Lamb Shoulder and some Thoughts

Per my previous post, I told you I was going to share some thoughts/ideas that came to me when I was in Amsterdam (Holland).

Overweight people are practically non-existent. Besides from being one of the most densely populated countries in the world, the Dutch hold the record as the tallest nation in the world at the moment. so perhaps with all that height, they “hide” the weight better. In reality there are a few other factors at work I think. For one, it is a “colder climate country”. It’s speculated that when it’s cold you can eat a bit more food and get away with it. The body uses calories as a fuel for the internal heater to keep you warm. Next, the Dutch are ACTIVE. It is a country of bicycles and from a young age everyone rides their bicycle daily to get around. For many, this does not stop when they get older, I would even venture to say that the majority of the population rides their bicycle daily, well into old age. (many people will never own a car in their lifetime)

Portions; well folks no surprise here, the portions are just plain smaller. I have often tried to point to people here Stateside, that our portions are completely out of whack. As an example, lets look at the size of a sandwhich.  A sandwhich here is so big that it will easily satisfy a male standing 6’1, weighing in at 200 pounds. Yet that same sandwhich is eaten by everyone. So do you think that portion is appropriate for a female standing 5″4 weighing 125?  In Holland, its not uncommon for large males to eat two small sandwhiches.

Eventhough the trend is changing, traditionally people in Holland go out to eat for special occasions. Unlike here where so many I know eat out 4 days a week or more for lunch and dinner. It’s also easier to keep those portions smaller, as the trend to use big plates, big glasses and big cups has not taken a hold there yet.

Which leads me to coffee. Do you know how many mugs you can fill with a grande coffee? I’ll tell you. It’s 2. That’s a lot of coffee. I believe that coffee is supposed to be comsumed in small quantities. The flavor needs to be strong, but the portion small. If you look at cultures where coffee has been a staple for a long time (think Turkey for example) it was traditionally drunk from small containers. I think there is a clue there to coffe consumption. Jeff Erno just did a little coffee experiment that he documented. Zen to Fitness also had a guest post about coffee . I’m curious if anyone tried an experiment with just drinking less coffee. I know from my personal experience that a large mug of coffee doesn’t really agree with my internals. But a small strong shot of espresso, is just fine and doesn’t effect me negatively.

Even though people in Holland might drink 2 or 3 espresso’s a day, the quantity of those “shots” would fill a quarter of a regular coffee mug here. If you then realize that many folks drink 2 “cups” a day here and think that they are doing good….it gives you something to think about. What’s your mileage with coffee?

These are just some speculative thoughts obviously.

I know I had promised you all a free ebook. I have just been a bit bogged down with work lately, and I’m not 100% satisfied with it. So, as a thank you for your continued support of my blog, I will share TWO recipes you have not seen before here.  First is a really yummy lamb shoulder slow cooked in the oven.

Lamb shoulder is an affordable cut. Prepare the following way. In about 2 tbspoons of good quality butter, add 1/2 teaspoon of cumin and 1/2 teaspoon of coriander. If butter is not salted, add some salt to taste. Now take your butter and spice mixture and rub it all over the piece of lamb. Next smash about 3-4 cloves of garlic per piece of lamb. Add the garlic and next add some fresh rosemary. pour in just a bit of water so the bottom of the pan is covered and cover with foil. If you have a nice oven pan with cover (Le Creuset for example), go right ahead and use that. At 325-350 degrees and about 2 hours and 15 minutes later and you are left with one fall of the bone, fork tender piece of deliciousness. I took about two spoons full of greek yogurt and added a dash of olive oil and chili paste to it. Mix it together and it is a nice added touch to the lamb.

I’m still “learning” wordpress. So this picture format is a bit different. I’m not sure I really like it. Also the picture of the “fork with a piece of meat” somehow snuck in the gallery and I couldn’t delete it……yet.

Next post I will show you a very unique way of making “Primal Sliders”.

Back from Abroad and Link

I was away for a week visiting the home land.

I think I consumed more bread in one week then I have in the past 3 years.

I did a lot of observing and thinking this past week in Holland. When it comes to paleo/primal/ef, there are probably only 2 handfuls of people in the whole country that have heard of it. (all you Dutchies reading…please correct me if I’m wrong)

The looks I got at my sisters house when I only ate the “Bolognese sauce” without spaghetti were priceless. No-one could really understand why I wouldn’t eat the pasta. My sisters oldest son did also try it my way of eating with salad and admitted that it was almost as tasty as with spaghetti. Small victories lead to success right?

