I accidentally made cheese!

Yeah, apparently you can do that. Was trying to rescue some milk by making white sauce. It hadn’t soured or anything yet, it was just starting to curdle. So I put it on to boil and hoped it would blend out, as it sometimes does.

Well, the curds and the whey split completely. I left it on the side to cool before throwing it away. But then I tasted a curd. It was lovely! Salted them, wrapped them in cheesecloth and strained them until they formed a round ball. Cheese. 😀

In celebration, here is a recipe for some awesome cauliflower and potato cheese which you can top with your own cheese curds.

Ingredients.

  • 300g potato
  • 500g cauliflower
  • 1l milk
  • 150g flour
  • 100g butter
  • 300g cheese
  • 1tbsp worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1tbsp salt
  • 1tsp smoked paprika
  • 1tsp black pepper

Utensils.

  • chopping board and knife
  • large pot, stirring spoon
  • another large pot
  • small pot, stirring spoon

Recipe.

  1. Split the milk in half. Put each half into one of the large pots and begin to simmer.
  2. Chop the potatoes and place them in the bottom of one put of milk.
  3. Chop the cauliflower and add on top of the potatoes in the milk. Make sure the leaves are at the very top and bits of stem are with the potatoes.
  4. Salt the mix, cover and keep simmering until tender.
  5. In the small pot, melt the butter and slowly mix in the flour.
  6. Chop the cheese.
  7. Add the other half of the milk to the butter mix, the cheese, the paprika, the soy sauce, the pepper and the worcertershire sauce.
  8. Once blended, pour into the cauliflower and potatoes.
  9. Do not overcook! I disintegrated my cauliflower into the cheese last time. 😦 More fondue than cauli cheese. Tasted good though.
  10. Crumble fresh cheese on top and, if you like, bake in the oven for a bit before serving.

And that’s one of the things I served at the last meatfeast. Add more cauliflower and no potatoes for low carb. Use low fat milk and a reduced amount of low fat cheese for low fat. Remove the salt and halve the soy sauce for lower salt. Swap the worcestershire sauce for a drop of vegemite or veg stock, the cheese for mozzarisella and the milk for sweetened almond milk for vegan, lacto-free or paleo. Simples!

What is the weirdest thing to happen in your kitchen?

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.
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Making your own nut and seed butters!

We all want to eat a bit healthier. And we all seem to love peanut butter! We’ve probably devoured it by the tub from the age of one, so it’s hardly surprising. Of course, the first thing any healthy eating fanatic discovers is that peanut butter is actually awesome for you, albeit calorie laden, just as long as we eat the all peanut, low sugar, low salt variety. Some people are happy at that point, but some of us psychos then start to look for different nut butters: almond butter, sesame paste, cashew butter… And I’m sure that you, like I, have noticed that these special nut and seed butters are expensive. Well fear not! You can actually make all your nut butters very cheaply at home and so quickly, even the traditional way, you will never go back!

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup nuts or seeds of choice
  • 2tbsp equivalent oil
  • a pinch of salt

Utensils:

  • bowl
  • meat grinder and blender, or a food processor

Recipe:

  1. Soak your nuts or seeds in boiling water, leave overnight.
  2. Drain them.
  3. Roughly chop or mince the soaked nuts.
  4. Add the oil and salt.
  5. Blend until a paste forms.
  6. Serve.

Is it really that simple? Yep!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

 

For help starting out homemaking, check out The ESSENTIAL Beginner Homemaker’s Guide. For help budgeting all your everday and not-so-everyday essentials, from food to transport to clothes, check out On A Budget: The good homemaker’s guide to economizing.

We have so much goodness…

…that we can’t even see it any more.

We have a genuine perception problem.

Why do people live on £100,000, £500,000, £1,000,000 annual incomes and still end up short of change at the end of every week?

Why do third wave feminist scream and cry about misogyny when a man calls them pretty, holds a door for them or asks them on a date?

Why do nationalists and separatists live immersed in negativity despite the extreme safety and freedoms the West experiences, unprecedented and unparalleled?

