health

Paleo Shrimp, Avocado & Cilantro Salad

One of the best aspects of living in Florida (as opposed to Floriduh where the idiots roam), is the abundance of fresh seafood. We get Gulf Shrimp daily, Atlantic reef fish like Snapper and Grouper almost on every street corner.  Daytona doesn’t have quite the fresh variety that we had growing up in Miami, but the pickings are still good.

We also have a plethora of Avocados. I have to admit that as a child I detested Avocados. I referred to guacamole as “baby poop”. Funny story; the first time I had dinner with my now wife’s family her mom asked if wanted any “pear”.  Being a fan of the Bartlett Pear, I said sure. She handed me a rather large slice of Avocado. That’s not a pear I said. Sue it is, she replied, it’s an alligator pear! I had never heard of an alligator pear and handed it back since I knew it was just an Avocado by a different name. When I told her I didn’t care for Avocados she came back with her usual reply; Have you ever tried them? Mom’s rule was that you had to try something before you said you didn’t like it.  I assured I had tried it before, so she left me alone.

Which brings me to a wonderful recipe my Twitter friend Shane Organ  (@iamshaneorgan) posted just the other day. A very interesting Paleo Shrimp & Avocado salad.  I have come to tolerate Avocados recently mainly for the health benefits.

Here is the original recipe:

Shrimp Salad with Avocado and Cilantro
Ingredients
Cilantro Dressing/Marinade
• 3 tbs fresh Lime Juice
• 2 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
• 1/2 – 3/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped ( I like a bit more cilantro)
• 1/8 tsp fresh cracked Pepper
• pinch salt to taste
Salad
• 1 lb cooked chilled shrimp deveined/ tail removed
• 2 ripe avocados
• 2 cups baby spinach
• 2 cups chopped lettuce of your choice
Servings: servings
Instructions
Cilantro Dressing/Marinade
1. Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix.
Salad
1. Drain any excess water off shrimp if using thawed shrimp.
2. Pour cilantro dressing over shrimp. Stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (2 or 3 is better).
3. Wash and dry lettuce (use a Salad Spinner or just let it sit in a strainer). Divide among plates.
4. Cut avocado into bite-size wedges (about 1/2 inch cubes work well too). Sprinkle over lettuce.
5. Add marinated shrimp to the top.
6. Top with marinated shrimp and leftover dressing. Enjoy!

As usual, we changed it up a bit. Instead of using bland, rubbery, pre-cooked shrimp (Shane is in Canada after all. I would imagine it’s hard to get fresh shrimp.) I took about a pound of freshly cleaned and peeled shrimp with about 1/2 TBSP (I don’t measure anything, it’s all eyeballed) of Badia Chile & Lime seasoning, 1 TBSP of Lemon Pepper and 2 tsp of Seasoned Salt. Seasoned up the shrimp and let sit for about 5 minutes, then sautéed them over medium heat in about 1 TBSP of Ghee.  Then mixed the dressing/marinade as above with the shrimp and threw it all in the fridge to cool down.  Then off to the gym we went.

When we came home we assembled the salad as described and chowed down.  Even had enough left over so that Wifey® and I have lunch for today. And let me tell you, it’s an awesome dish!  Thanks Shane.

Peace,
B

(Shane can found on Twitter as noted above and his website: http://www.shaneorgannutrition.com/)

Gym Observations

(Warning: This may be considered as sexist by some folks.  Too bad.)

In an effort to get a bit healthier, Wifey® and I have joined a gym. Well actually Planet Fitness (some do not consider this a real gym).  But it works for us, and there are many well-defined men and women that use this facility.  Some of these gentlemen are rather large and appear to have been working out for quite some time. They lift enormous amounts of weights (at least compared to me).  Some are quite “cut” as if they are preparing for a body building competition, other are just massive.

The other night there were of two of these “massive” gentlemen standing in the middle of the gym, blocking access to several machines talking about their tattoos.  But were heavily inked. But the funny thing about it was they were pointing to specific tats and saying how much this one hurt more than this other one. It was like they were trying to one up each other; “my tat hurt worse than your tat”.  This went on for a good twenty minutes. With people trying to move around them to use the equipment the whole time.

