Thursday, July 10, 2014

SUPER EASY & CHEAP: STEAK 'TEREAKI' BOWL

I do not like cooking. Honestly I just don't have the patience (I've consumed many an uncooked Brussels sprout, dough ball, potato wedge, etc. simply because they were not cooking fast enough). I'm also cheap - two factors which have put a sizeable damper on my culinary endeavours. The few times I've tried to branch out and experiment with more than just salt and garlic powder I've grown weary as it seems behind every Paleo Pinterest picture is a list of ingredients is a mile long consisting of things like nut milk bags, various kinds of wack-ass flour substitutes and spices that cost $6 an ounce. As Kenny Fisher once said: "No thanks, no time."

Then I thought, if I feel this way, other people must feel this way too. Not everyone can be into spending their free time and money crafting 26 ingredient meals and then figuring out which lighting situation is best to photograph it in using their $800 camera. Does it even taste good after all those pictures?

So this is the first of my S.E.A.C recipes: Super Easy And Cheap. Each recipe will be, as the name states, easy and cheap, and showcased via photos taken on my iPhone 4. 

This is one of my go-tos when I'm too tired to think of anything else to make, as it's 4 ingredients and takes 20 minutes.  

Ingredients: 
* 1/2 cup quinoa (dry)
* 1 avocado
* 1 red bell pepper
* 8oz skirt steak 

Optional: 
* Other veggies

Serves: 2

Nutrition info (for 1):
Cals: 382    Carbs: 36g    Fat: 13g    Protein: 32g

Steps: 

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350. Wash and dry the pepper. Cut it into strips and place them on an oiled (I use coconut oil) baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and garlic powder. Put in oven and roast, shaking around periodically until they're done how you like them (I like them pretty cooked).

2. While the peppers are roasting (you can add any other veggies you want to the tray and/or steam them on the side if you're so inclined) start the quinoa.

3. After the quinoa is done you're supposed to let it sit for 5 minutes - this is when I usually start my steak. When it's cut into pieces it cooks faster and I like it medium to medium rare so it only takes about 4-5 minutes max. Throw your steak pieces into a skillet, season with salt and garlic powder and cook on low until it's done how you like it.*

4. Combine all ingredients into your favorite fancy bowl. Add avocado and the coconut aminos (optional - I said no fancy ingredients, and this definitely works without them, but if you ever need to bump up your Amazon total to get free shipping consider adding these to the cart, esp if you're a former Panda Express lover - they're like soy sauce but without all the nasty GMO / endocrine disrupting business. Boo soy.) 

5. Eat SLOWLY and CHEW YOUR FOOD. Remember that's the most important step when it comes to health - if you don't break down your food, you can't absorb the nutrients, you'll become fat, sick, pimply and worst of all, waste your money. No body wants that. 

* A note on cooking meat: I have gradually taught myself to like my meat on the rare side. The point in not cooking your meat until it's like shoe leather is that overcooking makes it harder to digest. Interestingly, raw meat is also hard to digest, research shows that with meat and most other things in life - it's all about moderation, and meat is most easily digested when it's cooked lightly over medium to low heat.





Wednesday, June 25, 2014

HOW TO MAKE YOUR OWN SPORTS DRINK (that's 1,000 times better than Gatorade)


Water is great, but the truth is, if you're working out hard you need more than just plain old, H2O. How hard is hard? If you're sweating, huffing, puffing, etc. You know what's hard. C'mon. 

Anyway, there's a few CRUCIAL things you need to replenish after every hard workout: 

1. VITAMIN C
Vitamin C is used by the adrenals to produce cortisol - which is the main stress hormone involved in exercise, and taking vitamin C has been shown to blunt the cortisol response, i.e.: taking vitamin C both after a workout and throughout the day can reduce the negative effects of the stress-response produced during intense exercise. When shopping for VC look for the kind that comes from "whole food forms" not ascorbic acid with bioflavinoids. Although this kind is more expensive, it's more bioavailable - meaning our body can absorb it better - so it's actually a better business move in the long run. I recommend Pure Snergy brand  or Mega Food

Minerals, particularly magnesium (you can read about the importance of this magic mineral in my article here), are depleted by stress (exercise) and lost through our sweat. So if you're sweating hard you're losing minerals which act as catalysts for almost every biochemical reaction in our body - particularly energy formation. So if you want to keep having energy to exercise you NEED to replace your minerals. This is particularly important for all you hot yogis, people in Miami in August, or anyone else who's regularly losing buckets of sweat. And noooo, coconut water is not enough. That supplies but one mineral (potassium) in abundance. You need a balance of all of them.

You've probably heard you need to take down protein 30 - 90 minutes after a workout to help rebuild muscle fibers. This is true BUT most of the protein we're eating on a daily basis comes from lean muscle tissue (chicken breasts, etc.) this kind of protein contains some amino acids we need but lacks others - those found in skin, bone and joint tissue. So drinking collagen is a great way to get your post-workout protein and balance out your amino acid profile. Great Lakes Hydrolyzed Collagen is specially formulated to dissolve in both hot and cold liquids so I add it to basically everything. It's also great for strengthening your hair, nails, repairing joints and the lining of your gut, and increasing skin elasticity, which helps fight off wrinkles, cellulite and stretch marks. Um...sold.   

4. MOLASSES 
I add in about a teaspoon to a tablespoon (depending on how hard the workout) of organic, blackstrap molasses. This helps replenish glycogen stores (very important for keeping cortisol levels down) and has the added bonus of containing more calcium, magnesium, potassium, and selenium.  

5. SEA SALT
Yes you need salt to stay hydrated. The best way I can explain this is the phrase "losing water weight", or when people cut salt from their diets and drop weight quickly. Think about it: if you're losing water weight, your body is losing water, meaning you are dehydrating yourself. Get it? The balance of water in our bodies is maintained by something called the sodium potassium pump - we need the right balance of sodium and potassium in our diet to make sure we stay hydrated. So, again, just downing a coconut water isn't really going to help you out - unless you add some sea salt to the mix. Additionally salt helps nourish the adrenals, which are also regulated by the sodium potassium pump and responsible for pumping out cortisol every time you exercise. Sound crazy? You can get more info on water and salt in Dr. Batmanghelidi's book Your Body's Many Cries for Water, and Dr. James L. Wilson's book Adrenal Fatigue: the 21st Century Stress Syndrome

6. CITRUS 
Grapefruit, orange, lemon, or lime - add a squeeze of whatever you like, as these juices contain even more electrolytes (two tablespoons of lemon juice contain almost exactly the amount of potassium in 8 oz of a typical sports drink!) Additionally, minerals (electrolytes) are best absorbed on an empty stomach in an acidic environment so the citrus does double duty, ensuring sure you're actually absorbing everything you're drinking. 

7. THE MAGIC BULLET 
Obviously you need something to mix these things up. You can use a spoon but I HIGHLY recommend The Bullet. It's literally my favorite kitchen appliance EVER. And you can usually find them at Costco on sale for like $30. Deal. 

Friday, June 13, 2014

PROBIOTICS, BACKNE & HISTAMINE INTOLERANCE

If you suffer from headaches, heartburn, or acne you could have a histamine intolerance (read more about that here). 

But basically, we all have an enzyme (Diamine oxidase [DAO]) which breaks down any histamine that we absorb from a histamine-containing food, so when we eat a food which contains histamine  -which is pretty much everything under the sun that is tasty, i.e.: red wine, cheese, chocolate, etc. -  it doesn't cause a problem. However some people have a low level of this enzyme, and when they eat too many histamine-rich foods, they symptoms like those I already mentioned, plus rashes, itching, diarrhea and vomiting or abdominal pain. Yuk. 

Although this enzyme deficiency can be genetic, many people also attribute it to an imbalance in gut flora - bad bacteria that lowers your ability to produce this enzyme. This explains why many people (my self included) develop histamine intolerances after living their whole lives, guzzling down that glorious grape juice and feasting on aged cheese til their heart's content with no other side effect other than all-consuming joy and the ever-so-attractive wine mouth. 

So obviously probiotics are the answer - replace the bad bacteria with good, right? 

Technically yes, except for the fact that there are severalstrains of probiotic bacteria have been found to be histamine producing, these include:

Lactobacillus casei
Lactobacillus reuteri
Lactobacillus Bulgaricus
Lactobacillus delbrueckii 
Lactococcus lactis
Enterococcus faecali

And many of these (particularly casei) are found in most OTC probiotic supplements as well as fermented foods.

I first started to suspect I had a histamine intolerance when I would get tension headaches - the kind that feel like a tight band pressing in around your head - after eating certain foods that were supposed to be “good for me” like my homemade sauerkraut and kefir. Also random foods like strawberry ice cream. 

My suspicions were confirmed when my back randomly exploded in acne following a course of Jarrow probitoics. See, I had just come back from a particularly naughty trip with my mother and my aunt in Sedona, AZ where we spent three wonderous days across the street from an Italian, gluten-free restaurant. Yes, you read correctly, ITALIAN. GLUTEN. FREE. You can see the menu here and understand. 

Um yea. Soooo I figured some gut-healing would definitely be in order and I could get a jump on it by downing probiotics.

