Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Sunday, January 10, 2010

Sugar is kind of a crazy little guy.

It's the most energy ready molecule we can eat, it plays well with other food, and especially here in the South, it's both sweet potato and tea's best friend.

I was recently contacted by the big daddy of all sugar companies, Domino/C&H, and they asked me to make a sweeeet recipe off of their website for the holidays. They even gave me a $20 gift card to help me pay for expenses for the sweets. That was a very awesome day for me.

It was like they read my student loan/mortgage/eat 8 times a day mind :)

So I scanned though the recipe index they have, and honestly, their list is super extensive. I was flooded with tons of good looking recipes. It reminds me to always check out the back of your flour and sugar bags, because there's some really interesting gold on there. Perfect for those days when I am out of baking ideas :)

My neighbor used to always make this caramel-y, almost maple sugar tasting candy for the holidays called Penuche. It's a really, really funny word... but it tastes really good. It's like an anti-fudge fudge, with minimal ingredients, and no chocolate. It's a whole lot of brown sugar, which gives it this maple/molasses flavor.

It's pretty awesome, and def worth a taste at least once. Especially if you like blondies or something like that.

Plus, I think if brown and white sugar got in a fight... brown sugar would probably win. It sticks together better... and we all know there's strength in numbers :)

Domino Sugar

Recipe found here

-1 lb Domino Brown Sugar
- about 2 1/2 cups

-3/4 cup milk

-1/8 tsp salt

-2 1/2 Tbs unsalted butter

-1 tsp vanilla

-1 cup nuts (I used walnuts)

Grease 8x8 pan; set aside.

Combine sugar, milk and salt in heavy 2-quart saucepan. Place over medium heat, stirring until sugar dissolves. Wipe sugar crystals from side of pan as necessary.

Cook without stirring until candy reaches 238°F or soft ball stage. Remove from heat; add butter. Without stirring, cool to 110°F or lukewarm.
Add vanilla and nuts.

Stir continuously until thick and creamy. Spread into prepared pan at once. When firm, cut into squares. Store in airtight container.

Makes 24 pieces or (1 1/4 lbs.)

Sweet looking bricks...

This was actually my first candy making experience, which was pretty neat. I am proud to say that yes, I am a football loving male that weight trains and owns a candy thermometer :) I really liked the flavor, it's simple and smooth... just be careful because a little goes a loooong way. Make sure to share with friends. Enjoy your weekend, and to everyone in the 10in10 group, keep going, you guys are doing great!

So You Have a New Gym Membership....


Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, January 06, 2010

This is going to be gym related post. I'll follow up with a recipe one later, but as you can imagine, it's tough to make yet more sweets in the post-holiday aftermath of indulgence and perhaps a sprinkle of regret :)

I got the idea after some great responses to the last post I had, and just like in class, if someone has a question, it's very likely that another person is thinking the same thing. I think it's a topic that is as popular and misunderstood as the high school prom queen... or our beloved Micheal Jackson.

Should I use machines, or free weights, or both? I hear free weights are better, but they are kinda intimating, and all these sweaty guys are around... (I'm paraphrasing of course)

This is a great question, and my opinion has definitely changed over the years. Ask me 3 years ago, and I wouldn't of touched a machine. Ask today, and I just used a machine or two on Monday.

My answer is an indecisive, grey colored... it depends. What do I mean? Well, it depends on your goals, and what you are looking to change about yourself or improve on. Even if you had the most stacked gym ever... with all sorts of equipment, you should pick exercises that focus on a couple of things:
  1. Do you feel the appropriate muscles being worked during the exercise?
  2. Can you progress with the exercise each week?
  3. While you may not enjoy doing the exercise, do you at least not hate it's guts?
These are the most important things to consider when working out. While there are THOUSANDS of weight training routines available, there is no perfect one. Why? Because people aren't all the same. What works for you might not for me. It's the same thing with foods, diet, hair cut styles, eye sight ability, sport team favoritism... on and on. As long as you pick something and stick to it... and progress... you'll be good. You body does not want to change. Trust me. Why would it want to lose weight and gain muscle? That takes work. So you have to give it a reason to :)

I like machines for a number of reasons. I don't need a spotter, and they are great at teaching because they kinda force your muscles into learning a movement pattern, which will allow them to be 'felt' and contract correctly (as long as you focus on the muscle). So that fulfills rule #1.

