Archive for paleo

Update: Weight Loss, etc.

Posted in Musings, Weight with tags , , , , , , on April 26, 2016 by Dena

Well, lately I’ve been too busy to update, but I’m in a good place right now, work-wise, so what the hell. I was gonna do a long update in one post, but I think instead, I’ll split it up into different subjects since it’s been so long and there’s a lot I could go into.

Anyway, weight loss … uh … it actually hasn’t been going that well. Before I went Primal, I was around 220-230. I eventually got down to around 180, which was great. I’d actually been 200+ for pretty much my whole adult life, so getting well below that was a huge accomplishment for me.

Unfortunately, the move to Sacramento (much as I’m glad we’re here) meant lots of stress and changes and … I kind of just said “fuck it” to dieting for awhile. Next thing I know, I’m back up to 200.

Once it got up to 209, I freaked out a bit and decided it was time to go back to trying to lose weight again.

I am kind of half-assing Primal some days, but I still keep all the rules in mind. For example, I don’t eat bread every day, and I eat my burgers with no buns, but I’ll make grilled cheese sandwiches 1-2 times per week. I also drink flavored sparkling water with artificial sweetener in it. Yah, not Primal, but not that bad.

Unfortunately, I am having to cut down on fat. When I first went Primal, I could have all the “good” fat I wanted and the pounds dropped off effortlessly. Now it seems that excess fat of any kind stalls my weight loss. I’m still technically doing HFLC, but I’m watching the fat.

I’m also trying to keep my calories around 1000. I don’t know if that’s healthy, but I feel okay doing it and it’s not that hard if I just have a couple cups of coffee for breakfast. ie: I don’t feel like I’m starving myself.

As I kind of indicated above, I’ve had to start looking at the numbers again. I can’t just magically lose weight on Primal anymore. I have to look at calories, carbs, and fat. It’s kind of a drag, but I’ve gotten used to it.

Anyway, all that seems to be helping because I’m below 200 again (if barely–I’m in the 199 range as I type this).

I think I’ll just leave it at that for now. My thoughts were already kinda scattered, but I think they’re getting worse  =P  Hopefully I’ll post more in a few days or so.

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Low-Carb/Primal “Breaded” Chicken

Posted in Recipes/Food with tags , , , , , on March 20, 2014 by Dena

This isn’t a recipe, so much as a cooking pro-tip. If you’re going low-carb and/or avoiding wheat, and want the effect of breaded fried chicken, crushed pork rinds are a great substitute.

I just take the chicken, dredge it in parmesan cheese (instead of flower), then egg, then crushed pork rinds (instead of bread crumbs). Fry on fairly high heat in a good oil (I use butter)–the the result is delicious crispy fried chicken.

I’ve tried this a few times recently, and it’s awesome.

You’re welcome.

Two Stove-top chicken “Recipes”

Posted in Recipes/Food with tags , , , , , , , , on November 20, 2013 by Dena

Not really recipes, so much as stuff I threw together that turned out good, so figured I’d share  =P

So, as I said in a previous entry, we’re currently in a hotel, where my cooking is limited to a stove-top and microwave, so I’ve had to get a bit creative. Money is also extremely tight, since we’re (so far) jobless and living off of our savings, so I’m also limited when it comes to ingredients. So figuring out what to cook, so we don’t end up living on instant ramen, has been an interesting challenge. Oh, and my non-primal husband has to like it as well, which ups the challenge even more.

Here are two I’ve made recently that I was pretty happy with:

Lemon and Garlic Chicken with Potatoes

chicken

This one was adapted from a recipe from Barefoot Contessa that I saw her make on her show ages ago that I’d been wanting to try ever since (the one I linked to isn’t the exact one, but it’s pretty close, and the one I used as a guide for this one).

