Archive - 2015

1
Time To Talk Beer
2
Gourmet Eating Experience – in your own home!
3
Tuna Steak
4
Carnivores Rejoice! Turkey Has Been Saved.
5
Why do we forget the bad…
6
Shrimp Linguine
7
Beer glassware (101) by Peter Moeller
8
Is Sugar Sneaking Up Again?
9
Brie Is Beautiful
10
How A Pro Works From The Road

Time To Talk Beer

Beer

So this blog is a really fun way to pass along stuff I find interesting, fun, and helpful.  Lately I have spent a great deal of time writing about eating right and getting in shape.  I still say EAT RIGHT AND GET IN SHAPE.  However, I have neglected one of my favorite topics, beer!  Let’s take a big step back and peek into my only vice shall we.

Live Global, Dial Local, Drink Around Here

I may have that saying wrong but I am certain there is local beer near you (thus the term local).  No matter where you live there is a brewery somewhere close by.  I have a warm spot for Schell’s in New Ulm. schell's beer I also and new warm spot – The Mankato Brewery.  My apologies to those who do not live here, I get that this blog should be big picture and not about what happens in my little village, but you can figure it out.  Try, just try to put yourself at your locally brewery and open your mind up to the experiences that come with small breweries.  Let this be an example of how things can go.

Beer Flights

beer2I just read an article on Esquire or some equally as snooty site about craft beer.  I often scoff at the fashion advice and “trend of the day” writing but, this guy was spot on.  I witnessed it first hand.  He made an impassioned plea to quit asking for samples.  His point was simply that time is wasted and there is a basic truth is being ignored.  It is beer!  You cannot tell from a sip, buy the damn beer and drink it.  If you don’t really like it, don’t buy it again.   You don’t see people asking to sample the steak, or have a thimble of scotch.   Back to my observation.  This cozy brewery offers 4 – 6oz samples with a cool little carrier for $6.00.  You just got your samples.  I am sure it is a break even at best for the home-town-hop-team.  The idea is for the common slob to try a mitt-full of beer and look like you are not a knuckle-dragging mouth breather.  Here is what is sitting in my craw:

…. this woman and her friend in front of me, IN FRONT OF ME, insisted on little sample cups of beer  and stood there chatting:

“oh, did you try the blah blah blah nonsense?”

“no I didn’t, what is it like?”

“I don’t know, they say it is an amber beer, it looks brown to me?”

“oh really, I am a mouth breather, what does that mean?”

“it means people hate us.”

This crap went on for, what seemed like eternity.  Meanwhile, in the real world, a line of us were growing impatient waiting to BUY BEER and support these blokes.   Finally I was overcome with common sense, mixed with  testosterone, and stepped between them and ordered a beer.  No one cheered, no one even gave me the nod, but I knew deep down they muttered the word hero.    On a side note, I saw the aforementioned crazy woman ranting about her beer later as she stormed off to the biffy.  I hate to say it, but I knew that would happen.  You can lead them to the beer but cannot make them emotionally stable.

The point of that story is DON’T BE THAT PERSON!  Have  tiny bid of common sense and spend a few bucks.  If you are too cheap to buy a beer, don’t waste the precious time of a small business.  Go to Sam’s Club and get the 72 pack of whatever water/beer is on sale, go home, and bathe in it.  Get out of the way.

The Cool Stuff

Here is what is almost a fun as drinking beer, looking at swag.  These small breweries often have the best stuff;  hats, glasses, live music, space for events, stainless steel things, and fun people.  Saturday was the third trip to this establishment for me.  I have not had a bad day gathered about the bar yet.  The beer is cold and fresh.  The staff members who pour my libation have been unreasonably pleasant and patient.  I think they need to be patient.  One day a group of men were there on bikes.  These are vintage bicycles, not motorcycles, bikes.  They ride bikes all over the state and visit beer.  That my not be exactly the goal of this rag-tag bunch of oddities, but I am certain is was crazy old dudes on bikes.  The bar keep gladly explained the mission and hopes of the brewery for, what was probably, the 50th time that day.  Gladly they marshaled on, preaching about beer and, well beer.  Hopefully these men left with a smile on their face.

mankato brewery

The really cool thing about a business entrenched in a local market is the humanity they bring to the ecosystem.  The brewery is open to hosting events and fundraisers.  My most recent visit was a local Pride group raising money for the upcoming parade.  The brewery had a stage, power, tables, and a tolerant spirit that bodes well the future of the business.  It is important to be part of something bigger than money and a product.  I will stack up local businesses like this against corporate events any day of the week.  I may be off topic, but you can do more with less, when the people who are making the world a better place live right in the very world they serve.

