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Monday, October 24, 2011

"The Last Poultry Farmer" Tells It Like It Is

In my last post (which was, unbelievably, two months ago), I posted a clip with the brilliant author and conscious eating enthusiast, Jonathan Safran Foer.  I am still currently reading his book, Eating Animals when I came across a section called "I Am The Last Poultry Farmer".  This chapter is about a man named Frank Reese, a lifelong poultry farmer and bird lover (  I'll skip the sermon about how he prides himself on being the last poultry farmer to actually let his birds run free (unlike self-professed "cage free" farms) and exercise without the restraints of wing-clipping and de-beaking.  I'll get right to the reason I wanted to mention him in this post.  This is Frank Reese himself explaining, in layman's terms, the health risks involved in eating meat today:

Just the other day, one of the local pediatricians was telling me he's seeing all kinds of illnesses that he never used to see.  Not only juvenile diabetes, but inflammatory and autoimmune diseases that a lot of the docs don't even know what to call.  And girls are going through puberty much earlier, and kids are allergic to just about everything, and asthma is out of control.  Everyone knows it's our food.  We're messing with the genes of these animals and then feeding them growth hormones and all kinds of drugs that we really don't know enough about.  And then we're eating them.  Kids today are the first generation to grow up on this stuff, and we're making a science experiment out of them.

Being someone who's eaten tons of meat his whole life and someone who would like to start a family in the not-too-distant future, I've thought about this paragraph for a few weeks now.  I haven't even read past this section of the book in that time because I keep coming back to this one chunk.  Drugs are given to these animals so that they grow bigger and more quickly than ever before.  They are enormous by the time they are thirty-nine days old and are then killed, processed, sold, and eaten.  Fast and cheap is the name of the game.  Anti-biotics, growth hormones, vaccinations go into the animal; the animal goes into us.  It's undeniable.  Those of us who have been camp counselors know what it's like to have a bunk of children with a laundry list of allergies for you to be aware of and remember (from dust to bee stings to peanuts to freshly cut grass! - not to mention keeping track of all their inhalers).  And, if you haven't noticed, children are growing (or not growing!) at a much more alarming rate than they have in the past.  How could it not be linked to the way we are feeding ourselves and the way the food industry has been changing?

Example...  Football players are big dudes.  They've always been big dudes.  But doesn't it seem like these days kids are sprouted from the ground at 6'4" 250lbs. cradling a football?  These monsters seem bigger and stronger than ever.  They are bred to win high school state championships, get scholarships to Division I schools, and then go be millionaires in the NFL.  From day one they are told to bulk up and eat your protein.  So, the more protein they need, the more meat they eat, the more genetic altering material goes into their body, the bigger, stronger, and potentially unhealthier they get.  Here are some stats to chew on:

  • From 1920 to 1984, there were NEVER more than 8 players in any season who weighed 300 pounds or more.  In 2006, there were 570(!), nearly 20% of all players.
  • Since the NFL-AFL merger in 1970, the average player is nearly 25 pounds heavier, averaging 245 pounds.
  • Over the same period, the average offensive linemen is 62 pounds heavier; defensive linemen, 34 pounds; quarterbacks 26, pounds; running backs 17, pounds.
The numbers are staggering.  And now the players are huge which can net them tens of millions of dollars - so they're happy.  The offensive line is impenetrable - so the quarterbacks and coaches are happy.  The team dominates - so the owners and fans are happy.  Everybody wins!  But at what cost?  The player plays for 10-15 years, retires, and develops all kinds of physical ailments stemming from the abuse on and off the field throughout their career (see Reggie White: most feared defensive lineman of his time - dead of cardiac and pulmonary failure at age 43).

Can we draw the line all the way back to the way meat is being produced and consumed?  I'm not saying  that.  But my question is this: would we knowingly take a syringe and inject ourselves and our children with hormones and genetics-altering material at every meal?  I know my answer but I'll let Mr. Reese leave you with the final thought for the day:

I use the old genetics, the birds that were raised a hundred years ago.  Do they grow slower?  Yes.  Do I have to feed them more?  Yes.  But you look at them and tell me if they're healthy.  The industrial birds?  It's like putting a broken down Honda on the Autobahn and saying it's a Porsche.  KFC chickens are almost always killed in thirty-nine days.  They're babies.  That's how rapidly they're grown.  It can't be allowed to live any longer because its genetics are so screwed up. ... When I grew up, the animals were taken care of first.  You did chores before you ate breakfast.  We were told that if we didn't take care of the animals, we weren't going to eat.  We never went on vacations.  Somebody always had to be here. ... It had to be done no matter what.  If you don't want that responsibility, don't become a farmer.  Because that's what it takes to do it right.  And if you can't do it right, don't do it.  It's that simple.  And I'll tell you another thing: if consumers don't want to pay the farmer to do it right, they shouldn't eat meat.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

How to Comment and Follow

Apparently, there are a few people out there who enjoy reading (thank you!) but are having issues commenting and following this blog.  I have received many questions, queries, concerns, etc. asking me how to rectify the situation.  Being somewhat technologically "challenged" myself, I enlisted the help of Annemarie Catalano.  Annemarie and I were friends in middle/high school before we went our separate ways.  Happily, we have reconnected, she has become a devoted follower and commenter and has been so kind as to write up a "how to" regarding this matter.  Here it is:

Blogs are a fantastic example of social media, and we learn so much from intelligent exchange, sharing thoughts and insights on what we've read that others have posted, on topics new and familiar, from all walks of life; commenting on Blogger specifically, though, can be a bit complex, especially if you aren't sure how to do it. What follows is a detailed description of how to comment on a blog on the blogger site, and then a more abridged version as a recap! Enjoy, and then comment until the (non-meat non-dairy) cows come home!

