Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Bacon & Onions with Liver

This post can also be seen at Highbrow Paleo and Chowstalker!

I worked through some childhood trauma last week; I've had a grassfed beef liver in my freezer for... a year or so. Haunted by memories of "that nasty liver smell," it took awhile to get the nerve to cook the damn thing, but I finally did it. I want to love liver, really I do, but I think I'll have to settle for tolerating it; I pulled every trick out of my sleeve that I could, but I still can't say this was an enjoyable experience. Some of you actually enjoy liver though, so I will share my method.  Meh...

1/2 a liver (mine was a little under 1.5lbs., and I knew I wouldn't eat it all, so I just made half. I'm no scientist, but I'm not down with eating the filtering organs of sick animals; get a good grassfed one, it should still be pretty inexpensive)
1/2 lb bacon, cooked and crumbled, grease reserved
1 large onion
a few TBS of clarified butter
2 TBS arrowroot

1 head cauliflower, chopped into large chunks
1/3 cup broth
a few TBS heavy cream (optional)
a few TBS butter
Salt, pepper, & herbs to taste (I used herbes de provence)

A few hours before cooking time, slice liver into 1/2" slices, and soak in milk or lemon juice; they say this will diminish some of the liver flavor. Slice onion and cook in clarified butter on medium-low heat for about half an hour until the onions get a bit caramelized; add bacon and set aside.

At this point, heat broth in a saucepan over medium high heat, and add cauliflower; steam for about 6 or 7 minutes until you can easily poke with a fork. Once it is tender, add butter, cream and seasonings, and puree (great job for a stick blender if you have one.) While cauliflower is cooking, add bacon to the pan that the onions were cooking in, and heat up to medium-high. Dry off liver slices, and place in a baggie with arrowroot, toss to coat. Once pan is hot, add slices of liver, and cook for about a minute on each side; it will be brown on the outside, and pretty rare on the inside. I was amazed that there was NO SMELL! My mom is a great cook, but we have some, uhh, different ideas about how long to cook things; if you don't cook the hell out of the thing, you may be spare your loved ones from the liver-stank. Serve with plenty of bacon & onions, and choke it down!

Mmm bacon!  Eww liver!  So conflicted...

Friday, December 9, 2011


Katherine Heigl has caught some crap over the years for some stuff she has said in interviews; I myself do like her, and I admire that she speaks her mind, knowing she is exposing herself to scrutiny.

This kinda irks me.  Katherine Heigl is a little thicker than Jennifer Aniston, but is by no means overweight; why should we congratulate her for "accepting her body the way it is?"  Being so fortunate to look like her without having to do any work for of it is hardly something worthy of applause.  Also, I like food too!  I love all the food I eat; loving food and being careful about what you put in your body are NOT mutually exclusive. I'm so tired of people saying "oh, I like food too much" to eat healthy; what a big ol' BS copout.

Everyone has their insecurities, and kudos to her for speaking up about hers, and blah blah blah, but it struck a nerve with me regardless.  *shrug*

Wow, she is SO BRAVE for going out
in public looking like that.
Image courtesy of MSN Wonderwall

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Probiotic Pumpkin Spice Smoothie

I guess I seem to be getting on a fermented foods kick; I've been reading a lot about how so many of us are lacking these foods in the diet, and I'm definitely one of them.  Cultured foods were a big part of traditional diets and have unfortunately been replaced with pasteurized, sanitized versions; it makes sense to me that our gut health is suffering for it.

I recently made some lactofermented mayo (which I am thrilled about because I am now free from my Hellman's prison) and tried out some goat milk kefir.  Yeah, it's a little different!  It was like runny yogurt, as I expected; I stirred in a little honey and cinnamon to make it more palatable.  Then I had an idea!  I made a pumpkin smoothie.

8 oz grassfed goat milk kefir (that's what I used, but there are cow and coconut varieties on the market)
3 TBS pumpkin puree
1 TBS honey
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Just stir it all together; you don't even need a blender!  Sorry, no pic as of press time, but you can probably get the idea.  If it looks like a glass of orange stuff, you're on the right track.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Thankful I won't be doing THAT again any time soon!

I didn't have a nice clean paleo Thanksgiving.  Armed with my trusty digestive enzymes, I had stuffing, a couple rolls, and a piece of pumpkin pie, along with all the healthier stuff; luckily I felt ok the next day, but a weekend of sustained, repeated glutening wasn't the best idea... 

Last year I took the liberty of ordering a Bronze turkey from my local organic farm, and Dad was sooo annoyed.  He's the roaster of turkeys in our family, and understandably didn't like the routine being shaken up- he typically would buy a non-frozen commercial bird from the grocery store, and it always turned out great.  So, I annoyed Dad by getting an expensive frozen turkey that came with special instructions.  Dad's former military, so I figured it was better to ask for forgiveness than permission *shrug*  Of course, Dad was so delighted with the turkey that he even emailed the farmer to let him know how great it was, and how it reminded him of the turkeys of his childhood.  Dad ordered a similar turkey from another local farm- this one was a Jersey Buff and was roasted for seven hours. It. Was. Amazing.  This here isn't the turkey we ate, but apparently the father of our bird.

Meet Chip and the farmer

Now here's the non-fun part.  I worked out prior to the feast, and this was the first time I kinda wanted to cry during a workout, and kinda felt like throwing up after.  I typically just go to the gym and do stuff I find fun & avoid stuff I find sucky, but it's time to suck it up so I can actually improve.  I've enlisted a workout buddy who is far more able than me and has been providing bad-ass nasty WODs for the past few weekends.  The prescribed workout was to be 100 dumbbell hang squat-clean thrusters (which I'd never done) with 5 burpees (which I hate with the passion of a thousand suns) on the minute until all DBHSCTs were completed.  Looked extremely tough, but doable. 

Well, my friends, doable it was not.  A few minutes in, I was sucking to the point that once I was done with my five burpees, I only had enough time to do a couple thruster thingies before it was time for MORE burpees.  At least five minutes went by where I did NO thruster thingies.  I quickly became really demoralized and realized that I was so fatigued by the burpees that at best I would finish in several hours, or I would possibly never finish and be resigned to spending the rest of my life doing five burpees on the minute.  That was pretty scary, and my thruster thingies were getting increasingly ugly, so I decided I'd better stop at 50.  Good decision, because I was uber-nauseous at the end.  It probably would've helped if I hadn't wasted energy by stomping around like a frustrated three year old, but I think I need some major work in the stamina department regardless...

Thursday, November 17, 2011

I like to Mov it- Mov it

*This article can also be seen at Highbrow Paleo*

A few weekends ago, I participated in a MovNat workshop at Rock Creek Park in DC.  I really enjoyed Erwan LeCorre's presentation at the Ancestral Health Symposium, so I was really looking forward to it.  The workshop was taught by Clifton Harski, and he had an assistant instructor named Justin, who is training to teach their one-day workshops. 

It was a great group of people in the class- there were all kinds of body types, ages, and fitness levels, and I definitely noticed that pretty much everyone was in minimalist shoes.  It was a little chilly that morning, so I left my Vibrams at home due to the ol' Raynaud's; I had to chuckle to myself because I used to stick out like a wierdo wearing Vibrams at my gym, and now I was the wierdo in normal shoes! 

