Serious Seafood Supporters Swoon for Succulent Sashimi

Hopefully my attempt at alliteration grabbed your attention. Did it work? Then let’s get down to business. How do you roll when it comes to Japanese sushi? Nigiri, maki, temaki or sashimi? For me it’s sashimi every time. Why? What’s the difference? Let’s start with nigiri sushi. From the word “nigiru”, which means “to grasp/grip”, nigiri sushi has a block of vinegard rice on which the raw fish sits. The formed rice makes it easy to pick up with your hand or chopsticks. Maki sushi, from “maku”, which means “to wrap/roll”, is wrapped in seaweed (called “nori”). These rolls don’t always contain raw fish. Vegetables (raw or cooked), tofu, avocado, cucumber, grilled egg and cooked chicken are common ingredients. Temaki, meaning “hand-rolled”, is generally cone-shaped with the same ingredients as other sushi. My personal favorite is sashimi. Meaning “sliced body”, sashimi is the fish from nigiri sans rice. It’s pure, clean, unadulterated and simplistic. And just to let you in on a not-so-secret secret, sashimi is considered the finest dish in Japanese formal dining by many Japanese chefs.

Sashimi is not masked with competing or overwhelming sauces and marinades. And this might sound like something you’ve heard from a food blogger or TV travel host, but you can really taste the ocean where the fish once swam. Plus I always leave satisfied. Never bloated. Compare that to a Friday fish fry? Sorry folks, but it’s not even on the same spectrum. Without getting too personal, my body was clearly not meant to ingest fish, or any food for that matter, that’s been battered and deep fried. Why? Gas, gas, gas. If I am going to eat fish from the Great Lakes (like perch, whitefish, salmon or walleye), then lightly sautéed or a quick grill is the way to go.

For you foodies who like to be filled, I’ve noticed that some sushi chefs slice larger pieces of fish for sashimi than for nigiri. Or maybe it’s just because I often sit at the bar watching intently and intensely, drooling and generally looking really hungry. Over the years I have developed a greater appreciation for fish. Some fish are firm, flaky or soft. If you have had sushi that smells or tastes fishy, then the fish is not fresh. Get your money back. Same thing if the fish is overly chewy, stringy or tough. It’s old. Clearly not all fish have the same chewiness. Take squid, for example. You definitely need to use more of your molars.

Omakase or “chef’s choice” is by far the best way to go to experience sashimi. Why? You are asking the chef to show off his talent and do his best to give you the freshest fish of the day. A good bet is the sushi chef was at the fish market that morning and personally hand-picked the seafood.

Sushi Platter

Eric, what about the health benefits? You haven’t talked about protein or Omega 3s. Click here for Sashimi Nutrition Facts. If you’re too lazy to click on the link, I can sum it up by saying that the majority of fish served contain 6-7 grams of protein per 1 ounce serving. So yes, Ken, we have ingested over 150 grams of protein from fish in a sitting before. And it was all delicious.

What are your favorites? Blue fin tuna? Yellow fin tuna? Albacore? Mackerel? Spanish mackerel? Salmon? Shrimp? Clam? Yellow tail? Sea eel? And for dessert? Freshwater sea eel. You know what I’m talking about.

So where should you go for excellent sushi in Madison? The answer is easy. Muramoto at Hilldale Mall. The fish quality is top notch. Always fresh. Try to avoid busy times if you can. They do a huge business when it comes to take-out, so your order will be competing with a lot of pick-ups. Their service is good too. The servers are knowledgable and friendly. Although again when it is busy, they can become a little frenetic. But what do you expect at 6pm on a Saturday right? The last time I was there, I sat at the bar ordered a Sapporo and some edamame. It might feel a little intimidating at first to sit at the bar, but part of the whole gastronomical experience that most people miss, in my opinion, is watching the chef prepare the food followed by the presentation. Watch how the chef slices and prepares the fish, lays them gently and precisely on sliced Asian white radish and/or single leaves of the Shiso herb. If you want to show your appreciation to the chef, buy him a beer or some sake. Wasabi and pickled ginger (both are antibacterial) are a must. In between the different fish, eat some ginger. It cleanses the pallet and soothes your stomach. If you feel a little carbohydrate-deprived, don’t worry. A bowl of white rice very often accompanies the meal.

