CROCKPOTS

English: Chef Pepín Slow Cooker

CROCKPOTS have to make my top 5 list for tools to make healthy living easier and more practical.

 

Is there anything these things can’t do?  Besides tasting amazing, what are some of the benefits of having one of these things lurking around your kitchen?

 

1. GOOD FOOD COMBINING and GOOD DIGESTION:  Cooking low and slow for hours creates an even “mixture” with whatever you decide to put in it.  Food is best eaten in simple combinations.  Often it is best to eat one food at a time, by itself.  However, cooking with a crockpot allows the food to “work out their differences” inside the pot.  Carrots, peas, chicken, onions, and garlic TRANSMUTES into “crockpot chicken and vegetables.”  This translates into better digestion.  Also, cooking things at a low temperature for hours is almost always better than quick-heat methods.  Cooking things (especially proteins) at very low heat is the best way to go.  This way, everything softens up for your digestion to go to work.  Ever have a burnt grilled chicken breast?  Not very appetizing to me.

 

2.  PRACTICAL:  These things are probably the most practical tool to have around the house.  Cooking and cleaning require little work.  There is no guesswork on timing.  They are super easy.  Instructions?  Chop up whatever vegetables sound good to you and your family.  Optionally throw in a piece of meat.  Set the timer.  DONE.  If you are fifteen minutes late from work or class?  Doesn’t usually matter.  Also, this is the perfect way to cook for large families without messing up the entire kitchen.  If you are single or in a small family, leftovers usually abound.  This is a great way to plan two days worth of food in a one time cook/clean job.

 

3. SAVES MONEY:  How many of us throw out old vegetables?  How about those rough cuts of meat we screw up?  This is a great way to start saving all that stuff.  Got some veggies that are starting to go bad?  Throw them in the crockpot.  Some cheaper cuts of meat are usually tough and chewy.  We can soften them up with the crockpot.  People have been doing this for thousands of years.  This is especially true of rough red meats and/or game meat.

 

There you have it folks.  I would recommend getting a LARGE crockpot.  It is better to have more room than you need to cook.  Sometimes we use ours to make giant meals with plenty of leftovers.  Other times, it can be used for simple vegetable dishes.  It depends what we are in the mood for.  Don’t be afraid to leave it on your counter.  It is easy to get hooked on the “crockpot meal.”

 

Happy Hunting =)

 

-JOE

 

 

 

Metabolic Typing

Mixed salad leaves with candied bacon, crouton...

What is “Metabolic Typing”?

Honestly, this is just a fancy way of categorizing the way we eat.  Ever wonder why there seems to be so many different diets out there that people SWEAR by.  There are vegans.  There are paleo people.  There are starch eaters.  There are low-carbers.  They all think that their way is best.  Are they all right?  Are they all wrong?  What is going on here?  Enter Metabolic Typing.

METABOLIC TYPING:  In my own words, metabolic typing is a dietary theory that leaves room for differences in genetics, ancestry, climate, age, and location.  We come from different areas of the planet.  Our ancestors ate different things.  Humans have traveled the world and filled the globe.  We are all human, yes?  Yes, but we all come from different places.  We are in different phases of life and do different activities.  Trying to fit EVERYBODY into the same box just seems a little arrogant and crazy right?  Ultimately, there are infinite numbers of metabolic types because we are ALL different and unique.  For the sake of sanity, most people break down the types into three main categories.  Let’s take a quick peak and give a few tips on how to succeed as each one.  Keep in mind that your metabolic type can and often does change with the seasons, age, activity levels, and so forth.  Listening to your body and eating real food is always a good guide.

