Memorial Day Weekend is the unofficial start of Summer. The sun is shining, the temperature is rising and everyone wants to be outside.
We are celebrating with a beach vacation this year, and I am so excited. (We arrived on Thursday and will stay until Monday night.) Squishing my toes in the sand, smelling the salty air and eating alfresco is such a joy!
Some of our meals, of course, will be eaten in restaurants, but I also like to have picnics. The cooler is packed with only water—no more soda—and healthy food. One category I’m happy to leave off the list is a huge amount of disposable products. Don’t ask me why, but we go through so many plastic utensils and paper towels when traveling.
Swapping single-use for reusable doesn’t have to be a pain. There are high quality natural alternatives that are plant based like Bambu.
Made from eco-friendly bamboo that’s certified organic and renewable, they offer a full range of home goods and dinnerware (some of it is even compostable). Each item is FDA-approved, food safe, chemical and pesticide free, has no bleach, dye or glue, yet is still sturdy and attractive.
With many places looking to reduce—or even outright ban—plastic straws, it’s worth looking for something less toxic. I have tried stainless steel straws before, and while they’re ok, I wasn’t overly impressed. Bambu straws, however, are really cool and can last for a long time, with proper use (a cleaning brush is part of the set). According to my mother-in-law, who is a stroke survivor, the jumbo size is perfect for fingers that have trouble gripping.
The cutting boards, which double as serving trays, are fantastic for sandwiches and I really liked the large serving spoons for salads. The kids went crazy over the sporks—probably because they’re mini—and used them to scoop up fresh berries. The travel utensils come with a pouch—very handy. (They call it Grubware; I call it awesome.)
The only downside to bamboo is that it requires a bit more care. It can’t go in the dishwasher, can’t be in the microwave, and shouldn’t be soaked overnight in water. It was, however, very quick to soap and rinse, so long as I didn’t let it sit.
The cost for Bambu home goods is very reasonable—most are under $20.00 each. I recommend purchasing the finishing oil because it nourishes the bamboo and makes it last longer.
By cutting down on disposables, we can protect the planet, ensuring that beach vacations will be an option for future generations, too. And that is something we should all support.
Eating healthy while you’re on-the-go can be challenging, especially when you’re trying to feed picky kids. Slammers snacks are a great option for fruit lovers. Each single-serve pouch is portion-controlled, easy to toss in a lunch box or backpack, and doesn’t require refrigeration.
Watermelon Kiwi Burst is the most popular at my house. (Who wouldn’t enjoy the delicious blend of apple, kiwi, watermelon, and banana?!) Bursting with vitamins and minerals, it also contains 7 grams of whey protein to keep you full longer—the same amount of protein that an egg provides.
Slammers pouches provide the nutrition that kids need and none of the junk they don’t.
No artificial colors or flavors
Certified Kosher (Dairy)
High in Antioxidants
Allergy safe – no peanuts or gluten
One winner will receive FOUR boxes of Watermelon Kiwi Burst—that’s 16 pouches total. This giveaway will be open thru 6/8/19. Good luck to all.
Last month, I had the opportunity to attend Wow Influencers in Boston. That event brought together bloggers and wellness brands. One of the amazing people that I met was Chef Gerard Viverito. His cooking demonstration introduced me to the concept of keto. Afterwards, we were able to talk further and he explained how keto could help—both with weight and health. His advice was so powerful, I asked him to write an article so I could share it with all my readers. He generously did, and also created a special recipe that’s perfect for the Kosher community. I know you’ll appreciate his tips like I do.
In my younger years, I was used to physically being at the top of my game. I was an athlete. I played Lacrosse in high school and college. I played tennis. I lifted weights. I skied. But like most Americans, there came a time when I started putting on a pound a year (the weight creeps up on us). Then I was laid up with Lyme Disease and my weight really ballooned! Last year, I was looking at pictures from my vacation and wondered, “Who is this person next to my beautiful wife?” I wanted a do-over.
I’ve tried nearly every diet out there—Paleo, low-fat, high-fat, Scarsdale, South Beach, Zone—and no matter what I did, my weight always bounced back up. This time, I was more motivated than ever to change, especially after learning I was prediabetic, probably because I was eating so much low-fat garbage. I was determined not to progress into Type 2 diabetes.
For me, the answer was a ketogenic diet. I’ve been following it steadily since January 1, 2018, with incredible results.
Change, of course, isn’t easy. Sugar is my favorite food group. One of the first things I did was drop desserts. I also stopped eating anything with a crunch (made with refined sugars and flours). Gone were breads, pasta, potatoes, pizza, crackers and potato chips. I began cooking with only healthy, better-for-you oils, primarily Malaysian palm oil, extra virgin olive oil and coconut oil. I started feeling a little better right away, and the pounds started coming off.
I’ve also been exercising daily. I no longer come home from work and need a 20-minute power nap. My blood sugar has leveled out. I look better and feel better.
I want to help you to feel as good as I feel.
What is keto?
I asked my friend Dr. Jonny Bowden, The Nutrition Myth Buster, to give me a clear definition of what happens on a ketogenic diet. Here’s what he told me: “The body basically has two fuels it can use to power what you need to do: fats (fatty acids) and carbs (sugar/glucose). The trick is to use as much fat as you can and leave the sugar for emergencies. But that’s not exactly how it works in real life.
“Your body can store a maximum of 1800 to 2000 calories worth of carbs. But you can store an infinite amount of calories as fat. Many people are sugar burners: they’re better at burning sugar than they are fat. It’s like having a fortune in the bank, but not having access to the ATM code. Burning mostly sugar calories doesn’t help with weight loss, and sugar is not a sustainable source of energy.