Ingredients:

  • 4 chicken drumsticks
  • 2 small white potatoes, roughly cut
  • half an onion, roughly cut
  • a few cloves of garlic, only cut into about 4 pieces each
  • one lemon, quartered
  • dried rosemary and basil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • Butter to cook the chicken in (this was mainly because the pan provided by the hotel sticks like crazy and I was hoping more grease would prevent it–you could technically leave it out if you have a non-stick pan, but I think it adds to the flavor)

So, after cutting everything up, I sauteed the onions and garlic in the butter until soft, then I removed them so they wouldn’t burn, and added the chicken, lemon, and spices. Then I covered it and let the chicken cook for 5 minutes on medium-ish heat before turning it over 1/4 of the way, plus I stirred the potatoes and lemons around so nothing would burn. After somewhere around 5-6 times the chicken was cooked through and the potatoes were fork tender, then I re-added the onions and garlic and gave them a chance to heat back up.

The juice from the chicken combined with the lemon juice and garlic forms a really nice sauce. Everything just goes together really well. I’d like to substitute the potato with something a little more healthy like cauliflower, but didn’t think my husband would like it. Maybe at some point I’ll give it a shot.

It made 4 somewhat scant servings–we tend to eat light. Would probably be 2 for most people =P

Home-Made “Ramen”

ramen

Okay, in NO way is this authentic or traditional ramen. My husband and I like instant ramen, which I make a specific way–while the noodles are boiling, I add a raw beaten egg during the last minute or so of cooking, then I drain most of the water before adding the flavor packet. Cheap and unhealthy, but we love it. But I was wondering if there was a way to make a healthier and semi-primal-friendly version from scratch. Here’s what I came up with:

  • 2 cups of home made bone broth (I should have used more, as I’ll mention below)
  • Chopped-up meat from 2 cooked chicken thighs
  • Rice noodles (I just threw some handfuls into the boiling water, but I think I ended up with 2 cups total)
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • Oriental-ish spices–whatever you like, but I went with ground ginger, onion powder, minced garlic, some chopped green onion left over from something else, and salt

Pretty simple. First, I cooked and rinsed the noodles, then I heated the broth, added the spices, then once it came to a boil, I added the rest of the ingredients.

It came out pretty good, but much less strong-tasting than the instant kind, so I added more salt to mine–in the future, I’d probably spend a little more time adjusting the spices, but it had come to a boil pretty quickly and I was worried it might start to burn or something if I messed with it for too long. The result reminds me a bit of chicken soup with the little chunks of chicken amongst the noodles, even though it definitely tastes oriental, probably because of the ginger. I definitely should have used more broth–probably 4 cups would have been better, as it practically evaporated by the end, as you can see in the pic.

I had never used rice noodles before, and I really liked the texture and it absorbed the flavor of the broth nicely. Of course, rice isn’t technically primal since it’s a grain, but it is one of the more benign grains, so some primal people eat it anyway. A more primal version would probably involve shredding a vegetable of some kind into long ribbons, but again, I didn’t think my husband would be up for that (he’s a total pasta addict, so this was intended as a compromise of sorts, since it’s at least gluten-free).

It made about 5 scant servings.

So there you go. My next experiment will likely be Chicken Vindaloo (file it under “You know you’re a fan of Red Dwarf, When …”).

Raw eggs in my coffee–I’VE GONE TOO FAR!

Posted in Recipes/Food with tags , , , , , , on July 26, 2013 by Dena

I love this kind of thing about the Paleo community. As if putting a stick of butter in your coffee wasn’t weird enough, now we’re putting raw eggs in our coffee! Stop the madness!

In all seriousness, tho, I never tried Bulletproof coffee because I don’t feel like whipping out the blender first thing in the morning, and don’t like the idea of my coffee having an oil slick. But the idea of Primal Egg Coffee sounded interesting, and a few in Mark’s forum have reported pretty good results with just beating the egg with a fork instead of using a blender.

I was gonna try it first in the evening on a weekend, in case I ended up not liking it or it made me sick or something, but I slept REALLY poorly last night (nothing serious, just once in awhile, I wake up in the middle of the night and can’t get back too sleep for 2 hours–not fun) and ended up getting up a full half-hour early. Mark and others have reported this giving them extra energy, so I figured it’d be as good a morning as any to try it.

