Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!!!

Friday, December 21, 2007

Just to put it in perspective, Christmas for me is like Thanksgiving here-lots of food and even more drink. Those of you who read my Thanksgiving blog know what kind of feast I had so I'm on for a second round. We're off to Ireland tomorrow for the festivities for a few weeks. This is the first Christmas at home in a while so it should be good craic (pronounced crack.) I'm sure I'll have a few stories to tell as well as a few extra lbs. no doubt!
I want to wish everyone a very Happy Christmas and an excellent New Year!
Your Hopefully Still-Healthy Irishman

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Worst Foods in America

How good does that look! The Outback Steakhouse Aussie cheese fries w/ ranch dressing. With only 2,900 calories, 182 grams fat and 240 grams carbs - it's a meal the whole neighborhood should share. I came across this and more in this month's Men's Health Magazine. They listed the top 20 worst foods for any human to consume, which perked me right up. This by the way, was the winner (no shit sherlock.)
A lot of those featured are obvious, but some like the Ruby Tuesdays Bella turkey burger which passes itself off as being "healthy" has 1,145 calories and a mere 71 grams of fat. People just assume that eating something like that is good for them but with the portion sizes these restaurants are serving, joe public hasn't a clue. Just to put it into perspective, an average man should be consuming 2,500 calories approx. per day so by having this burger, without the fries, you're already almost half way through your daily allotment.
The article goes on to list their 'worst in' categories like worst drink, supermarket meal, kids meal, sandwich, steak, salad and more. This is a good one for all you Starbucks peeps. Voted worst coffee, the venti strawberries & creme frappucino blended creme. I know I'm not the only one who hasn't a clue what all that means and where's the coffee? Anyway it's got a cool 750 calories and ......120 grams sugar, more than 3 cans of soda. Enjoy that sugar crash.
It really boils down to making wise choices. The reason why the "healthy" burger isn't healthy is most likely from the sauces smothered on top. Eliminate these naughty additions (including mayo) and your burger becomes better.
I highly recommend checking out this article, "The First Annual 20 Worst Foods in America" for an eye-opener on how to make wiser choices in the big bad world of restaurants. Take it a step further and grab a copy of Eat This Not That, by David Zinczenko & Matt Goulding, who wrote the MH article. Featured on the Today Show, the book provides more healthy tips for all kinds of restaurant eating as well as wise supermarket shopping. After all 2008 is right around the bend...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Mustard & Wine

My buddy Joe Jerome had us over for some wine and a bite to eat the other day, pretty casual. He's a member of a few wine clubs in the Santa Barbara area so when he needed some help "tasting" them we headed over. Not much tasting went on - we ploughed through six bottles between four of us! Not the reason for the blog, although if I remember what I drank and how it/they tasted I'll fill you in.
I didn't know Joe was into cooking but I was pleasantly surprised. Again it was supposed to be about the wine but he went all out with an array of food such as Irish smoked salmon, roasted red and golden beets (leaves and all in some olive oil and wine-damn good), pan seared scallops and silver snapper with white beans. It was all simple, tasty and unexpected.
Finally the reason I'm telling you all this, he brought out this bottle of mustard seed oil with some french bread. It turns out wine wasn't the only thing we were tasting. This oil was full of punch like I'd never tasted before, unless I shoveled in a spoonful of Dijon mixed with horseradish. Ok, maybe not that severe but it had kick, especially the after taste.
After the wine had worn off I decided to look into it more. Good mustard seed oil is pungent, very pungent almost to the extreme of bringing tears to your eyes when smelling it. It has the lowest saturated fat content of all edible oils at 5%. Primarily it's used in Indian cooking, particularly in Bengali cooking. Though this oil can be used as a dip like we had it, it's generally heated almost to smoking before used for cooking to eliminate toxins and is mainly used for flavouring a finished dish. It's great to finish off fish stews or curries. Worth noting though, the flavor and smell are really reduced when heated.
Besides cooking you can actually use it for massaging your body and hair. Though this is more prevalent in Northern India, you may notice a "for massage use only" label on the bottle. This is an FDA regulation. They've deemed mustard oil unfit for human consumption. Wikipedia explains why. Most people ignore this. It's the same in Canada where a "for external use only" disclaimer is on their labels.
Though I probably won't be using it to massage my head, I'm quite excited about trying it in my food. Now the trick is finding it....

