#NOD’s: @MatthewCStamp

#NOD’s: @MatthewCStamp

Welcome back to Nuggets of Deliciousness!  This is my third installment of #NOD’s, which is pretty much the coolest blog feature ever. Just Tweet a question at me (@ElivenGuy) and your question, along with your Twitter account could be featured in the next NOD. Enjoy!

@MatthewCStamp asked a question I know I can identify with:

I have never enjoyed the taste of black coffee.  I have never been a coffee drinker and that is primarily because I like my cream and sugar with a splash of coffee.  Drinking your coffee this way sort of negates all the wonderful benefits that coffee can have on your health.

DID YOU KNOW?  There has been a bevy of recent studies revealing that around 3-5 cups of black coffee per day can help to keep your pipes unclogged (aka – lessen the risk of calcium deposits in your arteries). But beware of partial information!  If you think that any one food or drink item is the answer to a healthy lifestyle then you and I need to have a chat; a sort of “come to cheeses” if you will. Coffee, black coffee, has also been shown to increase your LDL (aka – The Scary Cholesterol) and temporarily increase your blood pressure, but when properly prepared, coffee, black coffee, is beneficial to your health.  Here’s the thing though: for anything you consume to have it’s true health benefits unlocked requires balanced health and nutrition. This means bio-available vitamins and minerals, and exercise.  Want to get a little more in depth on the nutritional science of coffee?  Well then friggin google it for crying out loud! 🙂 Just kidding, you can start here:  http://www.nbcnews.com/id/6242467/ns/health-heart_health/t/coffee-cholesterol/

I like to joke that it took me about 36 years to figure out why I hadn’t lived up to societies expectations of me….it was COFFEE!! I drink coffee and I just want to get shit done!  No wonder I am broke and living with my parents at 37, I never drank coffee! All I ever drank was soda. FYI – Soda is death juice. But only the most treacherous carbonated beverages can provide you with the energy that the sweet java bean can give you and those carbonated beverages will put your body chemistry into a world of hurt (IE – Energy drinks, Mountain Dew, Coke, etc.). Oh and please don’t drink Four Lokos unless you want this to happen to your internal organs and this to your brain chemistry.  So when it comes to keeping up in this “gotta go” world you either develop a cocaine habit and inevitably descend into depravity and lawlessness or you brew yourself a nice pot of java in the morning.  They’re both addictions but one actually has an upside.

Okay okay I know, I’m getting all preachy, so let’s just get down to the #NOD shall we:

A Loaded Weapon

So let’s talk Bulletproofing.  No I’m not going to ask you to wear Kevlar or replace  your car with a Pope-Mobile; I’m talking about a rising trend in the world of nutrition that stems from a book by Dave Asprey called “The Bulletproof Diet”.  I myself think that “diet” is a four-letter word and that any “program” or “eating guideline” with those four dangerous letters needs to be seriously evaluated.  Although some of their marketing schemes do resemble those of the countless, profit-driven diet scams that have been perpetrated on the western world, the science behind Bulletproof is solid.  The tagline on the bottom of the homepage of their website does a great disservice to the concepts behind Bulletproof by insinuating that you can be healthy without exercising.  Weight loss and healthy living are not the same thing!  But on a positive note: Bulletproof stresses the importance of eliminating mold toxins from your coffee, which is not exactly easy and toxins in general are something to focus on removing throughout your entire diet.  Most of the mass-produced food that we consume in this country contains some sort of toxin;  some a great many. But for this #NOD we are focused on providing @MatthewCStamp with a healthy alternative to masking the coffee flavor of your coffee with cream and sugar so let’s just get right to the video. Mr Asprey himself can explain his coffee to you much easier than I:

 

Okay so first things first; I do not expect you to go out and buy all that guys stuff but his coffee recipe not only produces a delicious “Science-Latte”, it is literally brainfood and it encourages the construction of a powerhouse metabolism.  With that in mind I would like you to keep these two things in mind:

1. Toxin’s are a big problem in modern agriculture…

…yada yada yada…Monstano….yada yada. I urge you to consider the idea that all the toxins that we have unwittingly bombarded our bodies with over the years are actually at the core of many health issues we face today.  Since the 1970’s, when Big-Agra and convenience culture began to permeate our lives and leach the nutrition from our food, we have been strangling our bodies true ability to carry us through our lives.  Ironically, were we not so nutritionally deficient as a culture we probably wouldn’t need to drink so much coffee.

2. Grass fed butter is different from cream…

…and fat is not the enemy.  In fact healthy fats are essential to so many critical and high-level bodily functions that I just want to find the people that pushed their “low-fat” ways upon our world and punch them in the face.  You want to have your mind blown?  Try this on for size: Low-fat diet trends made everyone fat! (Seriously, look it up! It might not be the sole contributor but it threw our metabolic lives asunder.)

So while I would encourage you to follow the Bulletproof Coffee recipe to Mr Asprey’s exact specifications I understand that not everyone can afford to support the Bulletproof Executive and his capitalization on healthy living, so here are two Enliven Guy recipes for you to play around with:

Recipe #1 | “Bullet Resistant Coffee” 

Brewing Up Trouble

STEP ONE: Get rid of your Keurig! (If you own one do me, you, and the whole world a favor and scrap your convenience machine.  Not only are they a bane on our planet but they are, along with most all drip-machines, a veritable playground for mold toxins.)

