How to bring out your six pack

Last week I spoke about Intermittent Fasting (IF) and how it has worked for me, in conjunction with a healthy diet and lifestyle. Over the first part of this year I managed to maintain a low body fat percentage, around 9%, and at the same time increase lean muscle by over 2kg. IF certainly played a role in this, however, it was not the only factor at play.

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Intermittent Fasting: an experiment

Last week I touched on the reflection point I have reached so far this year. In which I contemplated my health and some of my more strongly rooted reasons for seeking great health.

My mother being a constant source of inspiration for me, drives me to think about my health and do my best not to take it for granted. One of the things I use as a measure of this is a DEXA scan, which shows your bone density as well as overall body composition.

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All balls and no brain?

This week was a different one for me, one of firsts for sure! I got my hands on some balls. Sheep’s Testicles that is, and Sheep’s Brains. I have certainly never eaten or cooked these two meats, but this week I gave it a go. Very ballsy of me right… Ahhh…

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A fowl Easter

For most of us this week involved a long weekend. I used this to take my time a bit more with the shopping and preparing of my weekly meat, as well as getting some training in. Having more time on my hands meant putting this training into a film for you all to see what a good grunt session can look like.

The style of training I did is commonly called Advanced German Body Composition training. I will touch on this briefly today. Next week I’ll touch on the next workout and wrap up some info on German Body Composition (GBC) and the advanced version.

This type of training incorporates a lot of work with short rest intervals. The idea here is that the longer and harder work paired with short rest periods stimulates an increase in the production of lactate which in turn promotes an increase in growth hormone. This leads to body fat loss, lean muscle gains and muscular endurance.

The advanced version of GBC that I did this week (see the attached videos) is not for the faint hearted or people with a young training age (relatively new to resistance training). I’ve been training since I got the Hulkamania Workout Set for Xmas when I was 8 years old, so I’m ok to go. This is a good example of how getting and staying lean, strong and fit doesn’t come easy, it requires application and hard work.

For those of you who are new to resistance training a standard GBC would perhaps suit better, and that I’ll get into more next week. This involves heavy weights, hard work and short rest times, and the resulting high level of lactate will have you sucking in the oxygen and wishing the workout was over! If you want to give it a go, contact me for more information and recommendations, but go lighter to start with and ALWAYS make sure your form is perfect!

In my workout I did a bend followed by a pull. This means I did 3 exercises involving a bend, 6 of the first, 12 of the second and 25 of the third. I had 2 minutes rest and went again for a total of 4 rounds. I then moved onto a pull and followed the same rep/rest/set protocols, which advanced GBC calls for. Check out the two videos to see an example of a round of each and more details on the exercises themselves.

Earlier this week with the Easter long weekend approaching I had decided to catch up with mates on the night I normally try and cook my meat of the week, knowing that I’d have plenty of time later to cook and write. However with Easter Friday meaning a lot of shops are closed, I got prepared and headed down to the butcher on Thursday afternoon to purchase my meat.

I was greeted by Tom with an enthusiastic “Mikey!” I waited while he served some other customers and pondered what I’d be having. The word was they had some fresh Guinea Fowl for me. Not much pondering went on in the end as I had literally had a base of nothing to go on. Just as I reached for my pocket and the use of another Google search it was confirmed that Tom indeed had a Guinea Fowl for me to crack into this week.

I began asking him about what to do with it, he offered up that he’s never cooked one, but because it’s seasonal and slightly gamey, go for similar options to accompany it. He then spoke to someone behind me and said “you’ll know about this?” I was instantly confused and instantly thought Tom might have a long dormant lazy eye, but turned to see another customer, whom I learned to be Glenda, patiently waiting her turn to purchase.

Glenda then rapidly gave a bunch of recommendations for cooking guinea fowl and what to have with it. This conversation promptly evolved to a swift description of my meat mission for 2012 and my blog. Initiated by Tom I might add, not me forcing it on every person I talk to… A series of questions from me followed, like are you a chef, then subsequent chatter about the guinea fowl and Glenda’s recommendations.

