Archive | February, 2012

National Pancake Day

28 Feb

I’m sure most Americans have heard by now – its National Pancake Day at the International House of Pancakes. That means free food comprised of a lot of flour and a small amount of eggs and dairy, topped with sugar.

Here’s my favorite pancake.

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It’s a Frittata – baked in a cast iron pan. This is 3 days worth of breakfast.

I always start with a base of sautéed vegetables. I use mixed peppers and onions and then add a green – either spinach or kale.

Once the vegetables are softened, I remove from heat and add 9 eggs. You can also add some cooked bacon or other meat, and cheese if your program allows dairy.

Then bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Starting the morning with a good dose of protein and a serving of vegetables is a great source of energy or recovery from early morning exercise.

24 Hours to Go!

23 Feb

Twenty four hours from now the Spring season kicks off in our house. Our U6 team practices at 5:30 PM and our U8 team at 6:30.

I’m looking forward to getting on the field again with the kids. It feels like a long time since our last game – and yet we’ve played soccer about two-thirds of the weeks since!

Usually I’ve ha some nerves before the first practice – but I’m feeling oddly relaxed this Spring. I think partly it is knowing nearly all of the kids on our team already and having some strong feelings of direction for the spring for both teams.

Ending Dogma

23 Feb

Dogma: the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization.  It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers.  Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities.  (from Wikipedia)

For 13 years, I had my own Dogma: eating beef.

It was founded on the belief that fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in my diet were bad for me.  It was founded on the belief that eating beef was dangerous because of E. Coli outbreaks, and Mad Cow Disease.  I saw these attributes and events as the sign of a food source that I should eat.

It persisted for 13 years.  During some parts of that period, my diet was entirely poultry for a protein source. When I started investigating Paleo and alternative dietary plans, it occurred to me that what I thought I knew of fat and saturated fat might not be true.  Although I read the stories and studied the information, my decision to abstain from beef continued.

But in the last month, it occurred to me that I might be missing a nutritionally dense food source that could bring some additional positive results into my diet, if I could find a clean source for the meat.  I knew that grass-fed and finished beef was available at Whole Foods, but still was apprehensive about adding it back into my diet.

It occurred to me that I was holding onto this one facet of my old low-fat diet for the simple reason of momentum: I had been doing it for a long time.  The belief had become dogmatic – that it was healthier for me not to eat beef.  That’s when I knew I had to take steps towards change.

The opposite of dogmatic behavior is pragmatic behavior.  While holding certain beliefs to be true is important, I decided it was more important to accept all of the solutions to “problem” of a healthy and complete diet.

I firmly believe that variety in diet is one of the strengths of the Paleo lifestyle.  I have increased the variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources I eat over the past year (and especially in my six month Paleo stint.)  The different types of food give a great variety in micro-nutrients and flavors.

So the perfect opportunity came last week – when returning from a business trip to Asheville, North Carolina my trip took me right through the same area that Brasstown Beef and would give me the opportunity to see where the animals live and get a good price on a cut suitable for smoking.  (As an aside – buying Grassfed beef in this instance was $1 per pound more than conventional beef that was on special at Publix last week.  For a 3 pound cut, this meant a difference of $3.  This is hardly a budget breaker!)

The next time, the beef (a chuck roast) went onto the smoker and smoked until it was to pulling temperature.  It was delicious.

I’m still not sure if I’ll add steaks back in to my diet – the cuts that sound appetizing to me are the larger pieces suitable to slower (and lower temperature) cooking.  That’s probably still partially a mental response, but the large pieces, slow cooked are more appealing to me from pork sources as well.  (I’m more likely to smoke a pork shoulder than eat chops, for example.)

So in the course of a weekend I’ve ended a practice of 13 years that I could no longer hold onto.

These Are Southern Heritage Foods

19 Feb

At some point, the true heritage foods of the Southern United States were lost, obscured or perverted.

I think most people are more likely to associate Paula’s Deen’s brand of deep fried, sweetened foods with the South.

But the true heritage foods of this region: smoked meats, cured meats and fresh vegetables.

I travel regularly in the Carolinas and Tennessee, often by car. Barbecue is widely available in small stores an roadside stands offering meats smoked with a variety of wood smoke and sauces, depending on the region.

