A Case for Baby Steps

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If you’re either new to Paleo or you’ve recently decided to make positive lifestyle/healthy changes of any kind, I have the single most important article you could possibly read. It’s called “A Case for Baby Steps” by Jason Seib, author of the upcoming Paleo Coach book (which comes out on my birthday, incidentally).

While we can read piles of research and be convinced healthy change must happen…in our head…it’s quite another thing to actually carry it out when the hectic work-week sets in. Old habits die hard. One mistake turns to two. Then the feeling of failure sets in, then defeat. Then we give up.

But did you know your willpower is an expendable commodity? Did you know people who are successful often don’t possess MORE willpower than those who fail? They simply change their way of thinking and plan ahead–they essentially learn how to balance their willpower budget, so to speak. They learn not to go “over budget.” 

So whether you’re quitting smoking, starting to run, cutting sugar, it doesn’t matter. Read this article now. Then read it again in a few days. There’s a lot there to think about and if you follow his advice I don’t see you failing if you’re serious.

You can click the link above or click HERE.

Happy Hunting.

Menu Ideas

Recently I’ve had several close friends and coworkers choose to give Paleo a try. I desire to help them in any way I can, but since there is no “formula” or stock approach I find myself at a loss. There are so many things which work for me that might not be effective for them; the opposite is true as well. For instance, I don’t tolerate sugar very well–my battles with sugar cravings are pretty epic–so I’m very careful about sugar, even in dressings and sauces that I use sparingly. For other people, like my wife, certain saturated fats seem to give problems.

But when I was asked what my “average” day might look like food-wise, what I intended to be a quick email replay had blown itself up into a rather lengthy run-down. When I was asked a similar question by a different co-worker a few days later, I simply forwarded my previous email. Then when I was asked the same question again on Facebook, I decided this might be the sort of thing a new paleo eater might benefit from. So I’m reproducing my email response below containing my most trustworthy go-to recipes that are absolute staples in our home. While I take great satisfaction in preparing more time/labor intensive meals, nothing quite matches the satisfaction of a meal with a high flavor-to-effort ratio. For my money, every single one of these recipes is hard to beat for flavor–especially considering they all require almost zero effort or time.

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Got a Plan

The key for me to not “falling off the wagon” is to be prepared. I plan the whole week’s meals on the weekend and literally write what I’m making for each day. I plan crock pot meals for the days I’m super busy–which for me tends to be Thursdays.  Here are a few of my “go-to” things to keep me honest:

Breakfast:

  • First of all, breakfast doesn’t have to be “normal.” I very regularly scarf down leftover meat with a handful of carrots or other veggie in the morning.
  • Bacon/ham/sausage/leftover meat in a scramble/omelet with every veggie in my fridge handy (onions, squash, spinach, even broccoli, Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes…whatever I have handy. Often I season with things like chili powder, chipotle, etc.
  • Another variation is to mix the previous one up in a big bowl and then pour into muffin tins and bake at 350 for about 20-25 mins or so to make essentially egg cupcake/muffins. I made a few dozen on the weekend and freeze—pull 1-2 out in the morning and nuke for a minute and you’ve got insta-breakfast.
  • You can always add some fruit in the morning too—grapes, cantaloupe, bananas, kiwis are a great side to the “main thing”
  • Frittata: Make a huge one and stick the leftovers in the fridge/freezer–great for reheating for a quick morning breakfast. This is a great way to clean out the fridge with any veggies or leftover meat hanging around–I also like sweet potatoes in these or even salsa. Serve with avocado.
  • I make latkes—shredded sweet potato held together with egg…just mix in a bowl…makes a sort of sweet potato pancake…sprinkle with cinnamon—super tasty

Lunch:

