I’m not a doctor. Well I am a doctor, but the kind that is useless when it comes to health stuff. So consult an actual medical doctor before messing around with your health and diet. You’ve been warned and now can’t sue me.
How to get the most out of this website
I hope by the end of this website you will be a hearty convert to the Ultimate Burrito lifestyle, but even if you don’t Walk the Way of the Burrito you can still get a lot out of this website. Here I discuss the ingredients of the Ultimate Burrito in detail and why I chose them. As you will see, you can meet all of your dietary needs with just 9 simple ingredients and whatever flavoring you like. No supplements, superfoods, or wonder drugs needed. What is more, it is a diet that is inexpensive, convenient, and environmentally friendly. The principles for a healthy, environmentally sustainable and inexpensive diet are fairly straightforward. Said as simply as possible by Michael Pollan, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants.” It is a simple idea but often difficult to implement in our modern world, which led me to the question, “what is the perfect meal.” This website is a practical guide to answering that question and I hope in trying to answer it, I provide you with some useful information along the way.
Can Man Live Off of Burritos Alone?
Absolutely, or are least I did for a whole year while I was writing my thesis. That was one Ultimate Burrito for breakfast, one for lunch, and one for dinner! All my nutritional requirements we met, I saved a bunch of money, and I had no environmental guilt. But keep reading to learn more about the wondrous features of the Ultimate Burrito.
The Wondrous Features of the Ultimate Burrito
Contains all the macro and micronutrients a human body needs
Cost effective: Halve your grocery bill!
Made from whole foods, no supplements needed
Only 9 common ingredients needed
Ingredients are available in basically every grocery store
Time efficient: cook for 1 hour and eat for a whole week
Revolutionary form factor: take your burrito anywhere
Customizable. Flavor your burrito any way you like
PROTEIN! All the high quality complete protein you need
1: The Search for the Perfect Food Unit
Hi there, thanks for checking out this website. In it you will discover the secrets and wonders of the Ultimate Burrito. But before we get to that, I want to share why I set out on a quest to create the perfect food unit (PFU).
First, let’s get two things straight. I love food. I love to eat. However, I found that the majority of the time I was just eating for sustenance, with very little thought, love or joy put into it. It was Cheerios for breakfast, a turkey sandwich for lunch, and a couple rotating staple meals for dinner. Oh, I knew I could spice it up, come up with some Pintrest-worthy, Food Network-inspired creations but if I wasn’t mentally into it, what was the point? What I wanted was just something quick, easy, healthy, and cheap that I didn’t have to think about. Then on the weekends I could cook some hand crafted gnocchi in a fresh tomato reduction or savor the ambiance and flavors of the yet-to-be discovered Thai place in Northeast Minneapolis. For the rest of the time though… I just needed nutrients.
The first question that plagued me was: how can I get all my nutrients in the simplest and healthiest way? One obvious solution is to break all our needs down into simple chemicals, blend some vitamins together, throw in some extracted macros (soy proteins and the like), and boom instant nutrient soup. I made similar concoctions numerous times when I was working in a microbiology lab. But with lab experience and a degree in chemistry, frankly I know too much about what we don’t know about our biochemistry. Thus, instead of turning to the lab bench, my first criterion was that the perfect food unit would need to come from whole, natural foods with no additional supplements.
My next question was: what is the most environmentally friendly diet? This is a pretty logical question because I was working on a Ph.D. studying the environmental impacts of food and bioenergy systems; I literally sat around all day thinking about the enormous impact our food systems on the planet. For instance, all of the cropland on the planet takes up an area the size of South America and all the pasture land takes up an equivalent to the size of Africa. That’s two continents-worth dedicated to food production…two out of seven. And when you subtract Antarctic, deserts, tundras, mountains, and forests there isn’t really that much left. On top of that, agriculture generates about 35% of global greenhouse gas emission, and fertilizer runoff causes massive dead zones in the oceans around the world. So, my next criterion was that the food needed to be environmentally friendly.
Finally, as a poor academic with things to do, I had two more criteria for the perfect food unit: it had to be both cost and time efficient. To be time efficient, I wanted it to be a single modular unit. Something that could be cooked in bulk, stored, and used for any meal of the day. The perfect food unit, would also have to be easy to make, easy to eat, and still meet criteria #1: be healthy.
To sum it up, I had a dilemma of sorts. No… a quadrilemma. How could I make a food that was healthy, environmentally friendly, cost effective, and time efficient? Well it took me a year of experimenting. Trying and failing many many times (the loaf of sardine fish bread I made will forever live in infamy). But after numerous spreadsheets, analysis, and taste-testing, I created the perfect food: The Ultimate Burrito.
2: The Ultimate Burrito Works For You (and In You)
Throughout human history, we have spent immeasurable effort on cultivating a stable source of food to sustain our booming population. From the Fertile Crescent of the Tigris and Euphrates rivers to the Green Revolution of the 1940s and 1960’s, agriculture has had the single goal of producing a stable supply of calories for all. Right now we live at truly astonishing point in history where, for most of the world, this goal has been achieved and then some. Not only is there figuratively a chicken in every pot, we can literally get any food we want any time of year. The industrial food complex aims to please and is happy to provide us with whatever fruit, meat, or chemical substitute we desire whenever we desire it.
Of course our current food system comes at the cost of the environment and the reasonable treatment of animals, but we have literally reached the pinnacle of 10,000 years of the human agricultural endeavor. For that, let’s take a moment to appreciate what it is able to do for us. (moment of silence).
OK, now that we have done that, let’s look into the future. A future where we are not simply the foie gras at the end of the industrial food system’s feeding tube; but a future in which our food system provides healthy nutrients in balance with the natural world and where we have a deeper appreciation for the food that we put into our bodies. A future with the Ultimate Burrito. The Ultimate Burrito can provide all that, a healthy, cost-efficient, convenient, environmentally responsible meal solution, and much much more.
The nutritional goal of the Ultimate Burrito is to provide all the nutrients that are essential to a healthy active life. In other words, to make a perfect meal as if the burrito itself were a giant multi-vitamin without the use of supplements. In fact, by eating three Ultimate Burritos, you get 2,000 calories, all your macro ingredients (fat, carbohydrates, protein, and fiber), and all 23 micronutrients that meet the USDA’s recommended daily values for 99% of the population.