At the end of every blog post in any blog on Blogger, you will see the number of comments made by users on that particular post.  These are a great continuation of the information contained in the blog; whether contradictory responses, shared insights for the blog writer, or simply words of encouragement or enjoyment, you should always make sure to read comments on any blog post that you've enjoyed, and certainly add to the exchange!

To make a comment on the post make sure you've scrolled all the way to the bottom of the post and simply click where it say "# comments" (the number indicates how many people have commented).  When you click this link, it will take you into the comments reader and editor, and you will see a box where you can enter your comment. 

Keep in mind that in order to comment on any blog in Blogger, you must have an account profile at one of the following: Google, Live Journal, Word Press, Typepad, AIM, or OpenID.  Once you enter your comment, you need to choose a profile that you want to comment with.  Select the profile that you want, and then click "Post comment", following the directions (they are different depending on which profile you choose...if you don't have a profile in any of these domains, keep reading...).  Personally, I find the Google profile the easiest, and all you need is a Gmail account - even if you don't have or want Gmail, you can create an account and simply not use it!  If you already have an account through one of these mediums, all you have to do is enter your account name! 

Once you enter your comment, choose your profile, and click "Post comment".  There is one more step before your comment will be visible: If you don't already have one, you will need to create a Blogger profile.

Once you follow the directions to create the Blogger account, it will take you immediately back to your comment, which will be ready to finally post!  Just click "Post comment", and your comment should appear! 

See below for simple numbered steps:
1. Read post
2. Click on "# comments"
3. Type witty, well-thought-out and meaningful comment
4. Choose profile to use while commenting
4a. If you don't have a profile, create one quickly, and easily
4b. Follow all directions and it will take less than a minute!
4c. Google accounts (Gmail) are the easiest to use
5. Click "Post comment"
6. have commented!

As an addendum, I would just like to add that as soon as you have created an account and commented, simply click on "Follow" in the upper left corner of the blog page and follow the directions.  It's that simple!

Thank you so much, Annemarie, for your time, help, and insight.  I hope this helps all those who have had issues and, if there are any more questions or issues, please ask and we will work it out.  I want everyone to have the capability to Follow and Comment on this blog.  That's how it will continue to thrive and expand!  Also, please don't forget to find and follow me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore).  Thank you all for reading!   

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Jonathan Safran Foer on "Ellen"

When I began this journey, it was simply to improve my health and wellness.  As I continue to do more research into the practices of creating and distributing food in this country, I start to get tired.  Tired of being lied to and manipulated.  Tired of being led to believe that farms are happy places where the animals live nice lives and are milked and cared for by an old, good-hearted James Cromwell-esque man.  Tired of being told that "cage-free" living is really so much better than chickens being caged.  But I'll leave the ranting for a later date and share this enlightening interview given by Jonathan Safran Foer (Everything is Illuminated) on the "Ellen Show".  His is also the author of Eating Animals which I am currently reading.  I will be sharing my thoughts on the book when I finish but his research, insight, and knowledge is staggering and moving.  He is just a regular guy who wonders why things in the food industry must be the way they are.  Truly a fascinating man.

Enjoy watching!  Please become a follower, share your thoughts, follow me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore), and tell your friends and family to do the same.  Thank you for your support!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Treat of the Week: Pasta with Marinara Sauce

We have a good friend in town.  And what do you do when a good friend comes in from out of town?  You catch up over a great meal.  This kind of thing happens everyday.  But why was last night different from all other nights?  Because I decided to be cautiously adventurous.  Cautious because I decided that we'd have pasta with marinara sauce for dinner.  Good, ol' fashioned pasta - that's what vegetarians eat, right?  Adventurous because, for the first time, I was going to prepare and cook this entire meal myself.  Absolutely unprecedented!

veg 247x300

So, I whipped out my trusty Veganomicon: The Ultimate Vegan Cookbook in search of the perfect recipe.  What I found was a marinara sauce that is soy-free, gluten-free, low-fat, and prepared in less than an hour with ingredients that can be found at any grocery store.  Perfection!  But, putting the cart before the horse, I wanted to jazz it up a little.  I took two of their suggested variations of the basic recipe, combined them with each other and the original, and made a Caramelized Onion and Mushroom Marinara Sauce with Meatless Chorizo.  Here's how to do it:

  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup finely chopped white or yellow onion
  • 1 cup thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper
  • One link meatless chorizo (I recommend Yves Veggie Chorizo)
  • Pasta of your choice (we used one whole box of DeBoles Gluten-Free Angel Hair Pasta)
  • As much nutritional yeast as you want (a cheesy substitute for parmesan)
  1. Preheat a saucepan over medium-low heat.
  2. Add the extra virgin olive oil.
  3. Sweat 1 cup of finely chopped white or yellow onion for about 15 minutes (to sweat, keep the heat low and cover, stirring every few minutes - the onions SHOULD NOT brown).
  4. Uncover and cook for 15 more minutes at higher heat, until browned and caramelized.
  5. Sauté 1 cup of thinly sliced mushrooms.
  6. Add the garlic and sauté for about a minute, until fragrant (DO NOT let the garlic burn)
  7. Add the remaining ingredients (tomatoes, thyme, oregano, salt, cayenne, black pepper), cover, and raise the heat a bit to bring to a simmer.
  8. Simmer for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  9. While the sauce is simmering, boil a large pot of water, add a pinch of salt, and add the pasta, and cook to al dente (firm but not hard - there should be some resistance in the center).
  10. Slice chorizo into thin rounds and and add to sauce with about 5 minutes left to simmer (the Yves Chorizo is already cooked so it only needs some heating up).
  11. Strain pasta and add it to saucepan.
  12. Mix well until the pasta is completely covered.
  13. Sprinkle some Nutritional Yeast on top for your Parmesan cheese substitute (optional).
  14. EAT UP!
That's it!  The recipe takes about 45 minutes of your life to prepare and leaves you happy all night.  It may look like a few more steps than you are accustomed but believe me, if I can do it, you can do it.  The pasta is light, but filling.  The sauce is perfectly spiced with a little bit of a kick from the garlic, cayenne, and chorizo.  It is slightly sweet from the caramelized onions but not nearly as sweet as the store-bought brands that are filled with sugar.  If you crave pasta from time to time (I can totally empathize), then this meal is a delicious, healthy way to satisfy your craving.  As with all recipes, feel free to improvise.  Add some broccoli or spinach to give yourself some greens or get rid of the mushrooms if you aren't into them.  It's all good!

Give it a try.  Let us all know what you think.  Become a follower.  Find me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore).  Tell your friends and family - they deserve to be healthy and happy too.  And, as always, thanks for reading!


Monday, July 11, 2011

The Mysterious A.J. Reb Materi

I am a quote junkie.  Sure, I have original thoughts in my head but, "someone else has already said it best.  So, if you can't top it, steal from them and go out strong." (from the movie, American History X)  See?  I can't help myself!  Today, I encountered this very situation.  In preparing this post, I tried to create an original quote about health and wellness that would be mind-boggling, yet thought provoking.  Turning to the internet for inspiration, I found a quote that boggled my mind and made me think.  So, I decided to steal that one instead.

"So many people spend their health gaining wealth, and then have to spend their wealth to regain their health."
                                      - A.J. Reb Materi

I don't know what it is, but there is something so simple, poetic, truthful, and sad about this quote.  It sums things up in a very succinct way.  There are too many people who work themselves to the bone; sacrificing sleep, eating unhealthy food from wherever they can get it (whenever their schedule allows them a few minutes to scarf), not exercising nearly enough, and putting themselves through all kinds of mental anguish for the sake of their careers - only to spend their hard earned money to remedy the maladies they created while making their money in the first place.  Fascinating.

What's almost as fascinating is this: the quote's eloquent speaker, A.J. Reb Materi, doesn't seem to exist!  I have searched and searched and have found NOTHING about this person aside from this singular quote.  Such foreboding words from such a mysterious source.  Here is your homework assignment:

There are many different ways to interpret someone else's words and these are only my personal feelings.  Please take a few minutes, digest the words, and tell us what the quote means to you.  If you agree with it, tell us why.  If you think it's ridiculous and near-sighted, tell us why.  What is your interpretation?  And, most importantly, does anyone actually know who A.J. Reb Materi is?!

Please become a follower, share your thoughts, follow me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore), and tell your friends and family to do the same!  I hope you all had a wonderful 4th of July weekend and thank you for reading!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Pasta and Salad: Not the Only Staples of a Vegan Diet

I am officially "outing" myself as a Food Network nerd.  My DVR, which once used to house many stupid, unoriginal sitcoms, now is filled with cooking shows and competitions.  I still don't know how to make them but I can now have an intelligent conversation about risotto, amuse bouche, balsamic reductions, and other fun tricks and dishes.

Why do I bring this up?  I'm glad you asked.  I was watching an episode of "The Next Food Network Star" when a team of competitors was asked to prepare a vegetarian meal.  Liza has always said that people love to feed vegetarians pasta and salad - I am beginning to notice this more and more in my healthy eating experience.  Sure enough, the two partners on the team decided to make a pasta dish and a salad.  It's as if these foods are the only ones that everyone, regardless of eating habits, can enjoy.

