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Sugar and Mental Health


Try watching any romantic comedy without coming across this scene:

The camera pans to the protagonist in sweatpants, weeping into a pint of ice cream, flanked on either side by sleeves of Oreos. The theater audience knows this is their cue to shake their heads and chuckle empathetically. Even if you’ve never personally turned to cupcakes as a coping mechanism, it’s generally accepted that sadness can make you crave sweets.

Research suggests that this might be a totally backwards way to look at the relationship between sugar and mental health.

In the first long-term study of its kind, researchers from University College London Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health found that high sugar consumption increased the likelihood of developing anxiety, depression, and other common mental health problems in men by a hefty 23 percent after five years.

You read that right – after five years. We’re not talking about an energy dip or some short-term guilt and negativity.

There’s still plenty we don’t know about the direct mechanism that links sugar intake and mental health. But it seems likely that a spoonful of sugar makes the mood go down, in a pretty distressing way.

To start unpacking at least one part of the mystery, researchers set out to solve the chicken or egg problem: That is, were the subjects eating more sugar to cope with poor mental health, or was their sugar intake actually contributing to a future decline in mental health?

After combing data spanning more than two decades, researchers found that the long term negative effects were unrelated to the subject’s mental health at the beginning of the study. Even after controlling for sociodemographic factors, other dietary factors, and the presence of other health problems, the findings held true. Sugar consumption continued to show a link to future mental health problems.  

Right now, it’s en vogue to talk about longevity science and nutrition in terms of physical performance. Who doesn’t want to be climbing mountains and blazing new bike trails well into old age? But if your mental health is subpar, it’s less likely that you’ll make it out the door at all, much less achieve any physical feats.

After all, major depression is predicted to become the leading cause of disability in high income countries by 2030.

But we don’t need to give up, curse our collective fate, and grab a piece of cake. We can take action to pre-empt this prediction. At The Good Kitchen, we’ve got your back when it comes to designing a diet that supports long term, well-rounded health for your body and your mind.

By tossing added sugars aside and leaning into satisfying, flavorful, healthful meals, we’re doing our part to help you sidestep diet-related depression without settling for deprivation.

Check out our latest meals to see how good long-term health looks!


Photo by Glen Carrie on Unsplash

Comments | Posted in Nutrition By Carter Lewis

Spring Menu


The heavy blanket of winter is finally lifting. You can feel it the second you step out the door: the air seems lighter – fresher somehow – and charged with energy. New crops are flooding fields and filling our chefs up with culinary creativity.

Trust us – there’s no way we would let any of that inspiration go to waste.


Use code 'SpringMenu2019' to receive 15% off your next order! [GET STARTED]


We’ve harnessed all of this energy to craft our new spring menu, which embodies our belief that “fresh” and “filling” can and should coexist. By combining bright herbs, responsibly sourced proteins, and flavors inspired by local traditions from around the world, we think you’ll find everything you’re looking for in this lineup, all without having to stress over meal planning or deal with the hassle of grocery runs and dirty kitchens.

In line with our deep commitment to optimal nutrition, sustainability, and a just food system, each meal is designed to support your health and the health of the soil, animals, and farm communities that make it all possible.  

You can check out a few of our chef’s favorite dishes below, or [CLICK HERE] to see what's on this week's menu!


Traditional Chicken Salad

This paleo and keto-friendly dish is a masterpiece of fresh flavors and complementary textures. We pair organic, free-range chicken with crunchy walnuts for maximum brain function; creamy, zesty sauce for staying power; and a kick of natural, Granny Smith sweetness just because it’s delicious. You’re welcome for the not-sad desk lunch.

Roasted Salmon with Spring Vegetable Medley

We make use of spring’s bounty in this fresh, energizing meal, bringing you Seafood Watch-approved salmon from the crystal waters of Chile and vitamin-loaded veggies from our favorite farmers back stateside – all carefully prepared to highlight the full flavor of nature’s handiwork.

Thai Pork Bowl

We really depleted the herb garden for this one, complementing the enticing umami of pork and shitake mushrooms with a fresh touch of mint, basil, ginger, and garlic, adding just enough jalapeño to the mix to light up your tastebuds.

Barbacoa with Rice and Black Beans

Perfect for a post-workout meal, our unbelievably tender beef barbacoa is a protein-packed homage to Caribbean beach barbecues. We don’t take any shortcuts, letting the beef cook for a full 10 hours before serving it up with a side of rice and beans that get an extra kick from salsa verde, peppers, cumin, and chili powder.


See all the springtime options on tap THIS WEEK, and start planning how you’ll spend your new free time!

Use code 'SpringMenu2019' to receive 15% off your next order! 

Comments | Posted in Nutrition By Carter Lewis

Going Hardcore


I used to wake up with fire in my belly.

In the literal sense, I was hungry from my strict intermittent fasting schedule, which meant that I hadn’t eaten since 4 p.m. the day before. Figuratively, I was hungry to get started – ready to do whatever it took to have the best, most fulfilling version of the day ahead.

Rolling out of bed without snoozing the alarm, I would do a few pushups, planks, and down-dogs to sift away any brain fog before making my bed and heading to my makeshift meditation corner.

A few minutes later, I would be off to the gym in the early-morning darkness, meals all prepped and stowed in my bag, digital calendar blocked in 15-minute increments to make sure I accomplished all to-dos without giving my brain any time to languish in laziness.

Every quiet moment was filled with a “productivity-hack” podcast. Every meal with friends was filled with crushing anxiety about finding the perfect menu item that wouldn’t imperil my strict diet.

I was an intensity addict. I was an optimization addict. I was a restriction addict.

But dang, it felt good. Yes, I walked around with persistent anxiety about messing up, and yes, it was hard to maintain a healthy social life, which requires a level of flexibility I was not allowing myself. At the time, these things didn’t matter as much to me as my identity as someone who lived in the New Year’s resolution mindset, even in March (or April, or May…).

