PD – Day 8

Growing up in Southern California, it wasn’t difficult to find good Mexican food, nearly every corner had a taco shop. Being minutes away from the San Ysidro border crossing, authentic was a car ride away. Growing up my mom was an amazing cook! Maybe it’s where I gained some of my culinary talents in the kitchen. While Mexican was a popular cuisine, Indian cooking was a virtual unknown in our household. It wasn’t until I moved out, grew up that I first experienced Japanese curry, but quickly moved for the Indian variety. In fact, I experience some of the best tasting Indian curry, down under in Australia, when I visited some years back.

Since that time, I have been fond of flavors out of India; cumin, tumeric, garam masala, coriander, ginger, cinnamon, mustard seed and cloves just to name a few. Now that I have my own kitchen, curry seems to be a regular dish in my repertoire, as I am always looking out for new and different recipes to try.

It’s quite easy to find vegan Indian cuisine, unfortunately many of these dishes are loaded with oil when cooked. There’s a local establishment that has some great food, while all  vegan I know I should have made a wiser decision and cooked my own. It’s one of those meals you bring home and the containers are laced with oil, but the favors are incredible.

Looking deeper for vegan recipes from India, the oil can be omitted in nearly every case. Last night I made the Protective Diet Tikka Masala. Oil free, plant based, this was one of the best dishes I have made! It was coupled with Indian Style Basmati Rice I found off All Recipes. I failed to use the PD Indian Spice Rice recipe, as I missed it when I was reading the instructions. Then again, failing to read Julie’s recipes ALL THE WAY THROUGH, seems to be a common theme with me. Funny because it’s usually the FIRST instruction she has when you start the recipe.

Last October I had two weekend long outings with the Boy Scouts of America. It was leadership training for adults, where were broken into groups of 5-6. Along with camping, we were told to cook our own meals during the second weekend. In our group we had a leader named, Praveen. As luck would have it, he was from southern India, vegan and asked if he could do all the cooking. While we pooled our thoughts for meals we could cook, he came up with some excellent Indian food.

While I had heard of Chana Masala (Indian chick pea dish), I had never cooked it but Prvaeen sold us the mean by another name, Chole. This was our main course for dinner the second night. This dish is created several ways depending on the time and richness you desire. He pointed me to this video by Vahchef as a guide.

 

While canned chickpeas and premixed garam masala can be used, the flavors are enhanced when can soak dried chickpeas and use individual spices to create your personal garam masala. Soaking the chickpeas you are able to control of hardness of the garbonzo, but usually overnight is adequate. Garam masala is a mixture of cardamom, cumin, clove, bay leaves and mace. This spice can be found in any Indian grocery, but also at nearly any market you shop in the spice section.

Accompanying our meal was a dish called upma. “Originally from South India, is a hot favorite breakfast food! Made with semolina and slightly spiced to make a tasty dish that can be eaten for breakfast, brunch or as a snack,” as described by Sanjay Thumma. The word translated;  “up” means “soft” and “ma” means “flat.”

 

The basic upma recipe as cooked by Vahchef:

Ingredients
1 tbsp channa dal
1 slice chopped ginger
1 small chopped onion
1 tsp cumin
8 leaf curry leaves
2 piece gr chillies
1 pinch hing
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil or butter
2 tbsp peanuts
1 pinch salt
1 cup sooji/semolina/rava
1 tsp urad wash

Directions
Add oil in a heavy pan ,add mustard seeds,cumin and add channadal ,peanutsand saute till they are cooked add urad wash, add chopped ginger,chillies curry leaves hing add salt and water bring it to boil add semolina/sooji slowly stirring continously so to avoid lumps mix well when all moisture is absorbed cover for 5 min and serve hot with chutney ,pickle ,sambhar and kids love to eat with some sugar (text from the You Tube video).

This recipe can easily be modified for a Protective Diet by removing the oil and the peanuts. In fact, when Praveen made it, there was no peanuts used, but he did use oil to heat the spices before the actual cooking started. However, it was the whole spices that really brought out a full, deep flavor in the upma.

