Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Cross-Country Travel: What I Ate In A Day (& Why)

Greetings from sunny California!

I’m here for a blog conference on behalf of Overstock.com, who I learned has WAY MORE to offer than just furniture and home goods, like this adorable hideaway dog (or cat) bed ottoman that I might purchase for my office for Murphy, so he doesn’t need to sit on my lap while I work. Thirty pound dog + hours of sitting at computer + a bad back = no bueno.

So, I had quite the full day of travel from Boston to Santa Barbara on Tuesday (I set my alarm for 3:31 AM), so I wanted to share my eats from the day. Traveling cross-country always makes me super hungry. Maybe it’s because I’m sitting on a plane with nothing else to do? Or maybe there’s just so many options TO EAT while waiting at the airport/during layovers? Or maybe because I gain an extra 3 hours flying westward, so I just need more food to fuel my day? It’s probably a combination of all these things, but, ultimately, I’m just HUNGRY. With that, here’s what I ate in a day (and why!) traveling cross-country!

What I Ate In A Day Cross-Country Travel

On the drive to the airport: Iced coffee with cream and collagen for a little extra protein boost. (FYI: 2 tbsp has 12g protein. FYI #2: I mix the collagen with a little bit of warm water first and THEN mix it into my iced coffee, so it doesn’t clump together.) It was 4:00 AM when I left my house, so… coffee.

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At the airport: Iced Americano from Starbucks with one pump of pumpkin spice syrup and milk. It was still a total sugar bomb, but less so than a regular PSL.

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Breakfast from home: Scrambled eggs with breakfast potatoes and roasted zucchini. I made the eggs and put everything together in Tupperware the night before, so I ate it cold the next day, which surprisingly wasn’t terrible. I usually try to pack my own breakfasts when I travel because I feel like finding a healthy and satisfying one at the airport is usually a little tough. If I don’t pack breakfast from home, I will usually get the oatmeal from Starbucks and add a packet of nut butter, collagen, and/or protein powder from home for some staying power.

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On the plane: Two hard-boiled eggs (purchased from ABP at the airport), Coconut Chocolate Rx Bar (from home), and a Granny Smith apple (from home). I have no idea why I didn’t think to hard-boil eggs at home, but I totally could have saved $4. Whomp whomp. I packed a bunch of snacks from home for “lunch” because I wasn’t sure if I’d have time to grab a real meal during my layover. I’m glad I had a few things on hand because I barely made my connecting flight to Santa Barbara!

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On my second flight: Biscoff Cookies! I totally didn’t “need” these cookies, but, OMG, they’re so good. I couldn’t resist!

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At the conference: Snack-size salad. When I arrived, lunch was being served and it was 3:30 pm EST, so I was definitely ready for a snack. I kept it semi-light with lots of greens, roasted potatoes, and a small serving of both chicken breast and steak.

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Afternoon snack after meetings and a workoutCookies & Cream Quest Bar. After a bunch of afternoon meetings, I hit the hotel gym for a super sweaty, 45-minute workout, so I refueled with a Quest Bar.

Oreo Quest Bar

At the hotel bar: Wine time! A glass of Sauvignon Blanc because… wine.

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Dinner started with: A piece of freshly baked Focaccia bread that I dipped into balsamic vinegar.

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Dinner is served: Tuna tartare! So yum. I hardly ever eat fish at home, so I often order it when I’m dining out.

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Overall, it wasn’t a terrible day of eating, especially since I was traveling and didn’t always have the best options available to me. I ate more sugar and relied on protein bars more than I usually do, but, like I mentioned above, I’m always more hungry when I travel, so I definitely could have made worse choices.

Question of the Day

How do your eating habits change when you travel? What are your strategies/tips/trick for sticking to a mostly healthy diet? 

P.S. Be sure to enter the giveaways on CNC this week: Win a sports bra from the Moving Comfort Collection at Brooks Running and win a prize pack from CocoaVia. I will pick two winners early next week!



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CRISPR: What Does Gene Editing Mean for the Future of Primal Living?

