Friday, November 25, 2011


Allium Sativum otherwise known as Garlic

Tis the season for comfort food, right? If you are like me you had a mound yesterday for Thanksgiving hopefully with some incredible gravy. And like me today is a new day so you are probably ready for more MASHED POTATOES! RIGHT?!!!
Well these are potatoes you CAN eat every day. Rather than worrying about when you will make it to the gym next all you need to do is worry about if you made enough for leftovers.
But don't potatoes make you fat?
I'm no doctor....but this guy is
The most important thing to remember when contemplating whether you should eat potatoes or not is this.

Potatoes are good for you. Fat and oil, sour cream, butter, meat chili, cheese and all the other fatty foods that get dumped on potatoes are what make you fat.

Diabetics can eat potatoes every day if they can just learn to eat them without fat. I did. I eat them every day and the last time I checked my blood sugars they were at 75. I am no longer considered diabetic.

You see most diabetics have been hoodwinked into believing its carbs that are making them sick. For me I found its more about the fat  that coats the blood cells which prevent them from doing their job. Also eliminating refined carbs which a potato is not. (think white sugar, white flour, corn syrup, etc,)

Why Roasted Garlic? 
Seriously? Ummm I guess cause I am breathing still. You can have my garlic when you pry it from my cold unwashed skillet...or something. 
Ye are tasty, and savory indeed. A foundation of Ummi when sweet, sour, bitter, or salty just won't do.
An aphrodisiac, a potion, a healthier notion... OK sorry. this is not going well.
As you can see I am huge fan of garlic. I have all their albums. I go heavy on it in this recipe but you can adjust your garlic input with this handy scale provided to you at no extra charge.
Newborn baby=1 clove
Everybody else=4 cloves
Sicilians/Armenians=whole head
Since we are on the subject of roasted garlic...its so easy to do. There is a recipe that follows this. No oil, foil or anything special is needed to make great roasted garlic. Just the desire to eat and the will to cook.
That just about covers it I believe. So without further ado. Here is your new favorite fat free recipe for happiness. 

makes 6-8 servings
3# Large Yukon Gold Potatoes
2 TBLS chopped fresh chives
Roasted garlic (recipe follows)
Black pepper
Peel and cut potatoes into quarter's or eighths.

Boil a stock pot full of water. Add potatoes return to boil and cook for about 10 minutes. When you are unable to lift a potato from the stock with a fork they are done. Remove potatoes from water reserving a few cups of the water.
Mash potatoes while hot.           
Squeeze cloves of garlic into the potatoes and continue to mash. 

If you really like garlic use the whole head. If not 4-5 cloves should do it. If in doubt refer to the guide above.
Add some of the reserved cooking liquid and whip potatoes with hand held mixer. Continue to add water until desired consistency is reached.

Add chives and pepper and salt to taste.
Hint: If you use a lot of gravy like I do you probably don’t need to salt these at all!
1 head of garlic
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cut top of garlic off exposing the cloves. Roast in oven on rack for 45 minutes. 
Remove from oven. Let cool. Squeeze out each clove as needed. Store any leftover in a sealed container in the fridge. Consume with in a week.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


Kabocha squash is so good. Its sweet, starchy, savory, awesomeness. The skin is very thin and can be eaten although not in this recipe. 

Hint: Its the one on the far right with the green mottled skin

We usually roast it with other veggies at our house and enjoy it with brown rice and a lot of sriracha. 

Recently we roasted large pieces and topped with pumpkin pie spice. It was a revelation! That lead me to believe that we could whip it up and serve it like mashed potatoes. Hope you all enjoy this.My apologies to any sweet potatoes who may get uneaten this holiday as a result.


makes 6-8 servings
2 Kabocha squash
2 TBLS pumpkin pie spice
2 TBLS maple syrup
1/2 cup of vegetable broth
Scrub squash and pierce with a fork multiple times.
Cut squash in half, scoop out seeds and stringy material. Place cut side down on baking sheet.

Roast squash in 375 degree oven on parchment paper for 45 minutes to 1 hr. or until flesh is soft enough to mash with a fork and very little pressure.

Remove from oven and let cool slightly.
Scoop out squash into a large mixing bowl.

Mash with a potato masher.
Add pumpkin pie spice, broth, and maple syrup. Whip with a handheld blender until smooth. If necessary you can add some broth for a smoother consistency or more syrup if you like it sweeter.


family photo
I grew up never touching that disgusting looking gelatinous can shaped cranberry sauce at the Thanksgiving table. Like many of my food experiences I was probably selling a whole berry-cranberry sauce at Whole Foods when I tried it for the first time. Geez...that's fun! Sweet, tart, tangy, red.
everything is in the pot

*UPDATED* 11-22-11
Over the years I have grown to really appreciate the high quality whole berry versions. I prefer the chutney style more than the jellied that is for sure. Replacing some of the water for orange juice, adding citrus zest, and lots of spice is the only way to go as far as I am concerned. When putting this version together I looked for a few key components.

