November 6, 2013

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Seasonal Rituals – The Farmers Market

Seasons bring rituals, whether it’s Football Sundays at a local sports bar, or simply pulling out all the fishing, skiing, or hunting equipment for the first trip of the season.

This looks different for everyone, depending on who you are, what you like, and where you live.

For some, the tradition might be making soup every Sunday. Others might sit on the front porch after dinner in the summertime…

Or favor a particular holiday.

Me?

I’ve always loved Autumn, and that hasn’t changed as I’ve moved into adulthood.

I’ve always loved watching the leaves change as everything moves towards the desolation of winter, with hands stuffed in pockets and smelling the crispness in the cold air.

Even though the leaves don’t much change, Autumn is still our favorite time of year here in Florida.

Watching College Football on Saturdays is still part of that. I was never much of a pro football guy, so Saturdays in the fall always meant watching college football as a kid, and we still do that today…

But we’ve embraced some new traditions to go along with our lifestyle and where we live.

One of those new traditions is camping.

There really are only about the only 4 months (November – February) of the year that are bearable for camping in Florida.

The rest of the year it’s either way too wet and buggy, or way too hot.

The other tradition we’ve picked up in recent years is the Saturday Morning Farmers Market.

I LOVE the Farmers Market. If there’s one in your immediate area, I highly suggest you check it out… If you’re lucky, it will be filled with all kinds of cool food trucks, as well as a huge variety of fresh organic produce vendors, hormone-free meats and friendly-farmed fish, flowers and bread and preserves and pickles.

Many of the vendors are local – They grow or make what they sell in cottage industries running from kitchens and back porches.

It’s awesome!

Here’s some photos from last weekend:

MarketOverview
(Aerial view of the entire market)

Market1

(Fresh bread from the Naples Bread company!)

Market2

(Aaahhhhh Kale, sweet delicious Kale!)

Market3

(Radishes from Venus Veggies)

Market

(Here’s our entire haul of organic freshness… Under $100 bucks for all this,
plus fresh crab dip and a big bag of fresh scallops!)

Part of it, I think, also harks back to my fond memories of going to the Cleveland West Side Market with my grandfather Morris.

He went every week, and every vendor knew him by name.

“Morris! I got the best lake perch you ever ate this week!”

“Hey Morris! Fresh oranges!”

My grandfather would always walk the entire market, saying hello to everyone, and tasting everything…

Then do a second walk through to buy from whoever had the best food and the best prices.

It felt good to have regular vendors, and be a regular customer, and get good deals in appreciation for being a regular.

And there’s some of that still, now that we’ve been going regularly for a couple years.

The organic meat lady always throws us an extra package of sausage. The greens people, Venus Veggies, always give us some extra Kale.

Last week, Michael (one of the sprouts and greens vendors) called me “The Mayor of The Market” and I couldn’t help but smile and think of my grandfather.

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October 29, 2013

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How To Eat Healthy While Traveling

Well, I’m just back from a two week business trip that took me to Los Angeles for a week for meetings and other ISOOSI work stuff, then Vegas for a week for an SEO conference called PubCon.

All in all, it was a good trip.

I ate much better than I ever have on a business trip and I’m pretty happy about that.

When trying to eat healthy while traveling, the actual travel days are by far the hardest.

Let’s face it, most airports really, REALLY suck in terms of healthy dining options. Your best bet it to stow some healthy trail mix (or a bag of nuts) and an apple in your carry-on.

When I hit the ground in LA, it got easier. I spent the first week of my trip working with my old friend and business partner Carlos, and the first thing I did was hit a Health Food store called Lassens for $150 bucks worth of nuts, veggies, and pre-bottled juices.

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(I will definitely be looking for this juice at my local health food store here in Florida…
Only 50 Calories, and 2 grams of sugar!)

This kept me eating right for most of that first week…

Although I did throw down a delicious pile of Lamb Vindaloo one night :–)

I drank tons of water, and ate lots of vegetarian wraps. Veggie wraps (with a little ginger dressing) are a quick, easy way to eat healthy when traveling. Even if you’re staying in a hotel, all you need is a small travel cutting board and knife set.