Some of the terms and dishes thrown out were another language to me and some sounded like hard work, while the main option of forming a pastry around the bird by repeatedly rolling in flour then egg until a thick crust formed just didn’t sit with me. White flour isn’t going to enter this blog if at all possible. Why? Ask in the comments box below if you’re interested.

I did like the idea of using seasonal vegetables to match the guinea fowl. So once I’d bought the bird (and used my best poker face talking to Glenda, pretending I picked up everything she mentioned) I wandered the supermarket whilst simultaneously searching on my phone how to make some of these ideas. I was excited and nervous about cooking a new meat and the random fervent conversation that had just taken place involving my blog and meat in general.

I had to rule out cavolo nero, due to it being unavailable. However I did have to search for what this was first, so Glenda if you’re reading: that was me faking that I had any idea what you’d just said… Nevertheless I did buy some Beetroots to make a puree and some Swiss Brown and Chestnut mushrooms. I figured this would substitute for the actual Chestnuts Glenda had suggested, for the obvious reason…

I took my purchases home and let them chill for the day. The next day I settled on a recipe for the bird and accompaniments from a combination of an online search and Glenda’s suggestions with my own twist on things. I was set to make a Middle Eastern Roast Guinea Fowl with Saffron Quinoa, Beetroot and Sweet Potato Puree with Sautéed Mushrooms and a Small Garden Salad.

There was a fair bit to get through, but since it was a holiday and I had not much else to do that day apart from run around a park in Vaucluse with 3 others (a random mix of weights and babysitting), a feast was to be made! It was quite a success in the end, the babysitting/workout that is. The dinner was a mixed bag…

Dealing with the bird was a first as not only had I never done guinea fowl before but I had never come face to face with, ah, the face of an animal I am about to eat. Well apart from fish I suppose.

 

This little guy had its head attached, and it was a strange site, but to the words of “off with his head!” I used the knife in a guillotine like action, crunched through the spine and just like that- off came its head. Glenda suggested using it to make a jus, however once I’d had to remove what appeared to be its last meal before it was killed, I decided maybe it’s best to just remove this whole area and get on with cooking the bird, before I vomit.

My assistant (not an actual paid job, more for the love I believe) went to making the mix that would baste the bird while I got the bird chopped, washed, dried and ready to be basted.

Once this was done, the quinoa was prepared with vegetable stock and a few chopped dates and a handful of smashed pistachios were added with salt and pepper before some of this was used to stuff the bird (those last 3 words usually place together in that order down the pub on a Friday night I believe…) and the rest sat waiting to be added to the roasting dish in the last 20 minutes of the cooking.

  

The bird went in the oven and the other things were put into action. The beetroot and kumara were boiled and when ready added to the kitchen wiz with some butter, a dollop of natural organic yoghurt and salt and pepper.

As this was happening slight disaster struck. The recipe for the bird called for an hour of cooking then adding the rest of the quinoa and cooking for a further 20 minutes. However at the 45 minute mark I checked the bird and discovered an alarming amount of black colour when there should ideally not be! I removed the bird and hurriedly tried to figure out what had gone wrong. Then it hit me: it’s a 1.5kg bird in the recipe. Not knowing the exact weight I was still sure mine was less than 1kg.

School boy error from me! Still, it was only 45 minutes and there was at least juice still running out when I put a knife into the flesh. I covered it in foil and we went about trying not to panic that I’d f*cked this up completely.

At this point the quinoa needed to be finished off as it was now not going into the oven with the bird. The mushrooms were added to the pan with some fresh garlic and butter and sautéed lightly. Instantly the smell in the kitchen was overrun by the mushrooms, my brain recognised this and calmed me immediately, mmmm… garlicky, buttery mushrooms…

Once all the extras were ready, I carved the bird and we sat to eat. The plate looked busy and was chocker with food. Luckily I was starving and ready to crack into my first guinea fowl! The flavours of the baste were beautiful on the meat. However much like an over made-up, high maintenance bird of the human variety, the meat itself was a touch overdone.