So, what can one expect to get out of one of these workshops?  The thing is, as we humans become so advanced that we no longer need to really do anything physical for ourselves, we've grown grossly out of touch with how to move.  Many of us are spending a third of our lives in chairs; with online shopping, work, and school, we could probably live our entire lives on our asses if we wanted to! We've innovated away our instincts, and MovNat is a great way to re-learn skills that came naturally to us as kids, and that mankind used to depend on to survive.

The skills we went over were walking, running, balancing, crawling, jumping, climbing, lifting, carrying, throwing, and catching.  Swimming and defense are also part of the MovNat skillset, but weren't covered in the one-day workshop.  We spent a chunk of time on each skill and learned different techniques for each one, such as various methods for climbing a tree, different ways to crawl in order to safely get up and down hills, etc.  It's all about learning to move in a way that is most efficient, safe and natural, and I learned a lot!  I've always had a fear of going upside-down, and pretty much anything gymnastics-related; doing a ton of forward rolls (even a ninja-style one after hopping off a picnic table!) has made a dent in that.  I've also gotten more efficient with crawling- I've done some bear crawls in my CrossFit workouts, but learned I had been wasting a bunch of energy by sticking my booty in the air.  I even learned what the Smith machine is for- Clifton suggested we use it to do some stepping over/lunging under drills, and I've been incorporating that into my warmups in the gym!

One thing I really liked about the MovNat presentation at AHS was the emphasis on its intangible, unmeasurable benefits, such as courage, self-seteem, etc.  At the workshop, I did some stuff I hadn't done before, and that's always a nice feeling; I was able to hoist myself up on a tree branch (still working on getting the full "MovNat leg swing"), and I found that I can pick up an average-sized dude and drag him to safety!  I didn't succeed in fireman-carrying him, but was pleased nonetheless.

I wish I had a better memory or had taken notes during the wrapup; Cliff talked with us about how he likes to work out when not teaching workshops, about eating well while traveling.  I definitely remember though, that when speaking about overtraining, he stated that most people are more likely to be under-recovering rather than over-training.  Ain't that the truth!  So many are eating like crap, sleeping like crap, and thinking it's all good because they spend an hour on the treadmill every day; if you're one of 'em, you're not doing yourself any favors by prioritizing exercise over recovery.

If you're able to swing one of these workshops, I highly recommend it.  I'm going to work on my leg-swinging and tree-climbing in earnest this winter, and will hopefully be able to attend another workshop next year!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I can has pullup!

For longer than I care to admit, my gym goal has been to do a pullup.  Since I became determined to get decently strong, I've been haunted by gym class memories- taking wrestling over gymnastics because I was too afraid to go upside-down, struggling and failing to climb a rope, and dangling helplessly from a pullup bar when it came time for the dreaded Presidential Fitness Test.  I no longer give a crap about my humiliating volleyball serve, but I'm not giving up on the other things!

If you're a girl, there's really never been any shame in not being able to climb a rope or do pullups.  You'd give it a shot, and the teacher would say "that's ok, most girls can't do it."  Well, once I got into my late twenties, I didn't want to be most girls any more; a few months ago I climbed a rope for the first time, and last weekend I got my first pullup!  I found this article from Urban Gets Diesel to be really helpful; mixing up grips and methods was definitely key.  I used assistance bands, did negatives, partials, jumping pullups, and static holds.  Once I was strong enough to do one with the smallest assistance band, I made sure to do a couple of those every day I was in the gym, and focused less on using the heavier band that allowed me to do a higher volume.  Also, I tried my best to resist the urge to kip; yes, it does make it easier to actually get your chin over the bar, but I've read several sources that state it's safer to hold off on kipping until after you have the strength to achieve a dead-hang.

So keep hangin' in there, babies!  For most of us gals, this is something that takes serious werk; it might take two months, it might take over a year (yes, that's about how long I'd been trying).  You'll feel pretty bad-ass when you get there, and it's always nice to add something to that list of things you never thought you'd be able to do.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Some hearthealthywholegrains!

Even pre-paleo, I was never a big oatmeal person, but I haven't been able to stop thinking about Jack Kronk's recipe on Paleohacks. I do think that properly prepared grains can be a harmless "once in awhile" treat, and a vehicle for real food ingredients.  So, I got some oats from the store and soaked them with water and goat kefir; I didn't have any buckwheat flour but wasn't too worried about it.  Dad was confused as he saw me rinsing the oats last night ("those look like grains"); I assured him not to worry, that I was just experimenting.  I was low on blueberries, so of course, I figured I better just make em with pumpkin instead!  After soaking and rinsing the oats, I mixed together 3 eggs, 1/2 can of pumpkin, 1/4 cup of honey, and a tablespoon of trusty pumpkin pie spice, and stirred this into the oats.  Then I added the half stick of melted butter and stuck the dish in the oven.  Turned out great, and it didn't cause me any stomach upset, woo-hoo!  This oatmeal is even better when you look at Jack's avatar while you're eating it.  Thanks Jack, for the awesome recipe and awesome torso! :D

Added some coconut milk, and sprinkled
with a little cinnamon & coconut sugar, nomz!

So what else is going on?  Well, on Sunday I'm doing my first MovNat workshop at Rock Creek Park in D.C., and I'm really looking forward to it!  I'm so relieved my neck has gotten better (it seemed like it never would) and it looks like it's going to be a beautiful day.  Next weekend I'll be attending a Whole9 Foundations of Nutrition Workshop in Bowie; it was supposed to be this past August, but had to be postponed due to Hurricane Irene.  I got a lot of good tidbits out of the Whole9 virtual workshop I participated in last spring; I'm really stoked about a whole Saturday!  In addition to all that, I'll be moving AGAIN next week, whew!  More busy times ahead, but I'll be sure to write about the fun stuff (i.e. the non-moving stuff) as soon as I can.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Primal PSL

That pumpkin spice is so hot right now (yes, that's a Mugatu reference).  I haven't been able to tolerate caffeine lately, so I haven't been having my usual Green Mountain Pumpkin Spice K-Cups and have been obsessively looking for a substitute (because I'll be damned if I'm going to Starbucks every day).  After some poking around on the interwebs, I made a decaf Pumpkin Spice Latte last night; this creamer mixture is enough for roughly three servings.  No, I didn't steam the milk or use espresso; lets call it a Ghetto PSL.

2/3 cup coconut milk (or grassfed heavy cream like I used this time)
3 tablespoons coconut sugar
2 TBS pumpkin puree
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice

Combine all ingredients in a microwave-safe vessel, microwave for 45 seconds- 1 minute, and stir to dissolve coconut sugar.  Then just pour some into your favorite coffee (or black tea!) and try to forget about the fact that summer is over!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Adventures in babysitting and grocery shopping

Times have been hectic indeed!  There's been a move, a new job position, a little more drinking and a little less cooking than is ideal.  I recently spend most of a weekend babysitting my little niece; I'm not a kid person, so it was interesting.  I was curious to see how she would like being a paleobabby for the weekend (Paleohacks joke!), and the experiment went well!  I told her I was making bacon for breakfast and she seemed cool with that; she even got impatient while it was cooking and said "where's my bacon?!"  Needless to say, I was delighted; she had bacon & bananas for breakfast and loved it.  Then we went to the county fair to look at the animals and I forgot to give her lunch :/  Didn't I say I'm not a kid person?  Let's just call it intermittent fasting!  She seemed fine though, and after naptime I gave her some rotisserie chicken and a little white rice for dinner.  I didn't accomplish getting any veggies in her that day, but she ate an impressive amount of chicken, and no cookies, crackers, or prepackaged baby meals.