This brings me to my next point that was raised on the exact same episode.  A cook decided to create a tofu dish and the guest judge (Paula "Butter/Sugar/Chocolate" Dean) immediately told him he'd "be in for a rough day".  I can understand this sentiment because for many years, tofu was a completely taboo concept to me.  I didn't want to taste it, I didn't want to try it, I didn't want to have anything to do with it. And, sure enough, he made a dish that everyone (including Paula) loved.

My point being: although I am grateful for ANY meal that is graciously made for me, vegetarians (and vegans) eat good food and there is more than pasta and salad.

There's roasted veggies, grilled/BBQ'd veggies, all kinds of stir-fries, quinoa (an amazing superfood that is more like rice than pasta - stay tuned for further posts about it), soups, wraps, fake meats (we made Sloppy Joe's from fake ground meat and just kept saucing and seasoning until I truly couldn't tell the difference!), sandwiches, just to name a few.  Or, if you want to go with something that everyone likes - pizza!  There are COUNTLESS vegan and/or gluten-free pizza recipes and pre-made, frozen pizzas.  My favorite is Amy's Roasted Vegetable Pizza.

I was eating this pizza long before I became vegan and I am still addicted.  I know many would say that pizza is not pizza without cheese.  Believe me, I felt the same way.  But this sauce is amazing and I don't miss the cheese one bit.  It's still not totally fresh and shouldn't be eaten every day (note also that it is not gluten-free) but it's just another example of a familiar food that can be served to vegetarians and vegans.

So, I would like to open to floor.  Why is there this stigma that vegetarians and vegans are so hard to feed?  This is something that I've been wondering so I'd love to hear what everyone has to say.  Please do not be shy!

As always, thanks for reading, become a Follower, find me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore), and tell your friends!

Friday, June 24, 2011

Treat of the Week, Part 2: Carrot Cake Soft Serve

As you may recall, this past Monday was dedicated to The Baron Ginsburg Smoothie - the perfect way to start the day.  And as you may also recall, I promised to share with you the perfect end to the day...  

We all work hard.  We all like to treat ourselves at the end of a long day.  But we also know that eating ice cream at 10pm is not the smartest idea.  To that end, I give you:



  • 1 frozen banana
  • Almond milk (less milk is creamier, more milk is a little softer)
  • A dash of nutmeg
  • Cinnamon to taste
  • 1 tablespoon all natural nut butter
  • Chopped baby carrots to taste (they do not overpower the taste so add as many or as few as you'd like)
  • Raisins (optional)
  1. Blend to desired consistency and enjoy!  Again, it couldn't be easier!
  2. Add raisins, if desired.

As you can see, it doesn't get any simpler than this.  All natural, easily digestible, filled with vitamins - an amazing late night snack after eight (or more) stressful hours on the job!  If you don't like carrots - leave them out!  It's a free country!  You'll still have a delicious banana soft serve!  Again, a tremendously versatile recipe for all to enjoy.  There you have it.  The perfect way to start a day (see Monday's post: The Smoothie) and the perfect way to end the day.  Try these recipes at least a few times each week and you will wake up and go to sleep happy each time.  What could be better???

Thank you for reading, PLEASE become a follower, PLEASE answer the poll at the bottom of the page, PLEASE find me and follow me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore), and PLEASE tell your friends! 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Treat of the Week, Part 1: The Smoothie

I thought I would give everyone's brains a rest this week.  So, for a change, I will not impart tremendously useful knowledge to you today.  This week I would love to focus on the best ways to start and end the day.

I don't know about everyone else, but when I wake up in the morning I don't always feel like eating; it's as if my body isn't ready to accept food just yet.  I know how important it is to get the metabolism going as soon as possible (we'll delve into that in another post) so we have devised a way to get food in our systems while keeping it light and refreshing and not overwhelming at the same time.  I give you...



  • 1/2 frozen banana 
  • 3/4 cup frozen fruit of your choice (berries are a great option but we've also had success with peaches and mangoes - ANY supermarket will have bags of frozen fruit, just make sure that it is 100% fruit with no additives)
  • 1 cup Almond Milk (we've tried many brands but are happiest with Blue Diamond Almond Breeze Original Unsweetened - most stores carry this now, as well)
  • 2 tablespoons flaxseed meal (go with Bob's Red Mill if you can - the flaxseed is SO high in fiber and Omega-3 fatty acids)
  • 1 tablespoon raw cacao powder (we use Navitas - you can skip this step if you'd like but we love having a little hint of chocolate in our smoothies)
  1. Blend to desired consistency and drink up!  That's it!  That's all there is to it!  

We drink these smoothies every morning, right when we wake up, and they are just what the doctor ordered.  They only take about 5 minutes to make and they are the perfect blend of simplicity, healthy ingredients, and great taste.  The best part is - this is just our version.  You can add whatever you want to this basic template.  Wanna add some all natural peanut butter for thickness and protein?  Do it!  How bout a few drops of Agave for your active sweet tooth?  Go for it!  Or even a handful of spinach to get your dose of leafy greens?  Have at you!  Note: we've tried the spinach trick and, trust me, you can't even tell that it's there.  If leafy greens aren't your thing, THIS is how to eat them.  They won't affect the flavor and they give you ridiculous amounts of vitamins.  Drink your greens!  I encourage you to give this recipe a try, jazz it up to your liking, and start your day off by letting your metabolism get to work on easily digestible foods instead of the 1790 calorie (970 calories of fat) Big Country Breakfast at IHOP.