So what I'm saying is what good is a free weight dumbbell chest press if you only feel it in your shoulders? Sure it's a free weight, so stabilizing muscles come into play, but if it's not working the muscle you want it too... see what I mean.

But I will add another caveat when it comes to exercise selection...

Make it relevant to your goals. Let's say your goal is to do one pullup, all the way up and down. While there are a couple of exercises you can pick from, the best would probably be assisted pullups. You need to train to your goals more than half the time. A pulldown machine will help, but different movement patterns require different activation from your brain. Because of motor units, neural activation, torque angles of force created, etc, the skills aren't exactly transferable.

I mean like, all cars can drive... but ever notice how it takes a minute to "get used to it"... same kind of deal...

I can't tell you how many times I've switched from bar and dumbbell bench presses in the past, and got shocked when I didn't feel stronger right away. It's not because of muscle, it's because you need to learn how to recruit muscles for that particular exercise all over again :)

So you need to focus on the exercise that is direct to your goals. You need to swap out movements when you stall, but you need to change back once you stall out again.

So, the short of the long of that question is... do what works for you, and what will bring you closer to your goals. I think a mix of the two methods each has risks and benefits. One time I had someone younger and smaller than me call me lame for using machines. I smiled...

Just remember results take time. Time is def on your side, and soon you'll become a gym fanatic that's the envy of the town :)

Now if you're asking what exercises give you the most bang for your buck, and you're lost with free weights... well that's another day :)

Oatmeal Creme Bars


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , , | Posted on Saturday, January 02, 2010

I'm glad everyone had a safe and Happy New Years. I've looked around, and there are some awesome resolutions out there, and it's great that everyone is starting out so goal oriented and focused. In a world filled with so many distractions and events that are always happening, it's sooo easy to loose sight of things. If you don't believe me, check out your Facebook Live Feed, or how many texts you have sent on your phone this week. I bet the number will surprise you :)

On that note, there was 13930480 people on the treadmills today. Ok, that's not the exact number, I just rounded up to the next one :) While I'm happy people are taking their bodies and health into their own hands, I was surprised to see the weight training area more empty. Seriously... strength training is really where it's at if you want a body transformation folks :) Promise...

Maybe I need to post a weekly exercise to get people motivated.

Anyways, here's a cookie recipe from last month that I really enjoyed. It has my old powerhouse boy Oatmeal, and I was asked to actually make this recipe not once, but twice. Aaaand a patient asked for the recipe.

Do you really need to know anything else to see if it passes the 'try me delicious' test?

Having someone ask you to make something again is like being out on a second date. Apparently something went right the first time :)

Oatmeal Creme Bars (Look I spelled Cream all European like)
Dr. Adam

-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened

-1 cup brown sugar

-1 cup rolled oats

-1 1/2 cups AP flour
-1 tsp cinnamon

-Dash of salt

1 pkg. cream cheese, soft at room temperature

-1 can sweetened condensed milk

-1 tsp vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350*. Line a 13x9 pan with foil, and grease it well.

In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together. Add the oats, flour, cinnamon, and salt, and mix well, until it is clumpy, and dough forms. It should be a little dry, but able to hold it's shape when packed together. Test it with your hands first.

Press HALF of this mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan. It should stay together and form a crust on the pan.

In another bowl, beat the cream cheese, condensed milk, and vanilla together, until no lumps remain and it is smooth.
Pour this over the bottom crust in the pan, and smooth over evenly. Sprinkle the remaining oat/flour mixture over the filling so it completely covers the pan.

Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown on top. Let it cool completely on a wire rack for a few hours, lift it out of the foil, and cut into squares.

