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Lag a'mhuilin

DrCalcart's Quest to Live His Values and Level Up Cooking

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Can you really "make up" sleep? Lol. I crashed around 10:30 last night... seems great, only I'm up at 5. So I'm right there with you at the 6.5 hour sleep mark. I felt it this morning, too.


How is the dumbbell workout going? And I *so* can't wait for the recipe. :D

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Can you really "make up" sleep? Lol. I crashed around 10:30 last night... seems great, only I'm up at 5. So I'm right there with you at the 6.5 hour sleep mark. I felt it this morning, too.


How is the dumbbell workout going? And I *so* can't wait for the recipe. :D

You can make up sleep if you're talking about a numerical average and not necessarily quality of life. The dumbbell workout is going great! There is a lot more lifting than the P90X workouts I was doing. The workouts seem shorter, even though there are 3 circuits of 11ish exercises, versus maybe 24 exercises max in a P90X workout. Also, the pull-ups/chin-ups seem to be a lot more effective because I'm not caring about quantity so much as quality, and I'm only using the chair to get one or two (as many as good form allows) negative pull-ups in at the end of a set. I totally recommend the dumbbell workouts. There's a division 1 that should be a good transition after the BBWW or Advanced BW become old-hat.


Week 2 Wrap-Up

This has been a pretty great week, fitnessly speaking:


Day 11: Thursday


Cooking Day - Goal 4: I made Pork Tenderloin in Blackberry Sauce, with Sauteed Vegetable Slaw! (Recipe in the next post.) This dish exceeded all my wildest expectations. I knew I wanted to make a blackberry sauce because blackberries are abundant right now, but for whatever reason, I was reluctant to cook pork with this dish (I think I thought it would be too fatty -- you know, based on all the other pork things there are to eat), but but these tenderloins were very lean and extremely flavorful and absolutely the right choice. I also didn't know if the "slaw" would be a good idea for a pairing, but the magic really happened when the still-crunchy sauteed vegetables started absorbing some of the blackberry sauce. A friend of mine asked me, after seeing the photo, whether this meal was sustainable (ie within a limited food and time budget), and the truth is that there are very few ingredients to the meat/sauce (The only ones I didn't have were blackberries, pork, and fresh thyme), and the most time-consuming part was chopping veggies. This meal was extremely affordable and time-friendly. 10/10 would and will try again.


Sleep: Asleep 12:30, awake 7:45. Total sleep time 7:15, running average 7:14:32.


Day 12: Friday


Fitness 2Mid-day yoga in the park!


Workout 3Dumbbell Division II: Workout B. Total pull-ups up by 2. Total of 16 chin-ups, increased by 1.


SleepAsleep 2:55 am, awake 11:00. Total sleep time 8:05, running average 7:18:45.


Day 13: Saturday


Fitness 3: Kuk Sool Kwan martial arts - jumping combo kicks and weapons forms.


SleepAsleep 3:11 am, awake 10:10. Total sleep time 6:59, running average 7:17:13.


Day 14: Sunday


Fitness 4: Archery! I did pretty well, if I do say so myself! The bow I used was one I had never used before and at 45# a heavier one that I've ever used, but it was smooth and the whole experience was awesome! I also am the proud owner of a dozen brand new custom-fletched (bright green and black) arrows. This will likely be a fitness or life goal in a future challenge. The main nearby outdoor range is closed for renovations until November. At that point I might be making archery a weekly event, but until then, my martial arts studio plans on visiting some other ranges on a monthly basis.


SleepAsleep 12:40 am, awake 7:18. Total sleep time 6:38, running average 7:14:25. I'm still under my target 7 hours. I went to bed an hour before falling asleep (reading a new book). I need to go to bed earlier still. Yesterday I bought a foam mattress topper from Costco that feels like sleeping in the perfectly temperate, formed embrace of a sci-fi hibernation pod. I slept like a baby who actually sleeps quietly and comfortably all night. It was a little pricey, but worth every penny. The pad is so dense that I didn't feel the bed beneath it at all. It has me now wondering why I need a bed that takes up so much room-space, and not just a multi-purpose convertible work/game table or something.

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Pork Tenderloin in Blackberry Sauce (with Sautéed Vegetable Slaw)
This was pretty awesome!


I basically used this recipe for the pork, but I'll go ahead and give you the play-by-play.



