This recipe is for my HS classmate Sonya in Atlanta (adapted from a Rachel Ray recipe)! Yes you might have noticed that we’re loving our love of soups lately. Well its because, they’re quick, very easy to make, versatile [as you can have them as a side, appetizer or a complete meal (when adding protein like chopped chicken breast)]! And trust us – after making this a couple of times you won’t need this recipe at all. Yes, its that easy! Lets jump right into it as I don’t have a story to share behind this other than the fact that its delicious and that you might want to have some buttery pan-toasted sourdough bread to accompany this jewel of a soup.
One last thing I want to note here is that if you have a large amount of produce on hand making soups out of it is a good way for it not to sit in your refrigerator and go bad. I do this a lot with broccoli and cauliflower. Oh and if you don’t have one yet an immersion (i.e hand) blender, is an amazing investment for sauces soups smoothies, shakes, etc.
* 1 quart of chicken stock
* 3 tablespoons of fat (butter, coconut oil, or ghee)
* 1 medium onion
* 2 large shallots (or another onion)
* 4 cloves of garlic chopped or thinly sliced (or as much as you want depending on your preference)
* 1/4 c all purpose flour (feel free to leave this out if you’re cutting carbs but its not much)
* 1.5 lbs of spinach coarsely chopped
* juice from half a lemon (roughly 1 tbsp)
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* smoked paprika, salt, pepper (to taste)
> over med heat bring stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan (or heat in microwave 3-4 mins)
> melt butter over heat in large pot (medium heat)
> when butter melts and foams add in onion, shallots and garlic, then partially cover and cook while stirring for roughly 5 mins until they soften
> add flour and wish for roughly a minute
> wisk in the warmed stock
> add spinach and stir til wilted
> simmer 10-15 mins
> add lemon juice and season with salt + pepper
> use an immersion/hand blender to puree the soup (you may also use a regular blender or food processor to do this in batches then return to pot when finished)
> stir in the heavy cream
> simmer on low for 5 mins
> serve with a dash of smoked paprika and toasted sourdough bread
How can one not love the essence of a good wing? From hot to buffalo to lemon pepper to barbecue + all cooking methods in between from baked, to deep fried with breading to deep fried without breading, to grilled and finally the subject of this article – AIR FRIED! The new kid on the block.
Those of you that have been following our posts know that we’re not big on measuring exact amounts because we like to give you the freedom of seasoning to your own taste liking. This is especially in the case of non-baked foods. This being one of them.
Lets start with the main ingredient – WINGS! In this recipe we started with a package of cleaned organic wings from Costco (roughly 12 pieces mixed both drums + flats as separate pieces). Pat dry wings and season.
The basic seasoning used here is garlic + onion powder, blk + red pepper, salt of choice + paprika.
In a small squeeze bottle, mix half yellow mustard and half pickle juice. Then coat the seasoned wings with the mustard mixture, gently combine til fully covered. Put in fridge and let marinate (ideally overnight but), at least a couple of hours.
In a separate bowl mix the the ingredients for the batter. Even amounts of the following will do (again not measuring anything): flour of choice, tapioca starch, generic fish fry mix or plain cornmeal into a medium ziplock. Add marinaded room temperature wings to the bag in thirds to effectively coat.
Remove coated wings from ziplock and place on a flat plate. Spray tops with avocado oil and gently place oiled side down on parchment-lined air fryer – not stacking them. When all wings are in fryer (oiled-side down), spray tops with oil and cook.
Cooking time and temps may vary per air fryer. We cooked these at 350-400 degrees for a total of 25 mins total (carefully turning halfway through). Monitor and discontinue cooking when wings are at the desired crispness.
It took me a while to get things all squared away fitness-wise given our new normal, but I’m proud to say that I found my indoor quarantine cardio fix! And yes this will be something I continue after this pandemic is all said and done.
When it comes to indoor cycling or as some call it – spin, and after nearly 10 years of coaching this format along with a 30-minute format called SPRINT (by Les Mills), at big box gyms in Los Angeles, I consider myself a professional; However, when it comes to outdoor riding and although I’ve been in a few triathlons as a cyclist – mainly as a part of three different relay teams at the Walt Disney company, I still considered myself a novice in this area. Not something that sat well with me. How could I be an indoor cycling coach and not be too versed in the world of outdoor cycling?
Fast forward 2020, and I’m finally introduced to the amazing world or smart trainers and virtual riding. With the exception of training and the triathlons themselves, which was the extent of my outdoor riding life [and honestly, I sometimes slacked on the outdoor training due to own strength training schedule and my rigid indoor coaching schedule (6 days strength training + 5 indoor classes a week), in addition to my full-time career at the world’s largest entertainment company].
Enter COVID-19 in early March 2020, and now being free of my rigid coaching and workout schedule (due to mandatory gym closures), I reflected for approximately 2-3 weeks to determine what my social distancing mojo was going to entail 🤔. After initially running outside during the stay at home order, I was starting to get annoyed af because of the onslaught of other runners that were suddenly outside and not appropriately exercising social distancing orders put in place by the mayor of Los Angeles, and the governor of California.
After having a pretty decent moderately priced (non-smart) indoor trainer (when i lived in NYC), I wanted to see if going the cheaper route this time made a difference; so after researching low-end trainers, I purchased one for under $200 on Amazon – what a joke. When it comes to indoor trainers, this trial + error exercise taught me that, you really do get what you pay for. I was so disappointed, and instantly made the resolve that the only way I’m going to get something that will not only last, but that would equally be fulfilling enough to train well at multiple levels allowing me to grow, I’d need to forget price. I did and could not be happier + more fulfilled. Refurbished, this top of the line smart trainer wasn’t cheap by any stretch, but it’s just what I needed – $1200 new vs $750 refurbished.
Yea being and indoor cycling coach and enthusiast, I contemplated a stationary bike, however, I wanted something so much more than that. For starters, (as of the writing of this article), I have a 20+ year career in the online media space, I wanted amazing technology. I wanted interactivity. I wanted versatility. I wanted quality + longevity; and baby this latest model from the Wahoo Kickr line of smart trainers is the gift that keeps on giving – a work horse that satisfies all of my smart-trainer desires!!! Apps (discussed further down), further enhances this experience.
Allow me to introduce my new obsession – Jai’s Wahoo Kickr v3 (2018 version)!
After sitting on this 11-speed trainer for a few weeks – from trying my own DIY skills to remove cogs to make it fit my old 9-speed road bike. I finally gave in + took it to my neighborhood bike shop for a 10- minute repair job – the rest is history!! I’m up and running. To let you know my level of knowledge for outdoor cycling, I had no idea what a cog was – much less a derailleur; yet I was on YouTube trying to research how to start capitalizing on my investment, needless to say – to no avail. Thank God for the essential bike professionals + workers out there assisting novices like me.
Smart Trainer apps + my Apple Watch + Strava.
This new wave of smart trainers with Bluetooth and apps like Zwift are a whole new world to me. Paired with my Apple Watch (for tracking my heart rate specifically), I also use a fitness app called Strava for tracking cardio activities like my dog walks + runs, to now my training on the kickr.
Since the watch is also connected, it serves as a conduit, allowing me to track my heart rate while doing these activities. I even use Strava while doing strength training and mobility work. I’ll eventually get to the Zwift app but I started out using the wahoo app to get used to the features of the kickr trainer itself. Zwift is the leader at the moment. It’s easy. It allows you to ride freestyle, or do more structured workouts, FTP tests, races + rides w friends, etc. It’s the gamification of cycling/training done in a very practical, effective way. Sufferfest is another one, that uses real scenery vs avatar/cartoon used by Zwift. Being the novice I am, my plan is to venture into it slowly and start with Sufferfest. They have a sweet 44-day free trial during C-19.
What’s one of your new obsessions out of this 2020 Corona Virus Chronicles time?
This is a favorite from childhood. Mom steamed it with chicken broth and added red pepper flakes for a sweet + spicy veggie that we usually ate with mashed potatoes and fried chicken. This recipe upgrades the original recipe in many ways, with the added benefits of healthy fats and immune boosting spices.
Such a simple but healthy quick dish that pairs with a multitude of things. Pick a protein, [we prefer dishes like boiled shrimp + baked wild white fish or salmon]. Even adding additional veggies like broccoli and carrots go exceptionally well. If you diet allows for simple carbs,feel free to toss in a little pre-cooked rice, potato chunks or pasta. Potato chunks can be first boiled and them simmered in while cooking the cabbage. Cook slow and steady + Be really careful not to overcook.
R E C I P E:
chopped cabbage (full head), coconut oil 1-2 tbsp, spices to taste – curry, salt, pepper, cayenne. 1 can of coconut milk.
H O W:
chop cabbage, onion + garlic. melt oil. sauté onion, add garlic to sauté along with all spices. top with cabbage. pour milk on top. cover and simmer slowly til desired tenderness.
Love our variations on meatballs! These protein rich delights are so quick + easy to make in a crunch and so freaking good. Make a simple meal like topping them with micro-greens and placing them on a plated smeared with pesto for flavor. We’ve included the nutrition label below as well. Don’t be so rigid tho. The fun in making meatballs is being able to sort of eyeball things.
Mental Health (MH) – Such a heavy topic. Where do we start? Well for starters, there’s no way we can or will attempt to touch on all aspects of this complex subject in this single writing. As a matter of fact, this is the first in a series of MH topics we will cover on this site because as men of color we have a ton of layers that need to be peeled back to get a full understanding of it all. This particular piece is just one black gay man with Southern roots’ partial perspective on it after having lived many adult years (half his life), at this point, away from the Southern roots from which he is derived and grew for a period of time.
What we wanted to touch on in this piece is more along the lines of creating a physical space that will aid in providing us with a center. A place that serves as a space for us to take-in or listen to what God, the Universe (or whatever you call your higher power and intuition). A space that’s conducive to opening our minds. A space to realize and record gratitude on a regular basis. You know – all the good shit in life!
Switching to first person, I say partial because as I sit here and ponder the depth of the topic, I know that I will inherently miss some key notes. To simplify the MH discussion and for the purpose of this writing, lets start by recognizing, as mentioned earlier, that this is a complex topic and will need to be dissected discussed in parts periodically as there are occurrences in our day to day lives that’ll spark these conversations.
It is my belief that this starts before we are born into this world with the energy that our birth mother exudes inherently during the nine month pregnancy period with a little bit of our father’s energy sprinkled in as well.
It continues to fester and grow after we’re born, including the environment in which we’re raised. Its influenced heavily by the mindset of the people we’re surrounded by the most (many are not of our own choosing) – including continual past and present parental and peer influences. After 18 or so years of being impressed upon by those that either – didn’t know what the hell they’re doing – our peers; and those that are excited about raising a little “mini-me” – oh joy, their second chance at their own unfulfilled hopes and dreams…or better yet, to even follow in their footsteps – our beloved imperfect parents.
Yes after getting thru those, in some cases, tumultuous years, we’re left to untangle all of this in an environment where those influences are still present but now includes the influences of the next phase of people that come into our lives. This, for most ppl, is the second largest (influential group) that will come into our lives, in life – and this group is pretty substantial – its that college group of friends and professors. This is the first time we start to take more ownership in our own influencer pool. Simply put, for these four years some of us make smart decisions and others of us make not so smart decisions, again, in some part based on our upbringing up to that point. This is where the influences of the people up to that point, really make a difference, because who we desire to be around is a direct reflection of what we received or were in need of receiving up to that period in life.
We’re then dealt the hand we’re dealt in some, if not all of those instances, due to those decisions. As we continue to matriculate through life, we continue to make these good and bad decisions as it relates to our co-workers and friends outside of work. And although curve balls do come, and broken people that appear to have it together (but oftentimes don’t), will indeed enter our lives (in the form of life lessons that we must check off the list in order to matriculate or advance to the next level in life). Let me stop here and say that financial success does not equate to success all around. There are people with “money” that are just as mentally broken as those with little or none.
One of my favorite quotes is, “We either learn the lesson and move on or miss the lesson and repeat it with the next person or situation.” That’s just the way of life! Hopefully, we’re able to identify these (broken) people fairly quickly and more importantly are able to refine our choices as we mature as to not repeat the lesson.
So much goes into why we choose who we choose that we will not get a chance to touch on it in this writing. It doesn’t serve the purposes of this writing. More to come at a later date.
That said, I’ve created and wanted to share my regimen and sacred space (located in downtown Los Angeles). Note: This is my regimen. It’s only to encourage your creativity for your own space. Make the space and regimen yours. Its important that it works for you.
On the topic of mental health, lets continue to tackle this topic in bits and pieces. Starting with creating YOUR space. Remember that these are all just ideas to start you off. Namaste.
Morning Meditation Regimen (sample):
Set up: Get comfortable upright position/ angled is fine. Starting out finding your center. Finding a space to gaze at is fine but not necessary as long as you can hold your attention until you close your eyes. Pillows and blankets might bring a level of comfort. Note: I recently went to a meditations space off of classpass and I just could not get comfortable because of my back issues. I needed to create my own more comfortable space like this one to really get in the zone. The beach chair is sturdy without being too comfy and it reclines, so its perfect!
Additions: Candles and table top fountains are great additions if you desire that extra layer. Special items such as crosses rosaries or other purposeful material items that bring an added level of comfort are also welcome in your space
Choose a vocal message. Having already created a curated playlist of your favorite gospel, Christian, inspirational, motivating, positive and/or uplifting tunes; Allow the playlist, on shuffle-mode, randomly choose a song to start your meditation session with. I look at this as the Universe giving me what i need at that given time.
Choose a written message Read from one of the below (remember, pick your own!):
The Daily Stoic (goes chronologically through the year)Daily Thoughts from the Hill, Dr. Barbara King (this content comes monthly hard-copy via mail or soft copy via email), Heart Talk, Cleo Wade (open this hard copy to random pages or go from beginning to end, day to day available on amazon.com). While many of these publications reference biblical sentiments, some find the Bible itself to be extremely helpful, optimistic and comforting.
Meditate: After the song plays, sit quietly for 15 mins with eyes closed (or as long as needed – this is your practice, make it just that and know that it can change daily as “the spirit” calls for it to). Take in and just listen to the Universe. Whenever the mind drifts off, just bring focus back to the body, to your breath.
Choose a longer form Spoken Message: from a list of podcasts (pick ones that inspire you. Some of mine are below and can be gotten free on with Spotify or the iHeart app):
Joel Osteen, TD Jakes, Bishop Bronner, Marianne Williamson, Joyce Meyers, Elevation from Steven Furtick
Re-Inforcement: Throughout the day get food from any number of uplifting handles (pick your own IG posts but the below are just a few of our faves):
Practice: Go about your day bearing fruit. God asks that we be fruitful in our ways.
Record: You’ll see in my video that I have a special beautiful leather note pad that was actually a gift (which made it even more special). Find something really special to jot down any thoughts including things that you’re grateful for (example jots below):
Morning gratitude: list (3-4) things you’re grateful for
End of day:list the people that you’re thankful for – its those people that made your life a little better today (this number can change from day to day)
Lessons: during the day try to jot down approx 3 obstacles and what you are leaning from them
Listen, this may seem like a lot but trust us when we say, hard work pays off especially in this area. this helps us to get to know us. It helps us to get to know our higher power and source. It helps us to realize our graces are due to the kindness of others. It helps us to see that we are indeed growing despite all obstacles. We grow most from being in uncomfortable spaces.
While this is an individual journey, my goal is to one day find a soul mate that I can be vulnerable enough to share this with. My idea of this person is so undefined that I love it!
I don’t wish to have any constraints on authentic connections. My only constraint is dishonesty in ANY form. If I encourage honesty, I can’t get mad at the existence of it. Dare to grow and be authentic with me. Life can’t be better than that ever! You get to be you! I get to be me. We get to enjoy the beauty of that in each other’s space. We get to be authentically naked. Can you handle that? Its deeper that anything physical.
“Look Good…Feel Great…Enjoy Life” Until next time, be encouraged to leave feedback below.
Jai Mays is an LA based cycling and Les Mills SPRINT coach/instructor. He’s the author of this post and the creator of this site. He’s also a distinguished Morehouse alum. Check out his biography here.
S M A S H • B U R G E R S are so bomb! Y’all know how we do it. We do a lot of things, but in moderation. Like the old adage, “its not what you do every once in a while, but what you do every day.” Naked means portion control is just as important as what it is. Focusing on quality and quantity of the food we eat means using top ingredients.
Bc dads make the best burgers, in honor of Fathers Day, we decided to do our take on burgers (diner-style or “smash”). One of my fond dad memories growing up in Atl was him taking me to @steaknshake. It was there I had my first ever burger of this kind.
We took a .lb of mishima reserve ground wagyu beef – divided it into eight 2oz balls. Wagyu is quality beef. Yup at 2oz, these are more along the lines of sliders. All good in that i find myself satisfied after two tiny burgers, loaded with any variety of toppings. Since they’re small in size, you can even dbl these, add bacon and cheese for bacon dbl cheese smash burgers. Once you have these in 2oz balls, feel free to portion, season and freeze unused ones for another indulging session.
One of the keys to a good smash burger is to not handle alot. That said, combine desired dry seasoning in separate bowl. Once combined, sprinkle on balls. Rotate/turn, continue to season, portion, cook and/or freeze. If freezing, do two per sandwich bag for quick access later.
For the ones you’re cooking, pre-heat a cast iron skillet, til hot. If greasing, use an oil with a high heat point, like avocado oil. Place the balls in the hot skillet and immediately smash it with a spatula and cover (to prevent splattering. Cooking time depends on the desired doneness (30-90 secs on each side). Remember these burgers are only 2oz each. We prefer medium rare, so 40 seconds each side is perfect. Top with cheese upon flipping.
Get creative with your toppings. We topped these with pre-cooked baked bacon (see last post), reduced fat cheddar and easy to make honey mustard slaw. (Bag of pre-shredded cabbage & carrots mixed with honey, mayo, mustard – try horseradish mustard for added flavor).
We used a soft Artisano bakery sausage roll. Cut in half & toasted with bacon grease.
This is one of my favorite sauce recipes EVER! It’s amazing with beef, fish, chicken or meatballs of any type. The hardest part for me is chopping the parsley but that’s because I don’t like stems. It’s super simple to make.
1 bunch flat parsley
1 bunch cilantro
1/2 cup red onion (chopped)
1/2 cup EVOO (quality)
Red pepper flakes (to taste)
Salt (to taste)
Black pepper (to taste)
3 tbsp oregano
3 tbsp red wine vinegar
2 tbsp of lemon juice
3 tbsp minced garlic
Blend all ingredients except EVOO. Then stir in EVOO til well mixed. Serve. Store in refrigerator but allow to get room temperature before serving. The below version pictured has less oil.
“Look Good…Feel Great…Enjoy Life”
Until next time, be encouraged to leave feedback below.