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Book Review: Thug Kitchen Party Grub

thugkitchenCooking good plant based/ vegan food can be a chore sometimes. You have to hunt down all sorts of exotic ingredients, teach yourself some technical cooking proficiencies and HOPE that the end result is something you, your family and friends might enjoy. I know I’ve made some bomb meals; those bombs were not “da bomb”, they were explosive both before and after!

This fine folks over at Thug Kitchen bring you part two to the pinnacle of palatable plant based profanity. Thug Kitchen: Party Grub is filled with a plethora of new recipes tested and approved for “social mother-f*ckers!” These 100 new recipes are delectable dishes of prestigious perfection.  Bah, enough of the platitudes…

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The Plantpower Way: Whole Food Plant-Based Recipes and Guidance for The Whole Family

ppw-cover-frontRich Roll has become just as synonymous with ultra running and veganism as Scott Jurek and Brendan Brazier. He hosts a frequently updated podcast and authored “Finding Ultra,” which helps us understand the catalyst for the change in Rich’s life. In “Finding Ultra,” he hits a point at age 40 where he was questioning just about everything about himself. Without ruining the story for those that don’t know, for those that do, we know where he has gone since then. At age 41 I wish I have half the story he does at his current age.

“Plantpower Way” is a natural progression as far as writing goes for Rich, and co-author Julie Priatt. With the first book, we got the story of what brought him to this point, but what (and how) does he maintain the lifestyle? Being a vegan ultra athlete has to be hard, right? Raising a family on a whole food plant based diet can’t be easy, can it? We are told how difficult it is, how expensive it is and how time consuming a lifestyle could be. This couldn’t be any further from the truth.

What Rich and Julie offer here are not only tips and tricks, but recipes that are open to interpretation. The recipes are simple and straightforward. Even if you are a novice cook, there is something here. The ingredients are not uber expensive either. Bonus: there are extremely gorgeous pictures of most of the dishes. I shared a recipe for the Ultra Energy bars, which are in the book. You can see that HERE and try them out for yourself.

The important part here is that the book is down to earth. Rich and Julie have offered up something here that is unique. With a tender approach, they light the way on a path of health, fitness and overall wellness. I appreciate the fact this book has a family element to it. My boys have been struggling with the transition, my youngest specifically. Being able to show him pictures, and letting him see images of Rich’s children comforts him and let’s him know he is not the only one. This lifestyle can be hard on a young guy, so I am grateful for the opportunity to have a book like this available.

Review: No Meat Athlete

no-meat-athlete-book-coverIt’s rare to have a complete book that aligns with everything you strive to be, and I’m not shocked that Matt Frazier was the one who wrote it. I have followed Matt’s blog/ website, No Meat Athlete, for quite a while now. This past year, at the Vermont Spartan Beast World Championship, I even saw a runner wearing a NMA shirt. It seemed that Matt was everywhere I was. Heck, I even follow his podcast, it’s great listening out on a run.

What I have liked about Matt’s approach is the simplicity. Whether it’s a recipe for an energy bar or a smoothie, the instructions are simple and open to interpretation. His love for animals is not over the top and militant vegan like, I appreciate someone who cares but isn’t beating me over the head with his “Mercy For Animals” membership card..

So, having had time to sit down and read the book it’s great to see a continuation of everything I’ve already known about him, and more. The stories of some of his triumphs and even the sincerity of his failures are refreshing. His writing style is down to earth and he’s not trying to overwhelm you with science. He eats for results, and his results have shown that what he eats, and how he treats his body, works for him.

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Review: Meat Is For Pu$$ies!

Meat-is-for-Pussies_hc-copyDisclaimer: I’m not here to argue whether the title of the book is appropriate, I didn’t write it nor would I have chosen it for a title if I had. That said, John Joseph did write it and he chose it. It is his view point, not mine. If you know, or have heard of John before, than you will understand the brash, blunt approach he has taken. To be honest, I appreciate folks who don’t mince words and are true to what they believe. I was extremely interested in the book so I read it, not for it’s title, but for it’s content.

Let’s paint a picture of the author here first, that way you can comprehend his gruff approach. John Joseph was vocalist for one of the most influential hardcore bands out of NYC, the Cro-Mags. The NYC hardcore scene is world renowned and the Cro-Mags continue to influence bands all over to this day.

cromags04A cross section of the hardcore scene calls themselves “straight-edge” and you can tell them apart as they always have X’s sharpie’d onto there hands. Without talking to much about that, John Joseph belonged to a growing number of vegans and vegetarians within that scene. John has never been known to pull punches, it’s part of the hardcore lifestyle, and he has been vocal about vegetarianism/ veganism.  That may seem to you odd as most hardcore folk were covered in tattoos, were bruised from the mosh pit and talked like sailors; it really wasn’t uncommon though.

