Happy Halloween, or Samhain for the traditionalists! In a fun happenstance I went for my body composition test (DXA) today,and received a nice little scan of my skeleton. I wanted to share some of the results from that scan, and the Resting Metabolic Rate (RMR) test I also did today because I'm a geek for this kind of stuff, but also because it is tangible evidence of the work Dan has been doing with me over the last six months. Yeah, I lifted the weight and cooked all the food I put in my pie hole, but he programmed this, and he deserves a lot of credit for that... and putting up with me.
Let me start off by saying that shortly after I started lifting in February I decided to have a Bod Pod and RMR test done at the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Department of Kinesiology. Those were baseline tests for me to know where my body's general composition was at before I started powerlifting.
Six months later I returned to have a more comprehensive DXA scan and another RMR test. The DXA is like lying in the bed of your printer's scanner. A big arm goes over you and produces an x-ray of sorts that shows essentially three things: your fat and lean mass, and your bone density. Unlike the BodPod, which only factors out fat and then lumps together lean and bone mass. With the DXA you get to see your bone density and lean muscle mass.
The RMR test is a more precise way of knowing how many calories you burn at rest. So, if you never got out of bed in a day, this is what your body needs to survive. It also breaks out how much of that caloric burn is through carbs, versus fat.
So, what does six month of powerlifting do to a 48 year old woman? Here's some basic stats from my test today...
Here's the thing about this... the journey over the last eight months of lifting has been an incredible gift to receive at this point in my life. I've genuinely enjoyed every day on the weight floor, and every conversation with my coach (Dan-Dan, Superman) about how to move through this process. I've learned to see food in a completely different way. It is not a restrictive, prohibitive regime any more... I eat to build my muscles and my bones - and I've achieved that. Lifting itself is intensely philosophical for me... I no longer see a goal weight, but a process of acceptance of what my body is capable of now, and what it is capable of in the future with proper training, rest and food.
Here's the other thing, it's not over... it's never over. I have some goals with those numbers (I want the z-score to stay up as I age, and I'd like to drop the fat percentage down a few points), but those are in process... and it's a process I love and derive incredible pleasure from. I love going to the gym. I love prepping my food. I love giving Dan shit about everything. And I love building a business that's in alignment with all of that. There is no "when I lose ten more pounds I'll be good," or "when I get to 700# cumulative weights in my lifts I can back off." I'm actually at the place of happiness right now, I'm totally fulfilled with being in the process of living life like this.
Life is a quick ride when you get right down to it... make it as fun and fabulous as you can. And lift heavy... it's good for your bones.
There are a lot of health benefits behind this dish: miso is a fermented soy paste that is great for helping balance your microbiom. And salmon is an excellent source of protein, omega 3 fatty acids, and vitamin B. I garnish this with shiso, an Asian herb from the mint family. It's a fabulous and easy meal, but if you don't want to make it, we'll take care of that for you - it's on our menu this week!
I love to serve this with white rice and steamed vegetables. It pairs particularly well with sauvignon blanc, or a pale ale.
Miso Glazed Salmon Filet
2 Salmon Filet (we prefer coho salmon, but you can use any kind)
1/4cup Miso Paste (We use white, but you can use red... it's just more intense)
2 Tbsp Maple Syrup
2 Tbsp Mirin
Scallions or Shiso to garnish (optional)
Whisk together the miso, maple syrup and mirin and cover the filets with the marinade. Refrigerate overnight, or atleast a couple hours. When you are ready to eat preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the fish in an oven safe dish and cover with aluminum foil. Cook for approximately 6 minutes. Remove the foil and cook until the salmon is firm to the touch (approximately another 6 minutes). Garnish and serve.
I don't really like labels when it comes to people, but on food they are really important. For us, the label is a critical way for us to communicate information about the product we lovingly made, and you are about to make a part of yourself... so, it's important.
Food labels are also notoriously confusing to read and understand, so we simplified our version to tell you exactly what you are getting in that little box/bowl of joy. We tell you the name of the product, the macros, the nutritional information, ingredients, and that's about it. Allergy information is also highlighted on the bottom of the label, if there is any. If it's vegan, gluten free, or anything else of note, you'll also find it down there.
So, how do we figure all this out? We use a program called Nutritics to analyze every recipe we make. The analysis they do is FDA compliant, so you know what is on the label is what is going into your body.
What's not on the label is cooking instructions. Why? Because everything we send to you is 100% edible as is. If you want to eat it cold... go for it. If you want to heat it up, throw the container in the microwave for a couple minutes, or until it's the temperature you want it. Personally, I like my stuff a bit on the 'not-so-hot' side, but we'll leave that up to you.