Thank you for reading, PLEASE become a follower, PLEASE find me and follow me on Twitter (@Recon_Carnivore), and PLEASE tell your friends!  Tune in on Friday for the perfect late night snack to end a hectic day!  

Monday, June 13, 2011


Happy Monday, everyone!  I feel like I should have written this post earlier considering it is the basis for most of my healthy eating - but better late than never!

When I made the choice to begin my brand new vegan lifestyle, I really wanted to start from scratch and give my body a clean slate on which to work.  Also, I thought it would be wise to get some expert opinions on what to eat.  So, when we returned from our honeymoon in Thailand, Liza and I went to visit Shannon Elldrege at Zen Cleanse here in Tarzana.  First of all, I have never had such a casual conversation that focused on the "workings" of the human body (mine, in particular).  She really put us at ease.  But that's a whole other story...

The most important information I left with were her "building blocks" to healthy eating.  She calls them H.O.P.E. or:

High fiber

I thought I would take this opportunity to define each of these blocks, explain why they are so important to our bodies, and give a few examples of where to find them in everyday life.  Strap yourselves in!

Fiber is essentially "the indigestible portion of plant foods having two main components: soluble and insoluble.  It acts by changing the nature of the contents of the gastrointestinal tract, and by changing how other nutrients and chemicals are absorbed.  Soluble fiber absorbs water to become a gelatinous, viscous substance and is fermented by bacteria in the digestive tract. Insoluble fiber has bulking action and is not fermented." (US Department of Agriculture, National Agricultural Library and National Academy of Sciences, Institute of Medicine, Food and Nutrition Board)

Got all that?  In layman's terms, you get fiber from the bulk of plants and it helps your body digest things more easily.  High fiber is 5g or more of fiber in a serving.  Easy enough.  But fiber has gotten a bad rap because of what it makes people think of - it makes you have to go to the bathroom.  True, but that is extremely important to our bodies.  Assisting our bodies in digestion and elimination (yup, that's what you think it is) is essential to living a healthy life.  So let's not be so squeamish and get more fiber in our diets.  The best sources of high fiber can be found in:
  • Grains (whole grain bread, bran, brown rice, etc.)
  • Fruits (berries, raisins, apples, bananas, etc.)
  • Vegetables (baked beans, lentils, peas, carrots, sweet potatoes,  squash, etc.)
  • Nuts (almonds, peanuts, walnuts, cashews, etc.)

When people think of oils, they probably think of EFA's (essential fatty acids) and Omega-3's.  EFA's are the bodyguards that protect cell membranes so that they are able to admit healthy substances while blocking ones that may hurt us.  Omega-3's could be the most recognizable fatty acids.  Their advantages include, but are not limited to:
  1. Acting as an anti-inflammatory 
  2. Improving brain function
  3. Protecting against heart disease
  4. Controlling intestinal disorders
  5. Treating skin problems such as acne or eczema
The popular way to get your EFA's and Omega-3's is by taking fish oil.  But, being vegan doesn't afford us that option.  So, we use flaxseed oil.  It can be purchased at any Whole Foods and is an incredible way to get your oils.  Just one teaspoon contains approximately 2.5g of Omega-3's which is equivalent to more than twice the amount an average person gets in their diet.  Instead of using a creamy salad dressing or regular olive oil in a frying pan, sprinkle a tablespoon of flaxseed oil onto your greens and let it work its magic.


In 1989, Roy Fuller came up with the definition that is most widely recognized when referring to probiotics.  "A live microbial feed supplement which beneficially affects the host animal by improving its intestinal microbial balance." (The Journal of Applied Bacteriology)  In short, probiotics are just what the name would suggest: microorganisms that are introduced into the body and are beneficial to the host.  

Some probiotics have been shown to be helpful in preventing and treating various forms of several ailments including:
  1. Diarrhea
  2. Lactose intolerance
  3. Colon Cancer
  4. Cholesterol
  5. Blood pressure
  6. Immune function
I must admit that I am not as well versed in the field of probiotics so I won't act like the expert and direct you to a product I know nothing about.  What I was told by Shannon is to buy an unrefrigerated probiotic.  The refrigerated products are only fresh at the controlled temperature in which they are kept and should be consumed immediately to achieve desired results.  Taking them out of the refrigerator, purchasing them, traveling them home, and then refrigerating them again could very easily create enough unrefrigerated time to kill the beneficial microorganisms.  Liza's favorite probiotic comes in the form of a fermented tea drink called Kombucha.  

 She prefers the Synergy brand but they come in many different flavors and brands.  Try one out, do your homework, talk to a doctor, visit a health food store that carries a wide variety of probiotics, and ask questions!  And, for the record, if anyone has advice on a good probiotic, please share so we can all benefit!

