Posts tagged nutrition
Keto Part 2
Bacon tasting at PRESS, St. Helena, CA

Bacon tasting at PRESS, St. Helena, CA

So now you that you've read my last post, Keto Part 1, and have a little bit of background info on the ketogenic diet, I'd like to share a bit about my personal keto journey.

I had been hearing/reading/learning about the ketogenic diet for years from some of the leading scientists and doctors in the field including Dom D'Agostino, Peter Attia, Stephen Phinney, Jeff Volek and Robb Wolf.  The scientific process behind the diet fascinated me - still does - and its benefits became too tempting to resist trying for myself.  So, I made the leap and jumped on the keto bandwagon.

This leap, I must profess, was more a short hop then a surging one.  My starting point was advantageous, as my diet was already very clean, paleo-esque, and with a relatively low carbohydrate profile, most of those carbs coming from starchy vegetables such as sweet potatoes, other root vegetables, and a tasty low-sugar cocktail here and there.  Because of this, I was able to avoid the headaches, grouchiness and fatigue associated with transitioning to the ketogenic diet, also referred to as the "keto flu".  For most, this flu lasts about a week or two, and basically is the period of transition for the body as it shifts from using carbohydrates for fuel, to fats.

What I did have to get used to, was getting an adequate and pretty high amount of fat into my diet.  I have no problem with dairy, and this made it a bit easier.  I ate gobs of butter and added heavy cream and sour cream to fill in the gaps.  I ate all the fat surrounding the pork chops Fatima made - off my own, hers and my nine-year-old daughter's as well.  Side note, if you are going to eat animal fats like this, be sure you are getting them from grass-fed, pasture raised sources of meat because toxins are stored in fat, including your own...but that conversation is for another post)!  I could have easily sustained the Mexican economy solely on my consumption of avocados, was eating spoonfuls of coconut oil and poured olive oil or MCT oil on everything.  Side note: MCT oil enhances the flavor of just about anything you put it on, especially sushi (thank you Ben Greenfield for the tip).

Macadamia nut bread

Macadamia nut bread

Bacon & avocado roll-ups

Bacon & avocado roll-ups

Fat, fat and more fat.  You get the idea.  

I also ate as many non-starchy vegetables and fermented foods as possible to ensure I was getting in enough micronutrients and good bugs.  Fatima tripled her time in the kitchen (it's amazing she got anything else done) figuring out how to make my favorite foods "keto-friendly" - and boy did she do a good job.  Macadamia nut breads, fat bombs, and low carb desserts kept my diet quite varied and interesting.  Within a few days, my ketone blood-prick monitor registered that I had indeed arrived in keto-land.

How did I feel?  In a nutshell, INCREDIBLE.  I had tons of energy, my mind felt sharper then ever and my body quickly shed any bit of fat I had been holding onto.  I was already lean, but eating this way propelled me into a whole other level of leanness.  For me, this was merely a side benefit.  The most fascinating and rewarding thing I experienced - and one I became slightly addicted to - was the effect fueling primarily with fats had on my brain.  I had not felt as focused and clear in as long as I can remember.  

As a highly active, fitness oriented person, I knew I would need to somehow begin cycling in carbohydrates to replenish my glycogen stores and keep my hormones balanced.  There are different ways to do this, and the frequency and depth with which to do so vary greatly from person to person.  I had to play around quite a bit to figure out what would work for my body composition and level of activity. So, once I had fully transitioned to becoming a fat burner, I began to experiment.  

Experiment 1, Carb Backloading.  I used this strategy 1x/week.  I ate in usual keto fashion until dinner time.  For dinner, I ate a lower fat, much higher carb meal.  My carb intake on those days was somewhere between 100 and 150 grams.  I didn't keep exact count, but basically, ate carbs to satiety.  I always made sure I scheduled my heavy training days for the days I knew I'd be carbing-up in the evenings.

Experiment 2, Carb Saturdays.  Another method of refueling with carbs is to chose a day to bag the keto diet, and eat carbs all day long.  Naturally, I chose Saturdays so I could enjoy pancakes, pasta, pizza, oh, and on of my favorite dishes, feijoada (the delicious Brazilian national dish of black beans, all kinds of meats and rice, my mother in laws specialty).  I threw this into my repertoire once every 2-3 weeks.

Another side note:  Of the two strategies, I definitely prefer carb backloading.  I find my body works much better fueled with fats during the day, and carbs at night with regards to digestion, energy balance and getting a better night's sleep.

