Guacamole

 Avocados are super for our heart and overall health.

You’ll Need

  • 1 ripe avocado, coarsely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced jalapeno
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt
  • Pepper

It’s the easiest salad
Just mix them all together, salt and pepper to taste.

Note:
Another wonderful addition to this is coarsely chopped tomatoes and basil!

Will Clower Articles

How To Shop Healthfully, Even At The Piggly Wiggly 1

I grew up in a little town in Southeast Alabama. We had “wiregrass”, an annual Peanut Festival parade (at which I rode a unicycle), and the big ‘ol Piggly Wiggly up the street. Very Alabama.

After having gotten out of town and circled the world a couple of times, I find it funny when I hear non-Alabamian folks’ reaction to this store. For them, it’s emblematic of a crappy grocery store serving crappy foods, and little better than a 7-ll. I have to say, this is just a misunderstanding.

Okay, maybe it’s no Whole Foods, but then again even Whole Foods is no Whole Foods since its recent Amazonification.

But think about it, if you can shop healthfully at a Piggly Wiggly, you can shop well anywhere. So this week, I’m going to talk about how to shop well, even at a regular grocery store. And maybe in the end, you’ll think better of this little slice of Southern Living.

First of all, the idea that you have to shop around the periphery is just wrong. A) the laminated pork products in nitrate packed casings is there, along with the deli “cheese food”. Yes, you can dodge into the aisles for food for canned tomatoes for your pasta, tuna for quick easy lunches, or beans for chili, salads, or really anything.

So I guess step one to make your grocery trip Piggy Wiggly Proof, is to shed the idea that you can ONLY shop on the periphery. That’s an outdated idea that just needs to be put out of its (and our!) misery.

More to come tomorrow.

How (and why) To Change How You Think About Science

Its so funny. At one point I really wanted to be a historian. Of science! This is the town center of metropolitan nerd-villebergington. You can’t get in the door without an elbow-patched tweed jacket and a vaguely distracted blankness to your face.

My neuroscience thesis required a couple of basically throwaway paragraphs on the background of the research. Once started though, I ended up with (no lie) over two hundred pages drawing a line from my work back through Descartes. Out of that came multiple publications, an award, and a book. I never got to “be” a neuroscience historian, I was just playing one in my spare time, LOL.

Channeling my inner goober, one of the things I really loved was how science operates. Having been in the middle of it, the science-is-truth idea or even that science is the steady march toward truth, rang just as hollow as the old low fat idea. Great in principle, horrible in practice.

One of the many reasons for this is that science changes its mind very slowly — whether in chemistry, physics, biology, neuroscience, whatever. It takes decades for a body of research to lurch off in one direction, double back, think its on a good foundation, find out it was TOTALLY wrong, start all over, rediscover some past gems, inch forward, and finally land on a solution that makes just a bit more sense.

That is how science works. That’s what happens.

But what we see today in health is like a 24 hour news cycle of sites ravenous for clicks and page views and the ad revenues they generate. This system we have in place today causes us to think science has THE solution every other week (miracle! revolutionary! xyz solved! never diet again!), and all of these claims quote some science study.

Even, mainstream health voices plant the click-bait in their articles that exaggerate the importance and meaning of a result. This unfortunately happens all the time.

The outcome for us is feeling like science makes no sense, with its Olympic caliber backflips in dietary recommendations month by month. But it’s not science itself that is the problem. It’s the misrepresentation of individual science studies, in the service of their someone else’s goals.

Bottom Line:

Scientific consensus changes slowly, and it normally takes years and decades to cement a new conclusion. So if you see something new, exciting, revolutionary, and unbelievable … you can’t trust everything you read, but you can probably trust that its unbelievable.

The Last Lasagna

Take advantage of short bursts of exercise and make these bursts happen when dinner is in the oven. 

Time to the Table: 1 hour
 
Yield: 15-18 servings
 
Preheat the Oven to 350F
 
For the Sauce You’ll Need:
• 1 Pound spicy Italian sausage
• 1 Onion, chopped
• 4 Garlic cloves, minced
• 1 Large can whole tomatoes
• 1 Small can tomato sauce
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 to 2 bay leaves
• 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
• 1 Teaspoon dried basil
• 1 Pinch cayenne
• ½ Cup red wine
 
For the Ricotta Cheese Mix You’ll Need:
• 1, 16-ounce container of ricotta cheese
• 1 Large egg
• ¼ Cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• Salt and pepper to taste
• 1 Teaspoon dried oregano
• 12 Lasagna noodles
• 1 Pound whole milk Mozzarella cheese, grated
 
 
Directions
 
Make the Sauce:
• In a large frying pan, cook the Italian sausage over medium heat with the chopped onions and minced garlic.  
• After it’s brown, add the whole tomatoes and tomato sauce right into the frying pan. Cut up the whole tomatoes into bite sized pieces. Add the bay leaves, oregano, basil, and cayenne. Throw in a half-cup of red wine. Simmer for at least 10 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings.
• When you think you’ve got it, let it sit and simmer on low heat for a while, because it only gets better as it cooks.
• While the sauce is bubbling its way into its various stages of perfection, continue below.
 
