Category Archives: Uncategorized

Organic Vodka and Organic Gin

I was recently at Butcher Bar in Astoria and noticed two USDA Certified Organic brands of alcohol:

  • Farmers Gin
  • Crop Vodka

The Farmers Gin was great, I recommend you check out their website here: http://www.farmersgin.com/.

Crop Vodka has many flavors, and I only tasted a shot of the Cucumber flavored one.  It was in my opinion and taste, better than the Farmers Gin.  I didn’t get a chance to taste the others, but the Cucumber Vodka really was great.  Check out their website here: http://www.cropvodka.com/.

And don’t forget, that most of what gives you a hangover from drinking are the extra cheap ingredients that Distillers add to make their products cheaper, look better, and sweeter.  Ever drink homemade wine or moonshine? Every time I do I notice that I don’t wake up with a hangover… Just saying

Honorable mention: The Botanist – https://www.thebotanist.com/.  They may not have an organic certification, but they may be working on getting one.  Either way, check out some of the above the next time you want a drink!

Eat Meat Once a Week… or Twice

Back in the day, in the United States of America, meat was produced the way it is supposed to be. That is with cows grazing in the fields, chickens poking their beaks in the mud, scratching the dirt, eating a pebble or two from time to time. This process resulted in high-quality meat, at high-quality prices. Ever hear the expression that nothing worth working for or fighting for is easy? Because it is true.

Now things have changed, and meat is mass-produced, cows no longer graze in the fields, chickens – although they may be labeled “cage-free” – are still living neck-in-neck with other chickens. Pigs can barely move in their pens. This is the result of big corporations making profit their number one priority, not quality and this also brings us very cheap meat. As a result, now we can afford to eat meat everyday, and what is the result? We are the sickest nation in the world.

Now go back to “back in the day” and tell me what was different? Meat was more expensive, a lot more expensive, so people just ate meat less frequently, and people were healthier, people were thinner, people were happier. That is because the human body was not made to eat meat every single day, it was made to eat meat once per week. Oh, and don’t forget the best part, the meat tasted good! You didn’t have to load it up with a bunch of sauces just so you could eat.

So switch to a plant-based diet, eat less meat, not no meat, but less and higher quality meat. If this sounds hard to you, that is because it is worth it. You will stop straining your stomach, if you have acid-reflux, obesity, or feel lethargic all the time, your body will start to heal itself and those problems will start to fade away. With all the money that you save, use it to buy higher quality meat. I like telling my friends the following analogy:

If you had Rolls Royce car, whenever you stopped at a gas station would you put the cheapest gas in the tank? Whenever you had to change the oil, would you put the cheapest oil in?

The answer is no… so your body is the equivalent of a Rolls Royce, so please tell me, why are you putting the cheapest meat in your body?

See the following infographic courtesy of Positive Health Wellness


Positive Health Wellness

SpeakIt! – Google Chrome Extension for Text-to-Speech

I have done some searching and testing, and there is a good Google Chrome Extension for Text-to-Speech (TTS) processing.  This one has a few cool voices (US Male English, UK Male English) and an nice interface.  Just select some text and click on the button which is added to the top right of your toolbar!

https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/speakit/pgeolalilifpodheeocdmbhehgnkkbak

Addictive Properties of Sugar

So I have a new job at some high-tech Financial Firm based in Manhattan and they have several pantries that are stocked with loads of candy, “nutrition bars” and other junk.  I normally avoid all of this stuff but during my new-hire training, I was walking right by one of these pantries several times per day.  I ended up indulging more than once and I noticed that immediately after eating any of these sugar-rich snacks I ended up feeling horrible.  Then I wanted to go back and get some more.

So now I am no longer in training, and I sit at my desk and only pass by these pantries one, maybe two times per day.  I no longer grab any of the junks except for on special occasions.  Regardless, I found a study that was published some time ago that mentioned that Rats preferred water that contained sugar more than water which contained cocaine.  This even includes rats that were already addicted to Cocaine!

Does this mean that if I can avoid the snacks in the sugar pantry I have more will-power than a cocaine-addicted Wall Street Banker? I don’t know, and I don’t want to find out…  Anyway, stay away from sugar, not only is it bad for you, it is addictive, perhaps more addictive than Cocaine…

To access the full-text of the study click on this link:

http://www.plosone.org/article/fetchArticle.action?articleURI=info%3Adoi%2F10.1371%2Fjournal.pone.0000698

SUGAR is bad, I repeat, SUGAR is bad! (and FAT is fine)

I have told almost every single person that is close to me repeatedly that it is not excess fat consumption that makes us fat, but it is the excess consumption of Sugar.  To back up my claim, I often reference a YouTube video of a professor giving a speech at the Harvard Law School Food Society that gives the best argument that Sugar is the culprit in the Western Worlds Obesity Epidemic.