The Ultimate Burrito is cost effective, costing approximately $1.40 per PFU (perfect food unit or one burrito) or just $4.20 a day for 2000 calories. The average American spends about $8-10 per day on food, not including eating out. Thus, the Ultimate Burrito brings a savings of about 50% or about $146 a month!
With all of that savings, you could purchase 1,750 extra moves in Candy Crush per year. And why not? With your new goal and vision of yourself as a healthy, frugal eatitarian which you will surely attain (unlike the time you went on all those juice cleanses), it’s okay to pollute your mind with fake candy and impulsive game addiction as your attention span shrivels up and melts like a chocolate raisin the sun. mmmm chocolate raisin.
But back to the point. The Ultimate Burrito is more than half the cost of other “complete nutrition solutions” for example the Soylent drink, a supplement drink that gets you all your nutrients in a vitamin slurry, will cost you over $350 a month. Here is a graph showing the cost of the Ultimate Burrito compared to other diet plans. Impressive huh? Everything is more convincing with a graph …. as evidenced by the second graph.
Prep & Efficiency
The Ultimate Burrito is quick and easy to make. In fact, making a batch of six PFU’s, enough for two days, takes only 40 minutes. That’s equivalent to one trip to the bathroom with an iPad! Our gift to you. You can keep them in the refrigerator and eat them cold or warm them up in a toaster oven or microwave. You can also make them in bulk, freeze them, and reheat them from frozen in just three minutes in the microwave. It takes me about an hour to make a whole week’s worth of frozen burritos or about 3 minutes a meal.
Revolutionary Form Factor
The Ultimate Burrito is the second-most transportable food just after the banana and is just ahead of its predecessor, the taco. Its form factor is the wet dream of an industrial designer. Without any prior experience or instruction, 99% of those we tested were able to hold, carry and eat the burrito consistently…. the remaining 1% made it safely to the hospital.
When I say “revolutionary” I mean truly revolutionary. The beautiful cylindrical package of convenience that we know today developed during the Revolución mexicana or the Mexican Revolution. Here is a quote directly from that all knowing fount of knowledge, Wikipedia:
“An often-repeated folk history is that of a man named Juan Méndez who sold tacos in a street stand in the Bella Vista neighborhood of Ciudad Juárez, using a donkey as a transport for himself and the food, during the Mexican Revolution period (1910–1921). To keep the food warm, Méndez wrapped it in large homemade flour tortillas underneath a small tablecloth. As the “food of the burrito” (i.e., “food of the little donkey”) grew in popularity, “burrito” was eventually adopted as the name for these large tacos.”
Thank you Méndez, thank you.
The Green (Environmentally Friendly) Burrito
It’s not actually green in hue, unless you didn’t follow directions, which is always possible. You know you do that sometimes. The Ultimate Burrito is a low-impact food solution and is lacto-ovo vegetarian by design. Why vegetarian? Because in terms of our impact on the environment it just makes thermodynamic sense. Everytime you move up the food chain there are massive efficiency losses. For example, beef is only 3% efficient, meaning that for every 100 calories you feed a cow, that cow only produces 3 calories of edible beef. Where does the rest go? Most of it goes to just keeping the cow alive and moving around and only a small part gets stored as the muscle we like to eat. If you want to eat in an environmentally friendly manner, eat low on the food chain. Instead of a cow eating the grain, then you eating the cow, just cut out the middleman (or cow in this case) and just eat the grain yourself.
Furthermore, livestock are a voracious, methane-producing scourge. Methane is a powerful greenhouse gas with four times the global warming punch of CO2. Amazingly, the burps and poop from livestock account for 36% of the US’s methane emissions. The best way – the only way – to stymie the bovine plot to eat all of our food and destroy the planet with cow farts is the fight back the only way we know how. By not eating them.
The Human Element: I poop a 4
The Age of Reason in the late 18th Century gave way to what was, at the time, a new way to understand the world around us. Scientists began quantifying things in the way the Adam named the animals of the world, naked and alone. The Age of Reason has led to groundbreaking technologies such as GPS, CAT scans and the Bristol Stool Scale, the most effective and methodical way to understand human poop.
The Bristol Stool Scale consists of seven levels, from rock hard nuggets (Type 1) to Taco Truck Stop Splat (Type 7). Type 4 feces is considered ideal, described, “like a sausage or snake, smooth and soft”. There is no amount of $hit I won’t put up with and because of it, I have made Type 4 feces a priority for your colon. The Ultimate Burrito has the perfect blend of fiber, carbs, and protein to ease out a magic number four once daily. Healthy food, healthy poops – natural food doing its job.
You’re smart and I like that. Not only are you reading about the next evolution in post-industrial cuisine but you’re also rockin’ a big brain. Sweet! It turns out we humans have set ourselves apart from the rest of the animal kingdom with the size of our brains relative to our bodies. And it’s all thanks to massive amounts of protein our ancestors ate that we have this advantage. And the Ultimate Burrito is there to help us along to the next step in our evolution. It’s is packed with a plethora of precious, potent proteins to power your prefrontal cortex. It’s been formulated to include all essential amino acids you need; it’s basically a 1-UP to get you through the day.
Protein is great, but I think we need to have a little heart to heart about protein. In pop-culture protein has been elevated to a status of almost mythic proportions. From muscle heads to weight loss divas, everyone seems to be concerned with getting enough protein, getting complete proteins, eating protein rich food, making protein shakes, etc. The first comment most people make about a vegetarian diet is: “oh but do you get enough protein?” Frankly, getting enough protein is really easy. When I first set myself to the task of creating the perfect food unit, I was similarly concerned about quantity and quality of protein and made sure it was fully accounted for in all my calculations. Quite quickly, though, I realized that basically every diet I made easily surpassed the recommended protein requirements.
Speaking of requirements, there seems to be a lot of confusion around how much protein you actually need. In the USDA’s 2000 calorie diet for the average adult male they recommend about 56 grams of protein a day. The Ultimate Burrito handily surpasses that with 83 grams of protein in 2000 calories. Often though, protein is discussed in terms % your daily calories. Recommendations for non-athletes are usually around 8-10% and for athletes it is around 15-20%. The burrito again sits comfortably at 16%. There is yet a third way to talk about protein of grams of protein per kilogram or pound of body weight, and I think this is where even more confusion comes in.
