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I don't know about any of you, but when it comes to making the transition to (or maintaining) a 'paleo' lifestyle one of the hardest things is giving up that morning bowl of cereal/oatmeal, pancakes, french toast, waffles, bagels, etc.  Although most of the time I do not miss these foods at all (because I am perfectly happy living on a diet that allows me to devour whole eggs, bacon/sausage, avocados, and kale cooked in grease any morning I want), there ARE times when I just can't kick the craving for a sweeter, more indulgent breakfast.  For this reason, I have been getting creative with a variety of different ingredients and doing A LOT of recipe tweeking to see what I can come up with. 

Last week was very exciting...an attempt to make 'paleo' crepe batter was a huge success right off the bat!
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The tuber, Yucca Root (right), is the source of Tapioca Flour










Ingredients:
Eggs (6)
Vanilla paste/extract (1Tbsp)
Coconut Flour (1/4 cup)
Tapioca Flour (3/4 cup)
These flours can be purchased off amazon.com for much cheaper than in grocery stores.
Dextrose/Honey (1/4 cup)
Pumpkin pie spice/ Cinnamon
Coconut milk/Almond milk (if desired for consistency)
Coconut Oil/Butter (as needed for greasing pan)
Toppings!!!!!  Ideas include coconut butter, chopped nuts, nutbutters (i.e. almond butter, cashew butter; NOT peanut butter!), Fruit, dark chocolate...

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The first thing you want to do when making crepes or pancakes, is beat the eggs in a large bowl.  Once the eggs mirror what so many of us are used to eating every morning (scrambled eggs, omelettes), it's time to add the reminaing ingredients.  I find it works best to add the flour alternatives last, then let the magic happen.  

Confession:  I almost NEVER measure the amount of ingredients I use (part of the fun/creativity that is the art of cooking if you ask me), BUT, the quantities I've provided here are approximates and should work just fine.   

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A helpful tip when mixing in the tapioca and coconut flours (unless you need an intense arm/shoulder workout) is to add small amounts at a time.  It is crucial for the consistency of the batter that the flours are mixed into the eggs very well (i.e. no lumps).  This takes time and arm strength...WOD: Make homogenous crepe batter for time!  If you are lucky and own an electric beater, go ahead and use it.

It is also worth noting that coconut flour is a relatively thick flour, and it tends to thicken batter over a few minutes (this is why I did not use a lot).  Add the coconut flour and wait a few minutes to see how thick the batter is.  This is important here because we are shooting for a thin batter- something much thinner than pancake batter.  Tapioca flour on the other hand is more of a thin, stretchy-like batter (why I initially thought it would be optimal for crepe-making).  It can be very messy, so be careful...or have fun and cover yourself in it. ;)   

To yield the optimal batter, I recommend refridgerating the batter overnight.  Honestly, this is optimal for conveniency too if you ask me.  Make the batter at night, stick it in the fridge, and you can probably even sneak some crepe-making in before heading off to work in the morning.

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The next morning, the batter should look something like is pictured here- pale yellow, thin, and gooey.

I was especially lucky because my mom happened to have a 'crepe-maker' laying around.  If you don't have this fantastic appliance, you should be fine making crepes using a frying pan.

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Once hot, the 'crepe-maker' is submerged upside down into the crepe batter until a light comes on meaning the crepe is ready.  This is a fairly quick process...and would likely be quick in a frying pan as well.  If crepes seem like something you would like to enjoy frequently, I would recommend purchasing a crepe-maker.

Add your favorite 'paleo'-friendly toppings, roll 'em up, and ENJOY!

...I would really to hear any more ideas you have for 'standard american meals' you'd like to see be 'paleo-ized' and/or any feedback!  Also, feel free to contact me regarding WHY I chose to use any of these ingredients.

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Summer time is full of BBQs, especially around July 4th.  Well, what's better than fireworks, good people, and GOOD FOOD!? 
Good news: Contrary to popular belief, BBQs are very paleo-friendly and make eating healthy easy.  Why is that?  THE GRILL!  Bring your meat, bring your veggies, throw them on the grill, and enjoy some good, healthy food!  Okay okay, so what OTHER than meat and veggies on the grill can you eat that doesn't require you to deviate from your paleo-streak?  This July 4th, save your gut the grief by avoiding bread and pasta salad, and instead enjoy BACON-WRAPPED DATES!
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Lil' bites of paleo deliciousness!
Bacon-wrapped dates are so easy to make and everyone loves them...yes EVERYONE!  As the perfect combination of salty and sweet, this paleo appetizer is one I bring to festivities often.  Whether your friends are strict paleo or fast food junkies, I assure you they will enjoy this decadent meat candy.

