Thursday, April 17, 2014

How to peel a green banana

I've been eating green bananas the past couple of months, usually one or two a day.  I'm after the resistant starch in them there greenies.  Potato starch (aka tooty juice) was fine, but I'm all about whole foods these days. 

Stores seem to be pretty hit or miss with having green bananas out on their sales floor, but I'm pretty sure if you just inquired with a produce clerk at most places they could go in the back and grab you some.  I know we usually had green ones in the back of the store where I worked in Aspen.  

I did happen to find a place here that sells green bananas bagged up and they are super green, as you can see in the video.  Those two in the bag are the last of a bunch of 10 and they are still that green.  I do place them in the refrigerator though.

Most people that hear I'm eating green bananas cringe at the thought.  To be sure, they are not like the ripe yellow ones.  But in all honesty, they really are not bad.  You just have to get in the mindset that you are not eating the type of sweet bananas you're accustomed to.  Think of them as a different food altogether.  

Anyway, green bananas are a little tricky to get open and I've found a good method that I'll share with you in the video below.  Please note that it is not kid safe.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Ownership of your health

This is a quote from an article I read in the paper today written by Doctors Oz and Roizen.  It's titled 'Link between a jelly bean and brain drain'
"Say 'no' to palm and coconut oils.  These tropical plant oils containing saturated fat have been at the center of debate for several years now, but a new study settles the spat.  Lose them.  They promote body fat in the worst possible spots:  your abdomen and your liver."

'but a new study settles the spat'  

Imagine for a moment it was in fact that easy.  New studies just settled things.   Things like what foods are healthy and which ones are bad.  Things like what exercises are good for you and which ones are not.  Sure the hell would simplify things don't you think?  I believe people would mostly choose the healthy options, becoming and remaining healthy in order to get on with doing whatever it is in life that makes them happy.  Done and done.

Except, of course, it doesn't work like that.  For like a gazillion reasons.  It would be easier if it did, but life ain't so generous.  You have to take ownership of your own health and well being, and that means you actually have to make TIME to do it.  How much time, where you look for information, which advice you choose to follow ... that is all up to you.  There are no perfect answers, surely as there are no single nutrition studies that 'settle spats'.

PS  Having purchased my first gallon of coconut oil from the Philippines in 2001 and not looking back, according to this new study, my liver and abdomen should have exploded by now.  

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Old Times and Spry

 My grandfather
While I was visiting my mom in Florida a couple of weeks ago she pulled out a disk my uncle had made a few years ago with some information regarding my paternal grandfather.  Mom had forgotten about this so it was new viewing for us.  I never met my grandfather as he passed away several years before I was born.

Most of it was a lengthy and mildly interesting FBI and Immigrations file on him (they tried to deport him several times), but what caught my eye was some food related information in letter correspondence from his relatives in Scotland.  

Just a quick background here:  My grandfather had come over from the UK to Canada in 1925 and quickly (and illegally) found his way to the States.  It wasn't until early 1948 that he tried to contact his family from abroad again.  On the disk are these first contact letters, saved by my grandmother, from my grandfather's sister, brother and sister in law.  

They, of course, start out with excitement that my grandfather is still alive and well, then get into some catching up, mostly about their families.  It was fascinating reading, basically eavesdropping on my family goings-on in 1948 (in Scotland).  That it was in their own cursive handwriting made it even more special.

One more tidbit here before I drop a few quotes.  My grandfather sent over some 'food' packages to his brother and sister in Scotland for the Xmas of 1948.  They were overwhelmed with the generosity and it was telling:

'The Spry we haven't seen since before the war, and it is such an excellent fat'
'The spam was marvelous - it costs too many 'points' for us to buy it here'
'The ration of 1 egg each per week we keep tenderly for Sunday's tea'
'I think the lack of meat and fats over the last 8 years is now beginning to tell on us all.  We are all becoming easily irritable, and the least effort tires us out.  However, as each year comes along we hope it will be better than the last!  We must not grumble - or is that an Englishman's privilege?!'

I didn't realize they were still rationing food in England in 1949.  That's crazy.  In the letters they were also elated over some sugar being sent.  

Spry* I had to look up.  It is the equivalent of Crisco.  For some reason it surprised me that vegetable oil was not only used, but considered 'good fat' even before WWII.  I knew that Crisco was brought to market in like 1911 or something, but did not realize how quickly it must have surpassed butter and lard.  At least in some areas of the world. 

Spam costing too much?  In my mind Spam is synonymous with cheap.  Apparently not back then.

And then there is the whole lacking meats and fat quote.  It didn't take a rocket surgeon back then to figure out what gives people energy in their diet.

Anyway, this post is not to make a point or anything, I just found it interesting.  Two more for you:

'I baked the 3-tier wedding cake in early February, and marzipaned it late March, and had it Royal-iced by a local baker, who finished it very prettily'
'Aunt Maggie is much frailer and has to spend much of the day on her back owing to a groggy heart'
Now, I don't know what about what in regards to wedding cakes, but I suspect if I take a cake I baked a couple of months ago to a local baker and asked them to Royal-ice it, well, they would probably think I'm Scottish or something.

Although it could be worse.  You could have a groggy heart like poor old Aunt Maggie.  Yikes! 

* I asked my step-dad if he had heard of Spry while I was down in Florida.  He was born during the depression and, indeed, remembered his family using it.  Happily, Mom has Kerrygold in their house these days! 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Oregon's Closed

Not only is it snowing a good bit here in the Portland Metro area, it's actually the dry fluffy stuff.  It very much reminds me of home.  Except this stuff will be gone in a few days time.

Of course they have pretty much shut down the whole state at this point.  Seriously.  Anyway, the weather is no big deal, but it did afford me the opportunity to do something I didn't plan on - skate skiing.  On the road.  Around the neighborhood.  In addition to blowing peoples minds, it was shockingly quite good skiing.  The few cars on the road matted down the center just right and there were no bare spots since they don't plow or toss gravel on anything but the major highways. 

Here I am getting a good workout going around the block about 10 times or so.


Friday, January 31, 2014

Top Trump Cards

Does anybody remember the original Top Trump cards that came out in the late 70's?  They were awesome.  When I was just a wee lad my family was living in England and we purchased several decks.  I don't think they ever caught on here in the states to any real extent, but my bro and I loved them.  As you can see from the condition they're in, we used them quite a bit.  We even had the tank ones laminated before they completely disintegrated.  

Thanks to Mama Aspen Paleo, who had the foresight to keep stuff like this around, we now have them here in Oregon to play with.  My nephew loves them.  He's only six, but he totally gets it.  Not that it's complicated.  To play, you simply split the deck and have one person start by choosing a category they think their particular card is strong in. Then you see who has the highest number.  Basically like the card game War.  The winner keeps selecting the categories until someone has all of the cards.

They have made Top Trumps on and off since the 70's, but the ones currently marketed here just don't have the same appeal to me (I know, nothing is as good as it used to be).  Some of the decks they make for kids these days are cartoon movie characters that have categories like humor, fame and wonder.  Basically, numbers that are subjective.  However, we do have a new deck called 'countries of the world' that is pretty cool.

Oh well, I just thought I'd share a piece of my past which has resurfaced.  Here are pictures of the 5 decks from my childhood:

With the metric system used for all of the measurements, and spelling like 'tonnes', you can tell these babies are the real deal!

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Da Gym

It's been over 4 years since I ditched my gym membership and it looks like I might never be going back.  If I was going to be joining again, right now would probably be the time.  It turns out that gym memberships are quite reasonable in real cities.  Even with that though, I can't say I've been overly tempted.  Mind you, I actually like the gym environment and could stand to meet some people and see some new faces, but I can't justify it based on those things alone.
Room Gym

I know I've said this before, but I'll say it again, it takes me about the same amount of time to complete my workout at home as it would to even get to the gym itself.  And the clincher is that I can get just as good of a workout in my tiny room with a very small set of weights.  Heck, you don't even need weights.  Check out Drew Baye's Project: Kratos for information on how to workout with just your body weight.  I've managed to put on some muscle the past year or two by simply upping my intensity and refining my technique.