The Saturday/Sunday weekend in the Hollywood Hills was awesome. I met up with my friend Russ, and we watched football with some old friends from college and ate tons of healthy, homemade stuff:

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(Fresh fruit for breakfast with a little almond butter!)

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(Sue’s Oven Roasted Kabocha Squash with a little coconut oil and salt and pepper)

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(Just another Football Saturday in the Hollywood Hills -
Katsumi’s Homemade Korean BBQ plate with sprouts and lettuce wraps)

We also swung by a cool place called “The Pressed Juicery” one day. This company makes 100% fresh, organic juices and delivers them daily to small stores throughout Los Angeles where you can grab one:

pj-studio-city-2-700x581c
They also deliver right to your front-door :–)

In Vegas, it was a little more difficult to behave. I drank tons of water, and by some strange stroke of luck found a juice bar tucked away on the second floor of the Hard Rock.

They didn’t have a ton of options, but they were able to make me a cucumber, carrot, celery juice with a touch of ginger in it that sustained me through the days.

Food-wise, the highlight of the Vegas portion of the trip was dinner at Nobu. Nobu is an excellent restaurant and the sushi was stellar.

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(Sushi at NOBU was memorable.)

Anyways, it’s good to be home and working in the garden again!

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October 17, 2013

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The “Inside Scoop” On Hydro Colon Cleanses

Imagine, for a moment, that you’re laying prone on your side, while a complete stranger inserts a tube into your butt.

Now imagine that stranger flipping a switch that pushes water into your butt through that tube…

And once you’re full, reversing the engines and sucking all the water out, along with whatever’s been trapped up inside you for the last 10 years or so.

This is hydro colon therapy… And I went last week and had it done for the first time.

Why?

Well, during The Get Healthy Summit, Matt Monarch and several other speakers spoke of the healing benefits of hydro colon therapy…

So that piqued my interest.

Apparently, it helps remove toxins from your body, and can also clear out heavy foods (meat, junk food, etc. etc.) that might be trapped and rotting high up in your intestines.

And since I ate like a total idiot for twenty years or so, I figured it might be a good idea to look into it.

Plus, I kept picturing the fossilized remains of the Italian Beef sandwiches I ate back in high school sitting sideways inside me, blocking everything up…

And that vision pushed me over the edge.

I found our local certified Hydro-Colon Therapist by asking for recommendations at our local health store…

But these days, a Google search combined with some online reviews probably works just as well.

Her are my thoughts on the treatment itself, and what my results have been like:

  1. It wasn’t as awkward as I thought it would be. Granted, not a whole lot of people have ever seen my backside…Let alone played with it.But I stayed relaxed and trusted the process and thankfully, the therapist was knowledgable and professional.

    I was surprised that she stayed in the room for the entire process. For some reason, I thought she might “hook me up” and then leave me to breathe and relax while she manipulated the controls from another room.

    But no.

    She hooked me up, and then sat there next to me and walked me through the process, answered my questions, and manipulated the controls.

    For almost an hour, I had water pushed into me until I felt full to bursting…

    And then the therapist would release it (which felt quite relieving) while massaging my stomach and sides the whole time.

  2. The process itself was (at times) really uncomfortable. She had warned me that releasing all the putrid waste from my intestines and the toxins from my liver might make me queasy…And it did.You know that sickening feeling you get when you have to take a sudden, emergency crap? Your stomach rolls, and you get pale and clammy, and maybe even a little sweaty?

    Yeah… There were several times during the hour that I felt like that.

    Not the most enjoyable thing in the world.

  3. Did it work? Consider this: When I weighed myself that afternoon, I had lost 8 POUNDS. And the crap I took was that evening was almost black -Clearly I was getting rid of things that were previously stuck.And I felt great!

    Except my side was sore. All of the massaging of my upper intestines and liver made that area quite tender for a few days.

Total cost was about $80 bucks and in my opinion, worth it. I would definitely go again, but probably not as frequently as some people recommend. I will probably stick to twice a year.

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August 4, 2013

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6 Week Junk Food Bender

It’s been a rough couple months.

We wrapped up The Get Healthy Summit in June, and as soon as I wasn’t talking about raw foods and natural health 5 times a week, I could feel myself slipping into old ways of thinking.

I was still eating green and raw, but a hectic work schedule and a bunch of deadlines started taking its toll… I started working late, and snacking late as well.

