Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Fitness and The Flash

When you read the title of this book, Fit and Sexy for Life: The hormone free plan for staying slim, strong and fabulous in your 40's, 50's, and beyond, I'm obviously the authority on the subject. Everybody knows you come to a 30 something guy for the insider info. I've all the answers, clearly...or maybe I just make a good salad!
Kathy and I worked together on the Body-for-LIFE program last year. She's well known in her field as one of the best authorities on health and fitness. When she told me she was writing another book and asked me for some recipes I was more than willing to oblige. Those featured include:
Ginger lime shrimp salad
Niscoise salad w/ seared ahi tuna
Grilled chicken & onion pizza
Homemade turkey burger w/ asian slaw
Cajun salmon salad w/ arugula mixed greens
Although Kathy's book deals with health and fitness related issues aimed primarily at menopausal women, diet is as important. I don't use the word 'diet' in terms of losing weight but as a lifestyle centered around eating healthy nutritious meals that fuel the body. Kathy and I agreed on this fundamental issue and that's how I ended up contributing to her book. The end result is great and the recipes are accessible to everyone.

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I got a comment from John who asked for suggestions for heirloom tomatoes, apart from eating them as they are. Since they're still in season right now, I wanted to find out a bit more about them so I headed over to another farmers market yesterday to get the scoop. Apparently there are over 4,000 varieties available worldwide from Greece to Italy to the US, New Zealand and on to Russia. I shit you not. I thought there was only around 400. Heirlooms are open-pollinated, which means the flowers are pollinated by wind or insects. This also means you can save the seeds and they'll produce the next year. Heirloom tomatoes are bred for taste not appearance, which you probably noticed if you've seen some of them. We see the first batch get to the markets around March when the season begins. I got some mixed opinions as to when the season's finished up but it's somewhere between November and January, either way we've got a couple more months to go. The main reason why the season is getting longer is because of global climate change, which as we know affects more than just our tomatoes, but that's a different story altogether.

I came up with a few suggestions other than the usual tomato, mozzarella and basil salad:
Homemade heirloom gazpacho (use different colored tomatoes)
Orzo w/ blistered grape heirlooms, fresh herbs (parsley, mint), mozzarella
Recipe below Serving suggestion: Pair with grilled paprika dusted tofu and asparagus
4 servings
4 x medium heirloom tomatoes (not too ripe and vary colors for presentation)
2/3 x cup un-cooked cous-cous (2 cups cooked)
1 x cup water or broth (low sodium preferably) I like to control who much salt I use
1 x tsp. salt
1 x lemon, zested
1/2 x red onion, fine dice
1/2 x red pepper, fine dice
2 x tbsp. olive oil
1 x tbsp. fresh basil,chopped
1 x tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 x tbsp. kalamata olives,chopped
2 x tbsp. feta cheese
S&P to taste
Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.
Begin by bringing your salted broth or water to a boil and once ready add cous-cous, cover and remove from heat for allotted cooking time per instructions on box. Make sure you check it so it won't overcook. Saute the onion and peppers in olive oil on medium heat not getting too much color. Once ready set aside in mixing bowl.
Meanwhile, cut tops off your tomatoes and carefully scoop out the center. Keep the insides. Chop and add to your onion pepper mixture. TIP: You can do this ahead of time and keep them in the fridge. I suggest putting some paper towel in the cavity to soak up some of the juice.
Once everything is ready, carefully using a fork, mix your ingredients together. Taste and adjust seasoning as preferred. Gently fill each tomato with your mixture and bake covered for 20-30 minutes. Because all heirlooms are different, the cooking time may vary so when the tomato is soft to the touch you're ready.
You can serve this with any entree or even as an appetizer. Enjoy!

Monday, October 22, 2007

Spuds and lots of them!