What happened next was a rash of backne of biblical proportions. I had some problems with backne back in middle / high school and then endured acne on my face when I was dealing with PCOS but NOTHING like this – ever. The strange thing was I got nothing on my face (luckily) just ALL OVER my back.

I couldn’t figure out what had caused it, until I realized the only thing I had done differently was start the probiotics. A quick google search revealed that although the Jarrow brand I was taking had some histamine degrading strands (we'll get to those) it also had several histamine producing strands.

I was also having loose stools in the am and headaches so I immediately stopped the Jarrow and the backne cleared.

What I learned from this was two things:


1. I definitely have a histamine intolerance – which I will continue to try and heal
2. I have some bad bacteria in my gut that needs to be cleared.

So what’s a gal with a histamine intolerance and bad gut flora supposed to do?

I’ve found that Prescript Assist is one of the only probiotics on the market with no histamine-producing strains.

And yea, it’s expensive BUT the bonus of PA is that it contains BOTH resident and transient strains of beneficial bacteria. Most OTC probiotics only contain transient strains, which mean they work when you’re taking them, but once you stop you basically crap them out. Resident strains take up "residence" in your gut – hence the name. So they stick around and deliver way more bang for your buck. Believe me, I’m as cheap as they come but this one is worth it.

Buyer beware though: PA has a butload (no pun intended) of strains in it so you might need to work your way up to a full capsule. If you take one and experience reactions like the aforementioned diarrhea – SLOW DOWN. Start with a quarter of a capsule sprinkled on your food and work your way up (this also saves you $$ woop woop!)






Thursday, June 12, 2014

CAN PROBIOTICS CAUSE ACNE?


Short answer? Yes. To break it down simply what probiotics do is eat bad bacteria which can create a "die-off", or Herxheimer reaction. This means that toxins are created when the good bacteria eat the bad and your body has to clear them in some way. This can be through things like diarrhea, headaches, flu-like symptoms, OR acne – the body is clearing the toxins through your skin (its largest organ of detoxification).


So even though most people praise probiotics as a cure for acne it can actually worsen symptoms - temporarily. But don't abandon ship, this reaction indicates you've definitely got some bad gut bacteria to clear (which you probably already know since you have acne in the first place). 

So your options are to power through OR cut back and build up more slowly. The advantage of storming the castle is that your acne will clear faster than if you go low and slow. 

HOWEVER, if you’re also experiencing symptoms like diarrhea and/or vomiting I’d say cut back and slow down. When these things happen you’re basically flushing nutrients (along with the irritating pathogens) out of your body at a rapid rate and that’s not good for anything. We need our nutrients to feel and look good.

And you don't have to go OTC either. Maybe start with SMALL doeses (we're talking table spoons here) of homemade sauerkraut or unpasturized kefier. OR you can just open your probiotic capsule and sprinkle about 1/4 of the dose on your food and work your way up from there.

HOWEVER, HOWEVER - if you suspect you have a histamine intolerance this is where probiotics get more complicated, as you definitely need them but only certain strains. Read more about that here.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU STOP WASHING YOUR HAIR


After being a slave to daily shampooing since the tender age of 13, and hearing tales that it is possible for one to transform their locks into that of a Disney princess using just apple cider vinegar, baking soda, and enduring a few days of looking like Broom Hilda, I've decided to take the plunge and do the whole "no-poo" thing.

You can follow my progress (or lack there of) here:

The "no-poo" experiment

Saturday, February 8, 2014

CAN DIETING AND EXERCISE CAN MAKE YOU GAIN WEIGHT?!??

Wait, diet and exercise are supposed to make me skinny, right? Calories in calories out? At least that's the impression I had been laboring (literally laboring) under for the past 25 years. Well, turns out this theory is wrong, like, krimped hair wrong. And this over simplification of fat gain and loss has led to many a hungry, frustrated gal (and guy), hanging over the stairmill, churning away in vain, wondering what the heck gives. 

The truth is people gain weight for many, many reasons including hormonal function, genetics, micro and macro nutrient ratios, but today we're going to talk about STRESS.

Now, when you hear the word stress you might start imagining some poor unfortunate soul screaming out "SELL GODDAMNIT, SELLL!" from a trading room floor in the seventh circle of hell. And this would be a stressful situation indeed. However, stress comes in a lot of different forms - not just work-related. Dr. James L. Wilson classified stress into four categories:  


  1. Physical stress – from things like overworking, lack of sleep and over-exercise
  2. Chemical stress – from environmental pollutants and a diet high in refined carbohydrates and processed foods
  3. Thermal stress — over-heating or over-chilling the body (hello Bikram!)
  4. Emotional and mental stress


Any kind of stress causes our body to produce the hormone cortisol. Cortisol stimulates the liver to raise our blood sugar by taking proteins from our skeletal tissue and fat from our adipose tissue and converting them into glucose (gluconeogenesis).