One ingredient I had never cooked with, curry leaves. As I continued to search for more Indian recipes, I realized I had never seen curry leaves for sale at any market I go to, including the Middle Eastern markets I frequent. As luck would have it, a co-worker, who is Indian has a few curry trees growing in his yard and cut some branches for me. Fresh curry leaves are easily stored in a Ziplock bad, folded between newspaper in order to keep moisture off the leaves. Done properly, curry leaves could last up to 4 weeks in the refrigerator.

 

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PD – Day 6 & 7

Honest, nothing happened. I didn’t fall off the PD bicycle just 5 days into the fun and excitement of eating all this good, healthy food. The fact of the matter is, I failed to check in on my website, as I still don’t have my PC set up. However with a bit of free time yesterday, I was able to get it running, but will need to update my wireless connection in order to stay connected when I am away from work. Last thing I want to attempt is blogging on my mobile device.

This past Friday was supposed to start with a afternoon/evening out with a childhood friend of mine, in town from Pittsburgh, PA. Unfortunately, I had to back out on our plans, which might have been a blessing, as I know it would have included quite a bit of beer and unsavory foods, which would tempt me. We reattempted to connect on Sunday but it just wasn’t to be this time around. I did keep busy all weekend around the house, with a load of energy to burn!

The kitchen is always a busy place in our house, as I am there every evening, cooking for the family. As mentioned in the past, it can be as many as three different meals a day. Maybe it’s going the extra mile for my loved ones, or the difference in how we all eat. In preparation for Friday’s dinner, Chorizo Tacos, I made the Ultimate Cheeze Sauce, Taco Sauce and Taco Slaw, earlier in the week. The following day I put together the Vegetarian Mexican Rice. So good! I could probably have eaten the entire pot for dinner that night. I also soaked the black beans (as I was out of pinto) in preparation for the IP. Unfortunately, I ran out of time and the tacos had to wait until Saturday.

I am a huge Mexican food junkie, I love a good burrito or ceviche, but rice and beans were my soft spot. As there is so much lard used to “flavor” these side dishes, I knew neither to be healthy. Over the years I have tried to find recipes full in flavor, but usually these dished tasted a bit bland as if they were missing something. It appears I have found the most flavorful replacements that accompanied the Chorizo Tacos over the weekend. I made the Pintos & Cheese from the PD site, but opted for another Mexican Vegetarian Rice recipe, which featured a few substitutions to conform to the PD lifestyle.

While it was all about the food this first week, I did fall back on planning my meals, which was made easier because many of the ingredients I already had. Amazing to think there were times I would find myself wondering, “what can I eat?” You know that moment. Open and look in the pantry and there is NOTHING made, just bulk foods and canned goods. I found myself getting very lazy, which was cause for a big downturn in my health. In the back of my mind I knew I had so many different meals I could be making, but didn’t

As Julie talks about in her video series, Class #32, #33 and #34, Stocking Your Kitchen For Efficiency and Savings, this can make a world of difference as is relates to your success. While cleaning the kitchen on Saturday, I opened the cabinet that holds my spices. That is where I stayed for the next 2 hours, cleaning and organizing my spice cabinet, as well as the bulk items in my pantry. It seems you can never have enough spices, as the cabinet is bursting with flavor, so to speak. This collection continuously grows. In fact I have an Indian recipe I want to try uses whole cloves, cinnamon sticks and cumin seeds. In all honesty, I could have stayed there for another 2 hours and I still wouldn’t have accomplished everything.

Thankfully, my kitchen is stocked! I was surprised at what I was finding, that I honestly thought needed replacing. What my pantry is missing is more organization. While many of the bulk foods are in plastic bins, I have others that sit in plastic bags, not easily stored or identified as what it contains. I found myself tossing some unidentified bags out, while making a list of a few other bulk items I was low on in order to fill the next time I went shopping.

While a bit of the geek side, I recorded all the spices I owe in the mobile app, Out of Milk. There have been a few times I’ve gone shopping, only to forget if I need specific spices. I use the mobile app to shop and approximate the grocery bill. Adding the spices and pantry list to the mobile app will help me track what I already have, which would help reduce monthly grocery bills.