Back On Topic

I would be remiss if I did not mention the beer.  I always struggle with this part since I am not a beer judge.  I know what I like and what I mostly like.  I have read all sorts of beer reviews that have categories and grading scales and science behind them.  I am not quite at that level.  I went to a winery in California called Concannon a few years ago.  It was quaint and perfect when you drove up.  I was with a guy who had never really consumed wine that was not in a box or refrigerated.  It was a lucky day for all of us when we stumbled up to the tasting table and started a conversation with the wine dude.  This guy explained the history of the place and gave his background.  He was a retired high-power lineman from Montana.  He was the Glen Campbell song!  When my co-worker opened a vein and confessed his fears about looking foolish at the winery his words were met with kind understanding.  This old guy simply said that there are four kinds of wine:  red, white, good and bad.  If you find something you like, drink it.  Simple and true, loved it!  That is how I feel about the beer I drink.  My favorites are Haymaker and Duly Noted.  Both are pale ales, my current beer of choice.  I like my beer like my women, cold and bitter.  I also had a porter and some more traditional ales.  All was well,  I was drinking beer and listening to live music.  Two tipsy thumbs up to the day.

You may not like all of the beers they sell.  Just buy one and drink it.  After you are done, buy something else…  please.

The next beer message will brought to you by the good people at HOME BREW!Home Brew

Let’s Go!

 

Gourmet Eating Experience – in your own home!

hello fresh

All I can say is holy smokes.  I had no idea that you could have a quick, gourmet meal delivered right to your front door for the price of a night out at an average restaurant.  I was recently introduced to Hello Fresh.  This is an amazing company that delivers all varieties of meals customized to your liking.  These are not frozen dinners from a truck or carry-out meals from the local Chinese restaurant.  These are down-home, healthy, flavorful meals that will blow you away!  I have written a fair amount about having a little swag and at least acting like you know your way around a kitchen (I am talking you men).  This company has your back in the department.  I will give you some details in the next few blogs about the three recipes that graced my kitchen and hope you give them a little love.  This is an introduction to the experience.  The three recipes will soon follow, I promise.

The Plan

hello freshHello Fresh has an online presence that allows you to customize meals based on taste and needs.  They have vegetarian options along with larger serving options.  The site is very easy to navigate and walks you through the menu planning process.  Fast forward a couple days as the package shows up at your house, complete with everything  you need to make the recipe.  The ingredients are fresh, super fresh.  The recipe cards, special offers, and apron (nice touch) are separate from the produce and  greet you as you open the box.

I had some doubts, after all, I like to cook and enjoy making my own meals.  My expectations were obliterated.  These first three recipes I tried were nothing I would have made on my own.  Prosciutto-Wrapped Chicken Saltimbocca, Curried Jamaican Beef and Collard Greens, and Charred Zucchini & Bean Quesadillas are the tastes that changed my look at food.  I think I did not even realize my rut.  Did I mention they were awesome?

Some Details

Each recipe gives a picture based view of the cooking process which helps so much.  There are little icons that remind you of the time, the difficulty level, the spice level, allergens, and the core ingredient.  The card is very clear and concise.   I have read a fair amount of recipes and rarely dohello fresh I see calorie count, carbs, fat, protein, fiber, and even the tools needed listed as part of the recipe.

Is this more expensive than going to the store, sure.  The question that has to be asked, are you buying this kind of food at the store?  I mean really people, this is more like eating out at a great restaurant.  That is your comparison.  Don’t you dare compare this to some box of stuff and a some frozen beer.  When you match this up against the real target, a meal out, you are actually saving money and looking like a super star at the same time.  Picture this, date night, you cook this meal, pair it with a great wine and some mood music.  You are miles ahead financially than if you went out, got a cab, ordered drinks and food, left a tip for average service and came home broke.  Here is your only action item, planning.  This requires a little planning but please, don’t kid me, I know better.  You know when her birthday is, your anniversary comes up every year on the same day, and you should know when a holiday is coming up.  YOU HAVE A CALENDAR AND KNOW THE WEEKEND IS FEW DAYS AWAY.    These meals were under 12.00 per person.  My son and I ate at a sub shop the other day.  Two subs, chips and soda, 19.00.  Guess what else, it was super average tasting and made completely of salt, sugar, starch, and fat.  Game, set, match.

Final Thoughts

I don’t how to say this any other way.  Try it!  Don’t take my word for it, I am not a reliable source, your palate is.   Click on this link and enter this code – YCKNZUget $40.00 off your first order.  I will put the Curried Jamaican Beef and Collard Greens up against your homemade version any day (no offense but odds are you made ham instead).  People, step out of the routine, you will thank me.