This final block is probably the easiest of the group to recognize and find.  This is your bulk.  Your fruits.  Your veggies.  Your juices.  I'm sure all of your mothers have told you to eat your veggies and drink your juice so I don't have to tell you about all the vitamins (B, B-12, C, etc.), minerals, fiber and so much more.

But I will tell you that this lifestyle hinges around this block.  It is the crux of almost every meal we eat.  The Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that a 30 year old man who does up to an hour of exercise daily should eat 2(!) cups of fruit and 3.5(!) cups of vegetables per day.  I feel that these numbers are very low but, if they are accurate, there is no excuse to not achieve your fruit and veggie intake everyday.  Go to your local store where you buy produce, find organic fruits and veggies (when possible) and go to town!  Also, I must recommend my favorite juice in the world: Bolthouse.  These juices are delicious, healthy, 100% natural, filled with vitamins, and they come in both fruit and vegetable choices.  One 8 oz. glass of their juice each morning gives you a great start to the day.  Please keep in mind that, even though Bolthouse juice is a wonderful way to get your dose of fruits and veggies, it is still not as beneficial as fresh juice or smoothies.  Additives are still included to keep the juice fresh for a longer period of time which may lessen the amounts of enzymes that are available.  Eating or juicing fresh fruits and veggies is still the way to go if at all possible!

I hope this was a big help to everyone.  I refer to this list daily and try my hardest to incorporate all of these blocks into my everyday food choices.  Some days are more successful than others, but we live and learn.  Just remember:

High fiber

is the opposite of...

Upside down cake (there aren't many foods that start with "U", ok!?)

As always, thanks for reading.  Create a profile, become a follower, tell your friends and family to do the same, and follow me on Twitter!  (@Recon_Carnivore)

Monday, June 6, 2011

How Much Is Too Much?

We exercise - A LOT!  Ok, we're not triathletes or body builders but we put in a solid hour (at least) of hard-core, non-stop, sweat-inducing, body-altering work every day.  I'll be discussing our regiment in a later post.  I have definitely noticed a difference in my body structure, strength, and endurance but the bottom line is - it still hurts and maybe sometimes I just need a break.

Example: Yesterday Liza and I completed our fifth straight day of running, jumping, squatting, and doing ridiculous amounts of pushups all at a high paced tempo.  We were tired but, as usual, we felt happy just to get through the whole thing (Liza more successfully than me, lately).  Sore as ever, we took our recovery drinks, showered, and left for a brunch party.  While at the party, there were three 15 year old boys playing basketball and they asked me if I wanted to play.  Sure!  Forget the fact that I haven't played a real game of basketball in at least five years.  I've been eating great and exercising so I can do anything, right?  Well, I was a little rusty but I was playing better than I expected.  Then I began to breathe heavy.  Then my legs started to feel like Jell-O.  Then I couldn't jump to grab a rebound.  Then these little punks started running right past me.  I felt fine but I just couldn't keep up anymore.  I got home and discovered that I had pulled something in my chest/upper back which made exercise this morning not terribly efficient.  I am not in massive amounts of pain and I'm sure all will be well in a couple of days but this begs the question:

How much is too much?

I clearly understand the need to exercise every day (with the understanding that the body needs a day to simply rest or stretch instead of killing itself) but I am struggling with this question as well:

When do you push through with everything you've got and when do you listen to your body, take the hint, and let it go?

I clearly don't have the answer just yet because I either push through and sometimes regret it or I listen to my body, let it go, and feel like a lazy bum.  So, I turn to you all.  PLEASE create a profile, become a follower/friend, and throw in your opinions.  This is not just for me, but for all of us.  Maybe there are a ton of people reading this blog who are having the same issues and you are the one person who has the solution.  See?  You could be the one to solve everyone's problems.  What a cool thought!

As always, thank you for reading, tell your friends, and take care of yourselves!

Friday, June 3, 2011

Treat of the Week: Vegan Banana Apple Chunk Bread

I came home late from work the other night and, the moment I entered the hallway leading to the living room, I was hit with an incredible smell.  It was a sweet smelling aroma that I would recognize anywhere - freshly baked banana bread!  My tired body immediately woke up and headed straight for the kitchen where my assumption was verified.  Liza had baked us one of the most amazing smelling banana breads I had ever encountered.  Not only that, but it was completely vegan, tremendously healthy, and apparently easy to make.  And, to top it all off, I would not be posting this recipe right now if this bread wasn't absolutely delicious in every way!  It's sweet, ridiculously moist, and surprisingly light.  It can really be eaten at any time of the day and the prep work is so minimal, you can make the whole thing (from start to finish) in just over an hour.  Enjoy and, if you didn't believe me about the previous recipes, do yourself a favor and try this one - you will not regret it!  Please leave comments and tell your friends.  Let's get some banter going!!!

courtesy of


  • 2 ripe bananas
  • 1 apple, peeled and diced
  • 2/3 cup Sucanat or sugar (Liza used Raw Agave - a staple of any healthy sweet tooth diet!)
  • 1 3/4 cups whole wheat flour (Liza used Bob's Almond Flour to make it gluten free)
  • 1/2 cup applesauce
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.  Lightly spray (or grease with butter/butter substitute) a nine-inch loaf pan.
  2. In a medium sized bowl, mash the bananas with a fork.
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well.  Pour into greased pan.
  4. Bake for 45-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out dry (Liza baked ours for about 70 minutes - it could have been our oven or the flour substitution but it still came out perfectly - just keep an eye on it)
  5. Cool in pan for 15 minutes and then transfer to a cooling rack.
  6. Enjoy!  It doesn't get any easier than this recipe!