The USDA recommends 0.8g protein/kg body weight that will meet 99% of the populations protein needs (that’s where the 56 grams comes from, multiply the average male weight by 0.8g protein). Even for endurance and strength building athletes the scientific literature recommends between 1.2-1.4 grams protein per kg body weight. Or to put it into perspective, a 150 lb intense male athlete would need 95 grams of protein. But what is the most commonly referenced value by fitness buffs? 1 gram protein per POUND body weight. Notice the unit change? If you convert grams per pound to grams per kilogram they are recommending 2.2 grams protein per kilogram (150g for that same male athlete). That’s almost double what the scientists think is necessary.
Maybe someone just forgot to convert their units or figured, heck if a little bit is good then more should be better. If you are an extreme body builder then sure double down on your protein, but if you are like most people then just chill out about protein. If you are still worried about it, just turn to the Ultimate Burrito, it has all that you need and then some.
Ok, now that we have slogged through that, you might still have one last burning question: Does the Ultimate Burrito provide complete proteins?
The term “complete protein” also get’s thrown around a lot without a lot of understanding behind it. Protein is made up of little building blocks called amino acids. There are 9 amino that we need to get from our diet because our body can’t make them by itself. These are called “essential amino acids” because, well they are essential. A complete protein has all 9 of these essential amino acids in amounts we need. All complete proteins are animal products: eggs, dairy, and meat.
A common argument against not eating meat is that you won’t get a “complete” protein, but this is only partly true. Proteins from individual plants do lack one or more of the essential amino acids in the amount we require. So you couldn’t live healthily by just eating corn. But by simply mixing different plants together you can get all the amino acids you need and thus have a complete protein. The famous example is rice and beans. Together they make an amino ass-kicking combination and a complete protein.
The Ultimate Burrito IS a complete protein. It has all 9 essential amino acids you need. So sit back and enjoy the savory taste of completeness.
The ingredients of the Ultimate Burrito have been thoughtfully selected to minimize cost, time and environmental impacts. They are available at virtually every grocery store and have been combined to include all necessary macro and micronutrients, vitamins and minerals. While there are some shortcuts (such as using canned beans), the spirit of the burrito is best preserved in using unprocessed and whole foods.
The Ultimate Ingredient list:
- Pinto Beans
- Rice (Brown)
- Green Pepper
- Tomato paste
- Swiss Cheese
- Sunlight or Vitamin D Mushrooms or Wild Salmon
Let’s start with the base ingredient, the beans. I completely reject the idea of a superfood but if I were to entertain such an idea, beans would be my choice. They are high in protein, have complex carbs, lots of micronutrients and can be whipped up into a wide variety of delicious dishes. It is no wonder that beans are the staple food of so many cultures around the world. On top of all their nutritional benefits, beans are also legumes, which require far less nitrogen fertilizer than other crops. Nitrogen fertilizers have numerous negative impacts on the environment, such as creating the Dead Zone in the Gulf of Mexico and make up 75% of greenhouse gases from agriculture.
Rice & Tortilla
I added rice and tortillas as a source of calories and to ease digestion. Rice does have plenty of good macro and micro ingredients but it is nothing to write home about. Rice is also grown by flooding fields with water, which causes plant matter to decay and release methane gas, another potent greenhouse gas. I tried to avoid rice as an ingredient but it just works so well as a solid base of easy-to-digest carbs that I couldn’t avoid it.
White vs brown rice: Ah the age old war between the rice races. White rice is more popular because of it is faster to cook and easier to digest but brown rice is often touted to have a superior nutrient profile. Brown rice is less “processed”, which I won’t substantiate is better in any way, but it fits with ideals of the burrito to use as whole of food as possible. I do recommend brown rice though, so that you can hit your RDV for zinc, but the nutrient difference between the two isn’t huge. If you desire heaping mounds of pearl white rice, then go ahead, you will still be getting your nutrients.
The tortilla is also needed simply for calories and energy dense carbs. Wheat has a decent micronutrient profile. If you want to reduce the calories in the burrito I recommend ditching the tortilla and eating it as a rice bowl. Wheat tortillas can be swapped out for corn tortillas or abandoned entirely for a gluten-free option.
Green peppers are awesome. I discovered early on in my experiments that they are crazy high in vitamin C. “Really?”, you might say, “what about oranges?”
F*@k oranges. Per gram, a green pepper has almost twice the vitamin C of oranges. Plus, oranges are actually a little difficult to fit into a single food unit. Orange slices in your rice and beans? No thanks. Green peppers on the other hand, are easy to cook into all sorts of dishes in addition to being a great source of ton vitamin C.
While we are on the subject of nutritious vegetables, let’s chat spinach. Spinach has a ton of vitamin K, vitamin A and potassium. So be like Popeye and eat your spinach. Spinach is so high in vitamin A and K that you only need a small handful to meet your needs.
Question: can I replace spinach with kale? Yes…why would you? I actually get this question a lot, which I am guessing is because kale is currently in vogue. Another faux “superfood” propagated by the liberal media. For the most part I do not recommend swapping ingredients. Each ingredient has been specifically selected for a host of reasons and replacing one for another can have numerous consequences. In this case, though, it works in terms of vitamin A and K, but Kale does not have the same amount of potassium as spinach. Plus Kale is more expensive than spinach, requires more prep, and cook time.
Potassium is incredibly important because it is a necessary electrolyte that keeps your muscles moving. With low levels of potassium you will suffer low energy, weakness, and even heart irregularity. I just mentioned that spinach is high in potassium and tomatoes are great too, but tomato paste is even better because it is inexpensive concentrated tomatoes. Just one cup has 2400 mg of potassium, more than half your daily recommended value, and that is no small feat. The recommended intake of potassium is 4700 mg, a banana has just 420 mg, which means you would need to nom down 10 to 11 bananas a day to get your recommended dose. That might seem like a lot of potassium and it is actually pretty difficult to hit the recommended amount. The reason it is so high is because our evolutionary ancestors ate a lot of leafy greens and veggies that are high in potassium, so our body evolved to easily process and dump excess potassium out our pee pee. The system works amazingly well but it only has one speed, high; even if we are consuming less potassium our system still keeps on jettisoning it. Thus, scientists recommend taking in a large amount of potassium to keep everything running at it’s optimum level.
