Thursday, November 14, 2013

Dude, Where Have You Been?

I started a new job in June of this year and my life has been a blur since then.  I was in the midst of training for my first sprint-triathlon, eating gloriously and then BAM - the wheels came off.  A new job, new city, and an extremely long commute interrupted my laid-back and tranquil existence.

I said all of that to let you know that eating a heart healthy diet requires planning and takes effort - I know that now.  I'm now away from my home from 5:15 am - 8:45 pm during the week and hauling fresh fruits and veggies is not always easy or convenient and takes precise planning.

My work out schedule has been more miss than hit.  My eating habits have suffered and I need to get back on track again.  For me, having a slim and trim physique was great but I am concerned about my ticker remaining strong and avoiding a surgeon cracking my chest cavity open because of a heart attack.

You, dear reader or non-reader, are my accountability partner.  I will assume hundreds will read these words of encouragement and will prolong their collective lives.  Thanks for being there for me and I apologize for ignoring you!

Monday, March 25, 2013

The Perfect Food

What do you imagine is the perfect food?  Surely, there must be one with all of the talk of super foods.. Right? Wrong.

The press (newspapers and TV talking heads) like to trumpet any type of "research" that seems exciting or new and improved.  Take the innocent acai berry for instance.  We've been told that it cures everything from  heart disease to ugliness to bunion but it doesn't.  I'm certain that it has some great qualities but it is only a piece of the puzzle.  Nothing more - nothing less.  If it were indeed magical why would people want to sell it?

Our bodies were designed by our Creator to thrive on plants.  We don't need to mix and match at certain times of the day. We simply need to eat a variety of them and our bodies will sort everything out. 

Yes, you might have heard that spinach is awesome - and it is but our bodies need more than spinach.  The truth is there is not one perfect food.  Yes, you may prefer the taste of thing to another but we need purple & red berries, orange roots and starches, green and white cruciferous plants, black and red beans, brown rice, yellow & red peppers, quinoa, walnuts & almonds, leafy greens such as bok choy, turnips, oranges, grapes...well I think you get the picture.

Don't let anyone talk you into the latest and greatest eating fad.  Simply eat copious amounts of fruits, vegetables, seeds, grains, and beans and you will be just fine.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Vegan Chili and Christian Rock

I'm a paradox.  Most vegans are not disciples of Christ and most disciples of Christ are not vegan but full blown carnivores bent on filling their arteries with saturated fats and cholesterol.  I happen to be both (and to top it off, I'm a libertarian!).  Okay, I guess I'm really not a vegan (as I've said before) but I do follow a plant-strong diet, I don't eat meat, dairy, fish, eggs or any animal products.  I'm closer to vegan than not vegan...anyway I digress.

When I first began following Christ I was "not in the choir" if you know what I mean.  One of my favorite past times was listening to music and going to concerts.  My musical tastes evolved (or I guess devolved depending on who is judging) but I never listened to gospel type music prior to following Christ.  Now I listen to and enjoy both. I was just never exposed to good gospel music.  (I'm looking at you Israel Houghton, Jesus Culture, Rock and Roll Worship Circus, Chris Falson, and Third Day, thanks for the tons of good tunes!)

My first concert was Iron Maiden and Judas Priest. I've seen dozens of bands including Black Sabbath, Metallica, Dio, Ozzy, Motley Crue, Queensryche...well you get the picture.  Music was a big part of my life and still is.  Music written and performed by Christians has improved DRAMATICALLY over the years.  In the early 90's it was TERRIBLE.  When a good band came around such as Tourniquet inevitably this type of conversation would ensure:

"Man, this song rocks! Who is it?"

"It's Tourniquet.  The song is Vanishing Lessons."

"Wow, it's great.  I wonder why haven't I ever heard this before?"

"You really like it?

"Yea, dude is phenomonal!" 

Then the hammer would drop in kind of a self-righteous, pharisaical way, "It's Christian."

WAH, WAH, WAH

Now as I've turned into a (ahem) vegan I see the same kind of thing happening. 

"Do you like those cupcakes?"

"Yea, they're great!" (just like Tony the Tiger)

Cue smirk and self-righteous tone...."They're vegan."

When can we get over this?  Skillet is music.  Switichfoot is music.  U2 is music.  The Black Keys - music.  My chili, paella, jambalaya, gumbo, fajitas, gnocchi, minestrone, burritos, enchilada, cream of any type of soup, stir fry, and anything else I cook is F.O.O.D.

Please stop saying "pass the vegetarian nachos" or "mmm could I have some more of your vegan tomato bisque soup?" Pass the nachos or could I have more soup is just fine. 

If you have dietary restrictions and you're asking for clarification that is different.  Can we stop sounding self-righteous and pretentious and just enjoy some food?

Before you go would you please crank up that aweome Christian screamo death metal and top off my vegan chai tea though?

Peace Out!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Don't Curse the Darkness - Light a Candle

I am STILL in my prerequisite sprint triathlon training.  As a neophyte in the water portion, swimming is my biggest concern.  I've going to the YMCA on Mondays and Wednesdays and swimming about 500 yards during open swim time (9:10 - 9:40 PM).  Lap swim is early in the A.M. and I still don't feel sufficiently confident to swim during that time.  Moreover, I am still resting between 50 yard sets so I don't want to be a pain to real swimmers.  Typically during late evening open swim time there are 2-3 of us doing laps.  At times there will be a few others but not usually. Until last night!

The pool was set up last night with one large lane (actually 3 lanes) and there were people doing laps there.  There were 3 young kids (ages 9-11) on the other side and they were swimming the width rather than the length (sigh) plus occasionally jumping off the diving board. 

FURTHERMORE there was a young couple with a friend and a baby playing in the water.  You know how that is, right? The baby is having a blast in the water and they are spinning around cooing and giggling.  I remember those times and it's a blast but do you really need to spin across 3 lanes? 

So here I am attempting to dodge kids swimming the width and circumventing parents playing ring-around-the-rosy with their infant! The lifeguard was new (my first time seeing her) and she didn't really intervene sufficiently to help.  The issue with the 3 kids was that their parents were the ones swimming on the "reserved lanes"!  REALLY?? Get control of your kids!

I was home early but finished my laps in record time. I probably could have gone longer but wanted to get out of the pool and get relief from the chaos.  When I arrived home my wife asked, "How did your swimming go?"

I replied, "It was the best of times and the worst of times."

"Why so," she pried.

I explained the chaotic pool mess but mentioned I was able to get my laps done in my best time yet.

Her reply as only a wife can do, "Well what do you think it's going to be like during your sprint triathlon?  Probably chaotic, right?"

Instead of allowing me to curse the darkness she simply lit the candle for me.  Hopefully those kids will be in bed on Wednesday night though!

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Ready to Bike!

