Thursday, December 30, 2010

Salmon McNuggets

Another one from the getting kids to eat healthy file.

My kid is actually not averse to eating baked or poached salmon, but sometimes he eats a lot and other times he turns his nose up at it. Then he wakes up at 2 am complaining he's hungry. Those are the dark tea times of the soul. So as a little extra incentive, I've resorted to cubing the salmon and breading it.

 (the irregular pieces I just ate raw, yum)

First egg-milk mixture, then flour-somolina-salt-paprika mixture. The paprika adds some nice color.

Fry 'em up in plenty of lard et voilà! Dobrou chuť!

My kid doesn't actually know what a McDs McNugget is and I don't intend for him to find out any time soon. Not that I have a problem with McDonalds per se, but McNuggets have like fifty ingredients and I am only cool with a few of them:
Chicken McNuggets®:
Chicken, water, salt, sodium phosphates. Battered and breaded with: bleached wheat flour, water, wheat flour, food starch-modified, salt, spices, wheat gluten, paprika, dextrose, yeast, garlic powder, partially hydrogenated soybean oil and cottonseed oil with mono -and diglycerides, leavening (sodium acid pyrophosphate, baking soda, ammonium bicarbonate, monocalcium phosphate), natural flavor (plant source) with extractives of paprika. Prepared in vegetable oil (Canola oil, corn oil, soybean oil, hydrogenated soybean oil with TBHQ and citric acid added to preserve freshness). Dimethylpolysiloxane added as an antifoaming agent.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Rockin' It Old Skool: Julia Child

It's a little known fact that Mark Sisson's new primal cookbook (one of the five worst cookbooks of the year!) is, in fact, Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking with the dessert section removed (no one's perfect).

"I'll whup any vegan with one hand tied behind my back"
First published in 1961 Mastering the Art of French Cooking led to the premature deaths of millions of Americans. Here's a scan from the table of contents: 

(Sweetbreads are simply offal, in case you didn't know)

Julia Child, of course, had her promising career cut short when she keeled over from a massive heart attack at the age of 43. Upon autopsy, her arteries were found to be solid butter! Had she drawn breath in a more enlightened age, she certainly would have lived to the ripe old age of 92 and died from something completely unrelated to the evils of cholesterol and SFAs, like, say, kidney failure.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Bloggers Not Destroying The Fabric of Society?

Nature, one of the world's most prestigious scientific journals, opines that blogs and online comments might actually provide helpful feedback for researchers. (link)
Bloggers and online commentators have an important part to play in the assessment of research findings, and many researchers' blogs, in particular, contain better analyses of the true significance of a scientific finding or debate than is seen in much of the mainstream media. Science journalists who repeated NASA's claims on the arsenic bacterium and did not tap into the widespread criticisms, did little to defend themselves from claims of reporting by press release. Blogging scientists, meanwhile, should remember that such informal forums do not excuse insults and casual discourtesy towards colleagues — especially those being urged to respond.

In the end, the scientific truth will prevail, as it usually does. In the meantime, researchers must accept some harsh truths about the speed and spread of digital criticism.
Paging T. Colin Campbell, paging T. Colin Campbell . . .

The Nature article relates the discovery by some NASA scientists of a bacteria that can replace phosphorus with arsenic in its DNA and was heavily publicized by NASA, with suggestions made about it being a possible alien life form (“astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life”). Meanwhile, several prominent researchers in the field published detailed critiques of the paper at which point the authors suddenly "retreated behind the walls of peer review".
Nature strongly encourages post-publication discussion on blogs and online commenting facilities as a complement to — but not a substitute for — conventional peer review.
I couldn't agree more.

Not because I think my little blog is going to change the world or has anything to do with valid criticisms of cutting edge research, but because I think this might signal a significant shift in the acceptance of non-traditional sources of information.

This extends beyond peer reviewed science vs criticisms raised by their peer's blogs, to the idea that science can only be disseminated by science journalists interpreting the great hallowed truths of 'experts' when these same journalists usually couldn't pass a chem 101 class to save their lives. And, of course, the idea that a blogger can make valid criticisms of the statistical methods of a vegan activist bible on her blog despite not having the obligatory PhD.

I first came across evolutionary diet principles and the thorough debunking of the "SFAs will kill you" myth from blogs, and was impressed with the depth and breadth of knowledge of people like Peter at Hyperlipid, Kurt Harris, Stephan Guyenet, etc. Had these blogs not existed I wouldn't be aware of any of this stuff and I don't think I'm alone in this. I'd still be trying to jog off my beer belly, slogging through the snow and nursing injuries.

The legitimacy of non-traditional media sources should ultimately prevail, and has already done so in the case of my outlook on health, diet and exercise.

(HT: John Hawks)

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Fishing With John

Recently came across this little gem. All 6 episodes are great but I think my favorite is the one with Tom Waits.

Pantastic Christmas

When Germans decide to make something, they usually don't mess around with mediocrity. This Woll TitanPlus pan, a Christmas present, is a perfect example.

Real cooks cook with stainless steel or so I've heard. Fortunately I'm not a real cook so I'm sticking with non-stick.

Detachable handle for putting in the oven.

Heavy aluminum/titanium base for even cooking which I've already scratched up a bit. I'm not sure what the thin layer of titanium is actually adding to the cooking properties of the pan. Perhaps it helps bind with the nonstick coat better? Helps conduct heat? Maybe it is just a marketing gimmick.

Tempered glass lid with adjustable steam vent.

Once can also buy a heavy terracotta lid for it which I am already coveting as we don't own a dutch oven.