At the time, I knew I should worry about mental burnout and physical fatigue.


What I didn’t think to prepare for was the difficult and subtle transition from hardcore health junkie to someone who simply had healthy habits.


When your identity is wrapped up in intensity and perfection, how do you adapt to living a more balanced life?

Friends DinnerFast forward to this past weekend, where you would have found me sharing a pizza with friends. Not cauliflower crust or keto-friendly pizza. Just a slice – three slices, actually – of wheat, sauce, and veggies doused in an unnecessary amount of hydrogenated oil. I savored every bite and spent my mental energy being present with my friends instead of being anxious about my diet.

Driving home happy and satisfied, I nevertheless had the thought: Am I losing my edge? What happened to the hardcore version of myself that would have spent the evening at CrossFit or birthing my next side hustle?

I looked back over the week. I had done something active every day. I had checked off all major to-dos. I had fueled myself with well-rounded, nutrient-dense meals (all thanks to The Good Kitchen for that one). Even at my indulgent pizza dinner, I had habitually avoided beer and dessert without a second thought. On top of that, I had spent some past-due quality time with an aging family member and – gasp! – had spontaneous fun with friends.

If I was living a fairly healthy, balanced life, why did it feel like I was missing something?

After a few minutes of thinking without any interruptions from a podcast or a work email, I figured it out. I had confused intensity for the end goal, not the means.

Intensity is a powerful tool you can apply to create the life you want. Sometimes you need to crank it up to jumpstart a big lifestyle change. But making intensity your full-time identity is fraught with pitfalls like social isolation, over-training, and anxiety.


Creating a life with habits that help you meet your intentions is far more sustainable than hoping you can maintain perfection indefinitely.


For me, creating a sustainable life meant giving myself more flexibility and looking for ways to simplify the path to success. By outsourcing my meal prep to the team at The Good Kitchen, I created space to lower my stress levels without compromising on any of my goals. With my new free time, I realized how much I had been “optimizing” my life away by removing any opportunities for the unexpected to occur, and removing my ability to actually enjoy the unexpected if it did occur. Now, I’m not a dogmatic “doer” – but I still get plenty done. I keep an organized calendar, but I don’t lose my mind if a meeting runs long. I exercise regularly, but I don’t have hit a personal record every day. I stay focused at work, but I’m able to relax and enjoy time off with friends and family.

I’ve realized that I don’t need to keep my January mindset in March. Instead, maybe I need to bring my March mindset – the mindset that calmy adapts to the changing seasons – and let that wisdom temper the impulse to be perfect.

 

Comments | Posted By Emily Byrd

Goal Setting

Lil’ history lesson for ya – We started talking about goals and goal-setting in the 1960s when Edwin Locke, a Professor of Motivation and Leadership at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, College Park, developed the goal-setting theory as a way to explain how people in workplace situations perform. In his approach, Locke believed goals to be both cognitive and deliberate, which to non-academics means this – when we set specific goals for ourselves, we’re more likely to achieve them and we’re more likely to perform well.

It’s original research that harkens back to Aristotle and his deep thoughts of final causality which said this - purpose can cause action.

Combine those two philosophies on goal-setting, and you’ve got this – a clearly-defined purpose or goal can cause action.

Now, that makes sense.

The special time between Christmas and New Years is an optimal time to define clear purposes, goals, or resolutions. It’s the time to kick yourself into action.

So, here are a couple quick hints to get started.

Be honest. Remember setting that goal to compete in that Ironman with three months preparation and you were just coming off an injury? Riiiiight. Like that’s possible. Or even enjoyable.

There’s no better time than now to be honest with yourself and set realistic goals. Otherwise, you’ll get yourself into training, realize that you’re trying to do the near impossible (because it is, in fact, near impossible), and then fall short. And falling short on a goal or resolution is always a bummer no matter your age, experience or motivation. On that note, a lot of people use the SMART goal framework to get it all rolling.

Frame it positively. It’s really easy to write a list of things you shouldn’t, wouldn’t, can’t, won’t, don’t do. Example: Don’t snack after 8p; don’t get lazy with workouts on the weekends. So, when you set yourself up with a goal or a resolution that starts with a contraction (shouldn’t, wouldn’t, can’t won’t, don’t), you’re already limiting yourself.

Take a different approach. Choose to frame goals positively. Focus on the things you want to do, make, create, run, eat, be. Example: Eat fruits and veggies after 8pm; write a weekend workout schedule at the start of every new month; run a new route every week.

Added benefit: That positive thinking just might have some positive health benefits like reducing stress.

Set a goal you actually want to do. Can a goal be sexy? Sure. We all know those goals that look and feel sexy – run that full marathon, see two new, exotic countries, practice hot yoga three times a week. Sexy. Everyone will be so jealous. Yes, because that’s the way to approach goal setting. (Insert: sarcasm.)

Do you even want to do those goals? Can your knees handle running over 6.2 miles? Do you hate to fly? Do you even like yoga?

Consider taking this time to think about the goals you’d actually like to accomplish. What do you think about every, single day, but you just haven’t done yet? What do you find yourself researching or Googling? What is super special to you?

Just pick one thing. We sometimes shape a laundry list of resolutions and goals, and then we wake up on January 1 with a list of things we have to remember we want to do. If you have a list of goals or resolutions that you have to remember – it’s too long. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Commit to just one or two things that get you PUMPED for 2019.

Take them with you. Maybe it’s a slip of paper in your wallet, a note in your phone or a Post-it stuck to your computer at work. Whatever your 2019 goals are for 2019, put them someplace where you will see them frequently. It’ll keep you honest. Plus, here’s a fun fact - a Harvard Business Study found that only 3% of the population writes down their goals; and that 3% are three times more successful than those with unwritten goals.