The next week I spent a day in Baltimore with my parents and I found a great dinner place on Restaurant.com- it's called Waterstone Bar & Grill and it was an absolute gem.  I'd gotten a $25 gift certificate for $2, so dinner for the three of us was under $40.  Mom got a bison burger, and dad & I both got the Hairiki Village dish: 2 lamb chops, fried calamari (yes, there was gluten), grilled yellow squash, and a side of cucumber, tomato, feta salad.  I'd go back in a heartbeat, and my mom was even impressed (no small feat).

I've also recently had the opportunity to try out Elevation Burger.  A location was recently opened at the National Harbor (about an hour and a half from my home) and I was excited to check them out after learning about them from some paleo forums.  Their beef is grassfed, they will wrap your burger in lettuce, and they cook their fries in olive oil (also, said fries are enough for two people to share)!  Pretty cool!  I was really pleased with my meal and will definitely be back next time I'm in the area. 

I also had a rare opportunity to go to Whole Foods last weekend (yes, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are a special treat for me).  While I absolutely believe Whole Foods doesn't have to be expensive and there are great deals to be had, I'm a little ashamed to admit I spent over $100 on two bags of groceries :(  There were some fancy things (a pastured chicken, grassfed beef, wine, etc.) but I also stocked up on my Kerrygold (which costs a lot more in my town for some reason) and got some good yogurt because I'm doing some experiments with lacto-fermenting, and apparently the regular store yogurt isn't very effective in the probiotic department (I read that on the internet, so I'm not 100% sure, but why mess around with fermenting mayo?)  I also got a container of sheep yogurt for shits & giggles, and a bottle of goat kefir because I want to see what all the fuss is about.  I'll definitely be doing some smoothies with the kefir, and will probably try drinking some with honey and some spices.

So that's what I've been up to; more recipes are coming soon!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Petite Medallions with Creamy Mushroom Sauce

A few months ago, I got second place in a Chowstalker contest, and I've been patiently waiting for the weather to cool off so I could redeem my U.S. Wellness Meats gift certificate.  Last week I knew it was time.  I was going to be economical and just get a bunch of ground beef, but then my BFF said "get some steaks!"  And so I did.  I got a hanger steak (because I can't find that cut locally), teres major (because it sounds fancy and I'd never heard of it), some lamb ribs, bison stew meat, and some pet burger for my sweet cat, Lala.

I started with the teres major.  This cut comes from the shoulder and is similar to tenderloin; the site said "if sliced into medallions, they are appropriately named petite tender medallions."  Sounds good to me!  There's a lot of cream in this recipe; I've been watching my dairy intake lately (doing so makes it even easier to maintain my weight), so this isn't something I would have all the time.  Coconut cream can often be substituted but it does have some natural sweetness, and I didn't want to experiment with my fancy steak.

1.3 lbs teres major or tenderloin
Clarifed butter for the pan
Salt & pepper

1 cup sliced baby bella mushrooms
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 TBS butter
2 tsp arrowroot
Herbs of choice- I used a little dried thyme, will try tarragon next time!
Salt & pepper

1lb frozen cauliflower
1/4 cup heavy cream
More butter!
More salt & pepper

Leave the meat out at room temp for 30 minutes or so before cooking.  Trim silver skin, slice into 2" medallions, sprinkle with salt & pepper, and preheat oven to 300.  Heat a couple tablespoons of clarified butter to medium-high, and place medallions in the pan. Cook a little over a minute on both sides until they get some brown on the top and bottom, then transfer the meat to a baking dish and put in the oven.  While all this is going on, try to multi-task and prepare the frozen cauliflower per the instructions for the stovetop.  When it's done, drain the water, cover, and set it back  on the stove to keep warm.

Once the meat is in the oven, add a couple more tablespoons of butter to the hot pan, and add the mushrooms.  Saute until they start to brown, then add the 1/2 cup of heavy cream, arrowroot, and dried herbs.  Once the sauce is bubbly and thickened to your liking, see if it needs any salt & pepper, and set it aside.  Almost there!  Next, add 1/4 cup of cream to the cauliflower and puree to a mashed potato-ish consistency.  Add butter, salt & pepper to taste, remove your meat from the oven (it should've been in there about 7 minutes and should be about medium), and serve.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Fall is back with a vengeance, and so am I!

It's that special time of year kids!  The leaves are starting to change, you're using a little less sunroof & a little more seat warmer; there's no time like the present to roast a chicken!  I've always been pretty skilled in the kitchen but didn't get the hang of roast chicken until pretty recently; for something that's supposed to be simple, it can be hella hard to get it right.

I wish I could remember the site I learned this from a few months back so I could give them credit for saving me from any more chicken-fails.  The secret is to let the bird come to room-ish temperature before putting it in the oven.  The first time I tried it, it was like magic; it was the best chicken I'd ever made, and maybe the best homemade chicken I'd ever had (yeah, sorry mom!)

Without further brouhaha, here's my first Official Fall Dinner:

1 Chicken- 5.5 lbs, hopefully the bug-eating pastured variety
1 lemon, quartered
1 large fennel bulb, cut into large chunks
1 red onion cut into large chunks like your fennel
3 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2" slices
2 cups brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
The obligatory handful of peeled garlic cloves
2 TBS butter, softened
A few TBS light olive oil, melted butter, whatever you want to drizzle everything with

-Remove chicken from its packaging, rinse, pat dry, and set on a plate with some paper towels.  Cover with plastic wrap and let it sit out for 4-5 hours.
-Heat oven to 425.
-Rub chicken with softened butter (or olive oil if you're not doing butter), sprinkle pretty liberally with salt & pepper, and a little dried thyme (I would've added rosemary but couldn't find it).
-Place chicken in a BIG roasting dish breast-down (this keeps the breast moist), stuff lemon wedges into the cavity, and put in the oven
-After 30 minutes, remove pan from the oven, arrange fennel, onion, and carrots around the chicken, and drizzle with some fat of choice.
-After 45 more minutes, flip the chicken on its back so the breast can crisp up, and add the brussels sprouts & garlic, stir veggies together.
-In about 30 more minutes, everything should be done (if you poke around the leg and breast, clear juices should run out.)  Pull the pan from the oven and let the chicken rest 20 minutes before serving.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Life-changes, Earthquakes, and Hurricanes, Oh My!

Just when this thing starts getting a little bit of traffic, things get funky!  Since getting back from LA, life has been nuts; I'm looking forward to churning out some new recipes and whatnot as soon as things go right-side up again... 

Post-Irene sky

Thursday, August 11, 2011


Paleopalooza.  The Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine.  Paleo Summer Camp.  Yes, I'm talking about the awesomeness that was the Ancestral Health Symposium!  Last week, I flew out to LA (with a little help from the absolutely wonderful Virgin Atlantic) and I spent Friday & Saturday soaking up smartness at the UCLA campus.

Let's get the fan-girl stuff out of the way first.
I met Mark Sisson!  And Melissa & Dallas of Whole9!  And Robb Wolf!  I got to say hi to so many people whose blogs and books I read (Diane Sanfillipo, Julianne Taylor, Melissa McEwen, Sarah Fragoso, Tucker Max, Lindsay Starke, the Drs. Eades, etc.), and I wanted to talk to so many more, but eventually my shyness took over and I lost my will to introduce myself to any more people.  Everyone was so nice and happy to be there, and it was very cool that the speakers were out and about, spending a lot of time with those of us who were there as attendees.  Hell, Tucker Max spent a good twenty minutes chatting with me and my AHS buddy Danielle; he was surprisingly friendly!

The Grokfather himself

Tucker Max, Danielle, Robb Wolf and meee!!!

My favorite tidbits.
I had a tough time choosing between seeing Mark Sisson and Denise Minger, and I'm glad I saw Denise.  Besides being brilliant, she seems like a lovely person, and was a natural speaking in front of a large group.  Her talk was "How to Win an Argument With a Vegetarian," but I believe the information she shared applies to conventional wisdom in general, as meat is roundly villified by the "health-conscious" masses, and vegetarianism & veganism regarded as something to aspire to.  Everyone knows vegans are the healthiest people out there, right?  Well, Denise took us through the confounding variables that nobody seems to consider, such as the fact that vegetarians are more likely to exercise and avoid alcohol & tobacco compared with the typical omnivore (i.e. non-paleo meat eater).  Also interesting was that the popular and successful vegetarian diet programs all exclude items that we paleo folks also avoid, such as sugar, refined grains, and processed oils!  "It must be the veganism, right?"  Not necessarily...  As more and more people approach me who are curious yet skeptical about paleo, Denise's information will definitely come in handy, but as Robb Wolf added during the Q&A session, "if people don't want to buy in, f**k 'em;" if people want help, we're all here to give that, but I've never been successful in changing anyone's mind about anything, so I'm working on wasting less energy trying. 

Another favorite presentation was by Erwan LeCorre of MovNat.  Not only is he gorgeous to look at and listen to, but I really needed his message.  I love the gym, which is great and all, but I really do need to get back to nature.  I strive to focus on functional movements, but it doesn't get much more functional than getting into the outdoors and dealing with tree trunks and rocks.  GPP isn't really about actual skills- agility, speed, strength, and the like aren't skills; jumping, throwing, and lifting are.  That had never occurred to me, but made perfect sense.  Erwan also stressed that MovNat is about so much more than what you weigh, how fast you can run, or how much you can squat; it's about non-measurable progress in areas such as courage and self-esteem.  That really resonated with me.  As an added bonus, MovNat instructor Clifton Harski informed me via Twitter that there will be a MovNat workshop in DC this October, so I'm hoping to get in on that!

I wish I were smarter so I could have better understood the presentation by organic chemist Mat Lalonde (aka "The Kraken").  Here's what I got- we can't just get away with saying things like "grains (etc.) are bad for us because we haven't been eating them very long" or "legumes are bad because they have lectins."  Anti-nutrients are not all created equal, and they even elicit different responses in different species.  I also gathered that it is safe to say peanuts are bad, and gluten is very bad.  Now there's news I can use!

One random bit I learned was from Dr. Cordain- here in the U.S., we fortify our flour with folic acid with the goal of preventing spina bifida.  However, he then told us there is a link between folic acid supplementation and cancer, and cancer rates have increased since we began adding folic acid to flour.  Correlation does not equal causation of course, but interesting nonetheless.  Also interesting that Europe has ceased to add folic acid to their flour.  Anyhoo, another reason I'm glad I don't eat flour!  The more you know...

There were several enjoyable presenters I hadn't heard of, one being Matt Metzgar.  There's always talk of "is this sustainable?" and he addressed that by viewing paleo through the lens of an economist; very cool to get that perspective.  Is it sustainable?  I still don't know, and I thought for a moment a fight was going to break out, because there were some gents in the audience that seemed quite passionate about the topic!  My main takeaway was his nifty sustainability index- a scoring system by which to evaluate any particular food (it asks questions such as "is it organic?" "is it wild?" "is it in season?" etc.)- definitely appeals to my number-nerd side!

Paleo Superfriends!
I got to meet folks from Paleohacks, which was so cool.  Back in my internet dating days, it always seemed like nobody is nearly as smart or funny in real life as they were on the internet- not Paleohackers!  The gals were such sweethearts, the guys were a trip; I was so glad to meet them all, and I'm grateful I had Danielle (who flew in from Hawaii for the event) as an AHS buddy.  I also got to meet Patty, who owns Chowstalker, and the blog Following My Nose.

I definitely noticed there were a lot of healthy-looking folks there!  I wish I went around taking pics of all the feet- lots of bare ones, lots of Vibrams, and a few pretty ladies in heels.

It was very nice to be able to talk about the topics I care about without having to wonder every few minutes "am I getting annoying?  I better shut up now."  Quite a few of my girlfriends at home are getting interested in all this stuff too, but there is something to be said for being in a room with several hundred like-minded people; it's a good feeling.

The Eats
I was mainly excited about In-n-Out Burger, what a letdown!  The patty was lame-o, the fries were dry and seemed stale.  Thursday lunch was at Thai Dishes in Santa Monica- coconut soup was great, and we got mee-krob for appetizer; it was way too sweet for me.  Friday night was dinner at Animal, the famous nose-to-tail eatery that lots of AHS folk were dining at.  Their menu was pretty gluten-y, but my group was all ok with giving it a go.  I had oxtail poutine, quail, marrow bone, and the crispy pig ear.  The pig ear dish was a little too tangy for me, but it was a great experience; I loved the marrow and am looking forward to replicating it at home (it was topped with caramelized onions and chimichurri, I may try spreading it on some almond crackers).  As for lunchtime at the AHS, Sbarro was noticeably empty; I got a nice Mexican chopped salad on day 1, and Panda Express on day 2 (no, I didn't get kicked out for that one).  Saturday night dinner was at Blue Plate Oysterette in Santa Monica.  Nice place, but very pricey, and the oysters weren't really worth it (we're from Southern MD; we know oysters!).  For the jaunt down to San Diego, I had shrimp fajitas at Pokez; shrimp were kinda puny, but everything tasted great.  For lunch the next day, I went to South Beach Bar & Grill for some famous fish tacos.  I had one ceviche, one grilled shrimp, and one fried fish; they did not disappoint.

I spent a LOT of time in Santa Monica!  There's the pier to walk on, lots of restaurants and shopping nearby, even a grown-up playground!  I spent a good chunk of Thursday afternoon in a shop called Brandy Melville on the 3rd St. Promenade.  WOW.  Most of their tops are one size fits all- lots of loose flowy tanks and sweaters, and some stretchy camis & tube bras for layering- the possibilities are endless, and the prices weren't too shabby!  After I left, I just knew I could fit right in with the snooty hipsters.

If you're going to be a hobo, this is the place to do it.

Sunday morning before heading to San Diego, we went to the beach on the left side of the pier for a workout.  I felt pretty worn out just from watching all the monkey-people swinging and flipping around, but I got in a few jumping pullups, some half-assed dips (I'm gettin there!) and I climbed a rope!  I didn't make it all the way up, but I was still pretty thrilled because I could never climb the dreaded rope in PE class in school.  Now if I could just do a pullup...