1lb Pork Tenderloin

1 Shallot, minced

3 Thyme sprigs, or 1/2 tablespoon dried thyme
A little less than two 6oz containers of fresh blackberries
3/4 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
salt and pepper to taste



1 carrot

1 stalk of celery

1/2 red onion

1/2 Bell Pepper, Yellow

1/2 Bell Pepper, Red

Optional other veggies: whatever you want - zucchini or eggplant would work well, but I don't like any of those.

1/2 lemon

Cilantro (optional, but highly recommended)

By far the part that takes the most time is cutting all the vegetables into thin strips. I used a mandolin for the peppers and onions, cut the celery by hand, and used a peeler on the carrot. I ended up making too much. I used double this recipe and had leftovers to cook another day. As for the rest of the prep, you should take the pork out of the fridge, wash the berries, and mix the wine, vinegar, and honey, and set it aside. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees (F).

A note about the wine: I used a malbec that had been opened several weeks earlier and suction-stoppered probably past its prime. At that point it was a little more sour on the sweet-sour spectrum. Regardless, it worked pretty well, but next time I would choose a newer fruitier vintage.


Put a little bit of olive oil in a sauce pan, and throw in the onions and thyme on medium heat until the onions become translucent, then throw in the berries and wine/vinegar/honey mix. You can add red pepper flakes here if you want it spicier. (I didn't.) Bring mixture to a boil then let simmer and stir occasionally until it reduces by half. I also mashed up the berries at this stage.




Rinse the pork and pat dry with a paper towel. Coat in olive oil, salt, and pepper. Heat some oil in a skillet on medium high heat and sear the tenderloin(s) for 1.5-2 mins per side then rotate 90 degrees until golden brown on all sides. Finish it in the oven for 8-10 mins. Having a meat thermometer at this stage is really helpful. You want to hit a target temperature of 140 degrees (F). Smaller tenderloins may take 7-8 mins, and larger ones 9-10.




Throw the julienned vegetables in a wok or pan on high heat with a little bit of oil, salt, and pepper. Cook until it reaches your desired level of done-ness. (The onions should at least be starting to turn translucent.) When almost finished, squeeze half a lemon on top and keep stirring.


Add a little bit of salt and pepper or maybe some more honey to your sauce until it tastes how you want it. It should be sweet, but kinda tangy/spicy.


After you take the pork out of the oven, take it off the skillet, wrap it in tin foil, and let it sit for at least 5 mins. Slice it against the grain and lay it on a plate with your sauce on top. Throw your veggies on the side, with a sprig or more of cilantro on top. Et voila! The real magic with the veggies was when it they started to absorb the berry sauce, so I highly recommend aiding the process by putting more sauce on the veggies. 


A not about the sauce: You can probably easily halve or third the sauce recipe and still have enough. I made it as the recipe intended and still have some left over after cooking another 1lb tenderloin and liberally applying the sauce to the veggies.


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Week 3


Weight: 155.8lb (↑1.6lb) (First time I've gone up)

Body Fat %: ~15.7% (↓1.8% - lost 2.53lb of fat?)

Chest: 37.1" (↑.52")

Waist: 34.22" (no change)

Hips: 36.22" (no change)


Day 15: Monday
Workout 1: Dumbbell Division II: Workout C. Total chin-ups = 16 (7-5-4). 7 is a new max.

Sleep: Asleep 12:00, awake 7:35. Total sleep 7:35, Avg 7:15:48.


Day 16: Tuesday
Fitness 1: Kuk Sool Kwan martial arts - striking drills, kicks, and jumping combo kicks (2hrs).

Sleep: Asleep 1:15, awake 8:13. Total sleep 6:58, Avg 7:14:41.


Day 17: Wednesday
Too tired for my workout. I went to bed the night before at 10:55, but didn't get to sleep until 1:15 because I was finishing a book.

Sleep: Asleep 12:06, awake 7:56. Total sleep 7:50, Avg 7:16:45.


Day 18: Thursday

Workout 2: Dumbbell Division II: Workout A. 17 pull-ups (7-5-5). Increased by 1.

Sleep: Asleep 12:45, awake 8:10. Total sleep 7:25, Avg 7:17:13.


Day 19: Friday
Fitness 2: Mid-day yoga in the park.

