Daring Bakers: Mission Eclair

32

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Sunday, August 31, 2008

Happy Labor day to everyone today :) I hope you are all very laborless, unless maybe you are having a baby or something... Today is going to be a super short post, because of the holiday and a bunch of stuff going on, but I'll be back early next week :) Oh, and sorry about the lack of comments on my part... I'll be able to play catch up and see your sweet creations once I get back downstate.

Today, besides the holiday is a cool day, because it marks my first Daring Bakers Challenge. That's right, kids, every month, you and I will be daring with dynamite :) My inspiration for joining this group was due to the fact that I often bake my "comfort go to's" and don't branch out enough.

Well, with these Chocolate Eclairs... I branched out, dude. I'm pretty much bought a whole tree, because I would never make something like this on my own. I mean that in a good way though, because growth and experience are what keeps us alive :)
We were allowed a couple of changes to the recipe, as long as we kept one chocolate element. Seeing how I am not a real chocolate head... (I'm a jam head, according to both myself and Cookie), I chose to keep the classic chocolate glaze, and change up the filling.

Anybody here like grasshopper cookies, or those Girl Scout Mint Thins, or something like that?

I do. Mint is a very misunderstood herb I think.

So I decided to go with a vanilla cream filling, but I added a little mint extract to make it more like a vanilla mint cream. Couple that with the chocolate glaze, and bam... you have an awesome minty cream combo :) Overall, I really enjoyed this challenge. I want to thank the DBers for helping each other out, and it's nice to have such a great, friendly group out there. Eclairs are fun, and had quite a few steps, but they were all easy. I want to thank Big Tony over at Olive Juice, and Meeta over at What's for Lunch, Honey? for hosting this event (both of their sites and pics are rediculous professional looking). Head on over there if you haven't already, and be sure to check out all the other DBers. Where everywhere, it's the eclair show today.

Things I've learned:
  • Everyone likes eclairs
  • Choux pastry is more than just a funny word
  • Trying new recipes make us better bakers
  • Eclair making can be messy

Fun Fitness Fridays #8

21

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, August 29, 2008

So I was rifling through the comments from last week, smiling, laughing... ya know the usual... and I noticed something. Well actually two things. First, food bloggers are hilarious and awesome :) Second, we really have quite the diverse group here. We have dancers, weight lifters, runners, swimmers, yoga-ers... it's all very cool and interesting. I'm glad that those of you who have found their exercise 'niche', have it, and for those of you still searching, don't worry, it's out there somewhere. This week I'll start to touch on exercise basics to give you a grasp on why people say "do this or do that". I'm hoping it'll answer some questions you all have also.

We're going to go super basic right here, because I think some of this stuff is cool to know (I hope that's an ok reason :) Muscles, believe it or not, move 3 different ways. They shorten, called a concentric contraction... they lengthen, called an eccentric contraction... or they can stay the same length, called an isometric contraction.

Whoa, Adam... I'm more lost than Jack Shephard... back the bus up.... Beep Beep*

Ok pick up your coffee mug. Using your bicep (it bends your elbow), bring the mug up to your face. That's a concentric contraction. Now, lower it down slowly... do you feel how the muscle lengthens and kind of resists against gravity?... eccentric. Now hold it steady so you arm is at 90*.... isometric.

Cool huh?

So why is this stuff important? Well, all of these types of muscle contractions produce force. When you lift weights, it requires force and power. These forces put your muscles under stress, and creates the little microtears that signal your body to heal itself. Now eccentric contractions, lowering a weight slowly against gravity... requires the most amount of force.

Have you ever walked down a couple flights of stairs at work, and noticed your legs are killing you? That's because your legs (mostly your gluts and quads) have to slow down and lengthen as you walk down the stairs. Walking up the stairs is harder cardiovascular wise, but muscle wise, you can probably do it a lot more of it.

Let's apply this idea to the gym, because hey, that's why we're reading :)

Let's say you're doing one of the best lower body exercises you can do... a leg press if you're a beginner, or a squat if you've been around for awhile. The best way to do this is to lower the weight down slowly for a count of 2 or 3, and then shoot it up in a count of 1. The reason we lower the weight down for a longer period of time, is because it places more stimulus to the muscle, and it teaches your brain how to use control. Stimulating the muscle to something it's not used to is the name of the game, so we are exactly doing that.

Whoa, dude... so if lowering the weight down for 2-3 seconds is good, why don't we try for like 4 or 6 or 10 seconds? More is better right?

Well, in this case, no. Lowering a weight for that amount of time would possibily create too much force on a muscle, which could either result in an injury, or force you to use too little weight to really see a result.

Weight to see a result? How much weight should I use?

This is an awesome question. It really comes down to your goals. For just about any person that wants to see results and add some muscle... lift a weight that forces you to struggle so that the last repitition is between 8-10. If you want to get stronger for a sport, the rule of thumb is 4-6, and if you want to train a muscle for endurance, shoot for 10-15. While any rep range works all three catagories, their emphasis is on one of the groups.

Whew, that was a lot of stuff... let's go over the "take home points" as my profs all say:
  • Muscles contract 3 different ways - concentric, eccentric, and isometric
  • Eccentric (lengthening) causes the most stimulus, force production, and therefore microdamage to the muscle
  • Lift in a ratio of 2 or 3:1 in lowering vs. lifting the weight to learn control and create muscle growth
  • Lift in your desired rep ranges to see the results you want
Nice, everyone with me? Finally, a few last points... your workout at the gym should look like this : Warm up... weight training, cardio work, and stretching. Now, this order is up for negotiation, and you can def change it if you'd like... but here's my reasoning:

A warm up is alwys important to get your blood moving and your muscles ready to do work. About 5 minutes on a treadmill or something will do fine. The reason cardio training after a workout is ideal is due to that crazy glycogen stuff we talked about. Weight lifting gets rid of your muscle glycogen (try to think waaaay back to the other posts) so what's the only source left? FAT. What is the primary fuel used during cardio? FAT. So, bascially if there is less glycogen in your muscle, you body will turn to using fat sooner, because hey, that's all that's left.