Ingredients:
1lb bacon (pasture-fed for best quality)
1 bag/container dates (pitted/unpitted, both ok)

You will need toothpicks so don't forget to grab a box of those too!

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Dates & Bacon...doesn't get much simpler than that!
The first thing you do is preheat the oven to 350.  Next, pit the dates...if you purchased them pitted, you're job just became EVEN EASIER!  However, as a side note, dates purchased already pitted tend to be a bit less moist.  This won't matter TOO much, but if you have the time, buy them pits-in and take the few minutes to squeeze them out yourself...enjoy the full effect of deliciousness!  You also have the option of splitting the dates in half length-wise or leaving them whole, depending on how big of a bite you want, and how juicy you want the center of the date to be (this is not a make or break thing, but rather an issue of moistness...a date left whole will maintain more of its moist center).  As for the bacon, I find that cutting each strip into 3 parts makes for a nice proportion of bacon-to-date.  If you are crazy over bacon, go ahead and use an entire strip, but depending on how many people you are feeding this may get pricey! 
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Warning: Avoid urge to overeat!
Once you have your dates pitted and bacon the length you want it, it's time to get wrapping!  Simply use your hands to wrap the piece of bacon around the date...then secure each bacon-wrapped date with a single toothpick.  Place all the bacon-wrapped dates on a cookie sheet (covered with tin foil if prefered, but things get greasy regardless).  Cook for about 15 minutes, checking occasionally.  The cooking time really depends on how you prefer your bacon...for example, if you like your bacon crisp, cook a little longer.  The dates will be really hot in the center, so be sure not to burn your tongue off...or should I say, enjoy with care!  
This July 4th...EAT RESPONSIBLY! :) 

 
 
    I realize I have been flaunting these babys on facebook for quite some time now, and have actually had the oppotunity to cook them first hand for a lot of you...so it's about that time... to SPILL! 
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    Ever since I made the switch to a paleo diet, one of the things I miss the most is PANCAKES!  I am a pancake freak, and no matter what kind of diet I have followed in the past, I made sure to whip up an 'approved' pancake recipe.  For example, when I learned that enriched white flour was bad, I switched over to making pancakes made from whole grain or buckwheat.  Then after doing some more research and learning how detrimental wheat actually is to our bodies, I started making pancakes from eggs and oats.  Let me tell you, when I found out about the havoc wrecked on our gut by grains, I ceased making all of these pancakes.  This was a sad day!  Until…I learned about grainless, and natural flour alternatives.  The first that caught my interest was almond flour.  The concept just seemed so easy to me that I had to try it.  I bought a bag of almonds, threw them in my food processor, and wah lah: almond flour.  Note: You will save a pretty penny making this stuff yourself rather than purchasing it in the store!

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    Almond flour is an okay choice to cook with because it is both filling and satisfying, but it is definitely not the best.  WHY?  Unfortunately, 1 cup of almonds contains ~4-5g omega 6 (“inflammatory fat”) and no omega 3 (“anti-inflammatory fat”).  The polyunsaturated fatty acids are not heat stable and therefore are quickly oxidized to peroxides when exposed to high heat (because of their multiple double bonds). This problem becomes worse when almonds are crushed or ground up (as in flour) due to an increase in exposed surface area.  The peroxides subsequently form free radicals and damage our cell membranes. 

http://www.nal.usda.gov/fnic/foodcomp/cgi-bin/list_nut_edit.pl

 http://whfoods.org/genpage.php?tname=dailytip&dbid=65&utm_source=rss_reader&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=rss_feed


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Very cheap
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    The BEST alternative to cook with is coconut flour, as it is most stable at high heat.  Additional advantages include that it is cheap, low carb, all natural, easy to use, and recipes do not require a lot.
    I tend to blend the following ingredients in a food processor, pour the mixture in a bowl, and let it sit for a few minutes. 


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Example: heated strawberries for topping
Ingredients:
¼-1/2 cup coconut flour
2tbsp honey (optional depending on ‘paleo strictness,’ but makes it taste that much better)
1/4 cup coconut milk or almond milk (improved recipe!)
4 large eggs
1tsp. cinnamon
2tbsp. pumpkin spice (divided 1tbsp batter, 1tbsp sprinkled among the cooking pancakes)
Pecans, dark chocolate chips, chopped apples, etc. if desire inside pancakes (optional)
Water if necessary to bring to desired consistency


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Coconut flour thickens the mixture with time, so it is worth waiting up to 5 minutes to see the final texture of the batter before cooking.  I add coconut oil (or use remaining grease from pastured bacon) to a pan on medium-high heat and pour or ladle out the batter.  Sprinkle some pumpkin pie spice (or cinnamon) on the batter while cooking for some added flavor.  Cook as you would normal pancakes.  Serve with almond butter, coconut butter, and/or berries (buy frozen and heat in a sauce pan to make a homemade fruity ‘syrup’), etc.  For those of you without autoimmune issues, whole fat cottage cheese is also a delicious topping!  Be creative, but step away from Aunt Jemima and Mrs. Buttersworth!  

