Category Archives: Recipes

Smaug Really Just Needed Vitamin D

So there’s a state of emergency over most of the east coast because of the storm we’re experiencing. It’s not a fun time to be living in Boston, unless you happen to work right next to a cappuccino/latte/hot chocolate machine–which I do. Becca: 1, Snow Storm: 0. Shout-out to C3 for being an awesome place to work!

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However, no matter the quantity of hot beverages you may be imbibing this time of the year, storms do have one unavoidable affect–they can cause vitamin D deficiency. Lacking this nutrient is one of the causes of–aptly named–SAD, or Seasonal Affective Disorder (1). You may also be more susceptible to a host of other diseases, including diabetes, psoriasis, gum disease, and even cancer (2).

On top of that, British researchers are on a mission to prove that fictional villains really just need more sunshine and fish. 

In the recently published report, “The Hobbit–An Unexpected Deficiency,” Joseph and Nicholas Hopkinson, of the National Institute for Health Research, Biomedical Research Unit, at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust and Imperial College London, analyzed the sunlight exposure and diet of the characters of The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, and compared their findings to the characters’ evilness and success in battles. Their conclusion was that the lack of dietary and environmental vitamin D intake caused the troubles of characters such as Bilbo, Gollum, and the Goblin empire. The Hopkinsons also theorize that the Wood Elves are less potent than the High Elves because they dwell in caves, rather than in a sun lit city.

The depression, moodiness, and lack of cognitive skills shown by those who dwell in the dark could well be attributed to the lack of vitamin D in their diet. If Smaug would only scoop up some fish, and lay off the virgin maidens, Laketown would get some peace.

So are you feeling a bit like a cranky dragon lately? Here’s the top 5 ways to eat your vitamin D:

Mushrooms

mushrooms

Oily fish like salmon, trout, and orange roughy

salmon

Egg Yolk

egg

 

 

 

Swiss Cheese

swiss

Liver

liver

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The Ultimate Guide to Cooking Oils

Cooking oil is a ubiquitous pantry item, no matter what your diet–high-fat, low-fat, vegan, and paleo eaters all need it. This isn’t a bad thing, as fat is vital to the proper functioning of the body. However, unlike in the days of your grandmother, when there was butter, olive oil, canola oil, and maybe one other fancy shmancy oil for special dressings, the modern grocery shopper has their choice of a dizzying array of liquid lipids.

First, a Handy Dandy Chart

I’m giving full credit to theconsciouslife.com for this chart. It’s fantastic and I immediately recognized that I could not do better at this time.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 7.42.11 PM Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 7.41.59 PM chart of cooking oilsLegend:
SFA: Saturated fatty acids
MUFA: Monounsaturated fatty acids
PUFA: Polyunsaturated fatty acids
Ω-3: Omega-3 fatty acids
Ω-6: Omega-6 fatty acids
Ω-9: Omega-9 fatty acids
Ω-6:3 Ratio: Omega-6 to omega-3 ratio
Smoke Point: The temperature at which a cooking oil starts to burn and produce chemicals that are potentially harmful.

 

What Does It All Mean?

The Omegas

Science tells us that no matter what your budget, or how delicious butter is, it’s really important to balance your omega-3 and omega-6s. What are these silly things? They’re essential polyunsaturated fatty acids, and are crucial for proper brain and body function.

Though omega-6 is necessary for a brain function, hair and skin growth, bone health, regulation of the metabolism, and maintenance of the reproductive system, too much can cause inflammation. Most Westernized eaters consume far too much, which leaving out it’s counterpart, omega-3 (which cuts down on inflammation). This lack of balance has been been blamed for a host of common 1st world diseases, from dementia to Complete Regional Pain Syndrome.

Omega 9, the fairly new kid on the health awareness block, is equally important for hearth health and blood sugar control. This omega is also likely to increase your metabolism with consumption, and improve your moods. It’s most likely found hanging out in canola oil, nuts, and avocados.

Screen Shot 2013-12-16 at 8.03.01 PMfrom goodfats101.com

The bottom line: you’re probably getting enough omega-6, so it’s a good idea to focus on getting more omega-3 and omega-9. 

Smoking Point

When an oil starts to smoke, it means that it’s breaking down. What that means for you, as a chef, is that if it gets any hotter, your food is not going to taste very good, and you’ll some of the health benefits from your dish. Lastly, the blueish smoke you see rising from your dish is made up of acrolein, which can really do a number on your eyes and throat. If your pan starts smoking, turn off the fire, turn on a fan or open a window, and give it some space to cool down.

