Allergic? Staying alive and healthy

Allergies suck.  Lots of people don’t tolerate milk, or wheat, or some kinds of fish.  Me, I got all three.  Wheat gluten — I itch, I ache, and the next day I’m serial killer crazy.  Shrimp —  I puff up and die.  Milk, never mind what happens.  You don’t want to know.  So I’ve had to develop some serious strategies to stay alive and healthy.  I share them because you might have some of the same issues — or your guests might.  Nothing kills a dinner party faster than a trip to the emergency room.
Here are two recipes with my favorite gluten-free grain, quinoa (keen-wa), the ancient grain of the Incas.  Easy to prepare, and filled with vitamins and protein.
Home cooking — allergic-style
This one has no dairy, no gluten, no corn, no shellfish, no peanuts, no soy.
Equipment:
wok,  wooden spoon
plates, forks, napkins
Ingredients (figure out the amounts based on how many people you’re cooking for):
chicken, cut in chunks
red pepper, cut up
green onion, cut up
cashews (T. Joe’s lime/chili are awesome — failing that, plain cashews, lime juice, chili powder)
brown rice and quinoa mix, pre-cooked (Seeds of Change has a really nice one — or pre-cook your own mix)
raw spinach
Get out the wok.  Heat it up, add a dab of coconut oil.  (Wok cooking is done fast and hot, constant stirring — so don’t wear your good clothes, or find an apron.)
Add chunks of chicken, sear them, cook them almost to done, then take them out and keep them aside.
Throw in chunks of red pepper, sear them. Stir them up.
Add green onion. Sear it.
Throw in some lime/chili cashews. Still stirring.
When it’s almost cooked, put the chicken back in.
Add brown rice/quinoa mix.  More stirring.
At the very end, top with a lot of spinach, stir it up until it’s wilted.
Add some Himalayan Pink Salt if you need to, and plate it up.  Sit down.  Eat.
Pot luck — allergic-style
Here’s what to bring when you don’t want to poison yourself or anyone else who has food sensitivities.  Again, no on the dairy, gluten, corn, shellfish, peanuts, soy.
Equipment:
saucepan, strainer, bowl
Ingredients:
red quinoa (try to get pre-washed, way easier — Ancient Harvest is an excellent brand)
organic Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or other tart apple
yellow or white onion
walnuts
Cut up apple and onion, toss them in a mix of boiling water and no-salt organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you like), and cook them until slightly underdone.
Strain them out, put them aside, reserve the broth.
Cook quinoa according to package directions, using the broth and adding water if necessary to get the amount right.
When the quinoa is cooked, fluff it, and add the apple/onion/walnut mix.
Put it in your carry container, and reheat slightly before serving.
See?  There we are.  We all lived.  Nobody scratched, nobody sneezed, nobody got CPR, and we all got fed.  Nicely done.

Allergies suck.  Lots of people don’t tolerate milk, or wheat, or some kinds of fish.  Me, I got all three.  Wheat gluten — I itch, I ache, and the next day I’m serial killer crazy.  Shrimp —  I puff up and die. Milk, never mind what happens.  You don’t want to know. So I’ve had to develop some serious strategies to stay alive and healthy.  I share them because you might have some of the same issues — or your guests might.  Nothing kills a dinner party faster than a trip to the emergency room.

Here are two recipes with my favorite gluten-free grain, quinoa (keen-wa), the ancient grain of the Incas.  Easy to prepare, and filled with vitamins and protein.

Food Allergy

Food Allergy

Home cooking — allergic-style

This one has no dairy, no gluten, no corn, no shellfish, no peanuts, no soy.

Equipment:

  • wok,  wooden spoon
  • plates, forks, napkins

Ingredients: (figure out the amounts based on how many people you’re cooking for)

  • chicken, cut in chunks
  • coconut oil – or canola if you like, but it has no flavor
  • red pepper, cut up
  • green onion, cut up
  • cashews (T. Joe’s lime/chili are awesome — failing that, plain cashews, lime juice, chili powder)
  • brown rice and quinoa mix, pre-cooked (Seeds of Change has a really nice one — or pre-cook your own mix)
  • raw spinach
  • Himalayan Pink Salt (soooo good, flavorful, you just need a little)
  1. Get out the wok.  Heat it up, add a dab of coconut oil.  (Wok cooking is done fast and hot, constant stirring — so don’t wear your good clothes, or find an apron.)
  2. Add chunks of chicken, sear them, cook them almost to done, then take them out and keep them aside.
  3. Throw in chunks of red pepper, sear them. Stir them up.
  4. Add green onion. Sear it.
  5. Throw in some lime/chili cashews. Still stirring.
  6. When it’s almost cooked, put the chicken back in.
  7. Add brown rice/quinoa mix.  More stirring.
  8. At the very end, top with a lot of spinach, stir it up until it’s wilted.
  9. Add some Himalayan Pink Salt if you need to, and plate it up.  Sit down.  Eat.