STEP TWO: Use a paper filter.  I’m not sure why but Dave Asprey doesn’t address the cholesterol issue with unfiltered coffee.  Paper filters have shown a much lower instance of raised LDL and they are fully compostable.  More on that here.

I would say the ideal way to prepare your coffee is using the slow-drip method demonstrated in the video just with a paper filter instead of a metal one.

Beans’N’Stuff

  • Organic Coffee Beans (Free Trade Please)
  • Unsalted Grass-fed Butter (Kerrygold is good!)
  • Coconut Oil (Free Trade)
  • Organic Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (Free Trade…slavery is bad mmmkay)
  • Vanilla Protein Powder (I use Orgain – beware of casein)

Whip It Good

I grind to order.  The coffee is much fresher that way.  However you do it go ahead and prepare your coffee now, then plop 1tbsp butter, 1 tbsp coconut oil, 1tsp Cocoa Powder, and a half to full serving of protein powder into your blender.  Pour 1 – 2 cups hot coffee over the top of the stuff you plopped and blend it…blend it good. When a problem comes along you can blend it and drink it and BOOM goes the dynamite! This is a powerful way to start the day and it curbs hunger too.

Recipe #2 | “Power In Coffee”

How about some dessert to start the day?

The Goodness

  • 4 Cups Cold Coffee (I brew extra in the morning and save it in the fridge)
  • 2 tablespoons organic, unsalted peanut butter.
  • 1 Banana
  • 2 Servings (4 Scoops) Orgain Protein Powder (substitute if you must)
  • 1 Cup frozen mixed berries
  • 3 tablespoons Flax Meal (Bob’s!)
  • 3 tablespoons Hemp Seed (Du-u-ude)
  • 1 tablespoon Chia Seeds (Cha-Cha-Cha-Chia!)
  • 1 Cup Milk (I try to use rice milk or some sort of nut milk but if you really want to start the day off with some decadence then you can sneak in some creamy cows milk and/or some yogurt.)

The Big Mix Up

Blend it all up proper and let that sweet delicious flavor cool your throat and light those sweet sensors afire! This recipe makes about 6 cups of coffee infused goodness with roughly 20 grams of protein per serving and the only added sugar would come from your milk.  It’s so delicious I can’t even type right now…mmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

Before we shut this mother down I’d like to take a moment to hit you with some truth: We American’s tend to be mindless consumer machines and we forget that a great many people toil and even suffer and die to bring us things like the the nearly 3 billion ounces of coffee we consume every day in America.  Please take a moment to read this article and keep in mind that we can be unwittingly supporting great suffering simply by stopping at the grocery store and picking up a few things.  Stay informed and let’s make this whole world healthy!

Alright then, we’re done here.  You’ve got some coffee experiments to conduct.  Remember that both the amazing, free, genius recipes that have been bestowed upon you this fine day are fully dynamic.  By that I mean that you can play with the ingredients as much as you want.  Brew your coffee with cinnamon in the grounds.  Use vanilla extract, leave out the protein powder, do whatever the hell you want I don’t care – oh, wait, I do care.  I want you all to be well.  I want you all to be vibrant, healthy, loving beings because that is when the light of our lives shines the brightest!  Ready. Set. GO!

Salud!

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What was I waiting for?

What was I waiting for?

Heather Brewer, MA, MFT Intern, once shared an idea with me: don’t make it precious.  I’m sure I’m misquoting her something wretched but the gist of it is that we tend to lend things too much importance in our lives. We prop up our egos and our self-esteem with the rickety old branches of the “Precious Tree”.  So in my case I will hold my “next blog post” to be the most precious thing; it must be amazing, it must be better than the last, it must be my pièce de résitance.  Why do I do that?  Why do I make my next blog post so precious?

IT’S A FRIGGIN BLOG! WITH A READERSHIP OF, LIKE, EIGHT!

I’m sorry to say that I do not have the answer to that last question because the answer is slightly different for everyone.  The answer is found when you make the choice to sit down and talk to someone like Heather Brewer, MA., and explore the all too often foreign realm of inner space.  So that’s it!  No more precious blogs (pshh, who am I kidding 🙂 ). But seriously though: I’m here with my verbal pruning shears to trim those dead branches from my Precious Tree; so with that in mind I present you with a departure from my usual display of genius wit and comic relief. I present you, instead, with a subject matter of great prevalence and of paramount importance: racism.  Fair warning, things get real from here on out. I have a platform and I am going to use it on occasion to affect positive change.  The Enliven Guy is all about spreading health and happiness but sometimes we must come face to face with the solemn and the serious in order to find the serene.  I want world peace god dammit!