In general, for high heat operations, such as sauteeing, deep frying, or grilling, you’ll want to use vegetable oils. The main exception to this rule is hydrogenated vegetable shortening. The only animal fat that is suitable for this kind of operation is ghee, or clarified butter.

Lower smoke point oils, such as coconut and oil, are great for everything from coatings to salad dressings. Their more pronounced flavors will lend that special flare to your dish, without you having to worry about losing them to the heat of cooking.

Flaming_wok_by_KellyB_in_Bountiful,_Utah

What oil is your favorite to use? Do you have any unique oils in your pantry?

 

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Healthy Holiday Potluck Recipes

Thanksgiving just scooted by, Christmas is just around the corner, and it seems like every weekend is another holiday party! In honor of it being Friday (you probably are going to something festive tomorrow, right?) I’ve made a list of delicious, healthy potluck items to bring to wow your friends and your trainer.

“It Only Took You 10 Minutes? Liar!” (Easy)

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“Oh My, You Didn’t Have To Do All That!”(Medium)

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“You Know, Not Everything Is A Competition…” (Hard)

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Do you have a favorite I’ve forgotten? Let me know in the comments!

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The Big Four

Want to lose weight? Control your acne? Improve mental clarity?

These four diets are what I believe to be the “extremes,” with most other (safe and healthy) eating plans being a combination of qualities from them. They each have unique pros and cons, which I’ve listed in each description.

For any diet, it’s important that calories are kept within a reasonable limit, and that you do what feels right for your body.

Let’s start out with the majority of readers’ “ground zero”…

Western Pattern, Meat-Sweet, or the Standard American Diet (SAD)

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This way of eating has overtaken the majority of Westerners, and is spreading through the world as each new fast food chain is opened. Most calories are taken in through red meat, sugary desserts, and refined grains, along with high fat foods. A large amount of dairy is typically added, along with highly sugared beverages and processed animal products.

The macronutrient breakdown is generally about 50% carbohydrates, 15% protein, and 35% fat–which, if eaten through different foods, could make up a healthy intake, but the concerning aspect of this way of eating lies more with the overly processed nature of the foods. (1)

Pros: Easy to maintain as it fits with cultural habits, generally inexpensive, low prep time per meal.

Cons: Difficult to maintain control over calories as the high glycemic load of this diet induces cravings and blood sugar variances in most adults. 

Now on to the good stuff…

The Paleolithic Diet

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get the recipe

This diet is based off of the idea that if it can’t be found in nature, don’t eat it if a human wouldn’t eat it before the agricultural revolution, it’s not food (thanks Mike D for correcting me!). Because of that guideline, those who follow a Paleolithic–usually shortened to just “paleo”–diet plan eat plenty of meats, vegetables, fruits, and tubers, while scorning dairy, grains and processed foods (from wheat to bologna). This diet’s macros are highly variable, and depend on what the eater prefers.

If using this diet for weight loss, or to treat diabetes, it’s a good idea to go light on the fruits and tubers, and eat mostly meats and vegetables. If this diet is adopted as a possible remedy for various maladies such as acne, frequent headaches, and hormonal imbalances(2)–many of which are theorized to be caused by various allergies, excessive sodium intake, gluten, unnatural chemicals in food, or high blood sugar–the dieter should experiment with macronutrient amount and timing to achieve their desired result.

Pros: Is reported to help treat many diseases, allergies, and, depending on your choice of food, can assist with weight loss. 

Cons: Can be moderately difficult to maintain in social settings. Because grass fed meats and dairy, and organic produce are highly recommended, this diet can be expensive to maintain. 

For more information: The Beginner’s Guide, What To Eat On The Paleo Diet, The Paleo SubReddit

Ketogenic Diet

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get the recipe

This diet, often simply referred to as “keto,” has a similar menu to the Paleo diet, but for different reasons. Originally used to treat some forms of child epilepsy, this way of eating was popularized for weight loss by Dr. Atkins. The keto diet as we know it today maintains the recommended maximum of 30 grams of carbohydrates a day–shared by both the medical diet and the Atkins diet–as well as a defined macro recommendation that the daily calorie breakdown should be 30% protein, 65% fat, and 5% or less carbohydrates (remember that fats are 9 calories per gram, whereas protein and carbohydrates are 4 calories per gram).