  • 99% of the time I’m eating leftover dinner from the night before–no leftovers? Why not? Intentionally cook extra, planning ahead for tomorrow’s lunch. This saves a lot of time, as you only prep once for two meals.
  • Throw meat (pulled pork, leftover steak/chicken/etc.) right over salad greens or spinach or chopped cabbage.
  • Wrap lunch meat around avocado and some cucumber slices.
  • Did I mention leftover dinner? Seriously–why make your life hard? Everyday Paleo has some good lunch ideas if you’re a glutton for prepping lots of meals every day.
  • For dressing, I’ve learned extra virgin olive oils are not created equal—buy good ones that come in dark bottles. The color should not be yellow, but more green. Store in a dark cabinet sealed tightly—light and oxygen make it go rancid quickly. The yellow stuff in clear bottles is largely synthetic (and won’t say so anywhere on the label)—they do this to make it more light insensitive so it can sit on the shelf longer. Hence the need for darker bottles. Use a good extra virgin olive oil and some balsamic. Or try one of thesehttp://wodrope.com/blog/8-free-paleo-salad-dressing-recipes/).
  • Make a mango salsa (http://balancedbites.com/2010/09/easy-recipe-fresh-mango-salsa.html) and throw anything over it—fish, chicken, whatever—it’s super quick—I also do this for dinner a lot
  • Wrap: trader joe’s has “just the leaves” and it’s huge romaine lettuce leaves already broken apart ready for wraps—way easier than pulling off a head of lettuce. I’ll throw any meat (bacon, chicken, lunch meats like salami, pulled pork, etc.) in there with avocado, tomato, and whatever else I have laying around.

Dinner:

  • Besides steak and veggie side…
  • Buy a cross rib roast (cheap at R&R or any butcher) and make this. It’s super fast and super easy and will taste almost as good as prime rib, I swear:http://robbwolf.com/2011/11/19/cross-rib-roast-for-a-tasty-dinner-with-three-kinds-of-leftovers/
  • Easiest pulled pork ever: http://everydaypaleo.com/beyond-easy-pulled-pork/ — I made this for a friend and now it’s a staple in his household as well – throw over salad, in a wrap, in a stir fry, by itself—very versatile. Make a bunch and freeze some if necessary. I’ve eaten this for every meal of the day before when busy.
  • Cauliflower mashed potatoes: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/1657598867/best-make-ahead-side-garlic-cauliflower-mashed – don’t be scared. I make these every week and look forward to it every time. Even if you don’t like cauliflower you’ll find this tasty.
  • Crock Pot: throw chicken thighs (they slow cook better than the chicken breasts because of the higher fat content) in the crock pot with chicken broth, onion-carrot-celery, and season with sea salt, pepper, thyme, and sage (don’t be shy with the thyme and sage) and let cook while you’re at work. Come home to easy dinner. Easy to reheat leftovers. The variations on this are endless…change up the veggies, use curry and coconut milk instead…whatever you have on hand.
  • Pecan crusted chicken: http://everydaypaleo.com/pecan-crusted-chicken/ –when you need a “breaded” chicken this is amazing.
  • Broccoli: forget how you cook broccoli. There is no other way in the world better than this: http://nomnompaleo.com/post/1626061164/roasted-broccoli-bacon-recipe — I’m too lazy to flip them halfway through…I just let it cook the whole time undisturbed
  • Whole chicken: I’ll take a whole chicken and rub it down with a seasoning (I love the burrito bandito chicken seasoning but anything will do) and throw it on a bed of onions in the crock pot. Pour in a few cups chicken broth and cook on low for 5-6 hours). Say what you will about the oven being better (and it is) this is easier. Bonus…you can add the onions and broth to the blender with a few tablespoons butter and blend and end up with a tasty (but thin) gravy for the chicken. Paleo gravy, who knew?!

This is just a small start….I have so much more, but these are things I make pretty often. I hope this helps, but don’t hesitate to ask if you need anything!

Documentaries I Recommend

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I recently watched a great documentary on Netflix called “Hungry for Change.” Based on the book by the same title, the documentary does a tremendous job of inspiring the viewer to take personal health into one’s own hands. While documentaries of this nature are starting to “crop up” (see what I did there?) more often these days, this one seems to do a something the others do not, and that is to stay extremely simple. While I personally found myself wishing for more “science” the entire time, by the end I realized they had intentionally left this out–instead relying heavily on common sense, logic, and anecdotal evidence. What results is a very compelling and inspirational–I’d even say empowering–movie. You walk away from the film feeling like you really can take control of your health with a few small steps and some patience. Their biggest points are:

