Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Monthly Weigh In and Measurements

Weight 160 lbs Hips 42" Waist (around belly button) 34" Bust 35" Upper Arm Circumference 11.5" Thigh Circumference 24.5" Calf Circumference 15"

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Slow Cooker Poached Chicken

The key to flavorful juicy chicken is brining.

Here's my basic brine I use for a 4 pound chicken:
2 qts water
1/2c kosher salt
1/4c brown sugar
Optional: Peppercorns, allspice berries, and/or grains of paradise

I prefer not to use my fancy sea salts or unrefined sugars for this operation since I'm not exactly sure how much of the nutrient content would actually get absorbed by the chicken.

To mix:
Pour 1 qt hot tap water into a 1qt Pyrex glass measuring container. Add the salt and sugar (and spice berries if using). Mix until dissolved. If your hot water doesn't get hot enough for the salt and sugar to dissolve then heat the solution in the microwave until it does. Let sit on the counter and cool.

To brine:
I use a plastic gallon-size zip top bag and a 13x9 Pyrex glass dish for this phase of the brining operation. Place the chicken (sans guts/neck) into the zip top bag. Close the top leaving about 2-3" open, enough to pour the brine in without spilling. Pour the brine into the bag. Fill the Pyrex measuring container with 1qt cold tap water and pour that into the bag. Squeeze out any air and close the zip top completely. Gently massage the bag to mix the brine. If you notice any air pockets, place the bag upright, open the top slightly, and squeeze out the air. Finally, place the bag in the baking dish in case of any punctures in the brining bag. Place in the fridge for at least 8 hours, but no longer than 12 or you'll end up with a salty chicken!

To prepare:
Take the chicken out of the brining solution and pat dry. I typically place 2 layers of paper towels on the 13x9 baking dish and place the chicken on top, then wad up another 2 paper towels and put those in the cavity. Finally I cover the top of the chicken with one paper towel. I let the chicken sit like this until I'm ready to put it in the slowcooker for cooking.

Whatever you do, DO NOT RINSE THE CHICKEN.

To cook:
Cut in half 2 stalks of celery and 2 carrots. Cut one onion into quarters. Place these on the bottom of the slow cooker. Smash a few cloves of garlic and place them inside the cavity of the chicken. Place a sprig of fresh thyme inside the cavity of the chicken.

Place the chicken on top of the vegetables. Place 1 sprig of thyme on top of the chicken. Pour over about 1/4 cup of beer or wine, depending on what you have handy.

My slowcooker has a thermometer option. For a lot of slowcooker recipes, reaching a target temperature and stopping is not important because the idea is to cook the food for a long time to let it break down. When poaching chicken however, you absolutely don't want to overcook the chicken. I set my thermometer to 160 deg F and insert it into the chicken breast per Alton Brown's instructions.

On low, this will take approximately 5 hours for a 3-4 pound chicken. On high, you're looking at more like 3 hours. Typically I start the chicken on low and crank it up to high if dinnertime is getting close and the internal temperature of the chicken is still pretty low.

Once the chicken has reached temperature, remove it from the slowcooker and let it rest for at least 15 minutes.

This sounds like a lot of work, but it's pretty minimal and pretty hands off. It also guarantees consistently juicy and delicious chicken!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Nutrition is Crazy!

Everyone has their own theories on nutrition, their own diets, and their own solutions. While many of these programs have good concepts there are always fringe notions that are a bit extreme. I'm not sure who is right, but I guess it just comes down to do what's best for you.

I recently started reading Sally Fallon's works, "Nourishing Traditions" and "Eat Fat Lose Fat". Her work is based on the principles of Weston A. Price, a dentist who travelled around the world examining different cultures to understand how diet affects our dental health. He put together a basic diet recommendation based on his research which can be summarized here:
http://www.westonaprice.org/about-us/2117-healthy-4-life

I really enjoyed Nourishing Traditions, although the recipes are kind of bland and she gets a little extreme on some points. Turns out Fallon started up the Weston Price Foundation and it just feels like in both books she's pushing some products from certain partner websites. Eat Fat Lose Fat is pretty bad. I like the discussions of coconut oil and its benefits for weight loss. I don't like the diet regimen. Anything that suggests a temporary diet rather than just giving you the principles so you can adjust to your own preferences just makes me distrust it. Regarding core principles, Fallon is basically just copy/pasting from Nourishing Traditions, but talks more about coconut oil specifically in Eat Fat Lose Fat.