So here is a post I made on Facebook as a response to this excellent article:

I was just talking about this with a group of friends (of many levels of skin pigmentation) and what has only recently become abundantly clear to me is that I have been going through my entire life bragging that I don’t have a racist bone in my body but all the while living that life within the cradle of a system whose entire framework is built upon white supremacy. The whole system was designed for white males to succeed, classifying everyone else as a secondary citizen. It’s not necessarily at Nazi or KKK levels of violent, hateful white supremacy, it is simply the product of a society and culture that was founded by white men who came from a world where they grew up being taught that they were superior because they were white. While they may have understood that “All men are created equal” (let’s leave systemic misogyny for another post), that didn’t change the fact that our country was founded by racists, or men who are like that old grandpa: He isn’t a hateful man, he has just allowed himself to be programmed to feel discomfort in the presence of Non-Caucasians.

I wish we could release ourselves from the pervasive and insidious language, from the terms “black”, “white”, “brown” and any others that have arisen from our deeply flawed cultural framework; but alas, there is a vast amount of work to be done before the mindset of equality will permeate our psyches. It requires a bit of an upheaval, a restructuring of how we, in the industrialized world, are brought up. A paradigm shift. It is going to be hard work and guess whose shoulders it falls on to do the majority of the work? White people. As a wise Facebooker once commented:

[The system was designed for white people so white people are the only ones that can really affect reform].

It’s time for white people, especially those of use who are not racist, to stand up and remove the blinders that the old white men have placed upon our eyes. White privilege is real, it is undermining, and it will not go away until we swallow our pride, put aside our egos and admit that the system has long been rigged for white supremacy. We cannot defeat racism outwardly, we must defeat it by changing the hearts and minds; this takes time, and it all starts with acknowledging the very thing that this article discusses. We can do it though! I feel a critical mass is building. I am hopeful. Peace and love to you all!

So there you have it, my ritualistic “depreciousizing”.  This blog post isn’t funny.  I’d hardly call it lighthearted.   It could upset someone but that’s okay, it’s an important topic and I feel it needs to be addressed.  My blog is not so precious that I cannot use my soapbox to get up on my high horse and ruffle some feathers like a fox in the hen house…from time to time.  My self-esteem no longer dangles from a rotten branch on my Precious Tree so please, comment on this post, send me an email, open up a discussion and try to leave your ego out of it, I dare you!

Salud!

#NOD’s: @HeatherBrewerMA

#NOD’s: @HeatherBrewerMA

Welcome back to Nuggets of Deliciousness!  This is my second installment of #NOD’s, which is pretty much the coolest blog feature ever. Just Tweet a question at me (@ElivenGuy) and your question, along with your Twitter account could be featured in the next NOD. Enjoy!

@HeatherBrewerMA posed an excellent question:

First of all, thank you Heather, for the Tweet.  For those of you who don’t know, Heather Brewer is a registered Marriage and Family Therapist Intern with a Master of Arts in Somatic Psychotherapy.  She does amazing work and if you would like to know more about how she can help you on your path to well being please visit her website: heatherbrewermft.com

As my brain was storming on what dish I would offer up for Heather’s #NOD, this song popped into my head (don’t go getting into a YouTube spiral now, you need to read the rest of this blog post).  For those of you who know Heather, or if you are a “free-associater” like me,  you know why that little ear-worm is friggin hilarious.  But the hilarity does not stop there, instead of the actual words to that song my crazy brain somehow automatically created my own Enliven Guy/Weird Al version. The lyrics are as follows:

Let’s talk about health, baby.

Let’s talk about rice and beans.

Let’s talk about all the good food and the bad food, that we eat.

Let’s talk about health. Let’s talk about health.

What does that have to do with today’s NOD?  Absolutely nothing but it made you laugh didn’t it?  I hope so.  If it did that will be $92 for this week’s prescribed laughter, which we all know is the best medicine.  Be careful though because we also all know what happens when ya can’t stop laugh’n:

But I digress. Heather asked for a seasonal, cleansing and healing dish and a seasonal, cleansing and healing dish she shall receive. But first, kindly allow me to drop some knowledge:

DID YOU KNOW?  Watercress is one of the newest “trends” in healthy eating.  I personally think that the word “trend” has no place in a sentence with healthy eating but the fact remains that Watercress has more calcium than milk, more iron than spinach and it equals oranges in the vitamin C department. This is not to mention the bevy of additional healing properties packed into this precious little perennial. Check out this fabulous article to learn a little more about Watercress and other exciting things like the power of the Kiwi! https://www.caring.com/articles/12-foods-super-healing

And now, without further adieu, I give you the #NOD:

Salad Words

When it comes to cleansing food you typically want alkalizing ingredients.  Many people’s bodies are sitting at a slightly too acidic level due to the consumption of coffee, soda and traditionally processed red meats, poultry and dairy (more on that here).  So in order to combat that I have designed a nice lite meal that is strong enough for a man but P.h. balanced for a woman…just kidding it’s P.h. balanced for everyone.

The Recipe | The Buttercress Baby” 

Served with White Balsamic Vinaigrette along with  a cleansing & invigorating Cranberry Green Tea Refresher.

