Eat Sleep and Play Primally


Simple and Quick Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini

Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini

Living the primal lifestyle can be somewhat daunting at times.  It can be difficult to prepare primally appropriate meals quickly and conveniently.  I am always looking for quick, healthy and delicious dishes.  While I would typically prefer to buy fresh spices and make my own spice mixtures, sometimes it just is faster and easier to buy and use commercially prepared spice mixtures that can cut your preparation time down significantly.  One cuisine that can incorporate upwards of 20 spices to make a particular dish is Indian cuisine.  I love Indian food but don’t always have the time it takes to make the spice mixtures.  Indian food is rich, aromatic and just darn comforting.  Curries, Tikkas, and Garams are some of the spice mixtures that can be time consuming to make, but are available commercially made and are also very good.  I’m lucky to live very near several international food markets as well as a Penzy’s spice shop.  If you don’t have an international market near you you can go online and buy many of these spice mixtures.  Penzy’s is one of my favorites.  There stores are amazing, but they also offer their products online and through catalogue.  Anyway, I was craving the deep and intense flavors of Indian Food the other day and I created this delicious recipe for Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini.  I served it with cauliflower rice that I cooked in olive oil infused with fennel seed, cinnamon, ginger, and coriander.  It was fast, easy, delicious and comforting as well.

Garam Masala is one of those Indian spice mixtures that contains many different spices and may just be easier to buy already prepared rather than making it yourself.  If you are courageous enough to make your own, here’s a link to a recipe for Garam Masala.  Otherwise, go to your local international market and pick-up some that is already made.  You will be amazed at how quick this dish is to make if the spices are already prepared and ready to go.

The composition of garam masala differs regionally, with wide variety across India. Some common ingredients are black & white peppercorns, cloves, malabar leaves (pippali), black cumin (shahi jeera), cumin seeds, cinnamon, black, brown and green cardamom, nutmeg, star anise and coriander seeds. Varying combinations of these and other spices are used in regional variants of garam masala, none of which is considered more authentic than another. The commerical mixtures can vary as well, but, all of them typically use similar ingredients and have incredible aromas and pungent flavors.  In addition to the above mentioned components, the commercial versions may also contain garlic, chili peppers, fennel, ginger, mustard seeds and turmeric.  No matter the spice mixture, they all contain some very healthy spices.  I have previously praised ginger for its anti-inflammatory benefits, but many of the other spices in this traditional Indian mixture are equally notable for their health benefits. Turmeric, for example, has been used for centuries by the Chinese and Indians and is touted as a powerful anti-inflammatory.  Recent studies have also shown promise in it preventing and blocking the growth of certain cancers.  Cardamom has also been touted for its powerful detoxifying benefits, and as a powerful aphrodisiac (who can complain about that).

Try this deleicious, easy and quick dish.  I’m sure you will love it.

Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini with Fragrant Indian Cauliflower Rice

This will make enough for 2-4 servings.  To prepare the Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 lb. uncooked large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 zucchini, sliced into rounds
  • 1 tbls. Garam Masala Spice Mixture (or more if you like it really pungent). I used 2 because I really like these intense flavors.
  • 2 tbls. chopped fresh cilantro
  • Juice of 1 lemon or lime
  • sea salt to taste

To prepare the aromatic Indian cauliflower rice, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 head cauliflower, grated or shredded in your food processor
  • 2 tbls. Olive Oil or Coconut Oil
  • 1 tsp. fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp. ginger
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. coriander
  • Several threads of saffron or 1 tsp. turmeric
  • sea salt & pepper to taste

Begin by preparing the cauliflower rice.  Grate the cauliflower using a hand grater or the grater attachment on your food processor.  Heat the Olive Oil or Coconut oil over high heat in a non-stick skillet.  Add the fennel, ginger, cinnamon, coriander and saffron or turmeric and cook for about a minute to release the flavors and oils of the spices.  Add the grated cauliflower and salt to taste and saute for about 5 minutes, stirring often.  Turn off the heat and cover to keep warm.

Next prepare the Garam Masala Shrimp and Zucchini.  Begin by placing the sliced zucchini rounds and shrimp in a large bowl and toss with the Garam Masala spice mixture.  Melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium high heat.  Remove the zucchini from the bowl and add to the skillet with the melted butter, season with salt and saute until just cooked through.  Remove the zucchini to a bowl and cover with foil to keep warm. Add the remaining tablespoon of butter to the skillet.  Add the shrimp and saute until just cooked through, about 2 minutes.  Add the lemon or lime juice and fresh chopped cilantro to incorporate.