Let’s Go!

Tuna Steak

Seared Tuna Steak

This may be my favorite recipe yet.  In the spirit of getting a huge bang-for-your-buck, this tuna steak is a bullseye.  I picked up an amazing tuna steak at my meat market and had it for lunch.  That’s right –  lunch – just $5.99 for a great meal that was ready in less than ten minutes. I guess you could have some processed grease-bomb with chips and a cup of sugar for the same price.  You pick.  I know which one I’d choose.

Tuna Steak

Get Ready For Lunch

Here’s all you need to do… practice this once on your own, then get ready to blow away your friends. Mix the following together:

  • 1 Tbsp. powdered wasabi mustard
  • 1/2 cup toasted sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp. Kosher Salt

Seared Tuna Steak

Once they are mixed together, it’s time to firmly press the steak into the seasonings covering it completely.  I have seen posts where they say to use tongs or some kind of gloves, but I say balderdash.  Grab it with your hands and get dirty.  The sesame seeds add a fantastic crunch to the tender steak.

Get the pan heated to medium-high.  Don’t rush.  Get that pan really hot because you only have one shot at a seared steak that rules the kitchen.  Put a thin coat of sesame oil on the bottom for flavor and to crisp up the crust.

How to Cook Tuna Steak #Viewblender

This step is important…

You all have to figure out how you like your tuna, but for me, the more rare the better.  Look at the finished product in the picture.  That steak was done with one minute on each side. Exactly one minute. If you really like it really rare, I would cut it down to 30 seconds per side.  Now get that meat off the heat, onto your plate, and into your mouth!

Ahi Tuna Steak

Plating

There are a lot of ways to serve this beauty.  Cut it up and eat it dipped in wasabi and soy sauce.  Lay the slices over a bed of greens and have a salad.  Take some leaf lettuce and make some wraps with rice.  There are endless ways to dress it up. I just ate it (sometimes plain and simple is the best way).

Ok gang, I am going to sign off and search for another great option for all of my Viewblender friends.  Heat it up and Let’s Go!

 

 

 

 

Carnivores Rejoice! Turkey Has Been Saved.

Avocado Turkey Feta Burger

Just when you though the health food nuts had met their match…  I have tried and tried but nothing has been able to displace the good old greasy burger.  My parents make Turkey burgers all of the time.  They are good for you and have NO TASTE.  Listen, I am 100% on board with health and treating your body right but, at some point we all must demand flavor.  All of you carnivores are welcomed back at the table for the most flavorful turkey burger you have ever eaten.  I understand it may be the first turkey burger you have ever eaten so you have no frame of reference but, I will take credit for bringing you to the turkey-table regardless. Buckle up kids, here comes the Turkey Burger.

Here Is The Straight Scoop

All you need is a bowl and a bunch of stuff to mix in it.  Get some lean ground turkey.  The one I bought was 1.25 pounds of 94% lean protein.  Grab your sharpest knife and a cutting board.  As always you can mix and match ingredients, but here is what I used.

1/4 cup Feta Cheese (blue cheese would certainly rock)Turkey Burger

1/4 cup Craisins (use cranberries, or anything sweet)

1/4 cup finely chopped red onion

1/2 cup finely chopped fresh spinach

1 Tbsp Cayenne Pepper (use something else if you don’t like a little heat)

1 Farm fresh egg (ok, any egg but I sound so hipster when I say farm fresh)

Mix this all together.  The egg will help hold it together since turkey is a little harder to keep in a tight patty, like beef.

Turkey BurgerMake the patties about 5 or 6 inches across and keep them thinner than a normal burger.  These burgers do not shrink down like beef so make them about the size you would prefer.  Exercise a little patience, they need some TLC to form up.

Next take a big drink of beer and wash your hands.  This step is not optional.

Step two is a deceptive little topping.  In a second bowl (and yes, you have to wash two bowls) mix 1/2 ripe avocado with 2 heaping Tbsps of Greek Yogurt.  After that is all mixed up why don’t you go ahead and chop some tomato and add it to the dip.  Toss that dip in the fridge so it is good and set up when you need it.

Heat a skillet to a medium temperature or fire up the grill.  Use a heavy dose of non-stick something since the feta will sear onto the pan or the grill.  I like an olive oil spray since olive oil is…cooler than regular spray, so says science.  It will take about seven minutes per side.  Don’t flip it over and over!  Be patient and try to live with one flip because this bugger can crumble if you are not careful.

