Archive for October, 2015

Recipe: Gluten Free Bread

As I’m moving towards a Pegan diet (Paleo minus too much red meat, plus beans), I feel that some occasional bread (e.g. once a week) could have a place in my diet. This is a recipe with the least bad ingredients in it: no grains except rice, and no gums.

Gluten Free Bread

Ingredients (makes a 1.5 lbs loaf)
* 1 egg
* 2 tablespoons olive oil
* 1 cup warm water (or more, as needed)
* 1 tspoon brown sugar
* 1 tspoon salt
* 1 tspoon baking soda
* 2 cups rice flour (white or brown)
* 1/2 cup tapioca flour
* 1/2 cup potato starch (not flour)
* 3 tspoons gluten-free active dry yeast
* 2 tspoons psyllium husk (optional, used for binding)
* 1 tspoon nutritional yeast (optional)

Method
1. Turn on your oven at 400 F, and let it get warm, for 1-2 minutes. Turn it off.
2. Mix all the ingredients with clean hands, or a hand mixer, and knead/beat them. The dough must be very loose, almost like a batter. Add more warm water if needed.
3. Place the batter/dough in a baking pan, and in the slightly warm oven. Let it rise for 1 hour.
4. Turn on the oven at 375 F (290 C), and bake until the bread is browned (depending on the oven, it will take anywhere between 30 to 50 minutes).
5. When done, remove from pan, and use a cooling rack.

Notes:
1. The psyllium husk is used as a substitute to various gums (like xanthan gum, which is known to create health problems). Psyllium husk adds fiber into the bread.

2. The nutritional yeast will add B1 vitamin to the bread, a vitamin that most gluten free dieters easily get deficient on (wheat flours come enriched with B1).

3. Eating the bread cold, will help you get more “resistant starch” (that comes primarily from the potato starch). That type of starch isn’t digestible (so it doesn’t make you gain weight), and it’s food only for the good gut bacteria. That starch is only “resistant” when it’s cold.

Why “Dieting” will make you sicker

There are two types of dieting for weight loss: the one is plain calorie restriction, and the other one is cutting down specific parts of the normal human diet (e.g. carbs for low carb diets, or fats for low-fat vegan diets). Research has shown that the second way is a better way to lose weight and keep it off too. Many have gone either keto or vegan and have lost weight and seen health changes (at least for a while, because after a few months, it backfires due to lack of specific nutrients — these diets shouldn’t be followed for more than 3 months IMHO).

Speaking for me, while I’m Paleo for life (since it has fixed most of my health ailments), one thing hasn’t worked: weight loss. Men do lose weight faster on Paleo, without effort. They can eat what they want, as long as it’s on the approved list. For women, who are genetically designed to keep on their fat for evolutionary/birth reasons, it’s a hit or miss thing. For some women it works, for others, especially those with metabolic disorder, it fixes the rest of their health in general, but it doesn’t make them lose weight (in other words, it doesn’t clear the metabolic disorder completely). Even worse, 2/3 of women who go keto, end up with thyroid problems (like I have).

The only diet that works for weight loss for these women, is again, calorie restriction. Which of course, in the long run, also doesn’t work. Research now and again has shown that people on a calorie restricted diet end up getting all their weight back within a few months, plus an additional 10%.

So after a quick test with a low calorie Paleo diet (1200 calories per day, I’m very short), it soon became clear that it was unsustainable, since it made you think of food 24/7. Keto fucked up my thyroid, and plain Paleo simply doesn’t make me lose weight.

However, the real problem of low calorie diets exists elsewhere. The real danger is in malnutrition. When you go down to 1200 calories from 1800-2000 calories per day, it’s not just calories you minimize. It’s nutrients. IF the kind of food we had today was as nutrient-dense as it was in the ancient times, then going down to low calorie would not be a problem. In fact, many praise the traditional Japanese diets for being small-portioned. But the point these people are missing is that even if they were eating small quantities, they were getting A LOT of nutrients. They didn’t NEED to eat more!

Today, with modern, selected varieties, this is simply not possible. And the sad part is, that if you don’t OVER-EAT, you will NOT get enough nutrients. 2000 calories a day are bare minimum to acquire the right nutrients! And that’s an amount that doesn’t help with weight loss at all. In fact, in some research paper recently, they found that tribal diets are up to 15 times more nutrient-dense than western diets, and up to 10 times more nutrient dense than the Paleo diet. So basically, going Paleo helps your health, but since we don’t have access to ancient varieties anymore, even Paleo won’t ultimately save you.