I added my cream, truvia and sugar to the cup as usual, then cracked the egg in there, and beat it with a fork as best I could, then I added the coffee in three parts, beating between each. I was afraid I’d end up with egg goop at the bottom of the cup, but fortunately I didn’t (yah, there’s a texture I don’t need in my mouth first thing in the morning–ick).

It really didn’t effect the taste at all, or even the color, which is good–just gives it a thicker consistency, which is kind of nice. Only thing I don’t like is that all that stirring causes the coffee to cool off too quickly, so I’m wishing I’d microwaved it a bit afterwards, but oh well. I use a coffee warmer and was hoping that’d help, but it didn’t until I got to the last inch or two of coffee.

It definitely seems more filling, which is actually the original reason I wanted to try this. I normally have a cup of coffee when I first wake up, then I have a proper breakfast once I get to work. Used to work fine, but lately, I am STARVING by the time I get there, so I’ve been wondering what I could do differently to hold myself over until then–really not into solid food in the morning, I just want my coffee. Then I read that this is supposed to be extra-filling (not surprising with the added egg) so I figured I’d give it a try soon.

So that’s my experience with Primal Egg Coffee so far. Time will tell if it staves off hunger as long as I’m hoping–maybe I’ll go back and edit later to give the consensus on that)

EDIT – Wow, kept me full for 2 extra hours and probably more. Instead of being starving at 7:30, I’m a bit peckish at nearly 9:30 (after exercise, no less). Could probably go awhile longer without eating, but it’s hard to not put myself on a schedule when I’m at work for some reason. I will skip my second cup of coffee, tho.

Happy Birthday, Mark Sisson

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on July 11, 2013 by Dena

Slightly off-topic from what I usually talk about, but what the hell … one of my favorite bloggers, and author of The Primal Blueprint, is turning 60 this week.

Day-um!

Happy Birthday, Mark (like he’ll actually read this, but it’s the thought that counts =P)

Not eating as many veggies as I probably should

Posted in Recipes/Food with tags , , , , , on June 24, 2013 by Dena

This is something I’ve noticed recently. And … surprisingly it doesn’t seem to be too big of a deal, at least in the short term.

It makes sense–paleolithic people probably occasionally had to survive on just the animals they killed  if it was during the winter or edible plants were otherwise unavailable. Not to mention people like the Inuits who thrive on eating that way all the time.

It’s not that I don’t eat ANY veggies, but it’s mostly just a small helping of steamed carrots and the lettuce I use in my lettuce wrap for lunch … at home I go straight for the meat and cheese, or the “paleo bread” with peanut butter or cream cheese on it, whether it’s dinner or the weekend (other than something like garlic-stuffed green olives, I probably go the whole weekend without ever even looking at a vegetable XD).

I’m probably missing out on nutrients that I should be getting, but I’m not suffering any ill effects right now. It is something I hope to correct in the near future, especially after the move, when I’ll be able to cook more often.

But, for right now, I’m not gonna sweat it.

EDIT – This post was inpired by a forum post on MDA that I figured I’d link to–rather than having me try to regurgitate what was said in it, it’s better to just point whoever might be interested to the original material: http://www.marksdailyapple.com/forum/thread88510.html

Path to Paleo

Posted in Musings with tags , , , , on June 7, 2013 by Dena

(Originally posted on 1Up Your Life on 4/25/2013 under the title “Going Paleo”–this is a somewhat changed and updated version)

This is gonna be a long one, but there’s a lot of ground to cover … so, I’ll spare you the whole “I’ve been overweight all my life and no diets have worked” spiel because … if you’re reading this, I’m going to guess that you’ve been there (or are there right now maybe) so you probably know where I’m coming from.

But everything kind of came to a head late last year–during that time I’d been focusing on keeping my calories down and exercising as much as I could … and it barely made any difference. I was losing MAYBE a pound every few months. Of course, it’s unhealthy (and temporary) for weight to come off too fast, but with it coming off that slowly, I had to have been doing something wrong.

Clearly a drastic change in my diet had to be made–I didn’t know what, but I was beginning to worry I’d have to switch to vegetarianism before my body would finally give up and start releasing all that weight that needed to go.