Why do liberals insist that there is no white, Western, and especially no American culture to experience?

Why do anti-war groups obsess over military budgets when, thanks to globalism, we live in a time of greater peace than the majority of humans have ever experienced?

Why do racists blame their every problem on affirmative action, racial difference, race wars, migration and different-race leaders?

Why do sexists blame their every problem on the other sex, on institutional pressures, on religions and blogs and daytime TV?

Why do we make it to the very top, become wealthier, more attractive, more powerful and respected than anyone, and still find no joy in it?

Why do we take it into our hands to solve global problems through minute activities and to stress over activism and letting everyone know about it?

Why do we obsess over semantics and definitions, trying to configure ourselves as “Redpill Alpha, Libertarian, Animal-rights Activist, Separatist, Nationalist, Open-Minded, Buddhist Bloggers” or “Feminist, Anarcho-Capitalist, Painting, Demigirl, Wolfkin, Faekin, Body Positive, Working Class Dancers”?

Because we have absolutely everything we could possibly need.

Think about it.

In this world, a man can be sexually assaulted and can find some comfort in the form of online communities and support centres whose existence he may have never been aware of before this time. In this world, a person can be born after suffering an extremely rare prenatal abnormality, where their brain map does not reflect their body and they can then have parts of themselves amputated or altered to make them feel better. In this world, a girl can be obsessed with toy trucks and cars and can grow up to be a grease monkey, or a vehicular engineer. In this world a person with schizophrenia can be medicated and assisted to a point where they can return to the working world posing no more risk to themselves and others than a healthy human. In this world any person can educate themselves beyond even their wildest imaginations, through university, through apprenticeships, through books and the internet and support groups. In this world a homosexual couple can receive every state benefit afforded to heterosexual couples and enjoy a life of peace and quiet if they choose to do so. In this world a family can lose their home to a fire or flood and receive the support of millions of people to help them rebuild their house, restore their valuables and feed their children and pets. In this world anyone can retire into a fantasy land and live out their wildest, most unreachable, unachievable dreams through books and TV, films and games, role play and blogging.

In this world a teenage girl with no formal GCSEs, living alone, surviving on the bare minimum £8,000 a year benefits allowance and suffering a depressive disorder can get her A-levels, go to university, learn a trade, study whatever she pleases, start a business, get married, have children and live in relative safety and comfort.

Are there injustices? Of course there are. Let’s just take work environments. In some fields of employment women don’t feel safe due to a high volume of young, differently cultured men who may be a bit too abrasive or forward for their liking. In some fields of employment men don’t feel safe due to a high volume of spoiled, progressive, man-blaming women who may attempt to harm their career. In some fields of employment White people don’t feel safe due to a high volume of Non-White people who bring with them a different culture or set of mannerisms to what the White person is used to. Same goes for every other race on this planet. In some fields of employment a feminist, a nationalist, a transgender person, a traditionalist, a vegan or a Christian may not feel welcome due to the lack of others who resemble them.

And, when you are the minority in your surroundings, or not represented by management, you will likely suffer some discrimination. It’s just human nature to be rude to those unlike ourselves, preferential towards those we identify with and inconsiderate towards those whom we don’t understand.

And of course there are people out there who want to insult, rob, rape, beat or kill you. These people exist in every society, in every type of person, in every culture and environment. You can’t decide who they are going to be, you can’t guarantee that you will be safe and you can’t eliminate a certain type of person and live in comfort. The world has never been and will never be that fair. The best we can do is be wary and stay safe.

But we live in an incredible world. We live in a world that is a thousand times better than anyone before or outside it could even imagine. We live so deeply immersed in it that oftentimes we don’t see it and become dissatisfied. We live so long being told we are beautiful that when we feel insecure for whatever reason, we believe an injustice has been committed. We live so long being allowed to have a certain amount of personal space that when it is restricted we feel stifled. We live so long being listened to that when our voice is not the most prominent we feel ignored and oppressed. We are so used to having so much that we can’t see that everything we need is within our reach.