Ever notice how everything looks so much cooler overexposed at a 30 degree angle?
The only possible downside to this Porsche of Pans (besides the price of course, these things don't grow on trees) is its weight. Having ruined too many things cooking them in cheap wafer-thin cookware I'm happy to have the extra heft myself. And it does have the opposing mini handle to allow for two-handed lifting. Otherwise one can opt for the lighter, nowo Titanium. The other question would be how long the non-stick coating will actually stay non-stick. Even the best of pans start losing it after 5 years of daily use in my experience. But that's a question for the (hopefully) distant future.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

MSG, Not For Me

I've never found myself to have any particular food allergies with the exception of MSG. I started noticing this quite a while back. There seems to be a lot of evidence that "Chinese restuarant syndrome" is a myth:
While many people believe that monosodium glutamate (MSG) is the cause of these symptoms, an association has never been demonstrated under rigorously controlled conditions, even in studies with people who were convinced that they were sensitive to the compound.[10][11][12][13] Adequately controlling for experimental bias includes a placebo-controlled double-blinded experimental design and the application in capsules because of the strong and unique after-taste of glutamates.[10]  (Wikipedia)
Wow, look at all those referenced studies!

Even DBPC (double blind placebo controlled) studies indicated no MSG reactions. I decided perhaps I was just imagining things. I tried to be skeptical and objective. Yet time after time I would start to experience a racing heartbeat and a headache, only to realize I had eaten something with MSG. A big offender was Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing. I loved that stuff. When I tried to make it myself it never had the same zing as those fiendish little packets. That awesome zing, of course, was MSG. I loved you so, yet you broke my heart (well, made it race alarmingly). Nowadays, I avoid store-bought mayo, and things with labels in general, so I wouldn't be whipping up any ranch dressing that wasn't made from scratch anyway.

The Eades have this to say about MSG:
[aspartame]--along with other similar molecules, most notably MSG (monosodium glutamate), the food additive and flavor enhancer so pervasive in processed foods--behaves as a brain excitotoxin. Its chemical structure allows it to fiit into a receptor within the brain called the NMDA (N-methyl-d-aspartate) receptor, triggering such overstimulation in the nerve cell that it dies. In other words, the brain cell literally becomes excited to death. (The Protein Power LifePlan, pp 166)
Oh great, just what I need, less brain cells.

So regardless of all the research apparently proving that I am imaging all this, I avoid MSG whilst still nostalgic for its savory taste. This is a classic n=1 decision. Perhaps most people really are imagining their "Chinese restaurant syndrome" but I am going to stick to what works best for me, even if it's all just a figment of my imagination. My brain cells will be grateful.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Steak: a Controlled Substance in Canada, eh?

I recently started trying L-carnitine supplements, so was doing some reading on it and was amused to discover that it is only available by prescription in Canada. You see, it can induce "nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps, diarrhea and seizures" according to this Health Canada page where they report seizing carnitine supplements from a health food store.

You crazy Canucks realize this stuff occurs naturally in foods (especially red meat), and is manufactured in the human liver and kidneys, right?

Well, I'm happy to report that I've managed to avoid any seizures and projectile vomiting so far.

Meanwhile Robert Crayhon (esteemed friend of the Drs Eades) thinks carnitine can slow aging increase mitochondrial function, increase fat burning and lots of other things.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Is The Body Such a Chaotic System?

Art De Vany has an excerpt from his new book at Mark's Daily Apple, including this:
We tend to simplify what otherwise seems overwhelmingly complicated. But as we now know, our metabolic function is infinitely complex. I found myself using concepts from other scientific disciplines to help me understand and explain the human body’s inner workings.

According to chaos theory, certain systems that seem to be random in fact are not–it’s just difficult for us to perceive, at the outset, all the subtle factors that set the course and determine the outcome. One landmark of chaos theory is the “butterfly effect.” This says that even a very small, unseen occurrence in a far-off place can have a large eventual impact–that if a butterfly flaps its wings in Hong Kong, the resulting breeze can trigger a cascade of atmospheric events and cause a hurricane in Brazil.

This can be used to explain many of our bodies’ inner workings. Here’s a simple one: If you go to the gym several hours after your last meal (so that you’re on a relatively empty stomach), your body will quickly burn through whatever glycogen is in your muscles and then move on to burning fat, which is the desirable state. But if on your way to the gym you have a sports drink, one with lots of carbs, you’ll need to burn off the glucose first. And depending on your workout, you might never get around to burning fat at all. Same exact exercise routine, very different outcomes, all because of your choice of pre-exercise beverage.
It got me thinking about chaos theory, which I haven't thought much about since college. It also caused a little mental friction, and on closer examination, I decided it was just plain wrong.

Using the butterfly effect as an analogy is fine (if something of trite cliché by now). Perhaps it can also be used to explain some of our bodies' inner workings. But saying that the effect on your metabolism of an energy drink before a workout is "explained" by the butterfly effect is erroneous.

The butterfly effect describes systems that are extremely sensitive to small changes. I'm not sure if saying a butterfly flapping its wings 'causes' a hurricane is really an accurate way to describe it. The proverbial butterfly is not introducing millions of joules of energy into the Earth's atmosphere causing a hurricane. That hurricane, or one very much like it, is going to happen regardless.

When Lorenz (more-or-less) coined the term butterfly effect it was to describe how two non-linear systems, starting with slightly different initial conditions, could quickly diverge. At the time it was thought that long-term accurate weather prediction would soon be possible. Lorenz showed that it was essentially impossible unless highly accurate temperature sensors were placed two feet apart, up into the stratosphere, over the entire globe. Only if the initial conditions could be measured to an impossibly high degree of accuracy would it even be theoretically possible to create a long term predictive model for weather.

Is the body's metabolic function so non-linear, 'infinitely complex' as De Vany puts it? First of all, to say that metabolic function is infinitely complex seems rather silly. Everything is 'infinitely complex' at some level.

A rock sitting on a table is infinitely complex at the molecular level, but to us that rock is extremely stable. Push that rock off the table and it will hit the floor in a very predictable manner. At a much smaller level it becomes more complex. Can you predict the exact spot where it will hit? Well you'd need to know the exact amount of force with which it was pushed off the table but it is all pretty linear.

Compare that to a faucet that is dripping just fast enough so the drops overlap. Drip-drip....drip.....drip-drip-drip . . . very non-linear system. A slow drip is like a metronome but increase the flow a bit into non-linear territory and it becomes impossible to know exactly when the next drop will fall.

I think the body is a lot more like the rock than the weather. In other words, pretty linear. We have a lot, lot, lot of feedback mechanisms. We aren't even close to understanding them all, so they are definitely complex but they keep the body as a whole pretty damn linear. The job of all these feedback systems is to compensate for butterfly wings, and any other perturbations.

Take De Vany's example: a guy drinks an energy drink before a workout, his body burns glucose from the drink instead of in the muscles. Different outcomes.

This is NOT the butterfly effect.

The butterfly effect would be more like this: two identical twins with identical conditioning go to work out, one drinks an energy drink before his workout, the other works out fasted; ten years down the road one is winning a triathalon while the other has degenerated into a fat slob working on his fifth heart attack.

The body actually fights pretty hard to maintain its desired equilibrium. It takes years and years of crappy food and sedentary lifestyle to mess it up. Once it is deep into metabolic syndrome, it is probably much more sensitive to small changes, because the natural feedback mechanisms are in deep decline. But this isn't the point De Vany was trying to make.

If you look at identical twins separated at birth they usually look quite similar and have quite similar health despite living highly divergent lifestyles (certainly more divergent than whether or not they drank an energy drink or not before working out). There can be marked differences, of course, and this leads to the fascinating topic of epigenetics or gene expression. But in general, the body fights to stay the course. 

This goes both ways, of course. A butterfly flapping its metabolic wings is not going to turn Daniel Day-Lewis into Arnold Schwarzenegger no matter how much iron Day-Lewis pumps.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Toys with Sugar Good, Toys with Hamburger Bad

Tom Naughton made a great video about the guy from CSPI's suit against McDonalds. It got me wondering why I've never heard of anyone up-in-arms about the cereal companies practice of putting toys  in with their sugar-coated heavily processed crap.

Ok, not really wondering, because we all know that sugar is just a way to get kids to ingest heart-healthy grains, right?

Let's take a look at fruity pebbles, because I find nothing more ironic than using a paleolithic cartoon character to sell sugar-encrusted rice.

Is that a comic book included or do my eyes deceive me? Ok, this is a collectors box from 1979 but it's not like this stuff isn't still happening.

"Hey, CSPI guy, they are giving away toys in an effort to make kids beg their parents to buy this unhealthy crap!"

"It's not crap, it's heart healthy, low on cholesterol and SFA, plus it's fortified with essential vitamins and minerals."

Well, let's take a look, shall we?

Post Fruity Pebbles

Rice, Sugar, Polydextrose (Source of Fiber), Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil (Coconut and Palm Kernel Oils), Salt, contains Less than .5% of Natural and Artificial Flavor, Red 40, Yellow 6, Turmeric Oleoresin (Color)Yellow 5, Blue 1, Blue 2, BHA (to Help Protect Flavor)Vitamins and Minerals: Niacinamide, Reduced Iron, Zinc Oxide (Source of Zinc)Vitamin B6, Vitamin A Palmitate, Riboflavin (Vitamin B2)Thiamin Mononitrate (Vitamin B1)Folic Acid, Vitamin B12, Vitamin D.
Yep, I see right there that it is certainly fortified with vitamins and minerals. Vitamins and minerals you'd get in much larger quantities, and in their natural state, if you had eggs and bacon for breakfast, but this way you avoid all that nasty fat and cholesterol. Sugar is a second ingredient, a necesary evil to get children to their eat heart-healthy toasted grains. Isn't hydrogenated oil vegetable oil supposed to bad? And why hydrogenate healthy oils like coconut and palm? Well, at least it isn't hydrogenated cottonseed oil.

Ok, let's take a look at the nutrition info.

Well it is pretty obvious that the good far outweighs the bad. And what's a little sugar between friends (or kids)?

Alright, I'm convinced! Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war--on McDonalds--before kids start getting fat and unhealthy!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

"Eating Meat is OK as Long as You Don't Snuff 'em Yourself"

Robert De Niro acting faux-macho
So says Arron Sorkin, standing on a soapbox the size of the Ritz and condemning Sarah Palin for hunting. Sorkin himself admits to consuming animal products:
I eat meat, chicken and fish, have shoes and furniture made of leather, and PETA is not ever going to put me on the cover of their brochure and for these reasons Palin thinks it's hypocritical of me to find what she did heart-stoppingly disgusting. I don't think it is, and here's why.
Like 95% of the people I know, I don't have a visceral (look it up) problem eating meat or wearing a belt. But like absolutely everybody I know, I don't relish the idea of torturing animals. I don't enjoy the fact that they're dead and I certainly don't want to volunteer to be the one to kill them and if I were picked to be the one to kill them in some kind of Lottery-from-Hell, I wouldn't do a little dance of joy while I was slicing the animal apart.
Heart-stoppingly disgusting? Only in the world of melodrama television would this guy be considered eloquent. I mean the guy tosses off big words like visceral with such panache.

