Garlic and Herb Roasted Turnips

Ingredients:

  • 3 Turnips peeled, cut in 1/2 inch batons (or cubes)
  • 4 Cloves of Garlic peeled, minced
  • 5 Sage Leaves chopped fine
  • 3 Rosemary stalks chopped fine
  • 1/2 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 TSP Lemon zest minced
  • Salt to taste
  • Black Pepper to taste

Method of Prep:

  1. Set oven to 325F.
  2. In a bowl, toss together all ingredients and spread out on parchment-lined sheet pan. Be careful not to pile turnip batons/ cubes on top of each other, otherwise you won’t get any caramelization (which helps to sooth the bitterness of this vegetable). Lay as flat as possible. Use two sheet pans if need be.
  3. Turn every 15 minutes or so to help the turnip cook evenly.
  4. When turnip is fork tender (a fork meets no resistance when sticking into the turnip in this case) they are done. Remove from the oven and turn onto a serving platter or bowl.

*You can also use other starchy vegetables with this preparation like rutabega, some squashes/ pumpkins, potatoes, etc.

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Poultry Brine Recipe

Ingredients:

  • 2 Gallons Water
  • 3 Cups Salt
  • 1 Cup Maple Syrup
  • 1 Cup Sugar
  • 18 Black Peppercorns
  • 5 Sage Leaves
  • 3 Rosemary Sprigs
  • 3 Bay Leaves
  • 6 Cardamom
  • 1/2 TSP Mustard Seed
  • 1/2 TSP Celery Seed
  • 1/2 TSP Fennel Seed
  • 1/2 TSP Coriander Seeds
  • 3 Cloves Fresh Garlic smashed, with skin

Method of Prep

1. Combine all ingredients and bring to a boil to dissolve salt/ sugar. Let cool. Strain and chill before using with meat.

2. Submerge chicken, turkey, or other poultry, in brine for 6 to 12 hours.

3. Remove meat from brine. Pat dry, and let sit out at room temp for 30-45 minutes before roasting.

Understanding and Applying the Basics of Nutrition

The idea for this write up came from a client of mine who said I should discuss how to eat, and when. I took bits of previous articles that I wrote on this blog discussing protein and carbohydrates and added them here. In order to understand how, what and when to eat, these are some things that need to be taken into consideration.

1. Knowing Intake vs. Expenditure

There are some that say you don’t need to count calories to see results. I believe this to be partly true. However, it requires an understanding of portioning and knowing roughly how much you’re taking in, and in what percentage of Protein : Carbohydrate : Fat, based on your fitness goals. Obviously, the needs of a marathoner are going to be different than a weightlifter. Once this is calculated, it is pretty interesting to see the breakdown of what you actually eat versus what you think you eat… I’ve talked to people before who have said; “I don’t have time to do that.” Or; “Pssshh, let’s be serious…I’m not going to count my calories!” As if it’s this life altering workload and unimaginable amount of stress that was just put on their shoulders. Well, let me tell you something… It’s a proven, scientific way to get the desired results! Specific goals require a specific plan. There are plenty of websites and ‘apps’ that will calculate this for you in a matter of seconds. However, I prefer to calculate it out myself, which when checked against the other websites and ‘apps’ is usually relatively similar.

There are a variety of equations to calculate these needs like; The Harris Benedict Equation or the Mifflin St Jeor Equation. Due to many peoples’ issues with math and order of operations, there leaves some room for error with those equations, though. Those above equations are meant to calculate an estimate of your Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) which is essentially how much energy (in calories) you need to be consuming at rest, to maintain your current weight and body composition. A quicker estimation according to Lyle McDonald, is to use 10 calories per pound BW for women and 11 calories per pound BW for men as the baseline. When all is said and done, and your level of activity (how many days a week you exercise and for how long) is determined and then applied to the equation, most will come out with something between 14-16 calories per pound of bodyweight. This assumes that most people reading this are exercising/ training multiple days per week. For me, the above equations when adjusted for activity, came out with the range comparable to the 14-16 calories per lb of BW. That seemed pretty quick and easy…