I kept this dog and pony show up for about a year and it was fantastic for me - almost the entire time.  Why almost?  Well, eventually, I began to feel a little less vibrant - I wasn't firing the way I was used to and there was a little less pep in my step.  I found myself naturally waking up at 3:30 or 4 in the morning and feeling like I didn't need the extra few hours of sleep, but felt my nervous system was rev'ed up and my family was bearing the brunt of it.  My ladies (Fatima and Solé) report that I was grumpier then usual and less patient.  I started to feel like I was getting a little too lean as well - a little sunken and cadaver-like.  My body and mind were overstressed.  This all happened in combination with the launching of a new business (hi), and the enormous amount of stress associated with that endeavor...and of course the normal stresses of being a human being of this time, in NYC.

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It has been about 6 months since I decided I needed some space from my keto-relationship.  I still practice carb-backloading, saving all my carb-rich foods for dinner time, but am not focusing on eating keto during the first part of the day.  I admit, my mind is not as clear or sharp as it was, but after weighing out all the pros and cons, for now, this is the right thing for me.  I use the ketogenic diet strategically now - when I know I'll need to be extra clear and sharp mentally, as an adjunct to a detox program, or when I need to lean out a bit for photoshoots.  

The takeaway from all this, is to listen to your body.  It needs different things at different times.  This may be the most important thing to be aware of for your continued quest towards your greatest health.  This relates to all aspects and modalities of health - training, breathing, sleeping, stress-management and of course diet.  Ask me what I am doing in another 6 or 8 months.  I can almost guarantee it will be at least slightly different.

What should we be feeding our kids?
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So many of the clients we work with hire us to for help with diet.  In the maze of information and misinformation, we work together to figure out what works best for them as individuals...their personal make-up and lifestyle.  In the end, what we find is as one person in a family makes healthier choices, the rest of the family benefits as well.  Health is contagious.  This is the case not only for diet, but for movement, mental conditioning and overall happiness as well.  

When we see an exception to this phenomenon, it is almost always with regards to the children in the family.  Poor kiddos!  Part of this is because as parents we try to avoid any and all drama with our kids.  If the child seems happy with "organic" cereal out of a cardboard box, and thick gooey processed fruits and veggies squeezed out of a tube, we let them be.  The other part is that parents tend to catastrophize the situation.  Here's an example.  Your child won't eat the healthy meal you serve and will be hungry and possibly starve.  They won't grow and develop as they should.  They'll be smaller then the rest of the kids, not as smart, never get into college, get a job, make friends or find a partner.  AND, they will be grumpy and hangry in the meanwhile, making your life completely miserable.  Better to give them the not-so-great food they love and call it a day.  I am definitely not pointing any fingers here...I can totally relate!

The quality of food we feed our children is especially apparent in restaurants.  Have you ever taken a good look at kids menus?  The usual selection consists of pizza, mac and cheese, pasta with butter, grilled cheese and the occasional chicken "fingers".  Sometimes there is even the added bonus of juice or chocolate milk and a dessert of some sort included in the offering, at no extra cost to you, no immediate cost that is.  

The question is, how important is it to get children off the carbohydrate/sugar/nutrient-wasteland of a diet they've grown so accustomed to?  And if it is something worth doing, what in particular do they need, and how the heck do we get them to actually enjoy eating healthy foods?  


First, why this IS important?  On a universal level, our children are our legacies.  We pass our torches on to them.  Children truly "are the world" (flashback to 1985).  They are the future of humanity.  From this perspective, we need to equip them with the healthiest, strongest bodies, sharpest minds, kindest and most compassionate hearts and we possibly can.   

Historically, there was never any difference between the adult and the children's food, there was only the plants foraged, the fruits gathered and the meat hunted.  By feeding our children out of boxes and tubes, they have become disconnected with food, where it actually comes from, how it is grown.  This is a detriment to our already ailing environment.  This also potentially leads to a poor relationship with food in general, emotional eating rather then relating with food as an earth given gift, as nourishing, as medicine.  

It is critical for our kids to get certain nutrients out of their diets, even more so than adults.   Their development depends on it.


What do kids need the most?  Here I turn to someone I admire, trust greatly, and have personally been a patient of, Chris Kresser, one of the most intelligent functional medicine doctors out there.  

