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Things I Think Are Cool for March 4, 2012

4 Mar

Cooking

I’ve had a cast iron skillet for many years – but until a few months ago I never used it!  I usually favored my non-stick cookware, but here’s a great explanation of why and how you should be cooking with cast iron.  One of my favorite things is starting it on the stove and then finishing either under the broiler or in the oven.

Recipes

Mango and Avocado in a salad?  Sounds like a great combination.

While I prefer smoking at a lower temperature, this Lemon and Dill chicken preparation looks great.  It might find it’s way onto our dinner table this week.

Exercise

How should kids exercise?  A lot of variety and free play.

One of my revelations from my half marathon training last summer was that I could do more than I thought from a fasting state.  During the summer time, I regularly went and ran reasonable distances (6-8 miles) without eating breakfast first.  I knew it was reasonable, but some studies help back up my study of one.  It also discusses the effect of exercisers to overcompensate in their post-workout meals.

 

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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.

Things I Think Are Cool – February 5, 2012

5 Feb

Training

Speed Endurance covered Strength, Power, Speed and Coordination.   It sounds like Olympic Weightlifting will develop coordination and explosive movement.

Injured?  Try Movement, Elevation, Traction and Heat instead of Rest, Ice, Compression and Elevation.  Movement the next day is my best cure for muscle soreness.

Recipes

I saw this recipe for Quick Cooked Greens with Bacon Vinaigrette and cooked it tonight for dinner.  I topped mine with a pan-seared and broiled Salmon filet with a few capers.  It was a fine dinner!

On my plan for the summer – home pickling.

Youth Sports

One of my regular reads is the On the Pitch blog, written by a youth soccer coach.  This week he compared the flight of teachers from the classroom to coaches from the field.  In both professions (or endeavors) sometimes the headaches outweigh the positives.

Footwear

While my son picked his next pair of cleats this week,  I saw a few pieces of footwear that peaked my interest.

I had noticed the Mizuno Wave Universe 4 before for it’s lightweight and low heel-to-toe drop.  Runblogger had a positive impression of this shoe – so it might show up on my feet later this year.  I’m a fan of bright colored footwear.

Soccer Bible had a rundown of ultralight leather boots (cleats) as well.  The Mizuno Morelia Neo is probably my favorite of the group here – although the Puma King SL has a certain class and simplicity to it.

Completely Paleo, Home Made Caesar Salad Dressing

20 Jan

Caesar salad is great.  It’s a mix of flavors – but most prominently, garlic!

However, most people are accustomed to creamy Caesar Salad dressings that come from a bottle!  The ingredients list, even for a company like Newman’s Own, is full of non-Paleo compliant ingredients:

All Natural Ingredients:
Ingredients: Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil), Water, Egg Yolks, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic*, Sugar, Spices, Anchovies, Tamarind, Natural Flavor), Salt, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Distilled Vinegar, Parmesan Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Spices, Garlic*, Onion*, Xanthan Gum
*Dried
Contains: Egg, Milk, Anchovy

Others are turned off by fresh creamy Caesar dressings having raw eggs.

Here’s a way to get your Caesar fix, and even get some Fish Oil from a food source in the process.

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Pumpkin Custard

23 Nov

Over the past several years, I’ve acquired more of a taste for Pumpkin.

I enjoyed Pumpkin Pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas as a kid – but I didn’t have interest in it otherwise outside of the two holidays. But the last couple of years, it’s been something I would mix with yogurt or find other uses for. After going Paleo this fall, it’s become a bigger thing in my diet.

I’ve roasted Pumpkin, and now also modified a few Pumpkin pie filling recipes I’ve found to create a Pumpkin custard.

Pumpkin Custard

Pumpkin Custard

A custard is an egg-based dessert – usually it’s eggs, some type of dairy, and some type of sugar that’s mixed, and then baked.

Maple Pumpkin Pecan Custard

Pumpkin Custard

1 Can (15 oz) Pure Pumpkin

3 Eggs

3/4 cup of Whole Milk Greek Yogurt

1/4 Cup of Maple Syrup

3 teaspoons Cinnamon

1 teaspoon Nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon Ginger

1/8 teaspoon Allspice

Beat 3 eggs with an electric mixer at low to medium speed. Add maple syrup and mix throughly.

Add Pumpkin and continue to mix until smooth. Add spices and yogurt and continue to mix until smooth.

