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Tropical Traditions Coconut Oil

June 28, 2011

Product: Coconut Oil, Gold Label

Producer: Tropical Traditions

Description: Extra Virgin, unrefined, organic coconut oil

Special Features: No chemical or high-heat treatment is used. It is made by families who are coconut farmers using old-fashioned traditional methods that have been used in the Philippines for hundreds of years.

My notes: Typically wonderful sweet and rich aroma of coconut with a hint of funkiness that underscores the minimal processing but disappears when used in cooking.


What are your measurements?: The Set up

January 26, 2010

What you really want to know is how much. Who gives a damn about macronutrient ratios, if you can only tell me how many calories I need to gain/lose weight, then I’ll do it. Doesn’t matter if those calories are all fat, protein or carbs (ideally they’d be chocolate), as long as there is a numerical prescription to follow. What is enough – 1500 calories? What’s too much – 2500? Just tell me already and I’ll do it!

We’ve had it drummed into our heads that caloric intake is the determinant of “weight” control. We can’t shake this preoccupation with caloric quantification despite abundant proof to the contrary.

Why weight? Why do we care so damned much about how much we weigh? Who decided on that as the king shit unit of measurement? How much information do we learn from stepping on a scale? In absolute terms, relatively little. It doesn’t tell us how many of those pounds are fat, bones, organs, water, muscle or poop. If I weigh 117 pounds this morning and 119 pounds tomorrow morning, does that really mean what I fear it means: I got fatter?

Let’s dismiss weight as our top method of measurement. Let’s ask a better question: Have I gained/lost muscle/fat? I think we can all agree that, in general, a more appropriate goal is to lose fat and gain muscle. Folded into that goal are issues of performance, longevity, health and aesthetics. It’s what we really mean when we step on a scale. Weight should take its place as a supporting role in the overall picture you have of yourself.

I am not a scientist. In fact I have a very limited background in science, so forgive me if my thoughts are a bit crude, but I think I understand enough to surmise that this whole notion of consuming calories is somewhat of a fallacy, especially in regard to being fat or lean. A calorie is a measurement of energy. We use energy to thrive. I get that. But the way caloric energy operates in a petri dish must be different from how it operates within the complex chemistry of the human body. This pure unit of measurement seems a mediocre reference point when asking questions pertaining to gaining or losing muscle and fat. In fact, there are plenty of studies concluding that WHAT you eat is a far more important determinant of body composition than HOW MUCH.

Over several posts, I intend to investigate the connection between macronutrient intake, exercise and body composition. This is a mother of a topic that I cannot hope to cover exhaustively, so consider this series a primer. For the time being, I hope I’ve begun to get you questioning these crutches we’ve been using. It’s time for a paradigm shift if we want to affect change in our bodies and our lives.

Bitters are better

January 22, 2010

Cold = root vegetables, right? We’re pretty much out of leaf season and into cellar fare. Who doesn’t love sweet potato, parsnip, turnip, rutabaga and cabbage? You can dress them in an array of herbs and spices, throw them in the oven to roast and voila! Gorgeous comfort good.

Sometimes, though, you need a little variation.  A new texture. A different taste on the tongue. Something crisp and refreshing. It’s understandable.

Enter: the bitters. Ok, full disclosure, it’s hard to find some of this stuff around NY state right about now, so we’re not in locavore heaven, BUT. I’ve got no but. I’m taking you outside our little region, I’m sorry.

Ok, so back to the bitters. What are they? Well we’ve got our workhorses: kale and collards. But then there’s fancy pants radicchio and endive. And frivolous frisee. And finally, my fav, escarole:

I love this stuff! It’s high in folic acid, vitamin A and K. We like. Because it’s not as bitter as endive but still has some of  that nice firm structure, it’s a great salad base. Lemon takes well to it. It also stands up to cooking nicely. I’m a little obsessed with the following preparation:

Gently heat about a tablespoon of olive oil. Once the oil is rippling, toss in 2 or 3 sliced cloves of garlic and let them softly sizzle until aromatic – maybe a minute. Add your separated and washed bunch of escarole (you might need to do it in mini batches so it doesn’t fall out of your pan. Just let the first batch reduce for 30 secs and then add the rest) followed by about a 1/3 to a half cup of rich chicken stock. Salt and pepper that. Maybe add red pepper flakes. Cover and let that simmer for a few minutes until the escarole has begun to wilt. Uncover and wack the heat up a touch so the liquid bubbles away. Once it’s mostly gone, your escarole is ready to be plated with a squeeze of lemon. The structure and density of the leaves soak up the richness of the stock, yet it’s lighter and more slippery than, say, hefty kale. This pile of garlicky, lemony goodness is great with simple roast chicken.