In any case, the core principles behind both books are the same. The way we ate 200 years ago before industrialization is way better for our bodies than the overly processed food we eat now. She says we need to eat more saturated fats, that they are actually good for us, and contribute to maintaining a healthy weight. Unpasteurized raw dairy, pastured chicken eggs (not just free range), fermented foods, and saturated animal fats and coconut oil are the keys to natural nutrition without the need for ineffective vitamin supplements. According to Fallon, Vitamin A and D are what allows us to really be able to absorb other nutrients. She recommends cod liver oil as a supplement well above the Recommended Daily Allowance. Research suggests that for most vitamins, the RDA is only what we minimally need to maintain our bodies. We should be taking in significantly more of most of them, which is possible with a traditional foods diet.

Another thing that I found interesting, was that Dr Hyman's Ultrametabolism program suggested eating large amounts of fiber and minimizing meat. When I started doing this, it helped me to feel full throughout the day. However, I was still crashing and feeling tired. In addition, I was going to the bathroom *a lot* and generally feeling kind of irritated. According to Fallon, while fiber is good, it's the saturated fats that give us the important feelings of satiation that will carry us through to the next meal. Dr Hyman had also mentioned needing to increase fats but he focused on Monounsaturated with his recommended saturated fats only coming from plant sources like Avocado and Coconut. Fallon makes it clear that we get vital nutrients from foods that contain high amounts of saturated animal fat, especially butter from grass fed cows (preferably unpasteurized). Dr Hyman also suggested limiting egg consumption to 8 per week, whereas Fallon does not suggest any such limit.

In addition, the fiber Fallon recommends is sprouted grains because beans and grains have high amounts of phytic acid that block nutrient absorption. Dr Hymen does not explicitly discuss this point, however Fallon makes it clear that grains must be soaked before cooking or baking. As an alternative, the addition of lactic acid can aid in breaking down the phytic acid, so whole wheat sourdough does not necessarily need to be sprouted.

So, I've started the switch. In the state of Washington, it is possible to by raw milk at the store. I've started drinking 3-4 glasses per day. I've noticed a huge change in my energy level when exercising. Where I was feeling fatigued and struggling, once I started drinking milk again, I had so much energy when exercising!!

I've also started eating animal protein at every meal. I get my milk from Pike Place Creamery and they also have eggs from local farmers that are not fully pastured but have more range and variety than typical free range vegetarian chickens.

My order of sourdough starter and sprouted spelt should be arriving today, I'm pretty excited. I understand that the extra starter is great for baking pancakes and muffins!

Regarding sugar, I'm not planning on switching anything I'm currently doing. I am primarily using Coconut Palm Sugar since it has a medium glycemic index and is minimally processed, so it retains nutrients. It's cheaper than Rapadura/Sucanat, which is what the author recommends.

Regarding vegetables, I have a great book on Japanese Tsukemono that has rice bran pickling instructions as well as a pretty decent looking kimchi recipe.

Anyways so here are my resources regarding my new mode of nutrition experimentation:
- Realmilk.com (Pro-Raw milk site) - http://www.realmilk.com
- Pike Place Market Creamery (where I buy raw milk, eggs, and butter) - http://newhope360.com/store-month-pike-place-market-creamery-tastes-sweet-success
- Dungeness Valley Creamery (Raw Milk in WA state) - http://www.dungenessvalleycreamery.com/
- Organic Valley Pasture Butter (pasteurized, but cultured and comes from grass-fed cows) - http://www.organicvalley.coop/products/butter/pasture/
- Rain Shadow Meats (High quality, humane WA butcher) - http://www.rainshadowmeats.com
- Radiant Life (Cod Liver Oil) - http://www.radiantlife.com
- Eden Foods (Malted Barley Syrup, Raw Vinegar, good Olive Oil) - http://www.edenfoods.com
- Cultures for Health (Sourdough starter, Kefir starter, Sprouted grain flour) - http://www.culturesforhealth.com
- Japanese Pickling Book - http://www.amazon.com/Quick-Easy-Tsukemono-Japanese-Pickling/dp/488996181X/
- Nourishing Traditions - http://www.amazon.com/Nourishing-Traditions-Challenges-Politically-Dictocrats/dp/0967089735
- Sustainable Seafood Guide - http://www.montereybayaquarium.org/cr/cr_seafoodwatch/sfw_recommendations.aspx
- Tropical Traditions Red Palm Oil - http://www.amazon.com/Tropical-Traditions-Virgin-Palm-Oil/dp/B000W2CXXS
- Nutsonline.com Coconut Palm Sugar - http://www.nutsonline.com/cookingbaking/sweeteners/natural-sugar-replacements/palm-sugar.html
- Nutsonline.com Sucanat - http://www.nutsonline.com/cookingbaking/sweeteners/natural-sugar-replacements/organic-sucanat.html