Are you getting hungry? I sure am. So the next time you’re thinking fish on Friday, think seafood and think sashimi.

Take Your Eyes Off Yourself

Are you having a tough time staying focused on your health and fitness goals? Not feeling properly motivated? Need a kick in the butt? Then watch my short video and learn a strategy to get in shape while helping others at the same time.

Jack Lalanne, the “Godfather of Fitness”

Do you know who Jack Lalanne is? Let me give you a few hints. In 1936 he opened one of the nation’s first fitness gyms in Oakland, California. He hosted The Jack Lalanne Show between 1953 and 1985. I recall watching some of these as a kid. He invented the Juice Tiger. I clearly remember the infomercial and his stretch jumpsuits. He invented the Smith Machine. Practically every gym has some version of it. He set a push-up record. Over 1,000 push-ups in 23 minutes! Amazing!

Jack Lalanne was promoting health and fitness through his own television show, as a motivational speaker and prolific author years before Jillian Michaels, Gunnar Peterson, Susan Powter, Tony Little, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Jane Fonda, Richard Simmons, Steve Reeves and countless others. If you’re not familiar with some of these people, read up on them. For his time, Jack was seen as a bit of an oddity and was known for his incredible feats of strength and endurance. On numerous occasions, he swam in open waters while handcuffed and/or towing boats. Some people saw these as gimmicks. But he was the real deal. Not only did he talk the talk, but he walked the walk.

Energetic, passionate, charismatic and unbelievably fit, Jack influenced generations of people with his commonsense approach to wellness. He preached daily exercise, having a positive attitude and a low sugar diet. Does this sound familiar?

If you have never watched one of his shows before, check out this candid video where he talks directly to his TV viewing audience about unhappy people and their emotional and mental well-being. Enjoy!

Do You Need a Massage?

Just reading the title makes you want to stretch your neck and rub your shoulders. Doesn’t it? The answer to “Do you need a massage?” is YES. You need a massage. Why? Because you’ve had injuries. Because you don’t stretch enough. Because you sit at a desk all day long. Because you have intense workouts. Because you woke up with a crick in your neck. Because you want to improve your exercise performance. Because it feels good. Because your spouse’s hands tire so quickly. Because you want to treat yourself. Any and all of these are good reasons to schedule a massage.

Yesterday I got a 1-hour massage by Robb Seal of Premier Bodywork LLC. How was it? Will I go back? Just keep reading.

Robb and I met at a High Tech Happy Hour in January. After a short conversation, I expressed interest not only for myself, but for my clients too. Being able to refer a skilled massage therapist is a value-add for my business. So I scheduled an appointment for March 1st.

Just walking into his office at 715 Hill Street #122, I started to feel relaxed. Was is the decor, the gentle music, the anticipation of healing hands? Probably all of the above. A health history form/questionnaire attached to a clipboard was waiting for me on a chair. After I filled it out, Robb and I talked about any immediate issues or concerns I had. Three hours later, I was on the table. Just kidding. It was a couple minutes. Unfortunately I have a laundry list of injuries due to car accidents, sports, overuse and my body just reminding me that I’m not all that and a bag of chips. My goal in getting a massage by Robb was two-fold: 1) help fix/repair any of my various muscular and fascia issues and 2) see how comfortable I would be referring him. Now, let me back up a second. Clearly, I was willing to get on his table after our initial meeting. Robb has thousands of hours of experience and uses the vocabulary of a healer. Not the typical rub and fluff massage you might get at a spa. That type of a massage has a place, but that’s not what I was looking for and that’s not what most of my clients are interested in either.

Okay, back to the story. After I got on the table, he started palpating (using his hands to examine and feel around). I noticed how intuitive he was as he let his experience and knowledge guide him. There were areas that I asked him to address and parts that I forgot to note on the questionnaire that he quickly discovered. A true professional. He used a combination of deep tissue, myofascial and trigger point work. How could I tell? Just a reminder, I did massage for eight years back in California. Had my table and chair and worked at both a physical therapy clinic and a hotel spa. Plus I have received many massages over the years. I could tell that Robb was not your typical massage therapist when he said that he could have his hands on my left shoulder for 30 minutes. Compare that to your fluff and buff massage technician. Robb is a healer.

