Friday, February 19, 2010

Primal Manicotti

As a kid, manicotti was one of my favorite dishes. I wanted to try making a primal version of it, because I could care less about the pasta but still love the gooey cheese and tomato sauce.
I used cabbage leaves in place of pasta shells ... it tasted great but they were kind of hard to cut which made it kind of messy. So while it's not something I would readily serve to children under 12, it's still a great-tasting healthy alternative to traditional manicotti.

To make 2 servings, you will need:
4-6 cabbage leaves (depending on their size)
1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese
3 tbsp parmesean cheese, grated
3/4 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
1 clove garlic, minced
Dried basil and oregano (to taste)
Marinara/red sauce (I'm lazy so I just bought ready-made sauce)

1. Remove cabbage leaves from cabbage head, trying to keep them as intact as possible. This can be a little tricky and take a little patience. Don't worry if they tear in one or two places. Boil cabbage leaves in water for about 4-5 minutes. This should soften them up a bit.

2. Mix ricotta, 1/2c mozzarella, parmesean cheeses along with garlic and herbs.

3. Place cabbage leaves in baking dish. Scoop about 1/2c of cheese/herb mixture into center of leaf, and then fold the sides up and over the top, making a roll shape. Use a toothpick in the center to hold the cabbage leaves shut.

4. Bake at 350F for about 15 minutes.

5. Remove from oven, pour marinara sauce over rolls and top with remaining mozzarella cheese.

6. Bake for an additional 10 minutes to melt cheese on top.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Rugby in the snow

There are few things in life quite like a rugby tournament in the middle of February. Playing a rugby game in the snow is one thing, but spending all day out in it is quite another. Of course, being that it was a rugby tournament, people were keeping warm in a true rugby fashion: with copious amounts of alcohol.
Since we were playing ten people on a side, I got to try my hand at a couple new positions -- prop and hooker. Not my most glorious moment on the field but it was fun. The St. Valentine's Day Massacre is by no means a serious tournament ... I mean, we're playing with a foot of snow on the ground, missing tackles because we're slipping all over the place on it, and getting progressively more tipsy throughout the day -- how serious
could it be?
I will say though, that nothing unleashes my "inner Viking warrior" quite like playing rugby in the snow.

However, it's weekends like this one that definitely sort of put the primal lifestyle in perspective. Beer at a rugby game aside, seeing just how terrible the food that most people put into their bodies (and the quantities they consume it in) is definitely gives me a renewed sense of self-respect. Furthermore, it makes me realize just how active (mentally and physically) my lifestyle choice has made me.
I really, really CANNOT sit in front of a television for more than an hour (two at most) and just zone out. Even then, if I'm going to watch for more than 10 minutes, it really needs to be something worth watching (i.e. definitely NOT Olympic speedskating. Watching people skate in circles is not really that different from watching NASCAR). It amazes me that people spend upwards of 5 hours a day sitting on their ass mindlessly plugged in to whatever garbage is on. I can't even watch shows that I
like (not that there are very many of them, mind you) for that long.
Also, I'm just going to say right now that I don't care about the Olympics, at all. I really don't care. I'd rather be out riding down a mountain on my snowboard than watching someone else ride down a mountain on his/her snowboard. It's not that I'm jealous of other people's talent, it's that I don't care. And I don't make idols out of other people, many of whom are only at this level of skill because their parents pushed it when they were kids. Really, what kid CHOOSES to do anything when they're 3-5 years old? Huh?
The logic is really the same logic behind not watching
any other sporting events on TV ... I would rather go out and play some 1-on-1 with a buddy or just shoot freethrows by myself than watch other people do it. I guess I'm just an active person like that.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Post-Workout Nutrition: Trial and Error

With all the fitness and nutrition blogs out there, it's virtually impossible to find an idea that someone else on some other blog doesn't argue against. Now, discounting all the kids who's level of expertise is their high school biology class (and keep in mind, I can't even claim that, I never paid attention in that class. I am a scientist, but biology is the one discipline of science that I have/want nothing to do with), it's still hard to figure out who's right and who's wrong.

So, what better way to approach the problem of determining what combination of food and fitness is best for myself than to simply experiment -- like a real scientist. Can different methods/practices be combined and still produce good results? We shall see.

 I recently adopted a weightlifting routine posted on a bodybuilding website. Why? Why not? I don't really have anything to loose. When bodybuilders are "bulking" they usually eat a ton of food and then worry about shedding excess bodyfat later. So, the question is, can I use this routine (geared towards strength/muscle mass gains) in conjunction with my primal lifestyle and still get good results (i.e. lean body mass gains)? Well, I look more ripped than I did a month ago, but that isn't really saying anything.

Last semester I decided to implement a 1-2 hour fast after my workout because of the implication that not eating increases the amount of HGH released. Supposedly, the insulin response created by consuming food decreases the HGH response. I did this with pretty good results, but given that virtually every bodybuilding site in existence preaches endlessly about the importance of consuming carbs and protein immediately after for glycogen uptake and protein synthesis, I decided I'd give it a try and see if the results were any different.

I have been consuming a simple post-workout shake that is made with frozen fruit, coconut milk (or whole milk), and whey protein isolate. 
The basic recipe is:
1 piece frozen fruit (i.e. 1 banana, 1 peach, 4-6 strawberries, 1/2c blueberries)
1/2c liquid (coconut milk, whole milk, half and half, almond milk, or any combination thereof)
1 scoop Natural Factors French Vanilla Whey Protein Isolate

I think I've definitely gained a bit of muscle, but it's hard to know whether that can be attributed to a change in post-workout nutrition or simply doing a workout that pushes me further. Stay tuned for more posts as I play around with my routine and nutrition.