I lamented about this a bit on Facebook (in the form of saying I might try going low carb AND low fat, which I was not really looking forward to), and a friend was kind enough to recommend a documentary which ended up being a turning point for me.

Enter Fathead.

FatHeadPoster

Yeah, he wasn’t kidding!

It starts off as a response to the famous documentary Supersize Me, where Morgan Spurlock went 30 days eating exclusively at McDonalds where he allegedly gained a ridiculous amount of weight and had a lot of health problems. In Fat Head, Tom Naughton attempts to go 30 days eating exclusively at various fast food restaurants, BUT he puts a strict limit on calories and carbs and continues to exercise.

But the response to/parody of Supersize Me is really just the show’s gimmick–what it’s really about is the belief that saturated fat and cholesterol causes heart disease, and how that’s a myth, and how a lot of the health problems thought to be caused by saturated fat are actually caused by sugar and carbs. But I’m not out to do a complete review of Fat Head–I do recommend it, but what I wanted to point out is that this is what got me started.

Armed with some new knowledge, I decided to rework my way of eating. I ditched the bowl of Raisin Bran with skim milk I was having every morning (fun fact: Raisin Brain has a higher glycemic index than sugar) and replaced it with bacon and eggs. I took the ham and cheese sandwich I was having for lunch and replaced it with a lettuce wrap with basically the same ingredients, just minus the bread.

And, best of all, I finally got myself to cut down on sugar–this was the thing I never thought I’d be able to do, and didn’t even want to try. Most kids outgrow their sweet tooth, but I never did. What was really hurting my attempts at weight loss more than anything, I think, was my affinity for a super-sweet cup of coffee first thing in the morning. I really didn’t think that one little vice could make that much of a difference, but according to MyFitnessPal.com, I was using up all of my allotted sugar and carbs for the day before I even finished breakfast!

I don’t even know how to explain how I did it–I guess at some point, I just realized how ridiculous it was and made up my mind that I would either find a way to drink coffee with little-to-no sugar or just give up the stuff completely. And I’ve been a daily coffee drinker since I was like 8 or 9 and a creature of habit to boot (borderline OCD-ish, in fact)–you’ve NO idea how crazy it is for me to even consider giving up my morning cup of coffee.

What I ended up doing was breaking down and getting some Truvia (I generally dislike artificial sweetener, but Truvia is the least bad of the four big ones, IMO) and using just enough to take the bitter edge off the coffee and add a little sweetness. Coffee didn’t taste all that great to me like that, but it was palatable and I eventually developed a taste for it. Would I like it better with a ton of sugar? Even now, very likely … but I don’t think I could bring myself to drink it that way again.
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Fast forward a few months. I’ve been following Tom Naughton’s blog and he recommended two books by Mark Sisson about the “Paleo” way of life–the one I zeroed in on was The Primal Blueprint, which focuses on the diet and exercise aspects.

PB_Paperback_Cover_MECH.indd

And now I’m finally getting to the Paleo part of this story.

The Primal Blueprint is a difficult read at times, but it’s worth it–it goes into all the science of exactly why all these newer pre-processed foods are unhealthy and why anything containing wheat is unhealthy. A little hard to get through at times (like a science textbook), but it’s information that is important to know.

What it comes down to is that we are genetically nearly identical to our pre-agricultural ancestors who mostly lived on meat, eggs, vegetables, fruits and nuts–therefor we can’t properly digest relatively “new” foods and they cause us to gain weight, along with other health problems. This is the basis of the paleo/primal way of life–it’s not about emulating cavemen to the letter, but trying to take some of those concepts and apply them to modern life. I mention this partly because paleo is just recently starting to get enough attention to attract skeptics who like to laugh at the idea as if we’re all running around with a spear and a loincloth–yeah, that’s not what it’s about. At all. Just sayin’.

But I digress.

