Greek-Italian Salad

Greek-Italian Salad
Greek-Italian Salad

As a youngster, my parents frequently took the family out to eat at local restaurants. One of my personal favorites was an Italian joint called Mama’s Italian Kitchen which was situated on the beach in the Ocean View neighborhood in Norfolk, VA. They would provide each table with a large bowl of Greek Salad.

The restaurant has since been demolished to make room for high-rise condos. What a shame! The aroma and flavor of that salad stuck in the back of my mind for years until finally I decided to create my own custom salad recipe based on that memory. The ingredients are chopped quite fine which makes this dish very filling for a salad. Makes 4 servings, but feel free to indulge…this one’s pretty healthy!


1 Cup Iceberg Lettuce, finely shredded
1 Cup Romaine Lettuce, finely shredded
1/2 Cup Red Onion, finely diced
1/2 Cup Green Pepper, finely diced
1/2 Cup Roma Tomatos, finely diced
6 Large Pepperoncinis, finely diced
1/6 Cup Kalamata Olives, finely chopped
1/4 Cup Mozarella Cheese, finely shredded
1/4 Cup Parmesan Cheese, finely shredded

Dressing Ingredients

1/6 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1/3 Cup Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Clove Garlic, Finely Diced
2 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp Dried Basil
1 Tsp Dried Parsley
1 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Pepper

  1. Combine all the salad ingredients in a large bowl and use salad tongs to toss well.
  2. Combine all the dressing ingredients in a clean bottle and mix well.
  3. Dress the salad to taste, serve, and enjoy!

RECIPE TIPS: If you aren’t fond of one or more of the salad ingredients, go ahead and leave them out! This salad can be made to order and I usually exclude the olives.

How I Lost 65 Pounds in a Year

It’s unavoidable – the weight loss hype is all around us on television, radio, and Internet advertisements. I cannot speak for the legitimacy of those advertisements because I’ve never tried any of them. Today, on, I’d like to share with you an alternate method of weight loss, which may make far more sense for your situation than anything being advertised on the above mediums.

One year ago I weighed 246 pounds. I am proud to announce that I’m now down to 181, give or take a pound. I feel physically and mentally healthier than I’ve felt in years. I feel like I have put an early stake into the heart of diabetes, cancer and coronary diseases, all which run in my family.

Before and after weight loss – I promise this isn’t photoshopped in any way

Frequently, I am asked how I accomplished this. I’d like to explain, but first, a disclaimer: I’m a computer programmer. I’m not a doctor, dietician or therapist. Please don’t use this information as scientific or medical advice. I’m also certain that there are many people who have medical or metabolic issues that prevent weight loss, and this article likely cannot apply if that’s your situation. I wish you the best and I’m sorry that I can’t help.

Some Background

I wasn’t a chubby kid. I was wound-up and energetic and spent most days running around our neighborhood with friends. In fact, I can’t remember a single neighborhood kid that was overweight. When coupled with my mother offering me a healthy balanced diet each day, I stayed at a healthy weight.

As a teenager, I’d indulge in the worst school lunches you can imagine. Looking back, I absolutely cannot believe that our school fed us this garbage. It was huge portions of greasy pizza and oil-soaked French fries. Alternatively, we were offered a deep-fried chicken sandwich topped with a single piece of iceberg lettuce and slathered with ten ounces of mayonnaise. My classmates and I washed it all down with chocolate milk and for desert, a chocolate chip cookie the size of a Frisbee. Sadly, that was about as healthy as it got.

In high school, my body was naturally requiring more calories. When I got home from school each day I’d frequently eat unhealthy snacks before my mother got home from work to ward off the hunger. So in my late teens I put on a few pounds but still wouldn’t consider myself to have been obese by any means.

It was after my brief attempt at a college education when I gained a lot of weight. It was when I got my own place and started cooking my own meals. It was years of dollar-menu fast food and caffeine packed sodas for lunch. It was day after day of not being able to afford healthy meals.

Identifying the Problem

America is obese. And here’s the real down-to-earth reason why. Many “average-Joe’s” simply cannot spare a few extra dollars per week to purchase healthy meals. I can take you into any grocery store right now and prove it to you. The fixings for a healthy, filling salad cost far more than hamburger helper and bagged French fries. Do the math, it may surprise you.

I’m not going to provide you with any statistical analysis or proof of this. If you debate this, go have a look for yourself. And be realistic.