 

This was a massive disappointment, especially as it was just a stupid oversight on my part. Still, I liked it, but judging on that, knew it could be so much better. The beetroot puree topped with the mushrooms was divine and the slightly sweet quinoa was easily the champion of the whole dish. In fact there was enough of this left over that it made for a delicious breakfast the following day with some yoghurt, walnuts, a chopped feijoa and some cinnamon.

So overall I was happy with the meal, but the meat is what this is about right, so on that front- I liked it but a bit on the dry side which was my fault alone and added immense frustration to this as a first time meat. Just like my brother in law getting inappropriately drunk, at my sisters 21st birthday in front of the family, (enough to have to leave) I know that this first impression will last.

Hopefully I can redeem if given the chance to cook guinea fowl again. I say that (somewhat safely) as these birds don’t seem incredibly common or easy to come by. They are seasonal and having read up on them, it sounds like they make for an amazingly helpful farm animal, some claims even stating that they keep out and will kill snakes! That’s a pretty nasty bird. I certainly didn’t see any evidence of that with my bird, just some grass and other half digested vegetation-like stuff, definitely no snake!

This is nevertheless, another week done! 14 weeks of different meats over with. I already look forward to next week. I have no idea what that will be, but I’ll get thinking and see what I come up with.

As always, please keep the feedback coming as well as suggestions for meats or recipes, and requests for subjects to be covered. Next week I’ll also continue on with this short exercise series and there’ll be the next workout to go with it.

Please continue to help me grow this community. For a small business like mine social media is the best way to grow, and even though I do this for the love of it, it obviously links into my training business. So if you haven’t done so, please get to my Facebook page and ‘Like’.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meat-Mike-Campbell/236677696419727

And share this post with your friends, family and colleagues. Every little bit helps me build and keeps me going with this week in and week out. I want to improve and make each post better than the previous, and your help, yes you, makes that so much easier!

Much love and gratitude,

Mike

A family feast

The preparation for this week started early. I got in touch with the guys at The Butcher and the Chef on Monday and enquired about a large order of rather exotic meats that were coming in as I was planning on cooking for 6 people this week. The reason for this: my oldest sister and her husband were coming into town on Friday night, so the plan was dinner at my middle sister’s house, prepared by me. Easy Golden Boy points up for grabs there.

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Sayonara Easter Bunny

That title seemed appropriate, considering I had just spent 30 minutes at the butchers watching an expert at work de-boning an animal specifically for me! I then realised as I lined up to purchase my other ingredients at the supermarket and small gold Lindt Easter Bunnies confronted me, I thought- “Hmpf, Easter’s around the corner, this could have been better timed. Ah well, the Easter bunny has been taken down early and how!”

So I would hope by now you could gather that this week I ate Rabbit. For me, much the same as the horse really, but for many people I dare say not. Rabbits are pets aren’t they? Be it (in my opinion) pretty lame pets, which sit in a weird cage for the most part, hobble around the backyard at times and have the odd carrot (never as much as good old Bugs Bunny though, but a little).

I remember at one point as a child, I was maybe 5 years old, we had a couple of rabbits as pets, Peter and Cottontail. I think they had been wild (I’ll have to confer with Dad on this). I don’t think they lasted long at 279 Kingsbury Ave, Rangiora. I seem to recall a trip to the river to ’let them free’. No doubt they were eating Dad’s veggie garden and leaving their business on the carpet. Lucky little buggars got a sweet release; as opposed to the possible cat’s dinner option which was no doubt a looming threat.

All this being said the whole pet thing doesn’t really seem to enter into the equation much when it comes to eating rabbit. It’s pretty common place, especially as a stew, I believe probably more so a country thing, but nonetheless common.