This world has room for improvement. But it always has, and it always will. There is a time and a place to discuss building a better world, to demand preferential or equal treatment or to begin carving ourselves a nice corner in the world we have. But if we never look at everything we already have, if we only stare longingly at what we lack, we will never actually be happy.

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

How To… make any jam.

This post is part of the Nutritional Health Series, check the tag for the other posts!

Jam is a great way to make use of large amounts of fruit or slightly damaged or defrosted fruit. Many people don’t think they have the time for jam, but really, it’s fast, simple and will save you a lot of money on wasted fruit and buying jams!

1: The basics.

Jams come in three distinct forms. A jelly, made from only the juice. A jam, made from crushed fruit and juice. And a compote, a jelly with whole fruit preserved in it. They are all made largely from fruit and sugar, but sometimes use gelling agents like pectin or gelatine to help them along.

2: Fruit.

You need fruit for a jam or jelly. At least 500g or 1lb of fruit is needed to make a large portion of jam, but with the microwave method you can make smaller batches! Fruit juice is also an option.

In some jams, like marmalade, you use the rinds of the fruit as well as the flesh and juice.

3: Sugar.

The most efficient sugars for jam are crystal sugars, like white sugar, demarera sugar or brown cane sugar. But soft sugars like honey, palm sugar or maple syrup can work too, with a bit more patience.

The perfect ratio for jam is between 50/50 and 1/3 sugar to 2/3 fruit.

4: Gelling.

If you’re really not sure your jam will set, consider using a gelling agent.

  • Pectin is a natural fruit gelling agent you can use to firm up a jam.
  • Gelatine comes from animal bones and collagen, but may make your jam too solid.
  • Packaged jelly is easier to use for a bit of flavoured firmness.
  • Agar is a seaweed product that is used instead of gelatine in veg*n dishes.

5: In a pot.

The traditional way. You put your fruit in a pot and simmer until it begins to break down and release fluids. Then you add the sugar slowly, stirring the whole time. Reduce the jam and let it cool.

6: Microwave.

Small batches of jam can be made in the microwave. Just crush the fruit and sugar together in a microwave-safe bowl, cook for a minute at a time and stir in between until it becomes viscous.

7: Raw.

If you combine gelatinous fruit, like bananas, persimmons or lychee, with your sweet fruit and sugar of choice, you can make a tasty raw jam. Just blend 1/3 gelatinous fruit with 1/3 fruit pulp (mash the sweet fruit and squeeze the juice out) and 1/3 your sugar of choice. A viscous sugar like palm sugar, maple syrup or honey works best.

8: Jars.

Traditional jams can be preserved in a jar. Be sure to soak the jar in boiling water first and fill and seal it while it’s still hot. If you have a canning station, this may be the best option, but otherwise hot jam into a hot jar and seal works fine. My jams last a whole year like this without going off.

9: Fridge.

Microwave and raw jams are best kept more aerated in a bowl with a lid in the fridge. They keep 5-10 days, less if less sugar is involved.

And that’s how to make any jam you fancy. Almost all fruits can be jammed, but gelatinous fruits, apples, pears and berries will jam easier due to their high pectin content!

What’s your favourite jam or preserve?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

10 Things That Are Aging Us.

There is no denying that in the West we are in increasingly poor health. And whilst we often focus on weight issues, thyroid problems and diabetes, we are also acutely aware that some thirty year olds look like fifty year olds and some forty year olds have the skin, spines or bladder of an eighty year old. And when Granma is more sprightly than Mummy, we’ve got to ask why, as well as how we can avoid it.

Because respecting the aging process is one thing, but premature aging is another.

1: Chronic stress.

This is arguably the greatest source of premature aging. Chronic stress is when we are not briefly highly stressed (such as if we are almost hit by a car) or a tiny bit stressed for a couple of days (such as if a child is ill). Chronic stress is when we are moderately stressed most of the time. And, as you can see in the faces of people with Anxiety Disorder(s), it doesn’t do you much good. When you’re stressed you develop deep, anxious expression marks, paler skin, wider pores and a general drained look to your face.