  1. Processed food is even worse than you think it is. Did you know MSG can hide behind over 50 different names on an ingredients list and is used to enhance the flavor of over 80% of processed foods? How about that aspartame causes headaches and cancer? 
  2. Great advice: don’t try to go 100% changed all at once–make a single, sustainable and healthy choice, then another, then another. Don’t set yourself up for failure.
  3. Scientifically proven fact: certain combinations of sugar and certain additives are addictive–and the food companies are well aware of this. This essentially makes processed foods a drug. The movie makes an apt comparison to the cigarette industry and their inclusion of addictive nicotine to increase sales to the additives and sugar used by the food industry to increase sales. You can’t sell drugs or alcohol to a child, but we sell them sugar. No different and yet totally legal.

My biggest gripe withe the movie is their emphasis toward the latter third on juicing as well as a veiled stab at eating animal protein. The reason I’m against juicing is that it is simply so much more ideal to actually EAT the vegetables and fruits. Juicing them increases your sugar intake, and you miss out on all the dietary fiber. Further, although they don’t come right out and say it, the preponderance of phrases like “vegetable-based diet” hint at the movie’s Vegan/Vegetarian stance. To their credit, it is left relatively understated–their message about processed foods being their primary concern. Overall, I highly recommend this film–especially if you have Netflix and can watch for free.

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While the documentary Forks Over Knives is very inspirational and informative, it is unfortunately littered with incorrect information, which has been debunked many places, including here. The biggest problem with Forks over Knives is that the backbone of their argument for a Vegan Diet is based entirely on the famous China Study, which has been debunked here and here, among many other places. Despite its flaws, the underlying message of the movie represents a watershed moment in my own personal life, ironically inspiring me to go Paleo. While I disagree with their conclusion we must eliminate all animal based foods, I agree with their admonition that Food is Medicine.

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Then there’s King Corn, also available on Netflix. This movie will not entertain you–it will make you angry. Despite this, it is a must-see documentary which will open your eyes to something you already know but don’t want to think about: our food industry is driven more by money and politics than it is by science. This even comes down to USDA recommendations and, as a result, what is fed to children in schools every day. Watch, but be ready to hug someone you love afterward.

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I can’t say enough about this movie. Go watch it. No, it’s not free. I bought it on iTunes but you can stream on Amazon for $4 using this link here. While not as strictly entertaining as movies like Hungry for Change or Forks over Knives, this movie presents the most compelling case for the Paleo Diet I’ve ever seen. It’s a bit like reading Robb Wolf’s The Paleo Solution or Dr. Loren Cordain’s The Paleo Diet in documentary form.

Main points which stick out to me:

  1. Compare herbivorous animals’ GI tract with that of carnivores’ and you will see our own system is obviously like other carnivorous animals and clearly meant to eat meat.
  2. Going to the fossil record (the movie goes out to dig out sites and interviews paleontologists) they have actually broken down and analyzed the bones and can ascertain how much (and what type) of food people ate 100,000 years ago…50,000 years ago…10,000 years ago…and can see in onset of chronic diseases, diabetes, cancer, and autoimmune issues with the onset of agriculture and the introduction of wheat into our diet, and then obesity (which arrives with the onset of readily available sugar).

Of all the movies on this list, I recommend this one the most.

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The last movie I’m going to mention is one I haven’t even watched yet. It’s called Statin Nation. Jason Seib, contributor to Everyday Paleo, has called this the single most important film any American could be watching right now.

This is from the movie’s website:

We are told that cholesterol is a major cause of heart disease. At least 40 million people are currently taking cholesterol-lowering medications, known as statins, and millions more people are avoiding foods that contain saturated fat and cholesterol.

The basic idea is that dietary saturated fat raises cholesterol levels, and these two substances somehow clog-up our arteries, causing a heart attack. This idea is often referred to as the diet-heart hypothesis.

However, a numbers of doctors and researchers have been challenging this hypothesis for decades, and the latest heart disease statistics reveal some alarming facts. Such as:

● People with high cholesterol tend to live longer

● People with heart disease tend to have low levels of cholesterol

● Cholesterol-lowering of a population does not reduce the rate of heart disease

In addition, despite their widespread use, and description as “wonder drugs” statin medications do not extend life for the majority of people who take them.