Whew, stick a fork in me, I'm done. I hope that wasn't too much info for today, I can just go energizer bunny on this stuff and keep going and going :) Did the dork meter just hit an all time high right there? Everyone have a safe, fantastic Labor Day weekend. I'm home with mom for a few days, and I'm sure to have some stories for you all early next week. Lator Gators :)
Lost
Stairs

Adventures in NYC

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Wednesday, August 27, 2008

So the other weekend, a couple of good friends of mine came down here from Buffalo, NY. For those of you who don't know their geography (and that's ok, you're from other countries), Buffalo is from the upper west part of NY, kind of near the Ontario Canada, and also near PA and Ohio. It's quite the trek down here to Long Island, I'd say like 8 hours drive.

But anyways, they are some of my favorite people, and are finishing up school there. We've spent the past 2 1/2 years together, seeing each other every day, through think and thin. We've taken some 250 exams together, partied on the weekends, and have "just hung out" by about infinity. It's amazing how close you can get in such a short time period, but I guess it's multiplied when you are with each other so much. So what am I trying to say? Well, we're a big deal :)

A couple of them are Canadian, and they wanted to see what this crazy city called New York has to offer. It has a couple of cool things to do, right? Yeah, at least like 5 bazillion jiggawatts worth.

My room mate and I (who I've lived with for 3 years already... craaazy) took them on a short tour, and here's a short taste of what we saw...

You have to come to Chinatown if you are ever downtown. It's a necessity. There are floods of Asian people, and authentic food everywhere. I mean you find chickens and ducks roasting in windows, baskets of crayfish in the street, and fruit stands on every block. It's a huge open market, and the prices are dirty cheap.
Some Chinese Chicken BBQ - Awesome

Some cool berry that I've never seen before

If you find humor in this, we would get along perfectly

The girls had to get some purses or bags (whatever you call those things) from Chinatown. If you like that kind of stuff, I totally recommend it. It's fun being taken into a hidden back room, reminiscent of the Bat Cave, and paying money for a pseudo-Guccified-Dolce Gabbanied-hand bag for like 30 bucks. Man, I can't believe I knew the names of those brands. My manhood is fleeting... I need to go watch football or something :)

After lunch, we had to hit up Little Italy... which has one of the best pastry shops in the history of man kind, Ferrara. I'm kicking myself for not trying the gelato there, but I was sooooo full of Chinese. Thank god for walking it off :)
Crazy pastries I could never make

So, after feeling pretty bloated, very full, and happy to be alive on such a gorgeous day in August, a traveling we went. Another destination was the Brooklyn Bridge, which is very cool and old fashioned looking. The bridge is going on like 160 years old. It's a cool sight to see, and there's a cool waterfall coming out of it.
See, cool waterfall

And after that was the South St. Seaport for some chilling by the water, and Battery Park to get a glimpse of the Statue of Liberty. The weather and sights were all really beautiful, until later in the day, when it got kind of stormy. Here's some more pictures, because hey, they say a thousand words, right?
Brooklyn Bridge

Chillen by the Seaport
A spooky sky before the storm in Battery Park

An unrelated picture at a party, but it reminds me how lucky I am

So, that's a quick synopsis of a couple hours of NYC daytime adventure. I love my friends and consider myself very lucky to know such cool, caring people. I know in a few months we'll be scattered all over the globe, and be off starting our careers and lives, but that's ok, we won't slip. I've always lived by if you want something bad enough, you'll make it happen.

Fig's Under My Thumb

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Posted by Adam | Posted in | Posted on Monday, August 25, 2008

Baking With Dynamite has been a little crazy lately. She's been feeling a bit like an indecisive chameleon, changing colors, changing looks, adding on and deleting appendages, all sorts of stuff. But, as of this very moment, I think she might be settled in. Sure a couple of links are still broken, and some of the colors might need some fixing to be easier to read, but for the most part... I'm thinking D-U-N done. Thank you everyone very much for your suggestions and website recommendations, it was all very helpful. To those of you who like the look, cool... and for those that think it's missing something... let me know. Chiropractor, Baker, Bodybuilder, yes... but home decorator and artist, no :)

Oh wait, I need a header. Well, almost done, then. Maybe a sweet Missouri girl can help a guy out*

So to keep up with the mix up theme, I'm mixing recipes today. What do you get when you throw a bunch of awesome bloggers idea's together? Well, wait and see...

Clumbsy Cookie, my Portugese, fun loving, sugar craving buddy is having a Fig Week this week. Everyday is a different fig recipe, and each one is better than the last one. So, bascially, in my eyes, this is one of the best weeks in the history of mankind. I love figs... I mean come on, I'm Adam... don't fig leaves cover the uh... right ;)

While the chocolate chip cookie post showed many of you do in fact love the Triple C (and we all should, right?), it's not my favorite cookie. Really, I'm sorry to say it, but it's true. I prefer sugar or oatmeal cookies, and I don't know exactly why... I think it's part of my genetic code :)

Nik, proud owner of Nik Snacks, has cooking skills worthy 0f 17 gold medals. She always has great original ideas, and I love how couple of times a week, I know I am going to get schooled in delicious, southern love inspired cooking. A week ago she made a healthier sugar cookie for some cool school kids. I know that if they are good enough for school kids, they'd be right for me. I am technically a school kid still, right? I'll just adapt it a little, I hope she doesn't mind :)

So figs + sugar cookie... hmmm... How about Fig Thumbprint Sugar Cookies? Yup, I was super excited too :) We're talking like you just got a king sized candy bar in your halloween bag excited.