Friday, May 27, 2011

Treat of the Week: Recovery Pudding

Lately I've noticed that I've been getting exponentially more tired every day.  I know it shouldn't come as a huge surprise since my exercise level, work load, audition amount, etc. has started to pile on, but I still don't like it.  I mean, I'm eating a lot of really great calories and going to sleep earlier than I have in years in the effort to get 7-8 hours of sleep each night - but I'm still totally beat by the end of each day.

I've noticed that it all begins after our Insanity workouts (stay tuned, that's a later post).  Some people feel totally alive and ready to tackle the world after an hour of ridiculously intense cardio and/or weight training but, honestly, it just makes me want to fall on the couch and melt into oblivion.  I feel like I don't have the sufficient amount of energy to accomplish what needs to be done throughout the day.  So, I turned to Brendan Brazier, the Ironman triathlete, Ultra Marathon Champion, and author of The Thrive Diet, for advice.  On page 126, I found a recovery pudding recipe which sounded like a filling amount of healthy calories that will hopefully help my body bounce back directly after a tough workout.  For those who don't own the book, here's the recipe:
  1. 2 bananas (fresh or frozen; we chose to use frozen to keep it cold and refreshing)
  2. 1 cup blueberries (fresh or frozen; we also chose to use frozen)
  3. 1/2 cup soaked almonds (we didn't soak ours but I recommend that you do - it's easier on your blender/food processor)
  4. 1/4 cup ground flaxseed (again, we used Bob's - see the Pumpkin Muffin recipe for details)
  5. 1/4 cup hemp protein (you can get a good brand at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's)
  6. 1/4 cup roasted carob powder (we used Navitas Naturals Raw Cacao Powder from Whole Foods)
  7. 2 tsp ground rooibos (a caffeine free herbal plant used to make tea - we didn't use it)
  8. 1 tsp lemon juice (we nixed this one as well because I don't enjoy lemon juice)
  9. 1/4 tsp sea salt
  • In a food processor or blender, combine all ingredients; process until smooth
  • This pudding will keep for up to 3 days in the refrigerator, but it's best when eaten fresh
  • Makes 2 servings
We tried the pudding for the first time today and it was definitely refreshing, very flavorful, and surprisingly filling.  I'm not sure of the effect this will have on my energy but, in addition to drinking more water than usual, it couldn't hurt.  I'll be happy to update everyone!  I know there are lots of people  out there who are athletes, exercise freaks, dancers, bikers, etc. so give this a try and let us all know what you think!  Happy and healthy living to you all!

Monday, May 23, 2011

WorldFest 2011

For weeks now, Liza has been talking about going to WorldFest here in L.A.  I had never heard of WorldFest before but it sounded like it would be a bunch of weirdos talking about loving the environment and taking two minute showers to conserve water.  Boy, was I wrong!  The entire experience turned out to be an amazing way to get people outside to enjoy the beautiful day, good food, interesting workshops, fun music, etc.  

From the moment we began walking from the parking lot to Woodley Park, there was an undeniable feeling of relaxed happiness and a sense of community; and entering through the gates only increased the sensation.  As a novice to this world, I didn't know what to expect, but here were hundreds (maybe thousands) of people who looked just like me.  If I had run into many of these people on the street in front of an ubiquitous fast food chain, I would never have guessed that we had similar eating habits.  Although I don't feel like I need validation for my choices, it was comforting to feel instantly accepted by everyone.  

It also didn't hurt that we were immediately welcomed by countless stands of delicious vegan food.  The variety was truly astounding with types of foods spanning Asian, Jamaican, Indian, BBQ, salads, sandwiches, burgers, desserts, and countless others.  All original and all healthy.  Some personal favorites were:

Hail Merry Gluten-free Macaroons
Hail Merry Chocolate Macaroons
moist, full of taste, tremendously decadent, and totally healthy - amazing!
*for 10% off their products, use the promo code: OMEGAS

Luscious Organic Desserts Chocolate Peanut Butter Bites
a mini-Whatchamacallit candy bar - peanut butter and choco excellence!

Stricly Vegan Jamaican Cuisine Reggae Wrap
veggies, faux meat, and mango - a fresh and delicious combination!