I’m formulating my thoughts and notes from the past week, so I can hopefully write a concise post. Observations that lead me to some of my thoughts/ideas were as follows; the amount of overweight people I saw could be counted on my hands, people are in relatively good shape simply from the amount of walking and riding bikes, coffee is not drunk out of a large mug…maybe less problems/sensitivities for people that way, food is much much fresher, lots of msg and flavor enhancers are used, hemorrhoids are a huge national problem, protein portions are much much smaller and family/friends are an integral component of a happy life.

I will have my next post up before Friday, looking forward to getting some of your thoughts and input.

Quick favor, if you have FEEL GOOD EATING linked on your site, can you please change the link to www.feelgoodeating.com ? Thank you in advance for your time in doing that.

Have a wonderful day!

Fruit Consumption,Portion Control and Running

Fruit…

Do we eat too much of it? How much is enough?

There has been some good discussion on all the blogs about the consumption of fruit.

My take is as follows; IF you are lean, IF you can handle the extra sugar, then I think fruit has some wonderful benefits to offer. I would still stick to mostly berries and  “in-season fruits”. The problem I think is that most people making a switch to a “real food” way of eating, have an out of whack insulin response from years of eating a standard American diet. Heck, when I was 21, I had a habit of 3 kit kats a day! That HAS to mess with your systems I believe. So if you too, ate cheerios and large plates of pasta years ago and you are transitioning to a better way of eating, my advice is to go slow on the fruit. If you have been with the program for a few years, I see no real problem with fruit. If you are still trying to shed a few pounds…I would leave the fruit alone. How much fruit do I eat? Interestingly enough…I have  never really had a craving for fruit. Even when I was younger. I do like a nice cold fresh peach in the summer or a sweet piece of watermelon…but that is about the extent of it. When I buy blueberries, my kids eat them, but if they are not with me, I always end up throwing out the last bit of them after they have sat in the fridge for too long. For any regular Art Devany readers out there, would love to hear your input on Art’s reduction of fruit intake. A few years ago, Art ate a good amount of fruit. I no longer have a paid subscription to his site. Maybe I will put that on my Xmas list for myself. ? How much fruit do you eat?

Are you trying to loose weight, lean out, shed those last pounds, loose the love handles?? Are you finding that you are stuck at a certain level? Have you lost weight but has it now come to an abrupt halt? Do I sound like an infomercial yet? Don’t worry…I’m not trying to sell you anything  😉  But consider the following and see if perhaps it can help you. You’ve lost some weight and you are feeling better than you have in years because of your switch to real food,  but yet you have not arrived at the destination you had envisioned, it’s time to take a look at portion control. I like the concept of portion control better than counting calories. Calories in/calories out is flawed, but yet on a very simplistic level, most take in too many calories. Too much food if you will. This is where portion control comes in. To get the benefit of portion control, start eating less now. The easy way to do this is to obviously make your meals smaller, but the “trick” I like best is TO MEASURE YOUR FAT SOURCES when cooking. You see if you just eat less, you tend to not eat to satiety. So what I have found is that you CAN eat less, as long as you make sure you don’t cut the fat out of your diet. The solution, measure that fat! Take a look at dinner from last night. I had a good appetite for dinner, I did not eat a lot during the day (about 3-4 ounces of rotisserie chicken, 1/2 cup of avocado soup) and I had an active morning before work. About 30 minutes of weights and a 3 mile run. so YES I did have an appetite when I got home. A bit of cauliflower and garlic roasted in the oven. MEASURE the fat…I used 1 tblespoon of olive oil. Next I took 1 teaspoon of butter and sautedsome onion. I then added 1 strip of cut up bacon. Next added about 5-6 ounces ground lamb, 3 sliced olives, 1 teaspoon of tomato paste and 1 tblspoon of heavy cream. (the date stamp is wrong, please ignore)

 

I have not plugged this into fitday, but my guess is, that this meal came in around800-1000 calories. The fat sources alone probably add up to 500 calories. Now when you are cooking with real ingredients, over time we tend to get a bit liberal with the evoo or the butter. Go back to measuring it, make that meal a bit smaller but no less decadent and watch your waistline respond. What do you think? Have you tried something similar?

And lastly, I know it isn’t Xmas yet, but I just couldn’t resist buying myself a little something something. You see I have been running barefoot mostly, and because of the scorching heat of the pavement, I’ve ended up with some blisters. I love barefoot running and I’m more then convinced of the natural effectiveness of the modality, BUT…it is just not practical for all of us depending on where we live. I think the VFF are the closest thing to barefoot running, especially when you have developed a proper bare foot technique. I will be traveling soon and spending some time in big cities, barefoot is just not an option for me there so I will wear my new “shoes”. I have not written a review or anything like that, but I just want to let you know how much I love these babies.

I’m the proud new onwer of the model you see below. The VFF Bikilas feel sooooooo good. They are a joy to run in/on. What are you running in these days?