Ah... a bar fit for breakfast champions. Ok, maybe not exactly... but come on, just like a half of one :)

Everyone have a fantastic rest of the weekend, stay warm, and if you have any exercises in particular you have questions about, let me know. Sure, you can probably find form and technique pictures and advice anywhere on the Internet, but they probably won't have movie references and make you laugh :)

Merry Christmas New Year


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Sunday, December 27, 2009

I'm a pretty big fan of the weird type period between Christmas and New Years. The holiday festivities are over with, and it allows you to kinda catch your breath in between the fresh start of the big year ahead... 2010.

Are you as surprised as I am? Say it outloud... Twenty-Ten. It's so sci-fi... so Star Trekky... it just sounds like a big year. But the more important question is... Where the flip are the flying cars we're supposed to be using by now?

Then again... the way some people drive on roads... on the ground... I dunno if flying cars are the best idea. They'd have to make a special license, and maybe not let you get one until 25. Yup, I think it took me at least until that age to get rid of my invincibility shield and drive a car like a safe, normal person :)

So what's your goal for the new year? Eat right... lose weight? It's def among the top ten for resolutions each year, and I know for a fact the gyms are going to be packed for the next 4-6 weeks. I'm actually planning a 12 week weight loss program for people in the Raleigh area. Each week I'm going to do a lecture on a different topic, and we're going to put together diet plans and track everyone with body fat, tape measurements, and scale numbers each few weeks. Should be a pretty cool, fun thing to do... I just hope it has a big turnout.

Sorry, no recipes today... but I'll leave you a pic of some Christmas party cookies :)

Date Bars, Brown Sugar Cake, PB Fudge, Haystacks... Tasty Sugar Coma

Here's some resolutions I have... I want to post them so I stick to it... and hopefully reach all of them by Spring...
  1. Post on the blog 1-2 times a week consistently
  2. Volunteer more
  3. Get my bench press up to 315 and my deadlift to 405
  4. Start a new car fund and a Roth
  5. Put together a garden and maybe get some chickens
  6. And some others...
What's your resolutions? Anybody have anything really unique or fun?

If it's to exercise, here's some fun stuff to try I was messing around with the other day:

Dumbell Deadlift - Hamstrings, Glutes, Upper/Lower Back

Hamstring Curl - Core Strength, Hamstrings, Lumbar Spine

Pushup to Row - Core, Rhomboids, Traps, Lats, Chest and Shoulders

Have a Happy Rest of the Year and be safe :)

Kid Cookie Christmas


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Thursday, December 17, 2009

I have a confession to make... and you're probably going to laugh.

It's late December, one week until the fabled day. and that means Christmas music is ALL OVER the place. You can't escape it... and its ok sometimes. Just ok.

Well, today I couldn't really take it anymore. I've heard Mariah Carey I think 200 times already. Sure that's a fun song, but maybe we all need a little something extra for Christmas once in a while :)

So this I found this 90's station. And I don't know exactly how to explain this, but I listened to everything from Fuel to MC Hammer, to Ace of Base, to RHCP to STP. It was a real throwback to all the years that I grew up. Was I born with an 80's on my birth date? Sure... but I don't remember those days as much as I remember the 90's. Ah... what a nice break from the holiday madness :)

Here's a throwback cookie from my childhood... Thumbprints! How can you not be a kid and like these? I mean you make them, press them, and fill them with jam goodness. I love it because the combos are endless. If you're in a apricot, strawberry cherry, or blueberry mood, it does it all :)

Hope everyone is having a fantastic holiday season. I've been wicked busy with work and everything, but once all the dust settles I should be a ton better. I've been making cookies for office parties, cookie exchanges, and a whole lot more. Talk about loading up the single guy with no family commitments this season. Just kidding... its cool, this is really what the season is all about... helping out each other.