This is because when you’re stressed your body is pumped full of cortisol and adrenaline, which force the glucose and, subsequently, the moisture out of as many bodily tissues as they can, trying to give you an energy boost to help you escape the source of stress.

Except we are in a state of continual, moderately high stress, both mental and physical. And we can’t really avoid most of it. Anxiety over relationships, harsh work deadlines, unpleasant working environments, caffeine, alcohol and drug abuse, all these things cause your body to become stressed. And we rarely truly get away from them.

2: Too much sugar.

Now, I will never take back that there is no such thing as a bad food. But all foods, nutrients and micronutrients have a limit that, when exceeded, causes problems. And sugar is one of them. People who consume too much sugar often experience a tightening of the skin, caused by water retention, which eventually leads to either oily or dry skin. It also greatly overworks the liver, pancreas, kidneys, thyroid and many other glands and organs to a lesser extent.

This is because a very high blood sugar content is actually poisonous to your body. But if we didn’t absorb all the sugar we ate, we would hardly have a few teaspoons in our systems at any given point. Therefore, our body absorbs all the sugar, burns what it needs and uses insulin, produced by cells in the pancreas, to store the excess. The first storage location is the liver, being the only organ that can process fructose and one of the most efficient places for accumulating fat quickly. If your blood sugar stays too high your pancreas can’t produce enough insulin for it any more and sends what amounts to a distress signal to the rest of the body, which encourages it to treat sugar as a waste product and dispose of it in the kidneys. If there’s still too much sugar after that, you enter hyperglycemia and die.

This process is perfectly natural, but when you push your entire system to its limits like that, day in, day out, eventually the organs have trouble fulfilling their other functions, such as producing digestive enzymes, hormones, regulating blood pressure and filtering byproducts out of the blood. And when you eat as much sugar as we do in the West, our organs and glands are continually overworked, to a point where their other functions are inhibited, which accelerates aging.

3: No loadbearing.

This is a big one just for how badly the younger generations are getting hit by it. Loadbearing activity basically means any activity where your body is compressed by weight. It ranges from standing up (the weight of your body) to weightlifting (the weight of the metal) and in all its forms it’s observed in tribal societies worldwide. This sort of activity actively compresses the bones and is known to help prevent osteoporosis.

The reasons for this are still a little vague and guess-work-ish, but the two current theories are that it encourages remineralization of the bones and discourages demineralization. Mineralization is where minerals, such as calcium, carbon and phosphor, are added into something, such as your bones. Your bones are continually losing and gaining minerals, just like your muscles are continually losing and gaining protein. Loadbearing helps prevent osteoporosis firstly because your body prioritizes what you need. Just as lifting weights tells your body it needs more muscle fibres, loadbearing tells your body it needs denser bones. Loadbearing prevents osteoporosis secondly because something denser is harder to break down. When your bones are dense with minerals and compact in the right places, chances of your body being able to strip the bone right down in the case of an emergency (such as a pregnancy mineral deficiency) are far lower.

What was the last time you picked up something heavy? What was the last time you carried something heavy? Until very recently, even in urban areas people would carry heavy shopping bags, children, move furniture and heavy machinery with relative ease. In wilder societies people carry children, baskets of food, entire tents and whole animals all the time. To boot, they spend more time on their feet with some sort of weight in their hands, on their backs or above their heads.

4: Too few micronutrients.

Another problem with our diet is that we’re massively undereating micronutrients. That’s vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other trace elements. The effect of this is most obvious when the people who, based on dietary guidelines, overeat these nutrients are the people who age the slowest and look the healthiest. Technically, we all need to eat more zinc, selenium, magnesium, manganese, phosphor, calcium, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, creatine, Omega 3, etc than we are even recommended. The recommended daily amount should actually be seen as the minimum level for many micronutrients.

But we aren’t even getting that. A good test measure is to look at how many bitter and sour foods you eat. You see, many of the most essential, most underconsumed micronutrients taste awfully bitter or sour. And many of the less bitter and sour foods have been specifically bred to taste like that. Which is why lemons and kumquats have higher vitamin C than tangerines. Or dandelions and spinach have more micronutrients than iceberg lettuce.