To serve, place a mound of the aromatic cauliflower rice in the middle of a large bowl or dish, surround it by the sauteed zucchini and then mound the shrimp on top.  Serve with extra slice of lemon and chopped cilantro as a garnish.  As a variation you could easily substitute chicken, turkey, pork or other firm white fish for the shrimp.   Just make sure to cook the protein for the appropriate amount of time and to your liking.

I hope you enjoy this dish and let me know what you think!

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Thursday, November 18th, 2010 Recipes, Uncategorized 2 Comments

I feel really healthy – why do I need to change the way I eat?

I feel really healthy so I don’t see any reason to change the way I eat.  I hear that from a lot from people who are interested in the lifestyle and diet changes I have made in my life. While these days I don’t need a lot of convincing that the lifestyle and diet changes I have made over the last 6 months have been some of the most important steps I have ever taken in my life, I am constantly reading about the effects of sugar, gluten and grains on our physiology and health.  I don’t do it because I need reassurance that my diet choices are correct ones, but because I just have a voracious appetite for information.  As a lawyer I was taught to always question, question, question.  This can be annoying to some, but its a process that I have to go through to understand issues.  Look, as a lawyer, I could probably make a very convincing argument that this whole primal/paleo thing is just a crock.  Lots of people would easily buy it.  However, I have never had such a difficult time convincing others that the diet choices they are making are killing them.  Why is that people can understand that jumping off a building can kill them, or not using a seat belt increases there risk of serious injury or death if they are in a car accident, but don’t understand why bread, pasta, and grains can cause cancer, heart issues, diabetes and a host of other serious ailments.  This is a difficult question to answer but I can see why there is resistance to making a wholesale change in the way we eat.

Bread, cake, cookies, pasta – they all taste good and give a lot of us comfort.  For most, they don’t cause intestinal discomfort or any tangible immediate signs that they are poisoning us.  We also see people who eat bread, pasta, rice, and cake live relatively long healthy lives while still enjoying these foods.  While I have seen changes in the way I feel after stopping eating these foods, the changes haven’t been what I would describe as remarkable.  I felt pretty good and healthy before I started.  I think what convinced me most was the research I did (I’m not much of a follower – I need to see concrete evidence before making a huge change in my life), but mostly what convinced me was  the remarkable changes I saw in other people who have made the same changes.  If my partner could, at a relatively young age go from having high blood pressure and bad cholesterol issues to completely turning this around, including completely stopping taking blood pressure medication and cholesterol lowering drugs, it wasn’t hard for me to see that while I didn’t have those problems, the way he ate had some serious connection to his health issues.  While the same type of diet did not cause me to have similar tangible identifiable problems, I understood that to some degree it was probably problematic for me as well. just not as visible.

I recently came across an excellent blog post on the affects of grain and our health on The Blog of Tim Ferriss – Experiments in Lifestyle Design and author of the New York Times bestseller “The 4-Hour Workweek”.  He explains the problems with most grains and gluten in particular as well as its effects on our physiology.  He also identifies 3 individuals, a 61 year old women with a myriad of health issues, a middle aged man with unexplained horrible allergic reactions every time he eats, and a 5 year old with serious digestive problems.  All of these people saw remarkable changes after simply changing there diet – something apparently none of their doctors saw fit to even address.  I would really encourage you to read this post, if not for reassurance that your lifestyle choices are right, but for added encouragement to continue on this path of living a grain free life.

Maybe your like me and you don’t need additional reassurance, but reading this kind of stuff, at least for me, makes me feel good.  It’s like getting a A on a test, you study hard and you see tangible evidence that the hard work you are doing pays off.  Its just satisfying. Perhaps you need ammunition.  I seem to be constantly talking about my diet changes and people are interested, but mostly resistant.  It’s nice to have additional information and concrete real life examples to give to people who are open but, like me, may not have any tangible health issues or problems to convince them that eating grain free is better for them.  The science is lost on many, so seeing real life change in others is much more convincing.