In addition to being highly competent and intuitive, Robb tried to balance out the massage by touching on most parts of the body. If he worked on hamstrings and hips, for example, he spent at least a few minutes balancing it out by addressing the quads. While my face was in the face cradle I laughed that I could get a 100 hour massage since I had so much “stuff” going on. Robb didn’t disagree.

When we were done, I polished off the glass of water he had waiting for me. Very professional. We chatted briefly as he had another appointment showing up in a few minutes. I told him that I was very interested to see how I would feel that night and the next day. He reminded me that things would continue to release over the next 48 hours. When I got home, I was ravenous and devoured the chicken and vegetable stir fry that I had made earlier. In bed I did some light stretching and noticed significant improvement in my range of motion and reduced pain in my right hip/piriformis.

How about this morning? Great! A little sore where he spent more time and used more localized pressure. As an aside, I attended the Middleton Chamber Breakfast today, and my friend, AJ Sue, asked me how I was doing. A simple question. I answered him that I was processing yesterday’s massage and how I was feeling. Not in a concerned way, but more introspective. I consider myself to be very body aware and I wanted to pay attention to what my body was telling me about the massage. I forgot to mention that after I got home from my massage appointment, I felt lighter and could walk up the stairs easier. I also felt like I could breathe deeper. So Eric, it sounds like you had a good massage and can highly recommend him. Absolutely! Robb is extremely competent, professional, intuitive and sensitive. I will go back soon, and I hope you book an appointment with him too. Thanks again, Robb!Premier Bodywork LLC

Stuffed Crookneck Yellow Squash Recipe

Stuffed squash is one of my favorite dishes, especially on a cold winter day. A great thing about squash is their hardiness. They will last quite a while indoors in a cool, dry place. So your fall squash harvest can be feeding you well into the winter.

The Crookneck Yellow Squash is similar to my Zuccanoes Recipe except that the skin is tougher. If you’d prefer, you can use the squash just as a serving vessel, or depending on how you prepare it, you can eat the skin as well. I did. It was a little fibrous but tasted good.

Stuffed Crookneck Yellow Squash

1/2 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound lean ground beef, grass-fed (you can also use ground turkey, chicken, lamb or pork)
6 white mushrooms, sliced
1 8-ounce can diced tomatoes, fire roasted
flesh of one yellow crookneck squash, chopped (you can also use straight neck or a zucchini)
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, grated (or your favorite melting cheese)
1 tsp dried rosemary
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp olive oil

Slice one squash in half lengthwise. Scoop out insides, leaving 1/4″ rim so canoe stays intact. (You don’t want your canoe to sink in the oven. Very messy.) Dice the squash innards and set aside.

Set stove top to medium-high heat. To heated skillet, add olive oil then sauté ground beef. Once browned, add onions, garlic, mushrooms and squash innards. Sprinkle with rosemary, thyme, basic, salt and pepper. Cook 5 minutes stirring frequently. Add diced tomatoes and lower heat. Simmer for additional 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

Set oven to bake at 350 degrees. Take meat/vegetable mixture and spoon into canoes. Do not overfill. Top with 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake for 45 minutes.

Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup grated cheese and serve.

Preparation time: 1 1/4 hours, including baking. Serves 6

Shoe Review: Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Brain Freeze

Other than my Babolat tennis shoes, my last two athletic shoes have been Skechers. Lightweight with a mesh fabric upper, memory foam insole and a flexible outsole. Not your typical trainers, but they have worked unbelievably well for me. In the good ‘ol days I was a fan of Adidas running shoes. Granted I was an avid runner at the time, so that made sense. But I also wore them to the gym to train clients and for my own workouts. Features changed over time, and I moved on to Sauconys and Mizunos. I even owned a pair of Otomix bodybuilder shoes. So how did I shift to Sketchers? I just happened to drop by our DSW at Greenway Station — my big bro would always tell me how he’d find deals on the discounted shelves in California. As luck would have it, I found a pair of Sketchers Men’s Skech Flex Sneakers. They were sooooooo comfortable. I literally smiled when I put them on. I have had those shoes for two years. Yes, I know that breaks many rules about how long you’re “suppose” to own a pair of shoes. I still wear them once in a while.