This situation has given me quite some depression to be honest: Eat little, get malnutritioned. Eat more, get fat, and still remain malnutritioned. There’s no winning in the West.

These aren’t good times for food and health. The only thing that could work is to buy a farm (somewhere where the water is still clean), find ancient heirloom varieties for your garden, and non-selected breeds of animals, and take the matter 100% on to your own hands. Simply buying organic broccoli or kale at the farmer’s market will only get you so far. Father than the standard western diet, but not as far as some people must go to battle their medical issues.

Cooking for those who don’t cook

How to eat healthily, and with great diversity, without having to know more than 2-3 basic recipes? This is a guide for just that. The recipes are based on Chris Kresser’s version of Paleo (fermented dairy, potatoes, and optionally, white rice and some beans, are allowed).

Notes:

– For the main recipes and the soup, you can even prepare them days in advance and then microwave them when needed.

– The only cooking tools you’ll need is a large frying pan (I use this), and a wooden spatula.

– When I say “veggies”, use as many different veggies as you can. Maybe up to 8 different kinds at a time! The more different veggies you use, the more vitamins you’ll get. Keep them al-dente, so not all their vitamins get destroyed in the cooking process.

– Have fish 4-5 times a week for lunch. Wild, low-mercury fish only (e.g. wild salmon, canned sardines) and shellfish (farmed ok, primarily get canned oysters in olive oil (“Crown Prince”)).

1. Breakfast

Veggie omelet

Beat 2 eggs, peel and cut into 1 inch cubes 1 white potato, wash and chop in 1″ size veggies you have around (mushrooms, spinach, kale, chard or other greens, onions, broccoli, zucchini, peppers, cherry tomatoes, carrots, cilantro, parsley etc). Fry the potato in some avocado oil on a non-stick pan under medium heat, and stir a few times. When it starts to get golden, add the veggies, and stir fry them too for 3 minutes. Beat the eggs lightly, add salt and pepper in them, lower the heat, and add them to the pan. Make holes for the eggs to cook completely (cover too). Add some feta, goat, or blue cheese on top, and serve immediately with 1/4th raw avocado.


Also, have a smoothie: in a blender (I use this one) add 1 cup of kefir (most potent probiotic of all), frozen fruits of your choice, a handful of raw green veggies, cilantro, cacao, whey protein etc. A good understanding of the basic formula can be seen here. Consider getting all this with 2000 IU of D3 vitamin, and a K2-Mk4 vitamin, 2-3 times a week.

2. Lunch

Stir-fry

Cut up veggies of your choice in small size, some green peas, a bit of garlic, and also cut in thin stripes any meat, offal, shellfish, or wild fish of your choice. If using fish or shellfish, fry separately after you have cooked the veggies (definitely have seafood 3-5 times a week btw). If using meat, offal or shrimp, fry them first in some oil until browned for 1-2 minutes, and then add the veggies. Stir fry everything under high heat for 4-5 minutes until the veggies are al-dente. At the last minute, add 1-2 tbspoons of tamari gluten-free soy sauce. Note: chicken, turkey and pork require more cooking than other types of meat. Fish usually needs less time.

Serve as-is for low carb, or on top of white rice (you can cook it first with some water and set aside, or you can buy microwaveable bags), or with half a (strained and reheated) gluten-free can of beans of your choice (except for soy). Go for 3-2-2 in a week (3 low carb, 2 rice, 2 beans).

Couple that with CoQ10 Ubiquinol (not Ubiquinone), 2-3 times a week, and a fresh fruit.

3. Snack

A small handful of nuts or seeds (except peanuts). Consider getting some sunflower seeds, since they’re high in both B1 and E (otherwise impossible to get enough B1 in a gluten-free diet, since B1 is added on flours exactly because most of our foods are devoid of it).

4. Dinner

Hash

Peel and cut up a sweet potato/yam in small cubes (the yellow ones inside are like normal potatoes, the orange ones are sweet, and the purple ones are more starchy). Cut up carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, greens and any other veggies you have around. Add some avocado oil in the pan, cook the potatoes for 2 minutes (cover & stir occasionally), and then add some minced meat of your choice and stir for another 3 minutes. Add the veggies and stir/cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add half a can of chopped tomatoes (or cut up 1 tomato yourself) and add it to the mix. Add salt and pepper, stir occasionally, and cook until most of the juices have evaporated.

Serve with some Greek salad (4 times a week) or a soup (3 times a week).

Greek salad: cut a tomato, some cucumber, some green pepper, a few olives, small pieces of lettuce, sliced onion, some feta cheese. Add extra virgin olive oil, some lemon, oregano, mix, eat!

Soup: Cook covered with 1 cup of water 1 cup of various veggies, cut in cubes. When most of the liquid has evaporated, turn off and remove from the heat. When the veggies are just warm (not hot), pour them in the blender, and add about 1/5th of this bone broth carton (fastest way to get gelatin into your diet is to buy bone broth than to cook it yourself). Blend for a few seconds until smooth, re-heat the whole thing back in the pan, add some salt & pepper, oil or sour cream, and enjoy. You can make a large soup batch and freeze it in small containers too, so you don’t have to cook this too often.

Couple that with a yeast-free B-complex, 2-3 times a week that also has folate in it (not just folic acid). Unfortunately, there are only 1-2 brands that are both yeast-free and have folate.

5. 30 minutes before bed

Microwave (or boil in the pan) water with an organic chamomile bag (herbal, no caffeine). You could couple that with some Magnesium vitamins, 2-3 times a week.

Sleep by 9:30 PM (after the sun has set). Wake up early, and either exercise in the morning, or at least walk outside with the first sun, preferably without shoes in some natural environment or a park (not concrete).

Review: Dark Matter

“Dark Matter” (DM) is a new sci-fi show at the SyFy channel, produced in Canada. It tells the story of 7 crew members who wake up on their spaceship without any memories. Soon, they learn that they’re wanted mercenaries, and the story continues from there.

There’s not much to tell about the show really: it’s a run-o-the-mill Canadian production trying to pass as a modern sci-fi: dark cinematography, sterile characters and performances, crew-members who bicker at each other as main plots, no actual ethical lessons through the sci-fi lens as you would expect from good sci-fi etc.

Stylistically, the show resembles Stargate:Universe (SGU), and guess what: both its creators were writers/producers in the Stargate franchise. However, it is obvious that even if they ended up with a bad version of SGU, their original goals were instead to provide an alternative to the Firefly fans. I can literally see in my mind’s eye the SyFy business meeting among execs seriously discussing that a Firefly-wannabe show is needed, since it’s something that it’s been missing in the minds of sci-fi lovers.

So, they set out to do a Firefly-wannabe, trying not too hard to feel too much like Firelfy. The indications are there: the oddball little girl who feels like River but dresses like Kaylee, the crazy gun-lover mercenary, the “priest”, the strong female, the mercenary/wanted thing, the being hungry and not having any money, the handler guy. Even the episodes are the same: the western-like feel, the fact that there are no aliens in their universe, the boarding episode, the woman enemy episode (using an android instead of Saffron this time), the mining colony episode and their illness, the stealing job episode, etc etc. Only thing missing is Inara’s whore part (which is telling, meaning that they never pushed the envelope).

In conclusion, Dark Matter is simply a patchwork alternative for fans of Firefly. It’s not as good as Firefly in any sense, but it might be good enough if you’re hungry for some space-based sci-fi. I will not say that DM is a Firefly copycat. That would mean that it’s as good as Firefly, while it’s not. I’d say instead that it’s a poor cousin.

6/10

Psychedelic vs Meta-Psychedelic

I do a lot of t-shirt design lately, which I enjoy immensely (possibly even more than making the collages that comprise the said t-shirts). On my store, I’ve separated my t-shirts as “pop art“, and “trippy“. The trippy ones are the t-shirt designs and collages that I call meta-psychedelic. They’re under the surreal category for sure, but they go a step further than traditional surrealism and towards psychedelia. But at the same time, they’re not these kaleidoscopic traditional psychedelic designs either. A more proper term would probably be “post-psychedelic”, but if the hippies of the world hear that, they’d be pissed off, so I think “meta-psychedelic” is a more universally acceptable term. So what exactly is it? Here’s the difference: traditional psychedelic looks is what you see after you get some low dosage LSD or shrooms (or some infused pot). Meta-psychedelia is what you could (potentially) be seeing when you breakthrough, with higher doses of shrooms, LSD, or DMT. The former just scratches the surface, while the latter goes deeper into hyperspace.

Psychedelic:

Meta-psychedelic: