I recently learned about the ANDI score and it really helped me identify the best foods to eat for optimal health. It stands for Aggregate Nutrient Density Index, which is basically a listing of every food and it’s nutrient content per calorie. It analyzes a wide gamut of micro-nutrients including vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and antioxidants. If you are trying to improve your health, take a look and start eating some of these foods more.
I also wanted to touch base on a concept I truly believe in, which is the concept of incremental change. It’s the concept of baby steps applied to your health. You basically look at where you are at, develop an ideal long term goal, and then apply small changes weekly to help achieve that goal. Everyone has these grandeur new years resolutions, but most fade after a month or two because people try to do too much at once, get burnt out, and quit. I say take your time. If your eating out 7 times a week, strive to eat out only 5 times and cook 2 meals from whole ingredients. If you cook healthy meals everyday, maybe start growing a small portion of your food. If you are already growing a small portion of your food, figure out how to grow more in an attainable way. If you eat healthy, maybe start juicing or eating raw. Always push forward. Never stop learning. No matter how smart you are, you can always learn.
If you go from eating cheeseburgers to drinking 100% kale juice, you’ll probably throw up and you’ll never make that mistake again. You can’t put the cart before the horse, and by that I mean that you need to change your pallet SLOWLY! It takes about 3 weeks to change your pallet if you consistently eat something new. By eating whole healthy foods, you will naturally stop craving sweet, salty, and fatty foods and start craving healthier options. Getting used to the flavor of olive oil is a prime example. Start making your own dressings using olive oil. At first, you’ll get slammed in the face with the flavor of olive oil, but I guarantee you that you’ll get used to it after 3 weeks if you eat it everyday. Then you’ll develop the taste for a healthy fat (olive oil) instead of the unhealthy fats (french fry oil). Use the search function to find older posts for healthy salad dressings.
This process takes time. Don’t run before you can walk. And don’t give up!
Check out this index and see which foods you can handle and learn a new recipe using them. A quick hint: lentils are very quick to make (only 10 minutes) and delicious. If you are new to leafy greens, try chard and bok choy first and then graduate to kale and collards. Eat them steamed for a few weeks and then eventually start eating them raw in a salad. Cooking kills nutrients, so the goal is to eventually eat things raw. Also, learn to chew well because it aids in digestion.
My brother Nate went to Tijuana for a weekend and came back raving about the way they drink coffee. This recipe is just brewed coffee with whole cinnamon and cane sugar. The cinnamon and cane sugar make it sweet enough to drink black. Try this with some high quality light or medium roast coffee, and I think you’ll love it – even if your used to drinking Starbucks with 17 pumps of sugar and cream.
Here is the recipe:
- 1 cup burnt over brewed coffee
- 6 pumps cinnamon
- 8 pumps caramel
- 12 pumps sugar syrup
- I’m just kidding – I’m not about to “pump” anything into my coffee
Here is the real recipe using whole ingredients:
- 2 cups of properly brewed coffee
- 1/2 cinnamon stick crushed up
- Cane sugar to taste
You can french press the coffee and the cinnamon together for a lighter cinnamon flavor OR you can take brewed coffee and simmer it on low in a pot with the cinnamon and cane sugar. Either way, its up to you. Fiddle around with the amounts you until you get it the way you want. Just don’t use powdered cinnamon because it has a completely different flavor, and it doesn’t really work.
This is my new favorite dish. It’s a perfect appetizer. It’s very simple and looks beautiful. The ingredients are inexpensive. It’s super fresh but still bold in flavor. What more could you ask for? I’ve done a chimicurry in the past, but this one is a bit different. I’ve added fresh thyme and oregano, and I think it really changes the flavor.
Try to use fresh oregano and thyme. It’s well worth the extra cost. If you don’t already have a plant of each growing in your garden or in your window, just use the two dollars you would have otherwise spent at the grocery store buying cut herbs and buy a plant. They are only three dollars at the home depot. They grow like a weed and you can’t kill them. Having herbs fresh at your fingertips is well worth it.