So anyone who likes to go hunting is the lowest kind of scum, according to Sorkin. Especially if it is filmed (making a snuff film as Sorkin characterizes it). Eating meat is fine, being involved in the process is just sick, sick I tell you!!!!

Paleosphere superstar and bon vivant Dr Michael Eades actually did volunteer to kill and slice apart some animals recently. He wrote about it and posted pics (snuff pics, in Sorkin's opinion) on his blog. How sick and bizarre that a physician who's devoted his life to saving lives would do such a thing. I'm not sure if Dr Eades did a little dance of joy while butchering, he didn't mention it.

To Sorkin, recreational hunters are the moral equivalent of operating a dog-fighting arena. 
I'm able to make a distinction between you and me without feeling the least bit hypocritical. I don't watch snuff films and you make them. You weren't killing that animal for food or shelter or even fashion, you were killing it for fun. You enjoy killing animals. I can make the distinction between the two of us but I've tried and tried and for the life of me, I can't make a distinction between what you get paid to do and what Michael Vick went to prison for doing. I'm able to make the distinction with no pangs of hypocrisy even though I get happy every time one of you faux-macho shitheads accidentally shoots another one of you in the face.
Don't faux-macho shitheads, ehrm, recreational hunters eat the animals they hunt? What Sorkin is implicitly saying is that it is OK for indigenous peoples to hunt (to eat and make tepees and stuff), but not us modern, civilized, morally advanced folk.

And what the hell is faux-macho anyway? You have a bushy mustache, drink Pabst Blue Ribbon and pump-iron but also enjoy romantic comedies and sunset walks on the beach? Is it OK to hunt you are macho but not if you're faux-macho? ¿Quien es mas faux-Macho

Sorkin also makes a point that Palin is getting paid to do this. He doesn't have a problem with David Attenborough getting paid to film animals killing one another, and not with people getting paid to kill the animals that he eats, just with someone being paid to kill animals while being filmed.

It's a subtle distinction.

I think faux-macho shitheads are more familiar with nature and the cycle of life than television auteurs who let the little people handle the barbaric and morally repugnant necessities of serving up their t-bone steak.

As far as the ethics of hunting go, I couldn't even come close the eloquence and knowledge of Jackson Landers. Check out this interview with Rhys Southan. I've never hunted, and I'm not a big Palin fan, but I agree with her simple statement, the one which launches Sorkin on his odyssey self-righteous scorn and ridicule:
"Unless you've never worn leather shoes, sat upon a leather chair or eaten meat, save your condemnation."
And even if you are a lifelong vegan and carry a battered copy of The China Study with you at all times, you can still save your condemnation. Save your strength, you'll need it.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Ever Seen a Fat Vampire?

Long before Art DeVaney and Loren Cordain, there were people into the Paleo lifestyle and they instilled fear upon the ignorant agricultural peasants who banded together to hunt them down.

I'm talking about vampires, of course.

Let's compare and contrast shall we?

Is it any wonder the vampires were driven underground? Hunted with stakes and 'holy water' (actually HFCS).

They were a threat to the industrial farm lobby and Big Pharma!!!

Incidentally, a large vampire cemetery was discovered just outside of Prague in 1966 and a casket wrapped in chains was reported as late as 1930 in Slovakia. Vampires have quite the pedigree in these here parts.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Child vs Liver: The Grudgematch!

I'm not going to lie to you folks, tonight's fight is a doozy. In one corner stands our challenger, a hunk of the finest, super-healthy beef liver this side of the Rockies (which are like 5500 miles from here as the crow flies, so that's saying a lot). And hulking in the other corner is our champion, a four-year-old with a cast iron will and a penchant for foods he shouldn't be eating. Refereeing tonight will be Daddy, who is rumored to be heavily sympathetic with the challenger.

OK, folks, let's get READY TO A RUUHUUUMBLE!!!!!!!!!
Here's our challenger, sliced up and marinated for 24 hours in pickle juice and some chilli sauce. He claims that makes him less 'livery' and helps break down his opponents defenses. 

And here's our champ

What is there to say, Bob? This guy rarely loses a fight. Just ask his parents.


Liver and bacon. Everyone loves bacon, right? Well of course they do.

The problem is they might just eat the bacon.

Round 1: Child 1 Liver 0


Sure the challenger is discouraged (not to mention the referee) but he's still got a few tricks up his proverbial sleeve. Like breading:

Out of eggs so the improvised batter/breading consisted of cream and semolina/flour/herb salt.

Liver in fighting form.

Oh no Bob, looks like we have a new champion! Not a TKO but liver has definitely won the round and by split decision, the contest.

 Round 2: Child 0 Liver 1. Liver wins by decision.

Fortunately round three, liver coated with chocolate and sprinkles, wasn't necessary.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Where's the Ibuprofen?

I was feeling sorta wimpy with DOMS, so I thought I'd take some ibuprofen before settling into a nice hot bath. But we were out. Then I realized I hardly ever touch the stuff anymore. Last winter, when I was trying to jog my way thin, I was constantly hitting the ibuprofen, especially for back pain which has been a problem going way back to a stint at UPS in college.

But since I started doing things like pushups and planks, never specifically targeting the 'core' muscles (I'm not much into situps), and dropped the running, the back pain that has been plaguing me for half my life gradually disappeared. So gradually I forgot what a monkey on my back it used to be.

Goodbye my old enemy, and may you never, ever return.

Rendering Lard

Bought a ton of meat yesterday. Beef liver, beef tongue, fat back, beef shoulder, pork ribs. First thing I did was render me some lard.

Cutting the fat back up into small pieces, the most time consuming part, actually I should've gone way smaller than I did.