Remember, the purpose of all this is action. So, what happens at the intersection of purpose and action? Your life. Make it happen.


So, how about this - is one of your goals to eat cleaner in the New Year? TGK wants to support you in feeling that success right off the bat. Get $19 off your first order by using the code "Resolution2019" at checkout.  

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Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Comments | Posted By Meg Seitz

Fall Menu

 

FINALLY... IT'S FALL

It’s one of our favorite times of the year. Leaves are changing colors and covering the ground in shades of gamboge and scarlet. The chill in the wind is crisp and long days become long nights. Fall is here, and most importantly our Fall Menu is here! We’re saying hello to delicious, nutritious, hearty dishes. Summer is a time for fun in the sun with light and tasty meals. However, fall is when we enjoy meals created with natural fall vegetables accompanied with grass-fed and pastured proteins.    

On our fall menu you will find flavorful fall vegetables like cabbage, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, beets, and squashes. Knowing where all of our ingredients come from is very important to us, especially because we believe in eating as close to the earth as possible. This fall we want to save you time and energy by providing those same comfort foods you love made in minutes. Whether your Paleo, Keto, or AIP we’ve got something on the menu for everyone. Let’s explore some of our favorite meals from the fall menu.

 


Fall Seafood Chowder

 

Chef's Seafood Chowder

Nothing pairs better with a chilly fall day than a warm bowl of our Chef’s Seafood Chowder made with shrimp, kipper and salmon. Accompanied with vegetables like onions, sweet potatoes, celery, and carrots this dish is made for the seafood lovers out there. The ingredients come together with crushed thyme and pepper to create a warm delectable taste with every bite. Each spoonful captures the essence of each ingredient while bringing them all together create the perfect chowder.

 


Pork Skillet

 

Autumn Pork Skillet

This Autumn Pork Skillet does not skip on flavor. When your craving the perfect skillet meal made in minutes but don’t want the hassle of creating a mess in the kitch; this will be your new go-to meal. The burst of flavors makes this a fall menu a fan favorite. This special recipe includes ground pork, collard greens, brussel sprouts, and scarlet turnip. Not only does it taste great, the colors of autumn reign through in this dish. Perfect for a packed lunch or a cozy dinner.

 


Buffalo Wings

 

Buffalo Wings

Yes, it’s tailgating season, but every now and then you want the same tasty game day finger foods without leaving the house. OR, take and drop them on your tailgate grill! Everyone loves chicken wings especially when their drenched in Frank’s Redhot Sauce. These wings have a flavorful mixture of tenderness and spice to leave you licking your fingers. Not only is it convenient, it’s also nutritious because we make it the TGK way!

 


Shrimp and Grits

 

Shrimp & Grits

We’ve added the TGK touch to a traditional southern classic. Shrimp and grits is an excellent choice for brunch or dinner during these breezy fall days. Our shrimp and grits recipe includes but are not limited to; fresh shrimp, uncured smoked bacon, and antebellum coarse yellow grits. Of course, we have provided the option to swap out the grits with cauliflower grits which is just as delicious.

 


 

We can’t wait for you to try all of the amazing recipes we have curated for the fall menu.

First timers enjoy 20% off your first order. Check out what’s on the menu here.

 

1 Comments | Posted By Shalmar Brown

Robert Gusek

Here's a testimonial from our good friend Robert. Robert reached out to us with his appreciation for our service, and his results. Which, as you can see, are pretty amazing. Our crew was so stoked to hear of his success, we shot him back the following pic. Nicely done, Robert! Cheers and thanks so much for your service!


SUCCESS STORY: ROBERT GUSEK

I just wanted to say thank you for the wonderful meals. I started a wellness program at WellQ here in Winston Salem about 4 months ago. One of the things that they recommended is that I change how I was eating, which was mostly fast food all the time. She recommended The Good Kitchen because you used all naturally sourced and locally grown foods, without any additives or preservatives. I am on the 14 meal plan which covers my lunch and dinner for each week, and I have to say that I absolutely love the meals. They are quick and easy to fix, and the containers they come in are awesome for just throwing into the Microwave and heating them up. The variety and deliciousness of the meals cannot be beat. I’ve made a complete 180 on my lifestyle changes for eating and so far I’ve lost 41 lbs just by changing what I am eating. I’ve also been able to eliminate completely one of the diabetes medications I’ve been taking and drastically reduce the other. My doctor and I both feel that eventually I’ll be able to eliminate all my diabetes medications. My cholesterol has had a huge improvement and my blood pressure has gone down. And I’ve saved the best for last. During the majority of this time I’ve been in a wheelchair due to an injury I had back in January, but I still lost weight and I feel absolutely awesome!!!!

TGK CrewI’ve been telling everyone I know about your meals, and people are jealous when I heat them up at work because they smell so good (and they taste good, but I’m stingy and won’t share them, I tell them to get their own subscription).

I’m looking forward each week to see what your chef’s have prepared, and it’s amazing how good the meals are. I’m looking forward to see how much I’ll eventually lose, and the best part is the food is so good and satisfying I don’t feel like snacking or eating more like I used to.

Also losing all the weight has really made it easier on my injury, and on my ‘bad’ knee that I injured in the Air Force.

I’ve enclosed some pictures of what I looked like when I started, and what I look like today.

Thank you so much!!

~ Bob Gusek

Comments | Posted By Carter Lewis

Wholesome Diets

 

SPECIAL NOTE: As always, please consult with a medical professional before taking on a diet or food choice; we aren’t medical professionals here, just real people who enjoy real food.  

 

The world has been talking about food choices forever. The funny thing though, is that we don’t necessarily use those words - "food choices." We use words like diet or dietary restrictions; it’s been about what can we deprive ourselves of.

Truth: Your body wants you to fuel it - not deprive it.  

