Resveratrol – The Fountain of Youth?

‘Who wants to live forever?’ So asked one Freddie Mercury. Well, actually I do. In addition to an aspirin a day and Lion’s Mane fungi I commenced taking resveratrol around six months ago. I previously recommended the work of David Sinclair and his book, Lifespan, and this work is where I take my zeal for resveratrol, an extract taken from red wine grapes. Sinclair outlines an excellent case for the use of this and metformin, a diabetes drug that may have anti-ageing properties. I am not taking metformin and right now I am not intending to do so as the side effects are apparently quite serious. It is worth noting right now that Sinclair does not recommend any drug that he himself does not take, so at least he clearly believes in it rather than claiming it is good without backing that up with actions.

Why do this? Because I love living and I want to see as much of the world whilst I am physically fit and capable as I can. Death will get us all in the end, but until then I want it all.

Cognitive Health and Longevity

Lion’s Mane Fungus
Lion’s Mane Fungus

How often do we spend time on physical fitness without ever giving a moment’s thought to what is going on in our heads? I know I have been guilty of this in the past, which is especially heinous for me given that so much of my identity and my pride is tied up in my intellect and my cognitive capabilities.

My current audiobook on the go is Lifespan by David Sinclair. The subject is his quest to cure ageing and I can recommend this remarkable book to all and sundry. Among the many things he discusses, one such is cognitive health, and I have been inspired as a result to research this. This in turn led me to one of my favourite fellow geeks, Paul Stamets. Below he is talking to Joe Rogan about Lion’s Mane mushroom.

I have started taking this supplement as it is proven to stimulate neurogenesis and remylenate neural tissues and nerve fibres. I think that we are on the edge of a revolution in medical therapies for ageing itself and early adoption may work well for me, and anyone else getting in on the action. If you want to live a cognitively healthy existence well into your twilight years, and by god I do, then this looks to be effective.

Recipe: Flambed Peaches with Citrus Cashew Cream

This is a knickers off dessert, as in serve this to a lady on date number three and watch her knickers fly off! This is a recipe that calls for you to flambé, i.e. ignite alcohol in the pan, so please be careful. You can see how to do it on YouTube, but if you’re not sure then don’t make this recipe.

Ingredients

  1. 4-5 peaches, stoned and sliced
  2. 2 tbsp of rum
  3. 3 tbsp sugar
  4. Zest and juice of a citrus fruit of your choice – I used a lime
  5. 100g cashews, soaked in boiling water to soften
  6. 100g icing sugar plus a little more for dusting
  7. Soy milk

Method

  • Heat a skillet very hot, then add the sugar and caramelise it
  • Add your peaches, reduce the heat and toss well in the caramel
  • Now you flambé. Take the pan off the heat and we’ll away from the flame, then add the rum and then ignite it. Be very careful and be sure you do this safely
  • Once the alcohol is burnt off the flames will stop, turn off the heat and leave whilst you make your citrus cream
  • Blend the icing sugar, cashews and soy milk to make a smooth cream. It’s up to you how thick you make it, obviously more milk will thin it out.
  • Pour into a jug and then whisk in the juice and zest. This will add air and lighten the cream a little
  • Serve by layering the peaches shortbread or some other similar type of biscuit, pour on some of the cream, then some of the rum sauce, and finally dust with icing sugar

Delicious dessert.

Recipe: Leek and Mushroom Cream Pasta with Tarragon

Delicious
Delicious

Standby for a yummy pasta dish that will make you feel warm and fuzzy inside! This is a quick and simple recipe that combines the meaty mushroom flavour with cashew cream, whilst the aniseed flavour of the tarragon works brilliantly and explodes in your mouth.