The Gear

  • A Knife
  • A Bowl
  • A Blender
  • A 1 – 2 Gallon Pitcher
  • A Fork (for eating things)

The Food Stuff

  • 2 Cups Butter Lettuce (Chopped)
  • 1 Cup Watercress (Chopped)
  • 1 Cup Baby Spinach
  • 1 Cup Kale (Chopped)
  • 1 Pink Lady Apple (Julienned)
  • Almond Slices (Toasted)
  • Dried Cranberries
  • Gorgonzola (Crumbled)

The Dressing Stuff

  • 1/2 Cup White Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
  • 2 Cups Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Shallots (About 4 or 5)
  • 2 Tbsp Honey
  • 1 Tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Basil (About 5 fresh leaves or 2 Tbsp dried)
  • 1/4 tsp Cayenne Pepper
  • Salt-N-Pepa (Get it!? It’s like full circle man!) (1 tsp each)

The Drink Stuff

  • Water (1 Gallon Filtered)
  • Green Tea Bags (Like a bunch of em)
  • Yerba Mate Bags (Like a few of em)
  • Cranberry Juice (Preferably the unfiltered raw kind)
  • Lemon Juice (Squeeze it, squeeze it real good)
  • Sweetener if desired (Preferably honey or stevia)

What’s Cookin Good Lookin?

Well actually nothing is cooking in this dish which is part of what makes it such a power-packed recipe (alright so the almonds are a little toasted but that’s okay, I get a little toasted sometimes too).  For the most part, raw food is really the way to go.  It’s not always fun and some people may just want to burn some flesh from time to time but ultimately, if you want your diet to have healing and restorative powers you need to focus on the rawness.  Do it!

All Dressed Up

Personally I like my dressing chilled so if you are like me then you may want to make the dressing ahead of time and toss it in the fridge but it is certainly not necessary.

To make the dressing put everything in the blender except for the oil and get your motor running. Then just drizzle in the oil nice and slow like, while the blender is running.  Not only will you have achieved an emulsion but you will have one of the best vinaigrettes you’ve ever tasted!

It’s A Toss Up

The assembly of this salad is quite difficult so brace yourselves.  Put everything in a bowl and toss it in the dressing.  Voila!  You’ve got yourself an incredibly cleansing and healing meal and there is even some built in protein.

Now if you want to get fancy with the plating then you need some height.  Pile up that lettuce, sprinkle on the almonds, cranberries and gorg. Then stack those julienned apples as high as you can and drizzle the dressing over top.  If you do that you might end up with something similar to this:

Image: Buttercress Baby
The Buttercress Baby

This recipe yields about 3 dinner size servings of nutritional power but if you wanted to serve it along side a piece of protein (fish or chicken) then it’s easily more like 6 servings.

The dressing recipe yields about 4 cups of dressing as is but if you like your dressing with a little more punch then back off on the oil a bit. If you don’t like the taste of vinegars then what the heck are you doing following this recipe!  🙂  Just kidding, simply up your oil to give it a milder flavor. Actually the standard ratio for a vinaigrette is 3-1, oil to acid (aka – vinegar, citrus, etc), but you know what they say: ratios are made to be broken (wait, that doesn’t sound right).

But hold on there!  You need something to drink don’t you?

Pink Drank

The Cranberry Green Tea Refresher is pretty fool proof (take it from a fool).  Bring the water to just before boiling, pour it in your pitcher, toss in about 6-8 green tea bags, about 2-4 Yerba Mate tea bags and steep away.  The longer you steep the more nutrients you get but your tea can get bitter and biting if you steep too long. I’d say no more than 10 minutes.  Then add your juices and sweetener to taste and chill it or ice it.

Shall we sum up the awesome nutritional power of this meal?  Yes?  Okay. The primary cleansing ingredients include the apple cider vinegar, the dried cranberries, the cranberry juice, the green tea, and the Yerba Mate tea but the nutrition in the salad helps your body do it’s thing so, really, the whole dish is cleansing.

Alkalizing ingredients include pretty much everything else.  You would think that things like lemon juice and apple cider vinegar would be acidic but they are actually alkalizing foods.  Check out this neat little chart for a pretty good list of acid-alkaline foods.  You will notice that aside from the Gorgonzola and the cranberry everything in this meal is either neutral or alkaline and if you maintain a diet like this you will notice the effects on your health in no time flat.

I hope you all have enjoyed today’s #NOD.  If so please subscribe, follow, comment, like or share. All the cool kids are doing it! Thanks for reading.

Salud!

Lost & Found

Lost & Found

A moment of zen from The Enliven Guy…hopefully

To my select subscribers (aka – the 6 marvelous folks who have chosen to follow this fledgling blog), I am sorry for my brief absence.  Did your heart grow fonder for The Enliven Guy?  I hope so! 🙂

Guess what!? Guess what!? I have been writing again. I don’t mean blogging, I mean I have rediscovered my passion for story, for screenplay, for so much more!  It is a truly amazing feeling to have lost sight of your passions only to discover them again.  In a single, ordinary moment, when inspiration strikes and your brain lights up and you realize that the power still resides within you to pursue your passions, you discover that your connection to the creative spirit – while it may seem tenuous – is, in fact, perpetual.  It’s about letting it in. It’s about opening up. It’s about believing in your self.  What an amazing feeling.  It’s sort of like this:



I had lost my marbles.  I had lost’em good!  But now they’re found again.  I know there is always a chance that the fog that obscures my talents might return but I take great comfort in the realization that a fog is never permanent.  The winds of change may bring the fog from time to time but they will also lift it away.