  • Fat soluble vitamins such as A, D and K2, which can be found in organ meats, cold-water fatty fish and dairy, egg yolks, Natto (Japanese fermented soy).
  • Choline and glycine found in eggs, bone broth, fattier and collagen rich cuts of meat (brisket, oxtail).
  • Iodine from sea vegetables (particularly kelp) and dairy (not from milk itself, but from the agent used to sterilize the containers that hold milk).
  • EPA and DHA from cold-water fatty fish.
  • Zinc, iron and copper, once again from organ meats and shellfish.
  • Calcium from dairy, bone-in fish and dark leafy green vegetables.
  • Phytonutrients, a variety of them from fresh fruits and vegetables, along with their fiber.
  • Protein, the foundation for the development of muscles, tissues, and all the body's support systems.

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Finally, how do we get our kids to eat these foods and actually enjoy them?  Here are some simple tips.

  1. Be an example.  Kids do as we do, far before they do purely what we say.  If we are eating these foods ourselves, not only are we feeding ourselves the nutrients our bodies need, but setting an example and stimulating curiosity.  Make room for questions and tastes.
  2. Make small changes.  Start with making foods your kids already know and love, but healthier versions of them.
  3. Don't force your kids to eat anything or to finish what's on their plates and don't offer substitutions.  Prepare healthy foods and put them out on the table and be patient.  The kids won't go hungry and will eventually come around.  
  4. Add first, take away later.  Resist the temptation to immediately clean the pantry out of everything your kids love.  Make healthy snacks available and accessible so that they are encouraged to try them on their own.
  5. Try and try again and again and again.  It can take 10+ times, and often months for your little one's taste buds to adjust.  Often times rejection of a food as more to do with texture than taste.  Try different iterations of a food.  For example, if your kids don't like mashed sweet potatoes, try them roasted.
  6. Make it fun...a family project, experiment, or game.  Involve your kids in menu planning and cooking. Set aside your inner OCD (this one i especially hard for me) and within limits, let them be inventive.  Create "fun" plates with foods they can eat with their fingers.  Make smiley faces out of the food on their plates.  Jazz veggies up with healthy sauces to dip into or add butter.  (Butter or oil helps make the  nutrients in vegetables more bioavailable by the way).
  7. Make sure your kids are hungry.  Steer them away from snack too close to mealtimes.
  8. The earlier you start the better.  Partially due to our own laziness, we never cooked anything special for our daughter.  She always ate exactly what we ate.  She knows no different and is always eager to try new things.  The result is a very broad and sophisticated palate.  Don't get us wrong, she won't pass up a cookie or piece of chocolate cake if their offered, but will happily gobble up raw oysters and a steamed artichoke with melted butter if that is what we are eating.  (Our meal accompanied by a dirty martini, hers, sparkling water with lemon).

Need some coaching?  We are happy to help!  Give us a holler.

Your Basic Guide to Fats and Oils
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Fats and oils are hot topics these days.  If you grew up in my generation (70's child), vegetable oils were good and butter and animal fats were bad.  End of story.  Government and mass food industry supported guidelines warned us that any animal derived fat was a no-no and low fat and fat-free were the way to go.  The truth behind this propaganda, greed-fueled and unsubstantiated by science, became public information only a few years ago.  So now what?  What kinds of fats and oils should we be ingesting?

It's a complicated story.  We learned a lot by reading Cate Shanahan's book, Deep Nutrition.  It is chock full of information - and definitely a dense read.  Here is a summary of what we learned.  

1. Why are vegetable/seed oils so toxic?

Vegetable oils are loaded with polyunsaturated fatty acids, also known as PUFAs.  These PUFAs are highly unstable.  When exposed to heat and chemical stress they rapidly breakdown and transforming into free-radical promoting molecules, potentially causing major cell damage.  What do I mean by cell damage?  

These oils are inflammatory, irritating the gut lining and impairing digestion by reducing the ability to produce stomach acid.

They create oxidative stress in the body, leading to neuro degenerative diseases.  When heated, these oils exponentially amplify naturally occurring oxidation, so that the body has a hard time fighting it.  They also limit nitric oxide signaling which slows brain functioning.  

Vegetable and seed oils can cause gene mutation.  There are studies linking them to autism and organ malfunction.

Having a problem with circulation?  It could be due to vegetable and seed oils.  They can cause cardiovascular dysfunction, erectile dysfunction (yikes), migraines and also stifles the body's ability to recover from brain injury.

In a nut shell, they are aging accelerators.  I don't know anyone who wants that!

Increases genomic instability (causing gene mutation).

2. Does it matter how the oils are processed?  What if they are expeller-pressed?

Yes, it matters, but when it comes to vegetable and seed oils, expeller-pressed does not mean safe.  Expeller pressed suggests "gently extracted", but in reality, it only means the oils were first mechanically extracted.  The next part of the process usually involves refining, bleaching and deodorizing, rendering the oil oxidized.