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Typical Saturday brunch!!!
 
 
I’ll start with providing a little background…COWS EAT GRASS!!  In fact, most of the beef produced until the 1940’s was from cattle that ate grass (1).  As with most other things, it eventually became time to ‘upgrade’ in order to improve the ‘efficiency’ of beef production.  We discovered that mass production of beef was made possible by feeding high energy grains to the cattle, which decreased the time each animal had to be fed before being slaughtered.  A shortcut if you will.  No good.  Research over 3 DECADES shows that the type of diet fed to cattle significantly alters the fatty acid composition and overall antioxidant content of the beef.  This is so remarkable that as the concentration of grain increases in a cow’s diet, the ratio of good fats to bad fats decreases in a linear fashion.  I will talk more about the good fats and bad fats in a minute.  It is also worth noting that within 30 DAYS of switching a cow from a grass-fed diet to a grain-fed diet, the resulting meat suffers dramatically.  Meat from these cows (fed grains for only 30 days) will have a far more inflammatory fatty acid composition AND be deprived of the antioxidant content that is otherwise present in grass-fed animals (1). 
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Secondly… there is a huge MYTH:  Fats are bad and they make you fat.  FALSE.    Correction:  Bad fats are bad, good fats are ESSENTIAL, and some even have adipose tissue (fat)- burning potential.  (Amazing...they say fat makes you fat, yet advertise the use of fatty acids as fat-burning supplements).  Hmmm...I will elaborate on fats more specifically in a later blog.  For now, just keep in mind that since the 1980s the ‘low fat’ hype has consumed our country.  Mind-boggling then isn’t it that the incidence of heart and metabolic diseases continue to grow (3)!?  So, low fat?  More like a life-threatening scandal!  Fats are an integral part of our diet, and therefore consuming quality fat from meats is important.  Toxins administered to grain-fed, commercial cattle are stored in fat tissues, another reason to pay that extra $1-2 for grass fed meats…it’s worth avoiding the money you’ll spend when your health abandons you later in life.  Total costs for diabetes in the US were estimated at $156 billion in 2010 (3).  These costs are primarily due to other complications associated with this metabolic disorder, i.e. heart disease, kidney disease, blindness, and limb amputation (3).  I would say grass-fed is WORTH IT!


Okay, so down to business…what is sooo amazing about these grass-fed meats?  The MOST remarkable advantage (and there are many) to eating grass-fed meat is the fatty acid profile they offer.  Our bodies have two main types of unsaturated fatty acids, the omega-6 fatty acids (bad, inflammatory fats) and the omega-3 fatty acids (good anti-inflammatory fats).  Put brief, the ratio of the two fats, “6:3 ratio,” influences our overall quality of health.  This makes sense if you consider that omega 6 and omega 3 fats are made by some of the same enzymes, so excess of one type, interferes with the metabolism of the other type.  The ideal ratio of omega 6:omega 3 is about 1:1-3:1, and above 4:1 is problematic.  Any idea what the ratio is of the average American diet?

15:1 (1,2)!!! 