I don't know those dudes, but I just had to get a pic!

While in San Diego, I got to check out Balboa Park, which was lovely.  The trolley driver's parents used to live in my town!  Kinda a coincidence because it is a somewhat rural area, but it is a Navy town.

Also, in Ocean Beach there were some dudes pulling a shark up the pier on a skateboard.  That is all.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Chicken-Artichoke Salad

This is what you do when you have leftover roasted chicken and excessive amounts of mayo!

*Makes 1 giant portion

2 cups torn lettuce
2 cups baby spinach leaves
A few slices of tomato
1 roasted chicken leg quarter, shredded
1/3 cup artichoke hearts, roughly chopped
1/4 cup mayo (make it yourself, it's worth it!)
A few sprinkles of italian seasoning and garlic powder

Here's the hard part:
-Fold together chicken, mayo, artichoke hearts, and seasonings
-Put chicken mixture and tomatoes atop greens

Monday, July 25, 2011

Today in: What Grinds my Gears- Barbell Edition!

I used to really enjoy ladies' health & fitness magazines, and CW-oriented fitness websites; consequently, I "liked" many of their pages on Facebook so their updates would show up on my feed.  My beliefs on health have really evolved a lot over the past year, so I generally don't find these updates useful any more, but it's become a bit of a guilty pleasure to engage in some light trolling (or "playing devil's advocate?") in the comments on their posts.  Really silly, I know.  I'm not snarky or rude, but I like to throw in my .02 when I see meat being demonized, oatmeal being lauded, chronic cardio encouraged, stuff like that. 

WELL, one popular fitness website posted a link on their Facebook page last week that pissed me off a little.  The idea of the article is that women should take up barbell training, which is great!  I've fallen in love with the barbell over the recent months, and I'd love to see more women do the same.  I, like so many others, felt limited to machines, little stretchy tubes with handles, and dainty pastel dumbbells for many years, and we can do better.  Here's the thing; the title of the article is "5 Exercises That Aren't Just for Men."  Okay...  They go on to describe some barbell exercises that I recognize, but they have been re-labeled with cutesy names such as the "Booty Toner" and "Sexy Back."  I have a couple problems with this:
  1. If these exercises "aren't just for men," how about we refer to them by their proper names?  It ain't a Booty Toner, it's a back squat.
  2. The descriptions of the lifts... how do I put this delicately?  Frankly my dear, they suck.  There are no pictures and the instructions are really vague.  If I were reading this article as someone who had very limited or no experience with barbells, these instructions would not give me warm fuzzies.  Cautious folks like myself probably wouldn't want to get out there and make an attempt, and more adeventurous types will probably give it a try and end up injuring themselves.
It's usually not easy to offend me, and I cringe at overly-politically-correctness, really I do; I pondered the possibility that maybe I was being a little oversensitive, but after seeing the all the other comments on the Facebook link, it became apparent that I was not alone!  On the plus side, the article will probably get a few more ladies curious about weightlifting, so maybe it isn't a total fail; I just hope those ladies find a better source of information to get started.

Maybe we should just stick with Body Fuzion...
Image courtesy of http://www.emagascene.com/

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Onward and Upward

I've been back to work on eating clean and re-deprogramming the sweet tooth; things are going well.  Monday and yesterday were really tough in the sweet tooth department- Monday I had two Larabars (usually I just have those once or twice a week), Tuesday I really wanted one, but I resisted temptation.  Yes, they are made of permitted ingredients, but are not to be used in the event of sugar tantrums, and that's what was going on for me!

In happier news, I have been pumping out some goodies in the kitchen!  The Clothes Make the Girl has been a great resource for me lately; doing the Whole30 is a lot easier when you have plenty of fun new recipes to try, and this site is chock-full of em.  I've finally achieved mayo success, which is awesome (and can serve as a base for all kinds of dressings and sauces), we've had some awesome "fried rice" made from cauliflower, and I used Melissa's pad thai recipe as inspiration for a really delish analogue for peanut noodles (I used a mixture of almond butter and tahini in the sauce).  I've also found a new fave side dish in these cucumber sesame noodles; they are really tasty and refreshing!  Everything's been really flavorful, and all great ways to get your veggies in when you can't rely on smothering them in butter :)

Cauli-fried rice with cucumber noodles- lunch of champs!

Monday, July 18, 2011

Pardon the interruption...

What is it about being in a different area code that makes people feel like they can do bad things and it doesn't count?

I went to Ocean City this past weekend.  I intended to stick to the Whole30 and came super prepared- I brought some canned goods, cooking oils, grassfed meat (our lovely friends lent us their condo which has a fully equipped kitchen!), even made and brought coffee creamer.  I also looked up a nearby health food store and was looking forward to checking it out.  Well, as we crossed the Bay Bridge to the Eastern shore of MD, I decided I could live with breaking my Whole30 by having a couple drinks with dinner the next night.  Well, the next morning, I decided to get an iced latte from McDonalds (I thought "hell, I'm already going to have drinks with dinner, meh!")  It was sooo sweet, I drank about 1/4 of it and tossed the rest- definitely a sign that ol' tastebuds were re-calibrating, woohoo!

Well, a couple drinks at dinner gave way to quite a few crappy choices.  The only really special thing I had was a sfogliatelle- the elusive lobster-tail pastry typically found in Italian bakeries in New York and New Jersey.  I had never had one (and didn't know when the opportunity would present itself again) so when I saw a tray full of these beauties at the cafĂ© near our condo, I got one.  I am glad I got to try one, but honestly, I didn't find it all that great!

SO now it's back to square one.  I tried to convince myself I was ok with all these crappy choices, but I wish I'd just stuck with the program.  Things had been going so well, and with all the tools I had at my disposal, it would not have been so hard to stick it out.  I'm paying the price though (my stomach is still feeling pretty off) and am definitely looking forward to feeling awesome again!

Sfogliatelle and digestive enzymes

The bucket of booze from my descent into madness

Friday, July 8, 2011

One week down!

I now have one week of the Whole30 behind me, woohoo!  I've pretty much given up on coffee, and I feel fine with it.  Adding coconut cream (the stuff from the top of the can) was ok, but I still found myself forcing the coffee down, and wishing it had truvia in it; don't want to keep playing with fire like that.  The boyfriend offered me some of his limited-time-only peach milkshake last night, and I easily turned it down (I don't think he totally gets that I can't even have a little bit of the forbidden stuff).  Normally I would've taken a big gulp of the thing and gone back for more (he loves his milkshakes, and I love stealing them from him; it doesn't count if I don't order my own, right?)

Occurences like that tell me I am improving my relationship with food and taking back control, and I like control! :)  For the 4th of July, I stayed in control by making and sharing side dishes that are Whole30 friendly, just saying "no thanks" to drinks and other things I'm not having right now, and asking for no BBQ sauce on my chicken.  Easy! 

Sweet potato salad, broccoli salad, free-range
chicken, and a piece of giant grassfed/local chuck steak!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Fancy Omelette for Two

Whenever I go to the grocery store, I pick up a pack of smoked salmon.  I hold it for awhile, put it back, look at it, put it in my cart, and put it back again.  It's really pricey!!  Weekend before last, I was at Trader Joe's and it was one of those rare occurences I actually went through with the purchase, and I made an omelette.

