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My Book Reading

Two Kinds of Truth by Michael Connelly  (completed)

Lou Reed: A Life by Anthony DeCurtis

   (in progress)

Killing Floor by Lee Child   (completed)

   (1997, Reacher's first appearance)

Sticky Fingers - The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

(done)

The Woman Who Smashed Codes by Jason Fagone (Dey St. Books, just completed, full review just published)


Double Agent Celery: MI5's Crooked Hero by Carolinda Witt (pen-and-sword books)

The Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum (1980, the book that started the franchise, just completerd)

The Take by Christopher Reich (Mulholland Books)


Podcast Favorites

Kara Swisher's Recode Decode this week is an interesting conversation with Tina Brown. Using the publication of her new Vanity Fair Diaries as a starting point, they examine Brown's publishing career, notably her wonderful runs with Vanity Fair and The New Yorker. Then they dive into the internet age, how it's changing the publishing world, Brown's start-up of The Daily Beast, followed by venting about Facebook today. Swisher puts together the best intervierw/talk with Brown I've heard since her book was published. Brown was consistently creating some of the best magazines in the world, at a time when that mattered.

Rich Roll's podcast is one I've discovered recently, and I'm working to catch up. Here are two don't-miss episodes:

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/bryan-fogel/

http://www.richroll.com/podcast/lance-armstrong/

Fogel is the star of, the producer of, the man behind Icarus. If you've not watched this documentary, exclusively streaming on Netflix, get to it! Of all the interviews I've read and heard with Fogel, Roll brings out the most interesting perspective. It's a fabulous listening experience.

 

Lance Armstrong needs no introduction. I don't care whether you admire or dislike him, his wealth of experience and new perspective on many matters is worth listening to. Me, I think he's one of the finest athletes ever.

Monday
Sep262011

Paleo Comfort Foods by Charles & Julie Mayfield

In this age of grass-roots marketing, utilizing social media to get word out about a product or movement, the Mayfield’s should be awarded a prize of some sort. A day hasn’t gone by for weeks that I wasn’t alerted to the upcoming publication date of Paleo Comfort Foods, or didn’t read a review from someone with an advance copy. Perhaps it’s just that I’m all tied in to the Paleo - food - health - nutrition worlds, and use websites, Facebook and Twitter for most of my news, but damn, Julie and Charles are good! Or they have a hell of a lot of friends... Actually, I’ll put my money on both. 

It seems clear to me that Paleo Comfort Foods is such a fine cookbook, is executed so nicely, and squarely hits the market it’s targeted, everyone who received a review copy spent time with the book and wrote about it for publication. It’s been years since I’ve read reports from so many diverse writers praising the hell out of a cookbook. Or any book, for that matter, but a cookbook? What says more than that?

Calling Paleo Comfort Foods a cookbook somehow seems to be a disservice. Yes, Julie and Charles refer to it as such, but I think of this as a guide to eating really well, using real foods, with recipes I can actually pull off in my very basic kitchen. See, the these two people live the way most of us do: they’re freakin’ busy. They have jobs, they own and operate a Crossfit box, I’m guessing they workout more often than not, and hey, they cook enough that people such as Robb Wolf encouraged them to compile recipes and create this cookbook. 

But that’s not where the work ends. So while they’re hurtling through life (yeah, it’s Atlanta, the supposedly laid-back American South, but I don’t think so), the two of them have to decide upon recipes, think about their favorite dishes that probably never were written down, talk to friends and family, and come up with some type of (probably) huge listing of meals and food combos. Then, as if that’s not exhausting enough, they had to prepare all of them, eat ‘em, and determine which were good enough for the book. Oh, don’t forget that we all demand pretty photographs, too!

Charles and Julie did it; Paleo Comfort Foods is a huge book, 324 enamel-coated pages long, oversize trade paperback format softcover. The opening pages detail much of the equipment necessary for a good kitchen. This isn’t Julia Child, you don’t need to build an addition to your home, but logically food is much easier to prepare if you have the right materials at hand when you figure out what to do. I enjoyed this part of the book and think it’s clearly thought out and passed along to readers.