…and worse, grain-fed beef can be as high as 20:1 (2)!!!  You may be shocked then when I tell you that cattle fed grass (their natural food source), produce beef with a fatty acid profile of 2:1-3:1!  Amazing, I know.  I sometimes equate this to turning your every day hamburger into a wild Alaskan fillet of salmon (also very high in good omega 3 fats…you know, the reason you take that omega 3 fish oil with breakfast every morning).  An interesting tidbit: it is believed that the Greenland Eskimos had VERY little heart disease and arthritis because of all the omega-3 rich fish they consumed (1).  That said, I believe that anyone consuming a diet that favors inflammation can benefit from supplementing appropriately with omega 3 fish oil.  It is also important to keep in mind that our brains require omega 3 fats, and adequate consumption of them has been shown to reduce the incidence of depression and memory-related disease (i.e. Alzheimer’s).  Conversely, not enough omega-3 has been shown to increase the risk of suicide… so, go grass-fed or beware of the consequences!
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Okay, so now a little about the WHY.  Why is grass so magical?  Feeding cattle grass causes an overall leaner meat, with an increase in good fats.  Bad fats in these meats are unaltered, but due to the huge increase in good fats, the 6:3 ratio is shifted to a far more beneficial, ANTI-inflammatory state.  So bottom line, it’s what the grain-fed meat DOESN’T have that is killing people.  In a recent study, individuals put on a grass-fed red meat diet had significantly improved 6:3 ratio (plasma composition going from a 9:1 to a 6:1) versus those on commercial diet (plasma composition going from a 8:1 to a 13:1) in 4 weeks (4).  JUST 4 WEEKS!  Again why?  There are bacteria in the cow’s stomach that are very important for synthesizing good fats.  These bacteria require a certain ‘working environment’ in order to function effectively.  Consumption of grains by the cow modulates the pH in their stomach, making it less suitable for the bacteria to do their work.  Cattle on a grass-fed diet have stomachs that are far more suitable for the bacteria to function and produce good fats…this is why grass-fed meats are so awesomely healthy.  In grass-fed cattle, the bacteria work hard to synthesize CLA (conjugated linoleic acid) and TVA (trans vaccenic acid).  TVA is important because it leads to the synthesis of CLA.  Over the past 20 years CLA has been shown to have numerous health benefits in mice, rats, pigs, and humans that include enhanced immune function, improved regulation of blood sugar, fat burning, reduced atherosclerosis, and tumor suppression (1, 2).  Also worth noting, whole-fat dairy from grass-fed animals is another great source of CLA.  If and only IF you do not have autoimmune issues (Celiac Sprue, Crohn’s, Hashimoto’s, etc.), you can benefit from its consumption, as I do regularly…because whole-fat dairy is, well, DELICIOUS! 

Finally, I want to mention some of the additional benefits of eating grass-fed meats over their grain-fed, commercial counterparts…yes, there is more!  Growing up we were always told to “eat our greens” right?  And, this of course is because green vegetables are so nutrient dense.  Well, it’s a simple as that: a cow that eats grass rather than grains (bread, cereal, corn, soy, etc.) is going to produce meat that is far more packed with nutrients.  Studies show that grass-fed meats are significantly higher in antioxidants, as they contain 7 times more beta-carotene (a precursor for Vitamin A) and 3 times more alpha-tocopherol (Vitamin E).  Beta-carotene also has tumor-suppressing effects in a variety of cancers.  For example, in mouse models of melanoma, beta-carotene treatment inhibited tumor proliferation and angiogenesis by creating a more anti-inflammatory environment (5).  For those of you interested, some non-meat sources of beta-carotene include carrots, spinach, kale, collard greens, sweet potatoes, squash, and apricots (apricots are a lower fructose fruit so go for it).  As if I haven’t already convinced you to go buy local grass-fed meats, I will add that these meats are also higher in CoQ10, zinc, vitamin B12, and the antioxidant glutathione (1, 2).    

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Cows should eat leafy greens just as we should!
A few other things worth mentioning:
-Grass-fed meats are devoid of GMOs, growth hormones, arsenic, and copper.
-Grass-fed meats are not contaminated with wheat, soy, gluten, etc. and are safe to eat for those who suffer from auto-immune disease.
-Grass-fed meat has a lower fat content…but beware it is easier to over-cook and should be cooked slower and served rarer.  (This makes sense because omega-3 fats are susceptible to oxidation and we don’t want that).  
-Grass-fed meat taste better- it’s more nutritious and full-bodied.
-Grass-fed cows are free to roam naturally and are therefore better nourished, happier, less-stressed, and less susceptible to infection (meaning less antibiotic-resistance).


PLEASE, go enjoy some grass-fed meat, and SPREAD THE WORD! 
Useful sites for finding grass-fed meats:
http://www.localharvest.org/
http://www.grassrunfarm.com/
http://www.grassfedtraditions.com/grass_fed_beef.htm
http://www.paleoapproved.com/
http://www.newpi.coop/

References:

1.  Cynthia A. Daley et. al. “A review of fatty acid profiles and antioxidant content in grass-fed and grain-fed beef.” Nutrition Journal. 9:10; 2010.

2.  http://www.experiencelifemag.com/issues/january-february-2011/healthy-eating/grass-fed-goodness.php#commentform

3.  Simon Smyth and Andrew Heron, “Diabetes and obesity: the twin epidemics.”  Nature Medicine.  Volume 12; Number 1; January, 2005.