I finally bit the bullet and purchased a bike to ride for my sprint triathlon that is scheduled for July.  I didn't go too high-end on the purchase but spent enough to get me started.  I went with the Trek FX 7.2 which is an entry-level hybrid bike.

It's still a bit cold to ride - at least for me but I have it and now have made a firm financial commitment to train and complete the triathlon.  Real training begins April 1st.

I'm satisfied with my purchase but really don't have any baseline comparison.  I know others spend thousands more than me but I just want to finish the race.  Now it's time to get busy!

Friday, March 1, 2013

A Healthy Breakfast?

I read many different blogs, websites, and books.  It's dangerous to ALWAYS agree with EVERYTHING someone says.  At times I read things just to keep my brain hopping despite my contempt for the author and subject matter.  Group Think is unhealthy.  Typically I can find a glimmer of truth or agreement on almost everything. Conversely, I can also find some BS in things I typically enjoy reading.  Case in point: THE HEALTHY BREAKFAST.

This is a quote from a blog I really enjoy reading. No, it's not a vegan or plant based food blog but they're bringing food and healthy eating into the equation.  I don't typically confront writers in the comment section of their blogs on things I disagree with because I think it is ill-mannered and tacky.  I'd never "shout someone down" if I heard them speaking in public so I believe it is cowardly to hide behind a keyboard and do it online.  Just my opinion.  HOWEVER... :)

Okay, seriously, here is the quote: "After your morning workout, try this healthy breakfast:"
  • 2-4 whole eggs
  • 1 cup assorted berries
  • 4 slices bacon (or turkey bacon)
Breakfast Benefits:
  • Having meat in your first meal will slow the rise of blood sugar, helping your energy levels slowly increase steadily throughout the day
  • The good fats found in eggs help raise testosterone levels, and also promote healthy brain function.
  • Dark berries – like raspberries – are low on the glycemic index, they’re also high in healthy fiber. Raspberries have also been shown to lower cortisol levels (a stress hormone).
Seriosly, 2-4 whole eggs.  That is the cholesterol equivalent of 2-4 Big Macs! Plus, bacon on top of it.  At least the dark berries are mentioned.  My guess is the writer is  Paleo because there are lots of protein and no breads (good thing). 

So, there are many people out there claiming many different things for health and well-being.  There are some extremely smart Paleos and some extremely smart plant-based eaters.  It's really up to an individual choice as to how we eat.  Never, ever follow someone blindly without conducting your own unbiased research.

My research was done on myself.  I tried many different things to get my lipids in line.  When I first began P90X I'd eat copious amounts of eggs, bacon and red meat to get "bigger".  I also saw my cholesterl numbers skyrocket.  I gave the plant-based diet a  60 day test run and it worked beautifully and I haven't looked back.  So it works for me. 

Find what works for you!

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mmmm Minestrone

As I have often said, purists will most certainly find an issue with many of my dishes.  I'm sure your grandma or other relative has a "better" minestrone recipe and that is okay.  Mine is good and as long as my family likes it and I can pass on a healthy dish to some others I am one happy camper.

Ingredients

1 - 25 ounce can of italian (chopped) tomatoes (oil, salt and sugar free)
1/2 onion coarsley chopped (I used red)
2 zucchini's sliced in half moons
2 ribs of celery sliced thin
1/2 cup diced carrots
1 tablespoon "italian seasoning"
1 - 15 oz can cannelini beans drained and rinsed (sub with kidneys or chick peas)
1/2 cup chopped parsley
3 cloves of crushed garlic
2 cups fresh baby spinach
1 quart of water
salt to taste

Directions

"fry" the onion, zucchini, celery, and garlic in the bottom of a soup pan with a little bit of water for 3 minutes.  Add the water, tomatoes, and carrot and bring to a simmer.  Toss in the parsley and herbs and continue to simmer for 15 minutes.  Add the beans and spinach and cook until spinach is wilted but still bright green. 

Enjoy!



Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Lie+Repeat+ Lie+ Repeat = Truth

I don't have any love lost for 99.9% of politicians.  They, for the most part, tell people what they think they want to hear.  They also twist words, speak half truths and repeat lies ad nauseum until a vastly ignorant populace finally begins to believe it.  Health and nutrition "experts" apparently are no better.

Got Milk? Dairy of any type has harmful side effects.  Does it taste good? Of course.  It still is harmful to our bodies.  I'm always stunned by the "gross out" factor of people drinking human breast milk after infancy.  Could you imagine going to Starkbuck and asking for a double latte with breast milk rather than skim, whole, or soy?  For kicks, try it some time!  Yes, we think nothing of drinking cow, goat, or sheet utter milk or its byproducts.

Now the Meditarranean diet has reared its ugly head again.  I'm uncertain as to why this bad penny continues to return but it has.  All day yesterday I kept hearing of its magical powers at the top of each news hour.  Now the onslaught of ignorance will continue.  Here is a brief rebuttal

You see, processed foods simply are not healthy.  Olive oil is processed and processed and processed.  Olives = Good.  Olive oil = bad.  The idea that people will not follow a 95% plant based diet doesn't change the fact that it is the only one proven in thousands of studies and peer reviewed papers to halt and reverse heart disease.

Don't buy the hype.  Don't follow the lemmings off the cliffs of insanity.  Stay focused.  Stay on track. 

Monday, February 25, 2013

Insanity

Einstein is often credited with the following quote: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.  Whether Einstein actually coined the term is not important. I'm certain we've all fell victim to that area though, right? I'd think to myself, "If I just keep at it I will get the results that I need!" Yet often when we find ourselves in a hole the last thing we do is stop digging! 

I have a work associate that has changed her eating habits and has done a fabulous job of losing weight.  When she first started she was at least 100 pounds over weight.  She started following Weight Watchers and it has been a tremendous blessing in her life.  However, she has now hit a plateua but still has about 35 pounds to lose. 

Unfortunately, she really isn't open to suggestions.  She has no intention of adopting a plant-strong diet - even for a brief period to jump start her metabolism.  When discussing things with her she is confident that she is eating a healthy diet.  She is well-intentioned but very much ill-informed.  For example she told me the other day that coffee was good for my heart.  Really? This is an intelligent person.  However, she is a microcosm of society.  She hears of ONE study that indicates coffee is good for your heart and buys it hook, line and sinker.  The meta analysis is too old school apparently.

We had a conversation the other day and were talking about our love of avocadoes.  She informed me she loves to slice a 1/4 avocado and put it on her fried egg and cheese sandwich for breakfast.  BINGO.  Okay, so you've hit a plateau and are eating fried egg and cheese sandwiches with avacado? I love avacodoes but also realize they are calorically dense.  Combined with fried eggs and cheese? Wow.