Oh and tomato paste has the bonus of being high in niacin and vitamin E, two other critical nutrients. Thus, making it a great addition to the recipe.
Note: STAY AWAY FROM POTASSIUM SUPPLEMENTS AND NO SODIUM SALT.
While experimenting with where to get my potassium from I looked at two alternative sources: supplements and low/no sodium salt. Potassium supplements illustrate how gimmicky yet dangerous the supplement industry is. If you buy potassium pills they only come in 99 mg pills or just 2% of your RDV. You get 5 times as much potassium in a banana. So save your money, potassium supplements are basically sugar pills… with one big difference: they could kill you. The FDA limits potassium supplements to below 100 mg because higher doses can cause damage to your stomach and intestines or even cause a heart attack. A 2011 paper from the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center reported that a 35-year old male bodybuilder suffered cardiac arrest because he consumed almost twice the RDV of potassium through potassium supplements and sports drinks. Yet another example of how more of a good thing can actually be bad, and another reason the Ultimate Burrito gets its nutrients from whole natural food rather than supplements.
Swiss cheese plays a really important role in the Ultimate Burrito because it provides calcium and vitamin B12. We all know calcium is needed for strong, healthy bones and it is no surprise that dairy products like cheese have lots of it. There are some plants like spinach that are really high in calcium but plant based calcium is not biologically available to be used by your body—it is locked up by other chemicals in the plant. Sorry vegans, to get enough calcium you really need dairy products like yogurt, milk or cheese
Of course, you could avoid dairy and take a calcium supplement but that supplement has to come from somewhere, which means either it needs to be extracted from a plant, animal or mineral product through an intensive industrial process. Also, recent studies indicate that taking high doses of calcium in supplement form can lead to a hardening of the arteries. It is better to take calcium naturally through food sources. You only need a little bit of cheese, the equivalent of 3 slices of cheese a day in the Ultimate Burrito.
B12 is a really interesting nutrient. It is important in keeping your brain and nervous system functioning and helps make blood, so yeah, important stuff. This is the vitamin that most people cite as the main reason you need to eat meat; it’s just not found in plants. What is interesting though is that animals don’t actually make B12 either – bacteria in the soil do. Animals like cows and sheep that eat grass and bits of dirt containing the microbes and the bacteria grow in their rumen and produce B12 that the animals can use. The B12 then makes it into their meat or dairy products that we can eat.
The choice of Swiss cheese over all other cheeses is an important one because Swiss cheese has more vitamin B12 than any other cheeses. Other cheeses, like cheddar, do have B12 but to get enough of it you need to eat more cheese and you end up taking in more saturated fat than you need. So to keep fat down, stick with Swiss. Eggs are also a good source of B12 but they need to be cooked first to unlock the B12 that is bound up in by other proteins. I know you were looking forward to slamming raw eggs but don’t do it if you want your B12.
The incredible, edible egg is full of life giving nutrients. This makes sense if you think about it, because an egg contains all the necessary ingredients to make a living organism. Eggs are included in the Ultimate Burrito because of their full set of amino acids, B12, calcium, and a bunch of other micronutrients.
The one drawback to eggs is that they are high in cholesterol. However, after extensive review of the literature I have concluded that this is not really an issue. Your body naturally regulates cholesterol (and needs cholesterol for that matter) and it has been shown that eating eggs, as many as several a day, won’t affect your cholesterol numbers. Eggs and heart health only become an issue if you had an unhealthy diet for a lifetime, e.g. were overweight and inactive for years, and now need to regulate your cholesterol intake. So don’t fear the egg and enjoy its great taste and awesome nutrient profile.
Why Eat Cheese & Eggs but Not Meat?
In chapter two, I discussed the cow’s plot to take over the world with their methane and greedy caloric conversion. Dairy and eggs are, to the dismay of vegans, animal byproducts. So how is it I can justify using animal-based products like dairy and eggs and still claim an environmentally friendly diet? It turns out that dairy is about 30% efficient, meaning it takes 100 calories of feed for a cow to produce enough milk for 30 calories of cheese. Damn cows. But as stated above, we absolutely need B12 and calcium and we just can’t get them from any other whole foods other than animal products.
Plus, there are plenty of other factors that make using eggs a much more eco-friendly source of protein and other macronutrients, for example, simple caloric conversation. Kill a chicken and you eat once. Take the chicken’s calcium-encased ovum and you eat for the natural lifetime of the chicken, or until someone foolishly kills the chicken to make two delicious buffalo wings. The point is, one chicken making many eggs has a far gentler environmental impact than raising many chickens to be the end product.
Vitamin D is critical in preventing rickets and important to a plethora of bodily functions including bone health, the immune system, and overall health. Vitamin D was an extremely tricky vitamin to get into the Ultimate Burrito and it highlights how we live in a world of tradeoffs and tough decisions.
Your body naturally makes vitamin D from the sun. Photons oscillating at the UV B frequency stimulate mechanisms in your skin that synthesize vitamin D. It is a beautiful thing that our bodies are directly dependent on motherly cosmic rays. In the summer you can get all the vitamin D you need by simply standing out in the noon sun for a couple minutes wearing casual dress. Unfortunately, though as the earth turns and seasons change, the amount of UV B reaching the earth’s surface decreases as the earth tilts away from the sun. As a result, in northern latitudes higher than 37 degrees (north of St Louis, USA), there isn’t enough UV B to generate the vitamin D we need. Vitamin D deficiency can be a serious issue and right now 50% of adults in North America are estimated to be vitamin D deficient.
As I mentioned, getting vitamin D into the Ultimate Burrito was very tricky. Because there isn’t a single ideal solution I have come up with four options for you as the reader to choose from. Choose the solution that fits you the best, but the final choice is in your hands.