Still Learning…

Sorry for not responding to the comments on the previous posts sooner.

I was not aware I had to approve the comments that came in.

The other day I was in the store and saw some local “dutch little yellow” potatoes. They looked so good, I HAD to bring them home. I boiled them for until soft and then sliced them. Next I sauted a good amount of onion in butter. I then added the potato and sprinkled it with a bit of salt and pepper and a dash of oregano. When they were done, and on a plate, I drzizzled some evoo over it. I grilled some lamb loin chops to go with it. Three, yes 3 glasses of a delicious Merlot accompanied this meal.

The secret to these tasty lamp loin chops is as follows. Grill on high heat but make sure you get NO flare ups. When done, drizzle them with a tiny bit of lemon juice, evoo and sea salt.

Still getting used to wordpress…bare with me. It will get better.

Wishing all of you a wonderful weekend!

Slow Cooking Spinach

I don’t cook much with extra virgin olive oil. Heat doesn’t get along so well with it’s make up. But I do love it’s flavor. When I do use the evoo for cooking, I just “slow cook” on very low heat. Tomorrow I will show you how I use evoo with some small potatoes.

In a large skillet gently warm some evoo with 2 small cloves of garlic thinly sliced. I then added a small teaspoon of garlic chili and mixed it with the oil. Add a generous amount of fresh baby spinach, and fold it together wth the oil. Nice and gentle…nice and slow.

I had marinated chicken thighs in some middle eastern spices, lemon juice, yogurt and a bit of olive oil. Grilled over some wood charcoal.

I really love this tpye of simple meal, filled with flavor.

Pay no mind to the date stamp…forgot to set it on my camera.

Did you grill over the weekend??

Tomato Soup and Beef Jello

A few weeks ago I made a big batch of bone broth. My preferred way is to use the crockpot. I let this batch simmer for 48 hours. After putting it in the fridge and letting it cool, I skimmed the fat (saved for later use) and made a bunch of individual portions and stuck them in the freezer. My kids call bone broth “beef jello”. They love watching and helping me skim off the fat, and then putting the “beef jello” in ziplock bags. When your bone broth looks like “beef jello”, you’ve been succesful in making a super nutritious broth.

Last night I made a quick tomato soup. In a saucepan bring your “beef jello” to a boil and reduce down a bit to intensify the flavor. (2.5-3 cups of broth reduced down to 2 cups, recipe for two people) Now add 4 diced roma tomatoes or 2 large tomatoes, 1/4 of a red onion and 2 cloves og garlic. Fresh ground pepper and sea salt to taste. Bring to a boil.

Next I transferred the soup to the food processor and pureed it.
Toss back in the pan and add a shot of heavy cream. (just add a little first, you can always add more)
It looks like the soup is very light from the cream, but it is the poor lighting for the picture that makes it look like that. Instead of the more traditional creme fraiche, I added a small dollop of greek yogurt.
I ate 2 nice bowls of it. If you are a person that doesn’t sleep well if you eat late, see if soup has a different result. I didn’t get to eat till about 9pm, which is usually on the late side to eat for me. But soup doesn’t have the same effect as a meal does. Warms the body nicely for sleep mode 😉
What do you like to make with your bone broth?

Sashimi II

When you have the right ingredients, you can really make yourself  “restaurant” food at home.

I made some more sashimi for lunch today. A quick visit to the Asian market to pick up a few supplies and I was ready. Since I’m mentioning the Asian market, go find yours where you live, you will enjoy it. They are very affordable and once you’ve shown up there a few times, the shop keepers won’t ignore you anymore 😉 It is also a great place to buy unique and cheap produce. I picked up a very large Daikon, scallions and some small fiery fresh peppers.The Daikon has a much better and stronger flavor then the ones I get at the supermarket. Also picked up some good wasabi. One word of caution, asian products liberally use MSG, food coloring, HFCS, and other ingredients you might want to avoid, but they also carry products that DON’T have them, so shop carefully and read labels.

Here some more ankimo. I grated daikon and tossed a few scallions on it. Laid the slices of monk fish liver on top and drizzled with some ponzu sauce and a few more scallions.
The daikon with the ponzu sauce is a tremendous pairing.

I used to eat this little dish below at a very special japanese restaurant in New York. It was a true authentic sushi restaurant where no cooked food was served. It had authentic Japanese protocol, they did not take reservations and they were known for turning customers away when there were many open tables available. They would turn people away, because they had so many regular customers, that they knew for example that a certain customer would come around 7 on a Thursday night. They had no menu’s and no prices. The sushi chefs were unbelievable.Many times when I sat down at the sushi bar they would serve a little dish immediately with out me asking. This was usuallly a bit of salmon, cucumber scallion and some soy sauce and sesame oil. So this is what I tried to copy today.
 