To boot, how many people even eat tangerines or iceberg lettuce daily? How much of your diet do they represent? In reality, we should on a daily basis consume various greens, some fruit (sweet or non-sweet) and some root vegetables and on a weekly basis consume various types of offal, seafood, nuts and seeds.

5: Too little sleep.

Not sleeping enough ages and degrades your brain. Or at least that’s the effect. Your short term memory becomes hazy, your long term memory has the odd gap, your focus is poor and your interpersonal skills become worn.

This happens because most brain repair happens in your sleep. Your brain is continually breaking and regrowing neural connections. These connections form pathways, which is how information is pieced together to form memories, concepts and learned behavioural patterns. When these pathways break down, your brain regrows them as needed, which is how an unused language becomes “rusty” and a new skill is formed. All the information is there, after all, our brain’s capacity for storage is theoretically limitless, it’s just we need to connect the right bits of information together.

When you don’t sleep enough, or deeply enough, these pathways don’t grow or grow back as quickly. Therefore, you commit less to memory, learn more slowly and start forgetting things that you had already memorized. This is made worse when stress is added to the mix, as memory loss creates stressful situations, poor sleep creates physical stress and being stressed makes sleep harder and lighter, creating a loop. Your body, when stressed, needs far more hours of sleep because the sleep is so light, but due to missing deadlines, forgotten work and stressful interpersonal relationships we want to stay up later and mend what stress broke.

In the West we often don’t go to bed until our brains are about to give out, force ourselves to get up with annoying sounds and caffeine (stressors) and overwork ourselves over the day, only to use stimulating and stressing foods and imagery to keep ourselves up all night to “unwind”.

6: Overeating.

Just as too much of one specific food can make you unwell and too much sugar can age you noticeably, too much food in general, or too many calories, also has an aging effect. We’re all familiar with the effects of overeating when you don’t lose the weight, but regular overeats matched with regular starve or fast days can be just as bad. People who regularly overeat are suffering the burdens of excess sugar, but also the burden of excess fat, protein and waste products.

This means their organs are being overworked, needing to produce more enzymes and hormones, their stomach is stretched, their kidneys are filtering slowly. This can eventually result in a state of being continually slightly run down. The same way if you have a massive holiday binge you start feeling groggy and look fatigued and sick the next day, repeatedly overeating starts to cause lethargy and eventually creates a slightly ashy colour under your skin, some skin sag and oiliness to the cheeks and nose. This is because your organs are not getting a rest, your body is having a hard time getting rid of all byproducts through the kidneys so it starts getting rid of them through other means and a lot of your energy is being invested into digestion.

Per capita, Americans eat around 3700kcal/day, England and the rest of the world are not far behind. We are pushing our bodies to their limit daily.

7: Sitting still.

This ties into loadbearing, but is also important for muscle density and health. Think of the legs of someone who has never walked since childhood. The muscles are all thin and, even when the person is a healthy weight, their legs look like they’re all bones with a little skin and fat on top. This is because muscles you don’t use aren’t maintained. Your body digests them. This is in part when you need more protein or calories and aren’t eating enough, but in part it happens daily to muscle you aren’t using. Muscle is very calorifically expensive and, as far as your body is concerned, why regrow muscle when you aren’t using it?

Nowhere in the world do humans sit still, day in, day out, except in the West. The actual shape and support of our furniture aside, we have to agree it’s pretty comfortable. We can sit in one position for hours and only feel any harm when we stand up and notice a cramp. But this isn’t natural. Even though humans worldwide are naturally lazy, humans outside the West are very different to humans inside it. They sit less often, and get up frequently. When they sit they are not as comfortable as we are, so they move about, fidget, stand up, lie down, squat or stretch. All these minor movements, complete with bursts of intense activity and occasional long treks, lead to better muscle tone. This muscle tone stretches loose skin and shapes fatty tissue, giving men and women alike a more youthful, healthy appearance.