1. Move south and go outside, or buy a UV B lamp
The best way to get your vitamin D is the way mother nature intended, through the sun. Thus, the obvious solution to get vitamin D all year round is to head to warmer climes and lower latitudes. I hear Memphis has great blues music and Puerto Aventura is lovely all year round. If packing up and moving for the most sustainable diet possible isn’t part of your life plans you can buy a UV B lamp or go to a tanning bed. IMPORTANT: UV lamps are not the same as SAD full spectra lamps. UV lamps have different frequencies of light and can damage your eyes and skin (e.g. sunburn and cancer) if you over do it. But a couple minutes a day (before you even turn pink) can be more than enough to get your daily dose of vitamin D.
2. Vitamin D2 mushrooms (Only Monterey Mushrooms brand)
The next best solution from an environmental perspective is to get your vitamin D from a source very low on the food chain. Or even better yet, go to the other end of the food chain and eat those magical decomposers, mushrooms.
If you follow the mycology journals than you would have heard about the exciting discovery that mushrooms exposed to sunlight (UV B specifically) produce a ton of vitamin D2. The process is very straightforward, simply shine a light on the little toadstools just before or after harvesting and the little buggers go into overdrive producing vitamin D. The company Monterey Mushrooms started distributing these mushrooms across the nation and they can be purchased at Kroger, Safeway, Walmart, Sam’s Club, Target, Winn Dixie and Costco stores. Just look for any mushroom showing 100% vitamin D on the package, the actual brand names may be different from store to store.
One thing to note, however, is that the vitamin D found in plants is a form called D2 and is different than the vitamin D (D3) found in animals. Whether or not D2 provides all the same benefits as D3 is still hotly debated in the scientific literature and ragefully debated in the blog-o-sphere. D3 has generally been shown to be more effective than D2 because D2 is removed from the body more quickly. The counter argument is that as long as you take D2 daily you will be fine. A recent study, however, found that people who took D3 had reduced mortality rates compared to those who took D2. But that is just one study and as far as I can tell the jury is still out on whether or not D2 vs D3 really matters. Check out the websites below for more information.
The next option to get your vitamin D is to eat fish. Eating fish is a tough sell environmentally because, while they do better than beef, there are still large losses in thermodynamic efficiency by eating fish. Plus, the general state of global fisheries is abysmal. World wide fisheries are down by 90% since 1950. Literally there are only 10% of the fish out there compared to 60 years ago. Which is just insane. That is like saying. Oh I’m sorry I just ate 90% of the freaking Amazon Rain Forest.
There have been some recoveries and successes in fisheries management. The Alaskan wild caught salmon in particular is one of the most sustainably managed fisheries in the world. Wild salmon also has the benefit of being very high in vitamin D. In some cases one serving has twice your daily recommended value. It is also extremely low in mercury and PCBs, the environmental toxins that you have heard about as reasons not to eat fish. Wild salmon is so low in these toxins that you don’t really need to limit your consumption.
I have written a couple times now wild salmon, which is an important distinction. Wild salmon, opposed, to farmed salmon (often labeled Atlantic salmon) is higher in vitamin D, omega 3s, and is lower in environmental toxins. Plus, from an environmental perspective, sustainably catching wild salmon means that we need to manage all the ecosystems that support salmon production, rather than just fixing the cages that house farmed salmon. Thus, catching wild salmon means we need healthy and vibrant ecosystems to support the industry. Here is a helpful list of what fish to eat and what to avoid. Notice that farmed salmon is on the No No list and wild salmon is on the Go Go list.
See The Ultimate Fish Burrito for the recipe.
Finally, this goes against the spirit of the Ultimate Burrito, but if you don’t think D2 from mushrooms will cut it and you can’t bring yourself to eat salmon then consider a supplement. Pop a pill of 800 to 1000 IU a day and you are should be good. Caution though, don’t take cod liver oil or supplements. While they are high in vitamin D, they are also extremely high in fat soluble vitamin A, which can have negative impacts on your liver.
If you do go the supplement route, I recommend looking for a vegetarian D3 supplement from lanolin (sheep’s wool). I prefer vitamin D3 from lanolin instead of from fish oil or animal products because the sheep can be sheared numerous times but you can only extract the oil from fish once. Plus, sheep’s wool vitamin D3 will have a lower impact on aquatic ecosystems and can be considered vegetarian (an animal didn’t have to die to get it). Unfortunately, the sheep’s wool D3 does require a lot of industrial extraction and processing, so it not the most “natural” of solutions.
4: Recipe & Prep
The 2 Day Recipe: Makes 6 burritos
Even though there are only 9 ingredients in the burritos there are several different ways to prepare them. I have identified a few different methods for making the burrito so you can choose the one that best fits your style.
I find measuring my food by antiquated volume systems to be inaccurate and inefficient. For that reason, I purchased a digital food scale and measure everything in grams. Plus all of the world works in the metric system anyway, even if you are in the US you just don’t know it. In the US all the computers, products, and measurements are standardized with the metric and then converted into whatever system we are currently clinging onto. I prefer to not live a lie and to work in the metric system, but if your kitchen drawer is still full of ancient measuring devices I have included traditional measurements for your convenience. Also converting from dry to wet is a pain in the butt so I’ve included those measurements as well.
- Pinto Beans
- 200g dry pinto beans or 1 ⅓ cups
- or 500g cooked beans (3 cups)
- or two 15.5oz cans. Go with BPA free no salt added if you can. If you use beans with salt then rinse them well.
- 200g (~1 cup) brown rice uncooked + 2 ½ cups water
- or 660g cooked brown rice (3 1/2 cups)
- or 200g (~1 cup) dry white rice + 2 cups water
- or 750g (3-4 cups) cooked white rice
- or 200g (2 ⅓ cups) + 2 ⅓ cups water
- 200g (~1 cup) brown rice uncooked + 2 ½ cups water
- Green Pepper, 100g or about ½ of a large green pepper
- Spinach, 30g (1/2 cups frozen)
- Tomato paste, 340 grams, 1 ⅓ cups or 1 12oz can
- Swiss Cheese (full fat), 120g or 6 20g slices or 1 ¼ cup shredded
- 4 whole Eggs (200g)
- Monterey Baby Bella Mushrooms (with vitamin D), 240g (2 1/2 cups)
- Tortillas, 6 large 10 inch white flour tortillas (420g)
Option 1: The One Pan To Rule Them All!