 

Is eating cute little rabbits an issue for anyone out there? Please let me know if so. I would imagine one or two, especially if I make it seem cute, defenceless and Easter Bunny-like…

I have never eaten rabbit before I don’t think.  I have never eaten a few of the things I’ve had so far this year throughout this challenge, as well as other occasions. Earlier this week I was treated to a fantastic dinner by one of my clients. We went to a local Japanese restaurant we had discussed a few times, and which I had yet to dine at. I’ve tried very little Sashimi in my time, and I’ve already discussed on this blog my general lack of experience when it comes to things from the sea, so this was pretty new for me.

I put myself in the hands of an expert. Hide (pronounced Hee-Day), is from Tokyo and a lover of food, especially sashimi, so he ordered everything for us. I think I managed a total of 6 new things tried, including such things as eel and sea urchin. Overall it was beautiful, and I’m very glad I’ve branched out and tried it, which I will definitely be doing more of in the future, some of which as a part of this challenge and blog. A big thank you to Hide!

I currently sit on my balcony, taking in the events of yesterday and the week passed including the raw seafood fest. I have a belly full of the leftovers from this week’s meat challenge meal. Upon reflection on the way this year is panning out, I feel quite happy that I am pushing through with this challenge each week and I know that this is leading onto many new things and experiences.

I said at the inception (nothing to do with Leonardo Dicaprio) of this that I like to try new things these days, and I am certainly living up to that. I’m sure there will soon be some things that push my limits and commitment, such as some Lambs Testes perhaps.

I am practicing what I preach. I think this is something I generally do when it comes to training, health and lifestyle.

I train regularly and appropriately for the occasion. That means hard work and pushing my limits, then easing off and doing the lighter, remedial stuff and resting when needed. I eat well, pay close attention to my diet and supplementation; I do a fair amount of research on many topics in these areas and keep up to date with the latest and best practices. I get enough good quality sleep and I relax and have a few beers when appropriate.

In fact I’ll be leaving this writing shortly to have a few with a mate for his stag do, poor guy!

I like to think I have a pretty good balance and therefore I look the part of a good trainer, someone who knows what they’re talking about and I’m 3D living proof.

So one thing I am baffled by is trainers who definitely do not look the part. By this I mean trainers that look they should be a contestant on The Fattest Loser (is that what it’s called??), or be paying me money to get them in shape, sort their diets out and get them training properly.

I can’t believe the state of some trainers who look more like turtles than athletes. How can you expect someone to pay you money to help change and improve their health and bodies when you look like you’d be better suited sitting in the driver’s seat of a taxi? (Slight gripe with taxi drivers at the moment…).

To anyone who uses the services of a personal trainer of any description, do they look the part? Do they eat well? Ask them what they had to eat yesterday. It’s all well and good talking about it, but do they live it and personify health? If the answer is no, then maybe they aren’t the right person to be giving you money to, regularly… Just a thought

Anyway, this week’s meat wasn’t just some Rabbit, it was a Whole White Rabbit. One that Tom from The Butcher and the Chef kindly and ever so expertly de-boned for me as I keenly looked on. This was a pretty cool thing to witness (the little bunny didn’t stand a chance of keeping its skeleton). I now have it, and it’s currently making a lovely stock as I type (got to make use of every part!).

I was in meat lovers, butcher heaven, constantly snapping photos as Tom and I chatted and he told me stories about rabbits. For example, in France (Tom’s mother is French), butchers used to have to sell rabbits with the heads on as some sneaky blighters had been killing off cats and hocking them off as much more sought after rabbits. This prompted a nursery rhyme style song about it (sang with a French accent: “make sure your rabbits have their heads…”, or words to that effect). Cat’s taste no good hey?

 

On my arrival at the butchers Tom proceeded to tell me a few recipe ideas and the one that hit home was the de-boned number, which I was hoping he would offer to do and he did, ideal! So once he had completed his master piece he lay the little guy out and put some Pancetta and fresh rosemary through the middle, rolled it together and tied with string. I was excited, so was he! The anticipation of eating something new was amplified by the creation I had just witnessed!