-5 eggs
-4 oz smoked wild salmon, roughly chopped
-2 tsp capers, rinsed
-2 TBS chopped tomato
-A few thin slices of red onion
-Cooking fat of choice: avocado oil would be great, I used some bacon grease

Beat the eggs.  For a long time, until nice & fluffy.  Heat your cooking fat over medium heat in a large pan, add the eggs.  Once they are almost set, add the salmon, capers, tomato and onion, then fold the omelette.  I cook it another minute on each side before serving.

Not the most photogenic breakfast...

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Whole30- Just Checkin' In

It's day 6 of my Whole30 Program, and it's going so great.  I'm not feeling any differently yet, but it's going great because I'm actually sticking with it.  I made it through 4th of July weekend pretty easily- there were 2 cookouts and even a night of sober karaoke, and I didn't really feel tempted at all, which was pretty cool. 

Yesterday, however, that was kinda tough!  It was my sister's birthday and the family got together for some Thai carryout.  I called the restaurant to make sure their curries were coconut-based as opposed to dairy (they were) and suggested some "meat-on-a-stick appetizers" to my dad, who was doing the ordering.  Despite all my planning ahead, I was severely wanting the spring rolls, the little wonton things, and the ice cream cake (it was Turkey Hill- I didn't know they even made ice cream cake!)  A couple times I almost made a grab for the naughty appetizers, but I resisted.  I knew it wasn't worth it to risk undoing all the progress I've made, and if the damn wontons are that great, there will be more of them next month.  I just kept telling myself that, and made it through the evening!

A lot of drama and self-congratulating over a little food, I know.  We get so used to treating ourselves and giving in to our desires all the time, and, well, we get spoiled.  I think of challenges like this as not only healing to the body, but a great exercise in restraint.  It's nice being a grownup and getting to do whatever you want, but eventually you've gotta learn to tell yourself "no."  And when you do, give yourself a little pat on the back! :)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Almond-Crusted Cod

This is one of those uber-easy, yet impressive-looking dishes!  I've been disappointed by the lack of wild salmon at my local BJs, but they do have wild haddock and cod; either is great in this recipe. 

Almond meal is something I like to just use in moderation; when I first went grain-free, I was going pretty buckwild with almond flour-based baked goods, but I've cut way back since learning about that pesky oxidized omega-6 :(  Yes, some things are too good to be true...  This makes 3 servings (I like to have leftovers to microwave at work the next day and stink up the office).

1 lb cod filet
3/4 cup almond meal *UPDATE* I have also done this with chopped, slivered almonds and liked it even better!
3 TBS melted clarified butter
1 lemon
1 tsp salt
2 tsp Italian seasoning, herbes de Provence or whatever herbs you like

- Preheat oven to 500
- Lay fish out on a cookie sheet lined with foil
- Combine other ingredients and spread evenly in a thin layer over the fish (if using almond meal, it should be a wet-doughy consistency)
- Bake for about ten minutes until fish is flaky and topping starts to darken; serve with lemon wedges

For sides, I just sauteed some quartered baby bella mushrooms and green beans with garlic.

I'm doing the Whole30! No BS this time!

Sound familiar?  Yep, I started a Whole30 for the new year, but quit a few days in :(  I started putting heavy cream and Truvia in my coffee again, had a few drinks on the weekend, and didn't get back on track.  So what's different this time?

  • I'm prepared!  Last weekend we went up to Annapolis to hit up Trader Joe's & Whole Foods to stock up on goodies, and I recently replenished my supply of grass-fed beef.  I also ordered more coconut oil and a couple packs of leaf lard to render so I won't be tempted to cook with my clarified butter.  I've been reading the Whole30 posts on the 9 Blog, perusing Chowstalker for recipes, and today I will be writing up a menu plan.  If I learned one thing from doing Weight Watchers, it's the value of planning meals- that was the key to my (albeit shortlived) success.
  • I have support!  The folks at Whole9 have opened an official Whole30 Facebook page, and I have started a smaller Facebook group with some folks from PaleoHacks, so we can have a lot of interaction and get to know each other a little better.  The beau has claimed he will participate too, but I don't forsee him giving up his peanut butter & protein powders just yet ;)  I've asked him to not tempt me with dinners and ice cream- if we go out to eat, we'll probably stick with Red Robin (they will wrap your burger in lettuce!) sushi (I can eat my weight in salmon sashimi) and maybe some local seafood places.  Having support at home goes a long way!
  • I've hit bottom!  While I feel immensely better since cutting out grains, I still have some lingering gut issues, and it's time to find the culprit.
  • Preparation+Support+Rock Bottom=Motivation and Excitement!  Last time I felt dread, this time I am STOKED!  I don't have the little voice saying "gee, I can't go all of July without my sangria" or "I'll probably end up having a cupcake or two," etc.  The "cheats" and "slip-ups" aren't worth it.  I just feel ready.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I've got a Golden Ticket!

I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge how SUPER STOKED I am about the fast-approaching Ancestral Health Symposium.  Things are coming together quite nicely- I was able to get one of the $25 student tickets, I got a great deal on a hotel thanks to a helpful tweet by Melissa Joulwan of The Clothes Make The Girl, and I'm also working on organizing a meetup for fellow PaleoHacks members!  If the beau and I can get plane tickets for a decent price, then I will be just thrilled :) 

The Paleo community is positively buzzing with nerdy excitement, and I am no exception!  Like it says on the homepage, this is "the Woodstock of Evolutionary Medicine;" all the people whose books and blogs I read daily are going to be together in one place, and I can't wait.  There are very few paleo folk here in Southern Maryland, and even fewer if you don't count my friends that I've converted; I'm really looking forward to meeting new people and learning some new things!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Mushroom Burger with Parsnip-Sweet Potato Hashbrowns

*Find this and other paleo recipes on Chowstalker!*

No story or sermon today, just hardcore food pr0n!

1 lb ground beef (I used pastured, not-100%-grassfed cow from Zekiah Farms)
4 oz sliced baby portabellas
2 slices of your favorite cheese (or not)
a couple cloves of garlic, chopped
2 TBS clarified butter or fat of choice

1 small sweet potato
2 parsnips
Salt and other seasonings to taste- I used some Trader Joe's 21 Seasoning Salute and Everyday Seasoning
1/2 cup duck fat

Saute mushrooms and garlic over medium high heat, set aside.  Make the hashbrowns- heat duck fat over medium-high heat, shred sweet potato and parsnips, and add to pan.  Add seasonings and stir every few minutes until browned to your liking (about 10-15 minutes).  While the hash browns are cooking, make your burgers- I made mine about 1/2lb each, about 1 inch thick, sprinkled on some TJ's Everyday Seasoning, and made indentions with my fingers to help them stay flat while cooking.  I did four minutes on the first side, flipped them, added the mushrooms and cheese, and cooked about 3 or 4 more minutes on medium-high heat for medium burgers.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Roasted Duck Salad with Berry Vinaigrette

*Find this and other great recipe ideas at Chowstalker!*

"Eating paleo is too expensive!"  Well, you better call the whaaambulance because I just got a duck at BJs for six bucks the other day.  There are some great deals to be had if you look for them- check out markdowns on items hitting the sale date (as was the case for this duck), invest some time in researching deals on pastured meats, get local produce if you can, you know the drill!