My next pair of Skechers was similar but had slightly more support. The upper was a combination of mesh and synthetic. For long periods of standing and/or doing “light” workouts, these shoes are fine. But for long walks, running or other activities that require more lateral support, these don’t cut it. Thus I recently ordered the Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Brain Freeze. Unlike the previous two Sketcher’s, my feet are still breaking them in. If you’re like me, my feet are NOT symmetrical. It’s a running joke in my house about how “I broke the big toe on my right foot in a soccer game when I was 12” and how it never healed properly. Ohhh, poor Eric. Needless to say, that has greatly impacted my shoe choices. These Sketchers are slightly heavier, have more grip and more lateral support. Also it keeps the foot in a neutral position. Absolutely no supination (rolling your ankles out and pushing off of your pinky toe) or pronation (ankles rolling in and pushing off of the big toe). I went for a long walk the other day and felt great. A little toe rubbing, but with my issues, that’s to be expected.

After my walk, I went to the gym and did some cardio on a step mill. Again I felt supported and comfortable. Feet were breathing well. Then I did a number of bodyweight calisthenic exercises and finished with some free weight resistance exercises. I even noticed how “centered” I felt doing standing dumbbell biceps curls. Plus I think these shoes boost me up to almost 5’8″ :-)

Eric, what about your Babolat tennis shoes you mentioned earlier? For tennis, they are incredible. They offer tons of support, lateral stability and durability. Okay for lifting and walking but awful for standing for long periods of time or straight up running. When I put them on, it’s like a switch has been turned. I want to start moving quickly, shift side to side, pivot, etc. These shoes are like race horses in the gates. They want to get out there and do what they’ve been designed to do.

If you’re looking to experience a light weight shoe with Memory Foam insole then Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Brain Freeze is a great choice. Wait a second! What’s that I see on The Skechers Sport Men’s Skech Air 2.0 Zero Gravity? Might have to give those a try too.

5 FAQs with Certified Personal Trainer Eric Foxman

The other day, I set my video camera on a tripod, hit record and just let it go. My goal? To give honest, non-sugar-coated answers to some of the most common health and fitness questions. Watch my 15-minute video.

Slow Cooker Beef Tongue: It’s Really Really Good

Before you scroll down to look at the pics of the two beef tongues that look more like Chestbursters from the Alien movies, PLEASE keep reading. They were absolutely delicious and flavorful, easy to prepare and much leaner than I expected.

With our quarter steer that we ordered several months ago, the butchers from Lodi Sausage Company and Meat Market, threw in two tongues. I guess tongue is not popular. As a matter of fact, we asked them for the liver and a few other “throwaway” parts. The tongues sat in our basement freezer for some time, and then Heather pulled them out the other week and asked what we should do with them. Given that a cow uses its tongue pretty much non-stop, my first thought was to cook it low and slow in the crockpot. This was confirmed when we checked out some recipes online. My initial concern was that it would have an “organy”, “minerally”, “irony” taste. Nothing could be further (or farther) from the truth. The beef tongue was AWESOME! Tender and flavorful like filet mignon. No kidding.

We set the crock pot on Low over night with carrots, onions, celery, salt and pepper and a bay leaf. In the morning after letting it cool Heather sliced a small piece and took a taste. She almost literally ran into the living room and said “Eric, you need to try this. It tastes like filet mignon.” Tender, juicy and for you foodies out there, had a great mouth feel. It had a nice chew to it. Not grainy or slippery. Now, what to do with them? She sliced both tongues — sounds like it would hurt: ) — and put them into two containers. The first was for beef tacos. We coated them with some Mexican seasonings (cumin, Mexican oregano, cayenne pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and dried chili powder) and gave them a quick saute in olive oil. We served them in warmed corn tortillas with salsa, avocado and a little cilantro. I must have had five or six. They were awesome!

The remaining beef tongue was for our beef with barley soup. And yes, we used the broth from the crock pot. And no, the broth was not fatty. I had read a few online recipes where fat from the tongue seemed to be an issue. People felt that the beef tongue was fatty and the “juice” was too greasy. Not in our case. Maybe it was the way the butchers cut the meat or that these grass fed cows were just leaner? Either way, we did not have to skim fat off the surface of the broth.