2. Percentage of Macro-nutrients

Protein, carbohydrates and fats are the macro-nutrients and they are primarily what is determined following the estimation of total energy (calories) needs. I’ll typically start in figuring out the protein needs. Studies have shown higher protein diets to be healthy and safe and typical recommendations lie between 1.4-2.0 grams per kilogram of BW for those that are exercising according to the International Society of Sports Nutrition. I tend to do well with higher protein diets and essentially plan my weekly meals around what protein I am going to cook. In that case, due to the fact that the majority of my training is with weightlifting, I stick with 2 grams per kg of BW. If I was doing more CrossFit style workouts revolving more around conditioning, interval work or aerobic based exercise, I may lower my protein consumption a bit to allow for more carbohydrate. Most recommendations suggest that lean meats are optimal, and more healthy. This I believe, is somewhat subjective. To me, it implies that fattier cuts of meat are not as healthy, or unhealthy which I would disagree with. It is important to understand that the fattier cuts of meat will naturally increase your dietary fat intake, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing dependent on your needs. However, in relation to exercise, you may want to save the fatty meats to having either earlier or later in the day, well before or well after exercise due to their rate of digestion.

In a practical application to lifestyle, it is recommended that people who regularly exercise get about 25-35 grams of good quality protein per meal for best results and body composition. By this recommendation, at roughly 230 lbs BW for myself, I already know I need to get around 210 grams of protein in using the 2 grams of protein per kg/BW, as mentioned above. Using the 210 grams of protein that I am taking, at 30 grams per serving, I would need seven servings, or six servings at 35 grams each. One ounce of cooked meat yields seven grams of protein, as does one egg. You can elaborate on the math as it pertains to your needs, but basically four or five eggs at a sitting, or a four to six ounce (usually more like an 8-10 ounce or more) piece of meat is accurate, as it pertains to my consumption. I will typically have the normal breakfast, lunch and dinner, which by the math above with 30-35 grams of protein per meal, equals 90-105 grams in total. Lets keep in mind that this is the protein from only sources of meat and eggs. I also eat; grains, nuts, cheese, milk, beans and legumes…all of which are sources of protein. With the exception of milk, they are not “good quality” sources because they do not contain a complete amino acid profile, but still will add to overall daily protein. Aside from that, I usually will have a couple protein shakes during the day as well, which will account for another 50-60 grams.

Carbohydrates play an extremely vital role in the daily food and nutrient intake as they provide the most readily usable form of energy. Carbohydrate consumption can either limit or improve performance in sports and other physical activity, something that is usually either misunderstood or neglected. Carbohydrates DO NOT make people fat. Over consuming carbohydrates (or fat, or protein to a lesser extent) will create excess calories which will make you fat and this is why it’s important to understand how they work.

Carbohydrate is the most readily available form of energy for activity, stored as glycogen within muscle tissue and in the liver. Glycogen fuels most activity, and the energy from carbohydrate also has a direct effect on brain function, the nervous system, and even mood. A misunderstanding of them causes people to fear and restrict them which can do more harm than good for those really focused on maintaining or improving lean body mass i.e. “toning up”.

General recommendations for an active individual are between 55-65% of your total, daily caloric intake. Or, between 5 to 10 grams per kg of body weight, dependent on the type of exercise or training. The lower end of the spectrum would be more strength based training, the higher end; more endurance/ circuit training, though higher carbohydrate can help with the strength training as well. Too often, carbohydrates are blamed for health issues such as obesity and disease when in actuality, carbohydrates are essential to the improvement and maintenance of lean body mass through exercise and training and have a direct effect on performance. On the flip-side, most carbohydrates are easily over-consumed which is why it is crucial to understand food preparation, cooking, portioning, and overall intake to meet fitness, health and body composition goals. Neglecting or avoiding carbs for fad diets will only hinder your ability see optimal results from exercise/ training, and likely create an unfavorable amount of dietary fat intake to make up for the carbohydrate deficit.