25 min prep at a lazy pace
1 hour cooking
Makes 6 burritos or 2 days of food
This version is all about function over form and about maximizing prep, cook and clean up efficiency. All you need is one pan. If you can spare a large bowl mix the ingredients in a large bowl first and then add them to the pan.
- Pull out your trusty 9”x12” pan, butter it lightly and with a tender touch
- In a big bowl or the pan add 4 eggs and whisk
- Add 2 1/2 cups water
- Add tomato paste, whisk together until smooth
- Add 200g (1 cup) dry rice, stir together.
- Add strained and rinsed beans
- Add frozen spinach
- Add chopped green peppers
- Add chopped mushrooms
- Add your desired flavoring, spices, or sauce. See recipes below.
- Stir and pour into the pan or stir in pan directly
- Cover evenly with 6 slices of cheese (120g)
- Cover with aluminum foil and cook at 450 F (230 C) for 60 minutes and then let it sit and cool. The rice will keep cooking after it has been taken out of the oven. Oh preheat your oven to 450F… I guess I should have said that earlier.
The pan makes it easy to divide the filling into six parts. I like to keep the pan in the refrigerator and scoop out the filling into a burrito as needed. This keeps the tortillas fresh and not soggy. Otherwise make the burritos and freeze them. This will also keep the tortillas from turning soggy.
The other benefit of this method is that it is easy to scale. Simply repeat for three pans and you have enough burrito filling for about a week in about an hour of cooking. I like to make three batches, with a different flavor for each batch. That makes it easy to have a different flavor for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
Option 2: The Chef Approach
In this recipe you cook all the ingredients from their “raw” form, which means from dry beans and dry rice. This method has the benefit of reducing the packaging, industrial footprint, and cost of the burrito but it does take more time and planning.
For the beans, you can make up a big batch of cooked beans and keep them in your fridge for 3 days or several weeks in the freezer. If you freeze them just freeze them in 3 cup batches in freezer bags to they are easy to use. I freeze them and then just take them out and let them thaw in the fridge for 24 hours before adding them to the burrito filling.
Dealing with the beans can be a pain in the butt, so feel free to swap out cooking your own beans with 2 cans of canned beans. Just drain and rinse the beans well.
For soaking the dry beans you have two options. First, though, rinse the beans and remove any defective beans.
- To soak the dry beans simply put them in a big bowl and add about 3 times as much water as beans. Let them soak for 8-12 hours.
- To quickly soak the beans, fill a large pot with 2-3 cups of water per 1 cup dried beans. Bring to water to boil for 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, cover with the lid and let stand for 1-2 hours before cooking.
Cooking the beans:
- Add 3 cups water per 1 cup of dried beans to a pot; water should cover the beans by about 1-2 inches.
- Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cook for 1.5-2.5 hours. Stir occasionally with a wooden spoon.
- Drain when finished and let cool in colander.
There, your beans are all ready to go. It takes some forethought but really isn’t that hard.
Cook the Rice
- Measure out your rice and rinse it in a strainer.
- Fill a saucepan with water at a 2:1 water to rice ratio.
- Bring water in saucepan to a boil.
- Once the water is boiling, bring it down to a simmer and add the rice.
- Cover the saucepan and cook:
- White rice 18-25 minutes
- Brown rice 30-40 minutes (recommended to use brown rice)
- Wild rice 45-60 minutes
While the rice is cooking
- Dice green pepper and mushrooms into small, quarter inch squares
- In a large pan add mushrooms and green peppers and saute for 2 minutes.
- Scramble eggs with the veggies to taste though I recommend avoiding cooking them too long so they don’t dry out.
- Add the spinach and let it wilt. If using frozen spinach, microwave the spinach to defrost and thaw but don’t overcook, approximately 25 seconds.
- Chop the cheese into thin slices or small chunks and add letting it melt
Combine in a big bowl and Mix
- Add beans
- Add rice
- Add egg mixture
- Add tomato paste
- Add desired sauce/flavor
Option 3: The Fish Burrito
Replace mushrooms with wild salmon. 240g for the 6 day recipe or 2 5 oz cans drained
Reduce the amount of beans by half
Option 4: The Deconstructed Burrito
Cook the eggs, peppers, mushrooms, and swiss cheese in a skillet to make an omelet. Eat while warm in the morning.
Cook the remaining ingredients as described above in Option 2 and split into burritos.
Option 4: The Gluten Free Burrito Bowl 1300 calories per day
No tortilla! Great if you’re trying to watch your carbs and reduce calories.
- Prepare the ingredients using one of the former methods.
- Mix them into a bowl, forgoing the tortilla.
- 1300 calories for 3 bowls or 433 calories per bowl
Option 5: The Wet Burrito… gross
- I haven’t done this yet but it seems like you could make the tomato paste into a sauce and pour it over the burrito.
Final Assembly & Freezing
Once you have all of the ingredients mixed together in the way that best suits your taste and time constraint, divide the mixture into six equal dollops.
Roll each dollop into a burrito-shaped burrito. Wrap each PFU in saran wrap individually and place all wrapped burritos into a large Ziplock for added protection against freezer burn. Then place in the freezer. I once made 42 burritos at one time, enough for two weeks of food, and they remained in excellent condition for the two weeks.
You don’t have to freeze the burritos. You can keep the filling in the refrigerator for about a week and scoop out the filling as needed. I don’t recommend storing wrapped burritos for longer than a day because the tortilla becomes soggy.
Reheating & Eating
When it’s time for a whole lot of awesome, remove a burrito from the freezer, wrap it once around in a clean paper towel and put it on a plate. Set the microwave on high for 3:00. Once it’s done, take the plate out of the microwave, unwrap it and let it sit for an additional 3:00 or until it’s cool enough to eat.
The toaster oven makes the most delicious burritos because it gently crisps the tortilla. For a frozen burrito, first defrost in the microwave using the method above. Then cook in the toaster oven at 425F (218 C) for 10-15 minutes.