Then there are the ladies. They are several young ladies that are quite fit. I know they can out lift me, out sit-up me, basically just out do me. Period. I am amazed. And a bit humiliated.

But that’s not what I want to talk about.  It’s the old men, and by that I mean older than me (and I’m damn near 60).  These guys, which I’m sure are there “on advice of their doctors”, do nothing more than stand around and stare at these ladies. I don’t entirely blame them, some of these ladies (all young enough to be my daughters, so maybe these old farts grand daughters) are quite attractive. Any one of them could be a model in any fashion magazine. But to just stare and gawk is not helpful in any way.

I’m sure these ladies don’t mind nearly as much the attention of the younger, more “buff” men in the gym, but the unwarranted voyeurism of these men is downright disrespectful.  Now I’m not saying I don’t look at them either, I am a human male after all (even if I do have “low T”). But I try to give them the respect I would expect if I wasn’t a fat old man (with nice hair). Even Wifey® admits she “checks out” the young studs and “wonders how old that one is” (again, young enough to be your son dear).

Of course there are various reason folks go to the gym. Some its health reasons (doctors do quite frequently advise patients to get more exercise), some to lose weight, others to improve their body image (body physically and mentally).  But if the main reason you’re paying your monthly membership is to ogle the women, go to a strip club. You have more to see and the drinks are better.

Peace,
B

Killing Lunch Time (or is it killing me?)

Sitting here at my desk, my meager lunch finished and music blaring in my headphones.

As I’ve posted before, my wife and I have been trying the Paleo and/or Keto eating plans.  Seems that my body does not care for either one.  The highest my blood pressure has been since starting these is 94/62. Basically I should be in a coma. My blood sugar has dropped extremely low, and the A-Fib has returned. So obviously, I am stopping the plan. We did learn somethings we will carry forward such as limiting our carbs to a greater extent. As I also have a cholesterol problem, and keto is known to elevate cholesterol, my doctor also advised me to stop.

Part 2:

Not the best day at work I have to admit. When I was promoted to this position it was for two main projects. Both of which have been pretty much stopped cold. Our city commission has cut about $780K from the city budget for next year, with a chance that it could go deeper still. This means that while my main project is funded for this year, as of October 1st, it may not be. So phase two (not to mention phase three) may not go. And with the issues we are having with phase one, it may get canceled even sooner. If the council cuts the budget ever deeper, there is a possibility that lay offs could occur. So I am rather concerned about my job future.

And of course with all this going on, the Bi-Polar depression is in high swing.  The usual visual and auditory hallucinations are going full blast.  Like Jackson Browne says in “For A Dancer”;

“It’s like a song playing right in my ear that I can’t sing, I can’t help listening.”

Things move in and out of the peripheral of my vision, thumps and whines in my ear all the time.  Hence the headphones.  At least then I know what I’m listening to and I can shut out the world for a short time.

Hopefully tonight’s gym time will work it all out.  Or I’ll die.  Either is acceptable.

Peace,
B

 

First 4 Week Check-In

Four weeks ago, Wifey and I started the paleo eating plan. It didn’t take us long to realize it wasn’t for us. So I did some more research and switched to the keto eating plan. We were following it closer than paleo from the beginning anyway.

So after following the two plans (not exactly very strictly either) I have lost 3.4 pounds. I was hoping for something closer to 10, but again we were just easing into this. As today will be my last beer day for the foreseeable future, I expect better results next month.

But, on the good side, I have lost 3 inches from my belly! This could be due to a number of reasons.

  • Exercise has tightened my abs.
  • Maybe the exercise has burned off some intra-muscular fat as opposed to the subcutaneous belly fat.
  • I have added muscle weight (which according to my doctor is seven times more dense than fat), which accounts for the small weight change.
  • I suck at measuring.  As the Mythbusters said; “Failure is always an option.” I may have taken my measurements in different spots than last time.  But this is an average of three measurements, so hopefully this is not the reason.

But I still have a way to go. We will be eating stricter to the guidelines laid out for keto, but getting down to 20g of carbs a day will be a very difficult battle. Cutting out beer, even the light beer I switched to, will help immensely.  Provided I can do it.  That will be the biggest challenge of all time.  Giving up ice cream was easier.

Please leave a comment if you have ways to cut alcohol (other than meetings – I won’t do that).