In just a week, I feel as if I have more energy, as witnessed by the cleaning I did this weekend. Stepping on the scale, I was down about 3 pounds. The next few weeks will be more telling, as even 5 pounds would make a difference in how my pants fit. I do recall, when the weight started dropping off, it came off relatively easy. Looking forward to completing the first 30 days. Maybe if I am brave enough, I will post those before and after pictures.

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2018 Resolutions

Happy New Year! 2018 was ushered in as we said goodbye to 2017. Unfortunately, as I look back in The 6th Floor archives, I failed to post my 2017 resolutions last year, first time since 2011. As for 2017, I am glad it’s over, as it was a very challenging and busy year, both personally and professionally. Thankfully, a new year is like a clean canvas reading to receive each brush stroke that will make up your masterpiece. Here’s what I expect in my 2018 “masterpiece.”

This year, I have changed my approach to the year, as I desire to focus on a keyword for the the next 365 days. I’ve sent resolutions in the past, but as with most, they slowly fade away. While exercise and weight loss, usually top the charts, this year I wanted something different and feel this approach runs deeper and will have more impact in my life and those around me. That word is “selfless.”

 

self·less
ˈselfləs/Submit
adjective
concerned more with the needs and wishes of others than with one’s own; unselfish.
“an act of selfless devotion”
synonyms: unselfish, altruistic, self-sacrificing, self-denying;

This word is a perfect fit for how I want to start the year off. While I do volunteer much of my time, for PTA and scouting, there seemed to be a disconnect in the time spent concerned with my wife and son. The two most important people in my life I call family.

While perusing Facebook or Twitter, I ran across a video from Japan about being selfless. I watched it twice and the message, an important one, seemed to provide a strong message that had me thinking about the sort of man I had been, from husband to father, friend to co-worker.

As I mentioned in 2016, I have much to work on to be a better man. I have done things in the past that have called into question being truthfully and trustworthy. No worse feeling knowing you can’t be relied upon as a friend. Seeing this as unacceptable, it was time to look back in order to improve moving forward.

While 2017 was a step in the right direction, 2018 needs to see notable changes. Even at 48 years old, there is room for improvement in order to be the sort man I should have been years ago. It’s more than just volunteering my time, it’s about making a conscious change and seeing those improvements in every facet of life.

We have all heard the adage, “actions speak louder than words.” This rings true in the act of being selfless as applied in daily life. “People say things and make promises they have no intention of keeping on a daily basis…Words are cheap…until they are acted upon.” An article found at Elite Daily seemed to echo many of the characteristics I need to practice more as we start the new year.

One of those “actions,” not following through with a task I promised to accomplish. It can be something as simple as forgetting to pick up something at the store or not communicating with my wife on an upcoming event.” While these seemingly harmless events have bearing, especially the more I forgot to follow through something that would benefit someone else.

At the end of the day, whatever your actions may be will show what you are trying to prove. If you are simply talking, nothing is happening, but when actions take place, you are actually engaging in this behavior. Actions prove who someone really is while words only show what someone wants to be.”

This quote sums things up nicely and when successful will help lead me to be more selfless, thinking about others in my life. Today hopefully starts that journey and will hopefully allow me to reflect and grow over the course of the year. American writer, poet, philospher, Suzy Kaseem has three valuable words to make me the individual I want to be.

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Premier League: GW10 Retrospect

Late news to Gameweek 10 caught many managers by surprise when Poch informed fantasy managers that Harry Kane would miss the Man United fixture. This compounded by the “Pep-Go-Round” at Man City, it appears there are no guarantees in fantasy football. Then again, I think we all knew this going in, but play with fingers crossed every time we set out starting XI.

This week I took a comment that Dave from Burnley posted on Twitter and started Kane. Wise or not, it was worth the gamble, even though Kane sat out the entire match. We now wait to see where the the forward is come midweek and their UCL against Real Madrid. This could provide an indication of him being fit to face Crystal Palace. His replacement, Stephen Ward picked up 6 points with a CS against Newcastle on Monday. Nothing ventured, nothing gained.