Primal Quest 2010

January 11, 2010

And so it begins…

Welcome to CrossFit South Brooklyn’s Primal Quest 2010. We have quite a few folks in on the Quest, so let’s plan to use each other as resources!

I want to thank you all for sharing your goals with me. You’ve given me plenty of topics to address over the next few weeks; stay tuned for posts on vegetable recipes, leaning out, and lots of other fun paleo topics/articles. My goal is to post 1-3 times a week, be available for one on one nutrition sessions and point you to the best sources of information/good food I can.

If you haven’t done so, I suggest getting in a big food shop straight away. Set yourself up right by stocking your house with canned wild caught fish, nuts, avocado, veggies and a nice big piece of meat that you can roast and eat on for the next couple of days. The key is to arm yourself so that you don’t find yourself in a situation where you’re at the mercy of your environment.

Has everyone taken their before photos? Get that done before Wed.

We now have a google group courtesy of Sarah Haskins. The link is posted under Current Obsessions. Register as a member and feel free to start discussions.

And now for a little inspiration…


Two Grazin’ Angus Acres fried eggs topped with leftover tomato onion sauce, leftover grass-fed roast beef from Bierkraft, slices of watermelon radish and raw Kimchee from Hawthorne Valley Farm.

What did you eat this morning?

Oh and by the way, according the NY Times, we are total hipsters.

Food in Mouth

December 1, 2009

I was starving. It snuck up on me. As I walked up the three flights of stairs to my apartment and imagined what I would eat when I got to the top, I realized tonight would be one of those nights. A night when the concept of Dinner is questionable, and eating more closely resembles a roving act of desperate fulfillment.

My best friend’s ex-girlfriend (god forgive me for dredging up her virtual presence) would sometimes refer to this as a Meal of Foods. Now, she more typically used the term for a meal composed of the remains of your refrigerator, but I think it applies to any situation where the state of your plate is random at best, but more likely profoundly embarrassing.

I know I can’t be alone in these strange excursions of hunger, so let me be the first to expose myself by attempting to recreate tonight’s Meal of Foods.

While heating (in the microwave! Desperation!) a few spoonfuls of leftover liquid from my beef stew that I’ve decided is soup and chopping some sort of asian cabbage and strips of red onion, pop a couple of olives. While steaming the cabbage and red onion, measure 4oz of roast beef just purchased at Bierkraft and 1.5oz avocado (because I still habitually weight and measure my protein and fat. Or at least the protein and fat that does not go directly from fridge to mouth). While eating the beef stew soup, dress my steamed greens and onion with coconut aminos (think soy sauce only from coconut) and dig around in the fridge for possible roast beef condiment. Decide on some crystallized, but still good horseradish and my roommate’s chili mustard. Dab a spoonful of each on the side of my plate – bowl, actually – and add some raw kimchi to aid digestion. Into the mouth a few scoops of babaganouj, a short pour of red wine and sit down at the table. Goddamnit, it’s dinner.

As I look at my plate, I realize it’s fairly unpresentable to the outside world. But, you know, when I’m hungry, I want to eat everything. At least I want to taste everything. I can’t make a decision to save my life. I think: I should write a post! I should take a picture! But I’m too hungry to do that. Once I finish, I go directly back into the kitchen for another couple of olives, some fish oil, a sip of my roommate’s beer and a sip of his friend’s beer, half an orange, a little more babaganouj, a couple slices of radish, a few spoonfuls of coconut butter and a homemade chocolate sesame truffle. And a bite of chocolate.

I may go back for seconds. Or it it fifths?

What are some of your best Meal of Foods?

PS Just had a quick snack of smoked bluefish and a few dehydrated zucchini chips. Now drinking my nightly cup of Good Earth tea. Satisfied at last.