It’s sad that the economy has driven up food prices and dropped working-wages to a point where this has happened. When I look at my current salary combined with that of my girlfriend’s, subtract out taxes, bills, insurance and other necessary expenses, it leaves a very small margin for food. And we make more money than the average family and probably have less expenses. Only with very careful budgeting and dedication are we able to eat regular healthy meals. I believe most young adults don’t have this kind of dedication, and the effect is now showing up in their children, who are fed the alternative.

The Solution

Until we can provide inexpensive vegetables and meats to feed average families, America as a whole will continue to be obese. I have no idea how that needs to happen – I’m not a politician. I know for sure that most American families will choose to keep their few extra dollars in savings or put the money towards things that are far more attractive than fresh vegetables. I’ll leave it at that.

So, How Did I Lose the Weight?

Back to the original point of this article, I’d like to answer the question that I’ve been asked many times over the past few months. I had to ponder on what the correct answer is for quite a while because I went through so many dramatic lifestyle changes in parallel. There were several contributing factors.

First, I quit drinking regular soda. There has been a lot of recent hype about diet soda being just as bad, but this was the first step for me. I didn’t change the amount; I simply substituted regular for diet soda. I recommend disregarding the hype because that’s realistically where my first 25-30 pounds went. Keep in mind I drank no less than 48 ounces per day. There’s probably an explanation why my results differ from the studies, but I don’t know what it is. A word of advice: Diet soda tastes terrible in comparison to non-diet. If you’re trying to make the switch, just realize that eventually you will get used to it and enjoy it more – like beer, wine, or coffee.

Second, I became a snacker. Never in my life had I indulged in candy bars – I hated candy. I didn’t like quick snacks. When I was hungry I ate a meal. But about 9 months ago I started snacking when I got hungry. I’d eat a candy bar or a bag of trail mix between lunch and dinner. Sometimes, I’d eat two. If I was hungry, I’d eat a snack. This caused me to eat significantly smaller portions at mealtime, and even skip a few unneeded meals. This is when I dropped the majority of my weight, believe it or not. Imagine that…eating candy and junk food frequently caused me to lose weight! It’s true, but only because the large meals that I was eating were more calorie-packed than the candy.

Lastly, for a six-month period, I became disgusted with most processed foods. I’m not sure what happened; it just felt as if I had reached the biological breaking point of how much crap-food a person could consume in a lifetime. At the age of 27, the Boy Scout in me came back out and started eating what I like to call the “Caveman Diet”. I ate only naturally prepared (grilled, baked, or raw) meats and vegetables. No carbohydrates. It came at a price though. Steak and bell peppers several times per week gets expensive for a working-man. Luckily, I was fortunate enough to be able to afford it for this short period.

The Future

I didn’t actively set out to lose weight at all. I had no diet plan, no doctor’s recommendation, and I actually lost most of the weight before I even realized it was happening. I did, however, make conscious decisions to improve the quality of what was going into my body. Some biological trigger happened in me, and I just started craving better food. As a computer programmer, I know that output is a simple manipulation of input; that goes for food as well.

At this point in time, I’m proud to say that I have quit drinking soda completely. It hasn’t caused me to lose any more weight, but I do feel better without that addiction. I have a cup of coffee each morning to satisfy the caffeine cravings, which I don’t personally consider to be unhealthy.

I’ve eaten fast food once since Tina and I moved to Florida. I had a Checker’s burger in memory of my Grandfather. It was pretty good, but I also now realize that I can cook a far better burger.

My meals are smaller, healthier, and less supplemented with carbohydrates. Tina and I cook stir-fry frequently. I’m not sure what it is about stir-fry, but we both feel so much better eating it than if we had consumed a lot of other things. We love sushi. It’s filling, healthy, and is a great new genre of foods. It was difficult, but I have found myself becoming much more brave trying new foods. I even ate a grilled mushroom the other night (can you believe it, Mom?) It wasn’t half-bad.


It’s probably worth mentioning (and again, I have no medical proof, this is just my own theory) that years of abusive food intake seems to have caused me to develop lactose intolerance. For about a year, I would get the most terrible stomach cramps following most meals. I didn’t pinpoint dairy products as the cause until recently. I’ve tested this theory again and again and I can confidently say that I now have fully developed lactose intolerance. My best guess for what caused it is years of completely unnatural, highly processed foods.

As with many things in life, the solution may be drastically different than what is hypothesized. I feel like I accomplished a goal that many people seek without even trying. I just did what my body told me to do. If you want to lose weight simply follow my three step plan: Listen to your biology, plan to spend more money on food, and buy my cookbook when it’s done. Good luck!