Now that that’s out of the way, what about the book and it’s content?

In 2010 “Meat Is For Pussies” was published. The vegan world really hadn’t read something like it. Sure, there were plenty of books out there that talked about the science behind it, recipe books were abundant, but nothing had been written quite like this book.  John being who he is, didn’t shy away from dropping an f-bomb here and there. He tells it like it is, in his own words. I graciously appreciate that and it reminds me of another character, Noah Levine. Noah is a Buddhist teacher who came from the streets of CA, not unlike John and his NYC street stories. They’ve both grown up though, set a lot of the BS from there lives behind them and become bigger icons within the scenes they are involved with.

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photo: Ray Lego

What is absolutely awesome about this book is how it shatters the misconception that a vegan has to be some underweight pip squeak who eats like a rabbit. Have you seen John? The guy is a monster! He’s in the gym frequently and, umm, he’s an Ironman Triathlete! Yeah, you read that right. He’s a bad-ass. Did I tell you he’s also 50+ years old?

Here’s John on diets and dieting:

“I don’t care what your sister or your girlfriend or your buddy at the gym sayd; you’ve gotta recognize diets for what they are; a way for a pussy to take a shortcut instead of doing real work. There are no shortcuts to health and sustainable weight loss.”

I appreciate his “shit list” of food additives. He shares a bunch of his favorite superfoods and tells us why, of course he does. Besides John’s opinions on food and veganism, there’s some workouts in here from John’s trainer and tons of “super badass”recipes.

If you are like me, sometimes you need a kick in the pants and this book, while not a work of academia or literature, is totally necessary. John is as real as they come, expect no less in the book.

 

Review: The Best Green Smoothies On The Planet ( + giveaway)

green smoothi** giveaway details at bottom**

Nowadays you see “green smoothie” this and “green smoothie” that. One person tells you that they are good for you and that you can become healthier by drinking more of them. The one thing they don’t do is tell you how and why!

Tracy not only explains the how and the why, she breaks down each ingredient for it’s health benefit. For instance, one of my favorite recipes in the book is the Coconut Peach Smoothie.

Why? Because it’s calcium rich without having to consume dairy products to get it! It’s only four simple ingredients so it’s super easy to make!

Coconut Peach Smoothie
2 peaches, pitted
1/2 mango, peeled and pitted
3 large chard leaves, stems removed
4 oz unsweetened coconut milk

This smoothie is packed with 13% of the days calcium!

Even more detailed, here’s what else it is packed with. Calories: 245 • fat: 4g • protein: 7g • carbs: 53g • vitamin a • 90% • vitamin c: 145%

Peaches are a good source of Vitamin A and C. Mangoes are a powerhouse and contain Vitamins A, B, C and E. They are also packed with 11% of your needed omega-3s! And Swiss chard is a great source of beta-carotene and Vitamin K. Naturally, it provides a decent source for sodium.

I didn’t have to research any of that. It’s all in the book.

Tracy isn’t trying to sell you something, she’s trying to provide you with the best ingredients for your health and your health goals.

I’m looking forward to making more smoothies from this book and hope you will try it as well.

As a matter of fact, the publisher has agreed to let me give away one copy to a lucky reader! Just comment on this post and I will pick one winner, at random, after 24 hours! Good luck!

“China Study” and “Whole” by T. Colin Campbell

chinastudyWhat can be said about both of these books that hasn’t already been said? You can see polar opposite reviews on Amazon for the China Study specifically. People are all over the map on it, some opinions have become the fodder for an argument trying to debunk the science behind both books.

Before we get into my opinion, here is some validation for both books.

The author, T. Colin Campbell, espouses a whole food plant based diet based in his research and it’s no secret he has an angle. The thing is, it is based on solid numbers and there is no denying that. Unfortunately, his research has been torn apart by some based on the fact that they did not read it, or the fact he is fighting a system so much larger than himself that his research is simply tossed aside.

For instance, the idea that somehow the Chinese populace eats a diet based on meat and fish. If the detractors actually read and understood the “China Study” they would have known the research was conducted before the mainstream SAD diet was introduced to China. They would also know that most of the research was conducted in rural areas, where they were not exposed to the SAD diet. In the author’s words, “What made this project especially remarkable is that, among the many associations that are relevant to diet and disease, so many pointed to the same finding: people who ate the most animal-based foods got the most chronic disease. Even relatively small intakes of animal-based food were associated with adverse effects. People who ate the most plant-based foods were the healthiest and tended to avoid chronic disease. These results could not be ignored. From the initial experimental animal studies on animal protein effects to this massive human study on dietary patterns, the findings proved to be consistent. The health implications of consuming either animal or plant-based nutrients were remarkably different.”

