Iterative Health Featured

December 24th, 2012, 07:12:14 Beaker

I get asked a lot about what my favorite Paleo cookbooks are. I qualify my answers by telling people that I only enjoy cookbooks that my family and I like.  If my kids and wife can’t find satisfying recipes in them, they won’t do much good.

Here they are in no specific order.  Not all of them are “books” in the traditional sense:

I chose these books for not only the reasons listed above but also because of the balance of not going overboard and trying to “Paleo-ize” meals by substituting Paleo-friendly ingredients in otherwise non-Paleo meals to make it alright to eat…

If you have favorites, add them here in the comments, please!


December 24th, 2012, 04:12:34 Beaker

This is basically an adaptation of Mark Sisson’s “Shanks-a-lot, Bruce” recipe with a couple of additions.

You’re going to be disappointed.  Why?  Because I don’t measure when I cook. I’ll tell you what I remember as accurately as I can.  I’ve made this several times and it always turns out the same way, so…

This is something I make in a pressure cooker, so after the initial browning and combining of ingredients, it only takes about 45 minutes.

Beef shank & coconut curry

Here we go:

  1. Buy some organic, grass-fed beef shanks. This meat shrinks up quite a bit when slow-cooked so depending on how many you’re feeding, you might want to start with about 1/2 (including the bone with marrow) each per person.
  2. In the pressure cooker or heavy cast-iron/ceramic lined cooker, heat some coconut oil
  3. Season the shanks with salt/pepper and then brown them off  (you may need to do 1-2 at a time) and then set aside, covered to keep warm.  You’re really just trying to get a sear/crust on the meat.
  4. When that’s done, take about 1-1 1/2 teaspoons of the following spices, lower the heat and “toast” in the fat/oil from the meat: cinnamon, turmeric, coriander, allspice, red chili flakes, cardamom, bay leaf (whole,) and ginger.  Scrape up any bits as you can off the bottom of the pan until it gets very aromatic and all the oil is mostly absorbed
  5. Take a bit of wine (red/white…doesn’t matter) and deglaze the pan just to free up what’s left of the sticky bits
  6. Take some mirepoix (I like the Trader Joes plastic containers (2) or Whole Foods — or make your own) of onion, celery, carrots and stir them in, coating the veges in the spices.
  7. At this point, I take the warmer meat, and chop it into pieces slightly larger than I’d be able to eat on a bite…throw the meat and the bones with the marrow back in the pressure cooker.
  8. Add chopped sweet potato (raw,) and butternut squash (raw) into the pot.
  9. Add a can of whole fat coconut milk.
  10. Stir it all up.
  11. Cover it all with organic, low sodium beef, chicken or vege broth (I use beef)
  12. Put the lid on the pressure cooker, up to medium-high.  Bring up to pressure, let it cook at high pressure for 15 minutes.
  13. Lower the heat to medium-low and let it simmer for 30 minutes or so.
  14. Take off the heat, de-pressurize it and then give it a peek to make sure the sweet potato/squash is cooked.
  15. At this point you can add some zucchini and/or other veges you like that cook quickly…put the lid back on with very low heat to simmer if you like.

I serve this with some madras curried cauliflower & sauerkraut from Wildbrine that I purchased at Whole foods…I’m going to make my own version of that shortly.

Hope you like it.


December 24th, 2012, 02:12:42 Beaker

ultconditioning_vol2WoD: Scott Sonnon’s Ultimate Conditioning, Volume 2, Ground Fighters – here.

Still doing the level one drills.

8 sets (2o seconds on, 10 seconds off) of each exercise with 60 second rests in between each block of 8:

  • Leg Threads
  • 40 pound sandbag zercher (AKA “keg”) squats
  • 15 pound clubbell (emulation with dumbbells) pull-overs
  • 25 pound kettlebell double Persian Press | shoulder bridge

This is a Tabata intervals workout with four levels of increasing difficulty with 20 seconds of work & 10 seconds of rest.  It’s a beast.  During the 10 second rest period, the focus is all about managing exhalation to rapidly bring one’s heart rate down quickly.

Did 5 minute warm-down at 50% on the Airdyne.

I did this prior to my 1 hour Brazilian Jiu Jitsu marathon roll at AKA HQ.


December 24th, 2012, 02:12:19 Beaker

I’m really excited.  More Data.

I now have an alternative to visiting my PCP and asking for costly and limited blood screenings that don’t allow for easy automated comparative importation and analysis of critical health indicators.

I’ve just registered for  and had my fasted-blood drawn at a local clinic a block and a half away from my home.  I didn’t have to see a doctor and for about the same price that I’d end up paying for lost time and an office visit+deductible, I get not only a great baseline biomarker analysis but also a phone-based medical consultation (I paid an extra amount for this) with a licensed practitioner that will review my results over the phone and using the Web. “…delivers advanced health diagnostics and phone-based consultations to give you the insights and recommendations you need to improve your biological health.”   The baseline test cost $199.  I paid an additional $70 for the medical consult.

What’s included in the baseline biomarker analysis?