But here in the West it isn’t uncommon to get out of bed, walk downstairs, sit down for breakfast, walk to the car, drive to work, walk to our desk, sit down all day except to pick up our lunch, come home and sit down on the sofa with dinner, only getting up to go to bed. We probably spend well over 95% of our time (around 23 hours) sat down or lying down, without much fidgeting and rarely getting up. As such, our muscles are weak, small and undefined, giving our bodies the shapelessness of muscle wastage usually only seen in the very ill and very elderly.

8: Too little fluid.

Water is a pretty important part of our bodies. And whilst water retention caused by excess sugar can pump your body up, giving it a pudgy, wobbly appearance, plenty of water flushing through the system is actually good for you. For starters it helps the kidneys flush out dangerous byproducts and can help stop them from overworking. Secondarily, some water under your skin will fill out stretch marks, expression marks and wrinkles and encouraging clearer, lighter sweat helps avoid congested pores, leading to fewer spots or blackheads.

But we don’t drink much fluid that isn’t laden with sugar or other substances that slow its digestion and cancel our its beneficial properties. We also eat very little raw food, one of the healthiest sources of fluid besides water, sometimes healthier. Raw fruits and vegetables and even raw meat are heavy with water which is often lost when we cook things. And the main method of cooking foods to retain moisture (stewing) has become increasingly unpopular, with our main choices, instead, being frying, baking or boiling, all of which, unless you drink the water from boiling, extract and boil off the fluids in your food.

9: Low volume heart and lungs.

Another side effect of our inactive lifestyles is that our heart and lungs are not used very much and not pushed to the max more than a couple of times a year. This is good in one sense: just like our other organs, our heart and lungs can be overworked by being pushed to the max daily and are better off resting and doing low level activity most of the time. But, just as with our muscles and bones, when we use them too little, they start to atrophy. This means that your heart, like any muscle, starts losing muscle fibres and becomes weak, which is the reason for sudden death in underweight people; and your lungs don’t stretch and properly fill up, leading to shallow breathing, which is what causes hyperventilating people to sometimes faint.

When your heart is built properly, it can take and move a healthy volume of blood with every pump and won’t start to degrade until old age. When you fill your lungs enough with every breath, they take in plenty of oxygen and stay healthy and won’t suffer weakness until old age. However when we underuse them both, we end up with degraded heart and lungs similar to what we see in much older people.

And we don’t really exercise our hearts and lungs. A marathon a day would be excessive for them, but some form of moderate activity for a couple of hours once a day, such as brisk walking, some bodyweight activities or some gardening, plus intense activity once or twice a week, such as 30-60min jogging, weightlifting or climbing, will help your heart and lungs fill their natural capacity. Our problems are further compounded by our bad posture and stillness. When you don’t move as much blood can pool at the lowest points of your body, causing chilblains, inflammation, cramps and varicose veins and your heartrate takes a while to pick up when you stand, causing dizziness, nausea and even panic attacks. When you sit crouched over you are cramping your organs, particularly your lungs, leading to poor breathing that is hard to correct without retraining yourself.

10: Too little fish.

This one may seem a little odd to some of you, but pescetarians live the longest, are the least prone to obesity and disease and are the healthiest in their old age of any group of people based on diet. The Okinawans, the Icelandic, the Sardinians and the Ikarians all live longer than the rest of the world, the Okinawans being notable for the old age of their women and the Icelandic for the oldest men in the world. They are all fitter and healthier, with lower rates of mental illness, heart disease, stroke and the general ailments of old age than anywhere else in the world.

Fish provides various forms of natural salts and minerals, a healthy balance of Omegas 3, 6 and 9, as well as some of the micronutrients that, as mentioned, we don’t eat enough of, like zinc, magnesium and selenium. It’s not surprising, therefore, that adding fish into your diet, swapping meat for fish or swapping dairy for fish makes you look younger and live longer than otherwise. Of course, you could seek out all these elements as supplements, but the benefits of whole fish and other seafood are undeniable.

However, again, we don’t really eat fish. And the main fish we eat are the lean, flavourless kinds that have been overcooked or fried in vegetable oil, if not deep fried. Seeing as Omega oils are a type of fat and micronutrients often have a strong taste, it’s not really surprising that what little fish we eat provides us no benefit whatsoever.