CRISPR in lineBy now, you’ve no doubt heard of CRISPR, the latest gene-editing tool sweeping research labs across the globe. It was first discovered in certain strains of bacteria, who use it as an important weapon against dangerous viruses. In bacteria, CRISPR identifies a virus that poses a threat, records the virus’ genetic data and imprints it onto RNA molecules. An immune enzyme called Cas9 grabs one of the RNA molecules and goes exploring. When Cas9 encounters a virus that matches the data on the RNA molecule, it latches on and slices the virus in half to prevent it from replicating and posing any threat.

Researchers have co-opted the CRISPR/Cas9 mechanism to edit genes. Instead of copying dangerous viral DNA sequences onto the RNA molecules, they can copy over any sequence they want to edit. And instead of Cas9 destroying viruses, it makes precise cuts and removes specific bits of genetic data from the designated sequence. This allows researchers to target and edit specific gene sequences with genetic data of their choosing.

Are there risks?

“Off-target” events.

Although we know how to program Cas9 to make specific edits to genes, it’s not always accurate. Sometimes the wrong portion of the sequence is removed and replaced. Other times, Cas9 slices the right sequence but, once inside the cell, starts editing other sequences. Early CRISPR editing accuracy varied wildly, with some studies reporting many “off-target” events and others reporting very few. As you might imagine, editing the wrong genetic sequence defeats the purpose of CRISPR entirely and can even create new health conditions.

The latest updates to the CRISPR tech have made huge strides in accuracy. Using edited Cas9 enzymes from Strep. pyogenes, MIT and Harvard scientists have nearly abolished off-target events, as evidenced by a study from late last year.

Unforeseen “off-target” events.

Right now they use a composite human genome, a kind of “standard” or “template,” to map and avoid the potential off-target interactions. But in actual real people (or embryos), every genome is unique. No standardized genome map can account for that.  So the predictive model that works so well in the lab on a homogeneous sample might not play out the same in the real world.

Assuming those get ironed out, what’s the prospect of hyper-intelligent designer babies?

First, the most alluring traits are the hardest to edit. Want a smarter kid? Dozens of genes contribute to cognitive ability (PDF), none contributing more than a couple IQ points. Height? Hundreds of genes contribute to height. Personality? Thousands.

Second, preventing diseases is easier. Want to reduce your chance of Alzheimer’s? Modify your APOE gene. Improve your chances of avoiding breast cancer? Edit the BRCA1 and BRCA2 genes. Cystic fibrosis depends heavily on a single gene, too.

I won’t go over every potentially beneficial edit we can make to our genes with CRISPR. You name a trait or disease and it can probably be modified with genetic editing. The environment and other epigenetic inputs matter too, of course, but genes underlie everything.

Okay.

Assuming we do figure it all out, identify all the SNPs that interact with the traits and conditions we want to edit, could CRISPR render Primal living, eating, and exercising moot?

After all, some people are just impervious to metabolic derangement. They’re set up for lifelong leanness, health, and longevity, mostly because of their genes. That can be replicated, assuming the technology works. If genetic editing turns every incoming human into that lucky jerk in your high school who sat around all day eating McDonald’s and never gained an ounce while dominating three varsity sports, many people will give up their gym memberships and stop shopping the produce aisle.

I’m sure, given enough time, scientists will figure out a way to edit genes so that we never have to exercise, watch what we eat, or worry about our health ever again. We’ll become superworkers, impervious to stress and able to function (and stay healthy) on three hours of sleep a night. We’ll have the option to become energy-wasting (eat all you want, whatever you want, never gain an ounce) or energy-conserving (thrive on a few hundred calories a day, never get hungry) organisms. We’ll be able to reduce our vitamin D requirements or enhance our vitamin D synthesis to the point where a minute of sunlight every week is plenty.

