Good Stuff: Mexican Hummus

I have been giving a new way of eating a go for the last few months. It’s high-fat, medium-protein, low-carb (HFLC).

Zoinks!?

High freaking fat, you exclaim. Has he gone mad!

Well, possibly.

One thing I do know is that I’ve lightened the load my godlike thighs have to carry by about twenty pounds, which is a nice thing. Oh, and by the way, I’ve paired this with intermittent fasting.

Horrors!

Yes, it is Halloween. Or was a few days ago.

In a few more months, when I’ve giving this method a good long test, I’ll explain exactly what this is all about. But I’ll tease you by saying that it seems the scientific community isn’t immune to bias and jumping the gun. Not even close. We’d like to think they are, all those men and women in their white lab coats, but they aren’t. In fact, there are a number of doctors and researchers right now demonstrating that the advice we’ve been getting about fat and carbohydrates since the late 1970s was wrong. Like 180 degrees wrong.

Let me point you to some presentations you can watch about this right now.

“The Two Big Lies of Type 2 Diabetes” by Jason Fung, MD

“Reversing Type 2 diabetes starts with ignoring the guidelines” by Sarah Hallberg, MD

“Therapeutic fasting” by Jason Fung, MD

Okay, so with that lead up, who’s up for a delicious, high-fat meal? Here’s one of my favorites.

I call it “Mexican Hummus.” I found it in Always Hungry? By David Ludwig, MD, PhD. He calls it “Cheesy Pinto Bean Dip.” Which isn’t a bad name, but isn’t inspiring. You might call it modern refried beans, but that sounds like something out of a can or glopped onto the side of your dish. But Mexican Hummus, that has some class. A little zip.

Whatever you call it, it tastes great.

Use as a dip for red, orange, or yellow bell peppers cut into strips. Or eat it as a side. I like it with baked chicken thighs. It’s also good with fajita veggies—sautéed peppers and onions cooked with lots of butter, salt, and a bit a chili powder—and some slices of avocado.

MEXICAN HUMMUS

  1. Mix the following in food processor for 30 seconds or until smooth
    1. 1 C cooked pinto beans, drained and rinsed
    2. 4 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
    3. ¼ C water
    4. ½ tsp chili powder
    5. ¼ to ½ tsp salt
  2. Mix in ¾ C shredded cheddar cheese (you want cheddar cause it melts well)
  3. Heat in microwave or on stove until cheese just melts. Stir.

HOMEMADE CHILI POWDER

I don’t like the chili powder you get in the stores—it’s too strong, overwhelms everything I put it into, and gives me heartburn. So I found a recipe that’s awesome and make my own.

Mix the following together. Choose the amounts in the ranges shown based on your tastes.

  • 2 tablespoon paprika
  • ¾  to 1½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1½ to 2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½  to 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1½ t garlic powder (optional)
  • ½ to 1½ teaspoon cayenne (optional, I put in barely a pinch; I do NOT like it spicy)

HERB-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS

This has got to be the easiest recipe on the planet for chicken.

  • 6 to 8 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 2 pounds)
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons dried herb blend (Italian herb mix, poultry mix, lemon chicken mix, or chili powder above)
  • ½ to ¾ teaspoons of salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Instructions.

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  2. Grease a 9×9 inch baking dish with butter or some extra-virgin olive oil
  3. Put chicken skin side up in baking dish
  4. Brush with the olive oil
  5. Sprinkle on the herb blend, salt, and pepper
  6. Bake for 45 minutes.
  7. If you want, you can baste a couple of time through the cooking by spooning the juices in the baking dish over the thighs.

Bon appetite.

The Drovers: Update

Folks, I have finally finished draft 1 of The Drovers.

Let there be much rejoicing.

It clocked in around 75,000 words, and as soon as I finished, I realized I had two shorter novels. And this is exactly what I had originally planned. I wanted to tell a very long story in many shorter chunks. So I now have two 35,000 short novels. Since only writers think in word counts, here are some other books to give you a comparison.