4.  A.J. McAfee et. al. “Red meat from animals offered a grass diet increases plasma and platelet n-3 PUFA in healthy subjects.” British Journal of Nutrition.  105, 80-89;  2011.

5.  Guruvayoorappan, C. and Kuttan G. “b-carotene inhibits tumor-specific angiogenesis by altering the cytokine profile and inhibits the nuclear translocation of transcription factors in B16F-10 melanoma cells.”  Integr Cancer Ther. 6: 258-270, September, 2007.  

 
 
Are you a newbie to paleo, or even a trained professional, who can't kick the overwhelming craving for condiments?  One thing I truly miss... is ketchup.  I used to put the stuff on everything... until I realized all the sugar (high fructose corn syrup) and other unnecessary ingredients they put in it!

Solution?  MAKE IT YOURSELF...it's SO easy! (Thanks to Mat Lalonde for the gracious recipe):

1 small/ 1/2 large sweet onion
1 7oz can tomato paste
1/4-1/3 cup white vinegar
Salt/Pepper/Garlic Powder to taste

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The ONLY thing that takes effort is cutting up the onion into small enough pieces to fit in a food processor (which if you have a food processor you know this is not very small at all). 

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After the onion is cut into big chunks, place it in the food processor.  Next, pour in the tomato paste.

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Finally, add the white vinegar and spice(s) of choice, and process until a thick ketchup-like liquid is formed. 

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WAHHH LAHHH!
This stuff is good, and you can tell it's homemade.  Nothing but FRESHNESS radiates from this condiment.


ENJOY on whatever you want... WITHOUT feeling an ounce of guilt
!

 
 
http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/coconut_cream_concentrate.htm
Buy 1 get 1 free AND save $5 on shipping!!!
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Coconut Cream Concentrate is amazing stuff.  Move over peanut butter, dip your spoon in this!

Coconut Cream Concentrate is healthy, tastes great, and makes for some amazing recipes.  Order now, and make yourself a batch of my Paleo Blondies (see previous post for recipe and photos)!


 
 
For those of you interested in trying coconut oil, see the link below ASAP.
http://www.tropicaltraditions.com/
Coconut oil is almost entirely saturated and its lauric acid (medium chain fatty acid) content has been shown to have numerous health benefits. 
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I use Coconut Oil in nearly ALL of my recipes because it is the healthiest, most heat stable cooking oil AND it tastes delicious. 

See the recent peer reviewed journal article that shows coconut oil has hepatoprotective (liver protective) effects almost to the same extent as does silymarin (the active ingredient in milk thistle) in rats.

 
 
Being that I'm in the middle of writing my Ph.D. dissertation, the idea of having a Super Bowl party couldn't have been any more tempting.  Food, drinks, friends, and lots of 'em!  Lucky for you all, I decided to document all of it... the paleo, the not so paleo, and the anti-paleo. 
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Dipping Utensils:
Unfortunately, it is not generally the case that an entire group of people at a party follow a paleo-based diet.  So, my advice as a host, provide both, BUT practice will power.  A variety of fresh veggies as well as corn chips was the selection I chose.  It is worth noting that corn is actually the lesser of two evils as far as it's antigenic properties.  That is, it is a better option than say whole wheat pita chips or tortilla chips which contain a plethora of gluten!

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Meatballs:
Ingredients:
- 2lbs Pasture-fed Ground Pork
- 1 sweet onion
- 1 Apple
- 3 Organic, ripe Roma Tomatoes (sliced)
- 2 Farm fresh Eggs
- 1 Jar Organic, natural Tomato sauce
- 5 tbsp Organic Butter (or ghee, coconut oil)
~2tsp of the following (all optional):
- Italian seasoning
- Garlic Powder
- Himalayan Salt
- Paprika
- Oregano


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Chop the apple and sweet onion into small pieces using a food processor.  If you do not own a food processor, that is OK... using just a little more effort, grab yourself a knife and start chopping!  It could be fun, for time: chop 1 apple and 1 onion- GO!

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Throw the ground pork, chopped apple/onion, eggs, into a bowl and get down and dirty!  Use your hands to mix the ingredients well.

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Once you start to get everything pretty well mixed, sprinkle in the spices I listed above that you wish to use.  Continue to mash everything together in your hands.

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BALLS!  When you have a nice meaty mixture oozing out between your fingers, it's time to start making the balls.  I find it's easiest to pull out a sheet of wax/parchment paper, and to throw all the balls onto this before adding them individually to the crockpot.