So even though I was still eating healthy, I was eating late, and overeating too.

I started not taking the time to plan ahead and stock the greens and veggies my body was used to.

Then all hell broke loose on the home front…

The refrigerator broke, and all our food was on ice in coolers for a week while the fridge guy got the part he needed…

One of the cats freaked out on the other two, and started spraying everywhere. We were out of town at the time, and when we got back, our bedroom reeked of piss.

So we tore out all the carpet. And the baseboards and trim. And some of the drywall.

Then the pool heater broke, and that was another $500 bucks…

On and on and on… You get the picture.

The combination of stress and deadlines knocked me right off the wagon…

And it all added up to me basically freaking out and going on a 6 week junk food bender.

It started with an occasional beer and maybe some wings to end a long week.

Before long, I was throwing back old favorites like jerk chicken and beans and rice… Chinese food, pizza, some chips and a soda with a big Italian sandwich for lunch…

You name it.

And of course my taste buds changed, and I started craving junk…

And of course I put back 10 of the pounds I had worked so hard to get rid of.

Frustrating.

I’m happy to report though that I’m finally back on track.

I started pre-chopping and pre-washing vegetables and greens for juicing and smoothies again, and it’s really helped to curb the cravings…

But it’s been a real wake up call. Eating right and managing cravings  is a slippery slope that takes CONSTANT attention.

It’s been a valuable lesson!

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May 22, 2013

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5 Foods You Can Re-Grow From Scraps

(I found this great little post over on wake-up world and wanted to share…)

There’s nothing like eating your own home- grown fruits and vegetables, and there are tons of different foods that will re-grow straight from the scraps that you normally throw out or put into your compost bin.

It’s fun… And really simple if you know how to do it.

Just remember … the quality of the “parent” vegetable scrap will help to determine the quality of the re-growth. So, wherever possible, buy local organic produce, so you know that your re-grown plants are fresh, healthy and free of chemical and genetic meddling.

Pineapple: To re-grow pineapples, you need to remove the green leafy piece at the top and ensure that no fruit remains attached. Either hold the crown firmly by the leaves and twist the stalk out, or you can cut the top off the pineapple and remove the remaining fruit flesh with a knife (otherwise it will rot after planting and may kill your plant). Carefully slice small, horizontal sections from the bottom of the crown until you see root buds (the small circles on the flat base of the stalk). Remove the bottom few layers of leaves leaving about an inch base at the bottom of the stalk.

Plant your pineapple crown in a warm and well drained environment. Water your plant regularly at first, reducing to weekly watering once the plant is established. You will see growth in the first few months but it will take around 2-3 years before you are eating your own home-grown pineapples.

Ginger: Ginger is very easy to re-grow. Simply plant a spare piece of ginger rhizome (the thick knobbly bit you cook with) in potting soil with the newest (ie. smallest) buds facing upward. Ginger enjoys filtered, not direct, sunlight in a warm moist environment.

Before long it will start to grow new shoots and roots. Once the plant is established and you’re ready to harvest, pull up the whole plant, roots and all. Remove a piece of the rhizome, and re-plant it to repeat the process.

Ginger also makes a very attractive house-plant, so if you don’t use a lot of ginger in your cooking you can still enjoy the lovely plant between harvests.

Potatoes: Re-growing potatoes is a great way to avoid waste, as you can re-grow potatoes from any old potato that has ‘eyes’ growing on it. Pick a potato that has robust eyes, and cut it into pieces around 2 inches square, ensuring each piece has at least one or two eyes. Leave the cut pieces to sit at room temperature for a day or two, which allows the cut areas to dry and callous over. This prevents the potato piece from rotting after you plant it, ensuring that the new shoots get the maximum nutrition from each potato piece.

Potato plants enjoy a high-nutrient environment, so it is best to turn compost through your soil before you plant them. Plant your potato pieces around 8 inches deep with the eye facing upward, and cover it with around 4 inches of soil, leaving the other 4 inches empty. As your plant begins to grow and more roots appear, add more soil. If your plant really takes off, mound more soil around the base of the plant to help support its growth.