Get that hot burger on a bun ASAP.  Smear a healthy pile of avocado topping on the meat and add some fresh veggies for a little crunch.  Be creative with the entire process.  I added some radishes, bell pepper slices, and red onion to the sandwich.  Crunch and zing make the burger all the better.

I know that it seems like a lot of work for a burger but it is really good.  The part that I underestimated as a carnivore was the flexibility that I held in my hand.  Tons of different flavors, dozens and dozens of fillers, and almost any combination of toppings.  I think I am going to fire up some coconut with a pineapple topping next time.   If it is good I will tell you about it.  If it is terrible I will hide in shame.

Get the bread and Let’s Go!

 

 

Why do we forget the bad…

selfie

The human affliction is an amazing thing.   I am not sure why, but our past either is demon from one the seven levels of hell or it was the most epic event ever.  Is it not possible to just remember a picnic as a place where you had some food?  Was it really a chance meeting with Robert Plant during a whiffle ball tournament while wearing a burka.  I want to know if any of us had a regular up bringing?  I want to know why we generally forget the bad and look fondly at history stripping away the reality?

Part I: That wasn’t so bad…

The blog is going to be multi-part.  I struggle with the key points because there is so much material here.  So for now, “take a bad song and make it better” goes first.

I talked to a friend the other day who had a rough experience.  A trip that was supposed to help drive business, re-connect with people, and explore life ended up being a let down.  The seminar was not epic, friends that should have re-connected were human after all, and the social events were too much chaos.  Early poll results showed a disappointed voter base on many fronts.  Weeks later there was new energy that came from memories, came from new information, came from getting a better understanding of the soul.  The point is why, or how does time twist memories?  Do we need to defend our fragile ego or maybe we have a need to explain things in a format that matches our expectation?

The checklist

Everyone has their own mental checklist:

Old boyfriend – he was a psycho but we had fun times

Old girlfriend – she stole all of my best vinyl but she was a great lover

First apartment – the heat didn’t work but damn did we live large

Even that little stock picture of photo shopped attractive kids shows it.  The women probably hate that dude, he probably hit on both of them and mooched off of them.  But they will look at that stupid selfie one day and ask “what ever happened to Zippy Johnson, he was so fun”.

I bet you a run through your photo albums would make my point.

A rough version of a conclusion

I think that idea is universal.  We need to survive, justify, grow, learn, advance and protect ourselves.

A number of studies were cited in an article by the BBC News regarding this topic.  The article titled, Why good memories are less likely to fade, discusses at length the human mechanism that helps us survive.

Dr Tim Dalgleish, a clinical psychologist from the University of Cambridge, tries to help those with serious depression to access positive memories.   People need good memories and will often go to great lengths to manufacture them.

I am certain there is always clarity that comes with time.  The saying goes something like time heals all wounds.  Tell that to the guy mauled by a bear.  We look back at the process and find that one little gem that popped out of seminar was germane to a current event.  We pick out the memory tied to endorphins released by laughter.  Your right brain has battled to find an answer and there it was the entire time, in the wee recesses of your bad memory.  The emotional connection is tied to everything.  Not so manly to talk about the emotional part (which is a lie – emotions are insanely sexy and manly).  We strip away facts and remember the way we felt, or even wish we felt.

I suppose if you are a pre-disposed optimist this process is inevitable.  You look for the good and try to grow from it.  I don’t know a lot of pessimists, maybe I am surrounded by them, but,  ironically my optimism has reframed them  as positive people in my mind.  I surmise many of those people will likely fixate on the crappy stuff.  I am not writing to them, they would not be able to see past my rambling writing style, it pisses them off.

I know this is one small example but it does intrigue me.  I am glad for this example because it gives me hope that we can become better people.  I usually write to men.  I have been told that I need to include women.  We all know that all of my writing includes women.  I am technically writing to men, but most women want men to be better people.  I am guessing that most women want to understand men better too.  Ladies, you are welcome.  I won’t tell anyone if you are reading this, you are still right, and we are still wrong.  I think that is probably a falsehood too but that is also another topic.   We will delve into a  discussion on people who see every event as a bad memory.  I am not too excited about that since I don’t have a frame of reference and I am naive.  So in the mean time… Let’s Go!

 

 

Shrimp Linguine

shrimp linguine

Welcome back to those who are trying to update their recipe book.  As we continue down the path of easy, healthy, good-looking meals we come across a Shrimp Linguine.  I realize that easy, healthy, and good-looking is a common bio on many dating sites, this time it is a food site (simmer down).  In the spirit of keeping the ingredients to a minimum, and the fresh items very consistent, this pasta dish is a nice little spin-off of the shrimp salad and appetizer.  Let’s make some Shrimp Linguine, shall we.