90's Thumbprints
Dr. Adam
- 1/2 cup finely ground almonds (use a food processor or spice grinder, it's easy)
-1/2 cups White Whole Wheat Flour
-1/2 cup sugar

-1/4 tsp salt
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut up into small pieces

-Any fruit spread, preserves, jelly, jam...

Preheat your oven to 350*. Line a couple cookie sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, mix the dry ingredients together, the flour, almonds, sugar, and salt.
Pour the butter into the bowl, and using your clean hands, rub it together until the crumbs becomes larger, and a very gritty, dry dough forms. If you have a tough time keeping it together, add a little bit of water.... very little. It should stay together, but barely.

Taking small portions of dough into your hands... like 1/2 tablespoonfuls... roll each into a ball and place on the baking sheet. Once you have 12-16 per sheet, flatten each ball with your thumb or finger, so there is an indent in the center.

Fill these indents with very small (like 1/4 tsp) amounts of jelly or preserves. If you fill them too much, they will def overflow :)

Bake for 8-12 minutes, or until the cookies are golden brown. Place on the pans for a few minutes, and then on a wire rack completely. Makes about two and half dozen.

The Happiest of Holidays Everyone!

I may post a couple more of the holiday cookies over the next week or so. If not, they'll make the rotation into early next year!

If anyone has any weight loss or body recomp resolutions... well you know how to find me. My resolutions are to be more organized, have a full fledged garden, bench press 330, and get a lot better at adjusting extremities :)

See you next year, if not sooner :)



Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Sunday, November 29, 2009

And.... the Holiday season is now in FULL FORCE. I have a small Christmas tree up, greeting cards are being filled out, Pumping Iron is in the DVD player... (wait a minute).

But I love this time year. It's like a last hurrah to get together with friends, and there is something crisp and special in the air. Who doesn't love cookie exchanges, Bad Santa type exchanges, and a good snowball fight? I won't have any snow this year (for once), but I think it's going to be a really welcome change. All you need is the right state of mind :)

I decided to kick things off with one of my favorite cookies... the super awesome Gingersnap. Now, before we get rolling, there's a minor controversy here. That is...

To snap or not to snap?

Some people like chewy gingerBREAD type cookies, and others like the hard, whoops I just got crumbs on my shirt SNAPS. Which are you? Is it possible to dig both?

While one of my personal favorite cookies are called Hermit Cookies, which are chewy, I think ginger cookies should be snaps. Yup. Crusty and messy.

So after looking at a couple of recipes for cookies that tended to be too soft for my liking, I found one that looked promising. Simple, a good amount of molasses, and crumbs in the picture. We have a winner here, folks :)

Gingersnaps Recipe
Taken from The Kitchn... I like this site

Makes about 75 cookies (but I got like 50 cause I make them larger- AB)

-1 cup sugar
-3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
-1 egg
-1/3 cup molasses
-2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
-2 teaspoons baking soda
-1/2 teaspoon salt
-1 teaspoon ground ginger
-1 teaspoon cinnamon
-1/2 teaspoon cloves
-1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

By hand or in a mixer, combine the sugar and butter. Add the egg and mix until the egg is completely combined. Stir in the molasses.

In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, and all the spices. Whisk these dry ingredients to make sure everything is evenly distributed, then pour it on top of the wet ingredients. Use a folding motion to gently combine the wet and dry ingredients. Continue until no more flour is visible.

Turn on the oven to 375° and refrigerate the gingersnap dough while the oven is preheating.

When the oven is hot, measure out rounded teaspoons of dough. Roll the dough between your hands to shape tablespoon balls. Position the balls about 2 inches apart on a cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes until the cookies have puffed and collapsed back on themselves.

Let the cookies cool on the sheet for 5 minutes before transferring them to a cooling rack. Store cookies in an airtight container.

Now, I couple of notes about these cookies. First, don't overbake... but come CLOSE. The instructions talk about the cookies puffing up, and THEN sinking is soooo right. You want that. The house will smell of awesome cloves and ginger, and they will look almost black, and that's what you want. Take them out, let them cool for a minute or two, and then on the rack.