5: Sauces & Spices
The Ultimate Burrito is big on nutrition but may need a little help in the taste department. There are many ways to “doctor up” a burrito. The trick is to add flavor without adding calories. Most spices and herbs are fair game because the have no calories. Vinegars and non-oil based sauces are also good just keep an eye that the calories don’t exceed 60 calories per 2 tablespoons. Ketchup, mustard, and BBQ sauce are all decent additions but stay away from oil based dressings. Enjoy the suggestions below and please contact us with your own to be included in a future edition of this website! Just keep the additional calories below 60 a burrito.
There is nothing worse than a Northerner misappropriating Southern culture. But in the case of BBQ sauce, it’s more than welcome.
- Add 2 tablespoons of your favorite BBQ sauce per burrito
- For the 6 burrito recipe stir in ¾ cup to the mix
The Italian Pizza
Everyone loves pizza, and this is pretty close. For the 6 burrito recipe:
- ¾ cup ketchup
- 3 tablespoons oregano
- 3 tablespoons basil
- 3 tablespoons chopped garlic (3 cloves)
- 2 teaspoons paprika
South of the Border but Made in China
- For ease just add in whatever packet of store bought taco seasoning you like.
- Season to taste but opt for the low sodium packets
A New World favorite. Simply take a reheated burrito and top it off with your favorite Salsa. Load it on if you’ve got that homemade salsa. Fresh, homemade salsa is bursting with vitamins C, A and capsaicin which has been shown to relieve indigestion and stomach pain.
The Minnesota Spice Grenade
It’s -30, snow is piled up five feet outside and the grocery stores are out of bread, milk and toilet paper. It’s February in Minnesota and there’s only one way to heat things up. A blast from your favorite hot sauce, Heinz Ketchup!
The Southern Gentleman
Put a little South in your mouth. Memphis, TN is famous for three things: the blues, dry rub BBQ and being the fattest city in the United States. To add a little Southern flare to your burrito, you can make your own homemade dry rub mix. Makes two cups.
- 1/2 cup paprika
- 1/4 cup garlic powder
- 1/4 cup mild chili powder (use medium or hot to kick up the heat)
- 3 tablespoons salt
- 3 tablespoons black pepper
- 2 tablespoons onion powder
- 2 tablespoons celery seeds
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon dried thyme
- 3 teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons dry mustard
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- 2 teaspoons ground allspice
The Asian Invasion
For a TaeKwonDo kick to the face, add a little Korean chili powder, known as gochu garu (고추가루). If you can find the real deal, it’s 100% natural, 100% chili and 100% spice. Fun fact, gochu is also a common slang word for penis.
The Italian Stallion
It’s-a me! Dab a clean paper towel with extra virgin olive oil and rub the outside of the burrito. Sprinkle on some garlic powder (not garlic salt) and prepare for one spicy meat-a-ball!
Fart on your burrito and act like you thought of it first.
The Swedish Breakfast
Spread some natural, 100% fruit preserves on top of the burrito. Now sit back and feel smug that King Carl XVI Gustaf has been your head of state since 1973, that homosexual couples have been legally allowed to marry since 1944 and that 48% of your country’s energy needs are met with renewable forms of generation. Armhålan!
The Hail Mary
Crushed ghost peppers. See you in hell.
The Poke It With a Stick
Soak the burrito in water for 4 minutes. Look at the bloated corpse of what once was a beautiful burrito. Poke it with a stick. Eat it anyway. I can’t recommend this serving suggestion.
6: How to Use the Burrito in Your Life
Walk the Way of the Burrito
In search of Nutritional Nirvana? Then Walk the Way of the Burrito and eat it for every meal. The true master of the Burrito, however, realizes that food is more than just about nutrients, it is also about people, experiences, and the joy of being alive. Use the burrito to maximize the social and experiential aspects of food. First, don’t be “that guy” at the dinner party that can’t touch anything because of his weird diet. Instead dive in, compliment the host on their excellent skills, and if appropriate, share with them the fun facts and philosophy of the Ultimate Burrito. Second, use the burrito to enhance your food experiences. The flavors and textures in the burrito are fairly neutral by design. When we eat rich, fatty, sugary, flavor packed foods, we become desensitized to them. Eating the burrito for the majority of your meals deeply cleanses your palate. Then when you sink your teeth into a perfectly cooked filet mignon or a rich triple layer turtle cheesecake, your mind will be blown to levels previously unimagined.
Personally, I have noticed that when I am eating the burrito for the majority of my meals I very rarely eat junk food or fast food. If I am hungry, I eat a burrito. If I want a food experience, then I am going to wait and plan to have the best food experience I can by combining the atmosphere, social interaction, and the food itself. My experience of food then is divided into two: a basal hunger satisfied by the burrito and a cerebral experience that I can intentionally devise.
The Busy Burrito But Big on Weekends
Probably the most practical way to use the burrito is a simple step down from The Way of the Burrito. Rather than pushing to a deeper level of food consciousness, just make up a big batch of burritos, freeze them and eat them for convenience. For many people this means eating your normal breakfast but grabbing a burrito for lunch and dinner when you are too tired from working to care. Weekends and special occasions then become an opportunity to indulge a little and enjoy the food before you.
Lunch Time Special
Just need a reliable go to lunch? The burrito can work for you and we don’t judge. Make up a six day batch, keep it in your fridge, and wrap up a quick burrito before heading out to work. The burrito fits nicely into a standard sandwich tupperware container and can be eaten hot or cold.
Weight Loss and Weight Gain
I am still experimenting with this aspect of the burrito, but each burrito is 666 calories (not a sign of the anti-christ just simply 2/3rds or 2,000 calories). If you don’t like calories, don’t bother just count burritos. If you want to lose weight simply adjust your burrito intake to match your calorie goal. If you want to build muscle just increase the number of burritos. The amount of protein that you take in will increase with the number of burritos you eat as well, so you will certainly have more than enough protein if you increase your calories.
7: Fan Fiction
Contribute your own Ultimate Burrito Fan Fiction and email us [firstname.lastname@example.org].