There are three current food choice trends that take us back to the old school - what this Earth is full of - whole, rich, earthly foods.

Paleo, Keto, and The Autoimmune Protocol Diet are three current food trends that lean into the power of whole foods to make your body a full-functioning machine again.

Here’s what’s cool - all these approaches stick to using whole foods; they’re each just different methods. If you’re interested in a high level, introductory, crash course in all three, well, we’ve got your back. Keep reading.  

 


PALEO

Korean Beef BowlPaleo springs from the idea suggest that you should be eating foods that a people could only get by hunting and gathering in the paleolithic age. According to Paleo expert Robb Wolf, anthropologist and medical explorers adapted this way of eating because they realized that hunter-gatherer groups were largely free of modern degenerative diseases.

So why not try out what worked for people way back in the day?

What To Eat:
When on the Paleo diet you want to stick to foods that could only be hunted and gathered like:  

  • Veggies
  • Meat that is grass-fed and pasture raised
  • Healthy oils
  • Nuts/ seeds including almonds, walnuts, and pecans  
  • Fruits including all berries, apples, peaches 

What To Exclude:
You couldn’t hunt and gather processed foods, right? On Paleo, we are staying away from foods that were very hard to find and that you have to process excludes foods such as:

  • Legumes
  • Dairy
  • Refined Sugars
  • Refined Vegetable Oils
  • Processed Food
  • Junk Food (candy, doughnuts, etc)
  • White Potatoes
  • Cereal Grains
  • Sugar Drinks/Caffeinated Drinks 

Considerations:
The Paleo diet has many benefits - but, it also may not be for everyone because of the emphasis on protein. If you are vegan or vegetarian, this diet may not be for you as the Paleo diet focuses on eating meats, and it restricts some nutrient dense foods. Now - here’s a new one - there IS such thing as being a pegan. This approach combines paleo with vegan, but focuses more on vegetables and healthy fats, treating meat as more of a condiment than a main course. Like anything, you may tweek the restrictions a little, but you may not get the full benefits of the diet.  

 

 Interested? Keeping reading on more approaches, info, and recipes:

 


KETO

Curry Chicken SaladThe Ketogenic diet is for all you math majors out there. Keto is built in calorie percentages.

Here’s the dish - literally: 70% healthy fats, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrates, and 5% vegetables.

Now, here’s the science, for all you science majors out there: the theory is that this unique combination of healthy fats, protein, and little carbohydrate turns your body into a ketosis state. In that state, the body uses ketones as its primary fuel. Ketones are the byproduct of burning fats. The reason high fat is so important on this diet is because healthy fat does not spike insulin. Pounding carbs and excess protein are two ways to spike insulin. Insulin makes your body use glucose for fuel and prevents fat burning. Sometimes it can be hard to get your body into ketosis, which is why many people see additional benefits of doing a water fast or intermittent fasting to kickstart ketosis.  

 

What To Eat:

  • All healthy fats such as olive oil, avocado, coconut oil, grass-fed butter, palm oil, and some nuts and seeds, etc.
  • Non-starchy vegetables such as asparagus, leafy greens, cucumbers, zucchini, etc.
  • Proteins that are low in carbs such as grass-fed meat, pasture-raised poultry, cage-free eggs, bone broth, wild-caught fish, organ meats and some full-fat (ideally raw) dairy products, etc.
  • Low- to zero-carb booze, depending on your desired outcome.

What To Exclude:

  • Sugar - this includes raw honey and raw maple syrups
  • All grains - this includes oats, rice, quinoa, pasta, and corn
  • Processed foods (insert dramatic music here) - that means no chips, protein bars, canned foods, anything processed is a no-no
  • Any sweetened or calorie filled beverages are a big no- soda, sweetened milk, etc.  
  • Limit foods such as full-fat dairy, medium starchy veggies, legumes and beans, and nut and seeds

Considerations:
Because this approach is so biological, the Keto diet can be very different for men and women. It works for both, but each gender will have to approach it differently. Women may have a harder time, but there are adjustments that can be made.

 As well, there are potential side effects in the beginning that may include (and are not limited to):

  • Headaches
  • "Keto flu"
  • Fatigue
  • Muscle weakness
  • Brain fog
  • Nausea, constipation, upset stomach

Special note: There are many ways to overcome these side effects, so you’re not up a creek without a paddle.   

 

Interested? There’s lots of information out there, but here’s some more detailed approaches, recipes, and info that we appreciated:

 


AUTOIMMUNE PROTOCOL

Shrimp ScampiPrepare yourself - the Autoimmune protocol/diet (AIP) is the strictest of these three choices.

It’s all for good cause though; this diet’s main purpose is to reduce inflammation and relieve the body of any autoimmune disease symptoms. AIP focuses on eliminating foods that are harmful to the gut and eating nutrient-dense foods. “Leaky gut” is a phrase used to describe small holes in the gut cause food to leak into the body. This makes the immune system overreact and start attacking bodily tissues which then disrupts normal function. “Leaky gut” is believed to be the cause of autoimmune diseases and AIP helps reset the immune system, prevent autoimmune response, reduce symptoms, and prevent secondary autoimmune diseases. Researchers and medical professionals consider this a much more strict version of the Paleo Diet.

 

What To Eat:

  • All grass-fed and pastured meats and fish
  • Non- nightshade vegetables
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Coconut product (best raw)
  • Fruit (small quantities)
  • Olive oil, coconut oil, avocado oil
  • Non-dairy fermented foods
  • Herbs
  • Bone broth
  • Vinegar
  • Green tea
  • Honey or maple syrup (small quantities)

What Not To Eat:

  • Any grains (oats, rice, wheat)
  • Nightshade vegetables such as eggplant, tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, okra, etc.
  • Eggs
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee
  • Dried fruits
  • Legumes such as peanuts, beans, lentils
  • Butter and ghee
  • Alcohol
  • All oils except ones above
  • Alternative sweeteners such as stevia and xylitol

Considerations: 
This diet is designed to help you figure out what your body doesn’t process well so you can eliminate those foods. AIP has a phase-like approach so you can reintroduce some foods along the way if your body can handle them. It shouldn’t be treated as a cure though; it is only meant to identify your respective triggers. Some downfalls of this diet are that it is very strict, time consuming, and can be hard to follow.

 

Interested? Here’s more information, approaches, and recipes:

 


WHERE DO I GO FROM HERE?
Each one of these choices (I’ll just say it - diets) has amazing benefits, and I’m sure you are wondering which one is right for you. Take a look at your health concerns, daily lifestyle, and exercise habits and goals to determine which diet might work best for you. Ask yourself whether you're looking for fat loss, to maintain weight, gain muscle, or you just want to live healthier?

Playing around with what works best for you can be hard. What’s awesome about each of these approaches is that eventually your body will tell you what’s working and what isn’t. Listen to that. Because this isn’t just about a diet - this is a lifestyle change to support the whole you.

 

Comments | Posted in Nutrition By Kassie McRostie

Today, I’m going talk a little bit about some of my favorite items to use in the kitchen. These are non-negotiables for me. These are things I use pretty much every time I’m in the kitchen. There are five “kitchen essentials” I’m going to talk about in detail in this article, and they’ll be easy for you to find if you want to outfit your own kitchen.

Watch the video to see all the kitchen essentials I’m talking about:


2 ESSENTIAL PANS

LeCreuset

First, let’s talk about pots and pans. Two I really like to have available in the kitchen are my Le Creuset and a cast iron skillet.

The size of the Le Crueuset is really important. I like to have a big pan. It’s great for sauteing. It’s great for searing and then being able to finish in the oven. It’s just a really versatile pan, and I use this pan probably every single time I cook.

The Le Creuset is very heavy and has a ceramic coating, so it’s a nice nonstick. But the ceramic coating is great because you don’t have that chemical nonstick coating so many other pans have. Another great thing about these is that you don’t have to heat them on high. It actually can hurt the pan and you can get burnt places on the bottom if you heat it too high. So it’s a nice pan to have on low to medium heat and allow it time to heat up so you can sear.

Cast IronAnother pan I love to have in the kitchen is the cast-iron skillet. I have a couple of different versions of these. You can buy these in different shapes and sizes, and they’ve got some nice flat ones now, too. They even have grill pans, so you can mimic the grill marks on a piece of protein even if you don’t have access to a grill. You can cure these in the oven with lard or coconut oil on your lowest setting and they become nice and nonstick.

Even when they are cured, though, if you heat them up too hot, you’re going to have the same issue you have with the Le Creuset ceramic coating in that you can cause a burned spot. I remember my grandmother had these, and I really would like to have her cast-iron skillets because I imagine they are cured very nicely with some lard.


1 ESSENTIAL PLUG-IN

Instant PotThe next thing is an Instant Pot. I was a late bloomer in getting an Instant Pot. I thought, “I’ve got my Crock-Pot. I don’t really want to pressure cook anything. No big deal.” Then, I found the Instant Pot on Amazon on sale, so it was low barrier to entry for me and I grabbed one. And I am so glad I did. I would pay full price for one now if I didn’t have it, knowing what I now know.

These things are amazing for last-minute cooking and just in general. It doesn’t matter what it is that you want to cook. They cut one-pot meals down to a quarter of the time you need for a slow cooker. You don’t have to cook things overnight and there’s tons of recipes out there. So, it’s a nice way to have a quick dinner that otherwise might take a long time to prepare.

And if you’re a rice person, the Instant Pot doubles as a rice cooker. And it even can be a slow cooker if you want to cook something low and slow.


PICK 1 ESSENTIAL KNIFE FOR 1 ESSENTIAL BOARD

KnivesLast but not least, one of the most important items is a good knife. And along with a good knife, I like to have a sturdy cutting board. You can see in the video that I’ve got one that sits on legs and has a nice thick base to it. There’s something about this cutting board that I absolutely love. And even when the legs get messed up, I fix them because I just adore this cutting board. It’s nice and sturdy and keeps everything level for me to cut.

I have three different styles of knives I like to use under different circumstances. I’ll tell you why I like each knife and then you can pick one based on your needs and preferences (and if you watch the video, I’ll actually show you a total of four specific knives that I like to use):

  1. The first is a santoku-style knife that was my favorite knife for a long time. I cut everything from garlic to proteins with it, and it’s a very nicely weighted knife. (While we’re talking about knives, make sure you have your knife sharpened on a regular basis because a dull knife is actually more dangerous than a sharp knife. Dull knives lead to kitchen mishaps and you can get some dents (or worse) in your fingernails).
  2. My favorite knives now are from Al Mar. My dad’s an antique pocket knife collector and he got me my Al Mar knives at a knife show. Their chef’s knife is now my favorite. It’s light and one piece, it stays super sharp, and I don’t have to sharpen these as often as I do my other knives. It’s also nice because I’m a small-statured person and I have teeny-tiny hands. Some of the chef knives (like the Shuns) are too heavy for me and my wrist gets sore if I’m chopping too much.
  3. I also have an Al Mar paring knife. You can use these if you’re cutting something small, but I don’t use little knives that much. I prefer a larger knife.

If I had to say one of these knives is my favorite, it would be the Al-Mar chef’s knife — and I adore it. I’m so glad my dad’s a pocketknife collector and I was able to get this amazing knife.

So, these are the things I use on a regular basis and if you don’t have some of these in your kitchen, I highly recommend them. If you have questions on any of these kitchen essentials (or any others you’re wondering about), feel free to post in the comments below.


Amber Lewis is the visionary behind The Good Kitchen. She founded its preceding concept, modPALEO, and grew it into a small business that supports small farms, sustainability, a community of good people, and healthy living. Her passion for food grew out of her own personal journey to wellness, where she discovered the transformative powers of eating real food. She’s a sucker for a farm visit, and loves to discover new dishes that complement her healthy and active lifestyle.

Comments | Posted in Nutrition By Amber Lewis

Water Fast

3 DAYS, ONLY WATER. (WELL, KINDA.)


To kick this off  - a quick disclaimer. I am neither nutritionist nor a doctor. This was an experiment that my wife Amber (TGK CEO, Founder) and I took upon ourselves after reading up on water fasting. If this is something you’re interested in, consult a health professional first. Please. Also, may be a good idea to forgo operating heavy machinery or performing brain surgery during an experimental fast.

{Now back to our regularly scheduled programming...}


INTRO (OTHERWISE KNOWN AS: ‘WHY THE HELL WOULD WE DO THIS?’)

CARTER
Like a lot of humans today, we’re busy. And, as small business owners, we’re stressed. We’re neither weird nor special - we’re just like most folks in this day and age with too much to do and not enough time. We pay less attention to ourselves and our bodies (“the cobbler’s kids always need new shoes,” the saying goes) than we should. Ironic, I/we know.

After reading “Wired to Eat” by Robb Wolf, and toying around with the idea of the ketogenic diet, Amber and I decided to try a fast. A friend of ours tried it, and he experienced some good results; then, our intrigue grew after reading up on Katie Wells’ experience. So, we decided to give it a shot. For three days. All with the idea that we’d see (err, feel) how this went, then potentially alter the fast itself (include bone broth, etc.) to our own needs or extend it, if that felt like a good idea. At the suggestion of our friend (Hi David!), we did not cut out coffee as we did not want to shock the system additionally for these few days as we’re avid coffee drinkers over here. However, we did limit to two cups per day. And one cup of herbal tea at night. Only other things that went in our bodies were a small amount of salt and water. So. Much. Water. 

Some websites suggest taking time off from work to gauge the effects of this fast. We work mostly from home, so no worries here. But, I can see how that might be helpful.

My aim here is to list our experience with the water fast. Not advise on the “how to” or the “why” – I’ll include an exhaustive list of folks who have already done us all the service of that work. That list follows at the bottom. The overview is that a water fast is a jump start on getting your body into ketosis and encouraging fat burning.

 


2 DAYS BEFORE / Sunday

We inched our way into this water fast. Two days prior we moved to Bulletproof coffee for breakfast, a nibble of sauerkraut and ham for lunch, and a ketogenic-style dinner. We also upped our water game and increased electrolytes.

 

DAY 1 / Wednesday

CARTER
I woke up very early (historically, I’m not a great sleeper, but this was earlier than usual for some reason; I woke up at 2:15a, then went back to sleep for three hours around 4:30a.) During the day, I drank two cups of coffee, lots of water, enjoyed a couple pinches of salt, and 1 hot tea at night. Was gonna go for a mountain bike ride, but my serious lack of sleep suggested that may not be a good idea. Felt a little light-headed after kneeling/squatting a couple of different times through the day, but overall felt good. Thought about food more than normal. Thought I noticed a little change in body composition, but may have been my imagination and wishful thinking. More productive, but could be because I had more time since I wasn’t eating. Watched “The Office,” showered, bed early. Makes you think about how much thought and time we spend on food. With no eating, no shopping, no going out to eat, cooking or cleaning up… you save quite a bit of time. Ketone reading: 2.4mmol/L. Weighed day before at gym: 180.8 lbs.

 

Water + SaltAMBER
A quick intro - So, my main priority for this fast was to get my digestion back on track and end some undesirable eating/drinking habits I have acquired over the past year.

I slept in a little. Drank two cups of coffee, then made several trips to the “salt trough” throughout the day. Mornings are always fine for me without food. I am a pretty natural intermittent faster. (What that means - I’m 15-16 hours between meals typically.)  I got extremely hungry and nauseous around lunchtime. Once that passed, I felt okay the rest of the evening. We did have a non-caffeinated herbal tea around dinner. I just needed to taste something other than water. Pretty normal routine in the evening… without the food prep and eating and wine. But overall, I felt good; if anything, I felt a tad loopy. Almost like I hadn’t slept. Ketone reading was 2.5mmol/L. I did not weigh myself prior to the fast.

 

DAY 2 / Thursday

CARTER
Morning: Went to bed last night at 10p-ish; read a bit about a bikepacking trip; slept ‘til 5:15a. Woke up feeling fine. Not great, but fine. Drank two cups of coffee, then #WaterAllDay. Read up on some fasting tactics this morning - interested to see how we get through this and what we want to do moving forward. Meeting at 12noon, so we’ll see how energy levels are for that. I’m otherwise staying at home these three days. (I work from home most of the time anyway, so not a big change for me) Also decided to forego working out or riding my bike (which is what I’d planned to do Thurs and Fri). Evening: Amber and I discussed a bunch around this approach today; think we’ll try some other things once through with this fast. Things like other versions of Intermittent Fasting, revolving around a ketogenic approach seems a good thing to test. Ketones: 5.0mmol/L. Whoa. I’m in it. Also did Glucose reading (strips showed up a day late): 2.7mmol/L (48.6 mg/dL) - for a GKI of 0.54. Ratio of 1:1 is optimal for therapeutic ketosis; I’m running nearly twice that. In a good way!

 

AMBER
Went to bed at10p-ish. We’re married, so we have the same schedule for the most part :) I took a shower and read a bit before bed. I was so tired prior to going to bed; however, when it came time to sleep, I was wide awake. Did some sleep/meditation techniques and was able to begin to quiet my mind and rest. But, I felt like I was super-aware all night. Like I never got into a deep sleep. But I did dream. About going to a flea market and stopping by Bojangles’ for chicken strips and french fries. Which is super funny… because if you know me… you know I love chicken strips and french fries, but definitely not from Bojangles’. Anywho, I digress… I woke up this morning feeling fairly groggy and not super motivated to hop out of bed. I have been a bit dizzy and discombobulated. Water and salt have helped me to get through those feelings. Today, I don’t feel as dependent on the salt. I am also having herbal tea for “lunch.” Again, just need a different taste than water today. I don’t feel hungry, even sat through a lunch meeting with folks eating yummy sandwiches and salads from Rhino Market. Oddly enough, I was fine. The funny thing that I was hyper-aware of was everyone chewing and crunching. I am usually super aware of people smacking while eating their food, but today was 500 times worse with the chewing. I haven’t felt all that hungry today. Probably going to need a nap at some point. Eyes are pretty sleepy. Ketones: 3.9, Glucose: 4.3, GKI: 1.1, so doing well, but not in the "magical place" yet.

 

DAY 3 / Friday

CARTER
Morning: Went to bed around 10:45p. Woke up around 5a. Not awesome sleep, but I feel pretty good. The very slightest, faintest tinge of a headache still looms. Perhaps a bit queasy and “loopy.” 72 hours ends in time for dinner tonight! Dinner will be bone broth to step out of this slowly and not cause any upsets. Morning (Hour 60) Ketones: 5.9, Glucose 3.3 (59.4 mg/dL), GKI: 0.56.

Evening: Went for a one mile trail walk with the dogs; I felt great; think Amber was a little tired. Overall, was feeling better in the afternoon than the morning; and I imagine this is what people refer to as the time they start forgetting about hunger and find mental clarity. We ate dinner at 6p (72 hours after beginning the fast Tuesday evening); dinner consisted of crackers, blackberries, blueberries, sauerkraut and bone broth. Didn’t measure calories or anything, just made it less than we’d typically eat. That dinner was  amazing; loved having a different taste (other than water and coffee), and I felt great, all-in-all. Maybe a slight bit gassy. Had a smoothie of coconut milk, almond butter, frozen berry mix and frozen acai a bit later, probably around 8:30p. Ending weight: 172 lbs (9 pounds lost)

 

AMBER
Whoa… not a good night’s sleep, but I did feel energized this morning. I felt hyper-aware last night; dealing with a bad headache and  body aches. Slept in until 8a because I didn’t really go to sleep until 5am. Took my markers as soon as I woke up and WOW - Ketones: 7mmol/L Glucose: 3.8 mmol/L (68.4 mg/dL) GKI: .5 - woohoo! That’s why I wasn’t sleeping well, I guess.

My body composition has changed drastically in the past three days. No hunger this morning and food really is not top of mind. I was excited for coffee :) I did my first meditation on the fast towards the middle of the day. I was kind of all over the place, but also felt very grounding.

 


DAYS AFTER THE FAST

Breaking the fast

AMBER
At 72 hours - almost on the nose - we broke our fast. Primarily because we had prior obligations on Saturday that we wanted to enjoy. On Friday evening, I was ready for food, but I could have easily gone another 24 hours. We started with bone broth, a mix of chicken and beef. A small amount of sauerkraut and berries. I tried to eat everything very slowly and not too much. Carter was craving saltines so we had a few - for me, this was not a good idea. Let’s just say it went right through me. I read up on several other breaking-a-fast blogs, and they recommend bone broth, then the sauerkraut, then the berries and maybe even some protein. But space them out (by 30-ish minutes). Don’t eat them all at once like I did. Carter was fine. He has a stomach of steel. After that we ate fairly typical meals, although they were on the lighter side. And inched back into protein.

 

DAY ONE / Saturday

CARTER
Breakfast was a gluten-free waffle with butter, and a smoothie. (The smoothie was the same as above switching almond milk for coconut milk.) Lunch was a soup of mushroom, cauliflower, almond milk and bone broth. We’re eating dinner out to meet my uncle and aunt who are driving through town, so we’ll be looking for soft, cooked veggies or a salad… still deciding. Feel great today; slept for 10 hours (in a row - which is a big deal, ‘cause I don’t, typically sleep that well.) Also, notice difference in body composition. Lower legs & ankles lost inflammation, belly area quite different, face and neck “trimmed” up. Feeling  a lot more “solid” physically, and a lot more clear and focused mentally.

 

DAY TWO / Sunday

CARTER
Feeling better. Woke up crazy early with a wild dream. Went to a CrossFit class at 11a, and I noticed a significant lack of strength and stamina. But that didn’t surprise me. It'll come back. I’d gained a couple pounds back. Again, not surprised. Otherwise, feeling pretty normal.

 


CONCLUSION

One of the biggest things I learned  from this experience was how much we think about food. It’s all over social media, television commercials, you name it… it’s literally everywhere. All the time. I think we lose that observation as it’s so ingrained in our culture. We also rely heavily on food to guide our days, timing-wise. And for pleasure. I’m not against delicious food and enjoying meals with loved ones. It just dawns on me, how much time we spend thinking about what to eat, where to shop, how to cook, who will clean up the kitchen after a meal. Even eating out produces serious conversation, thoughts and questions that take time to resolve. That time is mostly around dinner time when you’re trying to relax, decompress, give your brain a well-earned break.

When you’re not doing those things, there is an overabundance of time. Each night during the fast, Amber and I would stare at each other like, “OK, what do we do tonight?” Without having food to think about ALL the time, we were able to be very productive with work, enjoy other things, be quiet, have personal time. Even more so though, we were able to experience DOWN time which might be one of culture’s hottest commodities.