As for Gameweek 10, I went into Saturday with a -4 points, bringing in Richarlison as the second part of a 4-player swap that included Ben Davies and Jack Cork. In the end, I netted 4 points, which I look upon as a positive, especially with Davies role a bit in question with the return of Danny Rose. This was also my first hit of the season, something I really want to minimize this season after posting 39 negative hits (-156 points) last season. While Richarlison blanked on the week, he’s proven with worth with returns in the last 4 out of 5 games and good run of fixtures upcoming; ee/WHM/new.

It’s hard to be too surprised at Pascal Groß and his involvement with Brighton as he created a league high 95 chances last season in the Bundesliga for Ingolstadt. Brighton have score 10 goals this season of which Groß has been involved in 7 of them (2 goals / 5 assists). He continued with consistency in GW10 providing his third assists in the last 3 games and picking up 2 bonus points for a total of 7 points in the 1-1 draw with So’ton. Unfortuantely, Christian Eriksen didn’t fair as well, playing a deeper role, as we saw against Liverpool, Eriksen didn’t provide much of a spark for the Kane-less Spurs. That’s back to back blanks for Eriksen as Spurs face Palace this weekend. Intentions are to hold Eriksen as after GW12 and a visit to Arsenal, Spurs have a great run of fixtures; WBA/lei/wat/STO/BHA.

While Kane was included in the starting XI, I knew it was nothing more than a place holder. Partnering up front was Jesus and Jamie Vardy, while jury was out on Jesus and his minutes, it was a matter time before Vardy broke duck and scored. Jesus disappointed, nearly non-existent at times, as Aguero watched from the bench, but he didn’t gain any foothold with a disappointing 1 point performance. Vardy of the other hand, got on the board early with a goal, finishing with 8 points, his first return in 4 weeks.

As it has been much of the season, my score was bolstered by the 5-man defense, which continues to pay dividends. While not the most popular formation to run out, this was another example of attacking returns combined with clean sheets that pulled my gameweek from the doldrums. Lead by Sead Kolasinac, a goal, assist and 3 bonus points he finished the day on 14 points leading all scorers. This was his first attacking returns since GW4, while he was on my shortlist, I am reconsidering him but he’s got a tough run of fixtures; mci/TOT/bur/HUD/MNU.

New boy, Stephen Ward, as mentioned earlier picked up 6 points on a CS and Marcos Alonso might have bought himself another week providing a his third CS on the season, first in 5 gameweeks. At £6.9m, his not performing up to his price with just 2 goals, no assists and 3 clean sheets, Chelsea have Man United this week and Liverpool in GW13 and Arsenal in 22, aside from that it’s a sea of green. Might be too hard to ignore moving forward.

Aaron Cresswell nearly gave way this week for Davies, but was saved for a few more games, as Davies was no longer a reliable starter. While Cresswell does face Liverpool at home in GW11, he picked up his first assist of the season in just 45 minutes of work. Not sure if only 45 minutes of action is a cause for concern as he was substituted at halftime in favor of Arthur Masuaku. Cresswell leads all defenders with 72 crosses on the season with 12 chances created equating to 57 minutes per chance.

Not quite sure what is going on defensively for Man City, 2 goals to Stoke City and 2 goals to WBA, in two of the last three games might not be a cause for concern for the offensive juggernaut, but fantasy manager expectations are set higher. Both these matches should have been clean sheets, but left mangers scratching their heads. Kyle Walker has returned 7 weeks in a row! With 4 assists and 5 clean sheets Walker has scored 42 points. I am looking past his on goal in GW8, which negated his assist points. Yet City have a favorable run and Walker is a cornerstone in my current defensive minded formation.

On the week I finished with 52 points (after the -4 hit) and 6 points above the weekly average of 46. It was a green arrow moving up 175k spots to 954k. It’s now 3 greens in the last 4 weeks, but still playing catch up to my best rank on the season in GW8 at 634k.