Shrimp Linguine

We have covered this in the past but as a reminder you should buy some shrimp that matches your taste.  It is cost effective and simple to grab the frozen shrimp for most dishes.  I do not want to dissuade you from buying the prawns that look like lobsters, but that may be overkill.  Get some medium shrimp so your dining partners at least realize there is shrimp in the pasta.  That should suffice.

In a frying pan add 2 tablespoons of olive oil or coconut oil and warm things up on a medium heat.  Depending on your personal health situation I really like to use a 1/3 stick of real butter, sooo good.  Add the shrimp and these ingredients to the pan.  This recipe is designed to feed 4 reasonable people.  I am not going to define reasonable, I would guess they are reasonable people if you are feeding them.

Approximately 20 – 30 shrimp

1 Tbsp  Minced or fresh garlic

1 Tbsp Pepper Blend – here is that ambiguity I end up with.  I use a Habanero pepper blend because I love hot food.  Please substitute what you like.  I have seen some great pre-mixed seafood seasonings, lemon pepper, dill pepper among others.  Just use about a tablespoon of whatever you like.

Cook this until the shrimp is done based on the directions tied to that particular crustacean.  Pre-cooked shrimp only needs to be warmed up, fresh shrimp needs some addition foreplay to get to the right temperature.

Fill a large pot with water and bring to a rolling boil.  Add a full box of linguine noodles along with a Tbsp of Olive Oil and spend a few minutes making sure the noodles don’t stick together.  I like a higher end pasta like De Cecco but you can grab whatever you fancy.  Pasta is usually done in about 12 minutes but can be pulled in ten minutes if you like an Al dente pasta.  Once again you are welcome to try other pasta styles if you like or go whole wheat if you fancy a healthy option.

While all this madness is occupying your burners mix the cool stuff in a bowl.

1 Cup of Cherry Tomatoes

1/2 Cup of Red Onion – diced or slivered (I don’t know if you can sliver an onion – just do it)

1/2 Cup Bella Mushrooms (quartered, sliced, or whole shrooms if they are little)

1 Tbsp Finely Chopped Parsley

Once the pasta is done give it a little rinse blend in the vegies.  Drizzle a little olive oil into the pasta and mix it up.  Gather up the slippery little devils and the cool staff and split it up between the plates.  I struggle with having to explain this stuff but they tell me recipes need to be detailed.

You can either mix the Shrimp into the noodles or flop those bad boys one top.  It looks cooler when they are on top but you are your own man.  Don’t let me tell you what to do – go for it!

Sprinkle a little Parmesan on top to make look pretty.

Obligatory Options

If you don’t like any of these ingredients or are allergic just change them!  Sometime it is ok to think outside of the box (for those of you that miss quality 1990’s clichés still used today).  We chatted about the shrimp seasoning earlier so let’s discuss other things that can light up that pasta.

I always pimp legumes – toss in some beans, any kind (black, garbonzo, navy, even lima).  Cheese is a can’t miss filler and it tastes great.  There are so many great crumbles that sing.  Almost any raw veggie can fill the void.  I am certain some chopped spinach or green onions or even something call arugula would work as a complimentary flavor.

Go on now – take this dish and expand you food vibe.  I have posted a pile of recipes that use some core ingredients, look great, taste great, and don’t break the bank.  You can do it.

Let’s Go!

 

 

 

 

Beer glassware (101) by Peter Moeller

beer glasses

I was sitting in a beautiful 19th hole the other day.  Unfortunately, for the celebration of life of a friend, rather than because I had just gotten my ass whooped, on literally one of the nicest golf courses in the world.  I ordered a Hopalicious on tap, and a good friend/bartender poured my beer in a frosted glass.  On my second beer, I asked her to use the same glass.  She said “Are you sure ….you don’t want a frosted glass?”.  I graciously and respectfully declined(she is an old school pro to the peak of perfection), and enlightened her as to why frosted glasses are as good an idea as a “jump to conclusions mat”.  The exchange prompted me to share some tips on glassware usage, etiquette, and whatever else I see fit to relate to the topic.