1. no refined sugar
2. a complementary fruit flavor to go with the citrus and cranberry
3. a lot of spice and citrus flavor

So here you have it. Takes about 10 minutes to prep and about 15 minutes to cook.

*NOTE: I updated the original recipe to use less date sugar and cook the sugar on its own for a minute. The texture and flavor with the increased maple syrup turned out much better. I also replaced the OJ for water as the zest and juice was overpowering the flavor of the cranberries.

just as the cranberries start to pop and split open


Servings:  makes about  2 ½ cups

1 cup water
1 tsp. of orange zest
1/4 cup organic date sugar
3/4 cup maple syrup
3 cups fresh cranberries (12 ounce bag)
1 Tbls fresh grated ginger root
1 ripe pear diced finely
2 (3-inch) cinnamon sticks
6 whole cloves
1/4 tsp fresh ground nutmeg

Place date sugar, water, and maple syrup in a medium saucepan over high heat. Bring to a boil. Cook for a minute to breakdown date sugar a bit.  Add the remaining ingredients and cook, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries all pop, about 10 minutes. Leave no cranberry un-popped! Remove from heat and let cool slightly.  Transfer to a covered container and refrigerate until just before use. 

Monday, November 21, 2011

Eat tons of food at Thanksgiving with no guilt? Yes you can!

Thanksgiving is the most treasured food holiday in the United States. Its generally speaking all about the meal. I know its about giving thanks for what we have in the spirit of the pilgrims, blah, blah, blah...

But really. for most Americans its about eating food. Huge, portions of rich fatty food.

But isn't turkey a lean meat? Its healthy right?

According to all the average Thanksgiving meal contains a whopping 2,200 calories per serving.

A 3 oz. serving of dark meat turkey has 71mg of dietary cholesterol.

How much is 3 oz? Well 6 oz. is about the size of a deck of playing cards. So half of that.

Last time I ate turkey I probably ate...hmmm at least 2 "decks of cards" worth I would say. On my first plate at least! So that would be 4 (3oz. servings) @ 71mg=285mg.

as a comparison...A burger made form 85% lean ground beef is 77 mg per 3 oz. serving. Average size burger 1/3 pound? 1/2 pound before cooking? Either way its about 136mg-205mg.

So you aren't scoring any points with your cardiologist on Thanksgiving. That much we know.

I would not call that healthy. If you have cholesterol issues, heart disease, or the desire to live a long life you may want to consider alternatives.

How much cholesterol is in vegetables, grains, potatoes, fruit, squash, beans, corn, soy?

That would be zero grams per any serving. :)

So what if you love food, want to enjoy a great meal with your family and friends and not ingest heart disease promoting levels of cholesterol and fat, or cancer-promoting animal protein?

Here is a video about animal protein and cancer growth if you are curious

Do what your mother told you and eat your veggies! Of course you mother probably told you to have more gravy too but we'll leave Mom and her eating advice for another time.

I am going to post a series of Thanksgiving recipes that contain no animal products or added fats (oils, butter, etc.)

I'll even throw in some gravy cause I love ya!

These recipes are comfort foods that will be familiar to you and taste delicious. Additionally when you are done eating you wont have the added stress about whether you just added more unwanted body fat as a result of the holiday meal.

The other great thing about eating these extremely low fat foods is that you can eat as much of these foods as you want! No calorie counting. No portion control. These foods will limit the fat calories to under 20%.

That is how you eat a lot and do moderate exercise and lose weight. I've lost over 60lbs in 6 months eating this way!


Sunday, November 20, 2011

My story

I have been in the food business since I can remember. My first stab at it was at Rico's pizza in San Jose, California when I was 14. As an Armenian kid I was told that I qualified for a job there just by being Armenian. I was super nervous when I approached the owner for a job. "I heard that if you are Armenian you can get a job here." 

the response? "When can you start?"

thus a life long career in the food business was born.

The last 15 years have been spent in the natural foods industry and of the last 11 they have been almost obsessively focused on selling cheese, wine, beer, know, the good stuff that everybody wants and nobody needs!

Halloween 2003 with a half wheel of Beeler Sbrinz

After many years of climbing the company ladder in the world of cheese and living a somewhat sedentary lifestyle of VERY rich food indulgence I found myself extremely obese (by medical definition), with the triple threat of lifestyle induced diseases. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure.

october 2010 eating raclette at burrough market london

I tried to follow the doctors orders...kind of... and after about 7 years of getting progressively worse I was on the verge of being prescribed daily insulin injections. Mind you I was already on 4 drugs at this point. For me that was a wake up call. I ain't stickin' needles in me!