The traditional ‘cue of the region: pork and chicken is featured on the menu.  (Beef is more of a feature of the cattle states like Texas.)  Alongside the ‘cue in the best of the restaurants are fresh vegetables – everything from green beans to collard or mustard greens.  A lot of barbecue joints seem to resort to using frozen or canned vegetables instead, but that’s can be forgiven if the barbecue is good enough.

Is there anything more primal than meat cooked slowly over a smoky fire?  Probably not!

Things I Think Are Cool for February 19, 2012

19 Feb

Books

I’ve been listening to the audio edition of The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan.  I haven’t finished the book yet, but it’s been a really fascinating discussion of our country’s food supply.  The first section focused on the effect of the oversupply of corn – and how corn has found it’s way into thousands of food products as well as becoming the mainstay feed of livestock that never would have never naturally ate corn.  Our government’s selective subsidizing of growing commodity crops has led to overproduction with food companies reaping the benefits.

Product Reviews

Soccer Cleats 101 brought a review of the Adidas miCoach module and the type of data it provides to players.  While I’m a huge data and analytics person – and I love seeing some of the data that Opta publishes as well as the player performance analytics in Champions League coverage – I don’t think fitness is the greatest determining factor in player performance in most cases.

I need boots to tell me how many touches I get, the accuracy of my passes and how I make decisions on the field.

Food

Healthy Green Kitchen recommends you add some live cultures from cultured or fermented foods to your diet.  I’ve been making home made, whole milk yogurt for the last five months or so – and I feel like it’s a positive influence on my health.  Of course, it’s free from food additives too!

Mark’s Daily Apple offered a Brightly Colored Vegetable Salad today.  Looks worth trying out.

Soccer

We are just one week away from starting practices at our club, and the European soccer calendar is at a frenzy right now with the top leagues, Cup competitions and the Champions League all active now.

Coach Tim had a good session plan for working on Possession.  I think I will use the Four Goal Game and the Real Madrid game from this session with my U8 team this spring.  I’m trying to get them to play more on their toes and less flat footed – moving around more and playing head up.

While to the new fan, all Football (soccer) looks the same – there’s many different styles of play in the sport today.  Just as there are American Football teams that play a running-oriented offense versus a passing oriented, or defensively focused, there are different systems and styles of play among soccer teams at the top level.  Backpage Football points out that not all teams should play the same style – that some are better oriented toward the Barcelona “Tiki-Taka” offense while other teams are at home playing balls long down the field.

Of course, that leaves open what direction I lead my U8’s down the road of – but with seven kids who haven’t developed enough leg strength to send the ball accurately to a team mate, or the ability of players to play it down out of the air, it leans more in the direction of a dribbling oriented, short ground passing style.

What to Watch

STR Skills School is continuing to put out the best in soccer skills tutorials on YouTube.  This week: Pienaar’s turn used against Boswinga from recent Premier League action.  I keep telling my kids – if you can’t turn the ball you will not go far in soccer.

A Greater Appreciation for Food

18 Feb

Every parent has had the moment of sitting down to dinner with their kids.

Three words, uttered before even cutting into the food.

“I don’t like this.”

And it destroys the entire mood of the meal before a bite. We all know we did it as a child, but wouldn’t dream of it as an adult.

The process of learning to cook is part of learning more appreciation of food. When you understand the time and effort required to produce a home-cooked, high quality meal: you give more room for experimentation into new food.

But it also goes deeper into the food supply chain. When you grow your own food, you understand what it takes to produce high quality, sustainably produced food.

I’ve been growing backyard fruit for more than five years. I can count the number of perfect peaches we’ve produced in the dozens. It’s been a battle against fungus, bugs and birds.

I’ve had more success with my vegetable production this winter – and I’ve greatly enjoyed everything produced.

But to know there are farms that work even harder to produce Artisanal quality fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products – I have deep appreciation for their output now.

To some degree, that’s part of the paleo lifestyle – knowing where your food originates, and appreciating the quality and hard work put into producing the food.

It makes it that much more difficult to consider eating processed food products.

Food is about more than macronutrients – fats, carbohydrates and protein. Diet quality goes well beyond these measures.

What Happens to Left Over Candy?

15 Feb

What happens to the Valentine’s Day candy that goes unsold?

You might be consuming it next holiday as a slab of feedlot beef.

Apparently, some companies sell second quality product to feedlots as a fat or carbohydrate source for feedlot animals.

Last I checked, Hershey’s isn’t part of the natural diet of livestock.

One more reason to know your food sources!