No Snakes on a Plane, but There’s a Shark in the Canal

The Reef-Seeker was running a bit rough last week, and since I had an empty schedule I rebuilt the carburetor and reinstalled it this morning. She was running great, so Mom, Tina and I took her for a test voyage today. We snorkeled at the Benwood then tried our hand at catching some Mahi again. The Benwood was good to us; the Mahi, not so much. We spotted a fairly large nurse shark in the canal while cruising to the ocean, but didn’t manage to snap a picture. Here’s a few misc pics to mark the day. Cheers!

Unbeatable Beef Stew

Unbeatable Beef Stew
Unbeatable Beef Stew

This is an amazing beef stew recipe that’s super quick and easy to make. The beer and taco seasoning cook together so brilliantly it’s unbelievable. Makes 4 servings.


1.5 Lbs Beef Brisket
2 Large Potatoes
2 Medium Onions
1 Bag Baby Carrots
4 Cloves Garlic
3 12-oz Cans Light Beer
1 Pkg Taco Seasoning
1/2 Cup Tomato Ketchup


  1. Chop the onion, garlic, and potatoes into stew-appropriate sizes.
  2. Put the beef brisket into a slow cooker and cover with beer.
  3. Add the taco seasoning, ketchup, and chopped ingredients.
  4. For best results, cook on low heat for 10-12 hours. If you’re impatient, turn up the heat and cook for only 4-5 hours.
  5. After cooking, use a large spoon and stir well so that beef breaks up into chunks.
  6. Serve hot with cornbread and enjoy!

Where Have All the Fishes Gone?

A few years ago, Honda Matt, Tawny, Charles and I had an addiction. It wasn’t an affinity to drugs and we weren’t alcoholics. We had an addiction to fishing. We fished the Chesapeake Bay and coastal Atlantic so frequently it became habit. Our group was just short of “expert” status and we usually took home more fish than we could possibly consume in a day.

After a while life got in the way. Flash forward a couple years – Matt and Tawny had a kid, I became very career oriented, and we just never found the time to go fishing again. Up until about a year ago when Tina and I got together, I hadn’t touched a fishing rod in quite a while.

Tina, however, had re-inspired me to seek out and bring home the fish. So I started again – the hunt was on. I dusted off my lonely gear and we headed out obsessively.

Now, it’s been almost a year since I started fishing again approximately once a week. I’ve fished the same waters with the same techniques and gear as I used to, as well as expanded my hunt into Florida. Now it seems that I can’t catch a darn thing! I stressed about this for quite some time until I recently realized that I am not the problem. I’m still doing everything right. I’ve noticed that everyone else fishing around me is having the same troubles and rarely take home a fish of any size. I even noticed yesterday, as I patiently jigged my lure in Jupiter Inlet, that even the birds are having trouble finding a meal. I witnessed a large Pelican completely give up and lay down hungrily in the sand.

I could hypothesize all day about where the fish have gone. There are many theories – from overfishing, to global warming/climate shift, and even reef devastation due to invasive Lionfish. As a diver/snorkeler, I know that the fish are still there, because I can see them, and it doesn’t appear that their numbers have significantly decreased in recent years. The truth is that I have no idea what is happening and I’d venture to say that the scientists don’t know for sure either. One thing is a concrete fact though…the fish are no longer biting like they used to.

Here’s some photos from our adventure yesterday at Jupiter Inlet.

When it’s all said and done, we still have a great time fishing every time we try. We didn’t catch any fish yesterday but we did catch some great scenery on film. We were actually just invited to join my parents for a Reef Restoration Class and dive this weekend in Key Largo. Maybe the class will provide some insight on where all the fish have gone.


On and Around an Island

January of 2012 was a busy month for Tina and I. We were itching to get to South Florida and start a new life together. We managed to pull it off – we got a decent condo, packed our belongings, and Tina transfered within her company – and just like that we now live in Palm Beach.

One of the perks of being here is that both her parents and mine have recently bought homes in Florida. My parents landed in Key Largo and hers in Daytona Beach (due to a complicated series of events – check out We’ve made multiple trips down to Key Largo to hang with my ‘rents and we recently returned from Daytona Beach. I’d like to share some stories and photos of both adventures, so here we go!