3. What the heck should we eat and cook with and what should we avoid?

Here's a short list taken right off of Dr. Shanahan's website.

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And lastly, some tips!

  • Look for extra virgin, cold pressed oils.  For olive oils, specifically made in California, look for the Califonia Olive Oil Council Seal.  
  • For extra virgin olive oil, look for a harvest date.  They are best used within 18 months from harvest.
  • When cooking with high heat, stir frequently.
  • Also for high heat cooking, certain oil combinations are ideal.  Butter and olive oil protect each other.  Sesame and peanut oil are good combinations as well.  Sesame oil is high in PUFA's but is also incredibly packed with antioxidants.  Peanut oil protects the PUFA's from oxidizing.
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At our signature retreats, we show you EXACTLY how to put all of this together and use some of the oils suggested.  Join us in beautiful Mallorca in September and experience the taste of authentic, traditionally made Spanish olive oil.  We will be visiting a biodynamic extra virgin olive oil mill! 

 As always, please reach out with questions and comments!

Meal Planning Deconstructed

Unlike the outburst of laughter or less welcomed silence experienced by stand-up comedians, when writing into the blogging abyss, you never know if anyone is actually relating to or enjoying your material.  To date, our posts about sleep, our upcoming retreat and food have been the most comment-inducing.  With regards to food, the question most asked has to do with meal planning and prepping.  Folks are looking for concrete direction on how to execute healthy eating in a realistic way.  Obviously everyone's lives are different and the spectrum of time to dedicate to meal planning and prep vary vastly, but in case you are wondering, here's how we do it.

As with most things we aim to excel at in life, planning lies at the very core.  For example, you won't master a new language by desire alone.  Classes/private lessons/full-immersion language-dedicated extended holidays are in order if you are to actually achieve your goal.  The same goes with healthy cooking, especially for busy families where spare moments are often at a deficit.  Planning is also the most efficient and cost-effective way to turn your kitchen into a home-cooked, nutrient rich mecca of deliciousness.  For me, meal planning for the week happens every Sunday.

I generally stick to the plan, but don't obsess over it.  After all, individual meals are important, but not as important as the sum of their parts.  What I mean is that on days where I've been stuck in traffic or on a subway train going nowhere, I just can't follow the "master plan" and breakfast-for-dinner (runny eggs over a salad is my favorite) or stir-fried left overs (or even pre-made meals from Whole Foods) are just fine.  Stressing over this would simply undo any of the nutritional goodness originally intended by the meal! 

Some of our go-to quick fixes include:

  1. Organic, preservative-free hotdogs.
  2. Organic, preservative-free sausages.
  3. Canned sardines.
  4. Canned smoked oysters.
  5. Eggs (steamed, fried, scrambled, poached, hard-boiled, baked...with bacon, avocado, spinach, cheese, etc).

Ok, so begin with choosing a meal planning day.  For me Sunday morning over a cup of coffee works.  It makes sense for me since I often go to the grocery store and farmer's market on Sundays as well. 

I ask myself the following questions each week:

  1. What do I want to cook/eat?  You are more likely to make it's something you personally want:)
  2. What is my schedule like this week?  When will I have time for create more elaborate meals and/or prep for the following day?
  3. How can each meal be transformed into tomorrow's lunch?  This is key.  It simplifies things and eliminates any early morning decision making about the kids' lunches!
  4. What's already in the fridge/freezer/pantry?
  5. Where will I get it?  My grocery list follows the flow of the aisles at the market so there is no doubling back and forth for items lower down on the list.  I also my shopping stops according to my schedule.  For example, my daughter's bus stop is near our favorite fish market.  If I am picking her up there, I'll plan seafood for that night's dinner.  
  6. How long will it take to prepare?
  7. If I am experimenting with something new, and I tend to do this once or twice a week, what's the back up plan?  Sometimes I'll get to the market and spot something special, with that freshly-harvested look about it.  I am usually unable to resist the temptation of buying it whether I know what to do with it or not.

Then comes the menu creation.  This is what a sample week looks like for us:

Monday

  • Breakfast - Black coffee for me & Gregg, prosciutto wrapped egg & spinach muffins for Solé.  (Our favorite coffee is from Purity).
  • Lunch- Leftover roasted chicken over a mixed green salad for me & Gregg, and for Solé, chicken over last night's cooked vegetables, seaweed snacks, carrots and homemade hummus.
  • Dinner - Romaine lettuce with homemade anchovy vinaigrette, grass-fed burger, mashed cauliflower, oven roasted sweet potato shoe string fries and a side of sauerkraut.
  • Dessert - Reishi hot chocolate from Four Sigmatic.  (Reishi is an edible, medicinal mushroom mostly known for its calming effects).

Tuesday 

  • Breakfast - Black coffee or blended coffee with cream for me & Gregg, collagen and sometimes egg fortified oatmeal (with fermented oats for easier digestibility and increased gut health) and a spinach smoothie for Solé.
  • Lunch - *Organifi smoothie with added greens and herbs, grass-fed collagen, avocado, mushrooms (usually lion's mane and/or chaga), moringa, cinnamon, sea salt, and sometimes a bit of stevia.  For Solé, lettuce-wrapped left over burger, lacto-fermented pickles and a homemade chia bar.
  • Dinner - Big mixed green salad with fresh squeezed lemon and olive oil, slow roasted arctic char, pan fried crispy brussel sprouts with lardons, homemade sourdough bread.
  • Dessert - Warm golden milk with a drizzle of raw honey (turmeric and coconut milk made with ginger, and other spices -  anti-inflammatory and soothing).

* (If you are going to buy Organifi, take advantage of our discount code, greggcook, for 10% off)!

Wednesday 

  • Breakfast - Black coffee or blended coffee with cream for me & Gregg, spinach and cheese omelet for Solé.
  • Lunch - Big green salad and a can of sardines, and for Solé (can you guess??), leftover arctic char and brussel sprout, grape tomatoes, a piece of dark chocolate.
  • Dinner- Asian inspired pork meatballs, stir fry shirataki noodles (Japanese noodles made of konjac root) with mixed veggies, side of kim chee.
  • Dessert - Fresh berries.

Thursday

  • Breakfast - Black coffee or blended coffee with cream for me & Gregg, homemade brown butter and dark chocolate chip granola for Solé.
  • Lunch - Last night's meatballs over a bed of greens.  Solé will get the meatballs with seaweed snacks and carrot sticks and mini peppers.
  • Dinner - Grilled and sliced flank steak over arugula, butternut squash soup with watercress and pistachio pesto.
  • Dessert - Homemade yogurt with blood orange and a drizzle of raw honey.

Friday 

  • Breakfast - Black coffee or blended coffee with cream for me & Gregg, almond flour pancakes for Solé.
  • Lunch -  Avocado & egg salad.  As a sandwich with homemade sourdough bread for Solé.
  • Dinner - Crab cakes with homemade garlic aioli, steamed artichokes and fennel and radish salad.
  • Dessert - Flourless triple chocolate cookies.

Saturday (we tend to eat a later brunch, skip lunch and eat an early dinner on weekends)

  • Breakfast - Mochacchino with grass-fed raw cream and organic cacao powder, grain-free pumpkin waffles with dark chocolate sauce.
  • Dinner - Stilton & leek savory cheesecake, kale and anchovy salad.
  • Dessert - Creamy coconut chia pudding with crumbled cookies from Friday night (if we happen to have leftovers) or homemade granola or macerated strawberries (Sometimes this also doubles as the next day's breakfast)!

Sunday 

  • Breakfast - Double espresso and grain-free bagels with lox and cream cheese or almond butter and raw honey.
  • Dinner - Indian butter chicken, cauliflower rice (or sometimes white rice), sautéed garlic spinach, sprouted green pea flat bread.
  • Dessert - Homemade dark chocolate and coconut butter cups.

How does all of that sound to you?  Just writing it (pre-lunch) makes me hungry.  Need help with meal planning?  I work with many clients on this and am working on a subscription based platform with every detail covered.  If you are interested, shoot us an email!

*Full disclosure:  While we make a small profit from the affiliate links above, these are products we personally use and have benefitted from.  We will never endorse anything we do not fully believe in.  


Road cycling in  Mallorca

Road cycling in Mallorca

What we are dreaming...moving outdoors, enveloped in nature and breathing fresh air.  Mallorca, September 2018.

Sneak Peek into the Week #4

Happy Monday folks! 

We are happy to say that our month of "No Complaining" has been going very well.  It's challenging and imperfect, but has really changed the way we are experiencing life in a positive way, as well as the way we have been communicating, and therefore experiencing each other.  It is so interesting that such a seemingly small thing can have such a great impact.  We are thinking we will keep this challenge going beyond the month.

So, here's what we've been doing this week...