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Add some more FLAVOR.  In order to make things even more potentially delicious, I decided to line the bottom of the crockpot with most of my Roma tomato slices AND slices of butter.  In my mind, this would allow the flavor to start at the bottom and work its way up through the meatballs as the pot simmered for HOURS.  Remember, if you are autoimmune, prone to acne, or strict paleo, butter (dairy) is not a good choice  In this case, stick with coconut oil. 

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Next I simply added my meatballs carefully on top of one another, and topped them with the remaining slices of Roma tomatoes and butter (or coconut oil).

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The final step- add the tomato sauce.  Unfortunateley, I did not have any chopped garlic, so it was nice that I had a garlic tomato sauce on hand.  Delish! 

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Once the tomato sauce has been poured in, put the lid on and set the crockpot on low for about 4hrs. 
Result: Steamy balls of satisfaction...a definite Super Bowl 'GOOD!'

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Sweet Potato Chips: (Because who needs the shitty potato chips they sell at the store when you have sweet potatoes!?)

- 3 Large Sweet Potatos
- 1-2Tbsp Coconut Oil
- 3-4 Tbsp Organic Butter (Optional- I also sometimes make this replacing any butter with coconut oil (so using only coconut oil); this should be done by anyone who has any indication of autoimmune disease
- 1/4 cup Pumpkin Pie Spice

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First, peel and slice the sweet potatos.  Throw all the slices in a pan that has already been heated to melt the coconut oil.  Sprinkle the pumpkin pie spice on top, and add the butter or remaining coconut oil if you're avoiding dairy (butter IS dairy and is therefore NOT considered Paleo). 

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Fry the sweet potatoes on medium-high heat for 15-30min until desired softness.  Enjoy.
I will also consider this a 'GOOD' Super Bowl Party selection, as it is a healthy, whole, filling, real food source of fat (the butter/oil used) and carbohydrate.  Because of their carb content, sweet potatoes in general are optimal if eaten post-workout.   

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Some of the presentation.  Notice the beer creeping in, the 'bad' and the 'ugly' are quickly approaching!

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BACON Onion Dip:
Provided by my wonderful non-paleo roommate who contributed bacon to make me happy :)
- Bacon
- Onion
- Sour Cream
- Cream Cheese
This was a delicious dip to accompany our veggie selection.  Because of the inclusion of dairy,  and poor quality bacon, I will have to refer to this as a 'bad' item at the Super Bowl Party.


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Mexican Cheese and Beef Dip:
I am honestly not sure of all the ingredients in this, as this delicious, addictive dip was too provided by a good, non-paleo friend.  The main ingredients are Velveeta cheese and ground beef.  This dip tastes amazing when decorating fresh veggies (or eaten straight with a spoon- oops).  Although non-paleo people look at me like I am crazy doing this, rest assured, they are much crazier using their corn chips or whatever other kind of antigenic dipping utensil than I am with my spoon!  This dip contains monstrous amounts of dairy and poor quality ground beef and for that reason is a Super Bowl 'bad.'

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Creamy Pesto Dip:
This dip is a combination of a store-bought, oil-based pesto mix and cream cheese.  Although delicious, this dip contains dairy and encourages the consumption of bread.  This a non-paleo 'bad' Super Bowl item.
 

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The 'Ugly':
Just as you were probably thinking our party wasn't THAT horrible, the desserts come into play.  First, we have soft, chewy, store-bought Oatmeal Raisin Cookies (which happen to be my ultimate weakness), and a Strawberry Struedal.  Streudal I could do without, but I definitely indulged in some oatmeal raisin cookies...then brought the rest into lab the next day for other people to 'get off my hands.'  This was necessary!

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More 'Ugly':
We also had a bowl full of store-bought Trail Mix and a bag of Chex Mix.  The Chex Mix is 'ugly' and as someone who generally eats a paleo-based diet, I found no reason to so much as taste this stuff- bagel chips, pretzels, mini breadsticks, no thanks.  The trail mix on the other hand, although it contains peanuts and sunflower seeds (high in Omega 6 inflammatory fats), they were the lesser of 2 evils and I indulged.  Trail mix just happens to be my go-to snack on nearly a daily basis, BUT I make my own using quality ingredients!

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Dangerously 'Ugly', but damn good.  My all time favorite beer is this one you see pictured here.  I used to drink dark, coffee-like porters and nut brown ales regularly... until I found out about what wheat and gluten do to our bodies- havoc on the gut I tell you!  In fact, ever since I cut beer out I would be stupid to ever go overboard drinking the stuff, as the one time I did, I was severely ill the next day (no joke)!  Our bodies get used to not being exposed to the stuff, and then when we all the sudden consume gluten-containing foods again, we are able to feel exactly what it does.  Trust me- no good!  On this day though, this Super Bowl 2011, I was having me a scrumptious nut brown ale and enjoying every minute of it.  Definitely an 'ugly' indulgence. 