This diet consists almost entirely of leafy green vegetables, fatty cuts of meat, eggs, hard cheeses, and small amounts of nuts and berries. Because of the diuretic effect of this plan, users should be careful to both drink plenty of water, and ensure that they are consuming enough electrolytes (sodium, potassium, magnesium).

Unlike many other diets, this plan must be adhered to diligently to get results–dieters will not get nearly the same benefits by partially adhering, either by only following the “rules” some days of the week, or by not cutting carbohydrates out enough. Do not be mistaken, there is benefit to lowering carbohydrates, but the dramatic results that are associated with keto–improved mental clarity, acne cessation, hunger suppression, and rapid weight loss for those with 30+ pounds of extra fat–will not take effect until the body enters ketosis, as this diet’s success relies on hormone and energy regulation, and has a chemical impact on the functioning of your body:

Ketosis is a state in which your body has run out of glycogen (sugar), and is using fat for energy, including your brain. This can take anywhere from 3-10 days to achieve, during which many experience the “keto flu,” a state in which the body is adjusting to the new energy source. The dieter will feel sluggish and dim, and possibly experience headaches and mild nausea. Once the body is adjusted, however, dieters report feeling “smarter,” more alert, free of cravings and severe hunger pangs, and even (in some, not all) needing to sleep less hours every night.

Pros: Can remedy many maladies caused by high blood sugar and gluten. Is very helpful for those suffering from diabetes, or are pre-diabetic. Regulates hunger and greatly diminishes cravings. Some evidence that the diet “starves” cancerous growths. (3)

Cons: Can be very difficult to maintain in social settings. Many, including some doctors, combat the diet openly, as there is a belief that fat and red meat will lead to cancer, high cholesterol, and heart disease–though keto dieters tend to have improved blood panels after a few months. 

For more information: The Keto Calculator, Diet 911 by Muscle & Fitness, The Keto SubReddit

Vegetarian

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get the recipe

The majority of vegetarian dieters are lacto-ovovegetarian, in that they do not eat animal products, save for eggs, dairy, and honey. (4) Fruits, vegetables, grains, and legumes are all encouraged.

Those who are looking to lose weight should be mindful of their grain intake, as calories can accumulate, though it can be tempting to turn to breads and pastas out of convenience. Dieters should also be mindful of their protein intake, and ensure that they are eating plenty of beans, dairy, eggs, and nuts. The healthfulness of eating excessive amounts of soy is still under debate, though some–especially men–have reported ill effects.

This diet can be extremely nutritious if the dieter primarily eats vegetables and fruits. It’s easy to have a wide variety of tastes, as many are culturally vegetarian.

Pro: Easy to maintain in a social setting. Wide variety of foods available.

Cons: Some foods that qualify as vegetarian are low in nutritional value, so a high level of self control is necessary for maintaining or losing weight. 

For more information: Becoming Vegetarian, Vegetarian Times

Vegan

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get the recipe

Like vegetarians, vegans do not eat animal products–and also do not eat eggs, dairy, or honey, which can make it a little bit harder for them to get adequate protein. With the right planning, this diet can be just as complete as any other, though the same precautions against excessive refined carbohydrates (namely bread and pasta) should be taken as with vegetarians.

Because of the extensive restrictions on food that can be eaten, it’s highly recommended that those considering adopting this lifestyle plan out how they will eat to ensure that they get enough fat, protein, and minerals.

Veganism has been reported to have many health benefits, often in ways unique to the particular dieter, and can include allergy and asthma relief. If done right, the food a vegan consumes is much lower in calories than the same volume of non-vegan food, and can be a very effective diet for weight loss. (5)

Pros: Is reported to help alleviate hypertension, obesity, and may play a part in preventing cancer. (6If the dieter avoids processed grains, the food is generally very low in calories, and thus conducive to weight loss. 

Cons: Can be very difficult to maintain in a social setting, as many dishes include non-vegan ingredients, such as butter while cooking. 

For more information: 10 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Went Vegan, How to Be a Vegan and Stay Healthy

How do you like to eat? What makes you feel best? Have you tried any of these?

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Curry Chicken without the Coconut

Hello all! Welcome to my very first recipe blog.