And, although we didn't eat at their stand in the afternoon, it would be remiss of me not to give special mention to Sun Cafe (go to for full menu and ingredients).  We visited the restaurant for a date night dinner last night and it was incredible!  Completely vegan (and mostly raw) and though I'll try, it was totally beyond description.  Our meal included:

Cream of Mushroom Soup (raw) - the best I've ever had!; made with a cashew cream
Raw Pesto Pizza - amazing blends of veggies and a perfect pesto sauce; so flavorful
Flax Crackers and Hummus (raw) - excellent crackers and a truly tasty hummus
Crimini Mushroom Quinoa Risotto - rich, vibrant, creamy; absolutely perfect
Cacao Superfood Shake - you would swear it was a chocolate ice cream shake; outstanding!
Chocolate Cookie Dough Cheesecake (raw) -  decadent, sinful and delicious; the perfect end to the meal

Aside from the amazing food and clothing items, the festival was littered with fascinating booths about healthy, conscious living.  Unfortunately, I can't mention them all but they ranged from raw food demonstrations, to information about stopping animal cruelty in circuses, to acupuncture, to political discussions, to exercising/bodybuilding on a vegan diet.  Everywhere you looked, there was a wealth of information.  I encourage everyone to go to and click on the links of the exhibitors.  It makes for good, informative reading!

One of the most touching parts of the afternoon was visiting the animal areas.  There were a handful of dogs in the animal adoption section that were brought to the festival in hopes they would find a home.  Some had special needs, some were treated badly, some just needed a home.  But it's nice to know that, until that time, it looked like they were well taken care of.  Liza and I particularly hope that Lola, the Pit Bull mix we fell in love with, finds a good home soon.  In another part of the animal area, people were invited to hug two baby cows, courtesy of The Gentle Barn, a wonderful facility that rescues, rehabilitates, and gives sanctuary to farm animals.  On top of that, they bring at-risk, inner-city, and/or special needs children to the facility to bond with and help take care of the animals.  Their goal is to build confidence, self-esteem, and motor skills, and create special bonds between the children and the animals who need their love.  It truly sounds like a fantastic place, and they're open to the public on Sundays from 10:00am to 2:00pm.  If you are in the southern California area, you should think about going - we hope to visit soon!  Visit their website for more info at .

All in all, it was a day filled with food, fun, friends, and facts.  Please visit the websites listed above, do your research, start commenting so we can start talking, and look for a WorldFest near you!  Happy, healthy living!

Friday, May 20, 2011

Treat of the Week: Vegan, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

So far the response to the blog has been so overwhelmingly kind and supportive.  I thank you all for continuing to read.  I know it's only the second post but many a show has closed/been canceled after one night so I consider this a good start.  I have already had people say they can't wait to see some recipes.  And since I have to keep the fans happy, I have decided to post twice a week.  Mondays will be the day for talking about health, wellness, nutrition, exercise, and progress and every Friday I will post a new recipe (dates subject to change without notice - I'll do my best).  

I wanted to start with one of my favorites.  Every time I whine about how I'm craving some sort of junk food, Liza always comes to the rescue by saying, "I can make you a healthy version of that."  She said this exact thing last year when we were living in Chicago.  I told her how I was craving a pumpkin muffin from Starbucks.  She did some research, worked her magic, and whipped together a vegan, gluten-free pumpkin muffin that we make together all the time.  I think they are completely amazing.  The basic recipe is from - a great resource for vegan recipes and health info.  Our additions/alterations are in bold. 

Note:  Many of the recipes you will see are modified versions of great recipes that we find which may not be totally vegan or that we just want to jazz up a little.  I will always tell you where the original recipe came from so you can look them up for yourself - there is some really great stuff out there!  

So, without further ado...

Vegan, Gluten-Free Pumpkin Muffins

  • 2 1/2 cups whole grain spelt flour (we use almond flour.)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves (we skip the cloves, but we're sure they'd be tasty.)
  • 1/2 tsp fine grain sea salt
  • 1/2 cup Earth Balance vegan buttery spread
  • 1/4 cup agave nectar (we usually use 1/2 cup and skip the sugar.)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar (we skip it, remember?)
  • 1 cup canned or fresh pumpkin
  • 1 flax egg (1 Tbsp ground flax [Bob's Red Mill Organic Whole Ground Flaxseed Meal is great!] + 3 Tbsp warm water, mixed)
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce (this is the key to make them insanely moist!)
  • We also add SunSpire Vegan Carob Chips because chocolate makes everything better!


  1. Preheat oven to 350F.
  2. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  (we use muffin tins with vegan butter - it's easier.) 
  3. Whisk flax egg in a small bowl and set aside.
  4. In a medium sized bowl, combine the dry ingredients (spelt, baking powder, baking soda, sea salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves). Set aside.
  5. In a different bowl mix the butter, sugar and agave until smooth. 
  6. Now add pumpkin, flax egg, and vanilla. Beat well.
  7. Carefully mix in dry ingredients being sure not to over mix. Spelt is broken down very quickly when mixed and you can end up with a tough batter if you over mix it. But relax it will turn out regardless! The batter will be very moist and sticky, but don’t worry!
  8. Pour batter evenly into muffin tins 
  9. Baking times vary based on the oven so bake until tops brown and do the toothpick test (stick a toothpick in the middle - if it comes out clean, they are done)
  10. Makes approximately 12 muffins.
Enjoy, happy eating, and after you have made these, please comment to let us all know what you think!  And, as always, tell your friends so we can support each other along this journey!