My employer offered a health immersion program for those of us that qualified. The way it works is that you go live at a facility for a week, eat healthy food, exercise, and learn about proper nutrition. More on that in a minute. Being the stubborn person that I am I decided I could do this on my own. I bought a vegan diet based book on how to reverse diabetes and I followed the plan for a month. My numbers drastically improved. I lost a little weight but my month long experiment ended on my birthday on a trans-atlantic flight to Zurich for a cheese buying trip.

All of my progressive reversed and quite frankly I got worse.

Fast forward 9 months and I apply for the aforementioned health immersion and find myself in Santa Rosa at Dr. John McDougall's program. I learned his system of how as humans we thrive on a low fat starch based diet. I also learn the danger of consuming other mammal's milk products. It was incredible the amount of information I absorbed in one week. It was also challenging everything I knew and believed about food.

Up until that point my main basic decision on weather a food was worth eating was solely left to my palette and my brain. My stomach and other organs whom have to process everything that goes into my mouth had absolutely no say in what I ate and very poor representation up in the brain. This 30 second experience in my mouth determined weather a food was good, average, bad, or mind blowing-ly phenomenal. I was never concerned about what the effects of that food would be on my system or my long-term health. For most of us this decision making process is the only process we have. Most of us have ideas about what is healthy and what is not but rarely does that guide us to make better decisions. We like pleasure. its natural. Its a normal human drive. The only interruption in this process for me was getting better information. This is precisely what happened when I got McDougalled.

Now I was presented with a choice and a chance. The choice was what to eat on a daily basis and how that food would either cause my body harm or it would heal it. The chance I was given was on the one hand-to spend the rest of my life on drugs, a regular customer of the medical profession, severely overweight, with low self-esteem, and most likely a limited amount of time with my wife and kids or choose the foods that the human body thrives on, heal my body and my mind and get to see my kids grow up and maybe even live into old age. The decision was relatively easy to make on the surface. The changes I would need to enact not so much.

In one week on this new way of eating and exercising I was able to kick all of my medications, lose 3 pounds, and begin a journey of self-healing. My total cholesterol dropped from 185 to 124. My fasting blood sugar went from 250 down to 110. I suffered from nightly heartburn that required me to take 3-4 tums a night just to sleep. This was also completely reversed with the elimination of dairy products. 

When I got home I changed just about everything. I started to cook like a madman! I planned every meal I would eat for the entire week-3 meals a day 7 days a week. I started doing a daily power/fitness walk. I was eating ton of starches and was feeling incredibly full and never deprived. The pounds started to melt away. At work I was afforded the opportunity to lead a team that was focused on service rather than products. I would be lying if I said that I leaped at the opportunity. It was more a nudging on the part of some co-workers and one of my bosses. The changes were having an amazing affect on me and everyone who knew me could see the difference. The best part is that no one really knew the most significant changes. They were all in my brain. I was feeling so much better about myself. It is amazing what it feels like to make good decisions for ones well being even when they are difficult. You feel good about yourself and for me I quickly started to feel more and more positive about life in general. That isn't really that hard to understand. The crazy part is how I got better at work. My mind was awake! I became more organized, sharp,  and thoughtful. My energy level both physically and mentally was off the charts. My boss said I looked like I was glowing. I felt like I was on fire!

june 2011-50 pounds lighter

As a type 2 diabetic I was counseled to stay away from potatoes, pasta, rice, wheat and other forms of carbohydrate. What I have learned is that if I choose "whole" unprocessed versions of these items and cook them without added fats my body and my blood love me for it! 

That being said you will notice that my meals are all centered on starchy foods. They keep me full, give me energy, and quite frankly are so satisfying to my pallet that I never feel deprived. I start each day with hot or cold cereal and hashbrowns. Almost every day I eat hashbrowns. Does that sound like a diet to you? I eat a lot of soup, beans, potatoes, corn, rye bavarian bread, homemade veggie burgers, polenta with greens and beans, enchiladas, tacos, and burritos. The list goes on. I don't eat a lot of tofu and soy as it is generally pretty high in fat and calories. I don't eat the isolated soy protein products because while most are low in fat they are some of the most industrially processed foods on the market.

Living in California I have the opportunity to buy a lot of seasonal fresh produce. That will influence many of the posts. I will also show you how I ensure my success by planning ahead and leaving very little to chance.

This diet is incredible simple in structure and concept. Its very difficult to execute. We are surrounded by incredibly convenient really unhealthy food. When you make a decision to eat real food and limit your fat intake you will quickly realize that for the most part its a D.I.Y. endeavor.

If you have read this far then you must be related to me or have insomnia. At any rate that is the back story. The hardest part for you the reader is over. From here on out I will be focusing on the really exciting part...