It came out well, I really enjoy the combined flavors.
And lastly, just some salmon sashimi and scallop (Hotategai in Japanese).
I’m not a huge scallop fan, but I love raw scallop. If you eat raw scallop, make sure you buy yourself the freshest you can find. Store in the fridge wrapped in paper towel. The paper towel will get all the moisture out of it and will result in getting maximum flavor.
Now what should I make for dinner?

Sashimi, Salad and a Silly Band Queen

I don’t live in a big city as you know, so my sushi restaurants locally are not the greatest. Don’t get me wrong, they’re ok but just not fantastic. Sadly, they are all pretty expensive. So every now and then I treat myself to an order from Catalina Offshore Products.  (no compensation) They are located in San Diego, and sell some terrific products, including some of the best Uni (sea urchin roe) I have had. When you sign up as member, you will receive emails with specials. I took advantage of one of those specials and ordered some wild California King Salmon. Now the product is frozen, but let me tell you how good this is. I have a friend who is a chef and he laughed at me that I ordered frozen fish. He said “I can order you anything you want fresh”. Yes folks, fresh is better then frozen, BUT…..I brought my “non believing” friend a small sample to try and I can tell you he was blown away.
Take a look at this nice fatty salmon sashimi;

This salmon is so tasty, you don’t even need soy/tamari sauce and wasabi. I had some with and with out. I also put a tiny dollop of garlic chili sauce on the salmon instead of tamari and wasabi dip. Delicious.

I don’t know if you have ever tried this in a sushi restaurant;

This little treat is called “Ankimo
It’s monk fish liver. It is sometimes called “foie gras of the sea”
A bit of ponzu sauce really let the flavors stand out.
A quick home made ponzu sauce you can make (and use for many other dishes) is just adding some lemon juice to your soy/tamari sauce. It makes for a nice change of flavor.
When you order this as an appetizer in a sushi restaurant, it usually costs between $9.95 and $15.95. A whole roll from Catalina costs $15.99. Ahhh affordable sushi/sashimi what could be better?
Life can’t always be filled with the above delicacies, and other days we make do with the basics. Like a salad.
Just a nice lunch salad consisting of romaine lettuce, cucumber, peppers, red onion and salami.
Dressing is just some evoo and fresh ground pepper and a dash of sea salt.
And here my Silly Band Queen
Amazing isn’t it? Some one decides to manufacture some plastic bracelets in all sorts of shapes and becomes a multi millionaire pretty much over night. Has this crazyness hit your area too?
“You can get everything in life you want…..if you will just help enough other people get what they want”

Fish and Sweet Potato Soup

Someone asked me the other day if I like soup. I love soup. I especially love cream and coconut milk based soups. I like the thicker texture. An easy way to make thicker soups is to add some potato.

When it comes to soup, your stock is KEY. Tasty stock = tasty soup (well most of the time anyway)

On Saturday I made fish stock with the shrimp heads and shells I had saved. Making stock is easy and my criteria is as follows; make stock so flavorful, that it can stand on it’s own. Meaning you can give someone a spoonfiul, and they say “hmmmm that’s good soup”.

Try this for fish stock;

Cut onion, celery and carrot (this is called mirepoix in classic French cooking). You want onion to be twice the portion of the celery and carrots. In butter (butter is best here for flavor) cook the mixture. Don’t let it brown, but let it sweat until translucent (onion that is). Now it’s time to get Feel Good Eating creative.
Next I add a  heavy splash of white wine. I let that all simmer a bit. Next I added half a red jalapeno, dill and salt to taste. Let that all cook together a bit, stir. Next add your shrimp heads (or fish head and or fish bones etc). I really like shrimp heads for stock, the flavor is just a tad different then fish head and tail.

Mix all ingredients together well. Now add water. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer. I let it simmer for an hour or so. If there are people in your house that don’t like fish…you might want to have a little talk with them…as this stock WILL make your house smell nice and fishy. When done, pour your stock through a mesh colander. Now you have delicious fish stock to make soups with. The stock should have a dark color to it.

So Sunday I used the stock to make a salmon and sweet potato soup.
In a pan gently heat the stock. Add half of a thin sliced and peeled yam/sweet potato.
Once the sweet potato is soft, transfer to a blender and puree. Transfer back to the pan again and add a splash of heavy cream. Next I opened a can of salmon and mixed that in with the soup, stir and heat.
Dice a bit of red onion. Add a teaspoon of Fage (greek yogurt) and top with the red onion.
Gourmet on a budget. The canned salmon works very well with this.
The stock is perfect for a nice coconut soup too.
Have a great week!