If you're experiencing a plateau I recommend a food journal.  Write down everything you eat and see where there might be some holes in your eating.  Better yet, use a food budget.  I kind of hijacked this idea from Dave Ramsey.  He teaches that we should spend our money on paper, on purpose before each month starts.  I say write down what you are going to eat each week on paper on purpose. If it's not on the food budget then don't eat it.

Hopefully fried egg & cheese sandwiches will not be on your budget.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Don't Recreate the Wheel

I came across this article today about becoming vegan.  I'd like to add some things that makes things much simpler, however. 

  1. Eating processed foods of any type is inferior.  Chips, soy, tempeh, tofurkey and other "vegan" food products are not the same as eating the stuff packaged by nature.
  2. Superfoods - I hate that term.  Well rounded food choices are superior to the so-called superfoods.  Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts, pulses, and beans.
  3. Still with a whole food plant based diet and you will do well.  These foods can be canned, frozen or fresh.  Eliminate or at least minimize added sugars, salt, and oils. 

Something Like a Guinea Pig

I started and stopped this blog once before.  This current time around things seem to be going smoother.  I still have a steep learning curve and I realize my site is not even close to being one of the best or brightest on the web.  Yet, I still am getting a modest amount of page views on weekly and monthly basis. Here are somethings I want to improve upon:

  • Become more intentional in my posts.  Make a long-term schedule and begin to write strategically and systematically.  That's more of my personality so it would be best anyway.  Now, I write extemporaneously and although it can be fun it also is not organized enough for the long haul.
  • Photos - Begin shooting my own photos of food I cook.  Now, I use stock photos which is working in the interim but I really want to share some of my masterpieces with you.
  • Videos - sometimes the only way to "get" something is to see it in action.  Writing out how to prepare a pomegranate to eat would take for ever but it would be easy to show it, right?
  • Professional - I will upgrade to a professional style blog that captures the essense of what I want to accomplish.  I want readers to be able to easily print off recipes and this one doesn't really provide that. I want you to be able to search by recipes or ingredients. 
  • Spread the word - I want to make it easy for you to share this site with others via social media or any other outlet.  One day you will want to do that.
  • Humor - I want to add some levity to the conversation.  I'm actually a funny guy but much of my writing comes across as serious.  The last thing I want to be is a sullen and serious plant eater.  BORING! Trust me, I'm not so I have some work to do. I'm not mad at the world and don't have a vendetta against carnivores.
  • Cartoons - who doesn't enjoy a good cartoon?  I have two children that are great artists and I want to get them involved with an ongoing strip.  Maybe some self-deprecating satire aimed at pretentious plant eaters.  Lighten up!
So, I have a set number of views I want to get at before investing my own money into this project.  I'm brainstorming creative names that better captures the site as well as setting a writing schedule with specific subjects. 

I want to thank everyone that has visited to this point and I want you to know I am intent on improving the site and eventually evolving into a must view place for healthy eating, fitness and random thoughts.  You've endured the infantile stage of this blog and one day you can say, "I remember when that blog was not what it is now!"  Or if you're a hipster you will say, "I really liked his site before he went all corporate and Hollywood.  What a conformist."

Thank you for stopping by!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Killer Cornbread

My family enjoys eating chili - especially during the long, cold winters in Michigan.  Chili was one of those dishes that was easy to make based solely on veggies and beans (sorry Texans).  One of the sides that we typically used was cornbread but most recipes require eggs and milk. Last night I decided to adapt.

My wife has been baking muffins from a great cookbook titled Give Them Something Better.  The book is from The Seventh Day Adventist church.  The recipes often substitute applesauce as a binding agent.  I decided to use that same trick for cornbread and it worked beautifully!

The cornbread was a big hit.  It was moist and sweet and crunchy on the bottom.  It was a nice complement to spicy chili sans carne.

Ingredients

1 cup corn meal
1 cup all purpose flour (working on something better)
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup applesauce
1 tablespoon ground flax seed mixed with 1 tablespoon water (allow to stand 3-5 minutes)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoon oil divided (will try to eliminate next time)
1 cup almond milk (I used unsweetened)

Directions

Preheat oven to 450.  Set cast iron skillet on burner. Blend all dry ingredients together.  Pour in wet ingredients and mix thoroughly.  Pour remaining tablespoon oil into skillet and spread around bottom and sides.  Pour in mixture and place in oven.  Cook for about 20 minutes or test doneness by inserting a toothpick into center.  When it comes out clean the bread is done.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Casting Your Pearls Before Swine

Where do you get your protein is probably a question I field more than any other.  A close second would be, "what about calcium?  Won't you get brittle bones?" At times questions are asked in a genuine inquisitive manner but at other times they are presented in an acerbic, condescending manner.  So, how is one to respond?

When I first began my plant-based lifestyle I was all fired up and filled with information and ready to spread the good news.  I wasn't attempting to proseltyze but share the positive changes in my sugar, cholesterol, and weight.  Not everyone was happy to hear what I had to say.  Some were but not many.

Then people began to ask questions in an accusatory tone.  I suppose asking someone where they get their protein is an okay question when the USDA and Got Milk has brainwashed them.  However, I didn't understand why they were so nasty about how they inquired.  I've had people approach me with the idea that eating a plant-based diet was borderline cultish or just plain anti-American. 

I've never judged people for how they eat.  I understand that eating is a very personal endeavor.  As people we revert to how we were raised for eating and often that evokes strong memories of when life was simpler and less stressful.  The other day I was making a large pot of vegetable stock and my wife commented, "Mmm, that reminds me of growing up."

How do I respond, then? 

I do my best to keep things as simple as possible. I don't breakout into the minutia of plant-based eating.  It took me several times through Engine 2 Diet, Eat to Live, and the China Study to even have a small amount of knowledge.  I was unlearning many things and then relearning them.  The process took some time.  Why would I expect someone to "get it" with one conversation from me?

I struggle with the nasty people.  I often want to tell them to eat their way and I'll eat mine and we see who dies of heart disease first! But I don't.  *sigh*.  I take on the responsibility of a teacher.  Repetition, repetition, repetition!  Faith comes by hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing and hearing. At least they're asking, right.

I don't bash meat or meat eating.  I do my best to explain to people that processed foods, sugar and high-fructose corn syrup are just as deadly.  Understand, I am not a "true" vegan but a person that follows a plant-based diet.  We get to the same place but we're taking different modes of transportation, so to speak.

In the end then there really are no swine for me to cast my pearls.  They are people in need of knowledge, information and education.  Jesus made a great statement once: "First the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear."  Changing from the stereotypical American diet to a plant-based diet is a process.  Plus, I don't have all of the answers.  There are myriad amount of bloggers, authors, and doctors spreading the news about plant-strong diets.  Maybe I simply planted or watered the seed.