It is important to understand that carbohydrates are not “bad”. But eliminating or avoiding them almost entirely will make it very hard to maintain lean muscle due to the extreme caloric deficit that accompanies that elimination. Carbohydrate and protein that is taken in at every meal based off of the needs of the individual should be the focus in order to maintain adequate energy and positive protein balance. Once that is in control, carbohydrate numbers can be modified a bit to create a net caloric deficit which will allow for a slower (but sustainable and healthy) loss of body fat.

Fat is usually the last thing figured into the diet, as it is something that can easily be added or taken away in an effort to hit the overall daily caloric goal with the appropriate protein : carbohydrate : fat measurement. A good starting point would usually lie within the range of 20-30% of the total intake following the determination of the protein and carbohydrate needs first. Many people who have weight issues can benefit from a reduction in dietary fat especially when starting an exercise routine.

Keep in mind that higher protein diets will usually contain higher fat as well. This isn’t a bad thing, but your choice of meat proteins will affect the dietary fat percentage, so this needs to be taken into consideration. Constantly choosing short ribs over seared chicken breast will throw off the numbers quite a bit, which is why it is important to be creative in your cooking!

3. Taking It All In

It is recommended that once protein and carbohydrate needs are determined, to spread that consumption out over 4-6 meals per day, paying special attention to the pre and post-workout window. Taking in protein every few hours will help the body maintain a positive protein balance and fuel the maintenance and improvement of lean body mass. Not to mention, it will also prevent that overwhelming hunger that can cause some people to over-eat.

Here’s a sample of what my day looks like;

Breakfast:

  • 4-5 eggs
  • Oatmeal
  • Orange juice

Snack:

  • Whey Protein shake
  • Apple or other fruit

Lunch:

  • Roasted Pork loin
  • Sauteed vegetables & Rice

Workout

  • Post-workout; Whey Protein shake + maltodextrin powder (carbohydrate)

Dinner:

  • Sautee of Chicken leg-meat, Vegetables, Lentils

 

 

Pig Trotter

Most people would never think of eating pig trotter, but, when prepared well…it’s pretty amazing! When pig trotters are cooked, everything becomes extremely tender, rich and flavorful. There are a variety of preparations of this inexpensive dish but in this particular recipe, I made it into a soup. Other variations include the classic rillette, terrine, or, splitting and stuffing them to serve.

This soup is a much easier and less labor-intensive preparation, and turns out a rich, flavorful dish. For those of you who are apprehensive about cooking pig’s feet, you can always substitute the ham hock which is a little easier on the eyes for the squeamish. For a more nutrient-dense, meal, I might suggest cooking off some lentils, or diced potato and adding them to each serving of soup.

Ingredients

4 pig trotters

4 Lg white onions diced

14 stalks of Celery washed, diced

8 Carrots peeled, diced

2 Cloves Garlic minsed

tomato product (tomatoes, tomato paste, crushed tomato, etc.)

rosemary, bay leaf, sage, nutmeg, salt and pepper

1/2 Bottle Dry White wine

2 TBSP Dijon Mustard

2 qts. bone broth/ vegetable stock/ chicken stock

Method of Prep

1. Place pig trotters in a pot and cover with cool water. Place pot over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. You can use this time to prepare the other ingredients, however, make sure to continually skim the impurities off the surface of the water that is cooking the trotters.

2. After boiling and skimming for 5 minutes, remove from heat, drain off liquid, rinse off trotters and rinse out the pan. Return the trotters back to the pot, cover with cold water and add; 2 onions, 4 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 3 bay leaves, 3 sage leaves and 2 stalks of rosemary. Simmer for about three more hours or until the meat starts to easily come away from the bone.

