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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!

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Birth of a "Reconstructed Carnivore"

Hi.  My name is Marc, and I'm a "reconstructed carnivore".  (Your cue: "Hi, Marc.")  What is a "reconstructed carnivore"?  Well, to be perfectly honest, I just made it up.  Since there is no official definition, I'll explain where I came from and how I came to be what I call a "reconstructed carnivore", and in doing so, maybe I'll be able to define the term (and myself) more clearly.

For the majority of my younger life, I ate what tasted good and was readily available.  A typical day would include a bowl of Cinnamon Toast Crunch with 2% milk for breakfast (or sometimes nothing at all), a peanut butter and jelly sandwich on Stroehmann's white bread with chips and some kind of fruit snack for lunch, and my choice of fast food - McDonald's, Taco Bell, Chinese, Lee's Hoagies, etc. - for dinner.  When I snacked, I snacked on what I found in my house - ice cream, cookies, licorice, pudding - I didn't discriminate.  What did I care?  I was young, I was reasonably athletic, I was never a pound overweight.  Mostly, I didn't know any better.  I had no idea the eating habits I adopted as a child would so strongly influence my eating habits as an adult.

I eventually went away to college, where my choices of food were fully mine and mine alone.  Even more than when I was a child, I could eat what I wanted, when I wanted, without any thought of possible consequences.  College became a blur of work, - Papa John's Spinach Alfredo Pizza - rehearsals, - D.P. Dough Danger Zone Calzones w/ Extra Hot Sauce - parties, - Wing Zone 8 Piece Chicken Wings w/ Teriyaki Garlic Sauce - performances, - Champ's Fettucini Alfredo w/ Grilled Chicken - and any other kind of food that tasted good and I didn't have to prepare myself.  My roommate and I ate pizza so often, we joked that we could build furniture out of all the empty boxes we had stacked in the corner - and we probably could have!  I finished college, worked in summer stock theatre, did a National Tour, and some regional theatre.  All were experiences I wouldn't trade for anything, but my eating habits worsened and my drinking habits increased.  When I was sober, I was either performing, eating, or sitting on my butt convincing myself that I needed more rest; trying to understand why I was always so tired.  Granted, I was sometimes rehearsing all morning and afternoon while doing eight performances a week, but there had to be more to it.  To top it all off, my metabolism didn't warn me it would stop working as hard as it used to.

Fast forward about five years.  I am living in Los Angeles with my beautiful wife, Liza, and our super-cool English bulldog, Egon.  I recently turned 30 years old.  I am happy, comfortable, confident ... and vegan.  You heard right.  Mr. Meat-and-Potatoes is now Mr. Veggie Burger-and-Spinach.  This new lifestyle I've adopted has caused some surprise and confusion among friends and family members prompting various electronic correspondences, such as:

"VEGAN???  I'm sorry.  I meant to send that message to my dear friend Marc Ginsburg.  I must have found the wrong Facebook profile, as the Marc I knew could never part from hamburgers and hot dogs."


"Vegan!?!?  Wow!  Never thought I'd live to see the day."


"But what do you eat at baseball games?"

Fair enough.  (For the record, they serve Veggie Dogs at Angels Stadium in Anaheim.  Who knew?)

I questioned myself recently about why I decided to take such a drastic jump away from my culinary comfort zone.  Maybe I'm having a 1/3 life crisis now that I'm out of my 20s.  Could be.  Maybe Liza being such a conscious, healthy eater rubbed off on me.  Perhaps.  Maybe I got tired of eating unhealthy meals that put me into a food coma for the rest of the night.  Very possible.  But it was more than that.  I decided to finally take responsibility for my choices - and I choose to take better care of my body.

Let me set this straight - I am NOT a paint-throwing member of PETA.  I love animals but I did NOT choose to become vegan to make a statement in support of animal rights.  L.A. has NOT turned me into a tree-hugging hippie, chewing on grass and bark while meditating and "expanding my mind".  I did NOT wake up one morning, look in the mirror, and discover I was morbidly obese.  But I DID notice that I hadn't been as energetic as I would like and that I did have some stomach issues (nothing serious) that could be attributed to eating too many foods that my body has trouble digesting - gluten, dairy, and certain kinds of meat being the chief offenders.  Why did I not realize sooner that my diet could contribute so strongly to how I feel in my everyday life?  It seems logical enough.  The bottom line is, I want to feel alive: physically and mentally, and with a clear conscience.