And those are the ten reasons that, as a population, we are aging prematurely. Between our low levels of activity, bland, highly calorific, highly artificial diets, stressed out bodies and low fluid intake, it isn’t really all that shocking that we’re starting to look and feel older at a much younger age. And that’s before you look at heavy drinkers and smokers, who age even more rapidly than their more moderate or abstinent peers.

What are your bad habits? Based on this, what can you do to age as nature intended? What are your tricks for avoiding these ten bad Western habits? Feel free to share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy… Fishing?

5 Diet Myths You Probably Believe.

I think everyone has a few ideas on diet they cling onto for no reason at all. I know fruit is no worse (or should I say no better?) for me than potatoes, but I still love potatoes and neglect fruit. I probably believe or do some things that are completely nonsensical because I picked them up and never let them go.

But some of these myths are held by so many people that sometimes we have to complain. And that’s what I’m going to do. Here are five diet myths that are demonstrably false which you probably actually do believe.

1. X/Y/Z Is Bad For You.

Yes, we all use it as an expression. But we also genuinely believe it about certain things. You may think meat is bad for you, carbs are bad for you, sugar is bad for you, salt is bad for you, alcohol is bad for you, etc. And we incorporate this into our daily diets and the diet advice we dole out. And to a degree, it’s true. Alcohol does your liver some harm in any amount. Junk food messes with your metabolism. Sugar strains your pancreas. But there is an implicit falsehood in it.

You’ve probably already heard “everything in moderation”, the argument that nothing is inherently “Bad”, just that it can be consumed in too high a quantity. But there is another side to that argument: nothing is actually inherently “Good” for you either. Everything we consume has necessary nutrients, every nutrient is necessary. Everything puts some strain on the body or has some toxic products or byproducts. Avoiding one or two specific things is as meaningless as eating one or two specific things. Teetotalism makes you no more a saint of health than eating Goji berries does. It’s better to work out how your body, on an individual basis, processes all sorts of foods and to balance the right amount of everything.

And, mentioning toxins…

2. Detox.

Detoxes are a joke. Think about this rationally. If you drink enough alcohol that your liver can’t eliminate the toxins, you die. If you eat an apple pip, you body processes the cyanide, if you eat cyanide crystals, your body detoxes too slowly and you die. So, if your body wasn’t detoxing, you’d not be here.

And what about progressive buildup? Well, that’s a whole other can of worms. For the sake of simplicity: if you are keeping your body consistently just below the mark for poisoning, do you really think fasting, drinking green smoothies or some magic shake is going to undo all that damage and filter all that out? And do you really think a detox is a better option than not poisoning yourself to begin with? Seriously?

3. Dietary Variety.

Now, what isn’t a myth is that dietary variety benefits you. But the two main benefits of dietary variety are that you’re less likely to be poisoned and guaranteed nutritional variety. However most people throughout the world avoided poisoning and nutritional deficiencies on a fairly plain diet at some point in history or another. And with modern sanitation we can keep our food clean and with modern nutritional data we can assess our food’s nutritional quality. So there is no longer any actual need for dietary variety. Hell, teenagers can survive on chicken nuggets and you can meet your requirements for every nutrient on a diet of potatoes, bananas, liver, sardines, eggs and sunflower seeds.

Now, your health may be improved if you add some variety and the need to meticulously weigh every serving of food goes away. But the sheer amount of variety some people think we need is not only historically impossible, but is also not at all required for life and general fitness.

4. Going All Out On Cheat Days.

Not so much a rule or belief as an action that has just as negative an effect. When we diet strictly or diet at all, when we’re trying to lose weight or get fit or get healthy, we have cravings for foods we’re not allowed. You could go on an “only my 5 favourite foods” diet and eventually get sick of them and crave something you never thought was all that great. So, we allow cheat days. And the general idea of a cheat day is to go all out, eat and drink everything you can’t eat or drink the rest of the time. And we somehow think this is healthy.

After 150 days. And that’s still not doing his organs any favours. Mull that over.