I wish, for all of you, that you may tap into your power.  We all have a connection to what I call the Creative Spirit.  I don’t see creativity as a trait that only artists posses; I see it as an innate human ability to innovate or, as the Marines would say, to improvise, adapt, and overcome.  Semper Fidelis.  I hope that all of you can remain always faithful in your ability to transcend those trials and tribulations that come with living and surviving in this modern society.  Those tribulations do not define you.  The Human Condition does not define us, we define it.  Each and every one of us is capable of awe inspiring things and we must never doubt that fact.  We must not lose sight of it.  I have a new weapon in my arsenal for the battle against self-doubt and while it is nothing more than an idea, it is, perhaps, the most important idea of them all:  I have the power! And so do you.

Thanks again to my readers, supporters, friends and family.  Each and every one of you is a tributary that feeds the river of my soul.  Oh and by the way: my epiphany (or is it an apostrophe?) tonight was ignited as I watched Birdman.  It is truly one of the most incredible films I have ever seen and if you want to talk about it, or about the ideas in this blog post, or about anything at all please don’t hesitate to reach out to me.  And to all you salivating foodies out there: not to worry, more fun, food and fitness is coming soon to a blog near you.  If you want to support my efforts please subscribe to me, tweet to me, sing to me.

I will leave you with one last ancient pop culture reference since I am a big old dork like that:



I mean, come on, how awesome was that!?

Peace and love to you all. Thanks for reading.

Salud!

Introducing #NOD’s!

Introducing #NOD’s!

Today’s #NOD: @MatthewCStamp

Today marks a very exciting day in human history – and by human history I mean my history, so really it just marks an exciting day for me.  Today I am officially making my second blog post ever! You may think that I am being a bit toolish by patting myself on the back for making two measly blog posts but there is actually some legitimate significance here.

I would be doing myself a serious disservice by ignoring the fact that I was in a severe depressive state not six months ago.  Just because I have more energy than I have had in nearly 10 years; just because my connection to the creative spirit is operating at a very high download speed; just because I feel invigorated and far from depressed as I write these words, does not mean that I should consider myself entirely healed.  For many people, like me, depression is a constant companion but it can be managed and it can be alleviated. Although I believe that the human mind and body have healing capabilities beyond our current understanding and may actually be able to rid itself of depression, I also think it is important to acknowledge that biochemistry plays a role here and you cannot “think your way out” of biochemistry.

So back to the significance of this blog post: If you struggle with depression I believe it is important to take small steps (like this).  Last night I observed something very interesting.  I noticed that thoughts of self-doubt were creeping into my brain like a nosy neighbor poking their head in your window saying, “Hey there buddy! You know you won’t be able to maintain this blog with any regularity right?  Yeah you couldn’t possibly come up with something interesting to write about every week, you should just quit. That way we’ll have more time to hang out.”

It is the fight against the slippery slope that is so very important to maintaining those pesky biochemistry levels.  Exercise, nutrition and getting the fuck out of your own head.  That’s why this, my glorious second blog post, is an occasion to be proud of.  Instead of defaulting to television and emotional eating I took the dog on a walk and sat down to pound out this little gem.  Without further adieu I give you the inaugural installment of NOD’s (Nuggets of Deliciousness):

NOD’s is intended to be a fun little installment where I share a Twitter post (or the like) and relate it to a little tip, factoid, recipe, etc.  I will likely fall short, on occasion, with providing you all with a lengthy introspective blog post about the human condition, but I think I can post NOD’s with some regularity. Geez, did you expect me to bare my soul on every post or something? Whatever!

Long story short: I will occasionally be posting random little caramelized nuggets of information that I think might be interesting or helpful.

DID YOU KNOW? The caramelized bits of food on the bottom of the pan after you cook something is most commonly referred to as the “fond” (You have to pronounce that like you are French, and sexually liberated). Fond means “background” in French but in the culinary world it means so much more.  I have also heard those delicious little morsels referred to as “suc” (French for juice), but my 2 minutes of Googling failed to come up with a definitive answer (and we all know that if you can’t find a definitive answer to something in 2 minutes then your original assumption is correct).  Maybe some of my “chefriends” (New word!) can weigh in. If you disagree with this factoid you can “suc it”!  The Wiki-Monster thinks it’s called suc though so click here to learn more about the wonders of deglazing.


That wasn’t the NOD, this is the NOD:

@MatthewCStamp posed a question:

 

In the case of Matt’s meal: it isn’t terrible by any stretch, but it is heavy on the starch; the Rice-A-Roni likely contains some preservatives that – while the FDA may give them a thumbs up – may be causing little issues with how your body functions and it is lacking a little nutritional balance. Even if the jury is still out on preservatives you simply do not need them, they provide no nutritional advantage, so why eat them?.  Let’s transform this meal using whole foods and eliminating a few carbohydrates.