Sleep: Asleep 11:45, awake 10:30. Total sleep 10:45, Avg 7:28:09.


Day 20: Saturday
Workout 3: Dumbbell Division II: Workout B. Total chin-ups = 18  (7-6-5). Up by 2.

Sleep: Asleep 1:00, awake 8:25. Total sleep 7:25, Avg 7:28:00.


Day 21: Sunday

Goal 4: I attended the knife skills class that I wanted to attend as part of my life quest. It was maybe not worth $60, but I did learn a few things:

  1. If you are adding minced garlic to a dish that already needs salt, like bruschetta, you can add the salt to the minced garlic and smash it into an almost paste with the flat of your knife to release more flavor.
  2. To easily peel a tomato, cut the top core out like you would the top of a pumpkin, score the bottom skin with 2 slices to form a plus and plunge into boiling water for 20-30 seconds. Take it out into a bath of ice water. The skin should now easily peel off.
  3. To cut a bell pepper, slice a bit off the bottom so it can stand up straight, then use your knife,  slicing down next to the stem against the inside of the side of the pepper to carve the sides off the core.
  4. How to julienne a carrot:
  5. Finally, with regard to the actual knife, it was kind of a revelation to learn you can do this, rather than just chopping (skip to 2:48): 
    I want to learn how to do what he does in the above video at 5:25.

Fitness 3: Dreaded Hill. Hill time 20 mins, 1 minute slower than my best due to someone warning me about a rattlesnake on the trail, which didn't end up being there. I jogged back all the downhill parts and the entire last mile, sprinting at the end. The last time I went that far at more than a walk, was probably high school!

Sleep: Asleep 12:10, awake 7:30. Total sleep 7:20, Avg 7:27:37.

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Hello DrCal! Glad to see you are continuing to rock the challenge. I am tickled pink by your very precise measurements. I also liked the videos about chopping. A long time ago I was chopping some bok choy and chopped the tip of my left thumb off. It was just a little bit, but it could have been prevented by proper chopping technique. Hurray for awesome informational videos like those you posted. 

Keep up the awesome job ;) 

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Turkey Apple Meatballs
These are really phenomenal!

Edit: I've made some minor changes based on a critique from a chef friend (orange instead of lemon, and adding coriander and shallots - pretty thrilled that was all she could come up with!).


Last week I ran out of a paleo staple of mine - homemade beef/pork meatballs. Last time I made 4lbs of them and froze them for later, and they lasted several weeks. I would sometimes cook them with some spaghetti sauce or I would add a couple to my scrambled eggs in the morning. Anyway, this time around I wanted to try my hand at some turkey meatballs to be a little healthier. The problem with turkey, though, is that it is pretty flavorless without a lot of help...


I prepped several different kinds of herbs, spices, and aromatics like garlic and ginger, and first experimented with them in different combinations with a little bit of apple. I originally wanted to incorporate sage, but it was too overpowering, as was coconut aminos (soy sauce substitute). When I found a flavor I liked, I mixed a little bit of it together with a bit of the turkey and made a mini pan-fried slider out of it. I hit upon my desired flavor combo on the first try!


Be forewarned, my recipe makes about 54 1.5" diameter meatballs and uses 5lbs of turkey (3/4 of a Costco ground turkey 4-pack). If you want to make fewer meatballs, math will be involved!



5lbs ground turkey

3 Fuji apples

1 4oz container of unsweetened applesauce

1 orange

~9 large-ish cloves of garlic (about one medium-sized bulb), minced

Fresh ginger, minced (about as much as the garlic by volume)

Shallot, minced (about as much as the garlic by volume)

1 cup Almond Flour

4 eggs

Ground Cinnammon

Dried Thyme


Kosher Salt

Fresh Ground Black Pepper




Preheat the oven to 375 degrees (F).


In a large bowl, combine the ground turkey, almond flour, minced garlic, minced ginger, about 1 tsp salt, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and thyme. Peel the apples, and grate them into a second small bowl, using a cheese grater, then add to turkey. (Note: If there will be a long delay between grating apples and mixing everything together, you can add the salt directly to the apples to help delay browning.) Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk together with a fork, then add it to the turkey. Add orange zest and juice to the mixture, being careful not to drop any seeds. Finally, add the applesauce. Now, using two large forks, mix the turkey together with all the other ingredients until evenly distributed. At this point, it probably still needs more salt, pepper, coriander, thyme, and cinnamon, but to figure out how much more to add, take a little of the mixture out of the bowl and pan fry it and try the sample. Add more spices until you find the flavor balance you want. I probably ended up adding at least another tsp of each.