PROTEIN TYPE:  This is the realm of the “modern paleo” diet trend.  Lot’s of meat and fat.  Regardless of what vegetarians or “vegans” tell you, some of our genes require meat and fat to do well.  How much?  It depends on the person.  Protein types are usually people who feel best having some sort of animal protein a few times a day.  They usually crave dark meat, rich meats, eggs, butter, fat, full fat cheese, etc.  Nuts are often sought after as a snack.  This person is usually inclined towards strength-training and doesn’t do quite as well with cardio exercise.  They need a bit more sleep than most to feel good.  What gets this type into trouble?  Overeating.  Especially on crappy food.  These include all pasteurized dairy products, grilled or heavy cooked protein foods, fried eggs, too much bacon or preserved meats, roasted nuts, etc.  How to balance this type?  Focus on QUALITY over QUANTITY first.  Get yourself good quality, grass-fed meats, fish, fats, and eggs.  If you kilter towards animal foods, go with raw cod liver oil, raw butter, raw or lightly cooked eggs, rare fish and other meats, bone marrow, etc.  If you kilter towards plant foods (most don’t), go for the avocados, olives, coconuts, raw nuts, etc.  Another pitfall for this type is eating too many carbs or sugar.  They will usually crash if eating a lot of sugar by itself.  An example would be drinking a LARGE glass of orange juice first thing in the morning without anything else in your stomach.  People naturally slide more towards the protein type on the scale in the winter months.

MIXED TYPE:  Ah, the mixed type.  These are the “middle-of-the-road” people.  They are usually the least picky of eaters.  They can get by on pretty much everything as long as it is fresh, real food.  Cravings will shift often.  Sometimes we want some juicy rare lamb.  Sometimes we want a big bowl of vegetables or some fresh juice.  Maybe I didn’t want any fat for lunch, but boy does it sound good at dinnertime.  Mixed types are exactly how we sound.  Everything in moderation right?  The best foods for you?  Fresh fruits and vegetables as they feel right.  Some fresh juice in the morning maybe.  Moderate amounts of animal foods.  You may find a super heavy breakfast will weigh you down.  For example, a mixed type usually will do better with a lighter breakfast, as opposed to a big plate of eggs and sausage links.  The mix between preferences for animal and plant foods usually is mixed as well.  Sometimes animal fat does the trick.  Sometimes plant fat hits the spot.  Keep a wide variety of foods around and choose what feels best at the time.  This type usually likes some bodyweight exercise as well as cardio.  Problems?  It is easy to go off-balance.  Sometimes we eat too much protein and fat and get bogged down.  Sometimes we eat like the carb type and get jittery or anxious.  This all has to do with learning your own bodies preferences.  As usual, things change with the seasons and activity levels.

CARB TYPE:  The carb type eh?  This is usually where vegetarians lie on the scale.  Personally, I believe that most people need SOME high-quality animal products to be healthy long-term.  There are few people who do well in a cold climate on a carb diet.  My guess?  Most CARBS and heavy sugar fruits grow in tropical climates.  Some of us evolved in those regions.  Others evolved in colder regions.  So what are the characteristics of the carb-type?  A little hyper.  Quick to move.  Quick to think.  Usually favors cardio exercise.  These people often get cold easily in the winter, but LOVE the summer months.  Sometimes they are mixed types in disguise.  (If I eat a ton of sugar I will be very FAST for a while also.)  The difference?  This type of thing sustains the carb-type during the day.  What are the best foods for carb types?  Primarily fruits and vegetables.  Relatively little meat and fat here.  These types usually prefer plant sources for the bulk of their protein and fat.  Maybe a few eggs or some white fish or chicken here and there.  An example of a BAD meal for the carb-type would be a giant breakfast with a lot of rich meat, butter, bacon, or fatty fish.  Being a carb-type is NOT an excuse to go eat a bunch of “junk-food.”  Just as the protein type has to be wary of bad fats and overcooked proteins, the carb-type needs to watch it with the processed starches and sugars.  Things like potato and corn chips.  Granola.  Cereals.  Sweets.  “Healthy junk.”  Gluten, processed foods, and sugar are best avoided by everyone.