Had I made this duck on a non-work day, I would have used this method, but due to time constraints, I compressed the time down to about three hours, roasting at 325 degrees.  I definitely found that scoring the skin, poking and flipping periodically helped the duck to give off a lot of fat- 1 whole cup to be exact.  Can't wait to use this on some roasted veggies, hash browns, etc. 

Roasted Duck Salad (1 serving):
1 roasted duck breast
3 cups of your fave salad greens
2 TBS coarsely chopped pecans
1 TBS crumbled feta (blue cheese would probably be great, if you're into that)
Berry Vinaigrette, to taste

Berry Vinaigrette (4 servings):
1/4 cup raspberries and/or blackberries (I used a mix)
3 TBS extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBS apple cider vinegar
2 tsp dijon mustard
2 tsp honey

While the duck is roasting, toast the pecans- just put them in a pan on medium-low heat, and cook until they start to get a little color on them (swirl the pan around every couple of minutes); set aside.  For the dressing, just whiz everything together with a blender, or press berries through a seive and whisk all the ingredients together.  After your duck is rested and carved, just put everything together on a plate and drizzle with some vinaigrette.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Coconut Chicken Curry

Find this recipe and hundreds of others on Chowstalker!

Yesterday I checked out the new Asian grocery store in town and found some great stuff!  I came away with a couple cans of curry paste, some frozen coconut meat, pork rinds, fish sauce and a couple other things.  I was hoping for some young Thai coconuts, but they don't carry them (I did tell the staff that I will buy coconuts if they stock them!  I usually have good results from requesting products at small shops like this).  There are plenty of gems to be found at Asian groceries, but sugar, MSG, wheat & soy were lurking everywhere; I accidentally bought pork rinds with MSG in them (this place even sold MSG by the bag!  Apparently it is also known as "umami spice").  After I got home, I made a big pot of chicken curry to bring in for lunch throughout the week, and I must say, it is BANGIN.

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into strips
1 can coconut milk (refrigerate this, scoop out the cream, and either toss the water or use it in a smoothie)
1 medium onion, sliced
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
enough of your favorite curry paste for 4 servings (I used panang curry)
2 TBS coconut butter
2 TBS coconut oil
2 TBS chopped kaffir lime leaves
1 TBS prepared lemongrass

-Over medium heat, cook curry paste with coconut oil for a couple minutes
-Add onions and cook until they start to soften
-Add the cream from your chilled coconut milk, lemongrass, coconut, and chicken
-Turn heat to low, and cook (stirring occasionally) until chicken is cooked through; about 25 minutes
-Stir in lime leaves & coconut butter, serve over steamed broccoli or roasted cauliflower

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Lovely lunches

Inspired by a Balanced Bites post dedicated to lettuce wraps, I picked up a head of Boston lettuce last week.  The great thing about Boston lettuce (aside from its wrap-ability) is that it is still living, and consequently stays good in the fridge for quite awhile.  I brought a few leaves and whatnot into the office and made these bad boys:

Oooh, doesn't that look fancy?  For the filling, I just used some cold rotisserie chicken, bacon, guacamole, and some tomato slices; super easy!

Today I did another bigass salad (this was the second time I've found an adorable baby slug crawling around on my lettuce- eek!)

I brought in some lettuce mix, bacon, rotisserie chicken (I don't eat these all the time, I swear) & dressing, and added some spinach, broccoli, carrot, onion, radish, boiled egg, and a few sunflower seeds from the office salad bar.

Now to think of some semi-homemade lunches sans bacon and rotisserie chicken...

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Super-fancy chicken

It's always been hit or miss when it comes to chicken breast; not any more!  I was never sure how long to cook it, and it would always either end up under-cooked, or dried out.  As usual, bacon to the rescue!  Stuffing the chicken and wrapping it in bacon keeps the chicken moist, and makes it non-boring, of course.

 This recipe can be great for when you have company- it looks impressive but ir surprisingly easy, and to top it off, it's pretty un-mess-up-able.   It's also versatile- you can try it with different leafy greens, different cheeses (if you do cheese), you could wrap it in pancetta, you get the idea.

4 chicken breasts
2 oz Kerrygold Blarney Castle cheese, cut into 4 pieces
1 bag (12 oz?) baby spinach
2 garlic cloves, chopped
8-12 slices of bacon, depending on how large your chicken breasts are

-Start by sauteeing the spinach with the garlic until it wilts; set aside on a piece of paper towel to absorb excess moisture.
-Butterfly the chicken breasts so they open up flat, season with a little salt & pepper
-Divide spinach and cheese between the chicken breasts, and close them back up
-Wrap each piece of chicken in bacon.  Usually 2 slices per chicken breast works for me
-Lay chicken seam side down on a baking sheet, and bake at 375 for about 25 minutes
-If you want to crisp up the bacon, stick the pan under the broiler for a few minutes after baking
-Serve with a sexy side dish, or cold over salad

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Anchovy+Raw Egg= Crazy Delicious

Everyone loves a Caesar salad, but I wonder how many people have ever had one with homemade dressing.  Well, I can assure you it's pretty dang tasty!  Just get over the heebie-jeebies, think of it as a sum of its parts, get your ass to the store, and buy some anchovies.

As often as I eat salads, I can't justify buying most bottled dressings from the store; they are almost always made with soybean and/or canola oil.  If I find the rare "safe" dressing, I'll buy it, and I like to make my own as well.  I found the recipe for this Caesar dressing on Free The Animal; I love the uncomplicated meal ideas, and I really love Richard's rants!  For my salad, I tossed the dressing with a few handfuls of salad mix from my fave local farm, some Caesar cheese mix from BJs, and topped it with some chicken tenders that had been marinated a couple hours in equal parts lemon juice and olive oil, and baked at 425 for about ten minutes. 



A few weeks ago, I found that one of my local farms is selling small portions of grassfed beef, woohoo!  Well, I was really saddened this weekend to learn that they have stopped.  Apparently, they were encountering too many roadblocks with the county government, and it got to be too much of a hassle.  I'm not surprised- I always hear about small family operations like that running into difficulties because of government wanting to control the wrong things; now I'm seeing it in my own backyard.  Maybe because of my German-ness, I've never seen much of an issue with a strong government, but this stuff really grinds my gears! 
A couple weekends back, I finally watched the documentary King Corn, and it was really excellent.  I'd been putting it off because, well, corn is kinda boring.  The film was really informative, and was actually quite entertaining.  I'm a big believer in voting with your dollars, now more than ever.  Not only do I want to eat the healthiest foods possible, I want to be a compassionate consumer.  I do this by trying to support businesses that treat their workers, lands and animals well, instead of supporting the industrial farming machine and government subsidies I don't believe in.  Let's be part of the solution!

Would you rather support this farm?

Or this one?

Monday, May 9, 2011

Sidelined, and more salad!

