The Caveman Approved Super Nutrient Smoothie

smoothie

Alright, I must admit that eating vegetables is a long and arduous process, and takes time away from other things, like chewing meat and cooking bacon…but you need to follow me on this one, because this smoothie is delicious and probably the most nutritious thing you will put into your body today. Continue reading

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Tips For Cooking A Perfect Steak

steak

Almost nothing is more enjoyable than firing up the grill and taking in that smell of burning charcoal (or if you prefer gas, than the smell of just…burning).  While your grill is heating up, take a few minutes and read these tips, they may save you from destroying that slab of meat in front of you. Continue reading

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Look Who’s Back!

Wow, it has been quiet around here…

I am going to cut right to the chase, I fell off the bandwagon and started eating complete shit food again, and I couldn’t find it in myself to post on here when I was not practicing what I was preaching.  But on a positive note during my hiatus I did manage to train and run a full marathon.  Great, wahoo…..well the other side of the story is that almost 2 week after the run I could not stand up, sit, bend over, etc. without a large stabbing pain in my lower back.  SO fast forward to January (3 months after marathon), the back pain has subsided, and I feel like a fat, out of shape middle aged man again…..I woke up 2 weeks ago and said enough.  “Remember how great you felt when you were eating grain free?”, I asked myself, and the answer was yes, yes indeed. Continue reading

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Sweet Potato Soup with Bacon and Crispy Leeks

sweet potato soup

Are you ready for a new perspective on sweet potatoes?  This sweet potato soup is a freaking delicious celebration of the sweet potato’s flavor accentuated by the sweet onion essence imparted by the leeks, and finished off with crispy bacon bits and fried leeks….Who am I kidding, I am not some eccentric food critic who can get away with that kind of elaborate food observation.
Continue reading

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Porktacular Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Please check out my guest post on Le Fat Quack, titled “Porktacular Bacon Roasted Brussels Sprouts”. Lauren founded the site to promote a low carbohydrate lifestyle, and offers a variety of recipes, and fitness tips. Here is an excerpt from the post: Continue reading

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5 Tricks For Eating Sustainably On A Budget

organic

Today you are in for a treat, we are proud to present this guest post by Lauren Lane from Le Fat Quack!  So without further ado, Lauren, take it away!

I grew up in New Orleans where the question on everyone’s mind is “where should we eat next?” even if they are still eating. When I visit home with my husband, my dad plans our meal “itinerary” weeks in advance. We have gone so far as to make spreadsheets of restaurants and dishes. It comes as no surprise then that slowly, but steadily, I put on 15 pounds in my late teens following Hurricane Katrina and my parent’s divorce. With all the stressors in my life, I only lived to eat. It was not until my early 20s that I realized I needed to step away from the French bread, pick up some leafy greens, and eat to live. My lifestyle completely re-shaped my tastes, my physique, and my mental stability.

You are what you eat, so I eat organic and cut out pesticides whenever possible. I will not belabor the debate over organic food. Recent studies show they help fight cancer, eliminate the need for insulin, and increase longevity. While organic does not equate to pesticide free, it does mean fewer and more natural pesticides that, in general, are safer. But if I am being honest, as a recovering foodie, all that matters is the taste. Organic just tastes better.

Full disclosure: I do not always buy organic produce or pasture raised meat, but I do when I can. Sometimes it is not plausible (like that time I got a $2,000 mechanic bill). If you have a family, it may make more sense to buy larger quantities of regular produce to ensure your children actually eat their vegetables and get the nutrients they need. However, if you find you enjoy buying organic, but are turned off by the price, here are 5 tricks to eating those sustainable products at nearly half the cost!

  1. Research and Shop Around

Take a little time to surf the web and see what organic opportunities are in your area. There may be more than you thought. Farmer’s Markets in your community are an invaluable resource for hands on information or you can check out state organic associations.

Treat grocery shopping like any other big purchase. You would not visit just one car dealer when purchasing a vehicle. So why visit one grocery store for convenience when you are actually ingesting this stuff? If you do not shop around, chances are you will pay too much for your food and miss out on healthier options. I go to one butcher for my meat, the local Asian market for produce and fish, and Trader Joe’s for everything else.

According to the USDA, in 2012 the average household of 2 spent $598 per month. I live in a metropolitan area and it took awhile to get this down to a science, but my husband and I do not spend more than $400 a month on groceries. That is $100 per week and we eat like Kings.