The foods, behaviors, exercises, and lifestyle factors that make us healthy aren’t purely utilitarian. And even if they are, we don’t see them that way. Evolutionary pressures work below the conscious level. The pleasure of sex incentivizes us to spread our genetic material. The spread of our genetic material is the proximate cause, but that’s not what motivates us in the moment. It’s the pleasure.

We may not have to practice “lots of slow moving,” but isn’t walking barefoot over grass or along the beach kinda nice?

We may never have to trail run through the redwoods, but damn if that isn’t a gorgeous, sacred way to spend an afternoon.

I don’t think those reactions to Primal practices go away.

If anything, people being able to ensure their health and fitness will allow them to focus on the pleasure, meaning, and fun the Primal lifestyle offers.

And there will be other edits we can make down the line that can enhance our quality of life and arguably make us even more Primal.

Like the myostatin gene, which regulates muscle growth. Scientists have successfully and reliably used CRISPR to produce myostatin knockout rabbits, cows, goats, mice, and pigs. They get enormous. Take a look at this myostatin knockout dog. Or this bull. Or these rabbits. Or the mice in this study (PDF; just scroll down).

In resource-limited environments, like our ancestral backdrop, it made sense to have myostatin. Extra muscle required extra calories. We didn’t need to look like Terminator-era Arnold to be effective hunter-gatherers. These days, we don’t have to hunt or forage for our food. We just walk down to the market and buy whatever we want. It’s cheaper than ever before. We can eat about as much as we want. We can enjoy big muscles even if we don’t really need them.

And why not? It may even improve the aging process.

I’m quite optimistic.

People tend to imagine the worst kind of dystopian cyberpunk future: genetic ubermensch striding around gleaming cityscapes doing calculus in their heads while the un-engineered lower classes battle over the scraps and rely on government-funded feed pellets and VR.

Yet the latest tech isn’t walled off from the middle and working classes. Take the smartphone for example. 20 years ago, only the likes of Zack Morris and Pablo Escobar (yeah, I know it’s from Narcos) had mobile phones. Today, there are nearly 3 billion smartphones in circulation worldwide and by 2020, there’ll be over 6 billion. That’s space-age technology—palm sized devices that contain all the world’s knowledge and wisdom and information—and it’s available to almost half the world, from Nigeria to Nice to New Zealand.

CRISPR itself is quite cost effective and accessible, and not just to research centers and universities. DIYers are putting together CRISPR labs at home for $1000 and using software to design custom genetic sequences. A recent Kickstarter offered CRISPR kits that fit on your kitchen table for under $200. I expect it’ll only get easier and cheaper.

We’re a long way away from in vivo genetic editing of large adult mammals. There are major hurdles to that, like that fact that you don’t immerse yourself in a CRISPR bath that permeates your tissues. You can’t swallow a “CRISPR pill” that modifies all your adult DNA. It doesn’t “know” where to go without you delivering it to the right tissues.

But editing human embryos shortly after conception is a viable way of altering the genetic makeup of an (eventual) adult. The Chinese are beginning trials in human embryos. Pretty soon, parents will be able to select the traits they desire in their children, or even send CRISPR-ized nanobots into the placenta with editing instructions. I fully expect the first human to break a 9 second 100m dash will be a CRISPRed Chinese guy.

Still, maybe the biggest hurdle of all is our incomplete knowledge. We need broader genetic datasets, incuding genomes from different ethnicities, to untangle and identify the SNPs that cause traits (especially complex ones) and conditions. At this point, we just don’t know if (or where) many “genes for” this condition or that trait exist.

We’ll get there. Or maybe the next generation will. Who knows?

Either way, I think it’s very cool and exciting.

What about you?

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The post CRISPR: What Does Gene Editing Mean for the Future of Primal Living? appeared first on Mark's Daily Apple.



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5-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

For the past decade, I’ve been getting by with a $25 smallish slow cooker that I purchased from the grocery store. Recently I relocated, leaving my kitchen gadgets — including said slow cooker — behind, “forcing” me to buy a new one. Now I am thrilled to be sporting a slow cooker fit with a cook setting that automatically switches to warming mode after the cooking time has elapsed. Game changer. That was $49 well spent.