Listen up, Ladies

November 7, 2009

Powerlifting is about getting heavy. There are few things more satisfying than loading up a barbell with as much weight as you can manage, putting it on your back and taking it for a ride.

When you decide to get heavy, you don’t fuck around. This is not the time to casually approach the bar, ease yourself into position and expect to manage maximal loads successfully. As strong as you may be, if you are not mentally prepared to own the barbell, well… the barbell will win every time.

After a week of watching people squat, bench and deadlift, the mental ritual of the Set Up was really driven home. Some people got violent, some got deeply calm; most, a combination of the two.  You knew when someone’s head was in the game and when it wasn’t. As simple as this sport is, it takes all your guts to do it right.

Dudes seem to take naturally to the Set Up. Not always, mind you, but definitely more often than women. I suppose it has something to do with testosterone and the social acceptability of displaying aggression.

Blah, blah, blah.

Let’s get over that, shall we ladies? Let’s, instead, get in on the action.

When you approach a loaded bar, make the decision to be there. Develop your Set Up. It’s your ritual, your chance to forge mental and physical strength that is entirely your own. The thing isn’t gonna lift itself: you are. How cool is that?


November 3, 2009

Interior Room 715.

Me: (sits on edge of bed, opens laptops. Clicks Safari: computer idles. And idles. And idles.) Ach. (Picks up phone, dials 6 for reception)

Male Voice: (After several rings) Hello reception desk how may I help you?

Me: Yes, I’m trying to use the internet-

Male Voice: Yes Ma’am, please dial 0 and they will give you the pass code.

Me: Oh, ok, thank you. (hangs up, dials 0)

Male Voice (from desk across lobby): Yes Ma’am hello.

Me: Oh, yes, hi – I am trying to use the internet and it’s not working.

Male Voice: Yes Ma’am, you have exceeded our complimentary internet service. How many days will you be staying at the hotel?

Me: Um, until Sunday morning.

Male Voice: We can offer you a weekly rate of 8,000 rupees plus one day.

Me: I have to pay for internet? But I was just using it yesterday.

Male Voice: Yes Ma’am. We offer two hours complimentary use each day.

Me: Oh. Oh ok, well can I just do that then? The free two hours?

Male Voice: Yes, Ma’am. I will send someone to your room with the name and passcode.

Me: You can’t tell me on the phone?

Male Voice: If you hold for a moment, I will have our IT person come to your room with the name and passcode.

Me: But, why? Can’t you just tell me now?

Male Voice: Please hold Ma’am. (3 seconds pass) Ok Ma’am, here is your username: F for faculty, C for Charlie, A for Announcement, D for Delta, the number 3, the number 9, P for pickle, L for London, the number 7, the number 2, K for kentucky, T for turkey. Your password is the number 6, Y for yak, I for India, B for button, the number 1, R for radio.

This is the for the first hour of internet Ma’am. I will send our IT person to your room with the name and passcode for you second hour.

Me: But, but, but you can’t tell me now? On the phone?

Male Voice: Hold on Ma’am (3 seconds pass). Ok Ma’am, here is the second username and passcode: F for farther, C for cat, A for antidote, D for down, the number 3, the number 6, C for can, U for Utica, the number 4, the number 0, S for sugar, L for lipstick. Your password is the number 6, Y for yellow, I for instant, B for boy, the number 3, H for happy.

Me: Great. Thank you. (hangs up, attempts to go log onto hotel access site. Nothing.) Ach. (dials 0).

Male Voice: Yes, hello.

Me: Yeah, hi, I just tried to go on the inter-

Male Voice: Ma’am, please dial 6 for reception.

Me: Uh, oh, but, oh, but. Ok. (Hangs up. Dials 6)

Male Voice: (after 6 rings): Hello.

Me: Hi. I want to go online. My password and code aren’t working–

Male Voice: Hold on please, I will transfer you. (transfers call to desk across lobby)

Male Voice: Yes, Ma’am. You are calling from Room 715 Ma’am?

Me: Yes. You gave me a username and password. To go online. It’s not working.

Male Voice: Actually, Ma’am, you don’t need a name and password right now. You can just go online.

Me: (Hangs up. Clicks Safari. Success.)

(Repeat scene twice daily).