Category Archives: Review

CRON-O-Meter Review

A documentary on Biosphere 2’s doctor Roy Walford introduced me to the concept of being able to finely track all macro/micro nutrients in the 1990s, but at the cost of hundreds of dollars.  A few years later, around 2001/2002 I was able to start doing the same thing With FitDay.com and then later with their PC equivalent.  In recent years their platform has stagnated and the PC-to-Website integration has totally broken.  I ran across a website called CRON-O-Meter that at first glance seemed like FitDay on steroids, and boy is it!

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Garmin Vivoactive HR Review

I’ve had the pleasure of spending the last couple of weeks replacing my FitBit Charge HR with a new Garmin Vivoactive HR.  While the Charge HR suited most of my needs it wasn’t quite 100% of the way there.  I still needed a GPS watch for runs, which I could have accomplished by staying in the FitBit universe with the Surge though.  I also wanted to start tracking swimming, which the Surge wouldn’t have accomplished.  But would I be trading one set of problems for another?  Here’s the good, not-so-good, bad, and ugly of my experiences with the Vivoactive HR.

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Nutritarian Black Forest Mushroom Soup Recipe Review

While on the surface eating the nutritarian way sounds like mostly salads, raw veggies, and fruits, there is actually a lot of potential variety in meals.  I’m a huge salad person, but even I would grow tired of that.  Luckily I’m also a big soup/stew person, and the Eat To Live book has several of those recipes.  The one that I decided to try first, since it jumped right out at me was the Black Forest Cream of Mushroom Soup,which can also be found at Furhman’s website here.

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Basis Peak Doesn’t Care (But Is Supposed To) How Heavy, Old Or Tall You Are…

…no really.  The whole purpose of having these fitness trackers is to provide data about your daily habits.  While no one should expect these things to nail an exact number, it’s supposed to be giving you reasonably accurate data, let’s say within five percent of a value.  In my attempts to calibrate the Basis against trusted and known baselines (my FitBit that I have also calibrated, a Garmin GPS watch with heart rate monitor), I have never been able to get the Basis to get the calorie estimates to be within better than 200 calories over (always over) the other estimates.  In some cases it could be 400-500 calories off.  This is counter-intuitive since it has heart rate data to use in the calorie calculations.

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Basis Peak Review Coming Soon

I had the fortune of getting a Basis Peak for Christmas this year.  I lusted after the Basis B1 and all the data it could generate but knew there were kinks that had to be worked out.  They did work a lot of them out but the question is how well did they do it?  How does this compare with the FitBit?  How accurate is the data?  How well does the software work.  I don’t want to do a half-cocked review, so I’m in the process of actually accumulating data on accuracy.  I will say that while it has lots of pluses, there are some minuses as well.  They are minuses that are addressable without hardware changes, in this computer geek’s estimation anyway, but the question is will Basis be willing to make those changes considering several of the “coming soon” changes have been “coming soon” for over a year now.  In the mean time, here’s to collecting more data 🙂

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2014 Recap, Nothing Goes As Planned

This day one year ago I was going to be embarking on the beginning of one and a half to two years of self experimentation in the name of figuring out what works best for my body and documenting the process for any internet passerby to read.  I had just come off of my first marathon and had hoped to get a second one under my belt in 2014.  I had hoped to lean out a little bit, increase my strength fitness and complete my second marathon strong, regardless of how long it took.  I missed the mark by just a little bit…

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Can “Alcohol Removed” Wine Taste Any Good?

I remember when O’Douls beer was introduced.  I wasn’t old enough to drink yet but I thought the idea was really cool.  It’s not that I never had a sip of beer as a kid, but the idea of being able to drink a full beer and legally sounded great.  I didn’t actually try one for real until I was an adult however.  I had been drinking for a few years and saw it on the menu at a restaurant, so I figured I would give it a go.  I can’t say I was disappointed because I had low expectations.  The problem is that it didn’t even live up to that.  It was therefore a mix of enthusiasm and excitement when I ran across a champagne at my local grocery story (in my state they can’t sell alcohol) called Fre.  Again going in with low expectations I decided to give it a try.  The results were surprisingly good.

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“Better Than Fries Potatoes” is easy and tasty, but timing is off

Have you seen this picture before?

