Hey, YOU: Put Your Baby Tights Back In The Drawer Already

I was listening to a little snippet from Chris Brogan today that spins the old adage, “we are our own worst enemies”. Chris is a huge proponent of YOU – the concept of YOU, the power of YOU, the superheroness of YOU.

It goes both ways: YOU can be believed in by friends, family, coworkers, and more. YOUr potential can be recognized far and wide. But, ultimately, the work still has to be done, by YOU. His SoundCloud track reminds YOU that self-babying practices should end – get out of YOUr own way, already.

One of Chris’s books is called “It’s Not About The Tights“; it was that image that made me think of “baby tights” versus superhero tights. Put on the latter and banish the former.

The “Tights” book shows that outward bravery comes from inner tools that can be built even by introverts like myself. That we all have bravery when we need it, and the ability to ignore the outside forces when they don’t matter. He’s a pretty awesome dude, in general, with a podcast that is both savvy for business folks as well as a touch of woo thrown in when he’s really connecting with his message for the day. Plus his biz is called “human business works”, so it shares the same gist as “andreaworks” – forward motion and progress.

Perfect Paleo Thanksgiving 2013

baby-meme-paleo-dinnerPaleo for Thanksgiving? WTF?

Based on the last few years of my own pre-, quasi- and now full- paleo** cooking, I thought I’d share a list of my absolute favorite recipes that work for that glorious Thanksgiving turkey spread. Most, if not all, of them are completely normal. You’d be hard pressed to have dinner attendees complain that these dishes are weird or healthy or out of the ordinary.

In fact, the biggest difference in a paleo friendly Thanksgiving dinner is in the handful of dishes that can simply be omitted (if everyone is on board) or not eaten by those afflicted by caveman food preferences (if you still have lots of bread eaters at the table).

**Note that ‘Paleo’ is just a limp word in lieu of a perfect and egalitarian way to describe this lifestyle and way of eating. Some folks use “ancestral eating“, some use “primal“, some just like to say “real food“. Some are “nutrient seekers“, some are “grandma cuisine“, some are “unprocessed“. Here’s my definition of the food choices this entails instead of a single term:

Well-raised meat, sustainable seafood, and organic produce are all wonderful for the human body, with raw nuts and dairy and fermented foods on occasion and rare encounters with refined sweeteners or alcohol. Any processing is best done by YOU, by hand.

That’s the gist; I hope it makes things at least a little less muddied.

Now, let’s have some gosh darned recipes, shall we?

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  1. Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Maple Bourbon Glaze. Yow. This is a HUGE winner. The sauce is rather involved but is worth it in the end. You almost want to just drink it instead of port after the meal. Eesh.
  2. Brussels Sprouts and Bacon. Classic, from a reliably awesome magazine (Saveur). You kind of can’t mess this one up. Just don’t burn the bacon. Drizzle with optional balsamic at the end for extra awesome.
  3. Cran-cherry Sauce for tart sweet tastiness. This one’s from a genuine paleo blogger with an awesome list of recipes for year round cooking, and an iPad app that I would own in a heartbeat if I owned anything non-Android. 🙂
  4. DID YOU THINK I’D FORGET THE BIRD? Nope, this is Russ Parson’s famous Judy Bird. The dry-brine is stupid easy, not messy, and almost foolproof. Can you beat that?
  5. Pumpkin Maple Coconut Custard. I’m either making this or the next dessert and inhaling the whole damn thing.
  6. Bruleed Bourbon Maple Pumpkin Pie. With or without the crust – who cares when there’s BRULEE happening? Oh yeah, here’s another one with no crust to omit. Hah!
  7. Dry Fried Green Beans. Chinese style because when it comes to pan frying, they know what the heck they’re doing.
  8. Cauliflower with 4 Other Delicious Things (sage, brown butter, pears, hazelnuts). I might sub chestnuts for hazelnuts because TIS the season!
  9. Broccoli with Raisin Vinaigrette. It’s almost like that horridly delicious salad we had in the Midwest. Well, not really. But, raisins!