  1. Bulk

Create a cool, dry space in your kitchen or basement and buy in bulk: nuts, beans, pickles, you name it. B-line to those bulk containers at your favorite store or keep an eye out for weekly deals. Just make sure to check the unit price, use your phone calculator, and do the math.

Same goes for meat. I know this sounds a little sketchy, but buying your meat online could be a life changer. If you cannot find a local butcher for pasture quality after all that research, look online in neighboring areas. If you buy half a cow or pig, for example, they will gladly ship it to you like any restaurant. Shop wisely. Omaha Steaks does not count.

  1. Stick to Seasonal

Fruits and vegetables in season are cheaper because it is easier to grow them! So load up on all your favorite organic produce at ridiculously low prices. If you buy from a local farmer or farmer’s market, you may even be able to bargain. I am all for supporting local establishments and some people might be turned off by this method but trust me, they upsell you!

  1. Deep Freeze

Now that you have haggled for those in-season vegetables or managed to buy an entire pig, freeze it. Maybe you cannot eat it all now, but you can pull it out on your way to work and come home ready to cook. It is economical and you can eat organic year around. Eat through your entire fridge before going out for groceries again. Waste not, want not.

Another option? Freeze your insanely delicious leftovers and have homemade “microwavable” meals for those nights where you just cannot cook. See my ham recipe below. It is perfect for freezing.

  1. Grow It

I am not saying invest in a full-blown garden (kudos if you can). Start small and buy some potted herbs like mint, rosemary, parsley, and basil. You will be amazed how much those small savings add up. Once you get that down, invest in a tomato plant or seeds for beets. They are easy to grow!

Everyday life gets in the way of eating grass-fed meat and organic vegetables all the time. If you want to live a healthy, happy life it is okay to take a break now and again. Nevertheless, sustainable foods leave you feeling satisfied and, if you follow my tips, on a sustainable budget.

Here is my favorite “bulk” recipe – Honey Baked Ham

Ham3

Ingredients:

  • 7 pound pasture ham
  • ½ cup local honey
  • 1 teaspoon of cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon of allspice
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons squeezed orange juice
  • Cloves
  • Optional: Vidalia onions

Directions:

  1. Allow ham to reach room temperature
  2. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees
  3. Prep the ham by scoring a diamond pattern in the fat with a sharp knife, about ½ inch deep
  4. Stud the ham with cloves and place ham cut side down in a roasting pan
  5. Bake, loosely wrapped in foil, for about 2 hours
  6. While the ham is baking, mix the honey, cinnamon, allspice, mustard, and juice in a bowl.
  7. Remove the ham, brush the mixture over the entire ham, and bake for another 20-30 minutes, basting frequently (option: add Vidalia onions to the pan for side dish and greater flavor)
  8. Remove ham and let “set” for 15 minutes before cutting and serving
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Book Review: Nutritional Grail

front-cover-450

“Food must be inspiring and satisfying, but also simple and practical.” – Christopher James Clark

Healthy living and healthy eating go hand in hand, and this is the founding message I took from Christopher James Clark’s book “Nutritional Grail”. I could spend an hour writing about this book, but I would rather have you spend an hour actually reading it, so I will keep it brief.

This book is very intelligently researched and organized.  Chris begins the book with his personal approach to a healthy lifestyle, he sneaks in a well deserved smack down section for numerous health hindering organizations, and government agencies, which honestly got excited and hooked into reading the rest of this book. The book smoothly transitions into nutritional science, including an in depth history and analysis of fats, carbohydrates, proteins.  The book concludes with discussion on detoxing your body, and Chris’s helpful tips on implementing a healthy lifestyle.

Overall I was very impressed by the amount of knowledge contained in this book, and I highly recommend that you read it, it WILL improve your life.

To receive a free copy of the Nutritional Grail ebook, please visit the Story Cartel publishing site.

To read more about Christopher James Clark, please visit his website.

To purchase the kindle version of Nutritional Grail, please visit Amazon.

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Caveman Approved Homemade Yogurt

yogurt

Yogurt is one of the simplest fermented products you can make. It requires no special tools, no special recipes. All it requires is a way to maintain 110*F for 8-10 hours, and some starter culture.

The good news is most of you have everything you need in your kitchen.