With fall comes peak sweet potato season. This dish highlights the savory side of this root vegetable, brimming with loads of vitamin A in the form of beta carotene, plus potassium and vitamin C. I opt for orange-fleshed taters because, to me, the presentation of a white sweet potato just doesn’t have the same panache.

I prefer to use chicken thighs with the bone in (skin removed, of course) in slow-cooked dishes because the result is juicy, tender pieces of meat. The natural gelatin from within the bones lends itself to a simplified bone broth — so good you’ll be sipping it from a spoon.

Toss these simple ingredients into the slow cooker and be on your way. Just a few hours later, return to your kitchen filled with a warm, mouthwatering aroma.

5-Ingredient Slow-Cooker Chicken and Sweet Potatoes
Makes 4 servings
Total Time: 4 hr
Prep Time: 25 min

2 medium orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, peeled, diced 1/4 inch (about 4 cups)
3/4 cup diced onion
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika (or use sweet paprika or cumin), divided
1 1/4 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin and excess fat removed (about 4 thighs)

Combine the sweet potatoes, onions, 1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika and freshly ground black pepper in the slow cooker. Pour in the broth. Season the chicken thighs with 1/4 teaspoon each salt, pepper and smoked paprika . Nestle the chicken into the sweet potatoes. Cover and cook on low for 3 1/2 hours, until the chicken is cooked through and the sweet potatoes are fork-tender. Season each serving with additional salt and a few drops of apple cider vinegar, if you wish.

Per serving: Calories 235; Fat 8 g (Saturated 2 g); Cholesterol 72 mg; Sodium 407 mg; Carbohydrate 17 g; Fiber 2 g; Protein 22 g

Michelle Dudash is a registered dietitian nutritionist, Cordon Bleu-certified chef consultant and the author of Clean Eating for Busy Families: Get Meals on the Table in Minutes with Simple and Satisfying Whole-Foods Recipes You and Your Kids Will Love.



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Come On In!

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^^Check out my new welcome mat! It’s from Bed, Bath and Beyond, and the dark navy looks SO sharp by our front door with a pot of yellow mums. It’s also a cool curly plastic material, so it isn’t shedding fibers all over the porch. Love it!

Smoothie for breakfast! If you follow me on Instagram, you’d know this one was filled with “goats, salad, and peanut butter!!!” I have no idea why Mazen called oats “goats” but it was soooo cute : )

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Still on the eggs and toast train too. Woot woot!

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I’m still loving these stuffed pitas for lunch! This one had tomato, leftover bacon, sprouts, pickle, mustard, and cheese inside, and I heated it all in the toaster oven. Served with a juicy red plum.

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Check out this cool phone accessory! It’s called a Popsocket, and the company is owned by blog reader Nikki’s husband. It’s a sticky button that you put on your phone and you can accordion it out to help hold your phone, take selfies, wrap cords around, or act as a stand. When not in use it collapses back in. And the sticky will last through many stick-and-re-sticks, so you can move it around or take it off for occasions. I love the marble, and it comes in a bunch of cool designs!

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I try to plan 2-3 dinners to cook each week and eat leftovers, wing it or go out the other nights. If I plan too many I tend to waste ingredients, so it’s always better for me to add a meal than subtract one. Cook Smarts is still my favorite meal planning tool. I made two killer dinners last week. Thai Tofu Curry with eggplant and mango was so good! I served it over nutty basmati rice.

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And this Tilapia en Papillote with artichoke-spinach pesto is an old favorite : ) With leftover rice and BBQ green beans.

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I have a special giveaway from Cook Smarts to share today! Who doesn’t love free groceries to get the cooking juices flowing!? And the new Cook Smarts seriously smart wall calendars are packed with useful information and cooking tidbits. Great gifts for anyone looking to spend more time in the kitchen.

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To enter, sign up for a free trial here (if you’re already using it – perfect!) and then enter in the Rafflecopter below.

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Giveaway offered by Cook Smarts



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