 
Make the Ricotta Mix:
• In a large bowl, mix the ricotta, egg, Parmesan, salt, pepper, and oregano.
 
Prepare Noodles:
• Boil 12 lasagna noodles in a pan of salty water and a splash of olive oil.
 
In a Standard Lasagna Pan:
Place the pasta on the bottom layer. Spread a third of the ricotta mix onto the pasta. Spread a third of the sauce on the ricotta mix. Sprinkle a third of the mozzarella onto the sauce. Repeat the process for the remaining ingredients.
 
Into the Oven:
Bake for 45 minutes – you’ll smell it when it is getting close. When it’s crisping a bit on the top and bubbling up on the sides pull it out. Allow another 30 minutes for it to cool and set.

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How (and why) To Change How You Think About Mindfulness

Most people think meditation just isn’t doable in a normal life.

Have some kind of monk-like mindfulness? My cat just threw up on my shoes. Chanting some OM-like mantra for hours? I’d have to barricade myself in the bathroom to make that happen. Taking 30 minutes to an hour every morning to sit in the lotus position while your dog whines to be let out, your kids just broke … something, and your infinite to-do list piles up in your head.

What normal person in a normal life has time for this? No one, that’s who. This leaves people thinking that it is inaccessible for them, and that thinking can stop you before you even start.

But meditation doesn’t need to take hours, you don’t need to chant or wear purple robes in a Tibetan monastery. You need 3-5 minutes, that’s all, to benefit. The goal isn’t total inner peace and unification with the universe, either. The goal is to clear your mental desktop of the clutter for a period of time. Yes, a longer time is better, but a shorter time is beneficial as well.

I call this the “singular focus”. Think about and focus on a single thing: one thought, one sound, one word, one feeling. The object of your focus doesn’t really matter, because clearing the mental desktop reduces internal stress. Plus, you can slip 3-5 minutes almost anywhere into your day!

The awesome thing about THIS is that it makes “meditation” easier and more accessible for most people most of the time. Give this a shot, and practice it to make it more effective over time!

How (and why) To Change How You Think About Fitness

If fitness lives for you like a chore or something you just really hate doing, then you have to think about it differently. If it is not something you love doing, do something else.

It’s easy to see where this all comes from. We’re told that you need to “gut it out”. You’ve got to hit the gym. No pain, no gain. But if you would rather chew on a tree than run on a treadmill, then you may think exercise is just not for you.

That would NOT be because you shouldn’t or couldn’t be active, but because of how we are coached to think about it by our culture. In healthy cultures, they think about it differently. They don’t associate it with heroism, but fun.

So change how you think. Go against the grain and reject the cultural training. Find something that gets you moving, something you really love doing, and make that your activity. You’ll stick with it longer and get more out of it in the process.

How (and why) To Change How You Think About Food

Food is a lot of things. It can be thought of as fuel. Further down, it’s a big pile of carb and fat and protein molecules. Even further down, it’s the resonating energy of its atomic bonds. None of these are wrong, but none of these descriptions are helpful either.

Thinking about your food as fuel leads people to feel like they need to eat after they’ve expended energy, or just woken up, or “to keep their metabolism going”. Each of these reasons to eat cause you to think about other things besides whether you are actually hungry. In other words, it helps create mindless eating.

Thinking about your food as a pile of carbs, fats, or proteins makes you treat eating like a chemistry experiment, titrating exactly the right number of this, that, and the other thing. This totally saps the life and love out of eating. At that point, you are eating to eat, nothing more.

Thinking about food as the sum of it’s atoms is fine for a physicist, but that kind of reductionism leads people to feel like they can eat those molecules and they’ll be fine. Just have supplements, for example, and as long as you get the iron or niacin or whatever, you’ll be fine. Eating those very same molecules (but outside of the context of normal food) changes how your body deals with them. So … it’s not the same after all.

From the standpoint of your body, food comes in the context of the social environment of eating, and in the normal packaging that has been on this plant for … ever. The context of the molecules is as food. For example, eat an apple, not phytonutrients. Eat fish, not omega 3s. Drink tea, not catechins and epicatechins. If you do this, and take your time to taste your food, you will also be more likely to control the overconsumption that can make food bad for you.

Tuscan Bean Soup

This is a delightful soup that incorporates beans into the diet and the leftovers taste even better.

You’ll Need

  • 2 slices bacon, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste
  • 3 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water (more if needed)
  • 2 cups navy beans, cooked (save bean juice)
  • 2 teaspoons dried rosemary
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ¼ pound elbow macaroni or Arborio rice
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan or Asiago cheese

Directions

  • In large pot, cook the bacon until crisp.
  • Pour off the fat and add olive oil and cook the carrot, celery and onion until slightly soft.
  • Stir in flour and tomato paste.
  • Add beef broth, bean juice/water, rosemary, parsley, garlic, salt and pepper.
  • Simmer slowly until the vegetables are tender, adding water as needed.
  • Add macaroni and cook until tender, stirring frequently, as it sinks and sticks.
  • Add water, if needed.
  • Add the beans and heat through.
  • Taste for adequate seasoning.
  • If soup is not thick, puree one third of it and return the puree to the pot.
  • Serve soup with a bowl of grated cheese.

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