Why? Because our stress response evolved over millions of years, and being chased by a wild animal  (very stressful) requires a lot of energy. Sor our body learned to provide this energy by making more blood sugar.

Now you might say, hey, wait a minute - you said cortisol breaks down fat, so how could it make me fat? 

Well if your only stress is running from a wild animal and/or working out at the gym every now and then, then yes, this energy expenditure will cause your body to produce cortisol to make glucose out of your stored fat. Hooray. Burn baby burn. 

HOWEVER 

If, perhaps, you have more stressors than the occasional foot race with a wildebeest, you could be putting yourself in a chronically stressed state without even knowing it. This is when the pounds start piling on and this is why:  

Let's say for example you're someone who exercises on a daily basis, something pretty strenuous - running, spinning, hot yoga - for about an hour. Then let's say you also just started work at a new job where your boss has mistaken you for their personal slave or, alternatively, you're in college trying to figure out how to fit in class and partying while still making the deans list, in both of these situations sleep is probably not high on the priority list. Then let's add to the mix calorie counting. You're trying to look damn good in the process, so you're faithfully using mycaloriecounter.com like any good dieter would and making sure you keep that total at a whopping 1,200 per day, after all, that's the magic number according to US Weekly. 

In sum that's:  
* Daily exercise = cortisol
* Workplace / lifestyle demands = more cortisol
* Lack of sleep = more cortisol (your body needs more fuel the longer you stay awake) 
* Lack of fuel (calories) = more cortisol (your body thinks it's starving = stress = cortisol) 

All of this stacks up to equal one crapload of cortisol constantly pumping through your body. This means your blood sugar is constantly elevated. When your blood sugar is elevated your body produces another hormone - insulin to get that sugar out of your blood and into the cells. The more and more insulin you have in your body the less responsive your cells are to it - thus the phenomenon that is called "insulin resistance" - in layman's terms: you have a ton of sugar in your blood, your cells become either saturated and/or resistant to taking in anymore - what happens with all this extra sugar? 

FAT STORAGE. 

This is why it sometimes seems like you're banging your head against the wall, busting your hump to work out like Richard Simmons doesn't even KNOW and nothing. Nada. No change. 

Here's the solution: stop. If you want to loose weight you've got to get your body as close to that wildebeest-fearing primal lifestyle as possible. This means: 

1. Fueling your body - as soon as your body starts to feel like it's running out of fuel it's going to try and raise your blood sugar, so eat. Eat until you are full. Then eat again when you are hungry, not starving. Repeat as needed. 

2. Exercise then rest. Remember sporadic bursts of stress will cause your body to produce cortisol and in the process break down fat. Plus since you're being active (as opposed to freaking out over an expense report at your desk)  you're actually using all that extra blood sugar you're making. But your not running from wildebeests every day. Give it a rest. Rest is key. 

3. Manage your emotional stress. Of course it's not possible for everyone to say 'good day' to the ole' slave driver and ship off for a life of leisure in Cozumel, but you can try and let a few more things roll. My strategy is simple, yet effective, it's called "In the grand scheme of your life.." say this to yourself whenever you feel a freakout upon you. Like say an unexpected bill / speeding ticket comes in or you accidentally hit 'reply all' when you meant to hit reply, just say to yourself "in the grand scheme of your life - does this really matter?" Nine times out of ten, the answer is no. It's pretty much always no. 

4. SLEEP. Sleep is a superfood. Sleep is the best way you can give your body a rest and keep your cortisol down. So make sure you're getting the shut eye. 




Saturday, January 11, 2014

THE HYDROCHLORIC ACID TEST

If you read my post about the importance of stomach acid and are curious about what you've got brewing down there then take the HCL challenge.

1. Get yourself some HCL with pepsin - I recommend starting with 350mg. They sell it pretty much everywhere or you can get it off amazon.

2. Take one HCL capsule per meal per day*

Note: only take the HCL when your eating protein

3. Increase by one capsule per meal every day until you feel a burning sensation - either in the stomach (like you just took a shot of whiskey) or a heartburn-like feeling - within 5 minutes of ingesting the supplement.

So day two you would take two capsules, day three, three, and so on until you feel any kind of burning. You can put out the burn by drinking a 4 oz. glass of warm water with 1 tsp. baking soda.

4. The number of capsules you took BEFORE you felt the burning is the dose you should start taking. So if you felt the burn at 4 capsules, start taking 3 at every meal with protein.

5. Continue to take this dose until you feel the burn again. Then back down by one capsule. Keep stepping down until you don't need the acid anymore.

Sounds simple enough but if you run into some trouble, check out this post: Troubleshooting the HCL Challenge