  • Louis L’Amour’s westerns: most average around 50,000 words.
  • James Patterson’s Maximum Ride and Witch & Wizard series: average around 60,000 words.
  • Richard Paul Evans’s Michael Vey series books: average around 77,000.
  • The first three of Horowitz’s Alex Rider books: around 55,000.
  • Brandon Sanderson’s Steelheart books: around 100,000.

My books usually get a bit larger with the second draft, so I expect these will probably end up around 45,000 words. We’ll see.

What I’m really looking forward to is telling a long story in these smaller chunks and unrolling the story like it’s done on TV.  You can do things over 20 or 30 episodes that you simply can’t in one big novel. This doesn’t meant I won’t be able to have big climaxes. Of course, I will. It just means that I’m going to do it in a slightly different form. I already have the basic ideas for the next dozen or so books. And now that I’m rolling, I expect things will go faster.

The working title of book 1 is “Hireling.” The working title for book 2 is “Outcast.

The cast so far:

  • Ferran: the main character, a scrappy boy that’s trying to keep his mam and sister from bondage
  • Itch: his dog
  • Krov: the big woodsman’s son, aka the Lover
  • Winwalom: Ferran’s best friend who is manifesting forbidden powers
  • Ranoc: the boy who wants to be one of the king’s rangers
  • Caswal: the mean one who has it out for Ferran
  • Borros: the drover and former grimsman
  • Lagash: the cook and foreigner who once beat Borros in battle

Good Stuff! Extinct, RadioWest, and Ruca’s

I’ve been looking forward to watching Extinct, a brand-new TV series. I watched the pilot with my wife and teenage daughter, and we enjoyed it. I watched the next episode, and then a few days later couldn’t help but binge-watch three more. And I’m happy to report it’s full of good stuff and interesting stories.

First of all, it starts with a killer concept. Aliens invade earth and wipe us out, but that’s been done to death. This story doesn’t start there. This story is set four hundred years in the future after the extinction of the human race, when a small group of humans is revived by an alien civilization.

But this isn’t Star Wars, Star Trek, Blade Runner, Battlestar Glactica or anything like that. It feels more like the TV series Lost or The Maze Runner. The heroes are three humans who have been brought back and are trying to figure out what’s happening and how to survive in a place that’s low tech and is the home to a dangerous band of other humans that were also brought back. They’re dangerous, by the way, because they have been taken over by spores that latch other their nervous system and use their bodies as a host.

This series transports you to a world of cool tech and alien stuff like the sparks that regenerate the humans in pools of water, two interesting drones, and alien ruins and glyphs. But the best part about this isn’t the spectacle of the technology. It’s the stories. There’s suspense and action, but also mystery and a lot of stuff that’s human and warm and, surprisingly enough, thought-provoking.

We try to hold a family night once a week to have fun together and discuss important topics. And I can see us easily watching one of these episodes and finding ourselves in a deep discussion about free will, or the creation, or whether Duncan, one of the skin riders, looks like someone right out of The Hobbit.

I liked episodes one and two, but it was episode three that kicked it into high gear for me. If you liked Lost or The Maze Runner or the series Once Upon a Time, I think you’ll really enjoy this. Right now you can stream the first eight episodes for free from byutv.org/extinct or extinct.tv.

EDIT: I just finished episode 8. I really like this series.

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Do you like listening to interesting ideas? If so, you will love tuning into RadioWest. It’s a daily program from KUER in Salt Lake City that features hour-long interviews of folks who are experts on some of the most interesting things or have an interesting story to tell.

Doug Fabrizio is the host and has to be the best interviewer on the planet. I love his voice, but it’s his skill in drawing out the fascinating meat of the topic from his guests is what sets him apart. And unlike some interviewers who don’t even read the books they’re talking about, you can see that Fabrizio has done his homework. He’s really thought about what they have to say.

For example, just this last week, I got to listen to compelling interviews of (1) Tom Christofferson, the gay brother of Elder Todd Christofferson, a Mormon apostle, (2) Ben Shapiro, an orthodox Jew who is an up and coming voice on the Right and was recently protested at Berkeley and the University of Utah, and (3) science writer Ben Mezrich who has written a book about the scientists and researchers who are trying to bring back the wooly mammoth.

