October 24, 2023
Well, here we are again. It's time a for a new cookbook.
A few years ago, I honestly and forthrightly told you in the opening pages of the original Boundless Cookbook that I was “not a chef”…
…and by most definitions of the word, I’m still not a chef, or a sous chef, or a line-order cook, or anything close to a professional culinary expert, for that matter. I’ve never worked in a restaurant, never been officially “paid” to cook anything, never hosted a cooking show, never been on a cooking show (but man-oh-man, I drool over the BBQ competition ones) and would probably get lost, confused and frustrated in the average commercial kitchen.
Instead, I’m just a certified nutritionist who loves to find and biohack unique ingredients and food preparation tools from around the world, then combine them in novel fashions to create recipes that haven’t existed before and that you probably aren’t going to find in any other cookbook. Hence the oddities that appeared in the first Boundless Cookbook, everything from “Immortality Yogurt” to “Screamin’ Sex Ice Cream” to “Low-Carb, High-Collagen Chocolate Nut Butter Loaf” to – brace yourself – a “Boiled Steak”. Perhaps it’s the fact that I’m not a classically trained chef that I’m able to somehow carve my own path in the kitchen and come up with recipes that most folks wouldn’t think of, or at least, wouldn’t be stupid enough to try.
Yet somehow, my first cookbook struck a chord amongst my readers. People actually began smearing spent coffee grounds on their pork chops, eating their lunchtime salads wrapped in a seaweed roll burrito-style, and (shocker!) even trying organ meats like liver for the first time once they learned how to actually make it taste good. Furthermore, it turned out to be mighty fun to make a cookbook. Mash a whole bunch of my favorite recipes together, invent a few new ones, and include lots of helpful anecdotes and information that teach how and why these food, drink, herb and spice combinations can give you safe, healthy, boundless energy, send everything off to a test kitchen to run it all through the wringer, get some epic so-called “food porn” photos taken of it all, then send it off to your house to make your life better? Sounds like a fun and meaningful project to me!
So I thought, what the heck? Why not jump in for a round two?
And that’s how we got here three years later: the unveiling of Boundless Kitchen. Like the first cookbook, my goal for this book is to give you new ideas; teach you important, valuable and life-changing nutrition concepts in an entertaining and hands-on way; make food preparation fun for everyone from beginner to advanced foodies; help you discover new and novel ingredients you’ve probably never heard of; avoid any semblance of a myopic, rule-filled “diet”; and package everything up in a handy guide you can keep on your kitchen counter to strike up your imagination and thrill your taste buds whenever you’re looking for something interesting, healthy and pleasurable to shove down your gaping maw.
1) The categories are entirely different. The original Boundless Cookbook was categorized into Steak, Steak Rubs, Fish, Wild Game, Organ Meat, Chicken, Bread, Vegetables, Smoothies, Coffee & Tea, Broths, Ferments, Dessert & Cocktails. Whew! But for your sanity and mine, I’ve simplified. Boundless Kitchen includes Plants n’ Roots, Meat (yes, to make your job easier and me lazier, I just lumped muscle meat, organs, seafood and poultry into one mighty category), Ferments, Beverages, Smoothies and Desserts. See? Isn’t that much simpler?
2) While, like the first cookbook, I’ve included plenty of recipes my superstar-ninja-fashion-a-mouthwatering-cinnamon-roll-from-random-scraps-found-in-the-pantry wife along with recipes from my twin sons’ cooking website, podcast and YouTube channel at GoGreenfields.com (can you say “Baruka Nuts horchata” ten times fast), I’ve also recruited the brainpower of my entire Ben Greenfield Life coaching group, who is a collective of brilliant physicians, nutritionists, dietitians, personal trainers, physical therapists and beyond who also, like me, just happen to be foodies who appreciate healthy, entertaining food that doesn’t taste like cardboard.
3) This is a really, really hard sentence for me to write. This cookbook does not include my wife’s illustrious homemade sourdough bread recipe. You’ll just need to get the first cookbook for that. See what I did there? Ah, shameless marketing. Fortunately, if you check out this link, I’ve included a slammin’ deal on that first cookbook should you now own it already. Trust me: you’ll want to anyways as it pairs like turkey and cranberries, or powdered sugar and French toast, or liver and onions (sorry, I couldn’t resist) with Boundless Kitchen.
Next, you should know something important: there’s no hard and fast rules about how to use this cookbook. Mix n’ match however your heart and stomach desires. For example, in the morning, perhaps a nature’s multivitamin breakfast burrito paired with a cacao-charcoal latte; for lunch, a bit of wild pesto on a homemade tortilla with smoked and spiced crispy chicken; and for dinner, a shiso leaf shrub cocktail with sous vide pork belly, topped off with parmesan squash wedges and pumpkin spice colostrum cake for dessert. Toss in a few mocha mudwater gelatin bites for dessert and you’ve got a quite gratifying day planned in the culinary department, along with all the clean boundless energy you’d ever want.