I’m actually not going to discuss the recipes themselves. Each left-hand page is a recipe; the facing page is a beauty of a photograph. I’m only beginning to get the book dirty in my kitchen, but pretty soon the pages will sport food stains. No cookbook collector would ever want to buy my accumulation of books, unless they ate at my house and are nostalgic. My cookbooks are used; they become tattered and conditioned. Paleo Comfort Foods is one of those cookbooks; it’s pulled up a chair and made itself comfortable in our home already, rarely spending any time on a bookshelf. It’s always in the kitchen somewhere.

In their introduction the authors talk plainly about how Paleo is a guide, not a religion, not a series of rules never to be broken. I so enjoy this attitude, living it myself. We all agree that gluten-free eating is logical and makes the most sense for the human body; where people stand on dairy, sugar and starchy carbs is a personal issue determined by many factors. At some point recipes need certain ingredients to make sense, and Charles and Julie at times make small concessions. They are fully aware, knowing it’s more important to make most of the changes needed most of the time to achieve the best health. 

I’m warm and fuzzy about Paleo Comfort Foods. After reading this book, I’m confident that if and when I meet the Mayfields in person somewhere, we’re going to enjoy each other’s company right away, and relax into a great meal together. What a testament to a cookbook.

 $29.95, Victory Belt Publishing, paleocomfortfoods.com

 

Sunday
Sep182011

Want 80 lbs. of grass-fed beef - for free?

Civilized Caveman Cooking wants the opportunity to give this away to you. That's right, 80 awesome pounds of steaks, roasts and ground beef, all grass-fed and finished. Please take a few minutes and head to their website and Facebook page and get yourself entered in this amazing beef sweepstakes.

They are giving away:

20 lb ground beef
5 lb beef stew meat
12lb chuck (both steaks and roasts)
3lb short ribs
4lb shoulder clod roast
3lb 7bone roast 
4-6 rib steaks
3lb rump roast
3-4lb swiss steak
6lb round (steaks or london broil)
3lb sirloin tip roast
4-6 sirloin steaks
3-4 Tbone steaks

Is this incredible? It's for real, so get cracking and get involved with these fine folks!

Sunday
Sep182011

Trying Grass-Fed Whey Protein Shakes

Regular readers know I'm a lifetime consumer of whey protein shakes, about since the dawn of modern bodybuilding. For meals, for pre-and post-workout needs, on ice cream, at my mother-in-law's house; in my lifetime I'm confident I've put thousands upon thousands of blenderized combinations based around whey down my gullet. But now the rules have changed; my Paleo life includes as few shakes as meal replacements as possible.

Robb Wolf consistently states that drinking meals keeps bodyfat hanging on the body. Following his advice and as much as possible only eating real food, I've lost about 22 pounds of bodyfat in nine Paleo/Crossfit months, beginning at a decently lean, 12-14% bodyfat strength-training-oriented fitness level. I've been aided in my meal-planning changes because my job as a personal trainer opens up in the summer. I have more breaks to eat meals in rather than having to gulp a shake between clients.

My bodyfat is now 8-9%; with four abs visible. Bodyweight is down to an adult-low 180 lbs., fitness at what might be an all-time high, strength still good even after losing so much weight. The magical Paleo/Crossfit combination, plus my inescapable curiosity and urge to constantly learn more about nutrition as applied to fitness, has enabled me to approach my 57th birthday in the best shape of my life.

Now it's fall. Business at the gym is heating up so my schedule is becoming more packed. All my meals travel with me daily to the gym, including pre-and post-workout Progenex shakes. As much as possible I want to remain Paleo, yet enhance the results of my workouts. So I'm going to experiment with two brands of grass-fed whey protein products, see how they feel and help (hopefully), and report on my results.

My initial experiments on a daily basis are going to be with StrongerFasterHealthier's Daily Balance Whey Protein, and All-Pro Science's Complete 100% grass-fed Whey. Hopefully I'm going to get some Jay Robb grass-fed protein to try as well; I'm working on it and hope they want to compete with these two. I have both chocolate and vanilla from StrongerFasterHealthier; All-Pro sent me French Vanilla. Before I open the canisters, label comparisons are interesting.