Let's get busy planting and watering.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Jambalaya, Baby

Creole and cajun purists may scoff at the idea of any meal that doesn't contain copious amounts of meat.   That's okay.  I'm a firm believer in adapting recipes while enjoying the spirit of how something is prepared.  Yesterday, I tried my hand at jambalaya and it was a big hit.

Ingredients

1 quart vegetable stock
1 cup brown jasmine rice
1 small can tomato paste
1 15 oz can chopped tomatoes
1 large sweet onion chopped
1 cup sliced okra
1 bell pepper cored, seeded and chopped
2 zucchini's cut in half moons
1 yellow squash cut in half moons
4 ribs of celery sliced
4 cloves garlic crushed and minced
1/2 tsp red pepper
1/2 tsp white pepper
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp paprika
1/2 tsp salt
1 tablespoon hot sauce
handful of fresh chopped parsley or 1 tsp dried
diced green onions as garnish

Directions

Sauté the onion, bell pepper, garlic, and celery (for 3-5 minutes).  While that is cooking blend the stock and tomato paste until smooth. Add the rice and cook for a minute or two and then add the stock mixture.  Bring the pot to a boil and then simmer for 15 minutes, covered.  Stir occasionally.

While the rice mixture is cooking sauté the okra for about 10 minutes and then add the zucchini and squash for about 5 minutes.  Blend this into the rice mixture and stir well.  Return the lid, add the spices, and simmer for another 10 minutes.  Continue to stir every couple of minutes.

When rice is soft the dish is complete.  Generously sprinkle each serving with green onions. 

Serves about 6-8 people.  As always a garden salad is a great side dish.

This dish is vegan, vegetarian, plant-strong, and has no added oils.



Muffin Tops and Love Handles

Words are powerful.  A skillful wordsmith can easily alter perception with a carefully prepared narrative.  Yes, often perception is reality but reality is more reality. Make sense?

Obesity is an epidemic in North America and it is going worldwide.  Sedentary lifestyles combined with over consumption of unhealthy foods and chronic stress are taking its toll on all of us.  Some push back by starting an exercise program such as walking, P90X, MMA, or playing team sports.  Often when people begin to exercise they start altering the foods they eat as well.  One doesn't want to work hard and then simply throw it all away by devouring a double-double, Frostee, or pitcher of beer.  Others simply wordsmith their way out.

A muffin top doesn't sound nearly as disgusting as fat ass, does it?  Love handles?  Those can't be bad can they?  So instead of holding ourselves accountable we create a mirage of denial and continue down the road of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, erectile dysfunction, high blood pressure and other preventable diseases that slowly (sometimes not even slowly) kill us or at least minimize our quality of life.

I encourage you (if you haven't already) to start dissecting your diet and begin to implement whole food  plants.  Start moving: walking, running, swimming, basketball, soccer, chase your children, garden, whatever makes your heart beat increase.  Get your ticker racing and eat better.  This is not rocket surgery.


Thursday, February 14, 2013

Three Squares or Five Small?

Old school eating was three square meals a day. You might have even heard the adage, "Breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince, and dinner like a pauper" or something like that.  Must have been people attempting to curtail eating later in the day when our metabolism seems to slow dramatically.  Now, most people recommend eating 5 smaller meals per day.  Is there a right way or wrong way?

Dr. Joel Furhman, in his book Eat to Live, advocates the three square meals per day idea.  His thought process is that our bodies need time to digest food and if we're constantly stuffing our faces (my words not his) then our digestive tract is in constant motion.  People often interrupt the body attempting to send signals to let us know we're REALLY hungry because we never allow ourselve to actually get hungry. 

The five small meal crowd believes our bodies need constant a nutrient stream and if we eat more often we probably will eat less.  Makes sense, sort of, right? 

I've done both. I prefer the three squares per day approach however.  First of all when eating 5 small meals I was always eating and never lost a significant amount of fat. When I began the 3 squares approach I began to feel some hunger pangs - especially on days I worked out super hard.  You know what?  Feeling hunger was actually helpful.  Also, I began looking forward to the next meal and my taste buds were in full activation mode. 

Eating late at night was another bad approach for me.  I would eat later for that 5th meal and my body would be in digestion mode late at night.  I should have been sleeping soundly and at perfect rest but often was not.  When I "closed the kitchen" after dinner and stayed out of the almonds, cashews, walnuts, or hummus I rested better and was able to really "break the fast" during my morning meal.

I know there are many different perspectives on this and it's important for people to do what works best for them.  Just trying to give another option.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

T-Rex Arms

You know the workout was "good" when you can't lift your hands to your head to wash your hair or brush your teeth.  That's how I am today.  I'm working on a P90X/Insanity hybrid workout to prepare for the real training that begins April 1st for a sprint triathlon.  On Monday, Wednesday and Friday I am doing P90X (primarily lifting), on Tuesday and Thursday I am doing an Insanity workout (I don't like the P90X cardio options), and I run on Saturday.  Sunday is either a full rest day or yoga.  I also swim 2x per week in the evenings

Today's workout was back and biceps and my biceps are protesting!  I would not be considered extra muscular by nature but do okay on these workouts.  The workout is basically 2 sets of back and then 2 sets of biceps and then repeated until ones arms are like cooked spaghetti.

Swimming will be a little more challenging after today's lifting session.  I've finally got to the point where I can swim 500 yards but still need to take breaks between laps.  The triathlon is not until July so I have time to master this area but it's not easy.

Now it's time to drink my post workout recovery breakfast!

Ingredients

1 cup mango
1 cup bok choy greens
1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
1 cup almond milk
1 peeled orange
1 quarter size piece of ginger
1-2 medjool dates

Blend until smooth.  Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Obesity Epidemic

Obesity has reached epidemic proportions but most of us really don't think we are obese when in fact we are.  "It must be someone else because I am just not that heavy.  According to the American Heart Association almost 150 million people are overweight in the United States.  Of those 150 million that are overweight about half are considered obese.

There are many factors to consider when discussing obesity.  People simply aren't as active as they once were.  The majority of us at one time "worked with our hands" but now park are fannies on a comfy chair and stare at a computer 8-10 hours per day.  Children have so many sedentary options are their disposal that "going outside to play" seems like an antiquated idea.

Our eating habits simply have not kept pace with our other changes.  My mother-in-law is a great cook and she primary prepares comfort food.  My wife is the youngest of 8 children so you can imagine how much mashed potatoes were prepared for one meal.  Many decades later it is difficult for her to cook only enough food for father-in-law and her.  Adapting to changes is not always easy.

I imagine we have more health clubs today than ever before.  People are signing up for gyms, using Beachbody Products and other at-home programs yet obesity continues to gain traction.  Much of that has to do with ignorance.  Our media has the tendency to hype pseudo science and shun the boring stuff that says spinach, kale, and bok choy are awesome! What's sexier?  "You mean to tell me I can eat chocolate all day long and not impact my cholesterol?"