  • yogurt maker or a large crock pot (7 qt works extremely well)

  • meat thermometer

  • glass jars with lids

  • large heavy bottomed pot

  • laddle

  • whole milk or cream

  • yogurt starter culture (your favorite yogurt in its plain form works well)

  • reusable metal coffee filter for strained (greek) yogurt

I bet you have almost all of this in your kitchen and that was the hard part of making yogurt.

Of course, you need milk. Good quality milk. Head to your local farm and buy raw milk or buy the best quality low temperature pasteurized milk you can find at the local store of your choice. I highly recommend going with a grass-fed raw milk because of the increased nutritional value. If that is not an option, and you live in New York State, both Ronnybrook Farms and Battenkill Valley are either predominantly pastured or entirely grass-fed and low temp pasteurized. These are available at many local markets in the Capital Region of New York, as well as the Hudson Valley and New York City. If you are making yogurt, both cost and quality can be optimized far beyond what is commercially available on store shelves. Even small creameries simply cannot compete with a home creamery because they have far more overhead than you do.

Now the recipe.

1. add milk to large heavy bottomed pot.

2. Heat on medium heat until temperature hits 180F. Stirring occasionally.

3. Fill crock pot about 1/3 with tap hot water. Place on warm setting. Add hot or cold water to get to 110F. Check temp periodically to make sure it is around 110*F (108-113 is ok, 110 ideal)

4. Remove from heat, allow to cool to 110-115F

5. Mix in yogurt starter culture. I generally add about 4-6oz per 32oz of milk. Adding more isn’t of benefit. If you want thicker or more tangy yogurt ferment for longer.

6.  Pour into jars, close lids, place jars in crock pot. Make sure the yogurt in all the jars is at or below the water level.

7. Make a note of the time. 8-10 hours is usually ideal. For thicker yogurt go 10, for thinner go for 8 hours. Lots of latitude here.

8. Remove and strain or refrigerate.

When you remove the jars from the crock pot, you do not have to refrigerate immediately. If you are straining the yogurt it will be faster to begin the process warm. However, you can also do it in the fridge. Once you cool the yogurt you must refrigerate it.  I simply place the coffee filter in a clean plastic yogurt container (the 24 or 32oz variety) and let the whey drain in the fridge. Simply scoop the strained yogurt out of the filter, into a new container and add more unstrained yogurt from the jars. The longer you strain it, the thicker it becomes.

You can save the whey for starter culture for other lacto fermented foods, use it for smoothy bases, or just toss it down the drain.

You should also set aside some of the yogurt for starter culture for your next batch. Provided you make yogurt regularly, you should never have to buy it from the grocery store again.

Look for a future post on the benefits of full fat dairy and fermented dairy. Until then, just enjoy one of natures perfect foods.

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The Blueberry, A Closer Look.

blueberry-web

They may look small and innocent, but these little guys pack a powerful nutrient punch!  Lets take a look at the different types of blueberries, a breakdown of the nutrients they contain, and wrap up with an impressive look at the plethora of health benefits attributed to blueberries.

Types of Blueberries

There are three types of blueberries: Lowbush (my favorite), Highbush, and Rabbit-Eye (Southern Black).  Highbush blueberries are the most commonly cultivated, and most commonly seen type of blueberry, and in the wild they can grow anywhere up to 15 feet in height.  Lowbush, also known as “wild” blueberries are less commonly seen for sale in the Unites States, because they are not as easily cultivated as highbush blueberries.  The more laborious plant produces, in my opinion, much more flavorful blueberries. Rabbit-eye is a species of blueberry native to the Southeastern United States, Florida up to South Carolina, and west to Texas.  Rabbit-eye blueberries get their name from the color of the blueberries while growing, the berries turn pink before they go blue, reminiscent of the eye color of a white rabbit.