There are a couple of rules I knowingly break–dairy and peanuts are not recommended. As I understand it, it’s based partly on the idea that a lot of people are lactose intolerant and a lot of people have peanut allergies, due to the fact that peanuts are a relatively new invention that need to to go through a lot of processing before they become edible, and milk was not consumed by adults until agriculture started, so it’s best not to consume that stuff–basically, since it’s harmful to so many people, it must be harmful, in varying degrees, to everyone, just not always in ways that are obvious. Well … I’ve never had a bad reaction to either, and I believe that both are a good source of healthy fat and protein, so I continue to enjoy both.

However, I have cut all bad oils and fats from my diet–I cook with butter (NOT margarine), olive oil, or coconut oil now  (even bacon or beef fat, when I think to save it), and I try to avoid pre-processed food as much as I can, or if I do buy pre-processed food (it is cheaper) I make sure it doesn’t contain canola/soy/etc. oil, sugar, and HFCS. This meant that I had to give up mayo, which is another old vice of mine. I tried making my own for awhile, but could never get it to turn out right. Honestly, since I no longer eat sandwiches, I don’t really miss it–it was partly the dryness of the bread that made me feel like sandwiches “need” mayo.

Speaking of bread … it’s pretty much gone from my diet. And I really don’t miss it. Bread is mainly a vehicle for much tastier food (meat, cheese, etc) and you’re better able to taste it without the bread anyway. Same with pasta and rice. Which is not to say that I don’t indulge once in awhile–maybe once or twice per week and special occasions, but it’s no longer a staple of my diet.

I also ditched that powdered creamer from my morning coffee (it contained sugar and soybean oil) and replaced it with full-fat heavy cream … the only downside is that real cream in coffee tasted funny to me with the artificial sweetener, so I now use one spoonful each of Truvia and sugar to take the edge off. Might seem like a step back, but it’s still a huge improvement over the 4-5 spoonfuls of sugar I used to use–I think this is a pretty reasonable compromise, and at least it’s more natural.

So I am not following Paleo to the letter (yet?). Mark Sisson suggests 80/20, as in “try to be paleo 80% of the time and try not to splurge more than 20% of the time” (even Mark admits to adding a pinch of sugar to his coffee). I don’t know if I’m doing even that well (especially with all the dairy I consume–I could probably stand to cut down on it, to be honest), but I am definitely doing well the majority of the time. When I do splurge, I try to make it something I really love and I try to eat it slowly and make it a point to appreciate it. This is why I hardly ever bother with bread, but I’ll make the occasional exception for sweets.

Speaking of which, unlike a lot of people, I have not lost my taste for sugar–but consuming it less often has made me appreciate it more and I think of it as more of a treat than the staple it used to be. I enjoy a Pepsi Throwback or two on the weekends, for example, but I generally avoid it during the week–it tastes so much better to me than it used to because of that.

But even with all these little exceptions I make to the “rules” of Paleo, I am enjoying success in the form of weight loss. At the point I’m writing this, I’ve lost 30 lbs since I first started changing my eating habits in November 2012, averaging about a pound per week since then. My clothes have gotten too big, and I’ve been getting a lot of compliments from my co-workers lately. I still have a long way to go, and I’m sure I will hit a plateau at some point, since this normally happens with any weight loss attempt–when it does, I will probably bear down and try to follow it more strictly.

But for now, I’m enjoying the benefits of doing my own little version of it without feeling deprived–in fact, I rather enjoy it for the most part. Learning that our bodies NEED fat, and the reason so many diets fail is because people end up feeling hungry and deprived due to lack of fat and protein, that conventional wisdom is completely wrong in the belief that all fat is unhealthy, has really turned everything around. Fat and protein leaves you full and happy and it’s not unusual for me to simply skip dinner because I’m just not hungry in the evening. And it’s great being able to enjoy the high-fat stuff that I used to try to avoid like meat and cheese.

So that’s my experience with the Paleo “diet” so far. It’s a work-in-progress. I could stand to eat more veggies, and I don’t cook nearly as often as I should (partly due to time constraints since I have a full-time job, and partly because I live in a full house and I don’t tend to get access to the stove during most of the week) so I end up eating processed food more than I should. But this is part of what I hope to change in the near future.