Garlic: You can re-grow a plant from just a single clove – just plant it, root-end down, in a warm position with plenty of direct sunlight. The garlic will root itself and produce new shoots. Once established, cut back the shoots and the plant will put all its energy into producing a tasty big garlic bulb. And like ginger, you can repeat the process with your new bulb.

Onions: Onions are one of the easiest vegetables to propagate. Just cut off the root end of your onion, leaving a ½ inch of onion on the roots. Place it in a sunny position in your garden and cover the top with soil. Ensure the soil is kept moist. Onions prefer a warm sunny environment, so if you live in a colder climate, keep them in pots and move them indoors during frostier months.

As you use your home-grown onions, keep re-planting the root ends you cut off, and you’ll never need to buy onions again.

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May 18, 2013

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The Truth About Organic Foods

Want to know the truth about organic foods?

I’ve been reading  a book called Pandora’s Lunchbox and it’s absolutely frightening what goes into most of our store-bought food…

Powders, chemicals, emulsifiers, and other poisons… All to either prevent mold and increase shelf life, or to cut down costs for the food manufacturers.

Consider these disgusting and shocking examples:

  • While cocaine was removed from Coca-Cola years ago, it’s still formulated to get you high. Each can of Coke contains 10 teaspoons of sugar. This is 100 percent of your recommended daily intake. Under normal circumstances, the extreme sweetness of this much sugar would immediately cause you to vomit uncontrollably. However, since all that sugar is addictive and keeps you coming back for more, Coca-Cola adds phosphoric acid – An ingredient that cuts the sweetness to manageable levels.
  • Foods like chicken nuggets, hot dogs, and bologna look like a disgusting pink goo before they’re “reformed” into the shapes you buy at the store. This sludge is made through a process called mechanical separation, which is a cost-effective way to ‘smooth out’ bone remnants left after the de-boning process. The process results in excessive bacteria, which is fixed by washing the meat in ammonia. To cover up that delicious ammonia flavor, the meat is then re-flavoured artificially to resemble meat.
  • Chewing Gum contains lanolin, which is an oily substance found in sheep wool. Lanolin is touted as beneficial in tons of different lotions and skincare products because it softens up your hands… But lo-and-behold, it also softens up your chewing gum. Every time you chew, you’re chewing sheep sweat.
  • Ever use Shellac to shine up your wood and furniture? Well, it’s also been known to be used  to improve the shine of certain foods like jelly beans. And those orange and purple jelly beans? Those colors come from chemical dyes that have been shown to slow down brain function.
  • Did you know that Kraft Singles and other packaged cheeses are not allowed (BY LAW) to be called cheese anymore? They have to be called “cheese-like substance” instead because they have so many additives, chemicals and flavoring agents. Check the package the next time you’re in the store.

Right… I think I’ll stick with the farmers market!

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May 9, 2013

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Raw Organic Food Recipes

So we finally got our Vitamix about a week ago, and man-o-man I’m loving it. In addition to smoothies, this bad boy makes sauces, soups, ice creams… You name it!

Here’s a super-simple recipe I made the other day with raw ingredients, straight from the garden:

2013-05-17 11.41.32

Raw Zucchini Pasta With A Tomato Pepper Basil Sauce
(Yes, it’s healthy and friggin’ delicious!)

Ingredients (all organic):

5 Fresh TomatoesA Red Pepper
A handful  of Fresh Basil
A handful  of Cilantro
2-3 Zucchinis
1 tablespoon of Olive Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Instructions:

1. Rough chop the Tomatoes, Red Pepper, Basil, and Cilantro and throw it in the Vitamix, along with the Olive Oil and some salt and pepper. Run it down until it looks like a paste.

2. Julienne the Zucchini into pasta-shaped strings. If you need a tool, you can get one on Amazon.

3. Serve and enjoy. I like to put a little organic cheese on top, but that might not be your thing.

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May 3, 2013

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Natural Health Weight Loss (kids version)

Some of the most common questions I get asked are about how our kids are taking up our new eating habits.

Really well, actually!

Here’s a meal by meal breakdown:

BREAKFAST: Everyone in the house is addicted to fresh green juices and smoothies, so we have those most mornings. That’s typically all they’ll have, but if they’re still hungry, I’ll make them a bowl of granola with almond milk or a couple eggs.