Cholesterol-lowering has become a huge global industry, generating at least $29 billion each year. Have the facts about heart disease, cholesterol and cholesterol medications been distorted by pharmaceutical companies  and food manufacturers keen to increase their profits?

If the focus on cholesterol has been a mistake, then the greatest cost is associated with the lost opportunity to tackle heart disease.

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I also must mention a documentary still in the works called In Defense of Fat. While still in production, this movie will be addressing the long-standing misunderstanding (awkward phrasing there) that fat makes people fat–it does not. Excessive sugar makes people fat. I highly recommend you head to their site, like them on Facebook, follow on Twitter, and all that other good stuff–so you know how their progress is coming. I expect teaser clips before not too long.

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If you watch any of these, I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment, send me a tweet, or just shout really loud and maybe I’ll hear you.

Happy Hunting!

Let Me Make Your New Year’s Resolution for You

My wife bought me the “Pessimist” Calendar from despair.com for Christmas. I’ve loved this demotivational site for years and own a few of their posters. Their black, ironic humor is always able to bring a smile to my face, no matter what sort of day I am having. Here’s the entry for January 1st, 2013:

  • 45% of Americans usually make New Year’s Resolutions, yet only 8% actually achieve their goals.
  • 38% of Americans refuse to make any resolutions and are 100% successful at achieving the goals they refuse to set.
  • People in their 20s are 2.5x more likely to achieve their resolutions than those over 50, yet are still most likely doomed to fail.
  • 24%of people fail on their resolution each year, yet still keep making them. (These are the eternal optimists. Avoid if possible. Mock openly if not.)

Although I cannot vouch for the accuracy of the numbers, they convey a definite degree of truth.

We like to set goals. It doesn’t matter if we keep them; we just like to set them.

In a recent podcast, Jason Seib pointed out that the act of actually setting a goal/resolution actually releases a dopamine response in our brain–in other words, it feels good. We get this response whether it is a short-term or a long-term goal. But here’s the problem:

Long-Term Setting Isn’t Human Nature

Now, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing. It takes long term planning to get through school, to buy a house, to raise a family, etc. But it’s difficult to stay motivated in a long-term situation. We are far more successful if we can break a large goal into short-term goals. Four years of college becomes semesters, classes, finals, essays, homework.

We can apply the same principle to our own New Year’s Resolutions in order to be more successful. Rather than jumping on an unsustainable diet, workout plan, ect…why don’t you address your biggest vice first instead of immediately trying to change it all at once?

Trying to give up all refined  and processed sugars? Instead of removing all sweets, try removing your favorite source of sugar–be it soda, peppermint mochas, diet coke (artificial sweeteners are just as bad for you, kids–sorry if this bursts your bubble–here’s a link to a piece on artificial sweeteners, with 3 separate cited studies for evidence). Once you’ve made the first cut, others can follow incrementally.

Maybe it’s a bit much to suddenly become an avid jogger overnight. Perhaps you get to bed a half an hour earlier and fit a brisk 10 minute walk into each day instead. This is sustainable and likely to lead to more walking, then perhaps running in its place. These small steps will be much easier than going full-blown right out of the gates.

So all this being said, I have a suggested New Year’s Resolution which is both sustainable and more likely to actually make you a healthier person than whatever it was you already had cooked up. Ready for this?

Reduce the Impact of Stress & Improve Your Sleep

Here’s the thing: you can eat a perfect diet, exercise regularly, and take all the right supplements, but if you’re not sleeping well and managing your stress, all bets are off.

The following thoughts comes from Chris Kresser and his most recent blog post:

I recommend setting a different goal that will bring more meaningful wellness to your life, from methods that don’t involve self-deprivation – no new diet or exercise routine required. You may find that sticking to these alternative resolutions is not only easier, but more enjoyable and more beneficial to your health and happiness in the long run. And you may find that they even help you lose weight!