Recipe for 4 servings:
- 1 pound calamari steak
- Handful of cilantro
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 packed teaspoon fresh oregano
- 1 packed teaspoon fresh thyme
- 1 red chili finely chopped
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 teaspoon ground bay (optional)
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- lemon zest
- Cut calamari steaks in thin strips. Add salt and pepper
- Warm pan on medium heat WITHOUT OIL. When pan is warm, add oil, wait a few minutes, and then add calamari. Starting with medium heat avoids spitting oil and allows you to cook the calamari with a nice crust. After adding to the pan DON’T touch the strips. Just set the temp on medium low and let cook. They will stick at first, but they will lift off when the crust forms. Cook for about 5 minutes on medium low on each side. Remember medium low. Cook them slower and they will be more tender. It’s the slow down cook more philosophy.
- In a food processor, add the cilantro, garlic, oregano, thyme, and bay powder and pulverize. If you don’t have a food processor your can do it the old school way like I do. Just finely mince all the ingredients with a knife and bash it up in a pestil and mortar. Then add the oil and lemon juice to the mixture and stir it together. Add salt and pepper to taste. This can be made a day ahead of time if you want.
- When the calamari is crispy and delicious, just combine it with the chimichurry and top with more chili and lemon zest. Eat warm or at room temp.
My friend Minh makes sauces that boost your immune system and help prevent different ailments. This is his cold and flu prevention sauce. Check it out. I think you’ll like it.
My favorite flavor in this recipe is the sun dried tomatoes. You can cook this with any meat or vegetables. Minh chopped some sun dried tomatoes and added them to some ground beef, and then we added the sauce. The sun dried tomatoes add a sweet tangy flavor to the dish.
Here is the recipe for 2-3 servings:
- 2 cups Basil
- 1 cup Parsley
- 8 cloves of Garlic
- 4 whole sun dried tomatos
- 2 Tbs goji berries
- 1/2 cup pine nuts
- 3 Tbs nutritional yeast
- pinch of sea salt
- 1/2 tsp cumin
- 1/2 lemon (juiced)
- 1/2 cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Blend everything together in a food processor.
- Add to meat or vegetables.
When I was in Costa Rica, I ate this combination of rice and beans every morning, which they called gallo pinto. This same thing eaten at lunch is called arroz y frijoles (rice and beans), but for some reason they call it something different for breakfast. I thought that eating rice and beans for breakfast would be odd, but it turned out to be a really good way to start my day. The combination makes a complete protein, and it is surprisingly delicious with ham and eggs. I also had more energy throughout the day because this is a powerful combination. As soon as I came home, I tried to recreate what I ate down south, and this is what I came up with.
Recipe for 2 Servings:
- 1 cup cooked rice
- 1 cup cooked black beans
- 1 small pepper (half a large pepper)
- 1 tomato (or a handful of cherry tomatoes)
- small handful of cilantro
- 1/2 stick of celery
- Juice from 1/2 lime
- Cook rice and beans from dry (or used canned beans). You can cook the rice and beans the night before and eat some for dinner, and make a little extra for the next morning.
- Finely chop pepper, tomato, cilantro, and celery.
- Add lime juice. Mix everything together and serve with eggs.
This is the soup I made from the ridiculously cheap squash I got from the farmers market featured in the last post. If I find a deal on any ingredient, I just buy a bunch and figure out how to use it. This keeps me trying new things and new recipes. If your ever confused on what to do with an ingredient, just look it up on google or youtube.
This is a simple recipe that is quick to make and perfect for the holidays. You can use summer squash, butternut squash, or any squash you come across.
Here is the recipe for 4-5 servings:
- 1 squash (any squash in the 1 lb range)
- 1 yam
- 1 cup of cooked white beans
- 1/4 stick of butter
- salt and pepper
- Remove seeds from squash, rinse, and put in a pan on low. Add salt and a touch of cinnamon.
- Cut squash and yam into big chunks and remove skin, add to a pot, and cover with water. Bring to boil and cook till tender (about 20 minutes)
- Drain water but reserve 2 cups. Add one cup of water at a time while blending. Check the consistency and add water as needed to get the consistency you want.
- Add cooked white beans (either from a can or homemade)
- Add butter. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- The squash seeds should be crispy and dry when they are done. They take about 30 minutes on low. You can eat them separately or add them to the soup.
Last week I took a trip up to Santa Cruz, CA to chill amongst the redwoods and share some good food with friends. They took us to the most epic roadside produce stand that you could tell evolved over the years into a shanty town of inexpensive local food. It was like a mini swap meet with tons of deals. If you ever find yourself driving Highway 1 between Santa Cruz and Monterrey, look for the signs. You’ll find it.