Surprise, surprise an Irish guy talking about potatoes. Who'd have thought?
I was at the Santa Monica Farmers market yesterday and met a friend of mine, Denis who works for Weiser Farms. They produce some great sustainable root vegetables, potatoes, carrots, onions.
They have about 10 different varieties all of which have distinct qualities. If you're looking for a mashing potato for instance, the German Butterball is the best along with the French fingerling. A lot of the fingerling varieties are great for roasting as you can roast them whole and they look and taste great. The fingerling potatoes are generally more expensive though, as they have to be hand picked. Check out the Purple Peruvian fingerling and the All Blue for something a little different. Although not related they're similar in color and texture and look great. Sometimes when I do buffets I roast a few different varieties of fingerlings which look brilliant together. I like to keep it simple, especially with great ingredients, just olive oil, S&P and garlic and they're delicious.
The great thing about going to these farmers markets is that the vendors love to talk about their products and it's a great place to learn and see new varieties.
At least we don't have to worry about parking!

Friday, October 19, 2007


After landing in the States I tried my luck in Santa Monica, where I joined a gym so I wouldn't look totally ridiculous in my speedos. Though I've since moved to a different gym, I kept in contact with a couple of the trainers.
Fast forward a couple of years.
Returning from a holiday in Ireland, where we ate and drank our way through the countryside, we headed home with bloated faces and spare tires. Knowing we are going to do it again for Christmas, the wife decided she needed help (and not my nagging loving kind) so I suggested she try fatburn.com, a program designed by one of the trainers I knew from the old gym. This is a website that shows the relationship between calorie intake and excercise. She took the reins and to my surprise, has become addicted to her computer, entering her food intake even a day in advance to see if she should have that extra glass o'wine. NUTS! It has been an eye opening experience for both of us---are you aware how many calories are in your Baja Fresh burrito?!
Last weekend we were on the 3rd St.Promenade in Santa Monica and noticed a large banner hanging above the McDonalds sign reading, BURN FITNESS. What the...? We connected the dots and decided to go in for a gander. This was the brainchild of Tom Williams, the creator of fatburn.com, who was one of the trainers at my old gym. It was shit-hot. Located on the 4th and 5th floors overlooking the Promenade, it has hardwood floors, top of the line equipment complete with cable televisions installed on all the cardio machines (my wife's favorite), computer access to check your email AND FREE subscription to fatburn.com. Impressive AND affordable! At least if you walk through these golden arches your speedos will fit!


4-6 Servings

3x 8 oz skinless grass fed or organic chicken breasts
1x med red onion, thinly sliced
1x red pepper, thinly sliced
1x green pepper, thinly sliced
2x small garlic cloves, minced (smashed)
1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes (or as much as you can handle)
1x 28 oz. tin chopped tomatoes
1x lemon, zested or grated
32 oz. (aka 4 cups/1 qt) chicken broth
1x glass white wine (whatever you're drinking)
2x tbsp olive oil
salt & pepper to taste
1x bay leaf
1x bouquet garni of oregano & thyme
(fresh herbs stacked together, tied with string)

In large pot, saute onions and peppers in two tablespoons of olive oil over med-low heat for 5 minutes. Add minced garlic, sautee for 1 minute. Add chopped tomatoes, chili flakes, herbs, bay leaf and broth. Bring to a boil.
Meanwhile, cut chicken breast in half. Season with salt & pepper. Sear until golden in saute pan over high heat. Add to sauce. Once removed, add wine to same saute pan and cook for 30 seconds and add to sauce. Once liquid has come to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer. Partially cover with lid and cook until chicken is very tender (falling apart), approx. 1-1 1/4 hours. Stir in lemon zest and S&P to taste.

TIPS: If on a calorie controlled diet, omit wine.
For all of you veggies, I tried the recipe with seitan and to my surprise it worked, though I'd recommend cooking it for longer to absorb the flavor.

Whenever possible use Organic ingredients, particularly with meat and dairy products.

Body-for-LIFE Expo Featuring GAVAN MURPHY