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My (first) Plate:
Last, but not least, here is a snapshot of my first plate of the night.  No bread, no pasta, no grains, BUT some serious indulging.  Of course, this is not all I consumed over the course of the evening.  Gluten came into play when considering my beer and oatmeal raisin cookies, in addition to both peanuts (trail mix) and dairy (variety of dips)- all of which are NOT paleo.  Overall, not horrible, but definitely contains some 'good,' 'bad,' and 'ugly.' 

I decided to intermittent fast until lunch (1pm) Monday because I knew my body had plenty of fuel stored up... and it did because fasting was easy!
See also: 
http://www.marksdailyapple.com/fasting/

How did you're Super Bowl feasting compare???

Questions??


 
 
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My favorite paleo dessert!
Many many apologies, as it has been WAYYY too long since I have blogged!  To make up for it, I will reveal one of my favorite paleo-ish desserts, that I have promised some of you for quite some time now. 

Ingredients:
1 cup coconut cream concentrate (or coconut butter)
2 extra large or 3 large eggs
1/4-1/2 cup raw honey (depending on sweetness desired)
1/2 tsp baking soda
2tsp pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt (Himalayan is best)
Seeds from 1 vanilla bean (or 1 Tbsp vanilla extract)
1/4 cup coconut flour
1 3.5oz dark chocolate bar broken into pieces or half bag dark chocolate chips
1/2 cup walnuts or pecans (pecans are more heat stable)
1-2 Tbsp butter/ghee/coconut oil for greasing pan
Optional: 1/4 cup unsweetened shredded coconut 
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
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The pre-party
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Coconut cream concentrate is solid at room temperature so I usually stick the entire bottle in the oven for a few minutes while its preheating.  Don't forget about it in there though... true story, cleaning gooey stuff off the bottom of your oven is NO FUN. 
Once, the concentrate is warm, add it to a large mixing bowl.  Add the rest of the ingredients in your favorite order (no special order necessary). 

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Vanilla beans 101 for the gourmet chef
If you are using the real thing, actual vanilla beans that is, split the seed lengthwise down the center.  You will see tiny, black, sticky specks inside the seed.  These can be easily scraped out using the tip of your knife.  Add directly to the rest of the ingredients.

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I tend to add the chocolate last...i.e. save the best for last!  It's also easier to mix everything without the huge chocolate chunks (this is not really an issue if using dark chocolate chips instead).  Note: The batter is going to be chunky and this is OKAY.

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Grease a baking pan (9x9 or 12x8 work) using either butter or some melted ghee/coconut oil.  Once the batter is pretty well mixed, add it to the pan and spread evenly.  Who said paleo couldn't look SOOO delicious?  Hot damn!

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Eat just one, I dare you!
The blondies should take about 20-25mins at 325F.  From experience, check them with a toothpick at 20minutes.  The top will brown, but they should be soft and chewy inside.



Optional: sprinkle unsweetened shredded coconut on top of the blondies about 5-10min before they are done.  ENJOY!

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Yummmmmm
 
 
To address some of the interest in food shopping tips, I have documented one of my normal weekend trips to the local co-op.  Many of the things I purchase at the co-op can be found at regular grocery stores, whole foods, and of course online (which just happens to be the cheapest way to go if you know where to look).  As a general principle, people seeking a healthy diet are advised to explore (and in some cases NOT deviate from) the perimeters of the grocery store.  This is probably the best shorthand advice to food shopping, but not always the most convenient or accurate depending on where you go.  There is also a lot of not-so-good food around the perimeter (i.e. processed/chemically treated meats, high fructose fruits, dried fruit in which a ton of sugar has been added, the bakery, to name a few) and some very healthy foods (i.e. dried spices, tomato paste, almond butter, coconut oil, dark chocolate, etc.) tucked into some random isles.  So what's the best food shopping strategy?  I may not know the answer to this, but I will share my own. 
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The gorgeous produce section at my local co-op
1.  Buy vegetables - I make a point to buy what is on sale, as a lot of time this is also what is in season (and tastes best).
    -Always buy a green and alternate (kale, chard, collard).  These are cheap, EASY, and PACKED full of nutrients.  I incorporate greens into breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily. 
    -Always buy a couple avocados
    -Make sure I have either sweet potatos or squash for healthy post-workout meals
    -Make sure I have onions, garlic, and/or peppers because these make a great companion to almost any dinner.