I’m going to show you how to cook one my very favorite weeknight dinners. It’s super easy and super keto. Also it’s a curry with NO COCONUT in it! Hurray! One of my biggest trials with keto is that a lot of my favorite resources have started talking about how wonderful coconut is for you, and how helpful it is with LCHF diets…but alas, I am terribly allergic.

Without further ado, here is Chicken Curry, as performed by the newest Gatesman.

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Get out a nice big frying pan. I used stainless steel but there’s no reason not to use whichever one you want–just keep in mind that this recipe serves either 2 very hungry people or 3 normal people.

Add about 2 tablespoons of some kind of fat, I used olive oil because that’s what I had. Turn the pan to low to warm up.

While the pan is warming up, cut one of those big white onions in half. Put away one half, and dice the other half, like so:

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The oil should be hot now, so put those suckers in the pan. Add a cup of water right after you put them in…

….I know I know But Becca! this doesn’t let them caramelize. Keep in mind that this is my go-to week night dinner for when I want to be not-cooking ASAP. If you have the time to let them, then please, caramelize your onions. But it you don’t and you’re just going to burn them and call them caramelized, put the water in so you have tender onions, not burnt cracklings.

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Stir that sucker around. This is a good time to also add a heaping tablespoon of diced garlic or garlic in olive oil (what I used)

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Next up, get out two chicken boobs, or about 20 oz worth, raw. For you on the East coast, I used two of those massive ones from Wegmans.

Cut them up into pieces equal to or smaller than the size of your thumb. Put them in the pan with the onions and garlic.

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You can turn the heat up a little bit at this point, to low-medium. Or y’know, whatever you feel is appropriate–gas ranges are like that.

This is how high mine was, though:

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Alright, here comes the fun part!

I usually do a base layer of Badia Curry Powder. This is a pretty standard, American palate friendly curry powder, and it’s about $1.50 for 6 months worth.

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After the base layer is applied, it’s time for The Expensive Curry. These are my pistols in my own personal cooking Western.

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I usually apply 2-3 of the 5 options, depending how I feel and what smells like dinner to me that night. For this particular meal I used Tandoori, Balti, and a little bit of Maharajah.

This is also when you should apply your spice–I used about 2 teaspoons of Huy Fong Foods’ (that’s the company that makes Sriracha) Chili Garlic Sauce. Think strong thoughts. 

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Stir that bad boy up. Add another cup of water.

At this point, if you want to have a low fat meal, continue to simmer until done. It’ll look something like this

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However, those on the keto goodness track, add yer dollop of sour cream now. Or I guess your coconut oil if you’re reading this post for no good reason.

Yes, I’m using sour cream as a replacement for coconut. No, I’m not ashamed or sorry.

Yes, I’m using a cow product in Indian food. Deal with it. I’m just sacrilegious like that. If you can’t handle the heat, get out of the kitchen. And so on…

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Stir that bad boy up, simmer for a few more seconds until it’s pleasingly combined, and you’re done!

I served mine over cauliflower in various forms. My husband eats his over rice. We both win.

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2 tbsp olive oil
2 cups of water
2 chicken breasts
2 tbsp sour cream
generous curry powder
generous garlic
half a white onion
1 tbsp chili garlic sauce
1 tsp kosher salt

1. Add 2 tbsp oil to a pan. Turn flame on low
2. As the pan is warming up, chop up the onion
3. Add the onion to the pan. Add 1 cup of water and stir
4. Add diced up garlic, or garlic in olive oil (what I used, I’m lazy). Stir
5. Cut the chicken into pieces the same size as, or smaller, than your thumb
6. Add chicken to pan. Stir
7. Allow chicken to cook until halfway through, or about a minute.
8. Add curry powder, the second cup of water, and chili garlic sauce to pan. Stir
9. Add the sour cream (this is used in place of coconut milk, I find it’s a perfect replacement!). Stir
10. Check one of the bigger pieces of chicken for doneness, but it should be all set.

Serve over “rice’d” cauliflower, mashed cauliflower, or regular rice. If you put in as much chilli as I direct, you may want to put an extra dollop of sour cream on top 😉

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For the whole recipe: 

980 calories, 16 g total carbohydrates, 3 g fiber (13 g net carbs), 119 g protein, 43 g fat

For 1/3 (one serving)

327 calories, 5 g total carbohydrates, 1 g fiber (4 g net carbs), 40 g protein, 14 g fat

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