Colder Isn’t Always Better

A beer glass should be around the same temperature as the aiming juice you pour in it.  Have you ever been in a solid beer joint and seen the little sprayers bartenders rinse pints with right before they pour you one?  Those gadgets serve two purposes.  They rinse your glass one final time, and they chill it to the same temperature as the beer about to be held.   Most often the chill they water with the same glycol system that chills the beer ensuring they are within a few degrees of each other.  That’s why they exist….it’s a real thing…

 It is cruel to the beer and your taste buds

Shocking your beer is generally a poor idea. Frosted glasses turn your beer into a beer slushy.  Just like what happened to my Hopalicious.  I had thoughts of Dairy Queen, and an under-privileged Eskimo’s nut sack… The freezing cold caused the flavors to shut down in every ingredient in the beer.  Grains, hops, and yeast esters, all misrepresented…It also separated some of the beer from the alcohol, which causes other significant flavor changes.

Using a room temperature glass is a better plan. The “beer vs. glass” temperature battle will end quickly enough, with minor damage inflicted on the innocent bystanders known as flavors and aromas.  At home you can be an o.c.d. snob like me, and rinse your glass in cold water for a second.  Don’t bug your bartender with such petty things.  Believe me, they have better things to do;  like play Trivia Crack, or pour MY beer, or make some ass-clown a Golden Cadillac.

You Still Have Rights

The exception to not bothering your bartender about your glassware, is if it is not sufficiently and properly cleaned.  This is a very important aspect of your beer vessel, and nobody should have to drink from a dirty glass. If you can physically see dirt and grime in your grail, you’re probably drinking in a shithole, and you pay for sex.

Lipstick around the rim, chemical smells, and residue are more common, but are the bar’s problem, not yours. Ask Dirty Beer Glassthem to fix it. Beer should be enjoyed, not tolerated. Lipstick happens. It’s like an eyelash in your food. People aren’t perfect, and sometimes some lipstick marks get past the best of us. The chemical smell is usually sanitizer, and a good rinse will eliminate it. Residue can be a little trickier. The easiest way to spot it is to look at your carbonation bubbles. What should happen, is tiny little bubbles cruise in streams from the bottom to the top throughout the beer, some sliding effortlessly along the sides of the glass to be released into the head of the nectar. When residue is left on the glass, large carbonation bubbles will form on it, and make your glass look super funky…… This pic is a good example….Get a new beer!

 

peter moellerAbout The Author:

Pete goes all in as he defends his title as beer master.  His beer knowledge is only rivaled by his skills in the boudoir.  We all know he is from Wisconsin so I suggest y’all better listen.  When he is not terrorizing sheep he is drinking, drinking beer and thinking about how to make your life better.  God bless you Peter…

 

 

 

Is Sugar Sneaking Up Again?

SugarI have recently learned about the Glycemic Index.  Is it possible that there are more crafty ways Sugar is creeping into our world?  I am starting to believe sugar is sneaking up on us again!  Batten down the hatches people, it is time to find some of those hiding places.

Let’s Know Who We Are Dealing With…

We have all heard of sugar, cane sugar, fructose, and corn syrup.  We all know we should avoid pounding a dozen cinnamon rolls, there is a ton of sugar in those.  But do we know to avoid spaghetti sauce?  Do we look at our protein powder label? (these are listed with a wink and a nod to my sugar detox group – thanks for insights)  I know right!  That little tasty white crystal is a rascal.  The funny part is we invite sugar into our house.  Not only do we leave the door unlocked, we leave the door open and the lights on.  Ok – lock down time.

A lesson in vocabulary

Sugar has many names:  Lucifer, Beelzebub, Twinkies, Cadbury Cream Eggs are a few I have heard.  It is tricky to know all the names.  Prevention Magazine has named 57 different incarnations of good old sugar, 57!  I am not even sure if that is the entire list.  Here are a few of the tricky names you want to watch for on the labels of your food (in case clicking on the link and reading is too hard, I know, I know).  There are some obvious ones that we have learned to spot as easily as the villain behind the mask on Scooby Doo (if it were a real villain I would hope it would be named the Sweet Sasquatch or something like that).  You have your run of the mill items like Fructose, Lactose, Maltose, Glucose, and anything that ends with Syrup or the word sugar.  It gets a little more mysterious after that.  I present the next level of sugar.  You have Maltodextrin, Glactose, Diatase, Ethyl Maltol, Diastatic Malt, Dextran, and “natural brown sugar” (really) all listed on many whole food labels.  If you knew these I will give you a B, unless we are grading on a curve, then you have an A+ because most sheep don’t even look at the label.  Here are the top hide-and-seek champs.  Turbinado, Treade, Panocha, beerPanela, and Muscovado are all names for sugar.  My god man, how are we even keeping up the insulin shortage.  Lastly I give you the most heinous of all sugars.  I don’t say this because it is a bad sugar or is made from the dark arts, it is bad because it is an affront on something near and dear to my heart – BEER!  I present to you Barley Malt.  It pains my to even paint this with the same brush as Diatase or some other made up crap, this is in beer for the love of god.  Barley Malt is an ingredient in many 12 ounce cans of liquid magic.  I am going to break from convention here…Barley Malt is an exception, consume as much as you like.