Ingredients

  • 300 grams pasta – I used penne but pick your favourite
  • 300 grams mushrooms, any variety you prefer
  • A leek
  • 1 tsp garlic, minced
  • 150 grams cashews, soaked in boiling water
  • 200 ml vegetable stock
  • Splash of soya milk
  • Handful of fresh tarragon, dried will do if that’s all you have
  • Salt and pepper

Method

  • Pre boil a pan of salted water
  • In a hot skillet add olive oil and fry the mushrooms. They will sizzle as their water content boils off
  • Whilst the mushrooms cook, quarter the leek down the length and the chop roughly. Add to the pan along with the garlic and then season to your taste, turn the heat down to simmer for five minutes
  • Add your pasta to the water and cook al dente – don’t do the British thing where the pasta is distended and floppy! Drain and let stand dry, DON’T let it stand in the water
  • Drain your cashews, add a good glug of soya milk and blend to a cream
  • Add the cream to the skillet and mix through thoroughly, cook gently for two minutes
  • Gradually add your stock, mixing as you go
  • Once the sauce is mixed completely, add the pasta and make sure it is evenly mixed and coated.

The sauce when fully mixed:

The sauce when fully mixed

The tarragon ready to mix

Yummy anise flavour

The finished article:

Recipe: Tropical Crunch Smoothie

I love a yummy smoothie every now and then. It’s great fun to aexperiment with flavours to see what I can come up with. This recipe is a simple, two minute affair.

Delicious Tropical Crunch Smoothie
Delicious Tropical Crunch Smoothie

Ingredients

  • 2 papayas, peeled and chopped
  • Handful of pomegranate seeds
  • Optional depending on taste, either maple syrup for sweetness or lime juice for a bit of twang

Put everything in a blender and pulverise it all in the mixture for thirty seconds. This will leave the pomegranate and papaya seeds slightly intact, hence the crunch. Sweeten or sour it as you prefer, or not if you just like the fruity tastes. Delicious.

Delicious Tropical Crunch Smoothie
Delicious Tropical Crunch Smoothie

Week in Review

Last week I picked up my schedule for the first time in 2020 after a pretty awful 2019. I got Twitter and Instagram accounts, and in addition to easing back into the outdoors I started to further expand my nutritional horizons. I love cooking and it’s a great way to express one’s creativity. I remain on a 16/8 intermittent fasting schedule and I am more than ever committed to a vegan diet that contains little to no sugar and is not processed wherever possible.

I cycled twice but only over short distances. I don’t pay too much attention to statistics and data for rides under five miles as cycling in Lancashire is so roly-poly, hilly and stop-start that it is difficult to build up a decent cadence and pick up a good cruising speed for any meaningful length of time. I was hoping to post some swimming data but I have been held up by the supplier of a replacement strap for my Garmin Vivoactive watch, which has yet to arrive and is now six days late. Thanks useless eBay parts supplier.

Today’s Cycle
Today’s Cycle

I have cycled today already, again just a short town ride on an errand, the virtue of which I extolled last week. My focus this week is to begin to add swimming to my cycling again. I hope to strengthen my lower back after hurting it quite badly last year, such was the sedentary nature of caring for my crocked little boy.

Small beginnings yield massive outcomes. Let’s destroy 2020.

Recipe: Breakfast Pancakes with Spicy Turmeric Potato and Yoghurt Filling

Delicious brunch pancakes

One of the best things about cooking for oneself is how cheap it is. It is even more efficient when you can make use of old food or leftovers. This recipe is an absolutely delicious way to use up the spuds that are left at the end of the week, and it is filling and hearty. If you aren’t used to eating savoury or spicy for breakfast then it may seem weird at first, but I love it. When I visited India I noticed that it was perfectly normal to do so out there, and for someone like me with a savoury palate it’s great. I don’t have much of a sweet tooth so this sort of food suits me down to the ground.

Savoury pancakes with a delicious Indian potato filling
Savoury pancakes with a delicious Indian potato filling

Ingredients

Pancakes

  • 200 grams of gram flour
  • 200 ml soy milk
  • 1 flax egg (1 tbsp flax meal soaked in water for ten minutes)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp chilli flakes
  • 1 clove of garlic

Filling

  • 6-8 old potatoes, cubed
  • 1 tbsp turmeric powder
  • 1 white onion, chopped
  • 1 clove of garlic, chopped
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika

Yoghurt Sauce

  • 6-8 tbsp soy yoghurt
  • Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped
  • Lime juice

Method

In a hot, dry frying pan add the cumin powder and mustard seeds. Dry fry for thirty seconds. Then add the chopped garlic and chilli flakes and fry for another minute. Splash in a little oil, mix and then set aside. Time to cook the filling.