It's time for us all to take full responsibility for our own health.  No short cuts.  No "pie-in-the-sky" dream.  Eat food, not too much, mostly plants. 

Selah

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Case of the Disappearing Cholesterol


Too many people in my family die of heart disease and live with heart-related issues on a daily basis.  I suppose my family is no different than most as heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States.  The sad thing is that it is a preventable disease.  Our politicians bloviate about guns while remaining reticent about the self-inflicted epidemic of obesity, heart disease, and diabetes.  (Side note, I don't want the government involved I am simply want to expose its hypocrisy). 

Today, I searched back to my cholesterol results from January 2011 and my cholesterol was dangerously high. My HDL (good cholesterol) was extremely low and my LDL (bad stuff) was way too high.  The only thing that was looking borderline good was my triglycerides.  At the time I was doing what my doctor said so imagine my frustration when it only became worse!  That's when I started researching a plant-based diet.  My doctor told me the standard pablum of to eat filet mignon when eating steak, only skinless chicken breasts.  I was also supplementing with Shakeology.  The stuff  tasted phenomenal but didn't dent my cholesterol.  So I decided supplementation was a waste of time and money. 

I ordered three books from Amazon: Engine 2 Diet, China Study and Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease.  I spoke with my wife and shared my results and my aversion to going on medication without first exhausting everything in my power first.  She was onboard and has been 100% supportive from the beginning.  My nature is to research and come to my own conclusion on things.  The books arrived and I quickly began to devour them.  

Admittedly,  I didn't know how to cook.  I simply ate a lot of salads and fruit but I started.  The research seemed to be solid.  Honestly, what did any of these three men have to gain for me being plant-strong?  They weren't trying to surreptitiously move the needle for animal rights groups just trying to get people to eat healthier.  I was hooked. 

After eating a plant based diet for two months my total cholesterol decreased by 25%.  I was ecstatic but it still was too high.  I made the decision that my new way of eating was not simply a "wait and see" but a new way of life for me.  I continued down the plant strong path and become more knowledgeable in preparing delicious and healthy meals.  I never asked my family to join me.  However, some of the dishes I was preparing were better than the "meat and dairy" version.  

My next annual physical was in February 2012.  This time my cholesterol decreased an additional 29%.  In less than one year my total cholesterol went from 253 to 133!  People ask if it's difficult to maintain my plant-based intensity and honestly it is.  My vegan friends have something inside them that despises the use of animal products which is a strong ally and empowerment.  My Adventist friends have a religious reason for not eating meat.  For me however, it isn't the meat that's a problem - it's the prepackaged convenience foods (ie chips).  

Two years into plant-strong life and I am still doing well.  It is imperative for me to read up on plant-based diets.  I really enjoy Dr. Joel Furhman's writing and was recently introduced to Jeff Novick and Brendan Brazier.  I intend to order some of Novick's Fast Food books and Brazier's Thrive soon.  

My next-year goal is to have my LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides to be 60 each.  That would give me a total cholesterol of 125 (if my math is right).  Over the next 11 months I am going to be diligent about hitting that number and losing about 15 pounds as I prepare for my first spring triathlon.  I want to be fit inside and out and live a long and prosperous life. 

God bless! 

Plant-Stong Paella

Like most dishes there are myriad ways to cook it.  Hamburger and hot-dogs have evolved into many different options and just because they are not like the original doesn't mean they are not hamburgers or hot dogs.

Originally, paella was a rice dish served with some vegetables but primarily seafood.  I recently ate at restaurant that served vegetarian paella and got the idea that I could make it at home.  The paella at Cravings is very good.  Just can't always go out to eat all of the time, ya know. There are dozens of recipes available and many methods.  I believe that mine is simple and delicious.  I'm sure traditionalist would scoff at my version but that's okay.  I believe in freedom in the kitchen.


Ingredients


  • Brown jasmine rice (or rice of choice)
  • 1 red bell pepper (cored, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 green bell pepper (cored, seeded and chopped)
  • 1 zucchini (ends chopped off and the rest sliced in half moons)
  • 1 yellow squash (same as zucchini)
  • 1 sweet onion (peeled and coarsely chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms
  • 1/2 cup sliced celery
  • 1/2 cup sweet peas (frozen and then thawed)
  • 1 or 2 serrano peppers (stemmed and diced)
  • 2 cloves garlic finely diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 tsp saffron threads (optional $$)*
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • salt & pepper to taste

Directions 

Cook the rice according to package directions substituting water with the stock.  While the rice is cooking stir-fry the vegetables (in a tiny bit of oil) for about 5-10 minutes.  I prefer my vegetables to be cooked but still crunchy.  Towards the end of the stir-fry time add the garlic.  When vegetables are done add them to the cooked rice.  Stir in the cilantro, turmeric, and saffron threads.  Mix well.  Add additional stock to moisten everything and simmer to ensure everything is piping hot.  Season with salt and pepper.  Plate  and generously sprinkle each serving with the chopped parsley. 

As with everything serve with a side salad.  

*I am cooking paella tonight for the first time using saffron.  It's pretty expensive so unless it drastically adds "that something special" to the dish I will omit in the future. 

How Do You Get Protein and Calcium?

I just returned from my annual physical and had full blood work completed.  I was tested for cholesterol, sugar, calcium, protein, you name it and I was tested for it.  My doctor is still extremely pleased with my numbers and said "whatever you are doing is working."  That, "whatever I am doing is following a plant-strong diet.

I'd like for a 60-60-60 number.  I want my HDL to be 60, triglycerides to be 60 and for my LDL to be 60.  It's doable and by this time next year I will do everything in my power to get there (without medication).  According to research, total cholesterol below 150 is virtually heart-attack proof.

When I discuss a plant-based diet with people they inevitably ask, "how do you get your protein?" and "won't your bones break without dairy?"  These are probably the most common misconceptions and ignorance.  Vegetarians, vegans, and plant-strong people continue to educate and reeducate the masses on these two objections.

First of all plants have protein.  Some plants, calorie for calorie, have more protein than meat, dairy, or eggs --- without saturated fats and cholesterol.  Plus, plants have fiber and animal products do not.  My doctor tracks my protein numbers and they are doing very well.

Do we need protein to build muscle? Yes, but one can gain sufficient protein to build muscle through plants.  It is my understanding that Tony Horton, the creator of P90X, follows a plant-based and gluten-free diet.  He is pretty muscular.