Peace,
B

Keto Cookbooks – FREE!

So I went “shopping” on Amazon the other day and found four free keto cookbooks.  Thought I’d share them.  I have not tested any recipes out of these yet, but plan on it this weekend during our “cookup”.  Please note that these books may no longer be free, I didn’t check the date to see if was a daily special.

The Keto Crockpot: 100 Simple And Delicious Ketogenic Crock Pot Recipes To Help You Lose Weight Fast

Ketogenic Diet: Recipes That Melt Your Tongue(Ketogenic Cookbook,Ketogenic Diet Recipes,Ketogenic Diet Cookbook, Ketogenic Diet Books, Keto Diet For Beginners)

Ketogenic Fat Bomb Recipes: A Ketogenic Cookbook with 20 Paleo Ketogenic Recipes For Fast Weight Loss

7-Day Ketogenic Diet Meal Plan: Delicious and Easy Keto Recipes To Burn Fat and Gain Energy

Not all recipes in these books may fall under a “strict” keto eating plan, as some are too high in carbs. But that doesn’t mean they don’t make a good transition to a more strict keto regimen. I am not limiting myself to just 20g of carbs a day yet.  Right now I’m closer to 50g per day, working myself (and my wife) down from a much higher daily intake.  We’re trying to avoid the “Keto Flu”.

Check them out if you’d like. After all if you get one idea or recipe from a free book, it’s money well spent!

Peace,
B

Zucchini Chips… My Nemesis

I have tried three times now to make some zucchini chips. I have failed all three times. I need some salty, crunchy snack to take the place of potato chips.  We looked at the local “Health Food Stores” but all the bagged chips were mostly potato starch, so we passed them by.

I have tried 1/8″ slice, 1/16″ slice. Cooking them at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, 200 degrees for almost two and a half hours. I’ve tried salting them first to draw out the water and blotting them dry before adding seasoning. Using a silicon tray, parchment paper, or just cooking spray on the pan.

I’m rather disappointed as they are either just about burned or still very raw. And this is one the same sheet tray! Not like one method produces one result, I get the same results on each and every tray.

Now I’m pondering frying them in coconut oil as a last resort.

Someone got a clue?  I would appreciate any help!

Thanks!

Peace,
B

Sunday Cooking Day

As I’ve mentioned before, Wifey and I are trying to follow either the Paleo or Keto eating plans.  We haven’t figured out which quite yet.  And quite honestly it’s going to be quite difficult no matter which way we go.

I think that keto will be a bit easier for us since it includes diary which paleo forbids.  Of course carbs are still the enemy. it’s the damn beer thing.

One of things that all the folks I’ve read, say the best thing to do it do a “cook up” when you have free time for the week. So we set out to do so again today.  We started off with Scotch Eggs from Mel Joulwan‘s “Well Fed” book. As the picture shows, they are quite 0723171025large. They will make excellent breakfasts I believe. We followed the recipe rather close, though as always we made some slight changes. Added extra herbs and larger eggs apparently.

Next up was “Green Chili Chicken” from Steph Gaudreau’s excellently named blog, “Stupid Easy Paleo“. This is a slow cooker recipe that came out beautifully. As usual, we made some slight changes.  We added some red chilies and pretty much doubled the garlic (’cause that’s how we roll). I was hoping that there would be enough left over for lunches during the week, but since the granddaughters each ate two “tacos” each (the eldest said it tasted like camp food, which is apparently a good thing!), and the Wifey and I each had seconds, there isn’t much 0723171738left.  maybe a lunch if we’re lucky. The sauce is not the traditional green color due to the addition of the red chilies, and don’t mind the cheap paper plate.  Wifey had already washed dishes three times and said that was enough.

I tried to make another batch of ghee, but totally botched it. So that was a waste.  No picture of that.

And then a third try at making zucchini chips. Mixed results. Some came out very tasty (we used dry ranch dressing as the flavoring), others so limp they just as well have been raw. That’s with the oven at 400 for about 30 minutes.

We still have to go more keto. Drop our carbs (but no way I’m cutting them down to 20g a day to start).

I had planned on making a Salmon, avocado and egg salad, but just don’t have the energy (we also did out usual Sunday gym workout, plus an extra couple of sets). Also thought of making some “Fat Bombs” from The Paleo Babe, but again.. no time or energy.