 Important footnote, I am not a Doctor

There are an amazing number of self proclaimed health experts.  I cannot tell you who is or who isn’t.  I can tell you that most people are not.  I harp, beg, and mock people into checking sources, and this is no different.  I insist you do not take my word for anything,  do your own research.  I also can ensure you that if you “cut and paste” this blog onto Facebook and present it as some kind of fact I will come unglued.  I see enough stupid-ass stuff everyday to know that I don’t want to be part of it.  I am sure Obama did not secretly sell the US Constitution to a bunch of Muslims.  I am certain that all of Hollywood are not secretly Scientologists.  I am certain I am telling you the baseline of what you already know.  Sadly, I am also certain that most doctors have little nutritional background and have little interest in becoming registered dieticians.  I hope my point is clear, there is no one clear source.  So just take it for what it is worth, quit eating so much sugar, quit it.

Here are a few tools to help

I have an IPhone with the cool app called Fooducate. This app allows you to scan bar codes and get some great information on almost anything you grab off the shelf.  It is a free app with the option to buy some of the cool add-ons.  This app is akin to Skindeep, an app that does the same thing for cosmetics.  This app is also a website that links to some great food information as well.  I know that skin care is an entirely different topic but I think the app is way cool and it may be a while until I get around to writing about your face.  Do a Facebook search for healthy eating challenge groups.  I am in two right now, one for planking and one for getting a grip on sugar.  Join a group and learn.  All of this information is brought to you by the wonder that is the Internet.  Just remember 30 – 36 grams of sugar is plenty.  That Ragu I talked about in the beginning takes up 25% of your sugar allotment with 1/4 cup.   I want to know who eats a 1/4 cup of spaghetti sauce?  That can of energy drink I looked at on Saturday had a mere 18 grams.  That seemed great until I saw there were 3 servings per can.  That brings me to the greatest tool of all, you.  Ok, you’re not a tool, read the label!

I leave you with a great quote I heard from a guest on Fareed Zakaria’s Sunday CNN show Global public Square (an amazing show by the way).  He had a doctor on who reminds those of us who are lazy enough to tout genetics as the sole culprit for all of our bad habits to step back and re-evaluate.  “Our genes are our predisposition, not our sentence”.  Dr Dean Ornish

You have to want it – so  LET’S GO!

Brie Is Beautiful

Brie with LingonberryOne of the easiest appetizers in the world to make is Brie.  It is cheese, just cheese.  Serve it warm, serve it cold, serve it with crackers, serve it with bread, serve it any way you like.  I will shoot you a couple cool versions and show you why “brie is beautiful”.

Let’s Make Some Brie

Grab a wheel of the soft cheese magic.  Brie ranges in price, find one that you are comfortable with until you lock down your palate.  It is much like wine, sometimes a great bottle of wine is under $10.00.  I bought the Brie used in this post for about $5.00.  I ate half of it before I heated it up and it was delicious.

You will need something to serve it on, or dip into it (if you heat it up it will be liquid for the most part).  I love a fresh Brie with applesbaguette but crackers can do the trick.

Once you have your two core ingredients all you need are your bonus items.  I have two versions here, one served with a Lingonberry spread and one with thinly sliced, sour, Granny Smith apples.  Next time I am going to serve up some Kalamata olives and almonds on the side.  I think you see the versatility of the Brie plan.

If you bake the cheese it only takes about 10 minutes at 350.  You can cut the corner and use the microwave.  Be aware the microwave is only about a 30 second heat-up, don’t boil it to death.  Drop it on a plate or in a little crock and set it on the plate.  Stash your apples, your nuts or you fruit on the plate and get eating!

Bonus Info

brieThis is another one of the recipes that I love.  It is easy and it looks very sophisticated and purposeful.  You are serving great shrimp, a steak, or maybe even some pasta dish so you don’t want to fire up pizza rolls as your appetizer.  Trust me when I tell you this, dropping this appetizer on the table along with some good wine and a little smooth jazz in the background is like having a police escort to date three (you may get to skip date number two).

Do some research on your own and come up with a variation that rocks.  The key is keep trying new recipes and become a better man.  Challenge yourself – Let’s Go!

How A Pro Works From The Road

Traveler

Remote office – out of a suitcase?