I learn something new everyday and its fun to pass the information on to others.  For instance I’m not sure I realized how grains, high in lectins, damaged, I mean really damaged, our guts.  I knew that they were anti-nutrients, but that  during digestion they cause your gut lining to be permeable which can lead to a host of autoimmune diseases was news to me.  In light of this revelation, I plan on doing some more research and reporting further, and in particular, will report on my findings regarding  digestion, including something you might be surprised can aid in digestion and actually counter the effects of lectins you may consume.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 24th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

My Just Desserts! Chocolate Cupcakes.

Primal Chocolate Cupcake

You probably have already figured out that I have a wicked sweet tooth. Consequently I find myself constantly trying to satiate my cravings by creating primal, or mostly primal desserts.  I say mostly primal because sometimes I use an ingredient that some primal folk may not even consider eating.  For instance, in the last week I made Chocolate Cupcakes and a Chocolate Cheesecake.  The cupcakes are mostly primal, I only used stevia to sweeten them and a very small amount of melted chocolate chips with cream to frost them.  On the other hand, the cheesecake is certainly less primal because I used considerably more of the Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Chips (62%) which, of course, contain sugar.  While one slice of the cheesecake is fairly low on the carb count, not everyone will indulge.  I don’t feel so bad indulging once in awhile, especially since my carb count, even when I do, is usually well below 100 grams a day.  In addition, the sugar effect is less impactful due to the generous amount of healthy fat in the other cheesecake ingredients.  If you are just not that comfortable with the sugar, then go with the cupcake.  If you won’t eat any sugar at all, then skip the cheesecake and the icing on the cupcake.  Even without it, the cupcakes will be moist, decadent and rich, and especially good with a good cup of coffee. Alternatively, you could whip up some heavy whipping cream and cinnamon to top the cupcakes.  Here’s the cupcake recipe.  Later this week I’ll be posting the cheesecake recipe.

Primal Chocolate Cupcake

To make the cupcakes, you will need:

  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 2 heaping tbls. cocoa powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup cup of softened butter or melted coconut oil
  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 6-8 packets purevia (stevia) or 1/4-1/2 cup honey
  • 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips
  • 1 tbls. heavy whipping cream
  • coconut flakes or chopped nuts for topping (optional)

To prepare the cupcakes:

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Mix all dry ingredients together. In a separate bowl beat eggs, vanilla, and butter or coconut oil (and honey if you choose to use it as a sweetener) until creamy.  Combine wet and dry ingredients and beat with a hand mixer until smooth and all ingredients are completely incorporated.  The batter will probably be on the thick side.  Scoop batter into pre-greased muffin tin (I used an ice scream scoop).  You should get 6-8 cupcakes..  Bake in the oven for about 30 minutes.  Check the muffins after about 20 minutes by sticking a toothpick in the center.  If it comes out clean they are done.  If not continue to bake and check every 5 minutes.  You don’t want to overcook these cupcakes.  When the cupcakes are done, remove from the oven and let cool for about 20 minutes.  In the meantime, in a double boiler combine the chocolate chips and cream and stir until combined a melted.  When the cupcakes are cool, spread a thin layer of the chocolate on top of the cupcake with a small spatula and then dip in coconut or nuts.


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Wednesday, September 1st, 2010 Recipes, Uncategorized No Comments

Fun, Sun, Vitamin D and a Bright Healthy Smile

Pool side in Puerto Vallarta

I love the sun.  While I am not typically affected by SAD (seasonal affective disorder) I do crave being in the sun.  I do worry about getting too much sun, as I have a somewhat fair complexion (I do burn), but love having that healthy looking tan.  I have noticed this year since eating a primal diet and using coconut oil on my skin, I haven’t burned at all this summer.  Im not sure why.  I want to attribute it to my new way of eating, but I haven’t seen much out there on this topic.  I have seen numerous accounts by others claiming that they no longer burn after using coconut oil and eating a primal/paleo diet. Regardless, I am, on a daily basis, amazed at the benefits of living the primal lifestyle.  One of the things that I try to do daily is get some sun.  Its very interesting what this can do for you.  Recently I came across a number of blog posts regarding the benefits of adequate sun exposure and vitamin D.