Pot luck — allergic-style

Here’s what to bring when you don’t want to poison yourself or anyone else who has food sensitivities.  Again, no on the dairy, gluten, corn, shellfish, peanuts, soy.

Equipment:

  • saucepan, strainer, bowl, carry container

Ingredients:

  • red quinoa (try to get pre-washed, way easier — Ancient Harvest is an excellent brand)
  • no-salt organic chicken or vegetable broth
  • organic Granny Smith, Pink Lady, or other tart apple
  • yellow or white onion
  • walnuts
  1. Cut up apple and onion, toss them in a mix of boiling water and no-salt organic chicken broth (or vegetable broth if you like), and cook them until slightly underdone.
  2. Strain them out, put them aside, mix in the walnuts, reserve the broth.
  3. Cook quinoa according to package directions, using the broth and adding water if necessary to get the amount right.
  4. When the quinoa is cooked, fluff it, and add the apple/onion/walnut mix, add a little pink salt if you need to.
  5. Put it in your carry container, and reheat slightly before serving.

See?  There we are.  We all lived.  Nobody scratched, nobody sneezed, nobody got CPR, and we all got fed.  Nicely done.

Competition – the Great Motivator

Competition. It’s healthy, it’s fun, and it’s key to our survival as the human race.  Quite natural that we’d introduce it into so many facets of our lives.

Here’s how it came up for me this week.  It was the Sunday run, soft sand.  Tim beat me.  He always beats me.  Every once in a while he’ll say that thing about, it’s not about who wins, it’s about who whatevers.  I dunno.  I never listen that far.   Because it’s about who wins.

At least this Sunday I was closer.  By the end of the run, I was just one lifeguard station away.   Suddenly the competition was within reach, and everything changed.  In a flash I knew I can narrow that gap — and it made me all-out insane that I haven’t.  That disconnect between potential and achievement is intolerable to me.

So Monday morning I woke up determined to improve even more.  First thought was, who are my competitors?  Pick your guides wisely.  Encourage them, challenge them, and in turn they’ll motivate you beyond what you think possible.

Who’s inspiring me today:

  • Me. You are always your own best competition.   Nothing feels better than surpassing yourself.
  • Tim. Why not set the bar high?  He’s awesomely athletic, and never lets anyone beat him.
  • My grandma. She started yoga at 70, and was doing headstands well into her 80’s.
  • My pal Yogi.  Another gifted athlete, he lives for competition — and never forgets.  Always makes me accountable.
  • My friend Connor. He’s 5, and just started t-ball.  That kid can run.  His form is dead-on perfect (balanced, working from the core), he’s goal-oriented (round those bases as fast as he can), and he responds to a challenge.

Ten minutes after caffeine, I had the plan.  But what to call it?  Gotta give it a name – but can’t slow down now.

Here’s my [insert cool name later] workout:

1. one handstand – held for 20 breaths. Start with something new.  Chances are you’ll exceed your expectations.  What’s better for that than something that turns your world upside down?  I haven’t done handstands in years, but Granny did headstands, so I think I can handle one little handstand.  Yes, I supported myself against the wall a little bit so I didn’t fall over, but I did it.  And lit the fire…

2. pullups – 28. Yup, 28.  (Max set was 27 the day before.)  Move to something you know you can do well.  It’s good for the ego.   Plus it makes people who can only do 10 or 12 really really crazy.

3. pushups – 40 and 40. Great for general strength-building and posture.

4. abs (bicycles) – 35 each side. Core work is always central to any workout.

Now for the tough stuff:

5. soft sand warm-up run with 3-pound weights.  Not so difficult as it sounds.  But by no means easy.