This may seem like a really odd question. To those of us who have careers that require travel weekly, it is a part of life. Many of us who fall into this category don’t just travel to one city in a week it may be multiple. In fact I am writing this while on a plane from Dallas to Omaha. Started this week in Omaha, was needed in Dallas, flew out on Tuesday. Now it’s Thursday I am flying back to Omaha to finish the work week, only to fly home to Minneapolis to enjoy my weekend and Easter with my Father and Daughter. Fact is, this is quite normal. So what have I learned from all of this travel?  Here are some pointers from a professional who works on the road.   I will help you survive having your suitcase double as your remote office.

First some basic travel tips.

Be loyal. What I mean is find one airline, one hotel chain, one rental car company.  The advantages of this are many. Status is one of the greatest things on the planet.  There is nothing better than free food and drinks in first class, chilling in the concierge lounge of a hotel, getting free car rentals, or better yet enjoying a comped vacation.  All because you were loyal to a chain. While status affords you all of the above, it is said getting your status is a painful journey.  When first traveling it may not make sense on why be loyal, as you have no status, no free days, no real benefits. Trust me, they all add up much faster than one would ever know, if you are loyal. Most business traveler friends I have take at least one free vacation a year.  2 out of 5 times I get a free room upgrade. My room in Omaha is the size of most apartments. When your home is your hotel, size does matter.

Next this I would highly recommend, get TSA pre-check approved.  If flying is part of your life, this will make you smile.  For $85 you go to your local airport, fill out some forms, have a background check performed, and voila… No more removing shoes when going through security. No more removing suit coat. No more removing laptop from bag.  You go through the short line set up for TSA pre-check folks.  Now add the fact that that will allow you to show up 1 hour prior to flight as you are running the fast track, versus 2 hours prior and being part of the mob.  I highly recommend you dropping the $85. Time and stress relief alone are worth it. This $85 buys you a year of fast track!

Now some packing basics.

I travel every week. I have my system down. It’s not the only system out there, it’s mine.  You need to create your own. Hopefully this helps.

Briefcase or backpack. Pick the one you like, like the one you pick – it’s going everywhere with you! I have a shoulder bag style briefcase. It’s large enough to hold iPad, laptop, charging devices, any work I bring with ( folders, papers, binders, etc). I also put my 1 quart bag of liquids and or gels in that bag. There are still airports and security Check points that don’t have TSA pre-check. For this reason I keep my laptop and quart bag in the same part of my briefcase. It saves me time. I only have to unzip 1 compartment. I also usually carry a Kind bar in my bag. You never know what delays may happen. Being stuck on a runway for 75 minutes can be frustrating at times. Weather delays can get to you. Kind Bars make me happy. What ever is your snack of choice I suggest to keep that in your briefcase or backpack. I store this under the seat ahead of me.  I want easy access as I will usually be trying to get some work done.  This has the added benefit of buying back free time in my home life. Either way it must get done, why not get it done on a plane.

Roller Bag. You need one.  One that fits in the overhead bin. It’s called a carry on. The nice thing is, most airlines allow 1 carry on and 1 personal item per passenger at no charge. Even if the carry on won’t fit because of a small regional plane, they will tag it for free.  You will tire of paying $25 and up and waiting by baggage claim for your personals.  Trust me on this.

What to pack. This is pretty basic, and will depend on your career.  That being said here is what I make sure to include: Dress pants 2 pair – Change them each day and no one knows better. Dress shirts – I bring enough for all days minus one. When I travel back home typically on a Friday I wear jeans and a button down shirt that may be a little less formal.  I prefer something that shows my personality. So clearly I pack jeans as well as a button down shirt of my choice. Also pack one suit coat. If the coat is a less expensive one and wrinkles easy, I would suggest wearing it both on the way out, as well as on the way back on the plane.  It saves on creases and wrinkles.  I also pack 1 tie, just in case.  Pack my undergarments, toiletries,etc…  Very important – if you work out remember those clothes and shoes. Also what ever you are most comfy in, your favorite outfit, I’d bring it. Sometimes that is the closest to home you get in 5 or more days. It’s good to have it with, good for your psyche.

Hopefully this helps. It’s sort of my basic guideline to successful stress free travels. If you have any things that work well for you that I have not included, I would love to hear about them.

Travel safe my friend.

Jason AbarahmAbout The Author:

Jason has been a great friend of mine for many years and has a keen focus when it comes to maximizing life.   His job has sent him bouncing around the country and he understands that work and pleasure often blend.  When he is not watching his kids play sports he is sending me tips on whiskey and tequila.  I promise there will be plenty of cool stuff from this ninja.

Thanks Jason – great post!

 

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