Witch's brew.

The cracklings aren't as crisp as I'd like but from bitter experience, I'd prefer not to burn it and ruin the lard.

Drain it in a collander.

I read that the fine bits could be filtered through a coffee filter. Not the coffee filters we have. I suspected this wouldn't work but I thought I'd give it a shot.

Never a frown, with golden brown.

Dobrou Chut'!

Addendum: Jan does the same thing except with much better photography here.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Eat Local . . . or ELSE!

Time magazine--bellwether for brilliant health reporting
Would you break someone's leg for bringing a pig across state lines? Well this guy did. Admittedly, large amounts of alcohol seem to have been involved, but I've had large amounts of alcohol before and never felt compelled to beat up someone because they were corrupting our local youth with out of state pork.

I've no problem with Eat Local as a heuristic leading people to be more aware of their food choices. But if I want to buy some bacon imported from Australia, that's nobody else's business but mine. I don't want some drunk hipster chef with a mohawk chasing me out of the store whilst brandishing a crowbar.

People don't get this riled up about organic. Have you ever seen a hipster holding someone in a headlock screaming, "THAT CARROT AIN'T ORGANIC!"?

The difference is that there is much more of a political undercurrent to Eat Local. It is linked to caring about the planet, reducing greenhouse gasses, voting for the right people, being nice to bunny rabbits, etc.

Sure this was just an isolated incident. But then so was the pepper-spray pie thrown at Lierre Keith. Most vegans (I'd like to think), considered that incident to be abhorrent, or at the very least, counter-productive. Vegan violence is not a big problem, of course (not least because they lack the muscle development), and neither is Eat Local violence. Still, the similarities are there, the self-righteousness, dogma, etc. And Eat Local is a relatively new phenomena. 

Ultimately, Eat Local is just a slogan linked in many people's minds with other slogans. People that replace thinking with slogans are the cause of a large majority of the problems in this world.

Hunt. Gather. Hate.

Don at Primal Wisdom is recommending a new product. The product looks great and if Don likes it I'm sure it is good stuff, but with respect to Don I have to say I could do without the hippy-dippy marketing.
It is the choices that you make and the actions that you take to be who you are. Whether you're Native, white, black, yellow or brown, it is your ability to overcome, to extend a helping hand for those in need, to defeat racism, to protect our Mother Earth, and to love all others on our planet.
Ok, that's definitely not me.

Not only do I NOT love all others on this planet, I actively hate the majority of them. Whether you're 'Native, white, black, yellow or brown', more likely than not, I hate you.

And I think the world would be a better place if everyone else did the same.

Democrats and Republicans? Yep, hate them both. I hate the smug self-righteous left and I hate the pompous moral rectitude of the right.

I hate the stupidity of the average person who wants to see the world in stark black and white. The typical person will blindly follow some guy who acts like he knows everything. Me, I hate that guy. The one acting like they are the smartest in the room is usually the stupidest in my experience.

This is why we elect mediocre to outright stupid politicians.

This is why top selling self-help and diet/health/exercise books present some simple black/white paradigm or simply couch old ideas in some new fashion. I hate Fred Hahn and his ilk. You MUST workout in exactly this cadence or you're doing it wrong. Bullshit. I've messed around with high volumes and low volumes, isometric and slow and fast. They all have their place in my opinion.

I prefer Body-by-Science, and more nuanced trainers like Fred Fornicola. But saying "in the end, it's pretty much all good" doesn't appeal to the masses and I hate that. I don't necessarily follow a BBS type workout but it certainly is a great method and Doug McGuff is definitely not a my-way-or-the-highway type of guy.

Sure the world could use some more love, but what it really, really needs is a lot more critical thinking. It needs more iconoclasm. When I see huge masses of people with ecstatic faces fawning over a cult of personality like Hitler or Obama it turns my stomach. Such uncritical devotion should be kept to things like family, pets and sports cars, and under no conditions should it be extended to a politician or some talking head. I hate that it so often is.

When I walk into a bookstore and see that 3/4 of the non-fiction is mindless self-help books it makes me angry. Learn to think for yourself, people. Learn to listen to the person who says, "I'm not sure, but I think the problem is this . . ."

After that we can start to worry about adding more love.


Ghrelin is a hunger hormone that was only discovered 11 years ago. It is released by stomach cells (mostly) to stimulate appetite--an empty stomach produces ghrelin which makes us hungry. That's why fat people have too much of it as opposed to thin people. Except that it is just the opposite. Obese people tend to have much lower levels of ghrelin than thin, healthy individuals, what's going on?

Ok, well obviously thin people are suppressing their eating urges, fighting against their body's urges. Thin healthy people have will-power (and lots of it!) and fat, metabolically damaged folk are lazy. Or at least that's the conventional narrative.

Things don't seem to quite that straightforward, however. This study for example found:
Rats treated with leptin ate less and lost weight during the 5-day period (Fig. 1a, b), whereas rats treated with the high dose of ghrelin (G330) gained weight (P < 0.05) (Fig. 1a), but did not eat more than either control rats or rats treated with G66 (Fig. 1b).
What's up with that? High doses of ghrelin made rats fat but without increasing their appetite? Yet obese people have low ghrelin. This stuff is starting to sound more complicated, like insulin. Or leptin.