FOOD EXPLORATION:

Have you taken a walk down the snack aisle at the grocery store lately?  I often find myself strolling down the aisle in search of an easy-to-pack lunch treat or after school snack for my daughter and clients.  Sadly, my search is usually fruitless and I am overcome with disappointment.  Even seemingly benign foods (like nuts and jerky) are often tainted with dastardly seed oils and processed sugars.  Aside from a handful of good choices, healthy snacks are really hard to find.  Here are my go-to's:

 
 

I've been challenged by my clients (and especially my daughter) to come up with my own snack recipes.  The criteria is that they need to be easy to make, easy to transport, heathy and pass the taste test across all ages.  Luckily, the experimenting has been fun and the results super yummy.  Below are two versions of a healthy seed bar.

Banana Walnut Seed Bar

  • 3 large Medjool dates
  • 3/4 cup dried bananas, unsweetened
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Remove pits from dates and pulse in a food processor or blender to form a paste.

In a medium sized bowl, mix dates and the rest of the ingredients.

Press into the bottom of a baking dish lined with parchment paper, cut into squares or rectangles and refrigerate until firm.

 

Turmeric Black Pepper Seed Bar

  • 6 large Medjool dates
  • 1/2 cup chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup sprouted pumpkin seeds
  • 2 tablespoons coconut oil, melted
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Remove pits from dates and pulse in a food processor or blender to form a paste.

In a medium sized bowl, mix dates and the rest of the ingredients.

Press into the bottom of a baking dish lined with parchment paper, cut into squares or rectangles and refrigerate until firm.


BOOKS WE ARE READING:

  • The Fourfold Path to Healing by Dr. Thomas Cowen, Sally Fallon and Jaimen McMillen.  It is a fascinating look at healing, fusing nutrition, traditional healing remedies, movement and meditation.  Interestingly enough, Jaimen McMillen, one of the authors, was one of Gregg's teachers in a movement course called Spacial Dynamics he took way back in the early 90's.  Dr. Thomas Cowen is also the man behind Dr. Cowen's Garden, where we get our amazing dehydrated veggie powders.  They are a delicious and easy way to get additional micronutrients into your diet.  Check them out here!

MOVEMENT OF THE WEEK:

  • Goblet Squat.  This exercise is great for all the muscles in your legs including quads, hamstrings, and glutes as well as for increasing core strength.  Because the weight is held in front of the body, it can help with technique with a regular back-loaded squat.  Because the weight is held in front of the body, it allows you to sit down into a squat in an upright position as opposed to leaning forward at the hips, a typical squatting mistake.  Here is a quick demo.

Gregg has released his first podcast (yay).  Have a listen to the intro session.  So much more to come!  

Have a lovely week and Happy Valentine's Day!

Food Manifesto

Do you feel incarcerated by dietary labels?  It seems that everywhere we look, there are new dietary dogmas categorizing who we are, carefully dividing us into Paleo, Ketogenic, Gluten Free, Vegetarian, Pescatarian, Vegan, Raw, Raw Paleo, Dairy Free, Grain Free, etc, etc, etc.  We identify with these labels sometimes so deeply, it is as if one bite of the "forbidden fruit" (or pasta or meat) will destroy who you believe you are, who you associate with, i.e. make you immediately and irreparably overweight and banish you from the gates of dietary heaven.  Yet every day there is new scientific research pointing to what is good and bad for your health.  This information is often contradictory, always confusing and ultimately exhausting.  It is no wonder we don't really know how and what to eat.

We've been guilty of this many times over and fortunately, through these experiences, have become wiser.  Eating well can be simple.  And so, here is our basic Food Manifesto.  Follow it and you should be fine.

  1. Eat fresh and local and wild.
  2. Eat vegetables mostly.  Many, and a variety.
  3. Eat slowly and gratefully.
  4. Chew well.
  5. Don't overstuff yourself.
  6. Drink good, clean water.
  7. Avoid processed and/or added sugar.
  8. Avoid seed oils.
  9. Avoid processed food.
  10. Avoid excessive alcohol.
  11. Don't overdo anything.
  12. Pay attention to your body, its cravings and how it feels after eating.
  13. BONUS: Move after eating.
Sneak Peek into the Week #3

Hi All,

Here is our list of interests/learnings/ponderings for the week.  Enjoy, and as always, we love your feed back so let us know if you enjoyed this post.

 

 
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OUR OBSESSION:

Sleep - getting enough as well as good quality.  The more we learn, the more interested we become.  Why such a fascination?  Well...a short blurb directly out of the book Gregg has been reading, Why We Sleep, by Matthew Walker, sums it up pretty well. 