After watching this video, there should be no reason for any reasonable person to believe that Fat is the culprit.  So I recommend you watch the video and I will make a list of things you should look out for.

If you do not have the time, I recommend you read this blog posting that goes over the major points of the video, I suggest you visit this page right now as it will change your life:

http://eatingacademy.com/nutrition/sugar-101-how-harmful-is-sugar-part-i

The person talking in the video, is a personal hero of mine and his name is Robert Lustig, a pediatric endocrinologist at the University of California, San Francisco.

If you don’t have the time to even visit the web page above, just remember these two points from the video:

“Eat less sugar and more fiber”

The Paleolithic and Atkins diets have two things in common, they work and they are “low sugar, high fiber”

Otherwise, the video really is a pleasure to watch, the speaker is very good with his delivery of his analogies and everything, starting with the first one “people don’t choose to be fat” from a real perspective.

How To Make Kombucha

So I drink Kombucha on a pretty much regular/daily basis. In Queens, you can buy a regular-sized bottle of GT’s Kombucha for about $4.00, while in midtown Manhattan you can buy the same bottle for around $5.00. So if you are cost-conscious and want to prove to your friends that it doesn’t cost a fortune to eat and drink healthy foods, I have prepared some instructions for how to brew your own Kombucha in the privacy of your own home for a fraction of the cost of buying it in the supermarket.

Before you read the instructions, check out GT’s website to see how many flavors they have. My favorite flavor is Cherry Chia: http://synergydrinks.com/index.php/products#enlightened-synergy/enlightened-synergy-cherry-chia. Eventually you will be so good at brewing Kombucha that you too will start to flavor your own homemade brew as well.

Ingredients

  1. 1.5 liters of water
  2. 4 x Black Tea Bags (http://www.twoleavestea.com/organic-earl-grey)
  3. 1 x Kombucha Starter aka SCOBY (http://www.culturesforhealth.com/kombucha-tea-starter-culture.html)
  4. 1 x cup white vinegar
  5. 1/2 x cup organic white sugar
  6. 1 x glass mason jar
  7. 1 x rubber band
  8. 1 x cheese cloth or paper towel
Four Tea Bags that I used as my starter tea for brewing Kombucha

Four Tea Bags that I used as my starter tea for brewing Kombucha

I like using two leaves and a bud TEA COMPANY brand tea

I like using two leaves and a bud TEA COMPANY brand tea

Instructions

Step 1 – Boil 1.5 liters of water

Step 2 – Steep 4 tea bags for 3-5 minutes.

In order to avoid steeping the tea for too long and making your tea too strong, I take my tea bags and tie them to a big wooden spatula and use that to quickly insert and remove my tea bags.

Wooden Spoon with Tea Bags tied to it

Wooden Spoon with Tea Bags tied to it

Step 3 – Wait 5 minutes for water to slightly cool then add sugar

How I steep my tea

How I steep my tea

Step 4 – Allow tea to cool to room temperature.  This can take a while and the best part is that once the tea cools to room temperature it won’t get any colder!

Step 5 – Add SCOBY and 1 cup of white vinegar  (you can also use existing Kombucha, the vinegar is used to make the solution acidic to prevent molds and other bacteria from growing)

Add a SCOBY – Symbiotic Culture of Bacteria and Yeast.  This is a picture of my SCOBY from my last batch of brewing Kombucha.  After a while the SCOBY gets so big that a baby SCOBY comes off of it and you can then start to brew two batches of Kombucha at the same time!

 

This is my scoby, it was hard to take a picture of but it is pretty big.

This is my scoby, it was hard to take a picture of but it is pretty big.

What the jar looks like before covering it with a paper towel and rubber band

What the jar looks like before covering it with a paper towel and rubber band

Step 6 – Cover jar with paper towel and secure with a rubber band. Then let it sit somewhere for 7 to 28 days.  Check the kombucha by tasting it every few days or at your discretion. The best way to taste it is to stick a straw inside the jar and to then cover one end with your finger so that you avoid contaminating the kombucha with anything from the straw. After a few days you will notice that the Kombucha does not taste as sweet and its carbonation level will start to increase. Once the kombucha tastes satisfactory, remove it from the dark place and place it into the refrigerador to stop the fermenting process.