Week after week, Fabrizio brings amazing people and ideas into my car and home. You can listen to his interviews every morning at 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. on the radio at FM 90.1 (Salt Lake Area), FM 90.5 (Logan and Bear Lake), and FM 88.3 (Randolph and Woodruff). Or you can listen live online at radiowest.kuer.org, which is also where they keep all the recordings so you can catch up on any you miss.

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New restaurants come and go all the time in Garden City, Utah. Most of them don’t last more than a few seasons. Often this is because they charge lots of money for food that’s really not worth it. So it’s with great delight that I tell you about Ruca’s, a little spot on the block between the city park and Bear Lake Pizza on the main drag.

Not only are the prices reasonable, but the food is delicious. They have sandwiches and other stuff, but we have gone back multiple times for their ebleskivers (AY-bill SKEE-vurs). These are Danish pancakes in the shape of a ball that can be filled with all sorts of stuff. My wife and daughter love the ones filled with peaches and the others filled with Nutella and strawberries. I like the savory ones filled with bacon and cheese with eggs on top.

They’re going to be closing up for the winter, so if you want some great food for a great price, get over there now and enjoy a new delight.

The secret of Mormonism

If you want to understand the secret to Mormonism, something 99.9% of the world does not know, even though many think they do, read on.

This last Tuesday I was at dinner with a number of wonderful coworkers. We were talking about religion and listening to the guy who helps set up our training environments talk about the interesting hunting ministry he’s involved with (it’s very cool—12,000 acres of woodland in Alabama all dedicated to hunting, outdoor survival, and God).

At one point in the conversation, a delightful fellow trainer, who shared with us the night before the definition of diplomacy as being able to tell someone to go to hell and have them look forward to the trip, asked me, “Does your church believe in Christ. Or, no, is it some other fellow?”

It’s a great question, and I realized that many people are confused. And so I wanted to take time to clear it up.

So what the heck is a Mormon?

It’s not what you think.

And for those of you who think you know, nope, it’s not about that book.

Let me explain. You’ll come away knowing more about us than anyone in any of your circles, and you can lord your superior knowledge over them at dinner parties, when playing games that require vast stores of smarts, or at random moments, just because you can.

Here’s the deal. The first part of the name of the church is “The Church of Jesus Christ.” So, yes, we believe in Christ, that he died for us, was resurrected, is our Lord and god, etc.

The last part of the name is “of latter-day saints.” We don’t use “saint” to mean super-holy people like the Catholic church does, but more as followers or disciples. So you could translate the last part of the name of our church as “of latter-day followers.”

So the whole name would be The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day People who Follow Him.

Okay, then what’s the deal with the name “Mormon”?

Well, here’s where we get to the nub of it and the thing that 99.9% of the world doesn’t know. The key difference between the Mormon church and other Christian churches is that we believe that Jesus has called apostles again in our day, just like he did back in the good old days. And when I say apostles, I mean guys like Peter, James, John, Paul, etc.

You might be wondering what an apostle is. What made those guys special?

It wasn’t that they had great faith in Jesus. Lots of people had great faith. It was that they were called to bear special witness of him. And that special witness was not merely that they believed, but that they knew Jesus was the Messiah because they had seen and heard him after his resurrection.

Peter himself said it best when he wrote in his letter, “For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.”

When the apostles had to choose someone to replace Judas, Peter said, “Wherefore of these men which have accompanied us all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among us, beginning from the baptism of John unto that same day that he was taken up from us, one must be ordained to be a witness with us of his resurrection.”

These guys didn’t simply believe. They knew. They were eyewitnesses to the fact that Jesus wasn’t just some preacher—he was the son of God and was resurrected.

So Mormons believe that Jesus has called apostles again today who bear witness of an absolute certain knowledge of the reality of Jesus the Christ. We believe their purpose is also to be the Lord’s spokesmen when He wants to make general announcements or give general instructions. Finally, we also believe they’ve received the authority to offer the covenants the Lord wants to make with all of us.

We believe the first apostle called in these latter days was a fellow by the name of Joseph Smith. We don’t worship Smith. He was just an apostle. Just like Matthew or John of old were. But we do believe the Lord called him to be an apostle and restore some truths that had gotten lost or confused over the years.