If you want kinda chewy cookies, you can eat them that day. However, if you want Snapable cookies, you need to store them and eat them over the next couple days. Don't worry, they keep super well. I was eating them for almost a week afterwards... what can I say, 50 cookies is alot :)

I hope all of your ovens are still in good working order, with the huge influx of awesome sweets being made this holiday. I'm going to be busy these next few weeks, so I want to wish you the most awesome of holiday seasons. Enjoy yourselves, and let loose this month. Come next year, you can get back on the health and diet horse :)

Feeling Saucy and Soupy


Posted by Adam | Posted in , , , | Posted on Sunday, November 22, 2009

How's the pre-Thanksgiving festivities going? Anyone into full out cookie baking mode yet? I can feel them approaching. There's Christmas music on the radio here, and the stores have been absolutely plastered with green and red for a few weeks now. I can't blame them at all though... I read awhile back that the holiday season accounts for something like 60% of retail annual sales each year. That's not having all your eggs in one basket, but def more than half of them :)

The holidays are pretty much an awesome time. I think it's a fantastic time to enjoy yourself, keep in touch with forgotten friends, and wrap up the loose ends of your life. Come January, the gloves come off, and new goals are get set in place. Think about where you want to be a year from now, and write that stuff down, so you're held to it. Sounds a little scary to be held accountable... but that's the point :)

I've been seeing butternut squash recipes alot lately. Like over here, and here, and many more others. And I don't blame you guys, I mean they are tasty, weird looking veggies. Even more interesting is the whole "squash and pasta concept". Whoever came up with that is a genius. While there's nothing wrong with tomato sauce at all (classic) I have to admit it's nice for a change. I had a problem though.

I couldn't really care less about pasta.

Ok... ok.... ok... don't leave!

You don't want to be my friend anymore? Wait I still love tomato sauce! Well, sorry but I just like other starches better. Give me sweet potatoes, or barley, or some rye bread. And I don't feel tired after eating those either. Pasta puts me in a coma after eating. Not exactly a great thing if you still have stuff to do that day.

So I wanted to try that butternut pasta thing... but without the pasta. It's been in the colder 50s here lately... so that equals soup to me.

Butternut Tomato Soup that is.

I don't really have any specific ingredient amounts or anything, so just read along and go with it. Make the soup your own if you want. It's easy as pie. Actually pie can be a pain to make, when the dough is too warm. Soup is super easy. Dump in a pot and heat. Gotta love it :)

Butternut Tomato Soup
Dr. Adam

-1 medium onion, chopped and diced pretty small
-2 ribs celery, diced

-1 tbs olive oil

-1 can diced tomatoes, use the juice too

-1 medium butternut squash, peeled and cubed

-3 cups chicken stock (or any stock)

-Some wine... I used white cause it was open

-Handfuls of basil and sage

-Salt and Pepper to taste

I chose to keep this really easy. Read and follow the pics.

In a large pot... add the onion, celery, and oil on medium head. Stir frequently until the veggies sweet and soften a bit. Then add the tomatoes and squash, and cook for a few minutes until some of water evaporates. About 5 minutes.

Add the stock, and wine, and cover and cook for 20 minutes, or until the squash softens up a bit. If it needs longer, just let it continue to cook until it becomes more mushy.
Add the herbs, and cook again for another 5 minutes, and the kitchen will smell aromatic and great.

Turn off the heat and let cool.
When the soup is cooler, use an immersion blender and blend the soup up to the consistency you want. Leave some chunks if you'd like, or completely puree it if that's what you want. Just be careful and don't let the soup splatter on you :) Add some salt and pepper to taste.

That's it... now you have tasty awesome soup, with a nice orange red color.

Stay tuned for some more recipes this coming holiday season. It gives me an excuse to bake a little more and spring up some sweets on my friends. I think we are doing a cookie exchange soon, and I'm sure I'll have a little pressure to be number one... not that it's a competition or anything :)

Have a great rest of the weekend, and stay warm!