Line a large cookie sheet with tin foil, and coat with a thin layer of olive oil. Using a spoon and your hand (as I did) or better yet, an ice cream scoop that has the lever to detach the ice cream, create meatballs that are about 1.5" in diameter. Arrange them on the foil with about 1.5" between them. Cover the turkey bowl with plastic wrap, and stick it in the refrigerator. Note: Alternatively, you can cook the meatballs on cooling racks on top of the foil in the pan. This would help conserve foil, and eliminate the fat drippings (but I wanted those!).


Cook the meatballs for 10 minutes at 375 degrees (F), then turn the pan 180 degrees in the oven and cook for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and let sit for 5 minutes, then remove from the pan. Once the pan is cool again, repeat this paragraph until your turkey bowl is empty.


Your kitchen should now smell like turkey apple pie :-P






Once the meatballs are not much warmer than room temperature, place them on a non-stick cookie sheet upside down. They can also be more crowded, but make sure there's still a little bit of space around each one. Place them in the freezer uncovered for several hours, then transfer them to a large Ziploc bag. This ensures that moisture doesn't condense inside the bag and cause frost and meatballs that are stuck together.


What I Learned for Next Time:


I would only make two small additions to this recipe for next time: add lemon zest (a really missed opportunity this time around) and a little bit of minced shallots or onions.

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Hey there!


I see you are doing well, and -just like last challenge- your "challenge reports" are a good read. So now with the delicious stuff you are cooking... unbeatable. Anyhow, we have a BBQ scheduled for this sunday and I'm going to prepare turkey burgers inspired (copied :P) in your recipe.

Authorship will be acknowledged!


As for the rest, I think you are trying really cool stuff. Chopping technique is essential (and looks cool, really cool) if you want to be fast and keep all of your fingers. And archery! How come you are doing that in your martial arts class? Is one aspect of Kuk Sool Kwan or is just something unrelated they teach in your dojo?

I myself own a 66" 20 lb longbow, but our shooting galley got closed and now I have nowhere to train :(

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Those will be really great turkey burgers, judging from the little sliders I made while testing! I wish I had a bbq. I would use it all the time to make Grilled Cedar Plank Salmon...mmmm.


Each belt after the first one in Kuk Sool Kwan has an associated weapon to learn. Right now I'm learning the "Jun Bongs," which are essentially just two sticks about an inch in diameter and 2 feet long. Archery happens to be the weapon for red belt, the one before black. I'm not there yet, but as archery is the only one that requires long distance targeting, it doesn't hurt to practice early. We're trying to make it at least a monthly occurrence, but it may actually end up being weekly. There's a park not too far away from the studio that has a free range, but it's closed for renovations until November. There are a couple other places we're going to try out that have a small fee and are more like courses than ranges (ie you move around, there are obstacles and trees, and they have fake animals to shoot). I'm doing it because Robin Hood, Hunger Games, and Arrow (Green Arrow) made it look cool in books, movies, and TV. I've liked archery since I was a kid.


That's a rather long longbow you have there! Are there no other places you can go to shoot?

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Oh, my bad, turns out it is a recurve bow. As for shooting places, I've done a little research and it happens to be a place 40 mins from where I live that is accepting new members in September so I may go and have a look there.

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Week 4


Weight: 153lb (↓2.8lb this week | â†“3.6 overall)

Body Fat %: ~13.7% (↓2.0%)

Chest: 37.04" (insignificant change)

Waist: 33.48" (↓.74" | â†“1.45" overall)

Hips: 35.04" (↓1.18" | â†“1.88" overall)


I'm pretty pleased with this progress, and this has stayed pretty consistent with the week 5 measurements. The jeans that I have had for a couple of years are comically large on me now, with the waist scrunched up by the belt. The two pairs of jeans I bought after the last challenge are even a little bit loose. Many of my shirts, that I really like, are too baggy too. I wonder how much it would cost to get my favorites fitted. I'm going to need a new wardrobe by the end of the year!