So those are the types guys and girls.  As a general guideline, you will slide more towards a protein type in the winter and when you are doing strength training, or are under stress.  You will usually slide towards the carb type in the summer months, doing a lot of mental-activity, and doing more cardio exercise.  Don’t “LOCK” yourself into any one category.  We change just as the seasons change.  Let your body be your guide.  Metabolic typing can be a good system to help you figure out where you are on the scale and adjust accordingly.  Happy hunting =)


-JOE

“Comfort Food” MY ASS

Macaroni and cheese is an American comfort food

Ok, I admit it.  I have a small beef with “comfort food.”  I am not talking about real comforting, nourishing foods.  I am talking about the junk food that we have grown to label “comfort food.”  Don’t think that emotions don’t play into this as well.  Let’s look at some qualities of what most of us have come to think of as comfort food.  Soft, mushy, usually warm (except ice cream), starchy, fatty, etc.  Basically heavy, easily digestible, high-calorie fare.  Is that the whole story though?  More and more I begin to think there is a whole other side to this issue.  Are we simply eating for nourishment or is it more as a buffer?  What about the emotional side?  When did we eat comfort food?  Birthdays.  Christmas.  Thanksgiving.  Hopefully happy times right?  Cake, pies, cheesy potatoes, cookies, meatloaf, etc.  It is pretty hard to take a break right?  Let’s look at some traditional “nourishing foods” that serve the same purpose in the body.

FATS:  Raw butter, raw or lightly cooked egg yolks, coconuts/oil, olives/oil, animal fats, raw nuts, bone marrow.  These fats have been used for thousands of years.  They are rich.  They taste great.  They nourish the body.

CARBS:  Carbs are many people’s favorite “comfort foods.”  At least we like to think that is the case most of the time.  Is it really the carbs though?  Or is the “gunky stuff.”  The breads, the pasta, the cereals, lasagna, fried rice, etc.  Ask yourself which it is?  Nature has provided us with plenty of carbohydrates to choose from.  Root vegetables are particularly useful.  Parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, potatoes, sweet potatoes, etc.  Fruit can also be great.  I am not one for “whole grains” but unprocessed and properly prepared grains are a hell of a lot better than the processed stuff. 

PROTEINS:  Protein is often included in comfort food as well.  Favorites may include burgers with fries, fried chicken wings, meats on pizzas, cheese, fried steaks, and ribs.  I can’t lie; ribs are pretty damn TASTY.  So what are some good proteins?  Lightly cooked animal proteins would include egg whites, wild caught fish, and free range poultry and ruminant animals.  Healthy cooking options include crock-pots, baking, steaming, etc.  Frying or high-heat grilling is not recommended.

Now that we have taken a look at things, I will ask the question again.  Do we like the nourishment or do we use these things as a buffer?  I will tell people to eat as much REAL FOOD as they want.  Let’s compare a few nourishing meals versus fake food comfort.

PROCESSED COMFORT:  Most of us don’t have to think too hard on this one.  Pizzas, pastas, anything with pasteurized dairy, burgers with fries, cakes, donuts, cereals, pastries, latte’s, anything fried, etc.

NOURISHING COMFORT:  Most of us have not been introduced to these foods in the modern world.  Steamed sweet potatoes and broccoli with coconut oil.  Parsnips and peas with raw butter.  Lightly cooked eggs and avocado omelet with veggies.  Crock-pot meals with chicken or lamb mixed with vegetables and olive oil as a topping.  There are plenty of healthy treats as well.

So there you have it.  Give yourself a test.  Is it the calories and nourishment you are after?  Or does “comfort food” serve some other function in your life?  Looking at what types of comfort food it is hard to give up can tell you a lot about your internal state.  Do you crave fried fats and foods?  Or maybe for you it is the sugar.  What are you buffering against? It is great to reminisce about high school or times in childhood but we need to learn to separate the “good times” from the food that is associated with it.  After eating real food for a while, most cravings usually start disappearing if they are related to true nourishment.  Our modern culture has skewed what food we think we need to function.  So having said that, COMFORT FOOD MY ASS.

-JOE

DAIRY?!

English: A bottle of pasteurized milk. See the...

What is the story with dairy?  Most of us were brought up to believe that dairy was a health food.  It has calcium after all right?  Where did this “wisdom” come from?  Let’s look at a brief history of dairy and then discuss whether or not it is truly food for optimal human consumption.

