See the list of all Jason Murphy’s recipes at www.mysaline.com/jason-murphy.
I’m turning 50 in a few days. Wait just a minute while I go have a breakdown in a corner…and I’m back. Now that I’m reaching the half century mark, the changes I implemented in my early forties become even more important. Avoiding processed foods is a must, and consistent strength, cardio, and agility training all play a crucial part in not becoming an old person overnight.
The human body is a remarkable machine. It adjusts and resets itself to whatever you throw at it. The problem is that muscle is hard to maintain and requires loads of energy. They are the first to go If you tell your body you don’t need them. Your system will jettison muscle like plane passengers throwing off luggage as it runs out of fuel.
I spent my whole life thinking that Burt Young/Paulie was at least 30 years older than Stallone/Rocky, but nope, he was just 5 years older. Let that sink in for a moment. Look at the pics again. 5 years.
What’s the difference? One ate and trained for an active lifestyle, and the other relied on robots to bring him a beer.
When I was in my late 20’s and 30’s, I would worry about what I would be able to do as an “old” man at 50. Would I still be able to exercise, or do regular things like move furniture and heavy yard work? Turns out, removing processed foods, shutting off eating after 4pm, and strength training consistently turned me from a “Paulie” in my early 40’s to a “Rocky” as I hit 50.
I didn’t believe it was possible to achieve at my age. but I was wrong. If you want it, you can do it. It just takes showing up day after day, and leaving excuses and exceptions at the door.
I see many, many people as I shop for groceries that do not prioritize moving and staying strong as they age. You know the ones. They circle the parking lot for fifteen minutes so they can avoid walking an extra five feet, or they are able-bodied yet still use the electric cart. People seem to take it for granted that they can move.
Ask someone with a neurological disease like MS, or a spinal cord injury, and they would tell you how they would love to be able to walk around a store. Never take it for granted. It’s a gift to be able to move. If you can, then do.
For a real life example, my wife and I decided to try out some new inflatable paddle boards a few weekends ago. It was 1 pm, no shade, and the air temp was over 100 degrees. I’m positive blowing these up to 15 psi with the flimsy hand pumps would have been only slightly less comfortable on the surface of the sun. If I did not have the conditioning I have worked to achieve these last ten years, no one would have rode paddle boards that day. Instead, I would have only rode in an ambulance to be treated for heat stroke and possibly a mild heart attack. Instead, I powered through the heat and muscle fatigue, and we enjoyed the lake. Being fit doesn’t mean things will be easy, but it does mean you can do the hard things when others have to stop.
Of course, this means that getting a traditional cake is out of the question, if you are like me and truly live this way, and not just pretend to on certain days.
I loved a grocery store sheet cake as much as the next Paulie back in the day, but I think now one bite would make my head explode like in an old Looney Tunes short. One tiny slice of your typical b-day sheet cake has 54 grams of simple carbs and 19 grams of fat, most of which are saturated:
The ingredients list reads like an Agatha Christie novel where every character is the murderer:
NGREDIENTS: SUGAR, VEGETABLE SHORTENING (PALM OIL, MONO-AND DIGLYCERIDES, POLYSORBATE 60), ENRICHED BLEACHED WHEAT FLOUR (FLOUR, NIACIN, REDUCED IRON, THIAMINE MONONITRATE, RIBOFLAVIN, FOLIC ACID), EGG WHITES, SOYBEAN OIL, EGGS, INVERT SUGAR, CONTAINS LESS THAN 2% OF THE FOLLOWING: WATER, LEAVENING (SODIUM ACID PYROPHOSPHATE, BAKING SODA, MONOCALCIUM PHOSPHATE), WHEAT STARCH, MODIFIED TAPIOCA AND CORN STARCH, PROPYLENE GLYCOL MONO-AND DIESTERS OF FATS AND FATTY ACIDS, NATURAL FLAVOR, SALT, WHEY (A MILK DERIVATIVE), DEXTROSE, MONO-AND DIGLYCERIDES, SODIUM CASEINATE (A MILK DERIVATIVE), SOY LECITHIN, NATURAL AND ARTIFICIAL FLAVOR, GUAR GUM, POLYSORBATE 60, XANTHAN GUM, SODIUM STEAROYL LACTYLATE, DISODIUM PHOSPHATE, ASCORBIC ACID, CITRIC ACID. MAY ALSO CONTAIN ONE OR MORE OF THE FOLLOWING: CORN STARCH, PALM AND PALM KERNEL OILS, RICE FLOUR, DEXTRIN, CONFECTIONER’S GLAZE, CARNAUBA WAX, COCOA, GUM ARABIC, CELLULOSE GUM, CARRAGEENAN, RED 3, YELLOW 5 LAKE, YELLOW 5, BLUE 1, BLUE 1 LAKE, RED 40 LAKE, YELLOW 6 LAKE, YELLOW 6, RED 40, BLUE 2 LAKE, COLORED WITH (FRUIT JUICE CONCENTRATES, SPIRULINA EXTRACT POWDER, BETA-CAROTENE, TURMERIC OLEORESIN, VEGETABLE JUICE, BEET JUICE, TITANIUM DIOXIDE).
People will tell me I’m missing out when I don’t eat birthday cake. My response after looking at the info above:
This is where zucchini comes into the picture. That’s right. My birthday is in the summer, so why not have a cake made from a summer squash. But, I hear you whining, I don’t want a cake that tastes like a vegetable. Not to worry, neither do I, and it does not.
The zucchini gives the cake a moist and dense body, and the nutritional benefits are just an added benefit. I could list all the things this green summer squash does like improve your bone strength, boost immune health, control blood pressure, and so on, but I can summarize by saying it keeps you from looking 74 at 44…Burt.
Reading the ingredients list above shows that what is not in my cake is even more important. This cake is delicious. It’s not quite a carrot-cake, but it is carrot-cake adjacent, and if you don’t tell anyone it’s made with zucchini, they will never know.
My son and his girlfriend just ate a piece as I am writing this article. I asked them to guess what it was made with, and they never came close. When I told them it was zucchini, it was like they had just found out Bruce Willis had been dead the whole time.
Is it a bit depressing to have to make your own birthday cake? Sure. But, if people mistake you for the guy fighting Ivan Drago instead of the old man holding the spit bucket in the corner, it is all worth it.
Zucchini Spice Cake:
1 large zucchini, seeded and shredded with a box cheese grater
1 cup fine almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg (fresh ground if you have one)
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup coconut oil, melted
2 large chicken eggs, room temp
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup stevia in the raw
3/4 cup chopped walnuts
8 ounces grass fed cream cheese softened
3 tbsp grass fed butter,softened
2/3 cup powdered monk fruit sweetener
1 tsp vanilla extract
Wash your zucchini, cut in half. Scoop out the seeds from the middle, then shred with a box cheese grater:
Combine a mixing bowl with the dry team of the flours, spices, baking powder and baking soda, whisk together:
In another larger bowl, whisk the eggs, vanilla extract, and coconut oil together, then whisk in the cup of Splenda in the raw until smooth. Fold in the shredded zucchini, then dump the dry team on top and mix well with a spatula: