Tag Archives: Healthy Lifestyle

Let’s Get Cookin’!

7 Jan

Many of you have heard from me that the easiest way to be successful at this “no grains thing” is to prepare your menus and meals in advance so there are always options available for you in the refrigerator.  This will prevent you from eating “whatever” is around, or worse: eating out and making even worse choices.

In the new year, I am reinvigorating my efforts to cook A LOT on Sundays in anticipation of the week.  And yesterday, I did just that.  After heading to 2 different grocery stores, in the pictures below you will see my haul.  And here’s what was either made, prepped for, or purchased to make later in the week:

Nothing like a stoveful of cooking magic

Nothing like a stoveful of cooking magic

Bryan Voltaggio’s Beef Stew with Ale (recipe)

Slow-Cooked Cinnamon Pork Loin with Parsnips

Fermented Brassicas (cauliflower, romanesco, red cabbage)

Roasted Beet, Avocado, and Grapefruit Salad

Below all from Diane Sanfilippo’s Book Practical Paleo (for sale at FIT)

Mustard Glazed Chicken Thighs

Lemony Lamb Dolmas

Swirly Crustless Quiche

B.E.A.T Salad from Mark’s Daily Apple

 

Yes, that’s a lot of food, but it will be for two people, for the week.  Additionally, some of it might get frozen for eating later on.

A kitchen full of fresh veggies? A beautiful thing

A kitchen full of fresh veggies? A beautiful thing

A full fridge is a happy fridge!

A full fridge is a happy fridge!

So now that you’ve seen what my week’s worth of food looks like, how does yours compare?

Share your pictures with us; either here, or on the FIT facebook page.

How the Trainers Eat, vol. 4

31 Dec

While long overdue, I wanted to share a little dish that is sure to warm the soul and give you the fuel to power through those first few workouts of 2013.  This soup will make a great post-workout dish, as well as something to keep you warm on these cool and damp northern California nights.


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Sweet Potato Butternut Squash Soup

1 medium butternut squash

3.5 lb. sweet potatoes

3 c. chicken or vegetable stock (I used my own homemade pork stock)

1/2 c. half-and-half

1/2 onion, minced

2 cloves garlic, minced

3 T. coriander

1.5 T. curry powder

1 T. chili powder

Panchetta for garnish

Salt and pepper to taste

Soft goat cheese for garnish

Chives for garnish

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Cut squash in half and clean out seeds.  Place face down on a foil-lined baking sheet.  Place whole sweet potatoes on the same sheet.  Roast until squash and potatoes are soft, approximately 45 minutes.  Once cool to the touch, remove skin and place the flesh in a large soup pot.  Add stock and half-and-half.  Stir until incorporated.

Add onion, garlic, coriander, curry, and chili powder; bring to a simmer, and maintain for 10-15 minutes, stirring often.

In a small saute pan, cook panchetta over medium-high heat until done, approximately 5 minutes.

Using an immersion or traditional blender, puree soup until smooth.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Garnish with soft goat cheese, chives, and cooked panchetta.

Serves 6

 

Cooking note: goes great with grilled meat.

 

#FITphoto Challenge

26 Sep

I am _____

A little bit ago, I challenged everyone to think about what picture came to mind for a particular word or phrase.  Now I want to more formally introduce the challenge.  This will be a 30-day challenge like no other we’ve done before!  There will be no restricting, limiting, ensuring you get enough!

All we are asking, is that for 30 days, you share your pictures with us.  This is a little experiment in using your creative muscles instead of just the muscles you’ve forged in the gym.  For each day of the month of October, there will be a new word or phrase; take one photo using that word/phrase as your inspiration (example, October 1st, take a picture of what “sweat” means to you).

Reflection

That’s the easy part.  We’ll give you a few ways to share the photo with the rest of your FIT family:

Post to the blog in the comments section of this post.

Add to the FIT facebook page

Email to your trainer, or to matt@focusedtrainers.com

We’ll be compiling the best pictures of the month and lining the hallway throughout November with our votes.

FIT Photo-a-Day Challenge

 

1: Sweat 17: Layered
2: Faith 18: In 5 Years
3: Gratitude 19: Center
4: Black & White 20: Pose
5: Reflection 21: Makes Me Smile
6: What’s for Dinner 22: I am _________
7: Focus 23: On the Run
8: Alma Mater 24: BHAG 

(Big Hairy Audacious Goal)

9: Powerful 25: Full
10: Curiosity 26: Set the Bar
11: Bright 27: Now Playing
12: Family 28: Serenity
13: In My Gym Bag 29: Cozy
14: Grace 30: Where I’m Going
15: Upside Down 31: Monster Mash
16: In My Shoes  

 

 

FIT Photo Project Preview

11 Sep

For the month of October, FIT will be undergoing a photo project, and enlisting all of you – our friends and clients – to join us. Stay tuned for more information on ways to get involved, but for now, here are a couple examples to get your going from our very own Scott Kolasinski

Image

#sweat

Image

#focus

Image

#makesmesmile

Egg Yolk Consumption: Article Review

3 Sep

Spending several years in a medical setting, I have become acquainted with reading research studies and identifying the conclusions and ramifications – even if they are not completely the same as those published by the authors in the paper.  There has been a study discussed in the news recently that has piqued just this interest in me – perhaps you have heard of it: “Egg yolk consumption and carotid plaque.”

In this study, published in the journal Atherosclerosis, Spence and his colleagues wanted to examine the link between egg yolk consumption and atherosclerosis.  The authors point out that this has, for some time, been a controversial issue, with previous studies falling on both sides of the debate – some state that eating egg yolks raises serum cholesterol while other studies saw no change.  In an effort to identify whether or not eggs are, in fact, deleterious to cardiovascular health, Spence, Jenkins, and Davignon decided to look at a different marker in examining risk for cardiovascular disease: total plaque area.

That’s a lot of science to start out this article, so I’ll back track a little bit.  While we might debate its validity, cholesterol is still a leading indicator for risk of cardiovascular disease and coronary heart disease.  Generally speaking, cholesterol values can be broken down into high-density lipoprotein (HDL – “good” cholesterol) and low-density lipoprotein (LDL – “bad” cholesterol).  As LDL increases as a proportion of total cholesterol (or often times as a ratio compared to HDL and/or triglycerides), the risk for disease increases.  Because the effects of egg yolk consumption on cholesterol have been equivocal up to this point, the authors must have wanted to use a different variable, hence measuring total plaque area.  

So why did this study get me worked up?  Firstly, it was the inflammatory headline that ran on CNN: “Egg yolks as fatal as cigarettes”.  Secondly, when I sat down to read the study, the authors made some pretty broad generalizations and gross over simplifications.  To start with, in order to identify egg yolk consumption over time, the authors culled information from “lifestyle questionnaires” from patients “at the time of referral” to a vascular prevention clinic after transient ischemic attacks or strokes.  Simply put, the authors asked patients how many eggs they had eaten through their lives on a questionnaire.  These were patients who had already had an transient ischemic attack or stroke (A transient ischemic attack – or TIA – is when blood flow to a part of the brain stops for a brief period of time. A person will have stroke-like symptoms for up to 24 hours, but in most cases for 1 – 2 hours.  A TIA is felt to be a warning sign that a true stroke may happen in the future if something is not done to prevent it.).  Inferring anything about lifestyle or dietary habits of healthy individuals based on the presentation of sick individuals is extremely confounding and usually not very accurate because of physiological changes brought on by the disease process.

The other problem with how Spence and his colleagues collected the data was with their dietary recall.  The average age of the subjects in the study was 62; how was someone expected to remember how many eggs they had eaten throughout their life, let alone even what they ate last week?  As fitness professionals, we are intimately tuned into our nutrition, but I for one, can’t even recall what (let alone how much) I ate last month.  Additionally, egg consumption was the only dietary variable that the authors examined.  I would highly doubt that most people eat eggs in isolation of other foods, and for that matter, wouldn’t these other foods possibly contribute to – OR – take away from accumulation of plaque in the arteries?

OK so those are the fatal flaws of the study on it’s surface.  What next?  The authors wanted to relate any atherosclerosis brought on by egg consumption to previously known plaque producers.  So what did they do?  They compared eating eggs to cigarette smoking!  How are these two habits AT ALL comparable?  One habit is a known carcinogen, destroyer of lung tissue, and HIGHLY addictive.  The other, however, is a complete food uniquely designed to sustain life.  Can you tell which one is which?

If you’re still keeping up, the authors showed that increasing egg consumption ran almost parallel to cigarette smoking with regard to accumulation of arterial plaque, with both showing a direct exponential relationship as consumption (or smoking frequency) increased.  WOW!  So maybe eggs are pretty bad for you huh?  The general consensus that we, as a staff, drew from this study was that it really only relates to those already at risk for coronary heart disease and/or strokes.  We make recommendations to clients with respect to their nutrition and eating habits for improving their health and fitness.  We do need to keep this study in mind when making those recommendations, but for the vast majority of our clients who have not experienced a cardiac episode or stroke, or are at risk for them, this study is not all that relevant.

What does this mean for all of you?  Keep eating those eggs!  Eggs contain a multitude of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients that are hard to come by from other foods (choline anyone?).  Additionally, they are a great source of easily digestible protein needed for recovery from workouts and keeping the body health.  While eggs do contain cholesterol (about 200mg per egg) your body NEEDS cholesterol to function properly.  Everybody needs cholesterol to maintain a healthy balance of all number of hormones, including the sex hormones, which many researchers believe are important for maintaining vitality.  Do, however, make sure that these eggs are part of a healthy meal full of ripe brightly colored fruits and vegetables.  And be sure to peruse the archives of the blog, as there are several great tasty egg recipes throughout.

If this got you all worked up over egg consumption, check the following rebuttals to learn more about it from very well informed scientists, researchers and nutrition consultants:

Mark’s Daily Apple

Zoe Harcombe

Outside Magazine

Chris Masterjohn (Weston A Price)

How the Trainers Eat, vol. 3

31 Aug

And now for another look at my tasty eats…

As summer is winding down (or just picking up here in the foggy environs of San Francisco), I wanted to get as much mileage as I could out of all the wonderful corn from Eating with the Seasons.  It is also the time of year for grilling!

With that in mind, I decided to grill some steaks – my favorite being a marinated hanger cut – as well as grill the corn, and then create a wonderful spicy soup that could be enjoyed either warm or cold.

Ingredients

6 ears of corn

1½ green bell peppers, chopped

3 T. butter or ghee

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 white onion, chopped

¼ tsp. cayenne pepper

¼ tsp. chili powder

4 red-skinned potatoes, peeled and chopped

6 radishes, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

3 c. chicken broth (homemade if you can)

4 dried arbol chiles

Directions

About an hour before starting the meal, soak the corn – in husks – in a pot of water.  When ready to cook, place the corn (still in the husks) and peppers on a hot grill over medium heat.  Turn occasionally, letting the husks dry and begin to char.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Peel the husks off, being careful of any hot water that might drip out of the husks.  When corn and peppers are lightly charred, remove from the grill and set aside to cool.

In a large pot, melt the butter.  Saute the onions and garlic until translucent.  Add the potatoes, cayenne, chili powder, and salt to taste.  Stir to coat the potatoes.  Cook until the potatoes begin to soften and then add 2 cups of chicken broth.  Bring to a light simmer, stirring frequently so as not to burn.

Add the radishes, carrots, and dried chiles and stir.  At this point, chop the green peppers and add to the pot.  Stand the corn cobs vertically on end and slice off the kernels; add to the pot as well.  Continue stirring to incorporate all the ingredients.  When potatoes and carrots are soft, remove the pot from the heat.

Working in batches, carefully ladle the soup into a blender or food processor and puree to your desired consistency.  Add the pureed soup back into the pot and add the remaining chicken broth to get the thickness of soup you would like.  Serve hot or cold with a garnish of fresh cilantro and a dollop of whole milk sour cream.

How the Trainers Eat, vol. 2

9 Aug

So it’s been a while since I posted any of my culinary explorations, but here is the most recent:

Curry Carnitas & Indian Style Corn

While we here at FIT generally recommend staying away from grains, this corn might be an exception. It comes courtesy of our wonderful CSA friends over at Eating with the Seasons so we know that it is not genetically modified and comes pesticide free.  And since corn is not a gluten-grain, I can safely say that it won’t trigger any digestive distress for those who are celiacs, or others with wheat intolerances.  We usually advocate for a lower carbohydrate intake, but there’s just something great – maybe it’s my Midwestern roots – about fresh corn on a warm evening in the summer (it was even rather warm at my house in SF!).

The corn recipe comes from the wonderful Sally Fallon cookbook “Nourishing Traditions”.