The year is 1513 and a middle aged Spaniard stands at the docks of what would be Puerto Rico. The sunshine sits like a quilt on the coast before him; a drop of sweat trickles down his brown and he wipes it away with a monogrammed pocket handkerchief. The waves roll in and out, an ebb and flow that matches his own thoughts, the cyclical harmony of absolute determination. The sun is bright and he squints, gazing out at the sea, that by which he and his kind are either punished or prosper. He wasn’t meant to sit behind a desk, no. Indeed, the governorship was an honor befitting his contributions to God and Country. But there is a glory out there, on the other side of that big blue, that drew his strings like a marionette – the object of his desire and the sinking spiral of obsession that pulled at him like a black hole. On March 4th, Ponce de León set sail, the whisperings of the unattainable stirring in the cauldron of his imagination.
On that auspicious day, Ponce de León set out not for the Fountain of Youth nor for his eventual discovery of North America’s most infamous penis-shaped state but for a treasure most dear: the Ultimate Burrito. Despite the centuries, the telling, the retelling and the lore that has penetrated Western society to its core, Ponce de León’s intrepid quest and accidental discovery of the gator-infested tourist trap that has become modern day Florida is actually a sexier retelling of what, in all honesty, was confused with the Fountain of Youth, an affordable, nutrient inclusive and ecologically sustainable meal that has been translated from the original Spanish, fuente de la juventud, as the Ultimate Burrito. But history is written by the winners and in the case of Ponce-diddy’s voyage, Gonzalo Fernández de Oviedo. In his 1535 book entitled Historia General y Natural de las Indias or The General History and Nature of India, Oviedo drew upon the legend of P-dizzle’s exploration and wrote about the his search for the famed Fountain of Youth. But this claim was due to the uncertain translation at the time. In fact, Oviedo was afflicted with the well-documented disorder originating from the region, penes en sus oídos. In any case, Oviedo’s is a book best judged by its cover. We all know that the Bahamas are not India and so it is in due diligence and best practices that we completely waive the ignorances of the time and simply disregard whatever he said. For centuries, the Ultimate Burrito eluded those seeking its promise, its ease of preparation, the países de pan. Until now.
 I was growing growing algae, Dunaliella tertiolecta, for use a “green” fuel. The idea is pretty cool but it turns out it is difficult to do in reality. Why are we talking about this? Oh right because Dunaliella tertiolecta is fun to say.
 Studying food is my bread and butter. BOOM! Food pun!
 TED talks are awesome. Here is a great talk by Dr. John Foley, world expert on food systems and snappy dresser. Sit back, push play, and let the knowledge seep in through your ear tubes. http://www.ted.com/talks/jonathan_foley_the_other_inconvenient_truth?language=en
 One of my early concoctions… I won’t even tell you what is in it.
 The Green Revolution was about food production not being “environmentally green.” It was an amazing human achievement. Globally scientists and farmers were able to massively increase food production using modern farming technology. Without this revolution there would have been massive famine, starvation and chaos. Oh… but as amazing as that was, given current trends globally, we need to double food production once again, but in a shorter timeframe. http://www.pnas.org/content/108/50/20260
 The science is still inconclusive concerning the Ultimate Burritos’ ability it improve your sex life or help you with your taxes, but our scientists are hard at work..
 The nutritional value of food can vary quite a bit based on the sample and quality. I used readily available nutritional facts from food labels, USDA dietary guides, and internet databases. The values I used are also calculated for males between ages 19 to 51. The burrito hit 100% of nutrients except vitamin E and potassium, which it hits 90%. Total fat is 86% because protein is at 176% and less fat is needed to keep the calories in balance.
 The USDA food budgets estimate between $56-70 a week for low to moderate costs for a 19-50 year old male http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/sites/default/files/CostofFoodDec2014.pdf
 Some ingredients, such as beans can take time to soak if you choose that method; this time has not been included in the estimate.
 I seriously came up with the “revolutionary form from the mexican revolution” as joke and then looked into the history of the burrito. Lo and behold there is a nugget of truth (or at least folklore) to it. The world is a funny place. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burrito
 Let it be noted that cows are technically trying to poison us with their burps, not farts, or “enteric emissions” if you want to be scientific about it.
 I guess one could build a sort of cow embryonic pod where all the gas and effluent from the animal are captured, processed, and recycled. Kind of like in The Matrix, but instead of machines doing it to humans we could do it with cows. Until, of course, the Choosen Cow rises up and overthrows their human overlords. Is that what happened in the 3rd Matrix? I don’t know, I still don’t get that movie.
 Bristol Stool Chart.png: Kyle Thompson derivative work: Jpb1301 – Own work SVG version of File:Bristol Stool Chart.png originally by user Kyle Thompson. Redone from scratch by JP Brettle. Bitmap resized and resampled using MS Paint, then colour balanced using Picassa, before being vectorised using Inkscape. This vector image was created with Inkscape The source code of this SVG is valid. This vector graphics image was created with Adobe Illustrator. This is a retouched picture, which means that it has been digitally altered from its original version. Modifications: Vectorised. The original can be viewed here: Bristol Stool Chart.png. Modifications made by Inkscape.
 Specifically the amino acid you need to keep an eye on if you are eating vegetarian is lysine, but that is getting more details than we probably need to get into.
 FOOOD PUN! Unrelated, I’m always impressed with the growing body of obesity research…. think about it.
 The problem with labeling a food a superfood is that just like comic book superheroes, even the most super of things have weaknesses. I bet you can guess what weakness beans have…yup…digestion. Beans have a bunch of fiber and if you over do it the results can be, well, a 7 on the Bristol scale. The Ultimate Burrito has just the right amount of beans to give you all their benefits without the potentially disastrous consequences.
 I mostly blame Dr. Oz. What a quack. I also find it hilarious that his name is Oz… sshhhhhhh…. pay no attention to the man behind the curtain.
 Did you hear about what they found when they opened Mozart’s coffin? He was decomposing.
 Contact Monterey Mushrooms directly to find out locations near you. http://www.montereymushrooms.com/
 This article discusses the effectiveness of vitamin D2 and D3 as does the Vitamin D Council. Anything time a group names themselves a “council” I’m skeptical of their motives. The best that I can say at this time is that the science of D2 vs D3 is still being explored.
 Lots of vegetables are extremely high in vitamin A as well, but this different than the fat soluble vitamin A found in cod liver oil; your body has no problem with it.
 … and in the darkness bind their polymerizing carbohydrates, denature their proteins, and caramelize their sugars.
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To The Small Spaghetti-O