"Scientists have discovered a revolutionary new treatment that makes you live longer.  It enhances your memory and makes you more creative.  It makes you look more attractive.  It keeps you slim and lowers food cravings.  It protects you from cancer and dementia.  It wards off colds and the flu.  It lowers your risk of heart attacks and stroke, not to mention diabetes.  You'll feel happier, less depressed and less anxious.  Are you interested?"

He is referring to sleep, of course.

Six simple ways to help you get more and better sleep are:

  1. Keep your room on the cooler side.  
  2. Turn off all screens, ideally 2 hours before bedtime.  If you must use a screen, invest in blue blocking glasses.
  3. Create a sleep cave out of your room.  Cover up any and every light in your room, including small rays of light coming in from the streets, lights from alarm clocks, smoke alarms, etc.  (These tiny pre-cut light blocking stickers are really helpful).
  4. Avoid alcohol before bed.  It takes your body hours to process alcohol and get it out of your system and it WILL disrupt your sleep, so save drinking for special occasions.
  5. Create a sleep schedule and stick to it every day including weekends.
  6. Get outside in natural sunlight at least 30 minutes a day to help regulate daily sleep patterns.  If you can, make it first thing in the morning. 

FOOD EXPLORATION CONTINUED:

 
Sweet-Potato-Okinawa-DSC01703.jpg
 

Our Okinawan exploration continues.  (The soba noodle soup was AMAZING, by the way.  Sorry, it was gobbled up before I could snap any pictures.  Email us if you'd like the recipe we used (I made noodles from scratch but some good alternatives are available at Thrive Market or even Amazon).  

Next, we tried a little something to satisfy the sweet tooth, Imo Custard.  Though not very sweet at all, by "normal" standards, we really enjoyed this recipe.  We tried it as written below, and also substituting the sweetener completely with a bit of cinnamon, which changed the flavor profile, but was equally enjoyable...even by 9 year old taste buds.  

Imo Custard (Okinawan sweet potato dessert)

  • 4-6 Okinawan Sweet Potatoes or Purple Yams, peeled boiled and mashed
  • 2 tablespoons Brown Sugar (we used maple syrup)
  • 1 teaspoon fresh grated ginger
  • Milk (cow, coconut or nut milk) as needed

Blend all ingredients until creamy, adding milk to get to desired consistency.

Another helpful takeaway from the Okinawan culture is the concept of Hara hachi bun me (腹八分目/はらはちぶんめ), (or hara hachi bu).  As Okinawa has the highest proportion of centenarians in the world, its worth paying some attention to.  What exactly is hara hachi bu?  It is a Confucian teaching that translates to "belly 80 percent full".  Of course this is relative and difficult to quantify, but is simply a wonderful reminder to eat slowly and reap the benefits of chewing your food well, being present and expressing gratitude during mealtime.


MOVEMENT OF THE WEEK:

Dead Hang Plus.  Add on to the dead hang from last week and try lifting your chest and squeezing your shoulder blades down and back while hanging.  Hold strongly for a few seconds before releasing and repeating.  Note that the movement should come from the shoulder girdle, not your arms.  Keep your elbows straight. 


FINAL WORDS:

Inspired by Gabby Reece, my super-hero role model, we, as a family, have declared February a No-Complaining Month.  According to research, less complaining = better mood + increased happiness and mindfulness.  It's only day 5, but the effects are REAL.  It's a great exercise in taking a pause before speaking, and also rethinking and perhaps editing the way we express ourselves.  We are each holding each other as accountability partners, just in case we begin to slide down the complaining rabbit hole.  Join us.  You have nothing to lose and so much to gain!

Have a great week!

 

 

Superbowl Pre-Game and Menu Plan

Do you have Superbowl plans this Sunday?  Personally, my interest is in the commercials, and the half-time show, admittedly, in anticipation of the next big blooper (flashback to Justin and Janet 2004).  Gregg, on the other hand, is all in.  He loves watching the game and really lives into the whole great American chicken wing/chili/pizza and loads of drinking phenomenon.  Seeing as the cuisine of the evening is not necessarily what one would traditionally classify as "healthful", we tend to modify the menu in that direction, and I have to say, we (collectively) have been thrilled with the results.  

And...then there is the drinking.  Thank goodness dry January/Whole 30 is over because imbibing also seems to be a big part of game day.  Want to know how to prevent a hang-over?  More then simply not over-drinking, staying hydrated and pacing yourself, which are all very important, we've got some not-so-obvious tips to help you out.  Monday morning mania can ensue, (shout out to the Bangles) and not be further burdened by headache and brain fog.  

Let's begin with food.  (Scroll down if you want to get right to the pre-game strategies).  

The Menu: Crispy Baked Wings with Salsa Verde, Grass-Fed Beef Chili, Crudités with Ricotta Arugula Pistachio Pesto and Avocado Crema.

Here is a great chili recipe made stove-top and here is another if you own a pressure cooker or Instant Pot.  Crudités seem pretty self explanatory.  Dips, sauces and healthy wings that are still crunchy and delicious - a bit more challenging - and where we step in.

Crispy Baked Wings

(Warning, you need to begin at least the night before)

  • 4 pounds chicken wings, cut into drumettes and flats
  • 4 teaspoons baking powder 
  • 4 teaspoon kosher salt 
  • Fresh ground black pepper to taste

Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil and set a wire rack inside.  Thoroughly dry the wings with paper towels.  Combine wings, baking powder, salt and pepper in a large bowl. Place the wings on rack and be sure not to crowd them.  You will likely need more then 1 rack.

Place baking sheet(s) in the fridge for at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours, uncovered.

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450°F. Add chicken wings and cook for 20 minutes. Flip wings and continue to cook until crisp and golden brown, 15 to 30 minutes longer, flipping a few more times towards the end.

Salsa Verde

  • 1/2 cup lightly packed fresh parsley
  • 1 large handful fresh chives
  • 4 sprigs fresh tarragon 
  • 2 garlic cloves chopped
  • 1 anchovy
  • 1 tablespoon capers
  • 1/2 shallot chopped
  • 1/2 jalapeño (or more, seeded or not, depending on desired heat)
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon whole grain dijon mustard
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice, plus zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt & fresh ground black pepper to taste

Throw everything but the olive oil, lemon juice, zest, salt and pepper into the food processor.  Slowly pour in the oil and continue to pulse until you have a chunky but smooth sauce.  Stir in lemon juice and zest and season with salt and pepper.

Ricotta Arugula Pistachio Pesto Dip

  • 1/3 cup pistachios
  • 1 1/2 cups packed arugula (or watercress) 
  • 3/4 cup packed parsley 
  • 2/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice plus zest of 1 lemon
  • Sea salt
  • 1 cup organic whole milk ricotta

Pulse pistachios, arugula, parsley, oil in the food processor until smooth.  Stir in the lemon juice, zest and salt.  Swirl into ricotta and top with a layer of olive oil, a pinch of sea salt flakes like Maldon, and freshly ground black pepper.

Avocado Crema

  • 2 avocados
  • 3 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1/2 cup full fat greek yogurt*
  • Sea salt

*I love this with feta or goat cheese cheese as an alternative to yogurt.  For a dairy free version, blend in some olive oil instead.

Combine all ingredients except salt into the food processor and blend until smooth and creamy.  Season with salt to taste.

And now, Pre-Game Strategies

As I mentioned earlier, the simple solutions are to abstain (ha), stay hydrated and drink plenty of water before, during and after the time you drink, and nurse the hell out of your drinks.  But in addition, there are some helpful things you can do to just in case things do get out of hand (and that will do your body good regardless).

1. Green Tea: One of the many benefits of green tea is its ability to support the liver.  It is helpful in preventing hangovers as well as remedying them.

2. Asparagus: Compounds in these gorgeous green stalks help break down alcohol, allowing it to exit the body more quickly.

3. Vitamin C: Alcohol can deplete your body of vitamin C, which assists in alcohol-induced oxidative stress in your liver.  Studies have shown that taking vitamin C before indulging will protect the liver and in addition, help detoxify alcohol.

4. Glutathione: This is the body's greatest antioxidant and a major player when it comes to liver support, detox, immunity, to name just a few.  Unfortunately, most supplements are not very effective.  Look for a good quality brand with liposomal means of delivery for this.  This is what we use.  

5. Activated Charcoal: Take this before wine or beer, or after you're done drinking to help move the toxins out of your body.

6. Hydrogen Water: Molecular hydrogen has a list of benefits I will not get into here, but one is its ability to support the liver and scavenge harmful free radicals, while leaving the beneficial ones alone.  If you are interested in learning more about this, please contact us.

At the end of the day, if you blew it this time, don't stress over it.  Get yourself a Myer's Cocktail infusion during your lunch break and be back on your game for the second part of the day.