Heat some oil in a pan on medium. Add the chopped onion and turmeric. Fry together, mixing in the colour of the turmeric well. Add the potatoes, mix thoroughly and then add the garlic and paprika. Stir in and leave to fry for twenty minutes, stirring every so often to avoid burning the potatoes on one side. Now you finish your pancake batter.

Blend together the flour, milk, seasoning and flax egg until smooth. Then add the dry fried ingredients, mix well until smooth – add more milk if necessary.

Heat your pan hot, then turn to a low-medium heat. Add some oil for frying. Taking the pan to the batter mixture, ladle in enough to coat the base, swirling it evenly. Be sure to stir the mixture before each ladle. Return the pan to the heat and let it cook. It will separate from the pan eventually and that is when it is ready to toss. Once you have cooked both sides repeat until the mixture is used up.

Now make your cooling yoghurt mixture simply by thoroughly mixing the yoghurt, coriander and lime juice.

Once your potatoes are tender you are ready to serve. Just roll up the filling with some yoghurt in a pancake and you are good to go. Delicious breakfast or brunch, cheap as chips, healthy and filling with plenty to go around. Scrumptious.

Breakfast of champions!
Breakfast of champions!

Recipe: The Comfort Food of Champions!

Comfort food. We all eat it and need it from time to time, some more than others. For me comfort food done well is filling, hearty and it makes me feel better when I’m either unwell or I need to console myself, lick my wounds or similar. Usually comfort food is garbage nutritionally speaking. It is typically high in salt, high in sugar, high in bad fats and loaded with simple carbohydrates. I am here to tell you that it need not be so. If you want good comfort food then usually it has to be:

  • Filling
  • Savoury/umami
  • Tasty and/or hearty

So here is one of my favourite dishes that is all three: socca flatbread with a cheesy dip sauce.

Socca and Cheesy Dip Sauce
Socca and Cheesy Dip Sauce

This is a dish that will fill you and satisfy your comfort hunger, but will not leave you bloated and tired with a food hangover, and it relies on my favourite staple, the mighty cashew cream. The flatbread, socca, is gluten-free and low on carbohydrates. So below is how you make it.

Ingredients

Socca

  • Two cups of water
  • Two cups of gram flour (chickpea flour)
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Fresh rosemary for garnish

Cheese sauce

  • 150 grams cashews, soaked in boiling water for at least 10 minutes
  • 1 cup of nutritional yeast
  • 1-2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • Soy milk
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1-2 tsp Chilli flakes
  • Salt to taste
Served at the Dinning Table: Socca and Cheesy Dip Sauce
Served at the Dinning Table: Socca and Cheesy Dip Sauce

Method

Socca

Mix the ingredients together until you have something similar to pancake batter. If it is watery add a little more flour, or water if too thick. Socca needs to be crispy at the edges with a creamy tasting centre, so once your batter is smoothly mixed you must let it rest for half an hour. This will give the dense gram flour time to hydrate thoroughly.

To cook it spread some oil around a frying pan and keep the heat at medium. Coat the pan with batter, and let it cook slowly. It will bubble up, this is normal. You do not flip it, hence why a medium heat is important. Allow it to cook through. It is ready when you can lift it from the pan without it falling apart. If you lift it too soon it will flop and split. Patience is key here as it will take a little longer than a regular pancake to cook through, and the first one will be a little more difficult than the others to cook properly. Garnish with rosemary and sprinkle with a pinch of salt.

Once done you can do anything with it. You could spread with garlic butter, use it as a pizza base, top with a Mediterranean salad, maybe a tabbouleh, or tomato sauce. The possibilities are limitless. For this dish however slice it into six with a pizza cutter.

Cheese Sauce

Drain the cashews and put them in a blender. Start it spinning on a low speed and slowly add milk. Keep this up until you have a smooth cream. It can take a couple of minutes to completely pulverise the nuts so there is no need to rush. Once done, add the chopped pepper and blend again.