There you have it. An unpopular and unattractive piece of beef that turned out fantastic. It made me realize again that we are so conditioned to purchasing and eating only certain cuts and parts of the cow, chicken, pig, etc. All perfectly cut and individually packaged. In my opinion, that really disconnects us from our food. And that is why the last chicken we culled from our flock was done by yours truly. It was a great experience.

So the next time you go to your butcher, see what “throwaway” pieces they have. You might be pleasantly surprised by what culinary delights you can prepare.

2 uncooked beef tongues
This is not a pretty picture. I was hesitant to include this pic because, let’s be honest, the tongues look frightening.

2 cooked beef tongues
After they were cooked, they didn’t look much better.

tender inside of cooked beef tongue
Now we’re talking. Here’s the payoff.

beef tongue slices
2 containers of beef tongue please. The left became shredded beef tacos and the right became beef with barley soup.

beef tongue crock pot broth
Let’s not forget the broth. That’s where the flavor is. Not some bullion cube. This is the real deal. All the flavor.

Time For a New Pillow?

How was your sleep last night? Not so great? Maybe you were cold. Or your book was at the exciting part? Did you eat supper too late? Maybe the food was too spicy? Exercise later than usual? Work late? Have stuff on your mind? These are a handful of reasons why we may not get as much restful sleep as we’d like. Or it might be as simple as replacing your pillow. Yes, you heard me. It might be time to replace your flattened out ten year old pillow.

Over the last few months I have been hearing that MyPillow advertisement on the radio over and over again. So maybe it’s a bit of brainwashing. But I’ve also seen and heard many mattress ads too. Like most of us, I decided on the cheaper and simpler of the two. Keep reading.

For some time, I had been feeling a lot of pressure on my face when I woke up. My cheek was getting absolutely squished. Was I sleeping on a brick? I also noticed extra tightness in my low back. Just to back track, sleep has been absolutely crucial for me as long as I can remember. Not only have I had a few sports related injuries that required me to rest and get off my feet, but I’d been in a couple car accidents 26 and 22 years ago, respectively. These were good ol’ fender benders where I experienced whiplash. For both I dealt with sciatica issues and some peripheral neuropathy for many years. That is why I consider myself a bit of an expert on shoes, chairs and pillows. So back to present day. After listening to me complain, my thoughtful wife, Heather, suggested that I grab one of the new pillows she bought for our guest room. Ahh, she’s always looking after me. Drum roll please. Problem solved. The moment I laid my head down, I was like “this is how it’s suppose to feel.”

Laying my head on the new pillow was like trying on a new pair of athletic shoes. Can you relate? You slip your old shoes back on after trying new ones and you realize your old shoes offer zero support and are so compressed they feel more like bedroom slippers. You’ve heard me rant in previous posts about wearing comfortable shoes and replacing them sooner rather than later. Some running shoes, for example, say you should replace them after 300, 400 or 500 miles or between 3 to 6 months. I’m on my feet for long stretches, so that is more difficult to calculate. There is little noticeable wear on the outside of the shoes but lots of compression inside. The same is true with your pillow. I’ve read that you should replace your pillow every 2 to 3 years, if not sooner. Personally, I think it’s entirely up to you. If you are uncomfortable laying your head on your pillow, that’s a quick clue.

Remember to take holistic approach. If you are not getting restful sleep you should also look at your workout routine, diet, etc. to see if you’ve made any recent changes. I can tell you that sitting in front of my desktop computer for too long makes my neck and upper back hurt. That’s why I’m going to end this article soon.

Hindsight is 20/20 right? With my old pillow I noticed that I was less settled when I slept. I’d roll from side to side. Getting restful and uninterrupted sleep is a key ingredient to your health and well-being. So before you spend serious bucks on a new mattress or make an appointment with your chiropractor try a new pillow.

Make 2017 The Year You Achieve Your Health & Fitness Goals

Happy New Year! Welcome to 2017! If you are you ready to make your fitness resolutions a reality then watch my video below. You’ll learn how to target your goals, stay on track and have fun along the way.