Then there's the interesting case of people who have gastric bypass surgery. Check out this study.
Ghrelin is reduced in obesity.Weight loss is associated with an increase in fasting plasma ghrelin. We assessed the effect of massive weight loss on plasma ghrelin concentrations and its correlation with serum leptin levels and the presence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM) in severely obese patients . . . Conclusion: Ghrelin was inversely related to leptin concentrations. Presence of diabetes did not affect the ghrelin pattern. Reduced production of ghrelin after gastric bypass could be partly responsible for the lack of hyperphagia and thus for the weight loss.
Huh??? Ok, perhaps people who lose weight normally, maybe by switching to a Shealthy diet, gradually shed metabolic syndrome and raised their ghrelin levels to the higher levels seen in healthy individuals. Alright, there's that sorted.

Uhm, wait a minute.
After gastric restrictive surgery, ghrelin levels increased, in contrast to the reported fall in ghrelin levels after gastric bypass. This difference in ghrelin levels between these operations may be the key to understanding the superiority of gastric bypass in sustaining weight loss compared with restrictive surgery.
You know what? Let's forget about gastric bypass altogether, sorry I brought it up. These people are messed up, really messed up. When you have to resort to a surgery that has a 2% mortality rate you are in pretty bad shape.

Ghrelin, leptin, insulin and God knows whatever other hormones are all messed up in people who've been eating a crap diet for years and years. Perhaps the simple model of insulin and insulin resistance is wrong, see this excellent roundup of opinions by Jimmy Moore, although I think incomplete would be a more accurate description.

If a powerful ghrelin blocker were developed and approved tomorrow, would it fix everything? Doubtful.

Just as Newton's law of gravity
is useful in physics but has been superseded by General Relativity, I think the 'insulin model' of health is useful but incomplete. Perhaps when the role of all these hormones and whatever else is understood at a much higher level it will be referred to as the classical model.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Hamburger Soup

If I'm feeling lazy, and I usually am, I don't bother browning and trying to unclump the hamburger, you can just use an immersion blender (if you have one).

Started with some homemade stock, added some mushrooms, carrots, celery, celery leaf, cilantro, fresh basil and lots of hamburger.

Bzzzzzzzzzzzz! Blurble.

Dobrou chut'!

Thursday, December 09, 2010

My Manifesto

Am I the only one who finds this deeply ironic?

I'm sick of pussyfooting around with slash words every time I write about food, I'm tired of caring whether some recipe I made or point to is paleo or primal or whatever.

Yes I'm angry as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore.

Like all great artists, political theorists, bloggers and other mediocrities, I've decided to create my own manifesto.

Laugh now, but I predict Shealth will enter the Oxford English Dictionary within five years.

Shealthy Tamales

I really like the idea of putting together foods in combinations that sound interesting and delicious in retrospect, but which would never occur, to me, at least, in a million years. Especially when that food uses ingredients considered healthy such as sweet potatoes and cinnamon.

Very interesting Shealthy recipe from The Food in my Beard, sweet potato tamales. This guy isn't Shealthy by any stretch of the word as far as I can tell, just sort of a happy coincidence, but this recipe has some great ingredients . . . all wrapped in banana leaves, my favorite touch. If you love tamales (and who doesn't) and aren't a primal purist you might want to check it out. I even imagine it could be fixed for the purist by substituting almond flour for masa harina (I wonder if it would have the proper consistency?). Personally, I don't think a little masa harina* now and then is a problem, but I'm definitely not a purist.

Of course, here in Prague it's hard enough to get sweet potatoes, much less masa harina or banana leaves, so I'll only be enjoying this vicariously. 


*Wikipedia: "Corn flour should never be confused with cornstarch, which is known as "cornflour" in British English." I'm not sure what the difference is health-wise, but I'd bet on the more traditional masa to be better.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Foul Temptress Strikes Again

My wife brought home a ton of very nice Kerrygold Irish butter, that's the good news. She also bought a loaf of ciabatta. That's the bad news.

I snarfed it down so fast. Then I got a terrible wheat headache and I had to go to the hospital for an injection of insulin and to have my stomach pumped.

No I was fine.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

I Want to Tea Bag Tim Ferris

Robb Wolf is a guy who just brims with information. Listen to his podcasts, the guy knows a lot about a lot (yeah, I know that's tautological), and he shares his knowledgeable take on all things high-n-low without bullshit or pretension. Robb has gained a lot of attention in and out of the paleo world with his new book, which I haven't read but given his scope of knowledge, I'm sure it kicks ass.

Then there's Tim Ferris. Tim Ferris is the polar opposite of Robb Wolff and he's also about to release a new book.

Tim Ferris used to beat up ninjas in China whilst being a famous actor and discovering the cure for cancer. He did all of this by working four hours a week. Does any of this sound incredibly ridiculous? THAT'S BECAUSE IT IS!!!

I wouldn't mind, or even be bothered to post any of this except for the fact that Chris Masterjohn is gushing over it like a pre-teen girl watching Twilight for the first time, apparently just because he received an advance copy and was mentioned in the index. Way to keep your integrity, dude.

Chris, I had a big man-crush on you for your great insights into nutrition and health, but now you are dead to me.

Great video, high production value, total bullshit:

Guys with fake tatoos on their fingers. Really? Slo-mo jumps. My bullshit detector just blew a fuse.

I prefer Tim Ferris in his natural element:

Practical Workout

Instead of doing pushups this morning I elected to go cardio. And by that I mean I had to unbury my wife's car from a week of snow. I didn't mind, actually, and was amazed at the difference a year of better living makes. Last winter, I would have been huffing and puffing and probably sore for a week. This morning I shoveled snow for almost an hour and the only thing that happened was that I was sweating like a pig from being overdressed. Not out of breath, arms and shoulders not tired at all--and I went wild uncovering the car and the whole surrounding area. It was a thing of pristine beauty, an island of clean in an ocean of snow, ice and winter sludge. Too bad I didn't take a picture.