Something Fishy

Fish is good for you, just accept it people!  I personally have some mysterious genetic predisposition that causes me to gag just a tad at the thought of eating fish but there is no denying that it is generally good for your health.   I would start off by suggesting that you look into buying some traceable, sustainably fished cod like this.

Preparing such fish is very simple: If frozen, thaw your filets and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Then squeeze about a quarter of a lemon on them (both sides), dust them with salt & pepper, brush them with oil and toss them in a 350° oven for about 13 minutes then turn the heat off and let them enjoy a nice 10 minute sauna.  Boom!  Deliciousness! (Breaded fish is not the devil but if you must have breaded fish you should try breading it yourself.  You can do this ahead of time and freeze them just like the one that Matt posted.

Like White On Rice

So Rice-A-Roni has vermicelli in it, which is a pasta. So you have the starch from the breaded fish, the starch from the long-grain white rice and the starch from the vermicelli. So instead of a box of rice and powder let’s step up our pilaf game:

Pick up a wild rice pilaf mixture or medley (bulk is best!) toast it in some oil or butter in a large, deep, “lidable” saute pan. Just like you would the Rice-A-Roni.  Toss in some vegetable, ideally fresh and organic but a frozen vegetable medley is perfectly acceptable.  Add about a teaspoon of each of the following: onion powder, garlic powder, ground thyme and ground pepper.  Squeeze a bit of lemon juice over it all (about a wedge worth) then cook and stir for a couple more minutes. Then add some veggie or chicken stock (2-1 ratio, liquid to rice), toss in a bay leaf, bring it to a boil, cover it and let it cook for 20 minutes. And I swear to god if you lift that lid before the 20 minutes is up I’m going to…well…you won’t like what I’m going to do that’s all.

Now you have added vegetables to your rice which means you actually eat less rice with your meal. You get a broader spectrum of nutrients from your rice and it really hasn’t caused you any inconvenience.

Couch Potatoes

So my official suggestion would be to nix the potatoes from this meal entirely.  The rice has covered your carbohydrates for this meal and adding more is just asking for your body to convert those simple sugars into fat while you watch your post-meal episode of The Biggest Loser.  Plus potatoes are poison! Don’t be alarmed now, you probably aren’t going to die but the fact remains that potatoes are the only member of the Nightshade family that humans actually eat and they can contain dangerous levels of glycoalkaloid. (Click here for a helpful list of foods that are technically poisonous)  The glyco-business aside, potatoes are also high in starches so they can make you sluggish if you’re body doesn’t have all the other nutrients and metabolism levels it needs to process everything.  Couch potato truly does have a double meaning.  If you must have the potatoes then toss them in some dried herbs and a touch of olive oil and roast them in a 400° oven for about 20-30 minutes.  You tend to use far less oil when you roast something as opposed to pan frying it.

However, I suggest you replace dem taters with some Brussel Sprouts or even this awesome new freak of nature on the market called Kale Sprouts. Just do the same thing, toss them in a little oil and seasoning, bake them at 400° for about 7-10 minutes (Brussel Sprouts may take longer) or until they start to get brown and crispy.  Transfer them back to your tossing bowl and drizzle some balsamic vinegar and honey over them and give them a nice toss.  A fairly liberal amount of salt also helps make these things pop! They are highly addictive, like French Fries!

Feeling Saucy

While a meal tailored to weight loss should probably omit this, I do think that fish would benefit from a nice White Wine Paprika Buerre Blanc But hey that’s just me. I don’t really subscribe to the “sacrifice everything you love” theory of healthy eating.  Diets don’t work! (More on this in a future blog post)

So there you have it. My official NOD to @MatthewCStamp has reached it’s conclusion.  If you want to get a NOD from The Enliven Guy then just head on over to the right side of this page to follow me on Twitter and then start tweeting at me, and I mean right at my face!  To see future NOD’s make sure to subscribe to my blog using the trusty old right side of this page again, and don’t forget to like, subscribe or just check in on my YouTube channel from time to time.  I won’t be as active on that to start out but there may be some pretty entertaining programming coming down the pipe at EnlivenTV.

Feel free to comment with any questions, comments, clarifications or clever trolling you might think of.  Thanks for reading.

Salud!

Bigman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Epithets

Bigman: Or The Unexpected Virtue of Epithets

This is Ryan’s second nomination and his first win in the category of “Best First Blog Post In, Like, The History of Blog Posts”.

Well here it is, my very first blog post.  I’m all grown up now…and at the young age of 36 no less.  Well maybe I’m not all the way grown up yet but I am certainly a “grown ass man” (pardon my french).

You can read a little bit more about me on my “Hello” page but long story short: I am a big man.  By this I mean that I am fat.  When I moved to Oakland in 2008 I was about 250 pounds, I ballooned up to about 270 then down to 240 and ultimately – at the height of my darkest hour of depression – I hit 290.  That’s when I decided it was time to take a hold of my life and focus on my health.  With this blog,  I aim to share my journey towards a healthy lifestyle with you and, if I’m lucky, provide you with a little information and a little inspiration to help you to health as well.  I will be posting videos, recipes, facts, photographs and downright witty prose as I set out to transform my life and my waistline.  I hope you will join me in my journey.