  

I left with the promise of Tom’s picture and artistry being a part of this week’s blog. I had the delicious rolled meat in hand, the skeleton in one bag and its teeny kidneys and liver in another, with the advice to sauté quickly with onions (my nemesis) and have as an entree. DONE. Well apart from the onions, I, ah… ‘forgot’ to buy the onion.

I returned home and got things ready. Upon Tom’s suggestion I had purchased some baby gold kumara (I actually changed this to kumara from potatoes), French beans and asparagus to accompany, as well as a bottle of Chardonnay to roast the rabbit in. I got the oven to 180°, poured enough wine for about 1cm depth in the dish and lay the rabbit to rest before inserting to do its thing. I couldn’t help thinking it looked like one massive sausage, probably what a normal sausage looks like to a toddler, or little person…

I had a quick look online for some pointers on the offal, funnily enough onions was the suggestions, but my aversion to onions remained and instead I heated some butter and added the garlic before quickly frying up the kidneys and roughly diced liver. They made for a very tasty little entree for me and my partner in crime. I can’t see them making a regular appearance purely because of the rarity of sourcing them, but if Tom has more in I’d jump at them for a lovely dietary alternative.

 

I roasted the kumara and sautéed the beans and asparagus close to serving time. The meat was in the oven for 40 minutes and once removed it looked divine. The remnants of the wine and meat juice had some fresh cream and Dijon mustard added and reduced down to a delicious sauce, or to sound unnecessarily pretentious but somewhat French, a jus. I sliced the rabbit, dished it up, took the obligatory photos and sat down to enjoy the fruits of my days viewing, learning and cooking.

 

 

 

I have to say it again, this was (in keeping with the French theme) très magnifique. The meat was tender and juicy, and the pancetta and rosemary added a beautiful flavour and the jus was exquisite.

Overall a top meal and another thoroughly enjoyed meat to add to the ever expanding list. I definitely recommend sourcing some rabbit, if you can get it de-boned even better! Obviously you don’t have to stuff with pancetta and rosemary and roll up, but this was worth the wait at the butchers for sure. Plus I clearly enjoy watching the art of a butcher, so that helps…

Tom mentioned last time he recommended this recipe to a customer, the next time they returned they bought 3 more rabbits and invited him around to enjoy the dish. Well if he keeps this up it could just happen again.

So, as mentioned earlier, is eating rabbits too much for some people? Or does it come under the ‘comfortable’ animal slaughter like cattle, sheep and chicken etc?

Does anyone have any rabbit recipes that they love? What about suggestions for meats or requests for subjects for me to cover?

I had a long phone conversation with a friend of mine this week, generally, about the topic of vegetarianism as it intrigues me and I am writing about it to post at some stage in the near future. I’ll endeavour to cover why people do it, and nutritionally how living this way differs to eating meat regularly and where (in my opinion) the pitfalls lie in being a vegetarian and of course the opinions of people who research in this field and know the answers.

But please feel free to suggest other topics and I’ll try my best to deliver, as well as keeping the charming meat chronicles coming.

Remember, you can interact with me here by leaving a comment, or on my facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/Meat-Mike-Campbell/236677696419727

where I’ll keep updating you with what I’m reading regarding training and health and of course meat! Please send this to your friends and colleagues, I want to build a community on here so we can interact and create an open forum on all things training, health and food. Get involved!

12 weeks: tick!

Mike

Look at my mussels

Well it’s been an interesting week. Last week the talk of horse and eating horse meat took over a bit. Many people don’t agree with it and I think many of those people got scared away from reading my post just from the mention of horse in the title. Surely the joke alone was enough to hook you though? How good is that joke?! Maybe it’s better said not read…

Anyway, this week I’ve moved to something far more helpless than Seabiscuit, poor old defenceless shellfish. Who’s looking out for them?! I’ve got a pet Oyster, but no one seems to care about that… (I don’t have a pet oyster, just to remove any real confusion on my level of weirdness).

But eating shellfish seems to be fine with the general population, who cares about them? So why not shuck a bunch of them and get amongst it!

Can’t seem to let the If its ok to kill and eat one animal for food, then why not another thing go can I? I’ll try and stop flogging that dead horse, for now.

 

Let’s move away from meat for a moment, we’ll dive back into shellfish shortly. This week I’d like to address the world of supplements, vitamins and dietary additives.

 

There is a lot out there, many product ‘facts’, ‘must haves’ and general wish-wash around this subject. Like most things health and training related, it doesn’t need to be complicated. If you see a product name that looks something like this:

 

ULTRA MEGA HUGE MUSCLE GAINER FAT BURNER AND OTHER EXTRANEOUS FLASHY TITLES TO TRICK YOU INTO BUYING THIS product…

Then it’s probably full of stuff you don’t need and could plain do without! I like to think the clue is in the title, and the branding. OK there is competition out there, but big flashy, busy and confusing labels and branding, in my opinion, are just masking an inferior product in order to make sales. Fair enough, I applaud small business owners for having a go. Doesn’t mean I’ll buy your product if it’s full of sh*t though.

The way I like to look at supplements is that the product should do the talking, not the label.

Of course if you don’t know any better, marketing can often do its intended job and hook you.

So, what do you look for, and what should you take?

 

Well, in the world of workout supplements I believe that most people who train for strength, athletic performance, weight loss and muscular size need to use a good quality protein powder at appropriate times. And remember, I’m recommending that most people should be training with resistance, for many and varied reasons.

I definitely advocate getting most of your protein, and most dietary requirements for that matter, from whole food, however just like using the world as your toilet there is a time and a place for some things. Taking a p*ss in the wild- perhaps if necessary, on a busy street- definitely not, I would think.

In the world of protein I recommend a clean Whey Protein Isolate (WPI), for post training/exercise primarily, and at certain other times if necessary if whole food protein sources cannot be obtained, or do not suit the situation.

How much will depend on the intensity and volume of your workout, but as a rough guide: 30-45g post workout. The reactions in the body can seem complicated but in short, protein post training will help cellular regeneration and repair.

 

From the research I have done, I believe that a pure WPI sourced from New Zealand is the best option for those of us in this part of the world.

Why New Zealand? Well of course I’m not biased in any way… My fingers just seemed to type it that way. It is generally some of the best WPI on the market. It works for me, and I manage to stay lean enough year round. And just like some of the people in this great land, a lot of Australian products tend to contain unnecessary crap. Couldn’t help that one…

For a brief read on protein powder check out this by Dr Johnny Bowden: http://www.charlespoliquin.com/Lifestyle/Nutrition/114/The_Best_Form_of_Protein_Powder.aspx

Post workout is a time to ingest pure sugars also, such as a Dextrose/maltodextrin mix, but this can also be achieved with high glycemic fruits; bananas, pineapple, dates etc to accompany your protein shake. The job of the sugars here is to help increase the uptake of protein into the cells, which means more nutrients for the cells of your body.

Within the macronutrient supplements like protein we have things like fish oil. This is a term thrown around a lot these days. I do advocate supplementing with fish oil. However, like with anything it should be a top quality product, taken at the right time in the right amounts. It has been highly researched and shown that supplementing with good quality fish oil can offer health benefits that range from neurological to cardiovascular to skin and eye health.

As with anything there is also the flip side. If you have the time or inclination read this: http://raypeat.com/articles/articles/fishoil.shtml  This article sheds a different light on the popular take on fish oil supplementation. However I think there is definitely still benefit to it.

Just find a product that is sourced naturally from wild sustainable fish, take a moderate dose spread throughout the day, and see how it works for you. Try and find a product with an EPA:DHA ratio of roughly 3:2.

Moving into the world of micronutrients; again there are many things out there. Just stepping into your local health food store a million and one things hit your eyes. Much like typing Mike Campbell into Google, it’s sometimes overwhelming…

 

So, what do you need? Well as with absolutely everything this is individual. However there are usually some stock standards that most people these days, even those who eat clean, lack in their diets.

In general I recommend to my clients that they take a good multi vitamin in the morning with breakfast. This is the perfect way to compliment a healthy diet. Make sure it’s ingredients have proven bioavailability. Most people are deficient to some degree in zinc and magnesium and vitamin D, so in addition to a high quality multi vitamin I recommend supplementing with zinc and magnesium, and vitamin D if exposure to sunlight is low. The take home information on these is as follows:

Zinc

The body has no way of storing zinc, so getting enough is crucial to maintain correct testosterone levels (yes girls, we all need this!), which help maintain lean muscle mass, you’ll also miss out on the gains from your training which will only add to this. As well as this, low zinc affects brain function and the ability to concentrate as well as reproductive health amongst other benefits.

Magnesium

A deficiency in magnesium is common and can seriously affect sleep and brain function. Higher levels are generally needed for athletes and people who train with weights, and again remember, we should all be doing some form of resistance training where possible. As with zinc it will affect testosterone as well as strength. It will also decrease the absorption of other vital nutrients into your body.

Vitamin D

Vitamin D is naturally made in your body in response to exposure to the sun, so supplementing through winter months, or depressing Londonesque climates, is a good idea. It plays such a vital role in the body working with other nutrients to achieve optimum health, including immune function, bone and muscle health, reproductive health and has been linked to cancer prevention.

There are two other things I commonly recommend as regular supplementation, those are Branch Chain Amino Acids (BCAAs) and a greens supplement.

 

BCAAs are vital to a healthy diet to ensure a healthy functioning body. They are the building blocks of protein and Essential Amino Acids specifically cannot be made by the body. Research has consistently shown that the use of BCAAs aids in healthy liver function, brain function and preventing diabetes as well as general longevity and ageing.

In terms of training, BCAAs help;

  • keep you lean by supporting muscle growth and fat loss
  • train harder for longer
  • stay strong for longer
  • aid brain function and concentration during training/sport
  • reduce muscle soreness

BCAAs are found in protein rich foods and whey protein and you can use BCAA supplements specifically for training.

A greens supplement is a great addition to a healthy diet. As my earlier posts stated, I recommend trying to consume protein and vegetables with every meal. However this is a bit too hard for a lot of us sometimes, especially when it comes to breakfast. This is where a greens supplement, such as Super Greens or Vital Greens, can play a critical role in ensuring that you start the day full of essential micro nutrients and phyto-nutrients (especially from spirulina, chlorella, barley grass and wheat grass). This will also help to alkalise the body which can become too acidic from certain foods as well as training and exercise.

So to sum up, when it comes to supplements, we are looking to do exactly that- supplement what we can’t get enough of, and at appropriate times, in our regular diets. These should be natural high quality sources. Anything too much beyond that and you may well be barking up the wrong tree, or a tree that doesn’t and never has existed, such as the ‘thermogenic tree’ one of my enthusiastic colleagues stated his, well, not so natural thermogenic supplement comes from…

There are many products on the market ‘designed’ as quick fixes, fat loss tools and meal replacements. Try and be logical about this. Replacing a meal is generally not a good idea, again there can be a time and a place, but you want to compliment your meals with certain supplements to ensure a full and healthy diet, not replace with a teaspoon of questionable powder with water and hope to lose dress sizes and body hang ups.

So to reiterate: eat plenty of fresh whole foods, and add in the appropriate supplements to top up your healthy eating lifestyle.

On that note, let’s move on to real food.

As mentioned earlier, with the Horse meat post still fresh in the mind, I looked at my week ahead and realised the next meat was going to have to be early in the week. So I sat down with my part time collaborator/part time meal co-conspirator and planned out a dish using multiple shellfish.

I figured from the start of this journey that splitting these up would kind of be like cheating. With this in mind I searched my recipe books and headed off to my local fishmonger to purchase some Mussels, Pipis, Sydney Rock Oysters, Pacific Oysters and Scallops.