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Stick to berries for their antioxidants, or apricots because of their low fructose content
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Squash and sweet potatoes!
2.  Buy some form of fruit-  I allow myself to buy EITHER berries or a dried fruit and nut trail mix (no additives).  I recommend buying 2-3 bags of your favorite nuts (also additive free) and mixing them with 1 bag of all natural dried fruit.  This is an awesome work snack, but addicting so beware.  Reducing overall fruit intake, especially if you are not particularly active, is a good start to dropping lbs.

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Nuts, and that's all there is to it!
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Look what's on sale!!!
3. Buy a beverage- something to quench my I-need-something-other-than-water moments.  I do not do dairy EVER when it comes to beverage.  There are a variety of other options, and I stick with either almond milk or coconut milk.  I am pretty greatful for the coconut milk coffee creamer they now have too (low sugar, creamy and delicious).  Stay away from soy (unless you're like me and it's the perfect topper to your weekend coffee indulgence).

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4.  Buy BOTH Meats and Fish-
    -It is important to buy/ make sure you have both of these at home.  Alternating and moderation is key.  Eating fish or ground beef all day every day may get a little boring and send you stright through the nearest drive thru!
    -Pick high quality protein/fat.  GrassFed meats when you can, especially for those higher in fat, and wild fish.  Don't sell yourself short by pinching a dollar here and there.  You ARE worth it and it DOES matter.
    -Look for sales
    -Don't be afraid to buy something that has already been prepared, as long as the source is good.  For example, on this trip I bought handmade stuffed wild sole fish.  It was wild, on sale, and the work half done!


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5. Buy Eggs:  Unless you are highly autoimmune and have been advised not to, I believe eggs are a vital part of the diet.  I used to only eat egg whites and now I realize I was wasting both time and money.  I have done a lot of research on eggs regarding how frequently they should be eaten, and personally, I eat at least 1-2/day and plan to continue doing so.  Go for the farm fresh eggs, second best option is omega 3 eggs... remember when something provides a substantial amount of fat it is critical that this is HEALTHY fat.  Eggs are filling, can be used for a variety of paleo meals and baked goods, and provide an excellent source of protein and choline. 

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Tomatoes done convenient
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Avoid the whole grain, whole wheat, quinoa...
6.  Condiments- When it comes to paleo, these don't really have a place, BUT there are some that I find make the cut and importantly, make life easier.  
    -Canned tomatoes- LOW SODIUM, natural
    -Tomato Paste- LOW SODIUM, natural
    -Tomato Sauce- LOW SODIUM, natural
With these 3 items, a laundry list of meals can be made (i.e. squashgetti and chili).  If you're like me, and you have a lot of ground beef (easiest/cheapest to find grassfed) these condiments come in handy.
    -Salad Dressing- These are VERY tricky and I haven't really found one I could call "paleo approved" yet.  If you can find a natural, dairy-free, SOYBEAN-OIL free dressing, that's pretty darn good to me.  Otherwise use extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) and mix it with some spices you have to create your own!
    -Make sure I have coconut oil, olive oil, and or butter/ghee on hand for cooking.
    -Coconut milk is also a great condiment, as mixed with any meat makes for a tasty, creamy, yet-dairy free meal.  Coconut chicken curry, YUM!

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Dark chocolate has power over me.
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Coconut Milk ice cream is AMAZINGGG!!
7.  Indulgence-
Pay heed to the 80/20 principle, and make room in the cart for something to reward yourself with for eating so clean.  I ALWAYS buy a couple high quality dark chocolate bars (usually whatever is on sale).  Shoot to stay above 70% cocoa content.  Dark chocolate is an acquired taste, so if you're new to it, try breaking the bar up and mixing it in with your healthy trail mix.  This makes for a delicious way to deliver antioxidants and fat while satifying a sweet tooth.
If you are finding a weak moment where you just NEEEED something amazingly sweet but don't want to fall too hard off the wagon, get your hands on some coconut milk ice cream.  This is some serious stuff and can EASILY lead to an overboard binge.  Enjoy in MODERATION!

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Spotting my 'something new'
8.  Try something NEW!
I always go to the grocery story on a mission to try something new... afterall that's how I find the things I like and that are worth spending my graduate stipend on.  This weekend, it was RAW goat milk mild cheddar cheese.  I'm hyped about it.

I will end this by giving you all a little laugh... while I was going through the store taking all these pictures, I managed to spill my entire, full starbucks coffee ALLL OVER the floor.  Not only was I stared at for photographing food, but I was mortified by managing to self destruct my coffee all over the market.  Hopefully this post was worth it!  ENJOY!