So leave me some links or recipes in the comments section. I need some help!

Hope you enjoy my food journey!

Peace,
B

To Paleo Or Not To Paleo (part 2)

So, we started the Paleo eating plan (I refuse to use the word diet), about three weeks ago. Surprisingly there has been very little change.  We did at the beginning state they would not be following the plan 100%.  There were just too many changes to make all at once.  Chances are our biggest problems have been too many carbs (see picture above) and not enough fats.  But with all dairy products removed from our eating habits we found it almost impossible to get enough fat.

After some more research, I believe we were actually following the Keto plan a bit closer. Click here for more info on what Keto is.  Of course our biggest problem is going to be carbs.  Since diary is allowed on this plan, it will be easier to get the fats to close to the proper proportions.  Fruit will an issue.  Blending the several “Keto Friendly” charts I’ve found, the only true fruit you can anytime is avocado.  Not my favorite.  I can hide it dishes and be OK with it, but I can’t just eat a slice of it.  It’s a texture thing.  I’m sure you understand.  Berries are acceptable occasionally, but that doesn’t matter since I really don’t care for most berries (strawberries and raspberries are just plain evil to me).  And worst of all?  No tropical fruits.  Dude! I live in Florida! All the stuff I like the best are out!  Mangoes? Nope! Pineapple? Nope! Bananas? Nope! And I need the potassium to help with night-time leg cramps.  Papayas? Nope! Damn I have a nice papaya tree in my yard too.  Not even cherries?!?!? So I don’t even get fruit the one month each year it’s available.  This just plain sucks.

What about carbs?  The plan says to limit your carb intake to about 20g a day.  Well, I’ve already drank my allotment for today.  And maybe the month.  But none the less, I plan on ramping up my exercise routine to help compensate.  Hopefully I can build some muscle on this scrawny body and increase my metabolism some.  Doubtful, but I’m going for it anyway.

And in case you’re wondering, when I retired from the Army in 1995 I weighed about 165 with an approximation 15% body fat. Now I’m about 210 with roughly 30% body fat (and that’s a conservative estimate).

I have an app on my phone to help calculate macros and exercise and track my progress.  If all goes well, next month will be a good follow-up.  But don’t be surprised if I haven’t made much progress.  I don;t have much will power.

Feel free to share your weight/exercise thoughts below.  I welcome your comments.

Peace,
B

On Being Bi-Polar

As I look back on my life I realize now that I have been bi-polar my whole life.  I was finally diagnosed about 12 years ago, but the signs were there at an early age.

I remember lying in bed crying for no reason, and my mom, not understanding, gave the usual remarks of “What’s this about?” “Stop it!” and “Grow up”. But there wasn’t anything I could do about it.  Back then (mid 1960’s) bi-polar wasn’t a diagnosis yet.  They used the term “manic-depressive” for adults but for an eight year old boy, it was “just a phase”.

But I never grew out of “that phase”. In my high school years, I would still have times of uncontrollable crying and depression. I just learned to hide them better.  Plus I had a record player that I turned up real loud to mask any sounds. There would be days I hid in my room listening to music. I would leave for school, only to stop somewhere and wait for my parents to leave for work and go back home.  The only reason I passed high school is I have an uncanny knack at test taking.  Plus the curriculum of the 70’s was so repetitious it was easy to catch up on the days I did go.

Since my diagnosis I’ve gone through many different medications, psychiatrists and a therapist. Nothing has ever brought me to what I would consider “normal”.  I seriously doubt anything can.  While I have had quite strong suicidal thoughts, I have never acted on them. BUT, I do have the constant feeling that the world would have been much better had I never been born.  (It should be noted that I was not a planned pregnancy.  My parents took a second honeymoon and brought me home. As I am quite a bit younger than my three siblings, they were mostly out of the house by the time I was a teenager. I got to go on RV trips with my parents that they never did.  And while some of them were jealous of that fact, they never had to feel the “odd man out” vibe I received.  There were many discussions I over heard when they thought I was sleeping, “We can’t go there with him” and such.)  My wife seems to think that this mental status means I would rather be dead than married to her.  Nothing is farther from the truth.  She is a rock and the main reason I have not committed any rash acts.  What it does mean is that, if I had not been born she could have found a better man to marry.  Someone who didn’t drag her all around, going from Army base to Army base.  Her children with this other man would have had a better chance at college and more opportunities in life.  I am nothing but a boat anchor holding everyone down.