All the farmlands in this area are filled with either brussel sprouts or artichokes.
They had an epic deal on squash, so I got about 20 because they were about 50 cents a piece! They keep for several months in the right dry cool conditions, and my fiance and I love squash soup which is the easiest thing to make. I’ll put a recipe for this using these squash in the next post.
The kiwis were 10 for a $1. These kiwis were no ordinary kiwis, they were mega kiwis. Some of them were like 2-3 normal kiwis in one. They were almost as big as my whole hand. I got 40. We’ve almost eaten them all. They were delicious.
My first visit costed me only $17 for all the produce you see below. Of course I had to go back to get more squash on my way back home. I’m no rookie when it comes to buying epic produce.
I love my foodsaver because it not only keeps my food fresh for way longer, but it also makes my life easier. Chicken breast was super cheap at Sprouts the other day, so I bought a bunch to freeze. I just cubed it all up and vacuum packed it in packs of 2 servings each. This way I can do all the labor of cutting at once, and then pull a pack from the freezer when I’m rushed and need to cook something fast. I also added a few different marinades to some of the packs. Once they were sealed, I flattened them out so they thaw faster.
People always tell me they don’t have time to cook, and I totally agree with them because they probably don’t have an efficient kitchen. I wouldn’t be able to make meals as fast as I do if i didn’t maximize my kitchen space. I spend on average 20-30 minutes max to cook a full meal, and I owe it all to my setup. My philosophy is that the more efficient you are, the easier it is to cook, the more you’ll cook.
I have one of the smallest kitchens I’ve ever seen, but I use a ton of kitchen utensils on a regular basis. I’ve been tinkering with new ways to hang things in visible places, so I don’t have to search through cabinets when I need something. This is what I came up with, and I think I’m finally at a place where everything I need is at my fingertips.
Lets start with the hanging rack over my sink. This is one of the most important parts of my kitchen. I simply added a bar over my sink, so the freshly washed utensils can drip into the sink. This came about when I got rid of my dry rack because it was taking up too much of my limited counter space. I then added a wire rack on top of the bar for drying larger bowls and things that can’t be hung. I installed this at a slight angle towards the sink, so the water would drip into the sink and not behind my sink. I also use this to store some of the things I use all the time. The bar is just a piece of electrical conduit from home depot fastened in with some screws.
This is my main pots and pan hanging storage, which is just a piece of electrical conduit from home depot as well. I used the o-ring screws to tap into the studs (MAKE SURE YOU TAP INTO STUDS or else you’ll have a ton of cast iron pans fall on your head). All the hooks are from IKEA and they cost about $2.50 for 5. This is a must have for my kitchen because I just don’t have cabinet space for this many pans. Even if i had the cabinet space for them, I would loose my mind searching through cabinets to find a pan. I simply look up and unhook. And also notice my hanging immersion blender in the bottom right hand corner. This has saved me hours of my life since I’ve installed it.
I was fortunate enough to have an open top area above my cabinets so I can put my jars all around my kitchen. Mason jars are a must have in my kitchen because they keep things fresh and organize things. Having food in jars allows you to see what you have quickly. This allows me to keep track of what needs to be eaten because everything is visible.
My IKEA spice rack is the best because is has a bar you can hang other utensils on. I highly recommend this one. It’s cheap and it looks rad. Once again, I use jars to seal in the freshness. Light does spoil spices and food, but my view on it is that I should be using these ingredients before light has the ability to spoil it. It takes several months to spoil from light, so I buy what I use often in smaller quantities that allow me to use all of it quicker.
This is the easiest thing you’ll ever make. It is fresh, healthy, and versatile. You can use it as a dip, make veggie rolls out of it like the photo, or you can water it down to make a simple soup. Please try it, then make it your own.
It’s a simple process. Soak 2 cups of dried garbanzo beans for a minimum of 4 hours. Replace water, bring to boil, turn to medium low and simmer for a minimum of 45 minutes.
Make Minh’s coconut turmeric sauce from the previous post. Blend the garbanzo beans with 1 cup of water. Slowly add the sauce a little at a time until you get the flavor intensity you like.
This is a cool way to use the hummus. Just spread some on chollard or kale leaves, add grated carrot or sprouts on the inside and roll it up. Cut up and eat. You’ll get your greens, oranges, and carbs all in one bite.