Friday, December 7, 2007

Lavash pizza w/ blistered tomatoes, pesto and Italian cheese

So you're having a holiday shin-dig and need something quick and delicious for guests to nosh on, not to mention something to soak up the beer! Have no fear--The Healthy Irishman is here! (she made me do it). I'd love to be able to pass this idea off as my own but I'll no doubt be busted. My buddy, Trevor came up with this. We worked together in catering companies a few years back and now he's head honcho at his own company, The pizza is a great party idea--not only does it look good, it's simple, quick and people love it. Play around with the toppings to create your own signature version.

1 piece lavash (Trader Joe's)
2 baskets cherry tomatoes - washed
2 cups basil pesto - recipe below
1/2 cup 2% Italian cheese
1 tbsp. olive oil

Pre-heat oven 400 degrees
Brush the lavash with olive oil and par-bake for 5-6 mins. approx or until it begins to crisp. This can be done ahead of time and set aside until you're ready to make your pizzas. Drizzle some olive oil in pan and saute tomatoes on high heat until they begin to blister, 6 mins. approx. Season and set aside.
To make pesto:
2 cups fresh basil leaves
2 garlic cloves
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 lemon- zested
1/4 cup toasted pine nuts

Blend basil, garlic, nuts and cheese in food processor for 20 secs. If you don't have one of these gadgets a blender works just fine, just use smaller quantities. With machine running, slowly add olive oil, season and taste. If making this ahead of time make be sure you cover tightly with plastic wrap to prevent it from oxidizing, which turns it brown.
To assemble pizza, simply spread pesto generously and carefully on the lavash. Layer the blistered tomatoes on top and sprinkle the cheese over. Don't do this too far ahead as the lavash will get soggy. Put in the oven for 5 mins. approx or till the cheese melts.
To serve, cut into bite size pieces, top with fresh chopped basil.
How easy is that, even an Irishman can do this!

Monday, December 3, 2007


We all know the eating and drinking season is here. Christmas parties, office parties--whatever it is, it all revolves around food and drink. Not a bad thing by all accounts but we'll pay for it next month. So I came up with a few health and fitness tips to help make it a bit easier when the word "diet" comes around in a few weeks.
I know there's a lot of stuff on tv and in mags. about getting through the season and not putting on weight and all that crap so I'm going to keep this very basic. Nothing more boring than someone telling you what you should or shouldn't do. It's the holidays so do whatever you want but here's a few suggestions of what I'm going to do or try to do.
This is probably the most important thing to consider especially during the holidays. Your body needs to stay hydrated and when we're out and about at whatever party it is, drinking a lot of water will definitely help with the recovery by flushing out the toxins. For those of you thinking hair of the dog, been there done that but be sure to drink water as well.
Usually not on the agenda for most people during the holidays, but think about it--if you can motivate yourself to get in some exercise it'll make it all the better having that extra beer or slice of pie. Anything helps. Get out and get some fresh air. Go for a walk, jog or hit the gym (for those not hungover). For walking a basic rule of thumb is to go for 30-60 mins. at 50-70% of your max. heart rate. Do what you can and try to enjoy it.
This is good for those who tend to starve themselves before they go to a party. We've all heard about it or even done it. Someone skipping lunch because they're going to a party 6 hours later. Bad idea. You'll be so ravenous by then you'll end up shoving anything and everything into your mouth. Especially once the booze kicks in. The key here is to EAT a snack before you go so you're not starving. You definitely want to enjoy the food at the party so don't go for dinner but have a bowl of soup maybe or a sandwich. You also don't want to drink on an empty stomach especially at an office do. Could be interesting though!
Christmas can be fairly stressful. You're running around shopping, trying to see everyone who's home for the holidays, parties, not to mention family. We all know that's work in itself. Not to get too yogalike here but it's important to make time for yourself. All you need is a few minutes each day to get away from everyone and take a breath. This will help you feel relaxed and less stressed.
There you have it. Nothing too deep or painful, right? We all know the build up is bigger than the actual event so enjoy the month and we'll deal with the rest of it in the new year.