I love how he focuses on making a resolution which doesn’t involve self-deprivation. Deprivation will only lead us to inevitable failure. Here’s how this works:

Reduce Stress

  • Learn to say “no”. Know your limits, and don’t take on projects or commitments you can’t handle.
  • Avoid people who stress you out. You know the kind of person I’m talking about. Drama kings and queens. People who are constantly taking and never giving. Limit your time with these people or avoid them entirely.
  • Turn off the news (or at least limit your exposure to it). If watching the world go up in flames stresses you out, limit your exposure to the news. You’ll still find out what’s going on, and still be able to act as a concerned citizen. But you’ll have more time for yourself.
  • Give up pointless arguments. This is especially true for useless internet debating. There is obviously a place for discussion and debate, and working towards change. But have you noticed that most arguments don’t lead to change? In fact, they tend to have the opposite effect – each side becomes more defended and entrenched in their worldview. Find other ways to get your point across, learn to listen with empathy, and don’t waste precious time and energy trying to convert fundamentalists to your “religion.”
  • Escape the tyranny of your to-do list. Each day spend some time in the morning really considering what needs to be done that day. Drop unimportant tasks to the bottom of the list. Better yet, cross them off entirely. The world will go on.

Mitigate the Harmful Effects of Stress You Can’t Avoid

Obviously there are times when we just can’t avoid stress. Maybe we have a high-stress job, or we’re caring for an ailing parent, or we’re having difficulty with our partner or spouse. In these situations it’s not about reducing stress itself, but about reducing its harmful effects.

  • Reframe the situation. We experience stress because of the meaning we assign to certain events or situations. Sometimes changing our perspective is enough to relieve the stress. For example, being stuck in traffic can be a “disaster” or it could be an opportunity for contemplation and solitude.
  • Lower your standards. This is especially important for you perfectionists out there. Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Let good enough be good enough.
  • Practice acceptance. One of my teachers used to say “All suffering is caused by wishing the moment to be other than it is.” Many things in life are beyond our control. Learn to accept the things you can’t change.
  • Be grateful. Simply shifting your focus from what is not okay or not enough, to what you’re grateful for or appreciative of can completely change your perspective – and relieve stress.
  • Cultivate empathy. When you’re in a conflict with another person, make an effort to connect with their feelings and needs. If you understand where they’re coming from, you’ll be less likely to react and take it personally.
  • Manage your time. Poor time management is a major cause of stress. When you’re overwhelmed with commitments and stretched too thin, it’s difficult to stay present and relaxed. Careful planning and establishing boundaries with your time can help.

Improve Sleep

Let me say this again: you can eat a perfect diet and take all the right supplements, but if you’re not sleeping well and managing your stress, you simply won’t see real results.

Did you know that fewer than 6 hours of sleep per day is associated with low-grade chronic inflammation and worsening insulin resistance, as well as increased risk for obesity, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease? This is especially significant in light of a recent cross sectional study demonstrating that nearly one-third of US adults get less than 6 hours of sleep per 24 hour period.

Inadequate rest impairs our ability to think, to handle stress, to maintain a healthy immune system and to moderate our emotions. It’s associated with heart disease, hypertension, weight gain, diabetes and a wide range of psychiatric disorders including depression and anxiety.

The following is an abbreviated list of some of the more damaging effects of sleep deprivation:

  • Impaired immune system: a study from the University of California found that even modest sleep loss weakens the immune systems response to disease and injury.
  • Overweight and obesity: Recent studies have shown that even one night of poor sleep can result in dramatic changes in appetite and food intake. Others have shown that restricting sleep to 5 hours a night for just one week impairs carbohydrate tolerance and insulin sensitivity. Researchers now believe that sleep deprivation is the single best predictor of overweight and obesity in children – which has become an alarming problem. Finally, a brand-new study shows that not getting enough sleep causes fatty liver disease.
  • Cognitive decline: sleep deprivation negatively impacts short-term and working memory, long-term memory and the generation of nerve cells – all of which effects our ability to think clearly and function well.
  • Mood and mental health: anyone who has had a few nights of poor sleep can tell you that insomnia is associated with depression. Insufficient sleep shuts down the pre-frontal cortex and can cause or exacerbate a number of psychological conditions, ranging from anxiety to PTSD to depression.
  • Systemic inflammation: as I already mentioned above, sleep deprivation causes chronic, low-grade inflammation. And we now know that inflammation is the root of all modern disease.
  • Increased risk of death. Last, but certainly not least, not getting enough sleep reduces your lifespan.