Fig Thumbprint Sugar Cookies
Nicolette Miller-Ka and Adam

Sugar Cookie Dough
-4 oz smart balance spread (I just used unsalted butter)
-3/4 cup powdered sugar
-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/4 tsp salt
-1/4 cup egg subsititue (I used 1 whole egg)
-1 tsp vanilla
-1 1/3 cup flour

Fig Filling
-4 oz fresh finely chopped or pulsed Figs (Black Mission used here)
-1/3 cup honey
-1/8 tsp cloves
-1/8 tsp cinnamon
-1 Tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 350*, grab two ungreased cookie sheets, and line with slipmat or parchment paper.

In a large bowl, add cream the butter and sugar together, until pale yellow and creamy. Add in the baking soda, salt, vanilla, and egg, mixing with a hand mixer until well incorporated. Add flour into the butter mixture, and continue to beat until smooth.

Mean while, in a small bowl pour in your chopped figs (my food processor is my arms) honey, cloves, cinnamon, and lemon juice. Using a spatula - I would lightly coat in cooking spray so the figs don't stick to it... fold in all the ingredients until the figs are nicely coated and start to stick together some. Add more honey if they do not stick together.

Using a tablespoon scoop, scoop up a piece of dough, roll into a small ball with your hands, and place the sugar cookie dough onto the cookie sheets,with enough room to grow. Then, with a lightly wet thumb, press each cookie ball down lightly so there is a 1/2 inch deep imprint.

Fill each imprint with the fig filling (Be careful this can be messy as figs are sticky). Bake for 10-13 minutes, or until the bottoms brown and are firm to the touch. Cool completely on wire racks. Makes about 20 cookies.

Ok, so maybe they aren't the most attractive cookie ever, because black fruit with seeds can look a little strange, but just try it. Mom always said dont judge a book by it's cover... and I say the same thing, unless the book is really, really Zoolander good looking. So this is the metaphorical love children of Nik, Cookie, and Adam. I'm not sure how to describe thier multi-cultural, multi-global personality, but I can guarentee a couple things. They are fun, they are simple, and if a cookie had a wicked sense of humor, this would be the poster child :)
Stop Sign

Fun Fitness Friday #7

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, August 22, 2008

Before we rock and roll, I just want to thank everyone for the positive response on the last post. I am very happy that light bulbs are clicking on everywhere, and all of this crazy nutrition stuff is starting to make sense. The ultimate goal is to make small, healthy changes with food that you can sit down and look forward to having. I'm glad we're all starting to accomplish this.

So let's begin our story...

Alright, so you can look in the mirror now and say "Hey I've got a pretty good handle on this nutrition stuff". You wake up, have a good breakfast with healthy carbs, protein, and a little fat. You have an mid-morning snack to keep your energy up, a tasty awesome lunch, a small afternoon snack so you can drive right past McDonalds on the drive back home. Dinner is nice and light, full of vegetables, and maybe you treat yourself to something small at night. Your energy levels are constant, you no longer have a "sugar high" or "energy crash" at work. People around you say you feel and look better.... Life is great, but you want to lose some weight.... So Now what?

Well you have to burn some calories. To most, this means a form of structured exercise, and can sound like a chore at first. I'm here to tell you it really doesn't have to be. I know life is busy, and there's a thousand things to do... but if you can put aside a little time, your life will change forever. My workouts are about 45 minutes on average, with 3-4 weight lifting days, and cardio 5 or 6 days a week. There is no need to spend 2+ hours in the gym... if you know people like that, they might be overtraining, or maybe they need to streamline the workouts a bit. Get in the gym, work hard, and get out. It's like what Ferris Bueller said "Life moves pretty fast...

There is a ton of information on the internet about the benefits of exercise, so I won't really delve much into it here. This one Weight Watcher Site has tons of great information, so I encourage you to look at it.

I'm going to start a primer for people who have never lifted weights before, and talk a little about my personal experience. While aerobic conditioning (what we commonly call "cardio"), is great for weight loss, a training routine coupled with anaerobic (weight lifting) conditioning with increase your results ten fold. Weight training has benefits that include:
  • Increasing muscle mass - 1 pound of muscle burns another 60 calories at rest
  • Increasing metabolism by creating an oxygen deficit - you need to stop and catch your breath
  • Releases endorphins to make you feel better and increase a positive mood
  • Sleeping better
  • And much more
The great thing about weight training is that your metabolism is increased for anywhere from 24-48 hours after exercise. That means that for the next day or so, you will burn more calories just going about your normal day. It's like finding free money in the middle of the street. There are small micro-traumas (don't worry) in your muscle that needs to be repaired and healed. This coupled with hormone release, causes you to get stronger and have better quality muscle (that whole toning thing). It is much easier to have better looking arms, legs, etc, when they know how to contract and become more dense.

Now the million dollar question... will you "get huge" or "bulk up" by lifting weights? The answer for a female, is mostly likely no. The reason I can say this with most certainty is due to testosterone. Women lack testosterone, or have it in very small amounts, compared to their male counterparts. If you are familiar with steroids, they are hormones that increase testosterone and it's similar friends. So basically, you cannot get big, because you lack the hormone responsible for it.

Now I'm being pretty general here... so if you start lifting weights and 3 months from now you have boulders for shoulders, and you don't want them... just take it down a few notches. Everyone has a different body, and their responses to exercise is different.

So where do you begin in the weight room... well I'll post more on it later, but here's a start...

Divide workouts into an upper and lower body day. That means work on your legs one day, and then your back, chest, and arms on the other day. With a rotation like this, you won't take up too much time in the gym, and your whole body won't be crazy sore at first. Speaking of soreness, to have a little tenderness for the next 1-2 days is normal. If you remember, we created a large demand on our muscles, so little tears in the muscle cause a little inflammation. Don't worry, with proper nutrition, drinking water to flush out any toxins, and REST, we heal nicely.

I would personally workout on a MWF or Tues/Thrus/Sat schedule, with your cardio either after weight training, or on the off days. Even walking after dinner for 30 minutes can be counted, and this has been shown to actually help with digestion. Ever feel really bloated after a meal? Yeah, walking helps me with that. That's why people in NYC aren't too huge.