6. soft sand sprints with 3-pound weights. 8 total, each one half the distance between lifeguard stations.  All-out brutal.  But great for the explosive strength, the stamina, the endurance.

7. end each set of 2 sprints with rotator cuff and shoulder work. 4 sets of 20 each (internal rotations, lifted rotations, side lifts, shoulder presses).

8. soft sand cool-down run, and fast walk up stairs from the beach, 2 at a time. Never slow down, keep the great form every single step — despite those weights, which now feel like 10 pounds each.

This was, quite frankly, an outstanding workout.  I surpassed myself, set myself a new normal, and can never look back.  Nicely done.  And easily adaptable to your own circumstances – work with the equipment and space that you have, but be sure to push yourself to excel in those first exercises.  It’ll drive your achievement the whole way through.

The goal, the inspiration, the plan, the cool name.  I’ve got everything except the cool name.  What do we call this workout?  Suggestions, please.  Don’t be shy.  Or polite.

So, people, what have we learned today?  Pick one:

(a)     Competition is an extremely effective motivator and can lead you to your best achievements ever.

(b)     Bancroft is bat-guano crazy — he competes not only against two exceptionally talented athletes about half his age, but also against a 5 year-old, and his own (may she rest in peace) grandma .

(c)     Both of the above.

I’m Better at 60 than at 50, 40 and even 30

I’ll be 60 in a couple of months. I like to give myself a nice big gift on any birthday that ends in zero. This year the gift is fitness. Look at the videos and see what you think. And bear in mind, I was never an athlete, never played sports. Never a Navy Seal, much less a Marine.

I started training with Tim Trost right after I turned 50. I was rehabbing a bunch of injuries sustained over the years — and quite frankly, I was battling the aging process. We’ve moved past the injuries, past the aging, and now we’re well into serious fitness. And this last year, particularly the last six months, we’ve really stepped it up.

Some things I’ve learned:
1. Mix it up. Try new things. In life as well as in fitness. You’ll see in the videos that I had no idea what we were going to do, and one exercise (the mountain climbers on the weighted ball) I’d forgotten. Turned out to be, for me, the best exercise we did.
2. Motivation is key. Hang with people who don’t let you settle. You can see that on the videos too.
3. Competition is critical. It’ll move you way past what you think you can do. Watch the pushups we did – yeah, Tim’s form is better than mine, but did he put me away? Not even close.
4. It’s gotta be fun. If you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong. Whatever it is.

Me at 60 vs. me at 50:
1. I’m more physical. I have more stamina, more strength, more agility. (Even when I fail at the speed hurdle thing – that was lame – but still, an improvement.)
2. I’m smarter, and the brain works better. Combine exercise with constant change, and you create new patterns in the brain.
3. I look better. People I haven’t seen in years say, “Dang, what happened to you?” And they mean that in a good way.
4. I have way more confidence, way more belief in myself. That never hurts.
5. I’m taller. Okay, I’m not. But I think I am. And that’s what counts.

My weekly workout routine (wrong to call it a routine, because it’s anything but):
1. train with Tim twice a week
2. run with Tim and the guys on Sundays (today was my best time ever — motivation, competition, and fun just all kicked in at once)
3. workout with my pal Yogi whenever we can (my goal is to kick his ass, but since he’s like, 27 and seriously athletic, that’s still a little ways off…)
4. at home pullups (20+), pushups (60+), situps (70+ in 2 minutes) maybe twice a week
5. at home Pilates (from books) or yoga (from Yoga for Regular Guys, by Diamond Dallas Page, the professional wrestler) maybe twice a week

Occasional workouts:
1. the dunes in Manhattan Beach (a serious challenge – but total fun)
2. trail run, Temescal Canyon
3. the stairs, Santa Monica Canyon (only the wooden ones)
4. Bikram Yoga – it’s awesome, I don’t care what anyone says…

It’s a commitment. Sounds like a lot of time, but it really isn’t. Most of the workouts are around 45 minutes. Pullup/pushup/situp circuit is 10 minutes, tops. Eating the high-quality fuel you need, okay, that takes some time. But you’re eating anyway, right? Why not do it well?

Life can throw you some serious curve-balls. I’ve had a few, and I continue to. But I deal with them better now than I did in my 30’s and 40’s. I’m more solid, more grounded, more clear on who I am. For me the foundation is fitness. And I’ve been fortunate to find extremely good guidance.