So What Can I Do?

Reduce your exposure to artificial light: Artificial light disrupts our circadian rhythm and throws off our sleep. Just a single ‘pulse’ of artificial light at night disrupts the circadian mode of cell division, which can not only impact our sleep, but also increase our risk of cancer. Another study showed that the blue light emitted from alarm clocks and other digital devices suppresses melatonin production in a dose-dependent manner.

Follow these tips to avoid light exposure:

  • Don’t use a computer for 2 hours before going to bed. No staying up late on Facebook and Twitter!
  • Use blackout shades to make your bedroom pitch black.
  • Cover your digital alarm clock or get an analog clock.
  • Turn off all digital devices that glow or give off any type of light.
  • If you can’t do these things for some reason, use a sleep mask.

Other Tips for Sleep

  • Don’t bee too full–or too hungry
  • Go to bed earlier!

But I’m a Night Owl!

Some people say they’re “naturally” night owls, and they’ve always preferred to stay up late and sleep in. But in truth there’s nothing natural about this. For millions of years of human evolution sleep patterns remained in synch with the daily variation in light exposure. We rose with the sun, and went to be soon after sundown. This is what our bodies are adapted for.

In almost all cases, having a lot of energy late into the night is a sign of a disrupted circadian rhythm. Normally, cortisol should be high in the morning and taper off throughout the day and into the evening. This gives us the energy we need to wake up in the morning, and allows us to start winding down after dark so we’re ready to sleep. In people who’ve been exposed to significant chronic stress, this rhythm goes haywire. They have low cortisol in the morning (which makes it very hard for them to get going) and high cortisol at night, which gives them that late second wind. While drinking several cups of coffee in the morning mitigates the morning fatigue to some degree, it also perpetuates the pattern by revving them up in the afternoon and evening.

For more info on improving sleep, read Mark Sisson’s Definitive Guide to Sleep.

Learn a Hobby

Another way to look at the whole resolution thing would be to take a new interest in something which provides a sense of self-improvement. Maybe you commit to learning a new skill or hobby. This is a great way to challenge yourself creatively or mentally. You might learn to paint, learn to play an instrument, learn a new pursuit such as knitting or sewing. The important thing is that you enjoy your new activity–don’t choose something just because you think it sounds impressive.

The site meetup.com is a decent place to start. On this site you can find people with similar interests in your area. Want to go mountain biking? There’s a group in your area heading out this week! I see in my town of Redding, there’s even a drum circle!

Volunteer Regularly

Another option you may make is to start volunteering on a regular basis. Volunteering doesn’t just help those who are receiving the service; in fact, research consistently demonstrates physical and mental health benefits to volunteers themselves. The Do Good. Live Well.survey found that volunteers had an improved sense of wellbeing, had lower stress levels, experienced an enriched sense of purpose in life, and some even found it easier to manage their chronic illnesses afterwards.

One way to go about this is the site volunteermatch.org — this site lists volunteer opportunities keyed to your area. Basic information about the time commitment and tasks required are available on the site, as well as contact information for getting plugged in to your new volunteering opportunity.

 

Regardless of what you choose to do, I wish you all a Happy New Year. Thanks goes to Chris Kresser, whose most recent blog post inspired me to such a degree that I felt it necessary to basically read half his article to you in hopes you get as much out of it as I did.

Bone Broth

I’ve learned to appreciate the value of homemade bone broth. Sure, it’s much easier to buy it in the store–and I certainly buy it regularly myself. But I was challenged recently to lean less heavily on completely artificial cold medicines like NyQuil and to give natural remedies a shot again. For the life of me, I can’t find the article which gave me such a thought…but here’s another one to scope out that works in a pinch on the benefits of bone broth.