Bake in oven in a water bath for about 60 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Chill fully in refrigerator for 3 hours before eating.

Caramelized Pecans

1 Tablespoon Butter

About 12 pecans

1 Tablespoon Maple Syrup

1/4 Teaspoon Cinnamon

Melt butter in pan over medium heat on stove. Add pecans and toss with butter for two minutes. Add maple syrup and cinnamon and increase heat to medium high for 30 seconds, remove from heat and allow to cool.

 

 

Brussels Sprouts? Yes, They Are Actually Good

22 Nov

Full disclaimer: I grew up in the 80’s, and like most 80’s kids spent a lot of time watching reruns of shows from the 50’s and 60’s.  Frequently on these shows, Brussels Sprouts popped up as the butt of a joke about meals or a kid’s objection to a meal.

Over the two and a half months that I’ve followed Paleo, I’ve brought new vegetables into my rotation.

Kale?  I never ate it before, and now will consume 1/3 of a bag for breakfast.

Bok Choy?  Never ate, but now I’m growing it.

So I figured if I was eating other members of the Cabbage family, why not Brussels Sprounts?  I sought out advice on Google on how to cook the new vegetable – and what I found was a great recipe for Brussels Sprouts that I did some modifications to.

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Homemade Yogurt: It’s Not that Hard

10 Oct
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Required Equipment: Double Boiler

About the same time I was contemplating Paleo, my wife suggested we try making homemade yogurt.  I had started eating various brands of Greek Yogurt over the past several months.  I had long been a fan of plain yogurt mixed with fresh fruit and the Greek yogurt was a great improvement on the regular plain.  Better texture, better macronutrient profile versus the regular.

I investigated online how to make yogurt – and found the process relatively simple, at least in written form.  Heat milk, cool, add culture, incubate, then chill.  There are also appliances available to do at least some part of the job for you – but I find this unnecessary.

Starting ingredients: Whole Milk and All Natural Yogurt.  The ingredients on your yogurt should be milk and cultures.  If you see Pectin, Cornstarch, Sugars, or flavors, put it back.  I’ve found I can use the starter yogurt for batches two weeks in a row and they still work fine.  I made the choice to use Whole Milk after a couple of batches using Low Fat milk of various varieties, the texture was less than ideal.  I’ve also come to realize that using low fat or skim milk throws the macronutrient balance in favor of carbohydrates instead of fat and protein.  At my current point in my workout cycle, I can probably use the calories as well.

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So on to the process:

With my double boiler, I can fit about 7.5 cups of milk in the pot and safely put the lid on.  Fill the bottom of the double boiler with water, turn the heat to medium high and put the lid on.

Stir regularly to avoid scorching and odd stuff with the milk solids.  Check the temperature of the milk – when it reaches 180 degrees Fahrenheit, turn off the heat and transfer the milk to a heavy Pyrex or Corning Ware bowl (one with a glass lid – but leave the lid off for now.)

Here’s the important part – you need to stir at least every 3-4 minutes to avoid the “Milk Skin” from forming on top of the cooling milk.  The milk skin will end up as particulate in your yogurt if it forms.

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The milk has a long way to cool – it needs to cool to 105-110 degrees Fahrenheit.

While you wait, mix 3 tablespoons of your starter yogurt with 3 tablespoons of your unheated milk.  Stir well and let sit at room temperature.  This is your starter culture.

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When the milk reaches 110 degrees or cooler, stir in the cultures.  Put the lid on, and put it in a warm place to incubate.  I put mine in the oven – with the oven off but the oven light on!  It keeps it warm enough to incubate well.

Now leave it there for 24 hours.  It takes this long to get a nice firm product.  You can pull it after 12 hours, but you will have a yogurt that has more liquid whey and less cultured solid yogurt.

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At this point, you can eat it!  It’s regular yogurt.  To get to Greek, you need to strain off the whey.  Many of the sites I read on the web recommended straining through cheese cloth.  Entirely possible – but very messy and you lose a lot of solids.  I found one site that recommended a very fine mesh strainer – and after a couple of batches I found the right one!  I used Cooks’ Warehouse in Atlanta as my source.

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The finished product is great.  Texture is very rich and creamy – somewhere in between butter and whipped cream.  Deeply chilled, it’s almost ice cream like.