Once you have the cream add the nutritional yeast, and add a little more milk if necessary to keep the smooth consistency. Once that is blended add the paprika, garlic, turmeric and chilli flakes. Blend thoroughly. Now you will have a cheesy, creamy sauce.

Unplug the blender and taste. Depending on your preference, add salt slowly and blend, unplugging and tasting as you go. Once you are happy the sauce is ready. I serve it in a bowl that I have warmed in hot water to keep the sauce warm like a fondue. Now it’s your choice! Either spread the sauce on the socca, or dip and munch. Whatever floats your boat. You now have a dish full of good fats, protein, no gluten and very little carbohydrate. Best of all, it is absolutely delicious.

The Best Comfort Food in the World: Socca and Cheesy Dip Sauce
The Best Comfort Food in the World: Socca and Cheesy Dip Sauce

That is how you eat comfort food that hits the spot without hitting your waistline.

2020: Let’s DO THIS THANG!

I have the world’s most unlucky son. In 2019 I lost an entire season of activities as he broke his wrist, had his cast off, then days later he fell and sustained a double break to his his leg, and then whilst he had his full leg cast on he contracted appendicitis and had to have an appendectomy. I spent the entire summer and autumn caring for the poor little monkey. Suffice to say I did absolutely sod all in terms of cycling, hiking, running or swimming in 2019 as I loved on him and helped him recover from a horrendous set of circumstances. That has been a hard and long road to walk, and especially for him, what a nightmare! He has bounced back thankfully – kids are so resilient, so I now must do the same.

That being said, I am not to be undone by such a run of misfortune. After getting flu – as in actual, cannot get out of bed, seriously ill flu – I am now starting a new regime, and I guess that I am starting pretty much from scratch. I have upgraded my Garmin Edge 800 to an Edge 1000 and below is my first ride of 2020. I have only just figured out after this ride how to turn on auto pause as the 1000 is way more complex to use than the 800, so this ride looks a little bit slow and a couple of times I forgot to use the manual stop/start controls so I post here purely as a progress marker. I have been fasting intermittently on a 16/8 daily schedule which has allowed me to drop two inches from my waist without exercising, so now I am adding exercising in a fasted state to that, so this ride was done on an empty stomach, overnight. Ironically I have not shed any actual weight, but my body has changed considerably. Fasting seems to be efficacious for serious fitness and positive body changes.

2020 will come to fear my might.

Data

Counting Steps is Pointless, Moving Constantly is the Future

Along with my loathing of the gym another bunch of fitness bores I roll my eyes at are the 10000 steps a day merchants, and largely for the same reasons – particularly the Fitbit Squadron. I can’t stand the gym not only because of the whole staring at the wall and picking things up and putting them down thing, but also because of the vanity of men trying to pick up girls there. Trust me guys – she’s breaking a sweat and working hard. She doesn’t want you to talk to her. The other thing about gym workouts is that they are often pointless because people often sit around all day, literally not moving, then flog themselves to death for 45 minutes before returning to a sedentary position. This is no good for staying well, and the 10000 steps a day mantra is the same.

I also typically don’t like self help books either but one of the best books I’ve read in a while is Dan Buettner’s Blue Zones, in which he visits the six places on Earth where people live longest, happiest and most free of chronic illness. These areas all have huge concentrations of centenarians, almost no cancers or diseases associated with chronic inflammation and no lingering chronic illness killing people. When people in the Blue Zones die they just have one bad day, and in the meantime they live lives of healthy productivity well into their eighties and nineties. The book uses hard data and observations and Buettner discovered several things they all have in common. They are all more or less vegans, drink tea, coffee and a little red wine, they gather as a community regularly, venerate elders, often have several generations in one house and so forth. One thing that stood out to me, however is that these people never stop moving. I should be clear that they aren’t trying to live long lives, rather their longevity is a byproduct of their lifestyles. So, for the same reason that I long since ceased calorie counting, I have never tried to hit an arbitrary number of steps. Instead of fostering the ‘I’ve moved 10000 steps and thus have earned this 500 calorie chocolate muffin’ attitude I have lived, for many years, a de-convenienced lifestyle.