But I did take a picture of this silliness:

Actually it's better to do the car first
This woman is really annoying, we've had some nasty run-ins with her. And by annoying I mean screaming-obscenities-because-someone-parked-too-close-to-her bitch. She's had this reserved handicap spot in front of her building for years and years, but the only thing wrong with her is that she's obese. I've seen her carry fifty pounds of groceries without batting an eye. There are lots of these reserved handicapped spots in Prague, mostly reserved for people who are obviously not handicapped as the system is terribly abused. The spots are reserved a specific car so even when the scammer is off for three months at their chata, the spot is unavailable for anyone not willing to risk a probable boot. My wife has a tired, hungry kid in the backseat and she has to drive around for half-an-hour looking for a place to park. Meanwhile, Ms Chubbycakes, who doesn't seem to have a job, could spend all day looking for a place to park.

Here is Ms Chubbycakes 20 minutes later, still going strong:

Time to cover that gray
Whatever her alleged handicap is, it isn't endurance. The street is cobblestone and the snow has been packed into ice so at this point it's a decent workout for anyone. I really have to hand it to her, she's got some upper-body strength under all that blubber.

A friend of mine who lives in the center says that there it is all Ferraris and Porsches with reserved handicap spots. And the 30-year-old guy around the corner with the BMW is probably more egregious, but this woman is ridiculously rude, the classic self-entitled ex-communist kleptocrat one runs into here way too often. Not only do I find it annoying as well as hilarious, I'm posting these pictures on my world-famous blog in an attempt to shame the Czech police. Just kidding, they have no shame.

This brings me to my political pet peeve: I consider corruption to be the most important factor in the functioning of a democracy. It really trumps everything else. The reason Scandinavian countries do so well despite their shortcomings like an overblown welfare state and really crappy winters (ok, crappy winters can actually boost an economy since everyone stays inside and works) is that they kick ass on the TI index. If I picked up anything from living in Central Europe for fifteen years it is that corruption really, really sucks. This is the main reason I could never live in some place really bad like Russia. Russians are cool, for the most part, but their rampant corruption would drive me crazy.

Addendum: ha ha, she didn't even go anywhere, just went down and shoveled snow and ice for an hour.

What's a Neutron Between Friends?

Mark Sisson mentions this rather bizarre study with anti-oxidant deprived yeast and deuterium 'stabilized' PUFAs, an undergraduate research project generously funded by the NIH. My first thought: 'what difference is an extra neutron going to make?' Apparently, it can make a pretty big difference, at least in eukaryotic organisms. According to Wikipedia:
"Heavy water is slightly toxic in eukaryotic animals, with 25% substitution of the body water causing cell division problems and sterility, and 50% substitution causing death by cytotoxic syndrome (bone marrow failure and gastrointestinal lining failure)."
What are eukaryotic animals? Well the phrase is redundant since all animals are eukaryotic. In fact, all life visible to the naked human eye is in the eukaryote kingdom (with the possible exception of guys who still high-five).

So if 25% heavy water substitution causes most life as we are familiar with to go haywire, how about the idea of combining deuterium with corn oil in order to make it more healthy?

Fucking brilliant!!!

Sunday, December 05, 2010

It’s All a Vast Conspiracy

Deep in an underground lair lit only by candles, a circle of hooded figures are holding hands and chanting

“We invoke thee, Satan, in the name of murdering animals, destroying health, and evil in general”


Hey guys. I was just watching that new zombie show on AMC, this better be important cause I still can't get get TiVo down there.

It’s urgent, Oh Great Master. Terribly urgent. Our unholy mission has run into some snags.

I can’t figure out how zombies could take over the world. I mean, they can barely walk, am I right? My grandma could outrun a zombie, I mean if I had a grandma and wasn't an immortal being created from . . .

Please master, the resistance grows stronger.

The goddamn vegans again?

Afraid so.

Plucky little bastards aren’t they?

The pluckiest, Oh Great Red One.

Ok, give me the worst.

Our attempt to discredit The China Study with a young blogress has been unsuccessful.

And they still control the Wikipedia page.

Damnit! I really thought that was a slam-dunk.

Don’t feel bad, Master. Their clean, simple and morally-advanced diet makes them mentally and physically superior to the rest of us mortals.

Yeah, yeah, don’t you think I don’t know that? I myself only eat organic fruits and vegetables and I’m friggin’ immortal. Of course, I torture them first, but how much fun is it to torture a banana? I’m really just goin’ through the motions on that . . .

*clears throat*

Ok, ok, forget about T. Colin Campbell and Wikipedia. I’m totally sure God has shielded them even though he promised to stay out of this. 

What about our plan to corrupt vegan bloggers and have them pretend (makes air quotes) to convert to meat for health reasons?

Uhm, well-

They’ve seen through it also. They are extremely plucky those vegans.

The pluckiest.

Damnit! Another slam-dunk denied! They are so dang plucky.

We are still doing well the paleo crowd, Oh Great One. The problem is that they are dying left and right. How long can someone live on a meat-based diet, after all? And the ones still alive aren't really down with the high fructose corn syrup thing.

Tell me about. You can’t swing a stick in Hell without hitting an ex-paleo type, let me tell you. 


Just when I thought my great minion, Atkins, was going to turn it all around, the beleaguered forces of good rally and prevail. It’s like the Terminator and Sarah Connor all over again.

Those were just a movies, right?

Friggin’ awesome movies! Remember when Arnold drove that Harley off that friggin’ cliff? Man that was bitchin’ even though I could tell it was really a stuntman. “Come wid me iv you vant to live” Awesome! Hi five!