 


MOVING ON

CARTER
Food is fuel. I’ve been reminded of that. My intention is to take this momentum and continue a more ketogenic approach – including some intermittent fasting – and combine with the regular activities I dig (running, mountain biking and crossfit).

 

AMBER
I have been eating “clean” for a long time. So, it was weird to come to the realization that I was not being mindful about my consumption. Discipline had gotten away from me quickly. I will be incorporating 3-5 day fasts as a once-a-month or every-other-month event. The biggest take away for me is that taking a monitored ketogenic approach to my daily nutrition is a good idea. At least for a little while. I’ve already nerded out and created a spreadsheet for tracking purposes. I love experiments. 




LINKS TO SUPPORT YOUR WATER FAST CURIOSITY OR EXPERIENCE:

Wellness Mama / The water fast

Waterfasting.net / What is the 3-day water fast

Purenootropics / How to survive a 3-day water fast

Global Healing Center / Health benefits of water fasting

Quantified Body / Results of 5-day water fast

Perfect Keto / Results of my 4-day fast to start a ketogenic diet

Perfect Keto / Water-fasting vs fast-mimicking

The Synchro Life / Profound benefits of fasting and autophagy

Josh Whilton / Autophagy

Nutritional Ketosis for Health / What is nutritional ketosis?

Keto Diet App / Measuring ketones

Keto Summit / Optimal ketone levels for ketogenic diet

Diet Doctor / Lose weight by achieving optimal ketosis

Heads Up Health / Tracking glucose ketone index

Dr Anthony Gustin / What is glucose ketone index?

Ruled.me / Measuring ketosis

National Center for Biotechnology Information / Ketone monitoring and measurement of ketoacidosis

Comments | Posted in Nutrition By Carter Lewis

New Year's Resolution

There’s a great line at the end of Charles Dickens’ novella, A Christmas Carol, where the old miser Ebenezer Scrooge commits anew to keeping Christmas in his heart all year long.

What’s great about that commitment is just how much it’s a reflection of how connected he felt to the spirit of not only a fresh start, but also all that’s possible for his life moving forward.

Thinking about fresh starts and all that’s possible for our lives in a new year is one of the most fun things about January. We feverishly and excitedly set goals, intentions or resolutions. We’re ready to see them through all year long.

But, sticking with them day in and day out over the course of 365 days can be rough. We get distracted, busy or tired; and life happens. That’s why only 8% of the population actually achieves their goals.

So, how do we keep our yearly goals, intentions, or resolutions in our heart all year long?

SET THE RIGHT GOALS FROM THE GET-GO

A lot of us grew up with SMART goals training. (Or was that just me?) The idea is that before you really, truly commit to a goal, you run it through the SMART goal filter. SMART is an acronym that recommends goals be Smart, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.

When you set your goals for 2019, run them through that SMART goal filter. Can you say ‘yes’ to each of those five criteria about each of your goals?

Remember – your goals should each be a good, strong blend of what is do-able and challenging. It should be within reason and realistic for you, your body, your mind, your life; but it should also push you appropriately.

CHECK IN MORE APPROPRIATELY  

Just like with a lot of new-fangled, exciting, much-anticipated things, we get really motivated by goals, especially fitness goals. We’re pushing hard the first several weeks to blow by both real and imagined milestones that we’ve set for ourselves. We’re making strides. We are DOING this.

Then, that work trip comes up; the ice storm happens; there’s that wedding weekend that’s taken, like, a week to recover from. And we lose momentum. It happens.

So, to compensate for it, we commit to checking in more frequently – maybe weekly, maybe daily. Now, that’s a heck of a thing to commit to for 365 days.

Consider changing that thought to checking in more appropriately for you. If checking in weekly is too much and quarterly check-ins are too far apart, how about a monthly check in? Or perhaps even twice a month – maybe every 15th and 30th? Whatever it is for you, set those check-ins now. Maybe even book them as a 15 or 20-minute appointment in your calendar now through the end of the year, so that they are non-negotiable, pre-scheduled. That frees up your brain to remember to check in, as well.  

The idea is this – new year goals, intentions and resolutions should be treated like marathon training versus sprint training. So as much as you might love and respect the momentum of fast wins at the beginning of the year, it might actually be thwarting your effort for long-term, sustainable success.

Here’s another way to think about it for yourself: check in more respectfully. What honors or respects you, your time, energy, attention or momentum? Set check-in appointments that respect you and this goal you’ve set for yourself.

REDEFINE SUCCESS – IN YOUR TERMS  

A lot of times we measure success with numbers – times, weight, speed, levels. In that sense, success is data. And that works when you’re working hard to bring your times down or work faster racing the clock and hitting a certain number of reps.

What if you redefined success as that strategic balance between the data and the feeling?

Yes, you’re getting faster, and do you feel more energy - or do you feel completed depleted?

Yes, you’re lifting more weight now, and are you feeling stronger? Or are you in pain and icing yourself after every workout?  

Here are some fresh ways to redefine success as a feeling: Do you want to fall back in love with running? Do you want to have more energy to play with the kids this months versus last month?

Do you want to feel stronger this summer versus last summer? Do you want to get off that blood pressure medication?

We’re not going woo-woo here. We’re simply suggesting that perhaps success is the data – and the feeling that comes with the data. And that feeling should always be one of power, strength, courage and confidence.

And remember – your success is however you choose to define it this year.

When we look at the classic definition of the word ‘success’, we see some version of accomplishing an aim, purpose or goal. There’s always a finality to it. You experience success when you finish something.

But what if your goal success wasn’t something to be achieved – but was something to feel. What if success was a spirit to keep with you in your heart all year long?

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So, how about this - is one of your goals to eat cleaner in the New Year? TGK wants to support you in feeling that success right off the bat. Get $19 off your first order by using the code "Resolution2019" at checkout.  

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Comments | Posted in Nutrition By Meg Seitz
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