2012-11-22 18.40.57I could go on and on. There are things like wild rice with pecans (oh-so native!) or things even more native to my current home like chiles and squash and corn for stuffing. The recipes are out there.
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Just know that you don’t have to have that stupid-sweet marshmallow sweet potato dish or the green beans with canned soup and canned onion rings in order to have a “real” Thanksgiving dinner.

To have a REAL Thanksgiving dinner, here are the things you need: family and/or friends at a table, and food on that table. Got those? Good. Have a Kitteh:

thanksgiving-because-kitteh

Green Smoothie in 2 Steps

Green Smoothies are, technically, easy and fast for any day/morning/whatever. There are two main steps you need to know:

  1. Add greens.
  2. Add secondary flavor &  liquid.

The rest is just details and nuances. Your blender is somewhat important especially if your GREENS are relatively fibrous veggies, like leafy greens. A good ‘regular’ blender or my favorite stick blender can handle spinach or cucumber. BUT. For things like parsley, kale, raw ginger root, and the like, you’ll need serious firepower to obliterate that stuff. Like, a Vitamix. Or any of those other fancy blenders that they demo at Costco.

Ok, here we go. Step ONE: add greens! Yes, that is a WHOLE bunch of flat-leaf Italian parsley. Trust me, it’s freakin’ good for you.

Green Smoothie 1a

Oops. First, we should take off the bottom stems and tag. Hee.

Green Smoothie 1b

Ok, now we need to add at least a little extra flavor, because just pure parsley might be a bit on the uber-healthy side for most folks. A banana is a good option, frozen or not (as is a green apple for extra green-ness):

Green Smoothie 2a

At this point, add a little water to help things along. A half-cup should do it. And then, always add salt. It brings out the flavor of ANY food. Add a pinch or a grind or whatever you know to be your preference:

Green Smoothie 2b

Start blending! It might take a little while to get absorbed down into the blades of obliterative death, especially if you are not using the blender’s “pusher” tool, as I am not:

Green Smoothie 2c

Success! All of the junk is twirling around merrily, on low power. After 20 seconds of that, it’s time to consider more speed.

Green Smoothie 2d

HIGH power! This is the speed at which if you blend for more than a minute or two, it will warm up and eventually turn into steaming soup. Yes, really. So don’t go too crazy, and feel the side of the pitcher to make sure it’s not getting warm.

Green Smoothie 2e

After about 30 seconds of cell-wall destruction, you are ready to pour:

Green Smoothie DONE

Enjoy your ridiculously healthy drink. I sometimes add a splash of cider vinegar afterwards, for a little extra digestive goodness.

How To Nudge Yourself, Part One

complimentMany people encounter speed bumps that slow us down, or could even stop us if we are already moving slowly, and nudging ourselves over that bump into forward motion is essential.

Here is one little tiny thing, the first of a series, that I’ve learned from many mentors in my personal life and out on the interwebs that will help the vault over that bump. Each tiny thing takes a few minutes or less, and could involve getting over some fear to execute. But each are worth it and if you have any of that niggling fear, just tell it to STFU and get the thing done.

ONE. Contact someone in your medium-celebrity list to tell them how much they mean to you.

Your ‘medium celebrity’ list is someone that you admire in a field you are learning, but not necessarily the top of the pile. Let’s say you’re an aspiring chef. Don’t contact Gordon Ramsey or Nobu or Thomas Keller, especially if you are very nervous. (Note – in some circumstances, you could contact the top tier, but that’s another topic…)

Contact a “four star” chef near you – if you live in Austin, it could be one of the Top Chef contestants that was eliminated in the middle of the show. Make sure it’s a chef that you have some personal experience with, like eating at their restaurant, or cooking one of their published recipes. Let them know you appreciate their effort thus far and you’ve really been enjoying their recipe for XX and you hope that they are having a wonderful season full of ideas and customers. Don’t ask for anything. Just drop a genuine compliment that contains a nugget of your own experience.

Do this every day for a week and just bask in the glow that seems to come from dishing out respect.