*Holds up hand*

Anyone? Ok sorry, got carried away. Alright, here’s my next surefire evil plan: I want everyone to go to and write a glowing review for Robb Wolf’s new book . . .

Saturday, December 04, 2010

My Near Death Experience

I don't consider myself even close to being a hypochondriac. Sure, I'm no stoic. I'm always whingeing about DOMS to my wife whose pain threshold exceeds mine by many orders of magnitude. She gave birth to our kid without any painkillers and I start sobbing when I stub my toe (to be fair I have really long, delicate toes).

My wife had the temerity to go on a four-day skiing weekend, leaving me in sole charge of the kid. Skiing is something to do with snow that Europeans consider to be ecstatically joyfull. I think it is torture.

But I digress.

Liam woke me up about 5 with a bad dream, he was able to go back to sleep but I was up for the duration, so I made some coffee, a lot of coffee, and drank it. I also woke up with some tingling in my left arm that persisted all morning. After a while I'm feeling light-headed, really light-headed and dizzy. So I Google 'tingling left arm' and up comes possible stroke.

A couple years ago a good friend of mine in his mid-forties had a very serious stroke. This guy was a lawyer with his own firm who got up at four in the morning to exercise with his personal trainer. Pretty intense dude (although he didn't come across that way). Who knows what factors stress and genetics play into all of this, but it was pretty shocking for everyone who knew him. The guy was a cliché  for what a man ought to look at his age.

If he could be cut down in his prime what chance do any of us have?

Fast-forward to me with the tingling arm and the dizziness. Oh shit, it is all catching up with me now, I'm never going to see my adorable kid grow up, he's going to be scarred for life seeing his daddy keel over in front of him and forced to bang on the neighbors' doors screaming, "My daddy's a vegetable, and not the healthy kind".

Fixed some scrambled eggs and felt a bit better.

I was really scared at this point, convinced I'd suffered a mini-stroke, actually balancing on one foot to test myself, trying to figure out which part of my brain had taken the hit.

Finally decided to check my urine ketones and the strip was deep, deep purple. I'd apparently been suffering some extremely low brain glucose which had left me dizzy as hell, probably caused by all the coffee and the fact that I see-saw in and out of lipolysis drinking white wine and other such travesties. The tingling arm was just poorly slept upon.

The fear that had been squeezing my heart in a vise melted away. I wasn't teetering on the edge of oblivion, about to leave my kid with some traumatic memories, I was just suffering from a crappy gear change brought on by my own laziness.

Is Vit D the Cleave Issue of Paleo?

Great Shot by Michael Herb
A lot of paleosphere bloggers have been lambasting the Institute of Medicine's recent recommendation of 600 IU as the adult RDA and a 25-hydroxy blood serum of 20 ng/ml, notably Richard Nikoley and Dr William Davis (I'm not sure Dr Davis would consider himself a paleo blogger, but he is, in my mind at least).

I myself supplement with Carlson vit D3 tablets, 2000 IU a day and try to get some daily sun, to the point of putting a mattress under the window in the summer to catch a few afternoon rays when at home with my kid (he loves laying in the sun). I did notice that my skin seemed more resistant to sunburn than it used to be--although Granny was from Bandon, Ireland, and I inherited her skin, so sunburns will always be a threat.

My father got skin cancer and so did my uncle, both half Irish and grew up in Albuquerque way back when kids actually played outside all day long, Yet I still believe that not getting enough sun is a way bigger problem than getting too much. And I think sunscreen is just makes things worse.

Still, the whole thing vit D supplementation thing makes me somewhat uneasy. When a precept like the necessity of vit D supplementation becomes an assumed fact without much evidence to back it up, well, that starts to smack of dogma.

I'm still a little bit on the fence about vit D supplementation. There is some evidence that vit D supplementation is beneficial, but vit D hasn't had a thorough double-blind placebo controlled study because there just hasn't been the cash available as there would be for testing a drug or effect on cancer or all that cash pumped into proving that SFAs cause CHD. Or at least that's what the dogmatists claim!!!!! Just kidding,

Nigel Kinbrum has a great post about his positive vit D experience, with an insane amount of links to studies at the bottom (and I mean insane, perhaps vit D is responsible for his having the energy to create that many links).

I agree that vit D is important but the whole "you are a goddamn (I was going to write fuckin' but my mother thinks I shouldn't curse on my blog (Hi Mom! Liam loved the robots)) idiot if you don't crank up your vit D levels to such-and-such" attitude makes my spidey-sense tingle just a bit.

SFA bad! I think that myth has long since been laid to rest. Vit D supplementation? Probably a good idea but the jury is still out in my opinion.

Addendum: just came across this article by Chris Masterjohn (courtesy of Tim's comment on Richard's blog). Money quote: "But if you are trying desperately to maintain year-round 25(OH)D status between 50-80 ng/mL using vitamin D supplements, you have entered the land of speculation.  Enter at your own risk."

I really hate clichés like "ahead of the curve", but if anyone is currently ahead of the curve in nutrition research (and writes about it on the internet) it has to be this guy.

Friday, December 03, 2010

Leek Cauliflower Soup

I made a roast beast the other day, added some kiwi and carrots. Lots of left over juice which was the base of this soup. Also made some chicken stock from a ribcage which went in also. A good solid base to start with.

Added a whole cauliflower and a leek and simmered for about 20 minutes.

Mashed with a masher.

Roughly mashed and ready for the immersion blender.


Smooth and thick. I was going to add some cream but it was already quite hearty I just skipped it.

Heavy duty rock 'n' roll. The black things are kiwi seeds from the kiwi and roast beast juice. I've struck out on soup so many times it is ridiculous, but this one was pretty yummy. A good solid base is a must.