If you are lucky, you will also now have two kombucha scoby’s in your original jar. This usually does not happen during your first brew if you purchased a dehydrated one such as the one I referenced in the ingredients section above. That is how it happened for me and now I have 4 Kombucha SCOBYs! As a side note, if you know me personally and would like a Kombucha SCOBY please contact me and I would be more than happy to give it to you along with a mason jar so that you can get started with brewing your own Kombucha as well.  Have fun!

Text-to-Speech Software – How I do my research

Now you may be wondering, how do I know so much about health and nutrition? Where do I find all of the free time to do all of this reading and research if I have a day-job as a computer programmer? Well, the answer lays in Text-to-Speech software. You see, as a computer programmer, I find it very easy and convenient to have my headphones on while I code. When a programmer is in the “zone” having their headphones on and listening to music often helps them do a better job. Well, not for me, I have Text-to-Speech software and I listen to health articles and research papers while I work. It is this that has allowed me to consume hundreds of articles all while doing my regular work.

Of course, since I am very adept with my computer skills, I have also written several Python scripts that extract article text from newsletters. Additionally, if I download a research paper, I open the PDF in Adobe Reader and use the “Save as Text” option. Then I use my knowledge of regular expressions, an advanced programming concept to remove all headers and footers, along with long urls to make my listening experience more efficient.

I will list out a few of the applications which I have sampled and continue to use here:

TextAloud

  • http://www.nextup.com/TextAloud/
  • Cost: $29.95
  • Voice Prices: $35 each
  • My Favorite Voice: British English Peter (by Acapela)
  • Sample: http://ttsdownload.com/acapelasamples/Peter.wav

I purchased a license to the TextAloud system because it supports many foreign languages including Greek. I like to listen to articles all of the time and sometimes I come across an article that is published in a Greek newspaper. The voice of “Dimitris” costs $45 and is worth the price.

IVONA Reader

This is my favorite text-to-speech application. It has a nice voice – “Salli” and can export many documents to mp3 and other formats. IVONA Reader can also read a pdf document to you as well.  They offer many bundles and options, but all you really need is the cheapest edition that comes with the Salli voice.  Don’t worry about missing out on all the other voices, all you need is one really good voice.

Cepstral

The first text-to-speech application that I purchased and was able to install onto my work computer before I got my Administrative rights restored. Give this application a try if you do not have Administrative rights on the computer you are using.  

 Compatibility

All three applications should work on Windows XP and Windows 7 and are suitable for the workplace.

If you want to laugh a little… I initially started researching Text-to-Speech software about a year and a half ago when I was handed a 150-page document which contained an “abridged” version of the Dodd-Frank legislation and was told that this was my “design document” for implementing a portion of a Swap-Execution Facility. So I said… why not listen to it while I scan through the document myself? And after a month… I found the best Text-to-Speech applications listed above.

How to Make Greek Yogurt at Home

You can make Greek yogurt in the comfort of your home using kitchen supplies that you probably already have.  All you need is the following:

  1. Half a gallon of milk (preferably organic, grass-fed pasteurized goat’s or cow’s milk)
  2. a pot with lid that can fit at least half a gallon of milk
  3. A nice thermometer
  4. A towel (Yes, that is a bath towel in the photograph)
  5. A small, porous kitchen towel
  6. A spaghetti strainer
  7. A pot to catch all excess whey

01_Equipment

 

02_Empty Pot With Thermometer

Step 1 – Pour the milk into the pot with the thermometer attached

03_Pot with Milk Pouring In

 

Step 2 – Turn on the heat – not too high, and not too low.  You don’t want to burn the milk that is towards the bottom of the pot, so the higher the temperature, the more you have to stir the milk to keep it from burning.  If you are in a rush, keep the heat high and constantly stir, if you are not in a rush, keep it low and stir it occasionally.

04_Pot with Low Heat On Thermometer In - Start Time 815

 

Step 3 – Take a small cup of Plain Fage yogurt and open the lid and leave it on your counter.  We are doing this to allow the temperature of the yogurt to go to room temperature.

06_Starter Yogurt - Opened to get to Room Temperature

 

Step 4 – Monitor the temperature of the milk, keep heating it until it reaches 180-185 degrees Fahrenheit.