The Recipe Du Jour

“Beanwah Burgers” | Black Bean & Quinoa Veggie Patties

The Big Man

After living in Oakland for a while I began to notice that I had taken on a moniker.  It was usually used by the regulars.  The myriad of characters that either lived, hustled, or loitered on the streets just outside my little apartment on the southern border of the Temescal neighborhood.  They called me “Big Man”.

At first, when I was still a bit delusional about my ever-growing waistline, the name didn’t really sink in.  I never stopped to think about why I was Big Man.  Then one day it hit me: I wasn’t Big Man, because I looked strong or tough; I wasn’t Big Man because I was tall – I’m not tall; I wasn’t Big Man because I had a wide build; I was Big Man because of my belly; because of the girth, my god the girth!  That was a bit of a gut check for me.  I mean I knew I was overweight but I had developed this defense mechanism against the terrors of low self-esteem.  I walked around all day sucking my belly in and pretending my physique was better than it actually was.  It’s a very strange contradiction; I knew I was obese but I ignored it, because to face it was a truly awful prospect.

The more my Telegraph street tag got thrown around, the more it was pounded home: I am Big Man.  I am fat man.  I am gross.  I was committing suicide by diet.  Self-harm through nutritional neglect.  During my last year in Oakland my opinion of myself was about as high as a headstone.  I was digging my own grave with each pizza I pounded; with each order of dry fried ribs or each trip to the Carl’s Junior on the corner.

DID YOU KNOW?  On a recent list of The Top 30 Worst Foods in America the folks over at foodmatters.tv ranked a particular combo meal from Carl’s Junior at #1! That’s the worst meal in America folks.  Granted, there are a lot of these lists out there but when a meal weighs in at over 1800 calories with a whopping 92 grams of fat then it certainly deserves to be at the top of somebody’s scathing indictment of fast food in America.  And guess how much sodium it has?  150% of the daily recommended sodium intake in one meal! (Although the jury ist actually still out on sodium intake. More on that here.)  And that’s not the only “Carl’s Junk” that graces their menu, Carl’s Junior has some of the highest calorie combo meals amongst all the fast food giants. 

The physical effects of my poor diet and sedentary lifestyle were becoming more noticeable: dry, red, flaky skin in my t-zone. (Yes I just used the term t-zone. No I do not have a problem with “Metrosexuals” 🙂 ), very low energy, back pain, worsened allergies, poor digestion…and just an all around unhealthy feeling.  The interesting thing about the “unhealthy feeling” is that it sort of creeps up on you.  It is insidious in its tendency to blend in with your life.  You get used to it.  You start to accept that you just don’t have any energy…ever.  You start to adjust to the fact that you have to roll over like a beached whale just to get out of bed.  You don’t realize that you have slowly been tweaking the way you bend over to tie your shoes because your beast of a belly no longer allows you to tie your shoes like yo momma taught you. You’ve got to do this awkward sideways bend and sort of tie your shoes from the side.  (If you have a belly you know what I’m talking about. Pregnant ladies, can I get a “what! what!”? Fat people can I get a “shut the f@%k up”?)

I was lucky; eventually I snapped to and realized that if I did not make a change in my life then I was going to wither away in that smoke-stained room.  I was literally scared of dying in my room and rotting in there until someone finally decided to breach the walls of the “Big Man Cave”.  Forget about myself, I couldn’t do that to my Mother!

So here we are.  I’m almost 30 “el-bee’s” down from those two-hundred-ninety-peak-of-depression pounds and I have officially joined a local weight-loss contest here in my new home town of Apple Valley.  I am quite literally “in it to win it” and I’m starting with a bunch of beans.

The Recipe | Beanwah Burgers

The Gear

  • A Food Processor (very helpful but not entirely necessary)
  • A Big Ole Bowl
  • A Sheet Pan
  • Parchment Paper
  • A Pan / A Knife / An Oven
  • Hands (also helpful but not entirely necessary)

What’s In It?

  • 2 Cups Raw Black Beans (Soaked & boiled, cooking tips below)
  • 6 Medium (7”) Carrots (Minced or Pulsed)
  • 1 Cup Yellow Onion (Minced)
  • 1 Cup White or Yellow Corn (Chopped or Pulsed)
  • 4 Cloves Garlic (Minced)
  • 9 Mini Sweet Peppers (Diced)
  • 1 Cup Pumpkin Seeds (Roasted & Chopped)
  • 3 Cups Cooked Quinoa (Here’s some tips on Quinoa cooking)
  • 1/2 Cup Feta or Cotija Cheese (crumbled fine or pulsed)
  • 1/2 Cup Bread Crumbs
  • 1/4 Cup Grated Parmesan
  • 2 Large Eggs
  • 2-3 Tblsp Olive Oil
  • Spices: 1/2 tsp Salt / 1 tsp Black Pepper / 1 tsp Chipotle Powder / 1 tsp Ground Oregano / 1 tsp Ground Cumin

Now What?

