Thursday, December 28, 2017

What Collagen Does For Performance

inline_collagenI’ve always been a student of performance—in my athletic days and now. Whether it’s nutritional intake, training strategies, or supplement choices, this is where science comes to life for me. Over the years I made this interest work for my fitness performance and now for my optimal health. It’s not about “hacking” the body’s functioning but understanding it from the ground floor up. This knowledge helps me live and age through life more on my own terms, which is exactly the way I like it.

Every bit of research, every connection, every choice has done its part to fill in the picture for me—the daily practices and overall philosophy behind the Primal Blueprint.

In the last few years, collagen has been one of the tools that has made the biggest difference in my life. It was instrumental to recovering from an injury that (I was told) would put me on the sidelines indefinitely, and now it supports continuing joint health and mobility as I push myself physically long after many people give up on their bodies period.

Recently, Brad Kearns and I recorded a conversation about my interest in collagen—how I started applying it to my health, what it offers for fitness performance, and how anyone—athlete or not—can benefit. Take a look.

Thanks for stopping by today, everyone. Have questions, comments? Share them below, and have a great end to the holiday week.

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10 Make-Ahead Toothpick Appetizers

It’s that time of the year when appetizer foods grab the spotlight! We are going to Washington, DC for New Year’s Eve this year for a little change of scenery. (Mazen is visiting Matt’s family in NC.) We’re meeting up with some of Thomas’s friends and going to a concert. I need an easy transportable app that doesn’t require an oven, and these toothpick ideas are great for all party occasions. 

These ideas for easy-to-assemble appetizers balance flavor and nutrition with a few healthy components that are still delicious. You can make them ahead of time, so you enjoy good food but also not worry about preparing things at the last minute or keeping them warm. The best of both worlds ?.

Mini Beet Salads

The cutest little beet salad I ever did see, plus it has greens in the form of spicy arugula! Using a harder texture feta will allow these to stay together better.

Ingredients

  • 5-6 small beets, cooked (you can often find these already cooked near the fruit at Whole Foods)
  • 6 ounces feta
  • Arugula (about 4 ounces)
  • Walnut halves (about 1 cup)
  • Optional: Balsamic vinegar or vinaigrette

Instructions

  1. Cut beets into small squares.
  2. Dice feta into small cubes, about the size of the chopped beats.
  3. Bring everything together: Fold up the arugula leaves in half and bunch on the end of a toothpick, then add the beet followed. Carefully skewer the walnut (through the middle works best) and finish with the feta.
  4. Drizzle with balsamic vinegar reduction or vinaigrette just before serving if desired, but of course the feta combination is good on its own!

Zucchini Goat Cheese Roll Ups

Three ingredient magic with this one – just slice, spread with goat cheese and roll up! Garnish with a little red pepper or some herbs. You can cook or grill your zucchini if you like or just leave it raw.

Ingredients

  • 2-3 zucchinis
  • 4 ounces goat cheese
  • Roasted red pepper (about 1), diced into small cubes or strips

Instructions

  1. Thinly slice the zucchinis lengthwise into long strips. A mandolin slicer would work well, but you can also just slice thinly with a sharp knife. If they are thinly sliced, raw zucchini will work great, but you could also grill them for added flavor and to make them softer.
  2. Gently spread the goat cheese in a thin layer across the strip of zucchini. You could add herbs at this point if desired!
  3. Skewer the piece of red pepper and push it about halfway up.
  4. Roll up the zucchini! Add it below the red pepper on the toothpick.

Antipasto Salad

Who doesn’t love a good antipasto? This one is totally flexible – mix it up with whatever sounds best to you. Sun dried tomatoes, roasted peppers or zucchini bites, and stuffed grape leaves would also be great additions!

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces cured meat (salami works great)
  • 1 jar olives, drained
  • 1 can artichoke hearts (sliced in quarters if they are large)
  • Spinach or other salad greens

Instructions

  1. Start with a base of greens. If using spinach, fold the leaves and half and skewer first. This will make sure they stay in place!
  2. Next, fold a slice of meat in quarters and skewer below the spinach.
  3. Add the artichoke, followed by the olive to finish.

7 More Ideas

Because you can never have enough apps!

  • Classic Caprese: Tomato + Basil + Mozzarella. Mozzarella balls work great here with cherry tomatoes. You can fold up the basil in half to skewer it easily and neatly with the toothpick.
  • Sweet + Savory Dates: Two ingredient magic: bacon or prosciutto wrapped dates (option to add a little blue cheese inside!)
  • The Swiss Sandwich: Cheese square + Piece of Ham + Mini pickle. It’s like a mini fondue app!
  • Caesar Salad: Bite sized lettuce tossed with dressing + a crouton + small piece of parmesan cheese. A small piece of crispy romaine would be perfect here!
  • Cucumber + Smoked Salmon: Cucumber slices ((if it’s a small cucumber, or thicker quarters if it’s bigger) + cream cheese + smoked salmon. Garnish with a caper!
  • Meatballs: Harvest meatballs or sundried tomato meatballs. Turn them into mini ones for even more!
  • Apple + Cheddar: Small diced sweet apple and cheddar chunks – a perfect pairing, especially with wine!

Happy entertaining!

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