My Meetup group (SoMD Wild) had our first Meetup this past Saturday!  We did a hike/run around a lake in the county, and had some food after; good times had by all.  It was about half runners and half hikers (plus our incorrigible Vizsla, Baxter); I'm guessing I probably jogged about 2 miles and walked the other 5.5.  Well, I have totally not been running lately- my right ankle was getting pretty hurty during my running spurts; it just felt like pretty normal running discomfort, so I ran as much as I could.  I was in my Vibrams and I think maybe I overdid it.  I've pretty much just been doing barbell stuff the last couple of months, and while the old shin pain didn't return, I may have been a little overambitious in doing 7.5 miles practically barefoot.  Anyhoo, as soon as I got home, my left foot started hurting.  Over the next couple hours, it started feeling like I sprained my ankle, even though I didn't do anything to it!  I stubbed my right toe and the right ankle was the one hurting on the trail, but it's two days later, and I'm still limping around.  So, I'm off to the doc tomorrow, hopefully to figure out what is going on.

In other news, got some more awesome local produce on Friday.  More organic salad mix, a couple dozen pastured eggs from our local Amish friends, baby arugula, asparagus, tomatoes, and rosemary.  All for fifteen bucks!  Ergo, today's lunch was another glorious salad!  It's with boiled egg, tomato, avocado, and some awesome peppery bacon, topped with Tessemae's lemon salad dressing.  Mmmm...  Thanks to my sweet new iPhone, here's a non-terrible cell pic.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Local produce-gasm!

I am eating the most delicious salad for lunch and felt compelled to write about it right away.  It has turkey lunch meat on it, but bear with me.  Said turkey is resting upon a mountain of gorgeous salad greens and boiled eggs from a farm in my area.  I added a dressing I picked up from Whole Foods- the ONLY paleo-friendly dressing I have ever seen in a grocery store!  It's called Tessemae's All-Natural Lemon-Garlic Dressing, and it's from Annapolis, a little over an hour from where I live.  All it has in it is olive oil, lemon, garlic, salt, and mustard.  Oh, and of course I added several strips of crumbled bacon.

Anyhoo, this salad mix (from the Funny Farm in Callaway, MD) is amazing.  It has some baby lettuce, arugula, some other leafy stuff and herbs I can't identify, and the result is super tasty.  Like, I never knew the base of a salad could be so good; it usually doesn't taste like much of anything!  I had been trying to call this farm to see about doing a tour with my Meetup group, but the phone number I found online was no good.  I sucked it up and headed over to the farm last weekend.  I went into their store and discovered they sell eggs and butter from the local Amish; score!  When I went to the fridge to get some, the lady at the counter told me about the salad greens, so I grabbed a bag of that too.  I asked her about their beef, if they just sell by the side or quarter, and she let me know there were steaks and ground beef in the freezer.  OH SNAP!  I had been ordering grassfed beef from Vermont, unaware that there was a source of smaller quantities, right on my own backyard.  All because I'm lazy and over-dependent on the internet!  So yeah, I'm so glad I popped in; now I have a new source for cheap, top-quality eggs and butter, and steaks too.

Soon I will have a new phone with a better camera.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

My Whole9 Virtual Workshop Experience!

Last week I saw on Whole9 that they would be piloting a new virtual workshop format, and would be selecting a handful of readers to participate in a free trial run.  Well, I am a major Melissa & Dallas fan, and they have quite a following, so imagine my delight when I saw that I had made the cut!  I submitted questions inquiring about their thoughts on cholesterol (and cholesterol meds), how much importance they place on organ meats, and about nutritional preparation for Tough Mudder (still toying with the idea of actually doing this).  There will be a future workshop focusing on endurance training, so my last question would be a better fit for when that event happens, but I got some great info on the other two, and also got a lot of good tidbits from the other participants' questions.

First off, I am pretty interested in cholesterol.  I remember the first time one of my friends told me that saturated fat intake and cholesterol was never proven to cause heart disease; I probably looked at her like she had eight heads.  Well, eventually I decided to stop believing things on the grounds they are repeated so much, everyone takes them as gospel.  The fact of the matter is, this whole idea is borne of a scientist cherry-picking data to suit his own pre-conceived notion, not good science.  These days, you can't watch TV for than half an hour without seeing a commercial for a cholesterol medication, showing some fit, active, middle-aged individual for whom "diet and exercise isn't enough."  Crestor is their final hope against certain death! Wellll, not necessarily.  There are millions of Americans on drugs to artificially lower their cholesterol, and there is much debate as to how effective these drugs are at preventing heart disease, especially in women.  Anyhoo, Dallas & Melissa's take was that high cholesterol is not the cause of heart disease, but a symptom of inflammation (which is an accepted factor for heart disease), and we are better off concentrating our efforts on reducing inflammation by living a healthy lifestyle, rather than lowering cholesterol artificially.  Right on!

In other news, I was relieved to learn that the Whole9 folks are totally cool with my not eating liver, woohoo!  Grassfed offal can be a wonderful source of nutrients, but we don't need to worry about missing out on anything by sticking to muscle meats, of course along with various veggies.  I do have a grassfed beef liver in my freezer, and I WILL defrost and eat it one day, but I'm not going to sweat it after that.

There were some great questions from the other participants about stuff like gluten and protein powders for PWO nutrition.  One person reported that they were able to re-introduce gluten with no ill effects, and was wondering if that meant they could keep eating it.  Dallas explained that gluten can increase gut permeability and the damage can build up over time, even if an individual doesn't feel bad after eating it.  They categorized it as one of those things you should only eat if it's in the form of something really special and tasty.  I myself am gluten intolerant, so it's gotten pretty easy for me to resist temptation! 

As for protein powders, of course Melissa and Dallas recommend having real food after workouts, but they do recognize that life gets in the way, and sometimes a protein shake is in order.  They do not recommend whey protein though, which is a popular choice among paleo folk who shake it up.  Egg white protein is a superior choice because it doesn't elicit the inflammatory and insulin responses that dairy products do, and because it tastes like crap.  Yes, it is a better choice because it tastes like crap- protein shakes are convenience food, and you can't have your cake and eat it too (definitely don't eat cake after your workout!)For example, I have been having several whey protein shakes a week- chocolate flavored, and blended with delicious fruits and almond milk.  But, but, I go to a Crossfit affiliate 40 minutes away, and I'm just trying to get my post workout meal in as soon as possible!  Well, I'm going to suck it up and bring some real food to eat after my workouts- it really isn't that hard to make a big batch of mashed sweet potatoes & boiled eggs to eat over the course of the week.  And if I don't make the time make that happen, well, I'm not rewarding myself with a delicious chocolatey concoction.  Tough love!

So yeah, what a cool experience!  I'm really looking forward to signing up for future virtual workshops, and am so glad I had the chance to participate in the pilot.  I really like their style- they tell it like it is (but very nicely), and they make things easy to understand for us non-sciencey folk; if they hold a workshop on a topic that interests you, totally check it out!

Just fruit & coconut milk, I swear!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Food Pr0n

I have been massively delinquient in my posting lately, and I don't want to lose my five readers, so here's some food porn to tide ya over!  I apologize in advance if there are any duplicates here, and I will post full recipes for some of these soon.  Work, yada yada, school, yada yada, you get the idea...

Roasted duck with sauteed asparagus and blue skillet taters

Chicken breast wrapped in bacon with green beans
and teeny-tiny potatoes from Trader Joe's

An in-progress omelette- baby arugula and
Blarney Castle cheese

The bacon-wrapped chicken in leftover form:
over spinach salad!

I better warn my sister to avert her eyes- runny yolk alert!
(She has runny-yolk issues)

Soft-boiled egg, sauteed spinach, and oil-poached salmon