Today, I would like to share with you something that has recently changed my life for the better. It is something that has made me laugh, made me cry, and given me faith in the human spirit. It is a reality television show, and it is called Naked and Afraid.
I was actually introduced to Naked and Afraid a couple of weeks ago while I was in Maine. We were just finishing up family dinner, when my stepmom informed the table that she was taking my younger siblings, Zoe and Rex, upstairs to watch Naked and Afraid before bed. I had never heard of this show, but it certainly didn’t sound like something that young children should be exposed to. When I asked what it was, Zoe spun around and said incredulously, “You’ve never seen Naked and Afraid???” Obviously, I had not, which made me stressed. There is nothing more shaming than being called out on your lack of reality television savvy by a five-year-old.
My Dad quickly filled me in on the premise of the Discovery Channel show, which is simple: Two strangers, one male and one female, are dropped in an exotic and terrifying location, such as the Costa Rican rain forest, Tanzania, Borneo, or a Maldivian island, where they must survive for twenty-one days. This is tricky, given the extremely dangerous environments, the difficulty of finding food and potable water, and the threat of potentially deadly wildlife. Oh, and the fact that they have to do all of this completely NAKED.
Needless to say, I was intrigued, and it didn’t take much to convince me to go upstairs and get involved in the Naked and Afraid party. (Yes, I know how wrong that sounds.) I was not disappointed. The show is pure gold. People get full-body sunburns, hunt snakes, slide down hills in the nude, and go “crotch-fishing” (which is not a sexual thing, trust me).
Watching naked people go about surviving in the wild is immensely entertaining, and it gets increasingly dramatic the longer they go without food and water. I particularly enjoy when the “survivalists” start bitching about each other to the camera. The best part is that they usually apologize as soon as they get some food in their systems, claiming that they didn’t mean whatever terrible thing they had said about their partner, “they were just really hungry.” (Logan does this sometimes.) There is also a fair amount of crying.
As the “survivalists” do not win anything at the end of their three-week adventure, I assume that they are mentally unstable. I mean, anyone who willingly signs up to live naked in the wilderness without the promise of monetary compensation must be slightly unhinged, which makes for great television. To be honest, I’m surprised that nobody has gone apeshit on the camera crew yet. If I were about to die from hunger and dehydration, I would probably demand that the well-fed producer give me a snack. And maybe his shoes. I also can’t figure out why none of the contestants have attempted to sleep on top of each other. Not in a sexual way, just for the comfort factor. I can’t be the only one who thinks of these things…
I’m not ashamed to say that Naked and Afraid has blossomed into a full-blown family obsession. Zoe and Rex are so enamored with the show, that reenacting it has become their new favorite pastime. They go out to our pool wearing bathing suits with leaves attached to them (for authenticity’s sake) and practice their survival skills. The two of them will spend hours building shelter (aka making a pile of sticks), “searching for water,” (which is especially hilarious when they are standing next to a pool), and attempting to catch a plastic turtle because their bodies “are very weak and need protein.”
My stepmom is required to film Zoe and Rex while they are being naked and afraid because it is necessary for them to make “confessions” to the camera as the survivalists do on the show. (These kids are seriously dedicated to their craft, and they are remarkably tech savvy.) I find Zoe’s discussions with her “producer” about how she’s faring in the wilderness to be quite believable. For example, she reports that she feels much stronger after eating imaginary turtle meat, explaining, “I’m not saying that I want to stay here forever, but I’m feeling pretty good right now. I can feel the protein going through my body.” Honest, yet hopeful. I respect that.
Zoe was kind enough to invite Logan (who has much better child interaction skills than I do) to play Naked and Afraid with her, assuring him that “he didn’t have to be naked if he didn’t want to.” This invitation was not accepted for obvious reasons, but it was appreciated nonetheless. And while Logan and I are too old to play this sort of pretend, Naked and Afraid has still provided us with an endless supply of unexpected entertainment this summer.
Recently, when Logan and I go for a casual hike or bike ride, I find myself assessing the environment and saying ridiculous things like, “I could definitely be naked and afraid here. Look at all of that moss. I would make a nice bed and eat blueberries for days. If necessary, I could probably catch a fish with my crotch in the pond at the top of the mountain.” When Logan mentioned a few weeks ago that he wanted to plan an Alaskan vacation, my first thought was, “I could NOT be naked and afraid in Alaska.” Naturally, Logan thinks that he would dominate Naked and Afraid in any location. His comments tend to be similar those he made while reading The Hunger Games last year. He’s “a natural born killer,” blah blah blah.
The only downside to Naked and Afraid is that I experience a significant amount of anxiety while watching it. Not only does it make me uncomfortable to see people go without grooming themselves for weeks at a time, but I become legitimately concerned about the physical and mental health of the survivalists. The longer they go without food and water, the more panicky I get, and I’ve found that I actually start to feel vicariously hungry, thirsty and afraid. I’m also perpetually nervous that a bug, snake or small animal is going to crawl into one of their exposed body cavities, which would be far too graphic for me to handle. It’s exhausting.
After watching the first few episodes, I realized that the only way to mitigate my anxiety during a Naked and Afraid marathon is to eat comfort food, surround myself with copious amounts of booze water, and wear as much clothing as possible. If I had to describe my viewing situation in two words, it would be “clothed” and “safe.” I have yet to watch the season finale, but I look forward to doing that this Sunday. I plan on wrapping myself in soft blankets and forcing Logan to hold one hand, while I eat Avocado Toast with Spicy Maple Bacon and Scrambled Eggs with the other.
I’m a huge fan of avocado toast, and it’s pretty much a staple in my diet. Obviously, standard avocado toast is great, but adding scrambled eggs and spicy maple bacon makes it a crave-worthy comfort food. Not only will you love the sweet and spicy nature of this bad boy, the combination of textures will blow your mind. Lightly crunchy toast, creamy avocado, crispy bacon and fluffy scrambled eggs? Straight-up moneymaker.
Let’s talk spicy maple bacon for a second. Bacon is awesome, but this amped up version is the stuff that dreams are made of. Baking the bacon and then brushing it with the spicy syrup a few minutes before it finishes cooking yields sweet and savory perfection every time. (Plus, it’s much classier than dipping your bacon in maple syrup, which can get messy.)
For the record, Avocado Toast with Spicy Bacon and Scrambled Eggs is a good go-to recipe to have in your repertoire. It’s a dank breakfast, but it also works as a simple lunch or dinner when you’re feeling lazy. I would happily serve this deliciousness at a casual brunch, and I like the idea of setting out the components and letting people assemble their toast themselves. An “avocado toast bar,” if you will.
Happy Friday, friends! If you happen to have plans this weekend, please cancel them. You’re going to need to make this recipe and watch the entire first season of Naked and Afraid immediately. I’ve been contemplating having a Naked and Afraid-themed birthday party this year, and I would like to know your thoughts. I’m thinking somewhere exotic. Like Vegas…
Avocado Toast with Spicy Maple Bacon and Soft Scrambled Eggs: (Serves 2)
4 slices thick cut bacon
1½ tablespoons maple syrup
Pinch of cayenne pepper
¾ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon half and half
2 slices whole wheat sourdough bread (or bread of your choice)
Fresh Ground Pepper
Preparing your Avocado Toast with Spicy Maple Bacon and Soft Scrambled Eggs:
*Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
-Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire baking rack on top. Line up the pieces of bacon on the baking rack without touching.
-In a small bowl, combine maple syrup and pinch of cayenne pepper. After 25 minutes, carefully brush the bacon with the spicy maple syrup. (Be careful of the hot bacon grease, people. Seriously.) Return bacon to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes.
-Next, whisk the eggs, 1 tablespoon of half and half, and a pinch of salt until pale yellow and foamy. Briefly set aside.
-Slice your avocado in half and score it with a knife. Use a spoon to scoop the scored avocado into a bowl. Add ¾ tablespoon of olive oil and smash the avocado with a fork. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- 4 slices thick cut bacon
- 1½ tablespoons maple syrup
- Pinch of cayenne pepper
- 1 avocado
- ¾ tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 4 large eggs
- 1 tablespoon half and half
- 2 slices whole wheat sourdough bread (or bread of your choice)
- Fresh Ground Pepper
- Pre-heat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place a wire baking rack on top. Line up the pieces of bacon on the baking rack without touching. Place bacon in the oven and bake for 25 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine maple syrup and pinch of cayenne pepper. After 25 minutes, carefully brush the bacon with the spicy maple syrup. (Be careful of the hot bacon grease, people. Seriously.) Return bacon to the oven and bake for 5 more minutes. While it’s hot, transfer the spicy maple bacon to a plate lined with paper towels and set aside to cool.
- Next, whisk the eggs, 1 tablespoon of half and half, and a pinch of salt until pale yellow and foamy. Briefly set aside.
- Slice your avocado in half and score it with a knife. Use a spoon to scoop the scored avocado into a bowl. Add ¾ tablespoon of olive oil and smash the avocado with a fork. Season with salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
- Toast your bread in a toaster or on a grill/grill pan. Spread each slice of toast with half of the smashed avocado and top with two slices of spicy maple bacon.
- Now it’s time to scramble your eggs. Heat a non-stick pan over medium-low heat. When hot, add the beaten eggs. Cook, stirring slowly with a heat-proof rubber spatula, until eggs are just set.
- Top each toast with eggs. Add a few cranks of black pepper and serve immediately.