It has occurred to me recently, as I watch more and more of my friends have beautiful babies, that the time for Liza and I to start thinking about starting our own family is not far off (calm down everyone, it's not what you're thinking).  I have begun to think about what kind of parent I want to be, especially in regards to what we'll feed our child.  Recently, I had the opportunity to work with many children and to observe how their different families functioned, especially when it came to food.  A grueling schedule often forced parents to bring meals to their children between rehearsal and performances.  Given the time constraints, some parents had their children eat healthier than others, but there wasn't any consistently poor eating - except for one.  Our youngest child actor was all of 6 years old and was either bouncing off the walls or sleeping with his eyes open.  The production team of the show asked his parents to sen him to the theatre with food to give him enough energy to last through a three hour performance.  He arrived the next night with an enormous bag containing popcorn, chocolate pudding, two cheeseburgers, fries, lollipops, and a chocolate eclair the length of his arm.  And there were other nights when he would be sent with nothing to eat at all, relying on the production team or other good-hearted members of the acting company to supply his meals for him.  It was incomprehensible to me how a parent, in good conscience, could send their small child to work (yes, it is still a job, no matter how young you are) without proper nourishment.  Not being a parent myself, I tried not to judge too harshly.  But I don't want my child to grow up to be a statistic, and then have to reform his eating habits the way I am currently attempting to do.  I can certainly expose him/her to healthier foods at a younger age.  But how can I tell him/her to eat his/her vegetables so he/she can grow to be healthy while he/she watches me eat my vegetables in the form of the sauce on a slice of Papa John's Meat Lovers Pizza?

My mother is not packing my lunch each day and making my dinner each night.  No one is here to tell me to go outside and get some fresh air, and I don't take phys ed class anymore.  It is about time I take responsibility and care for my well-being.  Although I want to live as long as humanly possible, I don't want to live in pain and discomfort in my golden years - especially if I can prevent future aches and illnesses in my younger, more active years.

So, I'm attempting to start from scratch.  No more junk food.  No more soda.  No more meat.  No more dairy.  No more processed sugar.  As few processed foods as possible.  I'm getting back to the basics and feeling great.  I may not be as athletic as I used to be but I'm still getting an intense hour or more of exercise every day.  The plan is to treat my body in such a way that it will have no reason to rebel against me.  For the first time, I want to be smarter and more conscientious about how I treat my body.  For the first time, I have a "Why"; I finally want to be able to respect myself and the well-informed decisions I make so that my family, friends, and future children will know that I am living and eating responsibly.

Which brings me to the reason I started this blog.  I want to involve all of you in my adventure towards becoming a healthier person.  I'd like to be able to share my progress and even some amazing recipes and exercises that I stumble across, or interesting facts about wellness.  Let me be clear - I am NOT here to preach or grandstand.  I don't want anyone to feel that I am attacking their lifestyle choices in any way.  I have clearly been on both sides of the fence and do NOT aim to offend.  I believe it is everyone's right to choose what and how they want to eat - as long as they are making conscious choices rather than just going with the flow because it's easy.  Rather than drown you in my personal beliefs, this blog is meant to inspire discussion and conversation.  So please, if anyone has any comments, advice, questions, feel free to voice them in a respectful manner.  I am still very new to the health and nutrition lifestyle and I would love to discuss my journey with all of you so we can learn together!  And I would love even more if you were all able to talk to each other (again, in a respectful manner, please).  No need to be shy around here.  The more we can discuss, the more we can learn.  To quote a line from the musical 1776, "In all my years I ain't never heard, seen, nor smelled an issue that was so dangerous it couldn't be talked about."

I want to thank you all for reading, ask you to come back and check out my new posts (I'm hoping to post at least once a week), and invite you to talk to me and each other.  That's why I'm doing this whole blogging thing in the first place.  Call Webster's - I think I have come up with a solid definition:

Re-con-struc-ted   Car-ni-vore
{ree-kuhn-struhkt-ed    kahr-nuh-vohr}
1.  one who, at one time or another, treated his/her overall health thoughtlessly and is finally, through a bit of education, experience, and experimentation, taking control of his/her well-being