Day 22: Monday
Workout 1: Dumbbell Division II: Workout C. Total chin-ups = 19 (7-6-6). New max total.

Sleep: Asleep 12:35, awake 7:27. Total sleep 6:52, Avg 7:26:00.


Day 23: Tuesday
Sleep: Asleep 12:35, awake 7:39. Total sleep 7:04, Avg 7:25:02.


Day 24: Wednesday
Workout 2: Dumbbell Division II: Workout A. 19 pull-ups (8-6-5). New max single set and total.

Life Quest: I made Turkey Apple Meatballs. Unfortunately, since cooking 5lbs of meatballs took roughly 2 hours just for the cook time, my sleep time is terrible:

Sleep: Asleep 1:47, awake 7:14. Total sleep 5:27, Avg 7:20:07.


Day 25: Thursday

Fitness 1: Kuk Sool (Martial Arts) - Jumping/tumbling cardio, striking drills, kicks, and weapons.

Sleep: Asleep 12:15, awake 7:50. Total sleep 7:35, Avg 7:20:43.


Day 26: Friday
Fitness 2: Mid-day yoga in the park.

Sleep: Asleep 1:55, awake 9:31. Total sleep 7:36, Avg 7:21:18.


My brother was in town from wayyy out of state, and we drove an hour to meet my family for dinner, so I missed the workout today. I also had Benihana's Chicken Fried Rice, which is worth a paleo cheat!


Day 27: Saturday
Fitness 3: My sister came back up with us and stayed with me for the weekend. I took her to martial arts. She was really sore the next day ahahahaha! She worked on stances, blocks, grab escapes, kicks, and punches. I worked on kicks and weapons.

Sleep: Asleep 1:45, awake 10:00. Total sleep 8:15, Avg 7:23:13.


I tried to make/choose healthy eating options for my sister and I while she was visiting and to generally help her to see that there are more flavors on earth besides melted cheese and fried. The pork tenderloins made a reappearance because I still had (and still have) leftover blackberry sauce, which keeps surprisingly well in the fridge due to its vinegar content. I also made a huge, nutritious green salad, but she doesn't like or eat salad (or most vegetables it seems). Her meals of choice would be sandwiches, mac & cheese, Taco Bell, Frosted Flakes, and ramen. Oh well.


Day 28: Sunday

I completely missed my 3rd workout this week, due to entertaining my sister for the weekend. Furthermore, I super-cheated on my paleo diet on Sunday because I was long overdue for one my favorite foods (hamburger and french fries) and because I wanted to see if I was still missing out. The results (for science): when I was eating the burger I remember thinking the meat and onions tasted really good, but that the bun didn't have any flavor at all and was pretty unnecessary except as a clean means to hold the meat. Granted, a whole wheat/grain bun does have really good flavor, but this was a plain white bun. The fries just tasted like oil. In hindsight I find there to be no immediate negative health effects of cheating once in a while (like once every 3-4 weeks), but I really didn't need to cheat (which is what I feel after every cheat) and hamburgers are perfectly good, if not better, as lettuce wraps. Fries now just seem kind of gross. If I'm going to cheat with potatoes next time they'll be oven roasted with garlic, thyme, rosemary, and shallots for actual flavor, but roasted root vegetables work just as well and are paleo. I'm in mourning over the loss of a couple of long-time favorite food friends. Life goes on.

Sleep: Asleep 12:55, awake 7:54. Total sleep 6:59, Avg 7:22:25.

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Congratulations! Not only you are freeing the muffintop (as DL says) but you've hit personal bests on several exercises. That's impressive progress!


Also, very wise reflection on food. It is funny how you discovered that the things that used to be "tasty" or even "delicious" now pale in comparison with oven roasted potatoes, for example. It makes you wonder how much people would change their diet if only they gave new ways of preparing food a chance (or new food altogether).

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Week 5


Weight: 153lb ( -- this week | â†“3.6 overall)

Body Fat %: ~13.7% (--)

Waist: 33.48" -- | â†“1.45" overall)

Hips: 35.2" (↑.16" | â†“1.72" overall)


Nothing really changed this week. I dropped the chest measurement. I don't think it really accurately reflects anything, and fluctuates wildly depending on the air in my lungs! I'm not even sure if that should be increasing or decreasing.


4lbs of beef/pork meatballs lasted probably 2 months. 5 lbs of turkey apple meatballs lasted a week and a half!