“You want to be a better butter burner. You want to be really good at accessing and using what’s in your fat calorie ATM. When you stop eating sugar completely, eventually you’ll use up those 2000 calories you have stored. When there’s no glucose around, your body has to switch fuel sources and begin using fat calories for fuel. This is what’s known as nutritional ketosis. (This is not the same thing as diabetic ketoacidosis!) As your body metabolizes fat, it produces ketones which are a great source of energy for your heart, brain and muscles.
“The ketogenic diet is extremely low in carbs. It is a way to force your body to use fat as its predominant fuel.”
Jonny confirmed that it takes about 10 days to adapt to a keto diet. There’s an interim period when you may not feel the best, which is nicknamed the “keto flu.” People who get through it will feel great afterward.
He also confirmed that you can get about 90 percent of the metabolic advantages of a keto diet by “flirting” with ketosis or doing what’s called keto cycling. That’s partly because when you eat a diet that’s higher in fat, you are consuming the one macronutrient that doesn’t raise your hunger hormone or stimulate your fat-storage hormone.
Keto Cycling / Flirting with Keto
Although there are a lot of keto products on the market, it can be hard to stay on the keto diet. This is not Atkins, which doesn’t demand that you stay in ketosis. And it’s easy to make the mistake of eating a higher ratio of protein than fat, which can knock your body out of nutritional ketosis. If staying on keto full time is too demanding, there are a few options that might work for you.
Intermittent fasting: This is a way to dip your toe into the keto world. If you go on an 18-hour fast, you can stimulate ketosis. Ideally your body will be running on fat calories (ketones). Then maybe try a keto cleanse, which is basically following the keto diet for a few days or weeks.
Cycling with keto: A lot of keto advocates are into this. They follow a ketogenic diet for three to four weeks, a few times a year. It can be very therapeutic. Think of keto cycling as hitting the reset button on your metabolism. It helps jumpstart your weight loss.
Additional keto tips and strategies
Don’t fall for the water weight myth: Some people will tell you that the first pounds you drop when you stop eating carbs are nothing but water weight. Studies now show there’s some fat in there as well!
Be discriminating about which fats you eat: As Jonny put it: Your body doesn’t care if you’re eating corn oil that’s been refried 25 times. It will still raise your ketones. But junky, unhealthy fats will just wreck your health in other ways. For one thing: They can increase inflammation. You don’t get a free pass. I use Malaysian palm oil for cooking. It is cholesterol and flavor neutral, it stands up well to high heat, and it contains nutrients such as vitamin E tocotrienols that are good for your heart, brain and liver. Stay away from corn oil, sunflower oil and safflower oil.
Track your dietary fiber intake: One of the drawbacks to a keto diet is that it is low in dietary fiber. This can be a problem since most Americans are already fiber deficient. Consider supplementing with a high-quality fiber supplement, such as Regular Girl, that won’t cause extra gas or bloating. I like Regular Girl because it’s odor-free, taste-free and won’t change the consistency of whatever I’m cooking. I can add it to just about any recipe.
Distract yourself when cravings hit: There’s a lot of mental stuff going on in the beginning. I missed my treats and food rewards. A lot of success with any change in your eating patterns is getting out of your mental routine. Rest assured, it does gets easier over time.
I’ve never had as much energy as I’ve had since starting the keto diet. This is achievable. I’m a parent, teacher and businessman. I’m training for triathlons. I’m losing weight. And I’m gaining muscle at age 48, an age when people typically lose muscle mass. There’s a lot to be said for all of this.
Here is a recipe that’s both Keto and Kosher friendly:
Sauteéd Salmon with Ginger-Scented Roasted Carrot Coulis and Baby Bok Choy
4 salmon fillets 1 tablespoon sustainable Malaysian red palm oil 1 lemon, sliced into 8 rounds 1 leek, green leaves cut into 1/8-inch strips, blanched in hot water to wilt
4 carrots, peeled and diced 4 tablespoons of ginger, minced 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic 1 1/2 quarts fish stock
10 bunches baby bok choy, washed 1 tablespoon butter 1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic freshly ground black pepper
In a saucepan add oil, carrots and ginger. Sauté until lightly browned. Add stock and cook for 45 minutes or until carrots are very soft. Puree mixture with a stick blender, strain through a sieve and reserve.
Lay two slices of lemon on each salmon fillet and tie with leek green. Season the salmon with salt and pepper.
Heat a sauté pan with oil until the pan is smoking and sauté the salmon until brown on each side.
Sauté baby bok choy in a hot pan with the garlic and butter until wilted. Place the salmon on a mound of the bok choy and spoon the puree sauce around the fish.
This meal will comfortably feed four people.
About the Author:
Chef Gerard Viverito, is a culinary instructor and Director of Culinary Education for Passionfish, a NGO non-profit organization dedicated to educating people around the globe on the issue of sustainability in the seas. He is also operator of Saveur Fine Catering, a company whose beliefs and products center on local, sustainable and organic foods.
Chef Viverito’s pantry is loaded with items commonly overlooked in the supermarkets, yet he has a thorough understanding of them and a passion to teach others how to cook more healthfully. In addition, he has dedicated a large part of his career to what he terms “functional cooking.” This is where he adds nutritional ingredients to dishes to gain healthful results. He is well known for his ability to lower the glycemic index value of food, add omega fatty acids, and whole proteins to dishes without compromising the texture or taste. He appears regularly on radio and television programs and also consults for clients.