07_Stirring Pot Occasionaly for Equal Heat Distributio

Stir the milk inside the pot occasionally for equal heat distribution and to avoid burning any milk towards the bottom of the potAfter 30 minutes, the temperature of the milk is 150 degrees Fahrenheit

After about 1 hour, the temperature of the milk has reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

After about 1 hour, the temperature of the milk has reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit.

Step 5 – Turn off the heat once the milk reached 180 degrees Fahrenheit, and preheat your oven to the lowest temperature – usually 200 degrees is good enough.  Once your oven beeps letting you know that it has been “preheated” aka has reached 200 degrees Fahrenheit, turn your oven off.  This is not necessarily a required step, I simply do this to make sure that when I incubate the yogurt in the oven it is inside a warm environment that will ensure that the milk doesn’t cool down too much at any point during the incubation process)

Start preheating the oven to the lowest possible temperature - 200 degrees Fahrenheit should be fine.

Start preheating the oven to the lowest possible temperature – 200 degrees Fahrenheit should be fine.

Step 6 – Wait for the milk to reach a temperature that is just above 115 degrees Fahrenheit.  This usually takes about half an hour to 45 minutes.  (Depending of course how cold your kitchen is…etc)

Wait for the milk to cool to just over 115 degrees Fahrenheit

Wait for the milk to cool to just over 115 degrees Fahrenheit

Step 7 – Once the milk has reached 115 degrees Fahrenheit, take the yogurt from the Fage cup and mix it in to the milk in the pot.

Add yogurt starter to milk and stir it so that the yogurt spreads out and does not clump up into one small area.

Add yogurt starter to milk and stir it so that the yogurt spreads out and does not clump up into one small area.

Step 8 – Take the thermometer out of the pot, put the lid back on and wrap the pot in the towel.  Remember, the goal here is for the pot to maintain as much of a constant temperature as possible.  Don’t worry about air not being able to get into the pot or anything like that.

Wrap the pot which contains  milk which is roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit and contains the starter yogurt.

Wrap the pot which contains milk which is roughly 115 degrees Fahrenheit and contains the starter yogurt.

Step 9 – Place the pot wrapped in the towel into the oven and set the oven timer to 8 hours.  Note: Make sure the oven is off!  (Yes, if you forgot your oven on, a fire may break out, or you will start smelling a burning towel before realizing you forgot it on…)

Place pot wrapped in towel into the oven and set the oven timer to 8 hours.

Place pot wrapped in towel into the oven and set the oven timer to 8 hours.

 

Setting the oven timer...

Setting the oven timer…

Step 10 – Take some raw honey (yes, unpasteurized honey that you can get from your local farmers market) and place some into the yogurt that you were unable to scoop out of the fage cup and eat it!  This is a treat and the last time you will likely buy yogurt from the supermarket other than to use for making yogurt)

Treat time - add some honey to your the remaining starter yogurt and eat it!

Treat time – add some honey to your the remaining starter yogurt and eat it!

Step 11 – Return after 11 hours and remove the pot from the oven and enjoy your yogurt!  Or, you can continue this guide to turn this regular yogurt into Greek yogurt…

After 8 hours of incubation...

After 8 hours of incubation…

 

What the yogurt looks like.  Notice the slimy, clear liquid on the top.

What the yogurt looks like. Notice the slimy, clear liquid on the top.

Step 12 – Gather the yogurt straining equipment.  A pot or other similar container to catch the whey is required, a regular wire mesh strainer, and a thin towel.

Straining Equipment 1 of 2

Straining Equipment 1 of 2

 

Straining Equipment 2 of 2

Straining Equipment 2 of 2

Step 13 – Pour the yogurt inside the towel, which is placed over the strainer, which is placed over the pot.

Yogurt has been poured into the towel, which has been placed over the strainer, which has been placed over the pot.

Yogurt has been poured into the towel, which has been placed over the strainer, which has been placed over the pot.

Step 14 – Tie up the towel and hang it up to allow the yogurt to strain.

Towel has been tied up and has been hanged up to allow for the excess why to leave the yogurt.

Towel has been tied up and has been hanged up to allow for the excess why to leave the yogurt.