This week's menu includes several dishes with an Asian theme. Although I was trained in classical French techniques, I've always been drawn to the flavors and ingredients of Asian cuisine.
One of my favorites is an herb called Shiso, or perilla frutescens. A member of the mint family, this particular herb has an almost peppery flavor. The green leaves are most commonly known as the liner for wasabi paste on sushi platters, but I grow the red variety. Why? Because it's a great way to add a slightly pink hue to the foods you cook it with. Most notably, umeboshi, or pickled plum, is made pink by including shiso in the brine. I put a few leaves into rice and it makes it a beautiful rose color that I find really attractive.
Shiso was originally cultivated in China, but is used throughout Asian cuisine. Fortunately for me, it's easy to grow, even in Wisconsin. I plant it from seeds that I purchase from the Kitazawa Seed Company. I broadcast the seeds in my grow boxes in spring and get huge bushes of the plant. Like mint, it's tough to kill these babies and they spread, so it's a good idea to be careful if you plant them in your garden beds, or they tend to take over. The red leaves are beautiful in planters though, and you'll most likely have more than enough for your culinary endeavours.
This week's Miso salmon has some chiffonade of shiso as a garnish. I also put some into the Udon Badger Bowl. You can eat the leaf in salads, but be careful the flavor is intense - a little bit goes a long way! I use shiso with my mint when I make mojitos - which might need to be a recipe of the week at some point. The plant is said to have antibacterial properties, so basically that makes that mojito medicinal in my book!
When my father was alive he had a special category of people he referred to as “the salt of the Earth.” These are rare folks, but you know them when you meet them – immediately trustworthy, and comfortable. These are the people who bring you home in yourself and your world. Last March I had the good fortune to meet one of those people in my life, Venice Williams. I was following her as a presenter at the Midwest Vegan Festival, and she immediately enchanted me with her knowledge of herbs, but also her ability to be present with people – all sorts of people.
Later that summer I joined the Herbal Apprenticeship program she leads at Alice’s Garden, and began a journey with her in that space that has strongly impacted me in many ways. Alice’s Garden is a community garden next to Brown Street School off Fond du Lac Avenue on Milwaukee’s North Side. It’s a richly diverse space in many ways: the people who grow and gather there are all colors of the rainbow, which is a pleasant change in a highly segregated city like Milwaukee. But the garden is more than that, it is a spiritual place. The garden sits on what was once a stop on the Underground Railroad, and long before that was home to the Sauk tribe of Native Americans. The garden is a reclamation of space for the people, and spirits that have lived on that land, and you feel that when you are there. Recently I was walking the herbal labyrinth that is in the garden. Time slowed down, and the sounds of the neighborhood disappeared. The only real sense I had was of gentle solitude and communal place. It wasn’t a dramatic or shattering epiphany, more of a subtle quiet. Venice, as well as a host of others, shepherd that community, and hold that space for everyone who enters there.
When I began to formulate the idea of Mouth & Muscle, one of the things I really wanted to do was focus on bringing products that are indigenous to Milwaukee to everyone in the area. The idea that we can foster strength in ourselves by supporting and strengthening our community with our financial sustenance is central to what I want to do with this business. I have curated producers from Milwaukee who are part of the weave of fabric that makes our city as unique and flavorful as it is. And I can think of no better representation of that than Alice’s Garden, and Venice Williams.
She will be sharing a variety of herbal teas and body salves with us here. She creates all of these things, and a vast majority of the herbs in those products were grown in Alice’s Garden. They are magical creations… and I’ll support why I say that with a final story…
Over the summer I was preparing to compete in my first powerlifting competition. I was overly ambitious and lacking every ounce of patience. Two weeks before the competition I dislocated my rib twice practicing deadlifts. My coach (Dan), and my chiropractor where both done with me, they taped me up and admonished my obstinense. To make matters worse, I fell asleep on an ice pack that exploded and burned my back. It was excruciating.
I was in the garden one evening and showed my back to Venice. She immediately put a calendula rue salve on it and sent me home with some. I diligently put that on day and night. Four days later the burn was healed enough for me to be back lifting. I’m a professional chef… I burn myself a lot, and I’m pretty familiar with how to heal those burns. What I know is that the size and degree of the burn I had was pretty bad. To have it 80% healed in four days was not something I expected, and it’s not something I fully understand, but it happened.
We spend a lot of energy and money slathering our bodies with chemical laden rubs and tinctures. I want to offer you all some alternatives to that… and so we are very, very proud to have Alice’s Garden teas and salves for sale here. I hope you enjoy them and feel their power as much as I do!