Nutrient Breakdown

Blueberries are phytonutrient superstars. These fruits contain significant amounts of anthocyanadins, antioxidant compounds that give blue, purple and red colors to fruits and vegetables. Included in blueberry anthocyanins are malvidins, delphinidins, pelargonidins, cyanidins, and peonidins. In addition to their anthocyanins, blueberrries also contain hydroxycinnamic acids (including caffeic, ferulic, and coumaric acid), hydroxybenzoic acids (including gallic and procatechuic acid), and flavonols (including kaempferol, quercetin and myricetin). Blueberries also contain the unique, phenol-like antioxidants pterostilbene and resveratrol. (Reference: Blueberries)  These phytonutrients function as anti-inflammatory, and antioxidants in the body and have numerous health benefits, which I will discuss next.  In addition, blueberries contain Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Manganese, copper, and fiber. A complete breakdown of all the nutrients contained in blueberries can be found here: Blueberry Nutrients

Health Benefits

Cognitive: In one study involving older adults (with an average age of 76 years), 12 weeks of daily blueberry consumption was enough to improve scores on two different tests of cognitive function including memory. While participants in the study consumed blueberries in the form of juice, three-quarters of a pound of blueberries were used to make each cup of juice. As participants consumed between 2 and 2-1/2 cups per day, they actually received a very plentiful amount of berries. The authors of this study were encouraged by the results and suggested that blueberries might turn out to be beneficial not only for improvement of memory, but for slowing down or postponing the onset of other cognitive problems frequently associated with aging (Reference).

Cardiovascular: Consuming blueberries has been shown to improve blood fat balances, including reduction in total cholesterol, raising of HDL cholesterol, and lowering of triglycerides in the blood.  In addition, the consumption of blueberries has been shown to protect blood from oxygen damage which typically results in clogging of blood vessels.  Another cardiovascular benefit of blueberry consumption is the increased mobilization of the enzyme endogenous nitric oxide synthase (eNOS).  eNOS counteracts inflammation in the body, and aids in improving overall cardiovascular performance.

Eye-Health: The eye, especially the retina is very sensitive to oxidative stresses. In preliminary studies on laboratory animals, the anthocyanins in blueberry protected the retina from unwanted oxygen damage.

Blood Sugar: Studies show the GI for blueberries falling somewhere in the range of 40-53, with berries like blackberries, raspberries, and strawberries repeatedly scoring closer to 30 than to 40. However, recent studies have shown that blueberries definitely function as a low-GI fruit in terms of their blood sugar impact. In one study on individuals diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, study participants who consumed at last 3 servings of low-GI fruits per day (including blueberries) saw significant improvement in their regulation of blood sugar over a three-month period of time. Their blood levels of glycosylated hmmoglobin, or HgA1C were used as the standard of measurement in this study. The blood sugar benefits of blueberries should not be surprising. Even at 40-53 in terms of glycemic index, blueberries typically fall into the “low-GI” category of foods (usually defined as any food with a GI of 50 or below). They also provide a very good amount of fiber (nearly 4 grams per cup). Most low-GI foods with strong fiber content are foods we can count on to be helpful in blood sugar regulation (Reference).

Conclusion

I hope this post has helped to deepen your understanding of the blueberry.  Blueberries are indeed a food superstar, and you should be consuming them on a daily basis.  If you have only had highbush blueberries, venture over to a natural foods store, such as Trader Joes, and try the lowbush (wild) blueberries.  Last but not least, it is VERY important that you purchase organic Blueberries, because pesticides adhere to the skin of the blueberry very well, and it is almost impossible to remove all the pesticide residue when washing them.

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Functional Movement Series Part 1 – The Kettlebell

kettlebell

This will be part 1 of a multi-part series focusing on a variety of functional movement exercises.  Before we begin, let me just say, don’t try to do these movements on your own without either watching a lot of videos, and slowly practicing the techniques.  You can and probably will get hurt if you just pick up a kettlebell and swing it around.  Now on to the fun.  Kettlebell exercises fall into a classification of weight training labeled as “Ballistic Training”, which are used to develop power and explosiveness.  This explains why most if not all professional athletes train with kettlebells.  The kettlebell originated in Russia in the 1600’s, and was originally a triangular shaped weight hung on a scale to measure produce from farmers.  The workers that used these swung them up to about eye level to place them on the scale, and that movement was refined over time and adopted by the Soviet army as part of their fitness training routine. Kettlebells are weighed in a unit of measurement labeled as Pood, which is equal to 16.4 kg or 36.1 pounds.  Typically kettlebells are labeled in both kg and Pood units.

Next I will introduce you to some of the basic kettlebell movements.  For each movement, I have provided a video of the movement, and a description.  Study the movement video, and description as you learn each movement.  I recommend mastering the Turkish get up and the Russian swing before progressing to the other movements.