There is also a fair amount of social anxiety mixed in as well.  I’m rather introverted (this blog is a major and difficult step for me). I do not care for parties or crowds, I won’t even attend the office lunches here at work.  Small talk frightens me.  Being a “geek” of types (I do work in an IT department), I am not one to introduce myself to someone in a non-work environment. And women? Forget it!  Think Raj on Big Bang Theory. Unless I am forced into a conversation with a woman (such as a server or co-worker) I just stand back and do my best not to stare.

So the meds keep me from major depression, but not by much.  I still tend to drink too much.  But according to my late mother in law, I’m a “happy drunk”.  So to me at least, beer does improve my mental state. At least for a while. If I am an alcoholic (which I do probably qualify as) it would be a “High Functioning Alcoholic” (is that really a thing?).  I have no alcohol related incidents, I do not miss work or family time due to my drinking and have never placed beer above the requirements of my family (paying the bills etc.).  I can, and have, gone without beer when I thought the cost could be put to better use. And no, I will not go to an AA meeting. So don’t tell me to.

I’ve read a few books on bi-polar.  However they were all written from the outside. That is they are for people who have to deal with bi-polar people in their families or elsewhere. Nothing I’ve found has been written by a bi-polar person that describes what they’re going through and how they are coping with the disease.  If you know of such a book, please leave a comment with the title so I can find it.

So what is a high functioning alcoholic bi-polar person to do?  Leave a comment if you wish.  And I hope I didn’t depress you.

Peace,

B

To Paleo or Not To Paleo??

So… the wife and I aren’t what we used to be.  After 20 years of military service for me, and a major abdominal surgery for her, we ain’t exactly in the best shape of our lives.  We have made the decision to try to improve, we go to the gym about 4 nights a week doing both cardio and weight training.  Then I found this “Paleo Diet” thing.  This page has is a good beginners guide.  Basically it’s about seriously reducing your carb intake, eating more meats and veggies. I don’t have a real problem with that until you get into the nitty-gritty.  No legumes (beans and peanuts), no white potatoes, no rice, no dairy.  And hardest for me, NO BEER!!!!  Good god!  What will I drink all weekend???

We’ve been at it about 2 weeks now, and haven’t seen much changes physically (although my blood pressure dropped to 80/50, causing me to have to wear a heart monitor for a day – I do have a history of afib).  I went so far as to order some “paleo acceptable” cheese, rice and bread.  Don’t bother, some the worst tasting stuff I have ever put in my mouth (and that includes Army food).

So we came to a decision.  We are watching the carbs very closely.  No potato chips, no white rice and very little breads (I’ll switch to a healthier wrap to make my sandwiches).  But, we’re not throwing stuff away just because it’s not the “allowed” list.  I still have a red rice mix that we all enjoy, so we will continue to use that.  And I am doing my best to cut my beer intake down.  Honestly you just can’t take a twenty year six-pack a day habit and just drop it over night.  Right now I’m at the two to three each weekday evening level.  Weekends are still tough.

Some of my favorite places to get ideas for paleo recipes:

  • Stupid Easy Paleo  Steph Gaudreau hs some the easiest and best recipes around.  You can find her on Twitter here.
  • The Paleo Babe  Her Twitter account is here.
  • Mel Joulwn – Well Fed  This is one that started it for.  We have all three of her cookbooks.  We use them all the time and make our own variations and substitutions as needed.  A big plus is she answers her emails and contact form from her page! She also has a Twitter account here.

There are many more resources available on line as well.  Just Google whatever protein you have and add paleo recipe (for example “paleo shrimp recipe”).  I did that last night and found a great coconut shrimp dish.  There were no leftovers.

So all in all, we’re still not 100% sure about paleo. We’re working th best we can and set a 30 day trial period to see what happens.  Even if we don’t stay completely on the paleo track, I think we’ll keep some of the habits and eventually get healthier.

Hope you enjoyed this ramblin’ post.  Lunch time is over so back to work.

Peace,

B