“Better Than Fries” Potatoes (courtesy Pinterest)

You can find recipes all over, and the premise is quite simple.  One that will be universally available is from this link on Pinterest.  After seeing this several times I decided to try it myself tonight, but with a twist.  I tried both a regular and sweet potato version.

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Vegucation of Robin is an interesting book, just watch out for the pseudo-science…

As a big fan of the Howard Stern Show, I’ve always enjoyed the rapport and interactions that the cast have had with Robin Quivers.  She can be the voice of reason in some circumstances and a window into the latest experiments she’s doing with hobbies and her health lifestyle.   It was my enjoyment of her Vegucating Robin YouTube series and website that made me excited when I heard she was coming out with a book on the same topic.  I figured it would be a terrific book to add to the collection with some good recipes.  From that perspective, I think we have a winner. It also provides some great insight into her own personal health challenges and the evolution of her diet over time from a standard American diet that was literally killing her to her now vegan diet.

The problem I have with a lot of diet books is that they come from a position that the reader is unfamiliar.  If a person was never 300 pounds and trying to get to 180, it’s a lot harder for them to project empathy at the problem.  It’s certainly not impossible, but they haven’t walked a mile in a person’s shoes and it often shows.  Robin has walked those miles, countless of them, and has the battle scars to prove it (including a massive bladder cancer that she is now recovering from).   She addresses all of that in the book and provides a pretty compelling, “If I can do it, you can too!” narrative.  That narrative, along with some tips and tricks will work very well for people that want to take charge of their health, especially if they are intrigued by her cleansing and veganism protocol.  Unfortunately, it is with her description of the rationale for the protocols that I think the book falls short.

First, and most importantly, the vegan diet she is advocating is a healthy and balanced vegan diet. This isn’t the short sighted vegan diet of tofurkey, meatless hot dogs and almond milk ice cream.  No, this is one that is extremely heavy on the fresh, organic vegetables and minimally processed foods.  I therefore struggle to understand why she went through the trouble of presenting pseudo-scientific information to help her cause.  It is not true that animal products “rot” in your gut for days on end.  It is not true that organic vegetables have been proven to be higher in vitamins and minerals than conventional agriculture.  It is not true that our body needs to be forced to cleanse itself, or that the mechanisms they are using for the cleanses do any such thing.  If a belief in these things is what you need to get jump started in making positive steps in taking control of your health, then by all means please internalize them and move forward.  Eating a delicious whole foods diet like she lists should be enough however.

I haven’t tried any of the recipes in the book, but I do intend to give them a whirl.  From the descriptions and ingredients they sound pretty solid.  One brief spot check I did was read her risotto recipe.  The fact that she calls out a correct procedure for making risotto, the reason for the arborio short grain rice, and how you can swap that out for farro for arborio was a good indication that they didn’t skimp on quality for ease of use or ingredients.  Another brief spot check I did was on her basic vegetable stock recipe.  Again, a really solid list of potential ingredient combinations as well as which ones to avoid, like dark leafy vegetables, is a good indication of where things will go.  I’m personally looking forward to actually trying these.

Overall Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Pluses: A really good list of recipes combined with a detailed and empathetic narrative which will connect the reader’s potential struggles with her own.

Minuses: A bit too much pseudo-science is presented as fact, which detracts from the overall message.

Summary: If you like Robin on the show, you will like this book.  If you’ve never heard of Robin but are looking for a good book to get started on a vegan journey, this combined with something like Engine 2 Diet will be a good place to start.

Preserving Your Family’s Food History

My fascinating with food extends far beyond fitness and exercise.  The topics I love range from just the latest cooking techniques to historical recipes.  I think a lot of that comes from my family having a rich cooking tradition, especially since both my parents have great cooking instincts.  There is also the essence of preservation of the foods from my childhood.  As we eat them less and less and as the people that make them pass on they have a real danger of becoming things which will be lost to time.  My mom’s side of the family went through the process of documenting a lot of the family recipes into a nicely bound cook book.  I wish I could say I’ve made more progress cooking my way through it, but I have tried several and they generally turn out much like I remembered them (even if sometimes I have to try it a few times).  Unfortunately not everyone has the same access to graphic design and digital publishing resources that we do.   Thankfully I ran across a site that does that and more, The Family Cookbook Project.

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