Did you know that according to a June 2007 study, not getting enough direct sunlight increases our chances of cancer by at least 70%? Why? Because our bodies need natural sunlight to synthesize adequate amounts of vitamin D in order to keep our bones strong and healthy, as well as support the immune system.  As little as 10-15 minutes of sun exposure per day can give you all the vitamin D you need.  This varies geographically (do you live north or south) and your skin type (darker skin needs more sun exposure).  You can also get plenty of additional vitamin D in your diet. Foods that contain Vitamin D3 and the amount in International Units (IU):

* 1 Tablespoon Cod Liver Oil – 1,360 IU

* 100gr Salmon, cooked – 360 IU

* 100gr Mackerel, cooked – 345 IU

* 100gr Sardines, canned in oil, drained – 270 IU

* 250ml Milk, nonfat, reduced fat, and whole, vitamin D fortified – 98 IU

* 1 whole Egg soft boiled, (vitamin D is present in the yolk) – 25 IU

Deficiency or insufficiency of natural sunlight and vitamin D has been associated with the following conditions:

* adrenal insufficiency

* Alzheimer’s

* allergies

* autoimmune disorders including multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis

* cancers of the colon, breast, skin and prostate

* depression, seasonal affective disorder (SAD)

* diabetes, Type 1 and 2

* gluten intolerance, lectin intolerance

* heart disease, hypertension, Syndrome X

* infertility, sexual dysfunction

* learning and behavior disorders

* misaligned teeth and cavities

* obesity

* osteopenia, osteoporosis, osteomalacia (adult rickets)

* Parkinson’s


* psoriasis

I encourage you do do some research yourself to determine if you are getting enough vitamin D.  There is plenty of information out there.

Did you also know that getting adequate amounts of vitamin D can help you heal your own teeth. Teeth are able to heal themselves. Apparently the Inuit can wear their teeth down to the pulp by chewing leather and sand-covered dried fish, and African Wakamba tribe can file their front teeth into sharp , yet still have an exceptionally low rate of tooth decay. apparently both cultures lost their resistance to tooth decay after adopting nutrient-poor Western foods such as white flour and sugar.  Numerous studies have shown that one can reverse tooth decay and fight cavities by eating a proper diet and getting adequate amounts of Vitamin D3.

So have some fun in the sun, consider a vitamin D supplement or have a big sardine omelet with a glass of milk and you will be on your way to a healthier body and brighter smile!

Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Primal Chicken Enchiladas

Sadly all vacations must come to an end, and I am back at home and already ready for my next vacation.  This was my first real vacation to Mexico and it was no surprise to me that I would love it.  I used to live on the Mexican border in south Texas and have always loved the Latin culture.  Mexican food has always been a favorite of mine. While living in south Texas I learned to make some great authentic Mexican dishes.  However, I have cut back on eating at my favorite Mexican restaurants as many of my favorite dishes include things that don’t fit into the primal lifestyle. Additionally, many of these dishes are hard to adapt to the primal lifestyle.  I’m learning however that it is not not impossible.  I’ve got lots of new inspiration and ideas after this most recent trip so keep tuned in for more Mexican recipes to follow.  Many Mexican dishes use beans, corn, and tortillas, all things that are, of course, things that most of us Primal folks just don’t eat any more.   One of the biggest staples in Mexican cooking is the corn or flour tortilla.  They are perfect for wrapping up delicious spicy fillings.  I’ve come up with a substitute, that while not great for ripping apart and sopping up delicious sauces or salsas, is perfect for making many dishes, including enchiladas.  These “tortillas”  are simple to make. and make a great substitute from a taste and textural standpoint.  I hope you try this delicious recipe and enjoy it as much as I do.

Chicken Enchiladas

To make these Enchiladas you will need about 2-3 cups of Enchilada sauce, homemade or your favorite commercial variety.  In a pinch, I use a commercial enchilada sauce that I buy at the local Mexican grocery.  When I have time, I will make it myself.  Here’s how to make your own homemade sauce.  This makes about 4 cups, so you can save half of it for later use.

You will need:

  • 12 ancho chiles (dried)
  • 4 chiles de arbol (dried)
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1 small onion chopped into 4 chunks
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of Mexican oregano
  • 1/8 teaspoon of cumin
  • salt to taste

Prepare the red enchilada sauce:

1. Rinse the ancho chiles and the chiles de arbol under cold water and pat dry. Tear open the chiles and remove the seeds and veins. Toast the chiles, the onion, and garlic in a dry pan over medium low heat until fragrant. This should take about five minutes. Keep turning the chiles so that they do not burn.

2. Bring six cups of water to a boil and add all of the chiles, chopped tomatoes, onion, and garlic. Reduce the heat and simmer for fifteen minutes.

