Good Stuff: Why We Get Fat

What if everything you know about fat, cholesterol, and diet is pretty much wrong?

What if you found out that the science behind the good old food pyramid is, well, not really there?

We’ve been told that a healthy diet consists of lots of grains, bagels, bread, pasta, cereals, rice, etc. and very little fat. What if it’s actually the reverse?

If it is, then it might explain why the rates of diabetes and obesity began to skyrocket as the nation started to implement a low fat high carb diet.

I remember having gained about fifteen pounds when I was first married. I decided I would go on a diet. I read up on the low fat high carb diet and followed it strictly. Two weeks later, I had gained ten more pounds. Did I, at the time, look at the diet and think that maybe there was something wrong with it?

No. That would have been too intelligent.

Instead, I figured something must be wrong with me and continued to try to “eat healthy.” What’s that definition of insanity—doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results? Call me insane. Or slow. Or too trusting of authority.

It appears that the science of nutrition got hijacked. Government policy then ran away with it. It’s a fascinating and cautionary tale. Let me recommend three books that explain what really causes us to deposit fat and how we got off track.

The first is Why We Get Fat by science writer Gary Taubes. In it he reveals the bad nutritional science of the last century, why the good science was ignored, what really causes us to store fat, and what to do about it.

The next is The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. Fung is a kidney specialist. Obesity and diabetes are the root of many kidney problems. And so he decided to help his patients by strop treating symptoms and get at the root cause. Fung’s gift is clarity. He explains how obesity and diabetes became an epidemic, the errors in how we think about calories and diet, and then he explains in great clarity the new model of what really causes obesity and how to reverse it.

The last is The Big Fat Surprise: Why Butter, Meat & Cheese Belong in a Healthy Diet by investigative journalist Nina Teicholz. She spent nine years investigating this, and the book reveals how the misinformation about saturated fats took hold in the scientific community, government, and the public and how recent findings overturn these beliefs. It’s a startling history, a cautionary tale showing how ego, bias, and premature institutional consensus allowed dangerous misrepresentations to become dietary dogma.

If you’re dealing with obesity, heart disease, or diabetes, I think you’ll find these books very interesting.

Good Stuff: For All Eternity

This year I was introduced to a little gem of a book that has had a significant and pleasant impact on Nellie’s and my marriage.

We heard about it from my newlywed daughter and her husband. Now you’d think that two people who, in just a few months, will have been married for twenty-nine years would know all the ropes of this marriage thing. You’d think they wouldn’t come across any real new ideas. But this little book proved that idea wrong.

This book is For All Eternity by Dr. John L. Lund. At the time of its writing Lund had over forty years of experience as a counselor, college professor, and marriage educator. His focus is in interpersonal communication, and part of his background was working with John Gottman, one of the best marriage researchers of the last few decades.

In this book, Lund shares what he’s learned with lots of humor and stories. Some of it will be familiar to you, but some of it will be refreshing and new. For example, one belief we frequently cherish is the idea that if someone really loves us, they will know our wants and needs. Their love will somehow endow them with superpowers so that we will never have to communicate our wants. Our loving spouses, if they have any love in them, will be able to discern our wants from the most subtle signs. A nod, a sigh, the wiggle of a nose. And if that doesn’t do it, then surely we will never need to drop more than the merest hint.

Yeah, wrong.

Lund explains why the whole notion of “If you have to ask, it doesn’t count” is not only unrealistic, it’s damaging. And that’s just one insight. There are many more. I will let you discover them. But I can tell you that I have found this book so useful and delightful that it will now be one of the two standard books I buy and give as gifts to those who are newly married. I wish I’d had these insights right from the beginning, but better late than never. I’m so happy to have them now.

A little note. For those who are not members of the Mormon church, Lund is directing his teaching at that crowd. So you will find a sprinkling of quotes in here from church leaders that support what he’s learned in his practice and research. Don’t let that stop you. Mormon or non-Mormon, if you want to improve your marriage, you don’t want to miss this book.

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 given 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.