But overwhelming your body isn’t healthy. Let’s use the pancreas as an example. It secretes insulin in response to sugar, enzymes in response to fat, protein or alcohol and triggers hormonal regulation that affects youth thyroid and adrenal glands, among other things. If you eat low carb, no junk food, moderate fat, just the right amount of protein and no alcohol for six days and then on the seventh day you eat four pizzas, a steak and chips, a tub of ice-cream and a bottle of vodka, you are throwing a week’s worth of work onto your pancreas in one go. Your body just isn’t designed to deal with that. That is why alcoholics get liver disease but some people get severe acute pancreatitis from two beers.

In short, either restrict your cheats to a single meal or follow the 80/20 rule, unless you want to overwhelm your body and make yourself ill.

5. I’ll Just Work It Off.

Surely eating too much or eating junk or drinking too much doesn’t matter, because you can burn it off at the end of the day? Well, we only believe that because we conflate being slim with being healthy. In reality, plenty of thin people have metabolic disorder, heart attacks, liver disease and colon cancer. So working off the calories in your food will not fix you or make you less prone to illness.

In reality, whilst nothing is inherently just “Bad” or “Good” for you, if you do overconsume something that wears your body down, the calories aren’t the only thing impacting your health. And you just can’t “work off” insulin resistance, liver scars, diverticulae or thyroid imbalances. You can only prevent these things from happening by eating a healthy, balanced diet.

And those are five diet myths you probably believed. Do you know any other diet myths that are demonstrably false? What advice would you give to anyone struggling with the issues here? How do you keep fit and healthy? Please share in the comments!

TTFN and Happy Hunting!

WWW. Rhubarb&Apple Crumble, Mascarpone Sauce.

The best main and best pudding we had this week! The crumble is a lower sugar twist on a classic and the mascarpone sauce is so easy, you won’t believe it!

Mascarpone Sauce.

If you’ve never made a rich and creamy tomato sauce from scratch, this is amazingly rewarding.

Ingredients:

(Serves 6-8.)

-1kg/35oz chopped tomato

-80g/2.8oz mascarpone

-1 large onion

-3 cloves garlic

-1/2 a jalapeno chili

-butter or another cooking fat

-herbes de provence

-black pepper

-salt

-assorted vegetables

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-pot

Recipe:

1: Finely mince the onions and garlic. Fry in the fat.

2: Once browning, add the tomatoes and the herbs, bring to a boil and then turn down to reduce.

3: Once all the flavours have blended, add the mascarpone and chili.

4: Simmer.

5: Chop your vegetables and cook them in the sauce.

The one pictured is with broccoli, savoy cabbage and parsnip. I topped mine with hard boiled eggs and Jon topped his with peppered fried mince and bacon.

Mascarpone1

We actually enjoyed it so much that I recently made another one, with olive oil, red onion, loads of red peppers, some green pepper, mushrooms, broccoli stem and butternut squash. I absolutely recommend that one, as the butternut squash melts into the sauce, thickening it even more and the sweet peppers make it unbelievably sweet contrasted with the spice of the chili. An amazing burst of flavour.

Apple and Rhubarb Crumble.

An old classic I made almost properly.

Ingredients:

(Serves 4-6.)

-2 large stalks of rhubarb

-1 large cooking apple

-60g/2oz flour

-60g/2oz butter or another fat

-20g/0.7oz palm sugar, honey, molasses sugar or maple syrup

-cinnamon

Utensils:

-chopping board and knife

-mixing bowl

-baking tray

Recipe:

1: Remove all leaf from the rhubarb (poisonous!) and the core from the apple. Clean your chopping board to be on the safe side.

2: Cut the rhubarb into small segments and the apple into similarly sized cubes. Place in the tray.

3: In the bowl, mash the fat, flour and sugar with your fingers until golden crumbs are formed.

4: Sprinkle over the apple and rhubarb. Bake at 200C/390F until crisp on top.

5: Dust with cinnamon and serve.

Crumble

And those were our favourite main meal and pudding this past week!

What have you been cooking? What was the best thing you ate all week?

TTFN and Happy Hunting!