Many cultures have been consuming RAW DAIRY for at several thousand years.  Did we always do this?  Probably not.  However, like grains; we have adapted to consumption of certain foods we may or may not have been designed to eat.  One thing you will notice in all “tribal” or “old cultures” is a reliance on techniques used for making these “foods” more edible for humans.  They understood that grains, certain nuts/seeds, and certain vegetables had to be worked with in order to allow absorption by the human.  Dairy fits into this category as well.  That said, there have been several cultures that have THRIVED with raw dairy products.  Not just milk.  But raw butter, cream, yogurt, kefir, whey, etc.  Most notable are northern Europeans and certain tribes in africa.  Enter pasteurization.  We started pasteurizing our dairy in the early 1900’s.  This was an effort to combat the unclean practices that contaminated some of the milk.  Pasteurized milk and fried cheeses begin to hit the shelves.  There is a big problem with these foods.  The enzymes are destroyed in the process.  Vitamins are destroyed.  What is left?  A product that humans have a relatively hard time digesting already becoming more burdensome on the system.  We just don’t really have the equipment on board to process this stuff well.  What about “milk alternatives” like soy milk, rice milk, almond milk, etc?  Are they better?  Maybe so.  But they are still not real foods.  Ultimately, most milk people buy in stores are processed and pasteurized.  So what do WE do about it?  PASTEURIZED DAIRY is one of two or three foods to eliminate when looking to jump-start your health.  The other two are GLUTEN and UNFERMENTED SOYBEAN products.  There is no doubt that these are addicting foods that are hard to “kick the habit” from.  Gluten and dairy literally connect with receptors in the brain making it extremely hard to quit.  Tell 100 people to give up bread.  Tell 100 people to give up broccoli.  See how many comply.  So what about the GOOD with dairy?  There has to be SOME good right?  There is.

Raw dairy products have been used for a very long time.  Some cultures actually rely on them.  In India, they STEER away from beef and are more vegetarian oriented in general.  However, they have consumed raw and fermented dairy products as a source of protein/fat for generations.  Raw dairy has been used by our country for a long time as well.  What are the benefits?  Raw dairy has a lot of beneficial things in it as well.  Raw butter can be a great source of fat and vitamins.  Kefir is valuable as a fermented beverage.  Raw milk can be great for people needing nourishment.  So what is the best way to find out if dairy is right for you?

Try eliminating ALL dairy (a little butter is fine) for 21 days.  If this sounds hard you may ask yourself who is REALLY in control of your body =)  After the trial period, try introducing some raw dairy products into the mix.  Raw butter is a good place to start.  Some people have found goat milk to be more closely related to human breast milk than cows milk.  Basically just listen to your body and allow it to guide you.  You may have great reactions from certain things and not from others.  I have a great reaction from raw butter.  Just see what works for you.  Cutting out the junk and focusing on the good stuff is always the first step.  Happy Hunting.

-Joe

FASTING?

 

Fast, Faster, Cheetah...

Intermittent fasting.  Water fasting.  Caloric Restriction.  Juice Fasting.  Mental Fasting.  What is all the rage about fasting?

Fasting is an ancient technique that humans have used for rejuvenation.  Rejuvenation on many levels.  This would include the body, mind, and spirit.  How does it work?  It works by giving our systems a chance to balance out.  It works by taking a break from all the processing work that we ask of it every day.  Most of us ask a LOT from our systems.  Our digestive system.  Our elimination system.  Our detox system.  When do they get a break?  I would wager most people in America never get a break.  With all the fried foods, gluten, pasteurized dairy, pizzas, sugar, etc our systems are constantly taxed.  What is the end result?  Enervation.  Toxicity.  Toxemia.  We end up gunked up.  Our bodies, our brains, everything.  Add to this a lack of exercise, a lot of stress, and a poor living environment and you have a big problem.  The result?  A society that is bringing on catastrophic numbers of people with obesity, diabetes, cancers, autoimmune conditions, and more.  BAD NEWS RIGHT?  So what are we supposed to do about this?  Fasting isn’t exactly the most natural thing to do.  Everything in our culture asks us to pummel down larger and more unhealthy portions of food.  Snacks.  Burgers.  Pizza and wing night.  Sugar, gluten, and dairy are addicting.  Honestly, starting a serious fasting program after years of unhealthy eating choices may not even be the best idea as it will shock the body so much.  So what can we practically do about the problem?