LUNCH: Since we tend to have smaller breakfasts, I try to make lunch really, really good. Here’s what they had this week:

greek

Monday: Greek sandwiches. Pita bread, tomatoes, cucumbers, and Tazhiki sauce
with Feta cheese. Grapes and organic juice boxes on the side.

italian

Tuesday: Italian vegetable sandwiches. All vegetables with a little oil and basalmic.
Apples, organic juice boxes, and chips on the side.

spinachsalad

Wednesday: Spinach-Apple salad with Basalmic.
Organic juice boxes and pears on the side.

veggiepitas

Thursday: Vegetable sandwiches with a pile of vegetables.
Organic juice boxes and a banana on the side.

chicken

Friday: Teriyaki grilled chicken salad. Pears and Organic
juice boxes on the side.

DINNER: We don’t eat much meat, so dinner always involves vegetables in some form or fashion. Sometimes we’ll do Boca Burgers with sprouts and tomatoes:

boca

Sometimes it’s a big vegetable sandwich…

Or some sort of hummus/vegetable wraps or a giant gnarly salad:

booyahsalad

About once a week, I just build a giant snack tray (olives, pickles, celery, carrots, some oil and vinegar with fresh bread) and just leave it out for a more Spanish-style snacking dinner.

We also make vegetarian chili, and plates of vegetables with wild rice or pasta.

SNACKS: Snacking is all about what’s handy. I keep carrots and celery washed and chopped and ready to go in the fridge. We also have a big assortment of nuts and granola, and always have apples and pears.

For saltier, crunchier snacks, we like kale chips and seaweed crisps.

Most of the time the kids eat quite healthy, but we do still let them indulge once in awhile. We buy chips for them sometimes. We still take them to McDonalds on rare occasions, and still we order pizza for them a couple times a month.

All things in moderation!

Erik

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April 12, 2013

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Run Fat Man, Run! (My first 5k)

Well, I did it. I completed my first 5k run.

Actually, lets call it a walk, with a little bit of jogging thrown in. At no point did I run. So maybe it was a walk/jog… But whatever.

But I did it!

The event we picked for my first time was something called the “Color Vibe” and I highly recommend you check it out.

Based on Holi (the Indian festival of color), The Color Vibe run has “color stations” at various points through the course where volunteers throw powdered color at you.

So by the end, you’re basically a sweating, stinking rainbow.

There’s a DJ at the finish line, bumping music… And they do a big countdown and everyone throws handfuls of color in the air.

I have to say, it was a fucking BLAST.

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The kids, all colored up.

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Wendy the wife, looking all colorful and happy…

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We did it! I finished last… But I finished so HELL YEAH!

I’ve always wanted to check out the real festival of colors, which in India, announces the arrival of spring and the passing of winter.

This was much closer to home and had the same air of renewal, and was certainly cheaper than flights to India.

Tickets were about $40 each, if memory serves correctly… But we each got a t-shirt, a pair of sun glasses, and some packets of color to throw at each other.

Find one in your area and sign up.

You’ll love it.

April 8, 2013

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What Is A Raw (Diet) Menu?

Eating out and eating healthy at the same time is a challenging proposition.

In fact, it’s proving damn near impossible for me to find a menu with healthy, raw choices on it.

Take Carrabbas, for instance.2013-03-23 09.28.37

We never ate there all that much, but when we did eat out, we  liked places like Roy’s and  Carrabba’s and Bonefish Grill.

Not so much anymore.

I can hear you now saying “Just get a salad, dude!” but it’s not that simple.

First of all – The portions are just fucking HUGE. And I have a big problem leaving my plate half full.

I was raised to “clean my plate” at every meal.  I hate wasting food!

Next – Everything is covered in way too much sauce or dressing.

And finally… Even if you get your sauces or dressings on the side…

There’s no guarantee the vegetables are organic or free from pesticides.

The last time we went to Carrabba’s, I skipped the bread. I ordered a salad and a Margarita pizza. I ate the salad (dressing on the side, and sprinkled on the salad in very small amounts) and one piece of the pizza… And still felt over-full

Frustrating.

I guess the best I can do is avoid the mountains of free bread… Avoid the pasta and cheese…

Stick with soup and salads, and maybe some grilled vegetables (NOT cooked in butter, please)…

And only eat a third of what I’m given. Or… Just eat at home!