.
 
I recently joined the small but powerful team at Pomo Nation Wine Group (PNWG), the nation's only 100% Native American-owned wine label, as a rep for the San Francisco City area.

I'm really excited, to say the least, because not only is this a fantastic direction for my Incredible Edible Journey, but there could also be some serious professional implications as well! To say the least, the future is exciting.

PNWG has five incredible wines, and instead of trying to tell you myself what they are like, I'll simply refer you to their (well constructed) website: http://www.pomonationwine.com/. I will say, however, that I fell in love with their Cabernet, which is how I got on this whole path in the first place.