Friday, March 11, 2011

Homemade Tortilla Chips and Sprouted Grain "Crackers"

Sprouted grain tortillas are super versatile. Besides using them as traditionally intended as burrito and sandwich wraps, they can also be toasted to serve other purposes.

Sprouted Corn Tortillas

I use the Food For Life brand of sprouted corn tortillas. There are two ways to prepare tortilla chips out of these: 1) bake in the oven or 2) toast in a toaster

Baking in the oven allows you to make a large batch at a time. The toaster is good for just a few chips at a time.

To bake in the oven, Cut the tortillas into 1/6s. Lightly brush with oil. I use either garlic-infused cold pressed grapeseed oil or red palm oil. Sprinkle with kosher salt. Cook in 350 deg oven for about 10 minutes or until crunchy.

Sprouted Wheat Tortillas

I like to make "crackers" with sprouted wheat tortillas and it's really super easy. Cut the tortilla into 1/4s. Place each 1/4 into one slot of a toaster (or place all 4 into a toaster oven or conventional oven). Set the toaster to 2-3 and toast. If using a conventional oven, toast at 350 deg for 10 minutes.

I like to eat these "crackers" with avocado or nut butter. They also make a good portable "emergency" snack on their own.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Slow Cooker Pot Roast

I'm a huge Alton Brown fan and I love his method for cooking pot roast, but I wanted to adapt it to my slow cooker. As well I'm not a huge fan of his flavor choices so I went more traditional.

Meat selection

Pork or Beef? I like both! Pork is probably my favorite but every now and then I'll splurge and get beef.

Rain Shadow Meats has sustainable, organic, and local to PacNW meats. When purchasing beef, grass-fed beef is the way to go. Grass fed beef is lower in artery clogging saturated fats and higher in omega 3's than its corn-fed counterpart.

Rain Shadow sells Painted Hills Beef which is grass fed but grain finished. They use a mix of grain and hays for 4 months before the cattle is slaughtered. This is mainly done for flavor and while it has some impact on the nutrition of the meat, it's not as significant as purely corn-fed cows.

I get a 5 lb chuck roast which is enough for about 16 meals. I put half in the freezer so it doesn't go bad. I don't eat a huge amount in once sitting as meat in general is pretty heavy for me but for bigger meat eaters, 5 pounds may only be 8 meals ;)

Preparation


I'm a huge Good Eats fan, jokingly referred to as the "Church of Alton". Alton Brown has a great technique for cooking pot roast in the oven that I've adapted for the slow cooker. First I rub the roast in seasonings. Next I create a foil bowl in the slow cooker, where I place the roast, aromatics, and seasoning liquids. Finally I close it up and turn on the slow cooker. This technique keeps all the yummy gelatin from running out of the meat, so the meat stays nice and juicy.

My typical preparation:
Seasonings -
Lots of smoked salt
Fresh ground pepper
Fresh ground Grains of Paradise

Aromatics -
Whatever fresh herbs I have on hand, usually thyme
1-2 carrots, quartered (sliced in half vertically then horizontally to make 4 pieces)
1/2 onion
2-3 smashed garlic cloves
1-2 celery ribs, quartered

Seasoning Liquid -
1/4c vinegar - cider, red wine, or balsamic

Cooking


Set the slowcooker on low and cook for at least 8 hours. I usually cook it overnight then let it sit in the warm slowcooker all day until dinner time. Pot roast takes best after it's had a day to let the flavors develop.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Monthly Measurements and Weigh In

Weight
180 lbs

Hips
45.5"

Waist
38"

Bust
37"

Upper Arm Circumference
12.5"

Thigh Circumference
26.5"

Calf Circumference
17"