Others who would argue against it and say it’s not science than tell me how? Tests were taken at length. Trials were constant and results were obtained. I’m pretty sure that’s science.

In “The China Study” he not only saw the differences a WFPB diet could have on obesity, but the effects it had on cancer and heart disease. While there is no definitive proof it can cure cancer, the results do say that it inhibits cancerous growth. We all know what is a driving factor in the fight against heart disease and that’s cholesterol. This is because all the processed and animal based foods we eat are loaded with it. There is a reason why our bodies do not create their own cholesterol, it’s because it’s not something we need. Plants do not create these types of issues as they are cholesterol free. When you convert to a plant based diet your cholesterol levels decrease. That is a fact based on science.

wholeSo, where the “China Diet” explains the science behind a plant based diet and why it’s so important, “Whole” looks at the industry and system that keeps us in the dark based on power and profit. What would happen to Big Pharma if we all moved to a WFPB diet and didn’t need all those statins, heart disease medications, diabetes medications, etc? They would be out of business, and they can’t have that. Interestingly, Dr. Campbell writes “the Journal of the American Medical Association states that physician error, medication error and “adverse events” from drugs or surgery kill 225,400 Americans each year. That makes our health care system the third leading cause of death in the US, behind only heart disease and cancer.”

My opinions on both books is this, read them and then judge them. You can talk all you want about there being evidence or not being evidence. Without looking at it though how can you say it doesn’t exist? I’m no scientist, nor do I claim to be. But, based on the information I’ve been provided I can tell you that having switched to a whole food plant based diet my life has seen many changes. I have more energy. I sleep more soundly. And, not to be so blunt, but I haven’t been so regular in my damned life! That said, I feel lighter! 🙂

You don’t have to buy into this. This is not the hippie, vegetarian, bunny food eating trend. You are not only eating lettuce and carrots, there are so many other foods to eat. It is not a vegan diet. You don’t have to be one of the cool kids to join.

To be plant based is to be compassionate toward yourself, to treat yourself with enough dignity that you only put foods into it that are going to do something good for it. Would you put diesel into a gasoline only vehicle? No, you don’t. Because it would wreck it.

The evidence is there if you choose to read it.

Review: “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing”

offcourseWe all have our stories of suffering through the VT Beast, a hard fought push through the finish, or even just a silly themed mud-run. This book, “Off Course: Inside the Mad, Muddy World of Obstacle Course Racing”, unlike all the OCR training guides; is the written journey of a woman who has taken on triathlons but had been dealing with nagging injuries. After proverbially writing off running altogether, Erin Beresini found OCR and fell in love with it, as many of us have.

“Off Course…” pulls back the veil of what it takes to not only train for an Ultra-Beast, which Erin completed, but also walks us through the emotion, pain and absolute suck that only Killington mountain can serve up. Her wit and humility make for a great read. I found myself not only nodding my head when I knew exactly what she was going through, but I laughed out loud more than once too.

Erin also delves into the history of OCR and has done a fantastic job of crafting the story-line of how it all began, where it is, and where she thinks it may go. From Mr. Mouse to Joe Desena to Will Dean and more, Erin takes us inside some of the dark parts too. From the rivalry between Spartan Race and Tough Mudder, to the lawsuits against Tough Mudder via Mr. Mouse (who runs Toughguy in England) and even the details on the athlete that drowned at a Tough Mudder some time back.

I’d definitely give her an A for getting down to the nitty gritty of what has gone on behind the scenes. I appreciate the fact she is also not writing with rose colored glasses on. Unless I missed something, there is not an ounce of OCR polarity in this book. She takes umbrage with anyone and writes what some might not want to say. Are the facts shocking? Maybe not to us, I mean you are on this page because you are “in the know” as far as the OCR scene goes, right? We all know that Will Dean is “Mark Zuckerberg” of OCR, like Erin likes to call him. We all know that Joe Desena is a tyrant, but a tyrant who has an interest in bringing us back to our primal selves. Knowing what we know about these characters, some of the antics will not surprise you but you will just shake your head and say, “yup, that’s who ___ is alright!”

It’s a quick read. Erin’s words are light-hearted and you’ll find yourself cheering at times for her. At other times you may slouch down in your seat as she faces some of the barriers that you very well have faced on a course or two.

It’s and excellent read, I suggest it 100%!

Check out the book details at http://www.hmhco.com/shop/books/Off-Course/9780544055520 where you can purchase the book direct from the publisher.

You can also find it on Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Off-Course-Inside-Obstacle-Racing/dp/0544055322

Erin also has her own persoanl page, which links to her old Triathlon blog which was interesting to look back on, go to http://www.erinberesini.com/ to check that out if it interests you!