What about calcium?  Well, the countries that have the most cases of broken hips, etc are also the same people that consume the most dairy.  There is a breakdown somewhere in our understanding don't you think?  Plants contain calcium.  Let's think about the animal kingdom.  Cows, where most people get their milk, stop drinking milk when they are weaned.  As do horses, elephants, gorillas --- all very powerful animals that eat plant based diets.   How do their bones remain strong without milk?

If you're considering adopting a plant based diet don't allow all of the uneducated and ignorant people persuade you out of it.  I've been following a plant based diet for 3 years and I am healthier now than I have ever been.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Music Monday

Training for my first-annual-sprint-triathlon begins April 1, 2013.  I am currently in my prerequisite training stage which consists of the following: Monday - P90X; Tuesday - Insanity; Wednesday - P90X; Thursday - Insanity; Friday - P90X; Saturday - running, and Sunday - Yoga X.  On Monday and Wednesday evenings I swim.  I'm still building my swim endurance and working on form but I am improving each week.

I like P90X but at times it goes way too long, unnecessarily.  Tony Horton loves to talk (dude should have a radio talk show!).  I'm often complete with my sets before he finishes talking about the set.  I don't like to dilly-dally and can't do 15 pullups yet.  So, I do my 5-6 and FF the disc to the next set. I can usually do the entire workout and knock of 10 minutes.

Insanity is the polar opposite.  Shaun T is always pushing people to speed up and get into place.  "Hurry up people we gotta stretch!"  The cardio is phenomenal and I love his pace.  The cardio in P90X.. not so much.  I don't like Cardio X, Ken Po, or Plyo X so I mix-n-match with Insanity. Insanity for cardio and P90X for strength.

I've never really enjoyed running but I am determined to pull this Sprint triathlon off successfully.  As I've mentioned before I prefer to listen to music when running. Probably won't be able to during the race but for now I'll use whatever I can to keep my motivation level high.  Here is another song I've added to my running playlist.

Don't let the "strange" cover fool you.  Solid band with a great message.


Don't You Love Kibitzers?

I love learning new words and last week the WOD was kibitzer.  Kibitzer is defined as a giver of unwanted advice.  We all probably have some type of kibitzer in our lives.  I do my best to not spew unwanted advice to people so this blog is my outlet.

I'm a bit of a paradox in many ways but don't push my views on people intentionally.  For example: I eat like a Seventh Day Adventist, believe like a charismatic, act kind of baptistish, and lean politically toward libertarianism.  Those don't always mix --- for whatever reason.

If you've stumbled upon this blog that means you are searching.  So welcome! I'm not kibitzing but rather simply sharing.  Hope you enjoy!

Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Three-Legged Stool

My vocation is that of a credit analyst and an adjunct faculty member teaching financial fundamentals to managers.  When I began my career learning how to interpret financial health one of the “salty dogs” used the analogy of the three-legged stool.  Basically, the stability of this particular stool is dependent upon each of the legs.  Arguing over which leg is most important is superfluous because they are all equally important.  In the realm of discerning financial health I am concerned with the balance sheet, income statement and statement of cash flows.  If one is off, the stool gets rickety.  Our personal lives have a similar analogy.
May your whole spirt, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ; we are encouraged by the Apostle Paul.  Prior to this he also informs us that God sets us apart.  So we have a part and God has a part.  We can’t make ourselves holy.  We’ve been trying for centuries it inevitably devolves into legalism and works.  So what’s a brother (or sister) to do?
Spiritual disciplines – We must change the way we think about prayer, reading the word, and worshiping.  It’s not a time-bound exercise.  It’s an opening of our spirit to the realm of the Holy Spirit.  Don’t be adamant about “getting your time in” but don’t be lazy either.  We all have many things competing for our time and we must take control of it and do things that have the best return on investment. 
I’m a Soul Man – I’ve heard people say when a person becomes a Christian they throw out their brain.  I know that might sound harsh but there is a ring of truth to it.  I’ve heard others say, “they are so heavenly minded they are no earthly good.”  For many centuries the church was the epicenter of thought, philsophy, art, music, architecture, and science.  Somehow, someway we lost our way and facilitated the usurping of wisdom and knowledge from the church.  Our learning cannot be limited to “renewing the mind with the word” there is too much knowledge available for us to take this lazy shortcut.  Let's once again be the center of it all.  God created it - let's manage it.
Temple of the Holy Ghost - Don’t drink, don’t smoke, what do you do? Many Christians over eat, drink tons of coffee, get fat and die way too early. We think nothing about eating seconds and thirds of food we know is bad for us and pass out in a food coma and laugh about it.   We criticize and judge others that drink and pass out.  It’s time for judment to begin at the house of God.  Thomas Acquinas in Summa Theologica does a masterful job of explaining why gluttony is sinful.  We pray for healing and miracles and yet commit incremental suicide by fork and spoon. 
When any of these three areas are out of balance our entire lives are out of kilter.  Many Christians are super spirtual but couldn’t care less about education beyond Sunday school or Bible College.  One doesn’t need an extra degree but could easily read something that stimulates them intellectually. 
Our health is our responsibility.  We need to eat more like Daniel and less like Herod.  Let’s bring our lives into balance and preserve our whole spirt, soul and body and be blamess.  Let’s honor God on all three levels of our being – spirit, soul, and body.
Selah

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Just Give Peas a Chance

Just as everyone else, I have my fair share of problems, inconveniences, and challenges.  Lately, I’ve been doing a poor job of managing them.  My temper is quick to erupt, I get aggravated at everything a certain person does, and I’ve been on the ugly side of life.
I was talking to God today and began to flip through the New Testament.  I came to Colossians, which is one of my favorites, and read a few scriptures.  I was encouraged to “put on” love, to “let” the peace of God rule in my heart, and to “let” the word of Christ dwell in me richly.
Are you kidding me? You mean to tell me I have a part to play in this and it isn’t just God pulling a lever and “presto chango” my life is back in line again? It was hard for me to believe.  
You see, I’ve been “putting on” something else and it sure was not love.  Why was I “putting on” something that was not good for me?  I don’t put food in my mouth that is not good for me!  Why would I put anything in my soul and spirit that contaminate? Why because it’s easy and it doesn’t produce negative fruit immediately.  It’s an accumulative affect and by the time one realizes it getting free is difficult.
I have choice what rules in my heart according to these scriptures.  I can let the peace of God rule (good) or I can let animosity and strife rule (bad).  I’ve never really thought about it that way.  Animosity and strife are ready to pounce! They are ready to blow at any time.  The peace of God is not pushy and apparently I must choose to let the peace of God rule in my heart.
I also have the power to let the word of Christ to dwell in me richly.  In our current political environment life is about sides.  One side is always pounding the other side.  Listening to the news or radio, heck even reading some food blogs instigates stress. Stress, fear, and hatred, similar to animosity and strife, are always looking for an easy target to attack.  No more.  I choose the way of love, peace, and the word.
I no longer will be used as a pawn.  I am going to put on love, let the peace of God rule in my heart, and let the word of Christ dwell in me – richly!
Selah

Monday, January 28, 2013

Spicy Sweet Potato Soup




We finally have had about a week of solid snow and the temps have been in the low to mid 20's - perfect-stick-to-the-ribs soup weather.  I've never had any type of sweet potato soup.  I looked over a few recipes and came up with this amalgamation. 