1.  SWITCH:  Switch to healthy, easily digestible foods.  Think of your body as a factory.  By switching to nutrition-based foods you are pumping up and strengthening your workforce.  You are also making their process a lot easier and less time-consuming.  Simple choices add up.  Some of the worst offenders are processed grains, sugar, and fried fats of any kind.  Our bodies are not made to process these foods in the first place.  Fresh fruits, vegetables, juiced vegetables, raw fats, and easily digestible proteins are among some of the best foods here.

2.  IF:  Enter intermittent fasting.  Think of this as an introduction to fasting.  It is the new hype in health world.  What is intermittent fasting?  It basically just means a short window of time where you abstain from food.  This period can be set up around your schedule making it easy to follow.  The window should be at least 16 hours and could go up to 24 or so.  After you hit 24 hours you are really entering other territory.

3. MODIFIED FASTING:  Modified fasting is another way to ease into things.  Most of us are not able to go days without food as some people might recommend.  We do not have the strength, stamina, or nutritional preparedness to do this type of thing.  What is a modified fast?  This could include just drinking vegetable juice all day.  It could also mean just fasting on apples or watermelon for an entire day.  It can also be cooked vegetable broth.  Henry Bieler often recommended a fast using zucchini, celery, green beans, and parsley.  This type of fasting takes an enormous strain off of the digestion without putting so much strain on the person.

4.  WATER FASTING:  This is where it gets interesting.  Any type of water fast should really be undertaken with supervision.  I would try a few intermittent fasts and modified fasts before attempting to go into these.  It is exactly what it sounds like.  Fasting on water.  This can last anywhere from 24 hours to a period of weeks.  It depends on what the person can handle and what their goals are.  This is dramatic for clearing toxins out of the body.

Those are the options guys.  Fasting is a delicate subject that needs to be approached with caution.  It definitely has its uses in health programs.  A common thing to do is add a modified fast or a water fast into your schedule one day a week or so.  The benefits are cumulative.  Once a week translates into 52 days in a year!  Happy fasting guys.

-Joe

Raw MEAT?

English: I smoke it first for about 7 minutes ...

Raw meat what?

Ok.  This gets a little graphic.  But is it really that graphic?  I am not here to advocate eating raw meat or try to persuade anybody of its pitfalls or benefits.  I would just like to bring up a few important things.

1.  All other carnivores eat their meat in a raw state.  This includes wild animals like lions and other cats, wolves, bears, birds of prey, and other carnivorous species.  They eat it fresh.  Many other species eat eggs as well.  Most likely in the raw form.  Now we are not carnivores.  We are omnivores.  I know some people will argue either way.  Vegans say we are ALL vegetable eaters.  Some people think we are ALL meat eaters.  Look at the history books guys.  We are omnivores.

2.  More and more studies are going to come out showing the dangers of high-heated and fried meats.  Personally, I think it is the fat mainly that is the problem.  Fried fat is just not made for the human organism.  Things like roasted nuts, pasteurized butters and cheeses, lunch meats, high-heated fried vegetable oils, etc.  

3.  For the pro-cooking side I would like to acknowledge that people in most cultures around the world cook some of their animal products.  I think the important thing to state here is HOW they achieve this.  Most cultures use ancient methods that lightly cook and soften otherwise tough meats usually without using direct heat.  Techniques like smoking, baking, clay pots, steaming, etc.  The meat is also not overcooked.  

What about the problems?  Well there is probably a reason that we don’t eat raw or rare meat too often in America.  Most of the animals people buy in supermarkets are sick and laced with God knows what.  Do you want to touch that raw?  I certainly don’t.  But what about some wild-caught salmon sashimi?  A raw egg in a smoothie?  Maybe some soft and tender rare lamb chops?  These are healthy foods for most people.  I believe that the more we figure out about health, the more we will come to accept these things as nourishing foods.  People in generations past did.  We will too one day. =)  I would love to hear opinions thoughts on the subject..

-Joe

KITCHEN MEDICINE?

Ingredients for making a fermented salsa. Cloc...

