Beef Braised in a Red Wine Sauce

By Dr. John M. Berardi, Ph.D. and Dr. John K. Williams, Ph.D., authors of the bestselling optimal nutrition ebook, Gourmet Nutrition.

Few meals are as hearty as slow-cooked beef smothered in a red wine sauce. For this recipe, we used a bottle of cabernet sauvignon, given its powerful flavor that is able to withstand 3 hours in the Crock-Pot. If you’re willing to part with a bottle of Barolo, it is the ideal wine for this recipe. However, since Barolo starts at around $30/bottle, most of us would rather use a cheap but potent cabernet.


3 ½ pounds boneless chuck roast
1 bottle cabernet sauvignon
2 large tomatoes, chopped
2 medium onions, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots cut into ¼-inch thick slices
3 medium celery stalks cut into ¼-inch thick slices
5 cloves garlic, chopped
Parsley, rosemary and thyme – 1 tsp each dry, or ½ cup fresh parsley, 1 tbsp fresh rosemary and 1 tbsp fresh thyme
Salt & pepper, to taste


  1. Divide the roast into two fairly equal pieces by splitting down the center, using the seam of fat as a guide. Trim the excess fat, leaving a thin layer above the meat. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and coat generously with salt and pepper.
  2. Brown the meat in a large nonstick skillet over high heat in 1 tbsp olive oil. Remove the browned roast, leaving the juices and oil behind, and reduce heat to medium. Sauté the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery together with the tomato paste. Add the wine, tomatoes, rosemary, thyme, and parsley. Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil. Occasionally whisking, boil for about 15 minutes, or until the vegetables break down and the sauce thickens and reduces to about 3 ½ cups. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  3. Transfer the meat and the sauce to a Crock-Pot, cooking covered on high for 3 hours, turning the meat with tongs every 45 minutes.
  4. After the roast is cooked, transfer it to a cutting board and let it sit for about 5 minutes. Cut the meat into ½-inch slices, and served in deep plates with sauce poured over the sliced beef.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutritional information

Per Serving
Total Calories 615 k/cal
Protein 63 g
Total Carbohydrates 18 g
Fiber 4 g
Sugars 8 g
Total Fat 18 g
Saturated 5.6 g
Monounsaturated 8.4 g
Polyunsaturated 1.0 g
Omega-3 0.9 g
Omega-6 0.1 g

Tip: How to get the beef just right

For extra tenderness and juiciness, allow the beef to cool slightly on the cutting board, and cut it against the grain in long, diagonal pieces.

Food Fact: Cattle were domesticated earlier than crops in Africa

Archaeologists have demonstrated that cattle were domesticated as early as 9500 years ago in the marginal environments of the Sahara. This is a very early date, and it is particularly interesting when compared to the date of the first domesticated African plants, after 4000 years ago. Fiona Marshall of Washington University concludes that people during this time herded cattle because it provided a predictable resource suitable for a highly mobile lifestyle. There was just too much risk involved in trying to cultivate in arid conditions. So every time we have a nice helping of beef, we can thank the folks in the Sahara who nearly 10,000 years ago figured out a way to produce food that carries itself around.

Want to change your body -- while still eating meals that taste this good?

If you want to build the body you never thought you could have, start eating the meals you never thought you could eat! Get over 100 recipes and a no-nonsense nutrition plan that will show you how to make it work in the new ebook written by Dr. Berardi and Dr. Williams, Gourmet Nutrition.

And if you want new great tasting recipes, cooking tips and nutrition strategies delivered to your inbox every two weeks, sign up for a FREE subscription to the Gourmet Nutrition Report.

Stir Fry Veggie Extravaganza

By Dr. John M. Berardi, PhD and Dr. John K. Williams, PhD, authors of the bestselling optimal nutrition ebook, Gourmet Nutrition.

Most of us could benefit from increasing our intake of fresh, whole vegetables. If the cancer-fighting properties of vegetables aren’t enough incentive, then take into consideration that they contain a ton of micronutrients that fill nutritional voids, they have small quantities of healthy fats such as omega-3’s, they counteract high acidity produced by high protein diets, and they give us a big dose of fiber.

Getting ample vegetables sounds great in theory, but in practice many of us fail utterly in finding ways to consistently consume our photosynthesizing friends. Let’s face it, the world is full of veggie haters. As the famous and sometimes gruff 20th century archaeologist Francois Bordes used to say when asked if he would like a salad with his meal, “What do I look like to you, a rabbit?”

Sure, vegetables can be downright repulsive, but given the correct method of preparation, even the most finicky of eaters can reap the benefits of these wonder foods, sow good eating habits, alleviate any seeds of doubt, and harvest superior nutritional properties. Now that the puns are out of the way, let’s move on to the recipe.

Asian stir-fry is one of the best ways to eat vegetables in both quantity and variety. Cooking the vegetables quickly over high heat keeps them crisp (no more mushy cafeteria mystery vegetable), and slightly caramelizes their surface, dramatically enhancing flavor. Another bonus is that you can cook stir-fry in bulk, storing tasty vegetable-laden meals for days at a time.

After messing around with varieties of this recipe, we finally discovered a great combination of vegetable variety, healthfulness, texture, and taste. You’ll be surprised at how easy it is to significantly increase your vegetable intake with just this one recipe.

This is a stand-alone dish that needs no rice. Just pile it high on a plate and enjoy. There is enough variety that it can even be cooked and eaten without meat, as a side dish for us omnivores, or as a main dish for a vegetarian.


1 lb chicken breast, sliced thin
6 cloves garlic, chopped
2 whole dried chili peppers, chopped
2 tbsp white cooking wine
2 cubic inches fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
2 tbsp corn starch, mixed together with 4 tbsp water
1 cup fresh shitake mushrooms
2 stalks celery, diagonally sliced
2 bundles scallions (green onions) (15 total), diced
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 yellow bell pepper, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
2 handfuls snow peas (25-30 pods)
1 can sliced water chestnuts, rinsed and drained
1 can slivered bamboo shoots, rinsed and drained
1 head Napa cabbage, sliced
3 cups fresh bean sprouts
1 bouillon cube (chicken or vegetable), mixed with 1 cup hot water
4 tbsp soy sauce
½ cup whole roasted and salted cashews


First slice the chicken breast and marinate it in a large bowl together with half of the chopped garlic, crushed chili peppers, white wine and a dash of salt.

Chop all of your vegetables and get them ready before the cooking process starts. Also, make your cornstarch solution in a small bowl or cup by stirring 2 tablespoons of cornstarch into 4-5 tablespoons of water. Stir until thoroughly mixed into a thick solution.

Heat a large nonstick wok over medium-high heat, and then add the sliced chicken together with the marinade. Stir-fry for a few minutes, until browned. Push the chicken up to the sides of the wok, lightly coat the surface with cooking spray, and then add the remaining garlic and chopped ginger. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes, and then add vegetables, two at a time, stir-frying about 4 minutes each batch. When the wok gets too full, place the contents into a large bowl and continue stir-frying the remaining vegetables. If the wok gets dry, you can coat it again with cooking oil, or add some soy sauce.

After you’ve worked your way through the vegetables down to the cabbage and bean sprouts, push the vegetables to the side of the wok, add the broth, and bring to a boil. Thicken the broth by stirring-in the cornstarch solution (stir it again before slowly adding).

Return all of the vegetables and chicken to the wok, and toss together with the soy sauce and cashews. Don’t add the cashews until the very end to ensure a crunchy texture. Mix thoroughly and serve.

Makes 3 large servings (or several small ones).

Nutritional information

Per Serving
Total Calories 621 k/cal
Protein 54 g
Total Carbohydrates 74 g
Fiber 18 g
Sugars 0 g
Total Fat 15 g
Saturated 3 g
Monounsaturated 7 g
Polyunsaturated 4 g
Omega-3 1 g
Omega-6 3 g

Tip: Slicing vegetables, the safe way

This recipe requires a lot of chopping, so to ensure you don’t get bits of finger in your meal, let’s discuss how to chop vegetables quickly and safely. It’s very important to have a good knife. Sharp knives are actually safer because you don’t have to use so much force to cut the vegetables. The knife should also have a broad blade, such as a chef’s knife or a cleaver. The blade needs to be broad so that you can place the side of the knife on your knuckles as you chop. Holding the vegetable with your fingertips on the cutting board, fold your knuckles over and lightly move the knife across them while chopping, being careful not to raise the knife above the level of your knuckles (never let the side of the knife lose contact with your guiding hand). As long as you keep your fingers tucked away, then no worries.

Food Fact: Cabbage, the forgotten veggie

Cabbage is one of those veggies that is often overlooked in western diets. The good news is that it tastes great in this stir-fry, and the better news is that cabbage has great health properties. Cabbage contains a beneficial phytochemical called indole-3-carbinole (I3C), which has powerful cancer-fighting properties. I3C also helps to break down estrogen in the body, which further decreases cancer risk, particularly breast cancer in women.

Want to change your body -- while still eating meals that taste this good?

If you want to build the body you never thought you could have, start eating the meals you never thought you could eat! Get over 100 recipes and a no-nonsense nutrition plan that will show you how to make it work in the new ebook written by Dr. Berardi and Dr. Williams, Gourmet Nutrition.

And if you want new great tasting recipes, cooking tips and nutrition strategies delivered to your inbox every two weeks, sign up for a FREE subscription to the
Gourmet Nutrition Report.

Spinach Soufflé

By Dr. John M. Berardi, PhD and Dr. John K. Williams, PhD, authors of the bestselling optimal nutrition ebook, Gourmet Nutrition.

Given the excellent nutritional properties of spinach, it would be a shame to restrict our intake of this leafy green to the occasional salad. Anyone who’s ever cooked spinach quickly realizes that a giant mound of fresh spinach reduces to a tenth of its original size. So unless you enjoy eating Volkswagen-sized salads, some cooking is in order.

Most people’s preconception of cooked spinach is the slimy stuff that Popeye pulls from a can. Judging spinach on the basis of the canned variety is like dismissing the entire Beatle’s White Album because of the song “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”. Don’t torture yourself; fast forward to “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” and pull a nice spinach soufflé out of the oven. Life is good.


2 packages frozen spinach (10 oz. each), thawed and drained
1 cup lowfat cottage cheese
1/3 cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup egg whites
1 tsp baking powder
2 cloves garlic, minced
Dash of ground nutmeg (1/8 tsp)
Salt & pepper, to taste


Preheat the oven to 400-degrees F.

Combine spinach, cottage cheese, egg whites, garlic, nutmeg, and salt/pepper in a blender or food processor. Blend until you have the desired consistency. For a more textured final product, blend just until mixed. For a smoother dish, blend thoroughly.

Stir the parmesan cheese and baking powder into the blended mixture, and then pour everything into a casserole dish coated with cooking spray.

Bake for 20 minutes, or until lightly set. Test to see if it’s done by shaking the dish slightly: the center should not jiggle.

Makes a large meal for one, or 2 servings as a side dish.

Nutritional information (entire dish)

Per Serving
Total Calories 562 k/cal
Protein 75 g
Total Carbohydrates 37 g
Fiber 17 g
Sugars 0 g
Total Fat 16 g
Saturated 9 g
Monounsaturated 4 g
Polyunsaturated 4 g
Omega-3 0.31 g
Omega-6 0.74 g

Tips: Preparing your spinach; soufflé in a hurry

Be sure to thaw your spinach entirely before preparing this dish. This can be done in the microwave, or simply by placing the spinach in the fridge for a couple of days. Squeeze as much of the water from the spinach as you can before mixing.

If you’re in a hurry and don’t have time to bake it in an oven, use a microwave safe casserole dish, cover with plastic wrap, and cook on high for 3 minutes. Release the steam, recover, and cook on high for another 3 minutes, or until thoroughly cooked.

*Disclaimer: cooking this dish in a microwave is vastly inferior to the taste of the oven-cooked version. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra 15 minutes to cook it in the oven.

Food Fact: The power of spinach

Spinach and other leafy greens pack an incredible amount of nutrients into each calorie compared to other foods. There are at least 13 different flavonoid compounds in spinach that function as anti-oxidants and anti-cancer agents. In addition, spinach contains a carotenoid called neoxanthin, which both combats and helps prevent prostate cancer. Need more? Spinach is also one of the best sources of the elusive vitamin K, which helps maintain bone health. Anti-inflammatory nutrients, protecting the brain from oxidative stress, better eyesight…the list of benefits from spinach is seemingly infinite.

Want to change your body -- while still eating meals that taste this good?

If you want to build the body you never thought you could have, start eating the meals you never thought you could eat! The Gourmet Nutrition e-book contains over 100 recipes and a no-nonsense nutrition plan that will show you how to make it work. Find about more about the Gourmet Nutrition e-book.

And if you want new great tasting recipes, cooking tips and nutrition strategies delivered to your inbox every two weeks, sign up for a FREE subscription to the Gourmet Nutrition Report.

Getting Lean by Revving Up Your Metabolism

by Dr John M Berardi, CSCS

I remember the day I got the bad news. I was 20 years old and I was in the middle of a nearly impossible squat session. Between sets, while trying to catch my breath, an “older” personal trainer (he was probably in his thirties) came over and offered some “advice”—unsolicited, of course.

“Ya know,” he said, “I used to look like you. But just you wait. After 25, the metabolism slows down, and it’s all downhill from there, buddy. You’d better enjoy it while it lasts.”

Then he turned and walked away.

I wasn’t sure what to make of this guy. After all, he didn’t look that great. Sure, he was a trainer and he did look better than most folks his age; but just barely. And he had a lot less muscle and a lot more fat than I did.

But the critical question was this - was he right? Did the metabolism come to a grinding halt after age 25? Was I doomed to lose my prized physique? Worse yet, was I destined to look like him? I had to find out. After all, if middle age spread was an inevitable consequence of aging, why bother?

So I asked around. I spoke with personal trainers, gym owners, and nutritionists, who all confirmed what I had heard. I spoke with some instructors at my local community college. They said the same, although with less certainty since at that time not much research had been done about the matter.

I looked around, studying the physiques of people I ran into at the gym, grocery store, mall, and elsewhere. The evidence was all around me. Younger people were leaner and seemingly in possession of faster metabolic rates than older individuals.

So, in my 20-year-old mind, the message seemed clear: I’d better make the most of my youthful body and metabolism because I was destined to lose it.

Fortunately, I was dead wrong!

Deceiving Father Time

Since that day, I’ve accomplished quite a bit in the exercise, nutrition, and fitness realm. In the late 90’s I won the NABBA Jr USA Bodybuilding Championships. I’ve also spent 10 years studying at University – eventually earning a PhD in Kinesiology with a specialization in the area of exercise and nutritional biochemistry. Finally, I’ve developed an exercise and nutrition consulting company called Science Link, with the mission of taking advanced exercise and nutrition research and translating it into meaningful, usable information for people who are not quite as sciency as I am.

Yet throughout, I’ve always come back to that question – is it inevitable – must we lost large amounts of muscle and gain large amounts of fats once we hit our late 20s? Well, I, for one haven’t suffered this fate. Firmly entrenched in my 30s, I’m just as active as ever and, interestingly, just as strong and just as lean as I was during my twenties. But my story aside, I’m also happy to report that the metabolism does not have to slow down with age – for any of us (assuming we’re healthy).

Yes, it’s true that when you’re young, your body finds a way to balance energy expenditure and energy intake. It’s true that, as you age, you’ll have a much more difficult time maintaining what you’ve got. It’s true that studies have shown that 1/3 of all North American adults are at least 20 percent over their “ideal weights.”

These truths, however, don’t seal your fate. Just because some folks spend their lives engaged in a frustrating battle of eating less only to gain more, that doesn’t mean you have to. I’ve skirted around those so-called truths. I eat just as much food—if not more—than I did in my twenties, yet I have no more body fat to show for it.

I’m no anomaly. Over the years, I’ve trained countless clients, ranging in age from 25 to 65. It didn’t matter how high their body fat percentages, how slow their metabolisms, or how scrawny their muscle mass when they met me—they were all able to turn things around – without drugs. Consider the following impressive stats:

• Robert, age 41: Lost 18 pounds of fat and gained 8 pounds of lean mass (lean mass is made up of muscle, bone, and other non-fat tissue) over 3 months

• Kenneth, age 31: Lost 27 pounds of fat and gained 2 pounds of lean mass over 6 months

• Lynn, age 57: Lost 24 pounds of fat and gained 8 pounds of lean mass over 7 months

• Danielle, age 32: Lost 14 pounds of fat and gained 17 pounds of lean mass over 5 months

• Ben, age 21: Lost 14 pounds of fat and gained 29 pounds of lean mass over 10 months

• Gail, age 26: Lost 9 pounds of fat and gained 6 pounds of lean mass over 2 months

• Jason, age 45: Lost 11 pounds of fat and gained 3 pounds of lean mass over 3 months

• Kelly, age 38: Lost 22 pounds of fat and gained 15 pounds of lean mass over 6 months

• Mike, age 26: Lost 12 pounds of fat and gained 11 pounds of lean mass over 2 months

• Rachel, age 24: Lost 23 pounds of fat and gained 3 pounds of lean mass over 7 months

• Vivian, age 38: Lost 15 pounds of fat and gained 8 pounds of lean mass over 5 months

• Amy, age 38: Lost 29 pounds of fat and gained 10 pounds of lean mass over 9 months

• Joseph, age 42: Lost 4 pounds of fat and gained 38 pounds of lean mass over 13 months

As you can see, it doesn’t matter how old people were when they decided to get serious and turn things around. Whether they were 25 or 45, their results were the same: They changed their body composition, replacing their flab with lean, metabolism boosting muscle. You’re never too old to boost your metabolism.

If that’s not enough to convince you that you have what it takes to rev up your metabolism, shed fat, and build muscle, then consider the research. When I was in my twenties, few scientists had tried to answer the questions that were nagging me. At that time, no one really knew for sure whether metabolism slowed down with age and, if it did, whether anything could be done about it. Now a group of applied scientists have looked at those questions and uncovered some surprising facts.

These scientists had noticed that the metabolism does seem to slow with age, but they refused to believe that there was nothing anyone could do about it. Today, as a result of their efforts, we’ve got plenty of evidence demonstrating that your metabolism slows with age only if you do nothing about it. If you eat properly, exercise, and take the right supplements, you can maintain your metabolic rate over your life span! Even if you’re 40 or older and things have already slowed down, you can reverse the trend and regain the metabolism of your youth. In fact, you can create a metabolism that’s even faster than the one of your twenties!

Is it easy? No. Does it take hard work and dedication? Yes. But it can be done. I’m living proof. So are my clients, and so are the thousands of people who have participated in hundreds of studies conducted in the United States and around the world.

Of Age and Metabolism

So why does maintaining a healthy weight get tougher as we age? Well, although most people eat less as they age—to compensate for moving less at their desk jobs—their activity levels generally decrease even more than their energy intakes, resulting in fat gain.

These decreasing activity levels result in yet another problem: muscle loss. Researchers have determined that, starting between the ages of 25 and 30, most people lose roughly 5 to 10 pounds of lean body mass during each decade of life. As muscle is a metabolically active tissue. That means that in addition to burning calories to move your skeleton through space, it also burns calories to maintain itself. So age-related muscle loss can cripple your metabolism. The average person who becomes less active and, consequently, loses muscle experiences a 20 to 25 percent reduction in 24-hour metabolism (measured as the amount of energy your body burns in 24 hours) by age 65. This adds up to a daily metabolic drop of more than 500 calories.

It’s tough to cut 500 calories off your daily menu to compensate for that metabolic drop, so most people end up packing on the fat.

Of course, this scenario holds true only if you do nothing to prevent it. Why do most people lose muscle as they age? Because they don’t use it. When it comes to the human body, what you don’t use, you lose, and muscle is no exception.

Studies of people older than age 60 show that you can—at any age—reverse muscle loss and regain the metabolism of your youth. In fact, according to research, individuals who—through exercise and smart eating—maintain their lean mass (muscle, bone, and other non-fat tissue) as they age experience only a 0.36 percent drop in metabolism per decade compared to the 5 to 7 percent per decade drop that most adults experience. Add a few key supplements to the mix and you can even prevent that 0.36 percent drop, and possibly even rev your metabolism higher than it was during your youth!

So metabolic slowdown is not inevitable. You can prevent it. And you can reverse it using a three-pronged approach including eating, exercising, and supplementing the right way to get a series of all-natural “metabolic advantages.”

With these metabolic advantages, you can expect to:

A gain of 5 to 10 pounds of lean mass muscle will rev up your resting metabolism—the number of calories your body burns to maintain life—by roughly 100 calories – each and every day.

Through targeted strength training and energy system training, you can increase the number of calories you burn during your workouts (about 300 to 600 calories per day depending on your body size and workout duration). However, assuming you integrate high intensity efforts, you can also blow through another 100 to 200 calories per day – a post-exercise energy burst that eats up calories even when you’re sitting on your butt.

Prioritizing metabolically costly proteins, metabolism-boosting fats, antioxidant-rich fruits and veggies, and the right carbs at the right times (nutrient timing), can boost your metabolic rate by another 100 to 200 calories per day.

The right combination of food choices and supplements can turn you in to a much less efficient calorie burner. Much like a car in need of a tune up, your body will consume more fuel than it needs to operate, wasting away the excess as heat. Unlike with your car, however, when it comes to your metabolism, inefficiency is a good thing. It will coax your body into burning more calories – and more fat – for fuel.

Thanks to that desk job, family commitments, and great lineup of must-see TV, most of us move less at ages 30, 40, and beyond than we did during our teens and twenties. By training at least 5 hours each week, you can increase your calorie burning by about 300 to 600 calories per day.

All told, with the right combination of training, nutrition, and supplementation, you can expect to increase your daily calorie burn by between 40 and 60 percent within just 8 weeks. In other words, a guy who currently burns 2,500 calories a day would rev up his metabolism to a 3,400 to 4,000 daily calorie burn! That’s enough of a boost for you to see a 10-to-15-pound drop in body fat during those 8 weeks above. And for those at a beginner/intermediate level of training, you can expect muscle gain too.

Muscle gain and fat loss simultaneously? Yep, it happens all the time. Time to revisit my examples above.

Even more important, when you get these things right, you will simultaneously improve your health. In addition to speeding your metabolism, building muscle, and shedding fat, you can also expect to lower your blood cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar. So not only can you live look better, you can live longer. So, in the end, I’m here to tell you that a large-scale metabolic decline isn’t inevitable as we age.

If you’re young and haven’t seen the affects of father time, that’s excellent. But that doesn’t mean you wont! Make sure that you use a combination of smart eating, training and supplementation to keep that metabolism reving for life.

And if you’re older and your current lifestyle has negatively impacted your body, know that it’s not too late. Turn things around now and you can reverse the damage that’s been done. I’ve seen it happen time and time again.

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Amanda's tips for looking your best

Back in Sept, we spotlighted PN Team members - Amanda and Erin - sharing pictures and video from their recent photo shoots.

The message?

Photo shoots aren’t just for models. Rather, here at PN, we use them as motivation for regular folks trying to accomplish life-changing goals.

And in today's newsletter I'd like to share Amanda's top tips for looking your best.

Whether it's for a class reunion, back-yard bbq, vacation in Mexico, or a fitness photo shoot, Amanda's got ya covered.

Click here to check out Amanda's tips.