3. Transfer the contents of the pan to a blender and add the oregano and cumin. Blend for two minutes until the mixture is very smooth. Place a towel over the top of the blender while blending to protect from any splatters. Be careful because the mixture is very hot.

4. Return the contents of the blender back to the pan by forcing the mixture through a strainer with the back of a spoon to remove the tough bits of chile skin that remain. Don’t skip this step it greatly improves the texture of the finished sauce.

5. Simmer the strained enchilada sauce for 15 minutes to blend the flavors. Add salt to taste.

Now, to make the Enchiladas, you will need:

  • 1 whole roasted chicken (meat removed and roughly shredded)
  • 2-3 cups of red enchilada sauce
  • 6 eggs
  • 1-2 tsp. chili powder
  • 2-3 tbls. water
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese (or more if you like it really cheesy)
  • 1/2 cup grated queso fresco or cotija cheese (optional)
  • prepared salsa (optional)

First, shred the chicken in a bowl and add about 1/2 cup of enchilada sauce to the chicken.  Mix the chicken and sauce until the chicken is evenly coated.  You want this to be on the dry side, not soupy.  Now, make the “tortillas”.  Break 6 eggs into into a bowl, season with salt and pepper to taste and add 1-2 tsp. chili powder and 3 tbls. water.  Beat well.  You want this mixture to be on the thin side so the tortillas will be thin enough when you make them.  I prefer larger tortillas so I use a good non stick 12″ skillet.  You can make smaller tortillas by using a smaller skillet.  The key is having a good non stick skillet.  Heat the non stick skillet over medium heat until hot. I usually spray the pan with my olive oil sprayer prior to making each tortilla.  Add about 1/2 cup of the egg mixture to the hot pan and swirl the eggs around until you have a thin even coating over the entire pan.  Use a spatula and push down the sides a little if necessary.  Cook the egg mixture until it is well done and cooked through.  It is not necessary to flip the tortilla, but you can if you like.  remove the cooked egg tortilla from the pan and place on a plate and continue to make the tortillas until all the egg mixture is gone.  6 eggs will net 6 tortillas if you are using the larger skillet.

Now place 1/6 of the shredded chicken mixture in each tortilla, roll, and place them in a baking pan large enough to hold 6 enchiladas.  Cover the enchiladas with the remaining enchilada sauce and shredded sharp cheddar cheese.  Bake the enchiladas in a preheated 400º oven for about 10-15 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the enchiladas are heated through.  Place 1 or 2 enchiladas on a plate and garnish with grated queso fresco or cotija cheese and salsa and serve.

I hope you enjoy!

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Monday, August 16th, 2010 Uncategorized 4 Comments

Sea Buckthorn Oil – My New Favorite Supplement

Sea Buckthorn Berry

I think I have a very healthy diet, eating a variety of meats, fishes, fresh vegetables, fruits, nuts and seeds.  Despite this, I’m not sure that I get all the vitamins, minerals and nutrients I need.  This is something that I have foundto be difficult to calculate.  So to be completely sure I am getting enough, I do take a few supplements every day.  I don’t go crazy, and only take 2 (now 3) supplements every day.  This includes a men’s vitamin supplement and a krill oil supplement.  I use to take regular fish oil for added omega 3’s, but in doing some research I learned that the best omega 3 supplement was actually krill oil.  I have also added a new supplement to my regimen: Sea Buckthorn Oil.

Last year, after 5 years of wearing reading glasses (and losing probably 100 pairs) I decided to get contact lenses.  I wear them for 30 days and then replace them with a new pair.  Since starting to wear contacts, I found myself waking up in the morning with really dry eyes, and I was barely able to see.  Sometimes my eyes were so dry, the contacts would pop out of my eye at night and I would find them stuck to my cheek or eyelashes.  I kept a bottle of eye drops next to my bed.  Once I put the drops in I was fine.  Im not sure if this is due solely to the contacts because I also found that my mouth and nose were relly dry when I woke up.

Recently I came across a post about Sea Buckthorn Oil and some research that said that it was found to be helpful with dry eye problems.  I had never heard of Sea Buckthorn Oil so I did some more research and decided to try it.  After taking it for a few days my issue with dry eyes and mouth was noticeably better.  Why am I telling you this?  Well, during the course of researching this supplement I found that not only had it been found to help with dry eyes, but it was also a nutritional powerhouse and a perfectly primal supplement.