I realize working out at home is not for everyone though.  I'm sure some people even feel that PAYING for a membership is necessary motivation to get them to the gym for a workout.  To each their own I suppose, but I'm here to tell you that gyms are not REQUIRED in order to work yourself into top physical condition. What is required is consistency.  If you challenge all of your muscles in a safe, effective manor, on a consistent basis, you will be stronger and better able to enjoy the rest of what you do in life.  Amen.

 I'll finish with a quote from one of Drew's blog posts:
Whether you train with machines, free weights, body weight, manual resistance, some other tool, or a combination of all of them, the strength gained will transfer to all movements the muscles trained are involved in. You just have to plan your program so you effectively train all of the major muscle groups - Drew Baye

PS  Check this out.  Considering a monthly fee of $85 (yes, the cheapest in Aspen) from Nov. 2009 to Nov. 2013 I 'saved' $4080 by working out at home. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Tooty Juice

Yep, like a lot of people, I've added some potato starch into my diet to feed the little critters in my gut.  It works well for this purpose.  So well, in fact, that my niece and nephew have named it Tooty Juice.  And I must say, I'm having quite a bit of fun tooting up the house with the kids around.  It wouldn't be near as much of a hoot (pun intended) if I was still living alone.  Nothing better than to just walk into one of their rooms, toot, and then leave.  They love that *
This would be Tooty Juice

Tooting aside, I'm actually not a good subject to be reviewing resistant starch for some of it's purported benefits, like better postprandial and fasting blood glucose levels, weight loss, appetite control, better sleep, etc.  The implications of these are potentially huge for some people, but I don't measure my blood glucose, my weight is spot on, I sleep great, and I don't have any stress (life is good!).  I'm merely convinced by the apparent evidence that resistant starch is a good source of food for our gut bacteria and that this bacteria plays an integral role in our overall health. 

I'm way into soluble fiber as well, and have been for awhile.  I usually have onions, beets, carrots, and garlic with my evening meal.  I also want to rotate in leeks and sunchokes soon.  I've been using a little okra for the mucilage content and have seen some big fat cactus leaves in grocery stores that I might get for that as well ( how to cook it?)  Apples have reappeared in my diet for the pectin (carrots have a bunch of pectin too).  All of this in order to keep my gut bacteria healthy and happy.

I'm still not sure if it's a good idea to eat a wide variety of soluble fibers in a short period of time though.  I've read gut bacteria adapt quickly enough that this wouldn't present a problem, but I've also read the flip side, that if you switch it up too often only 'generalist' bacteria thrive and it might be better to eat a few foods for a longish period of time in order to let bacteria that really specialize in feasting on those particular items flourish.  

Interestingly, resistant starch is actually an insoluble fiber.  One that happens to be able to feed the bacteria in your gut.  As you know, I'm not a big fan of stuffing my face with insoluble fiber (looking at you leafy greens).  It's all good in the hood though.  I'm just tinkering away here with stuff I learn.  What you learn and tinker with will be different, but you already knew that.   

Here are some good blogs worth checking out for information on gut bacteria, soluble fiber, resistant starch, and all that jazz.

Mr. Heisenbug

Free The Animal/resistant-starch 
Cooling Inflammation 

PS  It's interesting watching information begin to see the light of day now that we have the internet machine.  One word you'll see popping up is SBO's (soil based organisms).  I recall learning about these from the company Garden of Life at least 13 or 14 years ago (they called them homeostatic soil organisms), and thinking how much sense it made.  Likewise, I tossed a very old bottle of powdered Inulin before my move that I had originally intended to feed my gut bacteria with years ago (I stopped quickly after much discomfort).

*I'm in my nephews room with him when I let a good one rip, after which I say, oh man, that was a horse fart!  Laughing, we quickly evacuate the room.  About a half hour later I'm somewhere else in the house with my niece and sister-in-law when my nephew comes in the room and exclaims: Mom, my room smells like horses!  She is obviously puzzled by this, but I can offer no clarity as I'm in tears on the floor laughing.