If you’d rather get the short-short version, here’s a handy-dandy rundown of the benefits of homemade bone broth (many of which are not present, or present to a much lesser extent, in grocery store broth):

  • more beneficial than supplements (since it comes from a natural source)
  • gives body collagen (bones, ligaments, cartilage, and the brain)
  • gelatin (aids digestion and heals damaged tissues)
  • marrow (aids in oxygen absorption to cells)
  • calcium and phosphorus (bone development and energy)

How do you find the time to make it? The good news is, you don’t. I recently roasted a whole chicken. After I carved the meat from the bones, I tossed them all in my slow-cooker with some water, carrots, celery, onion, sea salt, pepper, and apple cider vinegar, put it on low and went to bed. When I got up in the morning I poured the contents of my slow cooker into a bowl, strained through a colander to get the solids out. I then tossed it into a few small bags and threw them into the freezer to be thawed as needed. Really no effort was expended and the bulk of the work happened while I slept!

In my personal experimentations, I’ve found chicken and turkey seem best when cooked 4-8 hours, but not much more than that. Beef bones, on the other hand, can be cooked for much, much longer. I used the bones from my Christmas Day Prime Rib to make a bone broth that is unbelievably tasty. I kept it really simple: water, apple cider vinegar, sea salt, and pepper. Then I set it on low and let it go for 24 hours. I’ve heard of people letting beef bone broth go even longer–2-3 days even–but I’m quite satisfied with the quality of my 24 hour broth this time around. Although most of it is now freezing away in bags, I did sneak a quick sip, as you can see in the pic below.

So I started with this…

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…and ended up with this.

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Don’t judge me, broth this good deserves a nice glass.

Better When They’re Brined

I’m notorious for trying out new cooking methods and/or recipes when I have company coming. At my best, I bask in a sea of “compliments to the chef.” At my worst, I have always been wise enough to keep enough good wine on hand that nobody seems to mind my utter failure. Tonight was more of the former than the latter.

I made Sarah Fragoso’s Brined Baby Back Ribs with her Korean Barbecue Sauce. As a side I made cauliflower two ways: Nom Nom Paleo’s Cauliflower Fried ‘Rice,’ and as Mashed ‘Fauxtatoes.’ Behold my dinner plate tonight:

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Since I didn’t create any of these recipes, let me act as food critic tonight.

The Ribs & BBQ Sauce

I’m no stranger to cooking ribs. One big frustration for me initially after going Paleo was in finding a good BBQ sauce–I found they all contain refined sugar and other unnecessary artificial ingredients. I experimented with a few Paleo recipes online and was relatively satisfied with the results, but felt they weren’t quite as good as what I was used to. That fact changed tonight. This sauce, Sarah calls is a Korean BBQ Sauce due to its vaguely ‘Eastern’ vibe, is the best BBQ sauce I’ve ever tasted–and I’m not just saying that because it took me an hour to make it. In addition to the sauce, the ribs were brined overnight. Between the brine and the sauce we were all doing a happy little meat dance of joy. These recipes have not been made available online, sadly, but you can find them in Sarah’s newest book: Everyday Paleo Family Cookbook.

The Cauliflower

My wife commented tonight: “where’s the vegetable tonight?” before catching herself and realizing there WAS a vegetable covering half the plate; it just didn’t look like it. Both of these recipes I’ve posted links to above. Neither is very hard to make, but the mashed ‘potatoes’ is so fast and easy that we’ve been known to pump this one out with some steaks on extremely busy weekday night quick dinners.

That’s it for food tonight–however, I expect another post here shortly on a different topic…

Help!

It’s been quite a while since I wrote, obviously. I think it’s because I had gotten pretty good at eating nutrient dense food and didn’t feel I needed to journal my feelings. Maybe I just got busy.

Either way, I’ve decided to attempt a reboot of my food blog–with slightly different motivations this time around. I’ve had several friends recently decide to give paleo nutrition a try. Since I’ve gained so much from it myself I am very excited for them. However, I know firsthand how hard the first few months can be as one adjusts. Wanting to help them in any way I can, I’ve decided to start journaling what I eat as well as cool paleo nutrition related articles I come across. If it helps even one of my friends make the transition without giving up then I am satisfied.

So that leaves tonight’s dinner (and tomorrow’s lunch). Tonight was a tasty bolognese over spaghetti squash. I got the recipe out of Diane SanFilippo’s “Practical Paleo.” (This photo doesn’t do justice to the flavor party instigated by this amazing sauce).

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Happy hunting!

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