Here's some final points for you to consider about starting weight lifting:
  • It will improve your own self esteem and self image
  • Gym people are mostly friendly people and in a good mood
  • Let the macho guys be macho... they have poor self esteem anyways
  • I know it's intimidating at first... just concentrate at bettering yourself
  • Everything in life is easier with a friend there
  • Have small goals each week or month - I want to lose this... or lift this much...
  • Put up a picture of some inspiration - Like what Dawn does on her site
  • Mom always said it takes 21 days to make a habit
So there you have it. Remember that exercise needs to be something you enjoy, so that you can stick to it for 21 days. No matter what you like... a hip hop class, (How'd it go Nat?) shadow boxing, running, yoga, give it all a try first. You never know what you like until you try :) You'll feel better, and in a few months, you won't remember life before your new found activity. Just remember to start slow, and always equip the advice of someone and your doctor before you start.

If you really, really, really hate exercise, then remember every little movement helps. When you go shopping, walk the mall for awhile before or afterward. Take the long way around to get to Target, park far away, or start walking the dog more after dinner. But once again, you won't know until you try :)

Ok that's it for this week. I just wanted to start out really slow for anyone who has never worked out before. Next week I'll get into actual individual exercises, and about how to lift correctly. If there's any type of 'advanced' or 'athlete' type questions, it may be awhile before I tackle those, but they'll be up sometime. Enjoy the rest of your weekend, and get moving before summer ends :)
Bueller?
Bright idea
She Hulk

The Awards Show

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, August 21, 2008

This is going to be a super quick post. If you have some Olympic watching, homework, baking, or playing with your dog to do... then by all means just scroll down and just look at the cool looking pictures. I've been very honored in my short time here (the Blogspace) to accumulate a couple of awards. All of these are really cool, and like all bloggers, I appreciate meeting new people and knowing that we all make a difference in each others minds and stomachs :)

So without further adieu.... the awards. PS... I have a hard time picking people for these awards, if you want one feel free to take it. I feel like I leave people out or something :)

Shreya of Mom's Cooking has given me not one... but TWO awards. How's that for a surprise? She is like the award queen. Here are the Best Blog Dart Thinker Award, and the Beautiful Site Award. Thank you so very much...

The almighty Recipe Girl has given me the Yum-Yum Blog Award. Who doesn't love an Oscar type statue with a cupcake?... it's right up our alley.
And finally, those experimental, cool cats Giz and Psychgrad over at Equal Oppertunity Kitchen have awarded me the Magic Lamp of Luck Award, which is very, very nice. Luck is something we all can never had enough of... and 3 wishes would be awesome too.
So there you have it... I know it's pretty sweet to have an award wall. I think I'm cooler than the Code-Man from Step by Step.... yeah that's too easy right?

Don't worry, tomorrow's FFF will be up in the afternoon, and I think it'll have some really great information in it. You guys all gave me a ton of ideas and questions to answer, so after I look over some notes and organize, put the learning caps on.
Code-Man

Cookie Classico

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Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Part of reason I started a blog is to get out of my "comfort zone" when it comes to baking and cooking. Without it, I would never of tried something called "Haupia" or a Blueberry Cake from scratch... or a grilled tart. It's like a Christopher Columbus of cooking, going out into the unknown... except without a ship full of sweaty, salty seadogs, and sailing off the edge of the world.

But... there is always a time and place for Classics. Just like The Beatles, Elvis, The Godfather, I Love Lucy, Chevy Corvette's... some things just withstand the test of time. They are that old friend that says "Dude, I can't let you down... I started it all"

Chocolate Chip Cookies do that. While you may have a unique favorite dessert, or definitely a more complicated one... who in their right mind does not like chocolate chip cookies? There are two camps of people... people who like chocolate chip, and people who love them. There are no haters. Chocolate Chip Cookie should run for president. He/She would unite the land. I'd vote for that. Make cookie, not war.

So a bunch of my good looking girl friends came up this weekend to see NYC (Veggie Girl's proclaimed city of choice). They wanted something classic for the long car ride back home. Here's a failsafe cookie recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe by Adam - makes 18-24
-1 1/3 cups whole wheat pastry flour

-1 cup packed brown sugar

-1/4 tsp baking soda
-1/2 tsp cinnamon

-1/4 tsp salt

-1 egg, slightly beaten

-1/4 cup butter, melted
-2 tsp vanilla extract

-4 oz of both milk and dark chocolate chips or chopped up chocolate


Preheat your oven to 350*. Get two cookie sheets ready, ungreased. The cookies probably won't stick, so don't worry.


In a medium sized bowl, mix the flour, sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt, until well incorporated. Just use a wooden spoon, it's a old school and a good workout.


In a small cup or bowl, stir the melted butter, egg, and vanilla extract together. Add this to the dry ingredients and stir until the dough comes together. It should smell delicious and become brown and shiny. If there are some crumbs still on the bottom or the dough doesn't want to come together, just keep at it. Eventually it will form a tough, sticky like dough. Fold the chocolate chips into the dough until they are evenly distributed.


Using two teaspoons, place heaping doughfuls onto the pans, leaving some space for them to spread out. Bake for 8-14 mins, or until the edges lightly brown and the cookies are firm to the touch. Don't overbake these... they kind of firm up as they cool. Cool on the pans for a minute, and then immediately place on a cooling rack until completely cool... if you can wait that long.