Preheat your oven to 350°.  Lay cooked beans onto a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for about 20 minutes.  Just so they start to get dry and crackly (a very technical culinary term).  While your beans are getting toasty you can saute your veggies over a medium-high heat.

Pulse the carrots in a food processor about 8-10 times then add the corn and pulse a few more times. Add the onions and peppers and saute for about 2 minutes.  Add the pulsed carrot/corn mixture to the pan along with the garlic, and spices and stir well, sauteing for another 3-5 minutes so the spices can warm up a bit and get all snuggly with the veggies.

After the toasty beans have cooled down a bit add them to a large bowl along with the Quinoa, Seeds – heck just through everything in the bowl together.  (Make sure nothing is too hot though because you don’t want to scramble them eggs.)

Mix everything together with your hands making sure to incorporate the eggs and breadcrumbs throughout.  Everything should start to come together nicely so you can form patties (kind of like a ground beef).   If it’s too gooey or too dry just add more bread crumbs or liquid accordingly. (You can use the liquid you used to cook the beans in if you want or some vegetable stock would be delicious too!)

Nick Knack Patty Whack

To make the patties I like to use a plastic lid like the ones from a tub of salsa or cottage cheese (about 4.5″ in diameter).  Wrap the lid in plastic wrap and begin pressing the Beanwah mixture into the lid so it fills it up and is just overflowing a bit. Then you can pop it out of the lid and mold it to your desired thickness and roundness. (This recipe yields about 12 patties because mine end up being pretty big, like a 1/3 pound burger, but you can make yours any size you like)

Everybody Chill

Now is the time to refrigerate or freeze your patties.  Either way you should let the burgers cool down and set up before throwing them on the grill or back in your pan.  To freeze them put them on a parchment lined baking sheet and toss them in the freezer for a quick cold blast (30 – 60 minutes) kind of like this.  Once they’ve got a solid chill, pack them up in a heavy-duty plastic bag with a piece of parchment between each patty.  Those buggers can stay in there for 3 months (maybe longer) just waiting for you to indulge in them.  Mmmmmmm….Beeeeeaaannwaahhhh. Refrigeration can be done in patty form or in the bowl but you should use em up within about 3-4 days.

Put Some Heat on Em

These burgers need a nice medium heat so they will cook through and not get to crusty on the outside. Nobody likes a crusty old son-of-a…Oh…sorry, got a little carried away there.  Brush them with oil, put them on the grill (about 6 minutes per side; cooking time depends on thickness) but keep an eye on them, and you might even want to baste them from time to time so they don’t get too dry.  They can also be heated on the stove-top with a little oil in a preheated pan.

Serve Em Up

Eat them how you want to eat them.  Personally I think they are best with all the classic burger veggies plus some avocado and some Chipotle mayo.  It’s also pretty difficult to go wrong by adding bacon or cheese but, you know, this blog is supposed to be about weight loss and fitness, and bacon and cheese tend to gang up and pick on health & fitness like the merciless, delicious bullies that they are.  But I’m not too big on food guilt.  Eat want you want, just make sure you eat nutrient dense, whole foods, lots of veggies and get plenty of exercise (and nothing in excess of course).  That’s the ticket if you ask me!  We’ll see how it works out for me.

Soak Them Puppies

You can certainly use canned black beans for this recipe (rinsed and drained), but why would you do that when you can make them from scratch!  Just remove any stones from your beans give them a quick rinse and soak them over night (6 hours minimum).  Then dump that soaking water into one of your plants and give them beans a quick shower.  Back in the pot they go with about an inch or two of water to spare.  You can go with plain, boiled, black beans or you can add a flavor profile of your choosing by adding a bouquet garni or a sachet.  For this recipe I added 1/4 of a large yellow onion, 3 or 4 crushed garlic cloves, two bay leaves, oregano leaves, black peppercorns, coriander seeds and cumin seeds (about 1/2 tsp – 1 tsp of each).  Roll it all up in some cheesecloth and toss it in the water. Bring to a boil then reduce to a simmer with the lid cracked.  Check them for “doneness” at about 45 minutes but they could take over an hour (this is due to “sciency” stuff like barometric pressure and elevation and junk). You want them to have a little bit of texture to them, all mush is all bad. (You can still use them if they’re mushy but it may change your consistency a bit so I guess it’s not ALLLLL bad.)  Once they have reached the peak of beandom just drain them and you’re done.  You now have black beans that you can smash, fry, and re-fry, stuff into burros, make burgers from, pop into your mouth or throw at people. (TIP!! – Save your bean water for making a soup or a delicious black bean sauce. But beware, bean water can be farty.)

Well that’s it for this, the very first, Enliven Guy blog post.  I hope it has been enjoyable.  I encourage you to like it, share it, comment on it or whatever other crazy internet thing those whippersnappers can do with it these days. You can follow me on YouTube as well, if you are so inclined. As of right now the first video isn’t up yet. I’m  working on it though.  But hey, if you want to support my journey to health then please subscribe to my channel.  Thank you kindly. 🙂

Stay tuned for my next article: “The Belly Suck” coming to an interwebs near you.

Good health and good vibes to you all!  Thanks for reading.