Ingredients

  • Two large baked* sweet potatoes (flesh scooped)
  • 2 ribs of celery chopped
  • 1/2 cup of chopped carrots
  • 1 serrano pepper (or more if you like heat)
  • 1 quart vegetable stock
  • 1 cup of coconut milk
  • 1 tsp cardamon
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp coriander
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp salt
Directions

Cook the celery and carrots in a stock pot. Add the serrano and the stock.  Allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes.  Add the sweet potato and spices.  Continue to simmer for another 10 minutes.  Use an immersion blender and blend the ingredients until smooth (or use a potato masher).  Add the coconut milk and stir well.  Serve with a sandwich or crusty bread.  

* When sweet potatoes are baked their sweetness and flavors are enhanced. 

Fast, Faster, Fastest and Crash and Burn

"Are you okay?" 

"Yes, just hurt a little bit of pride," was my reply.

It's been awhile since I've been skiing and we had a nice storm a few days ago.  My son loves to ski and I wanted to get outside in the fresh air and enjoy a sunny 20 degree day on the slopes. He heads to the  black diamond and I find the green circle.

Like many things in my life I am a neophyte skier.  I really don't go often enough to build on what I've learned but I aim to correct that. My problem seems to be that I go too fast!  I see others smoothly gliding down the hills and here I go and I say, "oh crap, oh crap not again!" BAM, ROLL, then came the nice lady to me, "are you okay?"

Speed is not always good.  As I was flying down the mountain and losing control I thought of my swimming difficulties.  I go too fast and become fatigued while swimming.  I go to fast and crash while skiing.  Going slowly isn't always easy though. 

I'm still new at swimming so placing my face in the water and blowing out and turning my head for a quick breath seems unnatural.  I believe my "survival" instincts take over and my brain tells my body to speed it up to get back to the edge of the pool - STAT.  Then I am tired, however. 

I still have a lot to learn but thankfully I have time to learn it.  Trying new things for me is scary but in a fun way.  I'm not the quickest learner (repetition is my buddy!) but I have bull-dog like intensity and patience.  This week I work on swimming as slowly as possible.  Next time I ski I work on slowly gliding down the hill without someone looking down on me to make sure I am still alive!

Selah

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Super Fruits and Low Fat Insanity

The press loves to tout so-called "super foods".  They are always looking for a panacea, a silver bullet if you will to allow people to throw down greasy burgers and still not die of heart disease.  Guess what?  There isn't one so please stop insulting our intelligence. 

All fruits and vegetables are a super food in their own right. We don't need to eat cabbage soup everyday or grapefruit every breakfast.  God Almighty has given us hundreds and thousands of different types of food that work collectively to help us maintain a healthly life. 

This article (which really isn't bad) lists 6 super berries.  I get a little uneasy when writers tout the benefits of a fruit being low fat.  Really?  Isn't that one of the top few objections to vegan, vegetarian, and plant-based eating?  Number 1 is: You don't get enough protein.  Bogus.  Somewhere in the conversation people will ask, "where do you get fats?" 

Well I get them from plants but apparently that is not good because even our plants need to be low-fat or fat free! OH MY GOD! You're killing me Smalls!

Acai berries aren't going to change the world either.  Are they good for us? Sure, any fruit or veggie has a place in a well-rounded diet.  My question is this: If the acai berries has such magical properties why aren't the people of that area of the world among those that live the longest? 

Just some food for thought.

Top 50 Vegan Blogs

I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a "by-the-book" vegan but follow a plant-based diet.  So, I have a lot in common with vegans but there are some that have litmus tests for how vegan someone is or is not.  Apparently, I'm not vegan enough for many. 

Anyway, I browse vegan blogs in search for new recipes and ways to bring verve and vigor to my cooking.  So far, I haven't been ostracized from reading vegan blogs :). Here is an interesting post with the top 50 vegan blogs from the Psychology of Eating. 

I'm not familiar with all of them but are with some.  I recently discovered Oh She Glows and have to say I really like it.  Angela comes across as joyful, fun, inspiring, and unassuming.  Tons of fun to read her posts. I'm surprised she was not ranked higher - IMHO she should be.

The Post Punk Kitchen is another good one.  I have a few books from the author and she is fun but in a different way. She has East Coast swagger and it is interesting to see how she blends it in with her cooking and recipes. 

Have fun reading them.  Maybe, just maybe when I grow up, become a better writer and improve my blog I can crack the top 50 someday.  Fingers crossed!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Yes, I Need a Crutch


In my craziness I've committed to completing a sprint triathlon in 2013.  The actual day is July 20, 2013.  I'm still in the prerequisite stage and full blown training begins April 1st.  Why am I doing this?  I don't have a clue!

Seriously, the discipline and structure is good for me.  Running has never been one of my favorite things to do (neither has swimming and biking!).  I figure the only time I should run if someone is chasing me! To make things more interesting for me I like to listen to music as I run.  I know many people frown on that but I think it's better to run with music then to not run without it. Call it a crutch if you want. 

The mix is ecelectic.  Some songs are fun and upbeat. Some songs are not.  They all help me to pick 'em up and put 'em down, however.























  1. Murders in the Rue Morgue - Iron Maiden
  2. Dani California  - RHCP
  3. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked - Cage the Elephant
  4. Holiday - Green Day
  5. Pretty Fly for a White Guy - The Offspring
  6. Shamrocks and Shenanigans - House of Pain
  7. Dear X - Disciple
  8. Mess of Me - Switchfoot
So there is my first playlist.  For some reason the upload video feature was not working today so I had to link them instead. 

Enjoy.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Teaching an Old "Dog" New Tricks

One of my many interests is genealogy.  I recently received copies of 3 of my 4 grandparents death certificates (1 is still alive, yeaaa!).  All three died of some sort of heart disease.  Now, most people would say, "it's in your genes" but I don't buy that load of poppycock.  The reason heart disease is "in our genes" is because we haven't changed our poor eating habits.  I made that change about 2 years ago and it's made a huge difference in my life and health.

My grandma fried everything! My grandpa ate everything she fried.  I am convinced he lived longer than her only because he ate oatmeal everyday for breakfast and that acted as a partial deterrent to his inevitable demise caused by heart disease.