Well, this is going to be a shorter than usual Adam post. I'm going to try and update this site a bit, add some more of my cool new friends blogs, and maybe change the layout. I feel there's a lot of wasted space. Does anyone have any reccomendations for cool widgets or blog templates? I would take last place in the computer user olympics, so any help would be great. Drop me an email. I'll post about my NYC trip later this week once the girls get me some pictures, and I have to take care of some unfinished award business I've been putting off. Oh, and don't worry, FFF will be back a la usual. I've only just begun to talk health and fitness. Let me know what direction you want it steered in :)
Sailing away

Fun Fitness Friday #6

29

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Thursday, August 14, 2008

Ok, gather around everyone... Today is a very special day. We are going to put everything from the previous weeks together... and hopefully all of the puzzle pieces fit. Have you ever put a puzzle together with your brother or sister, and they try to jam that one piece of the puzzle to make it fit? Yeah, that was me. Wait, so that purple jelly bean doesn't go there? Ohhhhh... it's a puzzle of a duck?... I was waaay off.

So anyways, if you read the past installments of our little fun filled nutrition bits, you might have some of this information figured out already. I'm going to tailor this to people who want to lose a little weight, and the beautiful thing is that the same ideas and formulas work for someone losing 2 or 20 pounds.

The first thing to realize is that I like to write programs for a "life style change" and not a "diet". Studies have shown that weight that is lost on "diets" or "fads" are gained back in three years. The problem is usually because they are too strict, and no one sticks to them long term. Raise your hand if you want to eat grapefruit for the rest of your life. Not all at once now :) I know for a fact, some of you would not be happy campers if pizza was banished from you forever (Dawn) I include myself in that group. Life is about moderation in everything... so let's get going.

First, once again... figure out your BMR, by using the internet, or multiplying your bodyweight in pounds by 10 or so. So, for someone who is 155 lbs... they need to eat 1550 calories a day to maintain that weight. Now that we have a number to play with, lets use it up. Pretend someone gave you $1550 (that would be nice right?) today, and you have to spend it... hmm what to do?

I like to prescribe a ratio of 30/40/30 when it comes to macronutrients. These are percentages of protein/carbohydrate/fat you should take in a given day. What does that mean? Well, here's some super simple math you need to know... you won't even need a calculator.

Try and remember:
- 1 gram of carbohydrate or protein contains 4 calories
- 1 gram of fat contains 9 calories - see, it's more energy dense

This is important because if you measure out 40% of 1550 calories... you get... um... 620 calories. Divide that number by 4 and you get... 155 grams.

So if you weight 155 pounds and want to keep your current weight, you should aim for 155 grams of carbs per day. Do the same math but with only 30%, and you can figure out your protein grams. Take the calorie number for protein, but divide by 9 and you'll get the fat grams.

This comes out to be: 155 grams carbs (CHO), 112 grams protein (PRO), and 51 grams of fat. If a 155 pound person ate this and did no physical activity, they would stay healthy, and stay the same weight... as long as their food sources were good quality. Now... if you want to lose weight... you need to get moving...

Here's a nice number to remember... tell your friends about it... they will love you, and think you are very smart. There are 3500 calories to one pound of fat. That means you need to burn that many calories to lose one pound. Sure, you can do it in less... but it's probably water or inflammation in your body... which is another topic :)

One of the safest, and easiest ways to lose fat is by doing it slow. You want to be the tortoise, not the hare, in this race. A crash diet will work for a day or two, but they call it crash for a reason... you'll crash. A great number to shoot for is one pound of weight loss a week. That's not enough, you say? Well there's 52 weeks in a year. That's plenty of time to reach a goal. New year resolutions, bathing suit weather, a photo shoot... it can all be obtained, we just have to take it slow.

If one pound of fat is 3500 calories, and we want to lose one pound a week, what's the math on that? Well, there's seven days... so that makes 500 calories burned below your BMR/day. I love this idea because it's easy. Between diet and exercise, anyone can find a way to lose 500 calories. It's as simple as burning like 200-300 calories in the day, and then achieving the other 200-300 by eating right. A word of caution though... no matter how much or little you weigh... do not eat less than 1000 calories in a day (I know that sounds crazy, but that's a "more is better" mentality applied). This very low number of fuel causes your body to go into a "starvation mode" and store any calories it can... which results as fat retention. Remember, we were once hunter/gatherers who did not know when the next meal would come ;)
I don't want to go into information overload... so here's some tips to leave you with. They might be a little random, but then again, so am I.
  • While we are technically counting calories here, don't go crazy counting calories. I think it's important to gain an understanding of how much you should be eating, and knowing portion control. Figure out how many grams you need of something, and take a look at what that looks like, so you have an idea.
  • Take your gram numbers and space them out over 5 or 6 meals throughout the day. You always want a well balanced meal, because it controls insulin (remember?)
  • Protein and fat with every meal... it stabilizes blood sugar and keeps you satisfied
  • Try to have your starchy and healthy carb sources when your body needs it most... at breakfast, and before and after a workout
  • Always strive for 5 fruits and vegetables
  • Nothing increases your metabolism more than exercise... studies have shown:
  • Metabolism increases for up to 4 hours post aerobic (jogging etc) exercise
  • Metabolism increases for 24-48 hours post anaerobic (weight lifting) exercise
  • If you eat 5-6 times a day... that's 35-42 meals a week... so don't feel bad if you have pizza for one or two of them. That's still a passing grade in my book, 40/42 is still an A.
Ok, I think that's going to be it. Let me know if you have any questions, and field any personal ones by email. Next week, I'll go into exercises you should be doing, and more tips you can use for healthier eating and managing your weight. Not all exercises and methods are created equal, but for now, I just want everyone to get moving more. Pull a Michael Phelps and start swimming... easy at first. Run if you like it, rollerblade like its 1992... do whatever you enjoy, that's the key. Exercise should be something you enjoy. I'm taking some cool Canadians into NYC today... wish me luck! I'll try and take some pics for all of you. I should really try gelato, too. Enjoy the weekend my friends :)
Dumb and Dumber
Tortoise

Hey, How Would You Like a Hawaiian P... Haupia?