We also believe the Lord asked him to bring forth other scriptures in addition to those in the Bible. One of these new scriptures was a translation of an ancient record called The Book of Mormon. It’s called that because Mormon is the name of the guy who wrote it. And Mormon was another apostle—one called by Jesus in ancient America.

And guess what the purpose of The Book of Mormon is? It’s to testify of Jesus Christ and explain his gospel.

So the name of the Mormon church is really The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Mormons believe that Jesus has called and commissioned apostles in our times, right up to today, to bear special witness of him. And in addition to that, those apostles have brought forth additional scriptures that witness of the divinity and mission of Jesus Christ.

For Mormons, it’s all about Jesus Christ.

So when someone asks, what’s a Mormon? You can say, let me tell you the real answer. It’s not about an additional book of scripture. Yes, folks gave them the nickname of Mormons because of that book, but the key difference is that Mormons believe that Jesus has called apostles like Peter and Paul again in our day to be his spokesmen, and bear a certain witness of him and his good news, and help folks receive all the blessings the Lord wants to pour out on them.

And, O, what a wonderful message we Mormons believe that is.

If you liked those videos, you can see more here.

Please feel free now to randomly lord your superior knowledge over your family and friends.

Good Stuff: Books Worth Multiple Readings Part 2

What’s your typical response when someone shares a frustration, problem, or issue with you? Or when they state an opinion or desire you disagree with?

Sometimes we get impatient, exasperated, or annoyed with them and simply don’t want to hear it.

Sometimes we get mad. Or defensive. And want to line them out.

Sometimes, however, we want to help.

And wouldn’t you know it, but we sometimes cause as many problems with that last reaction as the first two.

How can this be?

Your teenage daughter comes home and expresses disappointment about something that happened at school, and you want to help. How in the world could that be wrong?

Your spouse shares a frustration about something that happened with a friend, and you don’t want him or her to be sad. This is a bad thing?

Your coworker expresses annoyance with a program management is trying to implement, and you know exactly what will fix the problem and want to share it. This is going to cause problems?

In their fabulous book, I Don’t Have to Make Everything All Better: Six Practical Principles that Empower Others to Solve Their Own Problems While Enriching Your Relationships, Gary and Joy Lundberg show two different ways of acting on the desire to help others that have dramatically different results. If we try to help using the first method, we actually create more issues. We will make the person less willing to talk to us, introduce strain into the relationship, and create a lot of stress for ourselves. On the other hand, if we try to help using the second method, we’ll find the person more willing to talk. There will be more friendliness in the relationship. And our own stress will go way down. Furthermore, we’ll end up helping the person far more than we ever could with the first method.

Gary is a licensed marriage and family therapist. His wife Joy is a writer and lyricist, and they have held marriage retreats, firesides, and seminars throughout the country. And the six principles they share in the book for using the second method all revolve around accepting this one statement: “I do not have the power to make anything all better for anyone else. I can offer my help, but I cannot make it all better.”

Accepting this view has a dramatic impact on how we approach helping others.

So when the teenage daughter comes in and expresses disappointment, instead of trying get her to buck up or tell her she just needs to do xyz with her friends, or do 123 in sports practice, we listen, validate her emotions, leave the responsibility for the problem where it belongs—with her!—and then, when it’s all out, offer to help in a way that empowers her, not have us take over.

When the spouse shares frustration, it’s the same. When the coworker expresses annoyance, the same. When someone comes in to complain to us, it’s the same.

What the Lungbergs do in this book is show exactly what this looks like with tons and tons of examples. They even have a whole chapter (a short one) which gives a list of validating phrases and questions. The first six chapters of the book explain the principles. The last eight each apply them to a different group: young children, teenagers, adult children, spouses, parents and parents-in-law, friends, and coworkers.

Folks, this book is a gem. It’s loaded with wisdom and insight. Every time I practice what’s in here, my interactions go better. This stuff produces immediate results. I just wished I’d studied and practiced it more. But it’s never too late. And that’s why I’m rereading it now.

And why I wanted to share it here. If you want to improve your interactions with others and enrich your relationships, do yourself a favor and immediately go get this book.