Cardiovascular Health Tests include:

  • Total Cholesterol
  • HDL
  • LDL
  • Triglycerides
  • Lp(a)
  • ApoB

Inflammation Tests include:

  • hs-CRP

Metabolic & Hormone Tests include:

  • TSH
  • Glucose
  • HbA1c

Liver & Kidney Health Tests include:

  • BUN
  • Creatinine
  • AST
  • ALT
  • Total Bilirubin
  • Albumin
  • Total Protein

Nutrition & Electrolytes Tests include:

  • Vitamin D
  • Calcium
  • Sodium
  • Potassium
  • CO2

You can learn more by visiting  I’ll be posting more about my experience and the actual analysis as soon as the results from the analysis are released to me.



December 23rd, 2012, 10:12:49 Beaker

Bulletproof_Exec_003For the last three weeks or so, I’ve started my day by blending up to 4 tablespoons (about 60 grams) of unsalted Kerrigold Irish grass-fed butter with four shots of Barefoot Coffee’s Haiku espresso.

The idea for this insanely delicious beverage came from @bulletproofexec and his Bulletproof Coffee recipe.  Dave Asprey who created it (a fellow quantified-self enthusiast and biohacker) also has a specific brand of coffee beans (upgraded coffee) that he sells (as well as MCT — medium chain triglycerides — oil) and his recipe calls for.  You can find Dave’s full Bulletproof Exec site here.

I tried his coffee beans but prefer my own, despite Dave’s claims of the benefits of being free of mycotoxins.  I can’t measure or assess these assertions and this isn’t anything I can currently quantify as impactful to me at this point, but I prefer the taste of @barefoot’s beans anyway.  I’m also awaiting my shipment of MCT oil so I can supplement the concoction with additional healthy fats.

Here’s the link to the genesis of Bulletproof Coffee, but let me just tell you that I will find it hard to drink straight coffee again.  After weaning myself from dairy (cream) and any sort of sweeteners (Splenda – gack!) over the last year and a half (see “Hoffaccinos”) I’ve enjoyed straight espresso every day.  So why try this?

Why would I take perfectly delicious coffee and dump 4 Tbsp of butter in it?  Doesn’t it taste gross?  Isn’t the mouthfeel oily?  Isn’t fat/dairy bad for you (and not Paleo!)  Won’t you jack your cholesterol!?  These are all great questions.  Some I can answer now and some will require the results of medical testing both while on the “sauce” and then off again.

For one thing, I find it hard to eat enough given my strength & conditioning and jiu jitsu programs to eat enough food and gain lean muscle mass, especially healthy fats.  Secondly, espresso is nice, but even I have to admit it’s hard to beat a really rich latte.  This experiment has successfully addressed both of those issues and has had the unexpected result of lowering my bodyfat — with no other dietary or fitness changes.  I’ll also be posting the results of my blood panel that I just had processed after the last three weeks of this coffee regimen.*

The short list of benefits is the healthy fat concentration without casein proteins.  It tastes great and imparts a great, rich foamy texture.  It fills me up.  It also seems to have a buffering effect for the caffeine to the point that I don’t want or need any additional throughout the day and I don’t feel twitchy.

I’ve tried this coffee alone without anything else, but find for my liking that I must eat a normal breakfast along with it as it tends to kick up my metabolism to the point that I get ravenous if I don’t.

You should know that if you aren’t used to this amount of fat, you should start with 2 tablespoons or so, else you may experience some digestive discomfort…and as Dave says, use a blender…it’s NOT the same if you don’t.  You’ll just get oil slicks in your Joe.

Here’s the original recipe.  I’ve made it my own by varying concentrations and trying different combinations, but I find this as a great starting point.  If all you have is your favorite coffee (drip or espresso,) get some good GRASS-FED, UNSALTED butter (like Kerrigold, available in most grocery stores) and throw it in blender :

Bulletproof Coffee Recipe

  • Start with 500 ml (2 mugs) of black coffee brewed with mold-free beans (important)
  • Add 2 Tbs (or more, up to 80 grams, about 2/3 of a standard stick of butter) of Kerry Gold or other UNSALTED grass-fed butter
  • Add 30 grams of MCT oil for max energy, weight loss and brain function (optional if you have none)
  • Blend with a pre-heated hand blender, Magic Bullet, or (best) counter top blender until there is a creamy head of foam. (It doesn’t work well if you mix it with a spoon)

I’ve been tweeting about this and many folks have asked about cream, ghee or even goat-butter versus bovine grass-fed butter.  People have begun to also blend cold-drip coffee with hot water.   I have not tried these things.  It’s unclear that I will as I find the above base recipe perfect.  I might mention that you can add organic cocoa powder for a mocha-like drink, but you’ll likely need to add some sort of sweetener like Agave or Stevia as this would get bitter without it.

This drink certainly isn’t for everyone, but I’ve had a many more positive versus negative responses for folks who have tried this.

I’m looking forward to your comments and reviews and I again thank Dave Asprey for the awesome motivation.  TRY IT!  You won’t be sorry.


* I’ve got a feeling that I’ll see elevated cholesterol figures but I’ll be interested in whether this will show up as LDL (bad) or not…we’ll see.

Drinking Enough Water?

watterDon't be a dork. Drink a reasonable allotment of H2O, willya? How much? if you're thirsty without exercise at any point during the day, you're dehydrated.

How Can I get a Six-Pack!?

watterFirstly, abs are made in the kitchen, so stop eating crap and eat clean (Paleo is a good start.) Also, lift heavy with compound lifts & don't buy Infomercial devices.