32

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I have no idea why... but August is definitely cooler than it should be right now. I had to sleep with a blanket last night, which is very surprising, but I enjoyed it. I'm typically a Fall guy, (both in seasons and in life), and then Summer takes a close second. So today, I bring you something which is Summery, and requires no baking. Yup you heard it, no oven to heat the house up. Just a little stove top action. Apparently someone told me I'm crazy because I live without air conditioning :) I just like living like it's 1776 is all... but with a shower and electricity :) I think if I could pick a time period to live it would probably be around ~1700. What do you think?

Here's a cool dessert from Hawaii, kind of like a sweet coconut pudding or custard, called Haupia. Those of you still wanting to get your healthy fat kicks, will be happy to hear that coconut is indeed a healthy fat. Yes, there is controversy because it's high in saturated fat, but if it's unprocessed, there are studies that show no links to heart disease. In fact it has anti-microbial and bacterial properties not found in other fats. So go cuckoo for coconuts! This recipe is from the same magazine the whoopie pies came from, which were a monster hit at the clinic. My back is sore from all the pats I got on it last week.


Haupia
from Hanaford Magazine

-2 cans lite coconut milk
-3/4 cup sugar
-1/2 cup cornstarch
-2 tsp vanilla
-1 1/2 cups water
-toasted coconut, to garnish

This recipe is super easy. First grease a 8x8 pan with cooking spray and set aside.

In a large sauce pan, bring both cans of coconut milk to a gentle simmer. In a small bowl, add sugar, cornstarch, vanilla, and water, and whisk until smooth and there are no lumps. Add the water mixture into the coconut milk and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth.

Let the combined milk mixture boil on medium heat until it thickens up, about 20 minutes. Make sure you stir frequently, so the bottom does not burn as the milk boils. You'll know it's thick enough when it starts to look more gel-like and comes away from the side of the pan when you stir. If you've ever made lemon pie from a mix like My T Fine... you know what I mean.

Pour the hot mix into the prepared 8x8 pan, and let cool for 15 mins on the counter. Then store covered with plastic wrap in the fridge for 2-3 hours before serving. Top with toasted coconut, maybe some slivered almonds, and you're all set. Cut into squares and serve. Makes 9-12.



I really liked this recipe. I've never cooked or baked with coconut milk before, but I think I became a believer. The squares are sort of like a firm pudding... like a panna cotta, and without gelatin. It's light, it's refreshing, and it's simple. I also like the fact that it can probably be changed to however you would like. I would maybe replace some of the water with pineapple juice, or maybe add a little melted chocolate if I was a little crazy go nuts. Sorry for the short post today guys... I have my last quiz EVER in a few hours. Oh one last thing... ok two. First, thanks for all the support for FFF and the Jets, and welcome new friends and readers. Second... toasted coconut now ranks up with coffee and "when it starts to rain" as the best scents ever. Write that down :)
Strong bad.. haha

Fun Fitness Friday #5

29

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, August 08, 2008

Wow, I've done five of these already? And you guys are still awake? Maybe I'm not a terrible teacher, or you guys are just awesome students. I'm also thinking the fact that we are obsessed with eating food, learning about food, and looking at food helps quite a bit too right? Today is a going to be a fun one today folks... a super fat filled fun day :)

I'm glad everyone liked the protein post so much. I appears many of you are not getting enough protein, which could be very possible. Remember protein serves many functions that are vital in the body (healing, hair, nails, muscle), but if you are increasing your protein consumption, increase how much water you drink. If you have normal functioning kidneys, you shouldn't have any problem as long as you are hydrated, and keep eating the veggies... remember we want to balance our pH.

Alright... here comes super debate #2... FATS. Oh man, there are tons of questions out there. How much fat should I eat? Does fat make me fat? What about high fat diets? Low fat diets? What the heck is an omega 3? The possibilities are endless. I'll start you out slow and give just some basic information. We'll touch a little on fat burning and losing weight too.

Fat, just like protein... does a bunch of different things in your body. It keeps your skin healthy, it keeps cell membranes (think of like a wall or force field around each cell) healthy, and it helps create hormones and steroids (important steroids, not meathead ones). Probably the most important role of fat... and something that is often misunderstood, it 's role in energy production. Fat is a very dense energy source, and a very little bit can provide your body with a lot of fuel.

The "excess" weight we have is exactly that... stored up energy. Think of your body as a car for a minute. So you turn the key, and you're idling right now. While you are sitting there, you are burning both carbs and fat, sort of equally, but only a little bit, because you're sitting. They are both your gasoline source right now. Now press on the gas a bit (start jogging)... to get up to 60mph, you are using mostly carbs now. Carbs are the preferred source to do quick, fast, intense movements... like acceleration. Now, as we enter the highway, and you stay steady at 65... we switch to primarily fats. Nice... we want to use fat.

Fat is used for endurance activities, which includes more steady state running, jogging, walking, anything you can keep doing for at least 20-30 minutes. If you incorporate sprints into your walking or jogging routine, your body will switch into burning carbs for those quick bursts. We call this interval training, but once again, that's another post :)

Without getting too complicated, it's due to how much energy can be produced per unit of fat vs. carb. A unit of carbs can only generate about 4 ATP (a unit of energy) compared to 36 ATP when using fat. That's a huge difference right? Yes, it is... 9 times more. So, the easier your body can switch into a fat burning mode, the happier it will be. It will be getting more bang for it's buck. Our bodies are actually like a sloth... (no the animal sloth not Goonie sloth), and want to use as little energy as possible to do anything.

So in order to burn fat, you need to keep doing an acitivity for at least 20 mintues... and it's probably better to shoot for 30 minutes. The amount of time needed to switch from a carbohydrate burning pathway to a fat burning pathway shortens as you "get more in shape". It's the bodies way of adapting to routine exercise. It learns that Laura runs to the Rent soundtrack everyday, and goes ,"Oh man, here it comes, I better switch up to using fat, I'm waay too lazy to use carbs for this". The great thing about training this pathway is it's effect AFTER exercise. Studies have shown that fat is burned exclusively for ~4 hours after 30 mintues of moderate intensity exercise. Cool right? Sounds like a good deal to me.

Now with that out of the way. Let's answer some common questions:

What's an omega-3 fat?
- Numbers like 3 are based on the fat's chemical make up, and the amount of hydrogen bonds it has to carbons. Omega-3's are better for your body, because while they provide energy, they also decrease LDL (bad cholesterol), and decrease inflammation. American's do not get enough omega-3's, and often eat omega-6. The 6's are found more commonly in food, such as animal fats, peanuts, and processed food. They can cause inflammation, so the more you avoid them, the better. Omega 3's are found in olive oil, flax oil, and fresh fish.

Does eating fat make me fat?
- Not really. The problem with fat is that it is very energy dense. It has 9 calories per gram, as opposed to carbs and protein, which only have 4. So it takes less fat to measure up to the same amount of calories. Fat gain is due to a surplus of total calories, regardless of it's source.

So do I need to eat fat?
-Yes, absolutely. Healthy fats are important to keep your body functionally normally. Always shoot for omega-3's if you can. Good sources include almonds, types of nuts, soy products, flax seed, fresh water fish, certain eggs, and olive oil. If you can, try to avoid trans-fats at all costs. These are fats that have been altered in a lab to have a long shelf life. Because of the alteration, they are not digested by the body easily, and have been linked to disease. If an ingredient list has somthing that says "partially hydrogenated... (some kind of oil)" it has trans fat. It doesn't matter what the labeling says. Anything with 0.5 grams or less can be marketed as zero grams in America.

I think that might be enough info for today, guys and gals. I always get afraid of info overload, especially with the weekend coming. Today is a great weekend for me, because in case you haven't heard, or don't keep up on sports... Brett Favre - the best quarterback of my generation... is now a NEW YORK JET. I can't even explain how this affects me on a sports and personal level. The Jets have always been an underdog... a team often forgotten... so this is huge. If you are an underdog, much like myself, and the Jets... root for them this year. Awesome. Next week I'm going to put all this past info together, and talk about exercise. You're going to have more fun than a winning a lifetime supply of chocolate and bubble solution. Alright I have to lift weights and eat sushi... mmmm omega-3's and protein :)

Makin' Whoopie?... What?... Like...

31

Posted by Adam | Posted in , , | Posted on Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Dork alert here. Brace yourselves ladies and gents. Nowadays, in my ripe old age... I love to travel. That's not the dorky part. However, one of my favorite things to do is to check out supermarkets when I'm in a new land. It is really, really cool. I walk the aisles, and while of course many of the products are the same... there is just a different feel. While I have never been west of Ohio during my "remembering years" (that's the ages I can actually remember doing something... so like age 10 and onwards), I've been throughout the whole East Coast. And let me tell you something...

There are a lot of different supermarkets out there. Some are more awesome than others, but they are all pretty unique. So here's a question to you... what supermarket do you frequent, and where in the US is your favorite one? Sorry... told you it was Dorkfest 2000 here today. Must be the coffee... or me.

So anyways... the recipe for today comes from a supermarket magazine we have in Albany, NY. There we are treated with both Price Chopper, and Hannaford Supermarkets. While I always think PC has better deals, Hannaford is usually more health conscious, and has this sweet magazine that comes out once a month. I saw this recipe for a thing called a whoopie pie, and after laughing for about 3 minutes straight (haha whoopie), and I thought to myself "Self... I have to try that... how can you not try that?". Oh, and a warning... this is not an Adam "healthier" baking recipe. You have to try something before you can mess around with it :) This is also going to Dhanggit's Perfect Party Dishes... they are a perfect handheld snack... just watch the messy fingers :) Go on and check out her Event!

Makin' Whoopie Pie
Courtesy of Hannaford Supermarket Fresh Magazine

Whoopie Pie Cakes:
-1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
-3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
-2 eggs

-3 cups AP flour

-3/4 cup cocoa powder
-2 tsp baking soda

-1 tsp salt
-1/2 tsp instant coffee (I used expresso powder)

-1 1/2 cups buttermilk

-1 1/2 tsp vanilla


Filling:

-3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened
-2 1/4 cups powered sugar
-1 tsp vanilla

-3 cups marshmallow creme... I just call it Fluff


Preheat the oven to 350*. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or those really cool slipmats.
In a large bowl, cream the butter and brown sugar together with a handmixer or by hand, until smooth and brown creamy. Add the eggs, one at a time, until incorporated well.

In medium the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda, salt, cocoa powder, salt, and instant coffee powder. Stir well until everything is evenly distributed throghout. Set aside. In a 2 cup measuring cup, pour buttermilk and vanilla extract, and mix well.


Alternate pouring half of the dry ingredients and the buttermilk mix into the butter and brown sugar mixture, mixing by hand or with a handmixer. The completed batter will be very thick, and rather stiff. I would use a handmixer unless you have some serious guns.


Drop the batter on the baking sheets by heaping tablespoon fulls, and leave 2" for the batter to spread out. Bake for about 10-13 minutes. The done cakes should look like little cakey cookies, and be lightly springy and soft to the touch. Let cool on the pans for a minute or two, and then completely cool on wire racks. Make the filling while the cakes are baking.


To make the filling, cream the butter and vanilla together until smooth. Add the powdered sugar, a cup at a time, and beat on low speed with your mixer. Scoop out the marshmallow creme, and add to the mix, beating on low until well combined and smooth. Taste it and add more sugar to taste.
Frost the flat side of one of the completely cool cakes, and top with a second cake. You're finally done, baby.


I really liked these pies. This recipe made about 20 pies, that are a little smaller than the size of your palm. It's a perfect snack size I think. The cakes are not very sweet at all, but with the filling, it makes all the difference. Be careful though, the filling is messy. I didn't take pictures, but I got fluff all over my hands, and was forced to like it off. Well, such is the life of a baker and chiropractor. I can't go adjusting people with sticky hands, right? "Um, Miss Jones, is your neck sticky? My bad". Oh, and anyone like Mallrats?... I got the title from there :)

Fun Fitness Friday #4 and an Awesome Surprise

22

Posted by Adam | Posted in , | Posted on Friday, August 01, 2008

Wow, it's totally August already? Where's the summer going? Pretty soon pumpkin recipes are going to popping up all over the place and turkey's are going to start running and hiding. Ok, maybe I'm getting a little ahead of myself, but time is flying.

We have a couple of things to talk about today. Just to answer a few quick questions on people who may have got confused on what carbs to eat, like rice vs. wheat... the answer is it doesn't really matter. Use the Nutrition Facts on the back of the box or bag... it's your best friend. I always look at total calories, carb grams, and fiber. You want the most fiber you can get in ratio to the carb grams. So in the long run... it won't matter whether it is rice or wheat, quinoa or buckwheat, oats or barley... just make sure that you like how it tastes, and that there is a good amount of fiber there.

Ok... Protein. I won't lie to anyone here. Protein is my best friend. It's cheap, it's always around when you need it, and you can treat it however you want and it won't get mad at you. Everyone needs protein. Yup, I know I'm bias because I'm a bodybuilder, but protein does more than builds muscle...

Protein other odd jobs include: neurotransmission (think brain signals), Hormone regulation (kinda important to ladies, right ;), Enzyme production, DNA and Genetic codes, the list goes on forever. Do you like your hair and nails? Those are made of protein too.

So do you need a lot of protein? I mean, they do a ton of things in the body. Well, research shows that the absolute bare minimum is measured at 0.8g/kg of bodyweight. That number is a little low, in my opinion. For instance, let's say you're at least a little active during the day, or you did some chores around the house, or perhaps you're resting because you're sick. You're going to need more protein than that. You need to heal any body tissues that are under stress. So, a better equation is... 1.2g/kg of bodyweight. So if you're 150 lbs...
150 / 2.2 = 68kg.... 68kg x 1.2 = 81 grams of protein

This is just a ballpark type number. I would give this number to most women, and shoot just a little higher if they are looking to gain some muscle mass in the gym. If you are looking to gain muscle and are a man... The number is about 1.8g per kilogram of weight.

Why do women need less? Well, I'm not sexist... honest. Sometimes, the women in my life do make things a little more cra... um I mean interesting, but the real reason is easy. Proteins are composed of materials called amino acids. Don't be afraid of the word, they are just particles that are building blocks, like Lego's. Really cool Lego's that do a ton of cool stuff in your body. However, they are acids... and too much acid can do bad things. Ever leave a tooth in a glass of Coke for a few days... yup the acid ate it.

So, when your body eats too much acid, it becomes more acidic. See this pH scale for information. When the body becomes acidic, it wants to balance it out to become more alkaline, and tip the scale the other way. Buffers are released to combat the acid... which are mainly Calcium, Magnesium, and Zinc. Now, for women who have a problem with osteoporosis (it's actually a common cause for vertebral fratures), eating too much acid can cause a problem. The bones have to leech and release Calcium and place it into the bloodstream, in order to make the blood and body less acidic. Less calcium = weaker bones = more prone to fractures.

Now, I don't want to scare you away from protein. You will not break your bones by eating it. I just want to stress about two things... use moderation... and eat a well balanced diet. You are more at risk by drinking sodas that contain 'phosphoric acid', than by eating too much protein. Your body will use the protein for whatever healing and processing it needs at the time, and then use the rest for energy if neccessary.

The best way to balance out a diet is by supplying it with vegetables and fruit. These super foods contain Boron, which keeps all of those minerals in the bone. Then there are phytochemicals, anti-cancer agents, and a whole cache of microminerals you need in them. Eating a balanced diet is key, but you already knew that.

For the vegetarians, vegans, or people that just don't like meat... don't dispair... proteins are also plentiful in plants. While animal proteins are often complete, meaning they contain both esstential (aminos you have to ingest in the diet), and non-esstential (aminos your body can make from other materials)... plant proteins are not complete. One very knowledgeable blogger pointed out the idea of "pairing proteins" together. For instance... Corn does not have Lysine in it... but black beans do. So what do we have to do?

Enter Black Bean Corn Salsa. By combining the two, your body now has a complete protein. It's kind of like math, except there are no numbers... and they make me hungry :)

Ok, that's a ton of information right there... To summarize...
  • Protein is needed for more than just muscle, and is very important to maintain a healthy body
  • Shoot for somewhere from 1.2 - 1.8 grams of complete protein per kg of bodyweight
  • Maintain a well balanced diet with fruits and vegetables to keep your body in a more neutral acid - base balance
  • Always eat "protein pairings" to get complete proteins as much as possible
Ok, now with that out of the way... Teresa, a wonderful blogger over at Mexican-American Border Cooking, awarded me this Brillante Weblog Award. It's my first award! I'm famous! No seriously... it is very awesome, and I am very lucky to have such great friends over here in the blogverse. We're scattered all over the world, but yet we're so close, ya know? I have to award this to five other people... so let's see...

Veggie Girl - Always health conscious, always has a great story to tell, always a sweet commenter

She Runs, She Eats - She makes me laugh so much I think we share a brain sometimes

Hungry and Frozen - Her stories and life in a world down under are priceless. I found Nigella through her :)

Vanilla Sugar - We both love working out and pizza... if that's not a bond I don't know what is

Clumbsy Cookie - The creativity and effort she puts in her sweets has no bounds. She bakes outside the box, and I love it.

So there you have it. Pass it on to 5 others, and spread the good love and cheer. Next week, we'll talk a little about healthy fats, and answer any protein questions. Oh, and yes, I will put up workout and exercise info for those that are interested. Sky is the limit here, folks. Thanks for reading everyone, and enjoy the weekend!
Odd job here
Lego here