Day 29: Monday
Workout 1: Dumbbell Division II: Workout B. Total chin-ups = 20 (8-7-5). New max total and max single set.

Sleep: Asleep 12:20, awake 7:54. Total sleep 7:34, Avg 7:22:49.


Day 30: Tuesday
Sleep: Asleep 10:45, awake 7:44. Total sleep 8:59, Avg 7:26:02.


Day 31: Wednesday
Workout 2: Dumbbell Division II: Workout C. 20 chin-ups (8-6-6).

Sleep: Asleep 11:35, awake 7:23. Total sleep 7:48, Avg 7:26:44.


Day 32: Thursday

Fitness 1: Kuk Sool (Martial Arts) - Jumping, kicks, and weapons.

Sleep: Asleep 1:20, awake 7:29. Total sleep 6:09, Avg 7:24:18.


Day 33: Friday
Fitness 2: Mid-day yoga in the park.

Sleep: Asleep 12:45, awake 9:55. Total sleep 9:10, Avg 7:27:30.


Day 34: Saturday

Workout 3: Dumbbell Division II: Workout A. 22 pull-ups (10-7-5). New max single set and total - beat previous max by 2 and previous total by 3!!

Sleep: Asleep 2:30, awake 1:14. Total sleep 10:44, Avg 7:33:17.


Day 35: Sunday


Sleep: Asleep 3:35, awake 11:23. Total sleep 7:48, Avg 7:33:42.


I missed my 3rd fitness activity, mostly due to the terribly humid hot days.

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Week 6
Weight: 153.2lb (↑.2lbs | â†“3.4 overall)
Body Fat %: ~13.7% (--)
Waist: 33.28" â†“.2" | â†“1.65" overall)
Hips: 36.02" 35.2" (↑.82" | â†“.9" overall)
The short, short version

Workout 1: Dumbbell Division II: Workout B. Total chin-ups = 23 (9-7-7). New max total and max single set.


Workout 2: Dumbbell Division II: Workout C. Total chin-ups = 19 (8-5-6). First time I've gone down in both. It was a half-assed workout because I needed to go out of town, and I was tired after yoga.


Workout 3: Dumbbell Division II: Workout A. Total chin-ups = 15 (8-4-3). Another not so great workout. I was pretty tired.

Sleep: Not so great overall this week. Still hit my end average.

Fitness 1: Kuk Sool (martial arts) - archery, pullups/pushups/situps


Fitness 2: Yoga on Friday


Fitness 3: Missed it this week. Was going to go hiking Saturday, but it was wayyy to hot out.


Life Goal: I made an authentic bolognese and it was in the top three best things I've ever cooked. Recipe post next...




I would count this challenge an overall success. Even though it felt like it ended with a whimper I feel like I accomplished a lot.


GOAL 1The Dumbbell Division II workouts were fantastic! After having done some P90X workouts on the previous challenge, this workout had me doing about 50% more reps and with heavier weights. Evidence of my progress was proven after I decided to do the P90X chest and back workout during the off-week after the challenge. The last time I had performed the workout was at the end of the previous challenge. This time around, I did 26 more pullups (30 total!), 68 more pushups (192 total), and lifted 140 more lbs per side (2,230lbs total) than 2 months earlier, and I weighed 9.4lbs less! Over the course of the challenge I missed 2 workouts due to tiredness or other bad excuses. Overall I would give myself a B+/A- (+2 STR/1 CHA)


GOAL 2After week one I realized I was participating in more fitness-related activities than I could handle and still squeeze in two hikes a week, so I revised this goal to be 3 fitness-related activities per week. These ranged from hiking, to martial arts, to archery, to yoga. And it's a good thing I made this change because after week 3 it became too hot to go hiking, and I wasn't able to go again. During week 2, however, I managed a breakthrough wherein I beat my best overall times on my favorite hike, jogged all the downhill afterward, and jogged out the last mile (mostly flat). The last time I jogged a whole mile was probably in high school over fifteen years ago! Week 2 I had four fitness activities, but weeks 5 and 6 I only managed two. Overall I would give myself a B. Most of the fitness activities weren't as cardio-intensive as hiking, but they were still fitness activities (something I wouldnt have done as much of 3 months ago). I was going to say B+, but I would have done yoga even if it wasn't part of the challenge, but I'll still consider it for the full WIS point . (+2STA 1WIS)