The French Vanilla protein contains only three grams of carbs, made up of sugars (apple pectin, Stevia Suave). All-Pro's protein is gluten-free, of course. SFH's chocolate has 2.7 grams of "low G.I. carbs" (cherries), 2.7 grams of "natural chocolate", 0.2 grams Stevia, and 0.3 grams sugar. Sounds like a lot of sugars and carbs when it's all added up, doesn't it? SFH states on their labels their protein is derived from grass fed, free-range animals, with no hormones, soy lecithin, gluten or added carbs.

Beginning tomorrow I'll blenderize one or two meals daily using these products; I'll add no fruit or anything else. No Fiberlyze, no BCAA powder, no fresh blueberries. *Sigh* Filtered water and powder. Some days I'll merely add the powders to water in a Blender Bottle; other days I'll whip them in the blender. My reporting will encompass taste, mixability, smell, and texture. I'll compare retail costs. In my experience, no matter what scientific analysis says about a protein powder, if the flavor sucks or it sticks to the sides of the blender or shaker, people won't use it. And what value is it if it's in the cupboard? This is real world, non-scientific, tested in the gym, the Crossfit box, and my kitchen.

Thursday
Sep152011

Coconut Milk Protein Shakes

I don't know why using coconut milk in shakes didn't occur to me before reading Richard Nikoley discuss it in his wonderful Free The Animal blog. Considering I've consumed many thousands of shakes either as meals, or around my workouts, over the decades (I go all the way back to Bob Hoffman's horrid Protein From the Sea. A time when blenders barely could churn those early, clumpy protein powders. But I degress). Since evolving to Paleo-guy I've at times gone a week or two without a shake as a meal replacement, but as fall descends upon Wisconsin, and my schedule at Gold's Gym gets crowded, there are going to be times when that shake made at home is my only meal option.

I've dreaded this, as I used to utilize oatmeal, Fiberlyze, and flax seed in my shakes. Now I barely consume shakes as meal replacements (I still do just prior to and after my workouts - Progenex). I think Robb Wolf is correct when he talks about how liquid meals somehow promote bodyfat storage in a way that eating real food doesn't. 

Richard Nikoley gave his recipe at some point in his blog, I recently found it, and with some modofications, it's a new occasional favorite. I believe he has this for breakfast often; I enjoy my breakfast meal too much to have it be a shake, but in the afternoon when my appointments are one after the other, I can take a shake with me and use it as an opening to talk about nutrition with my client. Richard's recipe is as follows:

1 cup full fat coconut milk (he likes Native Forrest brand)

1/4 cup water

2 raw egg yolks (don't eat egg whites raw; cook them to destroy avidin, an anti-nutrient

1 scoopy whey protein (Richard uses vanilla Primal Fuel)

2/3 cup frozen berries

This is a great-tasting shake; I've made his formula and enjoy it.

Here's what I've begun making, and enjoying:

In a full blender (I make two meal/shakes at a time), dump a half can coconut milk (don't use a full can, as I did the first time, unless you want to relive pre-gluten-free gastointestinal distress), four scoops whey protein (I use Gaspari Myo-Fusion right now), a handful of fresh blueberries, and a tablespoon or two of almond butter. Blend away; makes two meals that carry in your little soft-side cooler nicely and fit into the fridge at work.

My research tells me that Native Forrest is one of only two brands of coconut milk that is sold in BPA-free cans.

Monday
Sep122011

Balanced Bites Podcast Improving Steadily

Diane Sanfilippo and Liz Wolf (Cave Girl Eats) teamed up three weeks ago with a new Paleo-oriented podcast named after Diane's site, Balanced Bites. Today I listened to the second weekly podcast, and feel the two are rapidly improving. This episode had plenty of useful information on a variety of topics, including Celiac disease, but what I most enjoy is when Liz and Diane begin talking to each other rather than to the audience. This is the spirit of the show, when I think they're truly digging into their wisdom and experience and putting it out there. I hope this trend continues, that they don't get caught up trying to become overly-professional.

Go ahead and fix the audio issues plaguing the show, the constant break-ups, but please don't get slick. You two have much to offer and as you become more accustomed to creating podcasts, you'll continue to sound natural and unaffected. I'm counting upon you.

Available through iTunes and on the Balanced Bites site.