But it’s quite possible that I just lied to you. See, there actually are a few hard and fast dietary rules, if you want to call them that, that I adhere to and recommend you do too. Here’s why: if you investigate just about every long-lived population on the face of the planet – including places like Okinawa, Nicoya, Icaria, Sardinia, Loma Linda and other so called “Blue Zones” where a disproportionately high number of centenarians (people who live over a hundred years old, often with a remarkable combination of lifespan and healthspan) – there are a few distinct dietary patterns that emerge. These are patterns that reflect nutritionally related trends that can drastically affect one’s health for better, or worse. Furthermore, although it’s the dark and dirty secret in the health and fitness industry that if you want to make a few bucks fast then you should write a diet book and subsequently declare that diet to be the ultimate diet for all of humankind, the fact is that there is no one perfect diet, and instead, there is a great deal of biochemical, microbiome and genetic diversity amongst us humans that dictates that not everyone is going to respond to a carnivore or a ketogenic or a vegan or a cayenne-pepper-maple-syrup-hot-sauce-shoot-fire-out-your-butthole diet the same way.
A few of those key practices, patterns, trends, habits, routines or whatever-you-want-to-call-them, include:
-Eat in a parasympathetic state, also known as the “rest-and-digest” branch of your nervous system. For example, although I’m a big fan of sprinkling low level physical activity throughout your day so that your metabolism stays elevated and your burn lots of extra fat, I’m also known for saying “I sit when I eat” (despite my mother always joking to me that if you eat your food standing up, it doesn’t have any calories). Why sit when you eat? Simple: you’ll digest your food better, experience less digestive distress such as gas and bloating from issues such as low enzyme production or so-called “leaky gut”, eat in a more mindful state, and feel fuller faster. In other words, there’s a notable difference between sipping on your superfood smoothie while you read the news, scroll through your favorite social media feed or relax at your kitchen table by yourself or with your family, vs. stressfully sucking down that same smoothie with one hand white-knuckled on a steering wheel as you blaze down the highway at sixty miles per hour during your morning commute. Eat in a relaxed, de-stressed state whenever possible, and if you can’t, well, just wait to eat. You won’t starve, trust me. In addition, adopt some kind of gratitude or prayer practice before a meal. Pause, take a few relaxing breaths, thank God for your food, think of how grateful you are for your sustenance, then open your eyes and eat, slowly.
-Eat with people. The longest human study on happiness to date – detailed in the excellent book The Good Life: Lessons From the World’s Longest Scientific Study of Happiness – found that the top secret to a good life with optimized healthspan and lifespan was not some expensive supplement or biohack or 5am sprint up the side of a steep mountain, but rather, the quality of your friendships and relationships, and there’s nothing that brings people together quite like sharing good food. Bread was meant to be broken, together. Wine was meant to be sipped, while laughing with a friend (don’t snort it out your nose). Grandma’s broccoli casserole (no matter how gassy it might make you) was meant to be consumed during memorable and heartwarming family gatherings, and not while locked away in your bedroom closet during a midnight snack raid. Your dining room and living room (no matter how messy or small or cat-hair laden or embarrassing to you) were meant for dinner parties with friends in your local community. Families were meant to celebrate glorious dinners together, as many nights of the week as possible, and sometimes waffles together for breakfast too. So as much as you possibly can, share your meals with other human beings.
-Ruthlessly control blood glucose and inflammation. Tossing your blood sugar levels onto a daily roller coaster adventure, a practice that produces something known as “high glycemic variability”, can lead to an onset of a wide variety of chronic diseases, a rampant appetite, up-and-down energy levels that are anything but stable, and damage to fats within your blood vessels and other tissues. Inflammation from stress, poor sleep, environmental toxins and high consumption of ultra-processed foods and vegetable oils can throw a few extra wrenches into your precious biology. As a matter of fact, I am known for telling people that if there are just two biomarkers to track to see if you’re going to live a long time, it would indeed be your blood sugar levels and your inflammation. So the million dollar question is, of course, how do you control these factors? I’ve already given you one clue: eat in a parasympathetic, relaxed state. In addition, to activate enzymes and hormones that will help digest food and keep blood sugar stable, and to also limit dietary components such as processed ingredients and rancid fats that can lead to inflammation, you can:
-Chew each bite of food 25-40 times (yes, you can go back and read that again, I really do mean 25-40 times).
-Avoid eating out of packages and containers and from any sources that have been heavily processed, particularly making every attempt to limit or eliminate vegetable oils and hydrogenated oils such as canola oil, safflower oil, sunflower oil, margarine, “fake” diluted non-extra-virgin olive oil, etc.
-Keep your eye out for the host of additives, preservatives, colorings and other hard-to-metabolize materials so often found in packaged foods, even those notoriously marked as health food. Those bastards. They snuck canola oil, cane sugar, Red No. 40, Yellow No. 5, and Yellow No. 6 into your nutty, “natural” trail mix again.
-Mitigate your sugar and starch consumption and try to primarily consume carbs before, during or after physical activity or after thermal stress such as heat or cold.
-Consume blood glucose disposal agents prior to a meal such as apple cider vinegar, ceylon cinnamon, berberine, bitter melon extract, or (hint, hint), the bitters or fantastic vinegar shrub cocktail recipe you’ll find in this cookbook. In addition, spicy ingredients like cayenne and hot sauces have been shown in research to suppress hunger and increase satiety of a meal. So what that means is that you want to cook with plenty of sour (e.g. vinegar) bitter (e.g. bitter melon) and spicy (e.g. red pepper) ingredients if you want to control both blood glucose and hunger.
-Fast regularly, such as a daily 10-12 hour fast for women and a 12-16 hour fast for men (whoa, wait…you’re telling me that females and males have differing biological responses to caloric restriction?), a bi-monthly 24 hour dinner-to-dinner fast, and a quarterly detox such as a juice cleanse, a bone broth cleanse a fasting mimicking diet or any of the other detox or cleanse approaches I talk about in my book Boundless (yep, shameless plug again because I actually cover most of these bullet points in exhaustive scientific detail in that book, available at BoundlessBook.com).
-Finally, if you’re anything like me and have a hard time actually pushing yourself away from the table without overstuffing yourself, or constantly find yourself thinking about food between meals, then you should know that the best practical strategies that may support higher satiety levels – especially if you’re restricting calories as some kind of a weight loss or longevity enhancing strategy – include eating more slowly, avoiding hyperpalatable, ultra-processed, “soft” textured meals, and structuring each meal to include decent amounts of protein, fiber, and water content. Related to that last bit, this is why I’m a huge fan of low-calorie, high-water containing ingredients such as chia seed slurry, Japanese yam noodles, pumpkin mash, sea moss gel, smoothies blended thick with lots of ice, bone broth and a few of the other “gel-like” foods you’ll find within the pages of this cookbook. You’ll feel like you’re eating a decent amount of food, but you really aren’t consuming very many calories at all when you include these types of compounds.
If you want good eating and boundless energy at your beck and call, those six practices listed above, along with eating in a relaxed state and eating with people, should ideally be combined with the other tips I gave you in the introduction to the original Boundless Cookbook, specifically:
-Whenever possible, prepare your food slowly and mindfully. “Buy-open-devour” is far inferior to “grow-soak-sprout-ferment-care-love-enjoy-savor”. No, I’m not saying that every time you want to have yogurt, you need to crush L. Reuteri probiotic tablets with a mortar and pestle, combine them with raw goat’s milk that has been boiled and cooled, and then ferment in a covered dish for 36 hours in your oven at low temperature (although that’s a darn good way to make some of the best food ever for your gut). That would be exhausting. But is it asking you too much to perhaps learn how to drench a lovely whole chicken in extra virgin olive oil and sea salt, and throw it in the oven for 35 minutes instead of picking up a bucket of fried chicken on the way home from work, or grabbing the canola-oil drenched, factory-farmed rotisserie chicken from the grocery store?
-Be in constant awe of and gratitude for the wonders of God’s creation, embracing ceaseless curiosity about the magic, beauty, mystery, and wonder of the vast array of superfoods scattered across this Earth, and allowing yourself to go on a culinary adventure to try them. When you see ingredients like Barukas Nuts, Himalayan Tartary Buckwheat, Maca Root, and Phytoplankton Bloom Minerals, don’t be afraid to experiment with them (not in a reckless, eating-scary-things TV show kind of way, but rather in a wise and discerning exploration of food kind of way).
-Consider food not as just a collection of physical atoms and molecules largely disconnected from the ethereal dimensions of your spirit, but rather as a means to fuel your soul. In other words, what you put into your body is not only important for your physical health, but also for your spiritual health and, ultimately, for fulfilling your life’s purpose. So, yes, mowing down a bag of potato chips at the movie theater or on the airplane or in front of your basement TV is going to make you far less capable of crushing the next day compared to having, say, munching on a few brazil nuts along with some organic dark chocolate (gulp: did I just admit to being that guy who sneaks brazil nuts into the movie theater?).
Tips, tips, tips: I’m tired of tips.
It’s time to eat.
So allow me to finish this belabored introduction with a quick but meaningful reminder from 1 Corinthians 10:31: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
With that said, mangia, mangia. Let’s eat.
Pre-order my new cookbook Boundless Kitchen by clicking here and you'll snag some free goodies on the way (like early access to the book before anyone else, a FREE download to my specially curated 7-day meal plan, and more). And, as always, let me know in the comments what recipes you're most excited about and if you've pre-ordered your copy. :)