3. When trotters are soft, carefully remove from the liquid onto a sheet pan. When cool enough to handle, pick the meat from the bone and discard any hard connective tissue. Anything soft, is edible. Try to do this before they cool, otherwise, it will be much harder to do. Roughly chop meat (and skin).

4. The liquid used for the cooking of the trotters will not be flavorful enough after only three hours. So, I wouldn’t use it for the soup. I would prefer a much more flavorful meat stock from roasted chicken, beef or pork bones. You may save the liquid to make another stock though.

5. In a pot, saute remaining vegetables until caramelized. Add white wine to de-glaze the pot, cook for 5 minutes and add the garlic. Add the Dijon mustard and tomato product, followed by the stock, meat, and fresh herbs. Bring to a slow simmer and season to taste.

To Brine, or Not To Brine…

Brining meats is something that many people don’t fully understand or just don’t do because of that reason. I just finished cooling the brine for the turkey in this post, so I figured I’d write a little note about why and how to do it. A brine is essentially a form of curing (with liquid) that at the most basic level, is a solution of salt and water. In order to impart more flavor though, it has evolved into more of an art by the addition of spices, herbs, and a sweetener.

The purpose of a brine essentially is to draw extra moisture out of the meat while at the same time, adding to or enhancing the natural flavor. Despite drawing moisture from the surface of the meat initially, brining also helps the meat retain moisture through the cooking process and creates a uniform texture following cooking as well. Without brining, meats can easily become dry. Most meats common for brining are pork, chicken, turkey and tongue, and then obviously cured/smoked meats and fish. When making a brine and testing to see if you’ve used the right proportions of salt to water, put a potato in. If it floats, nice job! If not, your brine needs more salt. A basic brine recipe is:

1 Gallon Water

2 Cups Kosher Salt

*1/2 – 3/4 Cup Sugar, Brown Sugar, Honey, or Maple Syrup (depending on desired sweetness)

Herbs & Spices; Rosemary, Bay Leaf, Thyme, Sage, Garlic, Peppercorn, Mustard Seed, Nutmeg, Ginger, Allspice, Cardamom, Clove, Star Anise, Fennel… The list goes on…

Combine all ingredients in a pot and bring to a boil to dissolve the salt. Cool completely before using.

*Note- When brining meats, you may have to use a plate or something similar, to weigh down whatever’s being brined to keep it completely submerged.

-Based on the meat being brined, use whatever herbs and spices would make sense for the flavor profile you are looking for. Keep it simple, less is more.

The Role and Basic Application of Dietary Carbohydrate for Body Composition

From a nutritional standpoint relating to body composition, carbohydrates are often misunderstood, neglected or vilified as being the cause for a variety of health problems such as obesity. This write up is meant to clear up the misunderstanding and identify what carbohydrates are, what they do, and how to use them for optimal body composition.

Carbohydrates are the main energy fuel for activity and brain function.They are categorized as simple or complex. Simple carbs are essentially sugar. This could be further defined, but for the purpose of this post and basic understanding, it isn’t necessary. Complex carbs are most plant based starches, including fruits, vegetables, cereals and grains, which also will typically contain dietary fiber. These are generally digested more slowly due to their complexity and fiber content, which will in turn provide energy over a longer period of time. Carbohydrate is stored as glycogen in skeletal muscle and the liver, whereas the amount of available glycogen you store is directly related to the amount of carbohydrate you consume. The more stored glycogen available, the longer and harder an athlete (or anyone dependent on fitness level) is able to work, achieving better results. This doesn’t necessarily mean though, that more is better. Too much will either; create an unwanted net caloric surplus, or not leave enough room for the desired amount of dietary protein and fat while still remaining within the individually determined caloric range.

Being that carbohydrate is the preferred fuel for activity, weightlifters as well as runners, CrossFitters, bodybuilders and even the generalist all need carbohydrate to improve their performance and body composition. If lean muscle is preferable to fat in terms of body composition and overall health, carbohydrate is an essential nutrient to drive the construction and maintenance of lean muscle and aid the body in resisting fat gain. The question is: What and how much?