I have to admit that after my ‘soft’ effort at the Sydney Fish Market of “Tuna?! That’s just chicken mate!” I was apprehensive about falling out of my depth in the face of so many sea species again. This whole child and early adulthood of stubbornness towards seafood is starting to seem not only pointless but a massive hindrance. In an attempt to firmly remove my head from the sand on this front I roped in my accomplice and made some confident(ish) purchases. I was genuinely excited about my virginal shellfish preparation experience.

The idea was to steam the mussels and pipis in a spicy tomato, garlic and white wine sauce, quick fry the scallops and add a coriander and lime dressing to the oysters. All of this accompanied with some chunky garlic ciabatta and a rocket, pear and Parmesan salad.

The prep involved the slicing of a shallot, which in my book is outrageously close to my much hated onion and therefore required some trepidation and self argument.

I managed.

First time ever..

By the time I had scrubbed and cleaned the mussels and pipis, got all the sauces and ingredients ready to go, I was pumped, however most of that might have just come from using my new knives. They’re pretty sweet.

Time to get amongst some shellfish and see if all these things that I generally argue taste like sea water and look and feel, ah… somewhat questionable… can actually taste nice.

With everything ready to go I was hungry! So we dined. I started with an oyster.

Now in the past I’ve argued that the only reason these are so sought after and loved is because they’re somewhat rare and hard to come by, like white bait. They’re not actually nice, people who like them have just convinced themselves they lurve them, whereas they in fact taste like sea water. (If you haven’t noticed already I don’t mind provoking an argument from time to time, so this has been fun).

However I can now take that argument back, to some degree. The texture is quite foul really isn’t it? But this dressing added beautiful flavour and I even managed one with the dressing poured off. It was pretty good and I’d go again for sure. In fact I have since ordered fresh oysters since that night last week- big step forward for me!

The scallops were done sans anything, in order to give an appreciation of their unspoilt taste. They were tender and perfect, and I thought they tasted pretty good, just nothing special. I can see though that if they are on a menu cooked with ingredients I particularly like, I’d definitely get into them.

Next up was the mussels, which I’ve tried a handful of times since my slow integration into broader pallet. I haven’t been overwhelmed by them to be honest, but these were different, maybe because I’d prepared myself (and we’d all love to be our own critics, however through this medium, I am, so…), but the sauce added a wonderful taste and the mussels themselves were tender, juicy and delicious. The pipis unfortunately were a bit tough. I think in hindsight as a result of their smaller size, something I didn’t take into consideration when I lumped them in with the mussels. Result– not a fan, but realise that was a cooking error.

I’m often a rapid eater, but I took my time and enjoyed these. My cohort on the other hand, murdered them and asked for more. A good sign I’m pretty sure. Not actually murdering, like with a gun, mouth murdering or scoffing you might say.

So to truly break my limited seafood taste and experiences and severe stubbornness, I would now happily purchase these guys again and cook or prepare them for myself and others. In fact I look forward to trying some fresh New Zealand Green Lip mussels next time I’m back in the Land Of The Long White Cloud. I imagine a sauce or broth will be needed initially, but I’ll work up to having them raw.

So it’s a pretty solid ‘like’ to this dish of varied shellfish. I’m being warned by some friends that I’m being a yes man and just saying that all of these meats so far taste good. I disagree with that obviously. If something is good, it’s good. Simple. I try not to make meals taste bad if I can avoid it, pretty logical really. But to satisfy those less impressed with my weekly meat feats, I’ll endeavour to cook something and rate it poorly soon. Maybe some lambs testes, who knows?! Does anyone have a meat that they know from experience just isn’t nice? This is a challenge after all, so feel free to challenge me.

I’ll rate this above the quails for sure, probably the tuna as well I think. The horse takes it by a nose… Maybe some different shellfish will make an appearance at a later point.

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Come out of your, ah.. shell…

Mike