 Key Largo, Florida

On our most recent trip we had the pleasure of taking out my parent’s boat, “Reef Seeker”, and doing some snorkeling and fishing in the Atlantic. For the second time, I got to check out the Christ of the Abyss statue off Key Largo. The reef was full of life with schools of Parrot Fish, Sargent Majors, and Grunts everywhere. This was Tina’s first legitimate open-ocean snorkeling experience and I think she thoroughly enjoyed it. She was terrified of the concept of swimming with sharks until it actually happened…we were in the water for no more than two minutes before she spotted a shark on the reef and shouted out to me “is that bad?”

I just smiled and tried to catch up to the shark.

Later in the day, we dropped Tina and my mom off at the house (they’d had enough) and went back to the ocean for some Mahi fishing. We could see big fish swimming all over the place but we couldn’t get them to take our bait. Nonetheless, it was a great ride and I think Roger enjoyed his first big-game fishing experience aboard the “Reef Seeker”.

Daytona Beach, Florida

As I mentioned above, Tina’s parents also bought a house a few hours from us. We recently made the Northbound trip to Daytona Beach to visit with them. We arrived in the afternoon and reunited on Grace, a 46′ retired Lobster boat that her parents own. Last fall they piloted the boat from Virginia Beach to Daytona Beach in an epic adventure of their own. We spent the evening and the next day exploring Daytona and checking out their new house that’s only four blocks from the marina.

Notable happenings in Daytona:

  •  Apparently, Tina is the only able fisherman among us. After hours of fishing from the docks at the marina, she made the only catch with a ~14″ catfish.
  • Tina is now driving “Dora the Ford Explorer” around Palm Beach County. WATCH OUT if you’re in the area.
  • Silvana makes the best breakfast burritos I’ve ever had. Definitely.
  • When you see a man pull down his pants in public, in the street, in Daytona, at night … he most likely is homeless and needs to go #1.

I know…it’s amazing, but I didn’t snap a single picture of Smelly Melly. Daytona was great (other than the peeing-hobo incident described above – I would have been OK without that) and we can’t wait to visit later in the summer when the whole family is in town.

Stay tuned for lots more adventure photos. It’s only going to get better! Chao!

A Manatee at the PPP

A manatee recently visited my parents house (the Pink Pelican Palace) in Key Largo. Here are a few pictures that Tina snapped of the friendly creature attempting to get a drink of fresh water. I wish I could have seen the manatee in person, but I was personally too busy [not] catching Mahi at the time.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza

Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza
Chicken Bacon Ranch Pizza


1 Roll Pre-made Pizza Dough
1/4 Cup (or more) Ranch Dressing
1/4 Cup Chopped Red Pepper
1/4 Cup Chopped Yellow Onion
1/4 Cup Chopped Cooked Chicken
1/8 Cup Crushed Cooked Bacon
1/2 Cup Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 Tsp Italian Seasoning
1 Tsp Garlic Salt



  1. Preheat your over at 425^F.
  2. Grease a 9×12 cookie sheet and spread the dough the full area of the sheet.
  3. Pinch the edge of the dough all the way around to create a small crust.
  4. Sprinkle the garlic salt evenly over the entire pizza.
  5. Add the cheese, followed by the other toppings, then sprinkle the Italian seasoning over the top.
  6. Bake for 14-20 minutes and then serve.

RECIPE TIPS: For a crispy crust, remove the pizza from the cookie sheet halfway through cooking. Also, to help hold the topping together, add a very thin layer of cheese after the other toppings.

Sweet & Sour Green Beans

Sweet & Sour Green Beans
Sweet & Sour Green Beans


2 Tbsp Sesame Oil
2 Tbsp Peanut Oil
4 Cloves Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp Ginger, minced
1/4 Cup Soy Sauce
2 Cups Fresh Green Beans
1 Medium Onion
Juice from 1 Lime
1 Tbsp toasted sesame seeds




  1. Chop the onion into 1-inch slivers.
  2. Combine and heat the oils over high heat in a large wok.
  3. Saute the garlic, ginger, and onion for one minute.
  4. Add the beans, soy sauce, and lime juice and saute for 5-6 minutes or until the beans are cooked to desired doneness.
  5. Sprinkle the sesame seeds on top and serve hot.

RECIPE TIPS: Keep the heat high throughout the entire process, and add the next ingredient to keep the temperature steady. When all of the ingredients have been added, keep the mixture moving so it doesn’t burn. Add a small amount of water if necessary to keep the juice in the bottom of the pan liquid. You can also try substituting the beans for broccoli. Makes 4-servings.