High Glycemic vs. Low Glycemic Index

Complex carbohydrates are generally considered to be optimal for a healthy diet and should be taken in at every meal. Some types of carbohydrates affect the glycemic response quicker than others, elevating blood glucose and insulin more quickly and therefore affecting the energy output. The glycemic index is scored out of 100 against straight glucose. In general, a score of 55 or less is considered low. 56-69; medium. And, over 70, high (GI). Some consideration should be placed on the type of carbs, and how they affect the insulin response. Usually, low GI carbs should be emphasized for pretty much any meal with the exception of the timing of exercise/ training activity. According to the International Society of Sports Nutrition, the ingestion of high glycemic carbohydrate may have benefit immediately following intense exercise in replenishing muscle glycogen and enhancing recovery from workouts. But the farther away from exercise, training or competition, the lower GI carbs should be consumed. Below is a list with examples of both high GI and low GI carbohydrate sources, ranked from lowest to highest.

Starches, Cereals, Grains, and Legumes                                             Fruits

Chickpeas               28                                                                        Cherries           22

Kidney Beans          28                                                                        Grapefruit        25

Lentils                     29                                                                         Apricot (dried) 31

Pasta                      35-40                                                                    Apples/ Pears  38

Bulgar                    48                                                                          Plum                39

“Grainy” Breads     49                                                                          Peach              42

Brown Rice            50                                                                         Grapes              46

Buckwheat             54                                                                          Orange            48

Basmati Rice         58                                                                          Banana            51

Quinoa                   53                                                                         Pineapple         59

Oatmeal                 55                                                                         Cantaloupe      65

Potato (New)         57                                                                          Watermelon     72

Corn                      60

Sweet potato         61

Potato (baked)      85

It is important to know that any type of workout or exercise will deplete muscle glycogen stores. Many people are used to having a protein shake post-workout, but, it would be better to combine that protein shake with carbohydrate. In this case, a high glycemic carbohydrate source may be optimal to help replenish glycogen stores and facilitate the recovery and repair process by returning the body back to a positive protein balance.

How Much Carbohydrate Do You Need?

General recommendations for an active individual are between 55-65% of your total, daily caloric intake. Or, between 5 to 10 grams per kg of body weight, dependent on the type of exercise or training. The lower end of the spectrum would be more strength based training, the higher end; more endurance/ circuit training, though higher carbohydrate can help with the strength training as well. Too often, carbohydrates are blamed for health issues such as obesity and disease when in actuality, carbohydrates are essential to the improvement and maintenance of lean body mass through exercise and training and have a direct effect on performance. On the flip-side, most carbohydrates are easily over-consumed which is why it is crucial to understand food preparation, cooking, portioning, and overall intake to meet fitness, health and body composition goals. Neglecting or avoiding carbs for fad diets will only hinder your ability see optimal results from exercise/ training, and likely create an unfavorable amount of dietary fat intake to make up for the carbohydrate deficit.

It is important to understand that carbohydrates are not “bad”. But eliminating or avoiding them almost entirely will make it very hard to maintain lean muscle due to the extreme caloric deficit that accompanies that elimination. Low GI Carbohydrate and protein that is taken in at every meal based off of the needs of the individual should be the focus in order to maintain adequate energy and positive protein balance. Once that is in control, carbohydrate numbers can be modified a bit to create a net caloric deficit which will allow for a slower (but sustainable and healthy) loss of body fat.

For more information:

http://www.jissn.com/content/11/1/7

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21208446

Other sources:

Krause’s Food, Nutrition, & Diet Therapy

High Performance Nutrition By, Susan M. Kleiner, PhD, RD

Sports Nutrition & Performance Enhancing Supplements By; Abbie E. Smith-Ryan, PhD, CSCS*D, CISSN and Jose Antonio, PhD, FNSCA, FISSN, CSCS