Change is hard - we all know that.  Changing when one is older is even harder but not impossible as this story indicates. I have many members in my family that are curious about how I eat but they never take the "leap of faith" to actually give it a shot.  I'm inspired by Daniels story, dedication, and honesty.  I'm all going to steal his line, "you're fine, until you're not."

If you're on the fence take a 10 day challenge like is mentioned here.  Who knows, it just might change save your life.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Fasting Like Daniel

Anyone that has spent time in a Christian church and attended Sunday school is familiar with the story of Daniel and the Lions Den.  It’s a fascinating story and the author of Hebrews indicates that “faith stopped the mouths of lions.”  Basically, Daniel was tossed into a pit with lions and was not eaten.  If you believe the Veggie Tale version they ordered pizza and had a slumber party.  Anyway, I digress.
Now the same people that grew up seeing Daniel on awesome, high-tech, flannel graphs and hearing about his buddies Shadrach, Meschack, and Abednego are finding other reasons to celebrate this ancient Hebrew book: a 21-day fast.
This fast is different than one that requires total elimination of food and drink.  From what I understand from Daniel 1, he ate only vegetables (also translated as food grown from seed) and drank only water.  During the fasting time he mentions that he ate no meat, drank no wine, and did not anoint himself.  Some translations state he used no lotions rather than didn’t anoint himself. This time of fasting was 21 days.  How many ladies would go 21 days without their Oil of Olay? Okay, I’ll leave that one alone.
I like the first chapter where he tests the King’s steward by having him serve them only vegetables and water. If they look worse they’ll eat the king’s unclean food.  If not, they’ll continue on their plant-based diet. 
What I don’t like about fasts such as this is the legalism that comes out in full force.  If one is fasting for a specific purpose (and believes in the power of fasting) why would they want to skirt the danger zone?  Another question I have is why anyone would want to return to eating a “non-Daniel” type diet?  It’s apparent from chapter 1 that a plant-based diet with water is ideal for our health and well-being. 
People that advocate the Daniel fast also make exceptions for pregnant women and "allow" them to eat fish or chicken to “get the protein needed”.  This odd, unfounded, and ridiculous claim seems to have permeated every area of society.  HELLO! Plants have protein.  If one is eating grains and beans they are filled with protein.  Anyway….
I like what the orignators of this fast (well I guess not the originators, that would’ve been Daniel) that this is still a spiritual discipline not a diet.  If you’re interested in the idea of fasting I recommended reading Isaiah 58. 
People, it is only 21 days.  Eat fruits, vegetables, and grains for 21 days and drink water.  It’s not complicated.  You can do it.  If you’re on prescription drugs you need to check with your medical practitioner prior to starting any type of radical change.
This is a great time to discipline your body and exlore your spirituality.  Listen for the voice of God during this time.  Pray and commune with the Holy One.  Bare your soul before the Lord of Glory.  Each day change will come and you will not be the same after 21 days.
Selah

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Random Sports Rant

·         Bye, bye Brian - If I were Notre Dame I wouldn’t consider renogotiating Brian Kelly’s contract.  Sure, he had a good season (with a senior class he didn’t recruit) but he had one with the Bearcats and left them for greener pastures.  He signed the contract so hold his feet to the fire.  If he thinks life in Philly will be a walk in (Roosevelt) the Park he is sadly mistaken.  Philly isn’t Grand Rapids (GVSU), Mount Pleasant (CMU), Cincinatti, or South Bend.  The Irish job is now a “go to” destination and if Kelly wants to dabble in the NFL good riddance.
·         Vitamin B12 shot in the butt - It’s obvious that Barry Bonds used PED’s.  However, the guy was a 1st ballot hall of famer prior to getting the dreaded pumpkin head disease.  He was the rare 5-tool guy and was fun to watch play. 
·         Tale of Two Teams - Amazing how the Washington Nationals were over protective of their franchise player and had a legitimate chance to win the World Series and the Redskins didn’t really consider RGIII and didn’t really have a chance to win it all. 
·         The SEC – Amazing how good the football is in that conference.  I wish a real investigative reporter would do a story and find out why.  Yes, I know they have great players but why?  I’m not implying there is cheating but it would be fun to know what they know, you know?
·         The Cubs – repeat after me, “Wait ‘till next year.”
·         PTI – I was watching an episode where they reverted to 2001 and chronicled the Fighting Irish through Bob Davie, George (whatever his name is), Ty, and Charlie.  What I found fascinating was the info that is on deck or other things happening in the world of sports.  Tiger Woods name was up there practically all of the time.  Dang, that was a long fall.
·         Hockey – Did they have enough equity to do what they just did?  I’m not sure.  I think the sport will be damaged and will take some time to recover. 

The Logic of Convenience and Smoothies

I'm constantly surprised (when will I learn?) when people I trust, and admire use logic on some things but not on others.  Yes, we all have our sacred cows that we protect (unfortunately) but people that use logic in one area and not in all areas totally confuse me.

For example, I there is a person I admire greatly because of his scholarship in the realm of economics.  He is bright, well-spoken, funny (yes, this economist is), and cutting edge.  However, his approach to a biblical tenet shocked me.  "I'm Catholic and that is what we do," was his response on this particular tenet.  I was thinking why don't you use the same rigor and scholar that you use in the discipline of economics that you use in bible study and you might have a different perspective.  So, many zombies that follow this particular person will adapt all of his views even though he blindly accepted some based on tradition.

Another example is the idea that smoothies are bad because they aren't chewed and the fiber is basically destroyed in the blending.  The person that suggested this is one of the main people that helped convert me to a plant-based diet through his books.  Yes, this guy is many times smarter than me and has more experience in the realm of nutrition but I have the propensity to challenge things I hear even from experts. 

My first thought was what about split pea soup?  Split pea soup is one of the most nutritionally sound foods available.  It's high in fiber and filled with healthy plant protein.  When I cook it, it basically breaks down into a thick liquid.  Since I don't add meat there really is nothing to chew.  I don't chew soup.  So is split pea soup bad for me? Great rebuttal.

My second thought was baby food.  After babies are off mother's milk they often go to pureed vegetables and fruit.  It can be bought in jars or mixed at home easily.  We made our own at home because I'm just a cheap skate.  I don't know about you but my children didn't seem to have a fiber problem when they were eating plant-based food that was pulverized to mush.  Applesauce, is that not good?  You see what I'm getting at?

Now in both instances I still love reading articles and books from these men.  They are brilliant but that doesn't stop me from thinking for myself.  Kind of like the Bereans during the time of the Apostle Paul.  They were open minded but verified what he was telling them was truth.  I'm not disparaging or even minimizing the impact they've had in my life.  It's my life, however an I refuse to mindlessly follow anyone.

Convincing people the benefits of a plant-based diet can be a daunting job.  I don't want to give them unnecessary hoops to jump through and make it difficult. 

Cheers, bottoms up on that green smoothie!