GOAL 3Arg this was frustrating! I think for the most part I got much more sleep than I was getting before this challenge, but it wasn't quality sleep. I bought a foam mattress topper for my bed, which is great, but it doesn't help that my room is just so hot sometimes that it's hard to get to sleep. And some nights I got distracted by a really good book or late-night cooking. Some weekends I slept longer than 10 hours, but after I read an article that said that the body does need to make up the total number of lost hours in the long-run, I decided to relax on my late-sleeping penalties. My overall average for the 6 weeks was right at 7:30:04. Pretty much a perfect average, and a great start, but it didn't really achieve what I set out to achieve - quality sleep and real restfulness. Like wake-up-before-my-alarm-clock, feeling-great restfulness. Oh well...there's always next challenge. A for effort, but I'm still docking my attributes for not actually achieving them. (+ 2 CON/.5 STA)


LIFE GOALThis one was my crowning achievement for this challenge! I prepared 6 new dishes and attended a chef's knife skills class. My six dishes were spaghetti squash with pesto, pork tenderloin with blackberry sauce and vegetable slaw, turkey apple meatballs, hot melon salad, authentic bolognese sauce (also with spaghetti squash), and mustard glazed salmon with cauliflower rice. Of the three, the pork, bolognese, and meatballs were absolutely fantastic and I would and have made them again. They will forever now be in my repertoire. The salmon was just okay, but better the next day. I used a bizarre spice combo on the rice, and it was just weird. The pesto was also just okay, and I realized I could buy Trader Joes's sauce and it would have the same ingredients as my home-made sauce with no work and possibly cheaper. The hot melon salad was a complete bust. I think my wok wasn't hot enough, or maybe it was just a weird idea. Thanks, Alton! You can find the successful recipe links in the first post of this challenge. The knife skills class taught me a few new things, but overall it was probably a waste of money. I still can't chop vegetables super-humanly fast without looking! A+ (+1 CON / 2 WIS)


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Authentic Beef Bolognese Sauce


This was one my favorite things I've ever made. The recipe exceeded my expectations, and matched the dining experience I remember from a nice Italian restaurant nearby.


This recipe was taken almost verbatim from this website. I only made a couple modifications and only have a couple explanations to add, so this post will be short. Go to that website, and you'll find everything you need to make this.



  1. I added fresh chopped basil and oregano near the end of cooking time.
  2. I also added a little bit of dried thyme in the beginning with the onions and garlic



  1. A rasher of pancetta is like a slice of bacons-worth. I was probably overly generous, and used 1oz of pancetta per rasher that the recipe called for. It was a perfect amount.
  2. "large glasses of red wine" is hardly specific. I chose to imagine the large red wine glasses you get at nice restaurants, and since I don't have those, I filled my medium sized glasses pretty full. After two full to the brim glasses of wine, I had almost a regular sized portion left to drink!


Prep Notes:



  1. Finely dice the celery and carrots at about the same size as each other. The more even your cuts the more consistent each bite of the finished sauce will be.


Cooking Notes:


  1. I probably should have let my pancetta brown more before adding the beef, because it stopped searing once that happened. There was too much moisture.
  2. The wine I used was a good cabernet. I was going to go with a real Italian wine, but they didn't have one I liked at the store. Always cook with a wine you'd want to drink.
  3. I was a little freaked out after adding the wine because the beef turned purple for a time, but after simmering for a while it came out perfect.
  4. I ended up simmering for about 1.5 hours, stirring about every 20 minutes. Cooking time will vary depending on your desired consistency, temperature, and altitude. I wanted my sauce to be super rich and not liquidy, kind of a chili texture. I was not disappointed by this decision.


Spaghetti Squash



This is probably great with pasta, but I'm cooking Paleo. To cook spaghetti squash, find a small-medium sized one, cut it in half lengthwise, scoop out the seeds and gooey bits, and place them face down in a sided pan. Pour about an inch or inch and a half of water in the pan. Bake at 375F for 35 mins. Take it out, let it cool a bit, then take a fork and scoop out the insides. It should string away and resemble angel hair pasta or spaghetti (depending upon the size of the squash). When I was done, each side was pretty much an empty husk of squash skin.


Bon appetit!

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