And to go along with the Indian flavors, the pork was rubbed with a Vadouvan curry spice, kosher salt, and white pepper.  It was then cooked “carnitas style,” meaning that it was braised in lard (about 3 cups) with aromatics for several hours (in this case chopped red onions, garlic, and cilantro stems).  Keep your oven low, and let it cook for several hours (250deg. for 3-ish hours for a 3-lb. bone in pork shoulder).

I hope you enjoy!

How do the Trainers Eat

18 Apr

Here are a collection of my more recent culinary endeavors to get your mind going in the kitchen.  Please email me at matt@focusedtrainers.com for recipes or for nutrition/cooking consultations.  Enjoy

Chimicurri Salmon with Sauteed Cabbage

Sirloin Strips and Braised Greens

Garam Masal Pork Chop with Cumin Spiced Boc Choi and Asparagus

Roast Leg of Lamb with Tarragon Mint Butter served on Garland of Spring Vegetables

Busting through those Late Winter Plateaus!

9 Mar

So you’ve made it to March on your New Years Resolution program of eating better, sleeping more, and getting some exercise, but now you’re running out of steam.  I get it: you put all your gusto into changing all of your habits at once, and you’re just a little bit fatigued at this point.  Yes! You HAVE seen some great results, but you want more!  What do you do when the program you have been so diligently following is getting stale and no longer giving you the results that you want?

This is the perfect time to change things up for the better, adjust your program to jump-start progress, and reinvigorate your enthusiasm for health and wellness.  With the weather warming up, why don’t you take your program outside?  There are plenty of ways to create challenging and fun workouts in the sunshine and away from all of the noise and clutter of the gym.  In addition, you’ll give yourself a needed dose of vitamin D after spending all those months cooped up indoors.

How about a complete change in program? After working hard for the last 3 months, nothing will get your exercise passion back like trying something different.  Personally, I like to completely revamp what I’m working on a few times each year.  This keeps me from feeling stale, as well as gives me new challenges to work toward.  For example, if you recently spent the last few months trying to really increase your strength in the gym with a progressive weight program, why not try a completely bodyweight program?  How do you add resistance you ask?  Well take that push up and invert it – handstand pushups are quite challenging, but work the same muscles that you would with a shoulder press or push press.

 

 

 

 

 

Why not finally master those pull ups you have been working on?  Nothing says I’m ready for the impending beach season like well sculpted arms and a nice strong back.  And I know that too many of you have avoided trying those pistol squats for fear of falling and making a fool of yourself.  Now is your chance to master all those 1-leg exercises that looked too intimidating.

And what about learning a new skill or sport?  I myself have endeavored to become proficient in the competition kettlebell lifts and the Turkish Get-up.  While training with kettlebells is en vogue these days, the competition lifts – and the training that goes along with them – is still something that I haven’t really experienced yet.  Even though I have been using kettlebells in my training for the last several years, I have no idea how many 1 arm snatches I can do in 10 minutes.  Think about something new that you’ve been dreaming about doing, and set your heart and mind to it.  Think of this as your New Year’s Resolution version 2.0!  Find yourself a qualified trainer or instructor in a new discipline and dive in.

Outdoor Workout

Sprint 50 yards

10 x Tree Stump Throws (can use a tire, sandbag, big rock)

10 x Tree Branch Pull Ups

10 x Log Lateral Hurdle Jumps

50 yard Bear Crawl

5 Rounds; 1 min. rest in-between

Bodyweight Workout

5 x Pistol Squats (each leg)

10 x Handstand Push Ups

15 x Inverted Rows on rings or bar

As many rounds in 15 minutes as possible

Kettlebell Workout

5 Sets

5 x Snatch/5 Windmill

10 x Swings

5 x 3 Turkish Get Ups (per side)

 

Let me know how you get through the next 3 months!

Score one for the Paleo Diet

6 Mar

Gluten-Free, Casein-Free Diet May Help Some Children With Autism, Research Suggests

Research recently out of Penn State University provides more support for some of the therapeutic effects of a Paleo Diet – exclusion of gluten and casein (wheat and dairy protein, respectively).

It seems that exclusion of gluten and casein may be beneficial for individuals on the Autism Spectrum.  The authors also noted that there might NOT be outward symptoms of allergies or food intolerances, but that the negative interactions from these foods still exists.

 

And some general information from WebMD about gluten/casein-free diets for ASD