Movements:

Turkish Get-up

Movement Link

Execution:

  1. Step back with left leg and kneel down as in downward phase of Overhead Rear Lunge.
  2. Lean to left side and place left hand on floor, well left of right foot.
  3. Shift weight onto left arm.
  4. Pull left leg forward between right leg and left arm.
  5. Sit with left leg extended outward onto floor and right leg bent upward.
  6. Extend right leg outward onto floor and gently lie down.

Return:

  1. Pull right shoulder toward hip slightly by contracting lats and obliques (decreases length of lever arm during situp).
  2. Sit up with assistance of left arm on floor to side.
  3. bend right leg so right foot is placed on floor close to hip while leaning on extended left arm.
  4. Pull left leg back between right leg and left arm and position forefoot and knee on floor behind right foot and left hand.
  5. Position torso upright.
  6. Stand up in original position as in upward phase of Overhead Rear Lunge.

Repeat with opposite side.

American and Russian Swing:

Movement Link

The Russian swing starts with the kettlebell just below the groin (above the knees) and is swung to chest level – approximately a 90-degree angle to the torso. The movement is short, brisk and compact. It is a hip-hinge movement, with roughly 20-degrees (or less) of flexion at the knee. The power of the swing is generated from the hips while the spine is held perfectly stable and neutral. At the apex of the swing, the bell is at chest level, and the athlete’s glutes are contracted, quads are engaged (pulling the knees up), belly is rock solid and braced for impact, and lats are actively pulling the shoulders away from the ears. Additionally, the Russian swing should be performed with rhythmic diaphragmatic breathing – filling the abdomen on the downswing and forcefully expelling through the teeth, while bracing the belly, at the top of the swing.

The American swing should differ from the traditional Russian swing only in the finish position. The mechanics of the swing itself should be identical – the bell should pass just below the groin, there should be no more than 20 degrees of knee flexion, the hips should generate the power, the glutes should contract hard, the quads should engage to pull the knees up, and the belly should be rock solid. The difference is simply that the athlete will allow the force produced on the kettlebell to carry it all the way overhead so that the bottom of the kettlebell is directly over the ears, shoulders, hips and ankles. Note, athletes should not be increasing the amount of knee flexion (turning the movement into a squat), nor should they be lifting the kettlebell with their deltoids to assist it into the overhead position. The force is still generated solely by the hip drive, and if optimal force is produced by the hips the athlete will likely have to decelerate the kettlebell as it approaches its apex.

Snatch:

Execution:

Pull kettlebell up off floor by extending hips and knees. Once kettlebell is off of ground vigorously raise shoulder above kettlebell while keeping it between knees. Jump upward extending body. Elevavate shoulder and pull kettlebell upward and forward. Aggressively pull body under kettlebell. Catch kettlebell at arm’s length while moving into squat position. As soon as kettlebell is caught on locked out arm in squat position, squat up into standing position with kettlebell overhead.

Return:

Lower kettlebell to front of shoulder by bending arm to side. Drop kettlebell forward and swing kettlebell downward while squating down with taut lower back and trunk close to vertical. Set kettelbell on floor between feet and repeat. Continue with opposite arm.

Clean and Jerk:

Movement Link

Execution (Clean):

Pull kettlebell up off floor by extending hips and knees. Once kettlebell is off of ground vigorously raise shoulder above kettlebell while keeping it close to body. Jump upward extending body. Raise shoulder and pull kettlebell upward with arm allowing elbow to bend out to side, keeping kettlebell close to body. Drop under kettlebell, rotating arm under kettlebell. Catch kettlebell on outside of arm with wrist straight while moving into partial squat position.

Execution (Jerk):

Explosively drive upward with legs, driving Kettlebell up off arm. Drop body downward and by bending knees as fast as possible while vigorously extending arm upward with wrist straight. Extend both legs.

Return:

Lower kettlebell to front side of body catching it on side of arm with wrist straight while initiating squat position. Decelerate decent of squat to absorb weight of fallen kettlebell then immediately straighten legs. Drop kettlebell by pulling elbow back. Continueing to hold on to kettlebell handle as it falls. When arm straightens decelerate decent of kettlebell. Lower kettlebell to ground between legs while squatting down with taut lower back and trunk close to vertical.

In summary, I hope this post has opened your eyes to the wild world kettlebell and it’s unique history, and always remember to stretch and warm up your muscles prior to any exercise. Best of luck!

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