Step 15 – Unwrap the towel after at least 4 hours.  The longer you leave the yogurt hanging the more dry the yogurt will be.  This all depends on taste.  I personally like my yogurt to have some of its juice in it, but I don’t like it to have all of its juice/whey.  Of course, if you strain it too much you can always add back some whey and stir it back in.  Here is the end result of the batch that I made:

End result

End result

Finish – Amount of yogurt produced:

Amount of yogurt and whey produced from a half gallon of milk.

Amount of yogurt and whey produced from a half gallon of milk.

 

 

 

Chobani – Evaporated Cane Juice Yogurt

What is the biggest mistake that people make on a regular basis when trying to eat a “healthy” diet?

… well, they substitute fat for sugar.

So when I decided to try a store bought brand of “Greek” yogurt, I opted for a Pomegranate flavored Chobani “Greek” Yogurt.  There was no fat in the yogurt, but that is more of a bad thing than a good thing… As you may know, the FDA, requires that ingredients are listed in descending order of predominance according to the weight of each ingredient (21 CFR 501.4) .  So… what is the first ingredient? Nonfat yogurt.  What is the second ingredient? Evaporated cane juice. That’s right, the 2nd largest ingredient of that yogurt is sugar! … And you thought it was good for you???

 

Let me read the Ingredients list off to you:

  • Nonfat Yogurt (Cultured Pasteurized Nonfat Milk,  Live and Active Cultures: S. Thermophilus, L. Bulgaricus, L. Acidophilus, Bifidus and L. Casei)
  • Evaporated Cane Juice
  • Pomegranate Seeds
  • Pomegranate Juice Concentrate
  • Pectin
  • Natural Flavor
  • Locust Bean Gum
  • Fruit and Vegetable Juice Concentrate
Picture of ingredients list in Chobani Pomegranate flavored Greek Yogurt

Picture of ingredients list in Chobani Pomegranate flavored Greek Yogurt

Think of it this way, if the ingredient after sugar is pomengranate seeds followed by pomengranate juice, then that means that the amount of sugar is greater than each of these ingredients individually.  So when you are eating this yogurt, just look at the massive volume of pomegranate seeds and pomegranate juice and say to yourself, would I add that much sugar to my yogurt?

Surely, your answer would be a strong resounding NO!

But the truth is that there is already that much sugar in the same yogurt which you are eating right now!  So if this product is called “Greek”, when it has nothing to do with coming from the nation of Greece, if it is called “Yogurt” and “Pomegranate”, then why isn’t it called “Evaporated Cane Juice Yogurt”? Because there is more Evaporated Cane Juice in this product than there is pomegranates.

Stop eating low-fat high sugar “Greek” yogurt!

Stop eating sugar laced “health” food products and start eating full-fat yogurt made from whole milk.  This is very simply to do, all you have to do is purchase yogurt that contains a very simple ingredients list: The ingredients on the product must not contain ~any~ sugar or sugar substitutes.  Pomegranates are supposed to have a nice flavor naturally without having to add sugar, so why is Chobani doing so?

Oh yeah, did you continue reading the label? Did you notice another funny ingredient called “Natural Flavor”?  I made it red for a reason…

Natural Flavor

Natural Flavor is a convenient method for manufacturers to sneak GMO’s into their products.  Don’t believe me? Google it…

Heart Disease

Also, for those who may not know this yet, but sugar has recently been vindicated as the cause for heart disease.  Yes, that’s right, sugar is what causes inflamation of your veins and other bodily organs, which as a result become weaker and weaker and then one day they collapse causing what is known as a heart attack… Avoiding fat and cholesterol is so 80s.

It gets worse….  See Fage

Even Fage puts sugar as the first ingredient in most, if not all of its fruit flavored yogurts, except for in their honey flavored yogurt.

Noosa

Noosa has to put sugar even in its honey flavored yogurt.  Tell me something is not wrong here…  Noosa yogurt is supposed to be some new “hot” thing which is Aussie-style yogurt.  I purchased a cup today and noticed that not only was sugar the 2nd ingredient after yogurt, there were various other forms of sugar listed throughout the ingredients list.  So be warned, soon Fage and Chobani will be moving their sugar into other forms of sugar so that they can be moved further down the ingredients list.

As for Noosa, stay away from it right now! As for Fage and Chobani, opt for the plain flavored yogurt and get the higher fat version.  Nonfat doesn’t work, neither does diet or light.  Just look around you, do you see any healthy looking people eating nonfat yogurt? I only see fat people and anorexic looking people eating nonfat yogurt.

IMG_20130624_124343_988