Below is yesterday’s health data from my iPhone:

Not bad huh? This is a typical day in the summer for me. I had no idea that I had covered such a huge distance yesterday. I didn’t try to either. All I have done for the last five or six years is to live according to a set of principles that essentially force me to move constantly. So, for example, below is what yesterday entailed. I preface this by saying that I work from home so I’m lucky in that sense, and I can arrange my day around bursts of work.

  • Walk the school run
  • Go running straight from school
  • Come home, draw a bath
  • Hang out wet washing, start new load
  • Bathe
  • Prepare evening meal whilst dripping dry
  • Dress
  • Work for three hours, raising to either prepare food, hang out washing, prepare next load etc. Much of work is reading and I do as much as I can standing up
  • Walk 2 miles to shops, collect what I need
  • Another hour reading in the sun by the canal
  • Walk home and collect children
  • Whilst children change hang out more washing and prepare another load
  • Walk 3 miles to the park, play with children for an hour
  • Go home, eat
  • Collect washing
  • Put children to bed
  • Another burst of work
  • Walk the dog 3 miles
  • Bed

Obviously we all live our own lives but what you can see there is that I never stop moving and this raises my metabolism all day. Rather than being sluggish and sedentary for 12 hours with one burst of high intensity exercise, this way I ended up moving over 15 miles without even thinking about it. This is a better way. As long as you eat well you simply cannot gain weight living like this.

I also live according to a few simple rules that make a huge difference. This will read like luddism but there’s a reason that the Blue Zone communities are all relatively poor ones, or in the case of the Seventh Day Adventists, living lives of modest means deliberately.

  • The car is a deadly sin. Use it only when the journey cannot be made without it.
  • All journeys under 3 miles are walked
  • Any activity done whilst sitting can be done standing – getting a standing desk at work for example can be a remarkable change
  • Never automate that which you can do by hand

This list is not exhaustive but you get the idea. I also stress the need for common sense in the sense that this has to work with one’s lifestyle. Fit these things in so that it’s natural. Even simple things like taking the stairs rather than the lift make a huge difference to one’s heart rate and keeps the calorie burn ticking over in the background. Walking everywhere also frees up time for podcasts, audiobooks, quiet reflection etc, or if walking with family it frees up time for conversation.

Previously we would often drive to places to do things and view the car as a time saver, but then I realised that we rushed around like that for no reason. I literally thought that it was best to get out and in as soon as possible. Why? We would only sit around during the time saved. The constant drive to get somewhere more quickly is pointless. What will you do with the time saved? You can’t put it in the bank to use it later. When we stopped the lunacy of rushing around everywhere we found our days to be much more pleasant. No mindless rushing around like headless chickens, no stress from trying to park with energetic children bouncing around in the back. Just joyful nature and long, productive days of healthy activity.

I also live by the following dietary rules:

  • No animal ever
  • Default morning drink is green tea
  • Cook by hand, from scratch with fresh ingredients
  • Where possible buy local, as this makes you walk to the shops
  • Snack on food that looks like it does when it is in the ground, on the vine or branch etc.
  • Where possible grow your own food
  • Put turmeric in everything as it is a natural anti-inflammatory

In addition to this I would also argue that counting calories is a disaster. When I used to engage in this ridiculous practice of logging meals to the gram I would always eat right up to my limit, even if I wasn’t hungry a lot of the time.

I’ve discovered that living a life of convenience is a disaster. Spending 3 hours a week in a gym trying to run off 168 hours of sitting or lying around just doesn’t work. I’ve seen the future and it is one where I never sit still. Not only is it good for physical health, but also being productive and useful all day has a profound effect on mental health and wellbeing. Being outside is how humans thrive, and making our bodies work constantly generates a life of purpose and induces healthy sleep.

I remember as a kid I never tried to be thin, I simply was thin and I never thought about it. The main reason is that I never stopped moving and nothing was convenient. The things I do now are the things I did as a kid. The only difference is that I have to do real life as well, so I adapt.