Ok, so we all know about medications, drugs, pills, etc.  You know, the NORMAL stuff?  What about what used to be normal?  The home remedies.  The folk medicine.  The things you could do for your family and friends from home without having to rely on other people dramatically overcharging for things.  This goes for some “natural” health companies as well.  It is a hard-line to draw.  But let’s keep it simple today.  What are some easy remedies from home we can use?  Let’s start with the basics.

FOOD:  Food and lifestyle truly are your best medicines.  This is mostly focused on food today, but you know all the rest.  Lots of sleep, mild exercise, clean air, clean water, sunshine, healthy emotions, etc.  Focus on a clean diet.  We get most of the vitamins and minerals we need from our food.  There are a few simple factors that determine what we get out of the food we eat.  Digestibility?  We must be able to digest our food if we are going to benefit from it and eliminate it properly.  Eating for digestibility includes fruits, cooked vegetables, juiced vegetables, raw fats, soups, lightly cooked seafood, eggs, and proteins, etc.  QUALITY over QUANTITY.  

GARLIC:  Garlic is a heavy hitter.  It is one of the cheapest, best things for battling with parasites, yeast, infections, etc.  I believe it cleans the blood and strengthens the heart.  Cooked or raw?  Raw garlic is obviously more potent with its “anti-bug” properties but it can be a little rough on the stomach if eaten alone.  Garlic also helps detox pathways and protects your body WHILE detoxing.

FERMENTED FOOD:  Probiotics.  These are so easy to make.  I know there are all these “probiotic” supplements, powders, yogurt, etc out there but these are unnecessary in my opinion.  Traditional cultures have been eating fermented foods for thousands of years.  Even meats.  Now I am not recommending eating raw cultured meat to anybody.  But the old standbys such as sauerkraut, fermented salsa, pickled turnips, beets, or garlic.  Raw kefir is another option if dairy sits well with you.  These help repopulate the digestive tract from the years of damage most young Americans have done with junk foods and medications.

CILANTRO:  Cilantro is a super-herb.  Very powerful so be careful.  This sucker will help chelate heavy metals out of your body.  I would advise working with an expert when attempting to remove metals but this is a mild thing you can do in your own home.  It works best when combined with a “protector” such as garlic, chlorella tablets, etc.  But throwing some in your juicer (not tons), sprinkled on a salad or in some homemade guacamole is great.

COD LIVER OIL:  Amazing source of vitamin A and D, as well as Omega-3 fatty acids.  I personally think everyone should take a high-quality raw source of cod liver oil if possible.  We just don’t get enough of this stuff in the diet.  Other sources of good quality omega-3’s would be salmon, sardines, mackerel, etc.  Think oily fish.

RAW FATS:  Raw fats help to fix the digestion and nourish the adrenals.  Find out which ones work best with your own body.  Recommended sources?  If your into plants things like; raw olives/olive oil, raw coconut butter/coconut oil, avocados, dehydrated nuts.  Coconut oil has additional benefits of being anti-fungal/parasite and can help with thyroid function.  If you feel best with animal sources; egg yolks, oily fish, raw butter, and some lightly cooked meats.  Fat is best to not overcook.  Most people’s livers and gallbladders need some help and you may have to ease into the good stuff lightly.  A little can go a long way.

SPICES/HERBS:  This list is too long and could keep going.  Keep in mind that these all refer to freshly ground spices for added potencies.  3-year-old cinnamon just isn’t the same =) Notables would include cinnamon, ginger, turmeric, oregano/parsley/thyme/rosemary, herbs that help clean the liver (milk thistle, yellow dock, burdock, dandelion), herbs that help the kidneys, bowels, etc.  There are herbs to help kill parasites (wormwood, black walnut, cloves, garlic)  Do a little research and keep some simple herb combos around.  There seems to be herbs to help with almost every ailment.

So these are some basics from the kitchen medicine cabinet.  Most of these are things we can easily keep in the kitchen for daily use.  They may be things that we don’t use every day or maybe things that we cycle in and out over the year.  This is not to say that we should never see doctors and get medical testing done.  I am all about having REAL specialists that help us when something is really wrong.  What I am also about is putting the power back into the hands of the people to take care of themselves like they used to =)

-Joe