The most frustrating part of this FPL season has been the poor captaincy output, scoring just 66 points (12.5% of overall score) on the season. GW7 and GW9 are the only weeks I scored double digit returns (26,10). This lack of points has resulted in my squad been stuck in a virtual quagmire around the million mark. Just 10 points a week over 10 gameweeks, totaling 100 points would put me just inside the top 5000! That’s how frustrating its been to start this fantasy season.

Interesting to note that one of my goals for the season was to average 60 pts/week. When I have been able to start a 5-2-3 formation, I have averaged 59.3 points. Unfortunately due to Pep, injuries and benched players only 4 games have finished with a 5-2-3. The 4-4-3, using Jack Stephens (automatic sub) off the bench in lieu of a fifth defender has produced just 47.5 points over the a 4-game period. GW10 was just the second time running out a 5-3-2, which is currently averaging 53.5 points.

Looking ahead, the 5-2-3 (or 5-3-2) seems to be losing its potential, as forwards are struggling. At City Jesus and Aguero appear to be in rotation, Kane is injured, Morata, still returning to full fitness hasn’t been impressive the last 2 games, while Lukaku has no goals in his last 3 (but does have 3 assists). The “power 3” seem to be losing favor as fantasy managers look to stacking the midfield.

As I wrote yesterday in FPL: 4-5-1 Viability?, could this be the next iteration in my fantasy formation? Running a few different scenarios I have been able to put forth a competitive 4-5-1 and 5-4-1 formation with Harry Kane leading the attack. However, Romelu Lukaku might be a stronger candidate, based solely on his consistency. While Kane has proven himself at Wembley in GW9 with a 16 point haul, giving him 4 double digit hauls on the season his consistency has yet to be seen. However, I feel Kane is more explosive than Lukaku. Currently Kane sits a single point ahead of the Belgian.

Risk with a lone forward could be high, but running out the likes of Eriksen, Salah and Hazard could reap huge rewards with budget midfielder Groß and Richarlison seemingly hitting stride and putting together fantasy points and consistency. Defensively, this squad mixes attacking defenders, Walker, Kolasinac and Cresswell with clean sheet viability in Ward and Jones. Only concern would be the lack of forwards on the bench with Oumar Niasse and Mama Biram Diouf. Niasse has been a part time player for the struggling Everton, while Diouf has 3 goals on the season but does play all 90 minutes.

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Premier League: GW8 Starting XI

So the international break is over and we look to the horizon for Gameweek 8 with the thrill and excitement it will bring. Coming off a successful GW7, scoring 78 overall points I look to keep the ball rolling, so to speak to improve my position in mini leagues and my overall rank. Heading into the break I had 2 FTs to use, originally I had not planned on burning both of them this week, but after “thinking different” I decided on an alternate plan to what I had been planning during the break.

With questions still surrounding Alvaro Morata, I won’t be able to count on him until we see him hit and back on the pitch. Chelsea needs him as well, thankfully Eden Hazard is ready to play the full 90 minutes and could be leading the attack against a helpless Palace squad. Unfortunately, I don’t have the budget to get a Chelsea asset in this week, so I will miss out on a BIG differential IF Hazard goes off.

Running off a “master plan” I made two moves this week and shipped out Phil Jones and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, as United’s fixtures turn, but they still continue to post big numbers with 11 goals in their last 4 games. However the next 3 of 4 games United face tough competition away against liv, hud, TOT, che. In their place I introduce the final piece to my 5-man defense, Kyle Walker. He cost 1.4m more than Jones, which sees Brighton’s Pascal Groß join Eriksen in my 2-man midfielder of a 5-2-3 formation.

Risky? Yes, it is, but I am banking on a slate of clean sheets and potential Walker carries offensively. These two players the first move in a 4 week stretch that will introduce Hazard next week, in order to take advantage of very favorable fixtures. Still Morata’s fitness is key and depending on how Hazard plays will dictate what direction I will go.

With any luck, if things play out to my advantage I will have 2 FTs for GW11. As we know, there are no guarantees in football. Luck plays a key factor, even if we have quality players in our starting XI. I feel a certain confidence in my squad and with the lack of midfielders posting big scores I am fine running a 2-man midfield.

Coming tomorrow FPL Draft Team, after I see if my waiver claims come through.

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