Legend has it that in ancient Greece, when sick horses were let loose to roam and die naturally, the Grecians were surprised to find the horses were stronger and more energetic. This was traced to a plant the horses were grazing on called Hippophae Rhamnoides L, meaning trees that make horse shine.  This plant or shrub is now simply referred to as Sea Buckthorn.  Sea Buckthorn has a rich history of use in treating numerous medical conditions. It has been called a wonder plant in many Asian countries, including China, India, and Pakistan. The berries have been used for more than 1,000 years in Tibetan and Indian systems of medicine. In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used to aid digestion and treat cough, circulatory disorders, and pain.

The small, yellow-orange to red berry of the Sea Buckthorn plant is an abundant source of vitamins, amino acids, fatty acids and 27 trace elements. Sea Buckthorn oil contains 106 known nutrients and bioactive substances, including vitamins A, C, and E, polyphenols, carotenoids, flavonoids, essential fatty acids and trace elements including zinc, selenium, manganese and iron. Many of these constituents help build, restore and improve immune function.

The juice, oil and berries of the Sea Buckthorn plant have been touted to provide many benefits to natural health.

Anti-Cancer Properties

The combined action of nutrients in sea Buckthorn oil provides integrative anti-cancer properties, according to a description on the website. It blocks the carcinogenic effects of certain substances and prevents the growth of cancer cells. The antioxidants in the oil prevent free-radical damage and cancer-cell formation. The seed oil increases antibodies and strengthens the body’s resistance to cancerous mutations.

Gastrointestinal Health

Sea Buckthorn oil also contains numerous anti-inflammatory and anti-ulcer substances, providing benefits for gastrointestinal health. Laboratory studies confirm the efficacy of the seed oil for the treatment of gastric ulcers. The oil also provides a protective coating inside the stomach and intestines, preventing the damaging effects of pathogens.

Cardiovascular Benefits

Cardiovascular disease is closely related to free-radical damage of the arteries and high blood fat. Sea Buckthorn oil minimizes the effects of free radicals and reduces blood fat levels. It is a rich source of fatty acids that are conducive to heart health, especially oleic and linoleic acids. Both are known to reduce cholesterol, regulate blood pressure and inhibit blood platelet aggregation.

Skin Health

Sea Bckthorn oil is also widely used to treat various skin conditions, including burns, eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, sunburn, wounds, frostbite, radiation treatment and cosmetic laser surgery. The oil contains a high content of nutrients essential for metabolism and regeneration of skin cells. Thus it is also effective to help minimize wrinkles and other symptoms of aging skin.

More Good News

Sea Buckthorn contains carotenoids, tocopherols, sterols, flavonoids, lipids, ascorbic acid, and tannins. Tocopherols and tocotrienols in the fruit or seeds of sea buckthorn, collectively known as vitamin E, have antioxidant activity. α-Tocopherol has the highest antioxidant activity and is the most abundant tocopherol, comprising approximately 76% to 89% of the berry.

In traditional Chinese medicine, it has been used to aid digestion and to treat cough, circulatory disorders, and pain. Because of their hemostatic and anti-inflammatory effects, the fruits are added to prescriptions in Indian and Tibetan medicine to treat pulmonary, GI, cardiac (eg, ischemic heart disease), blood, hepatic, and metabolic disorders. The flowers are used as a skin softener in Tajikistan.  In Mongolia, extracts from the leaves and branches of the plant are used medicinally to treat colitis and enterocolitis in humans and animals. In Middle Asia, the leaves are used to treat GI and skin disorders, and topically applied to treat rheumatoid arthritis.  In Russia, the oil from the seeds and fruits is used topically to treat chronic dermatoses, eczema, psoriasis, lupus erythematosus, burns, frostbite, and cervical erosion. Oil from the fruit has been used to treat thrombosis. Oil extracts have been used in ophthalmology to treat keratitis, trachoma, conjunctivitis, and injuries or burns of the eyelid.

Well, the list goes on and on.  I have not found any side effects of the supplement, but the research indicates that it should not be taken by pregnant women as its effects have not been studied.  Sea Buckthorn has now become one of my daily supplements.  Is it right for you?


Thursday, July 29th, 2010 Uncategorized 6 Comments

Barbecue Without All the Sugar!

Grilled Romaine Wedge Salad

I love to eat barbecue.  Sadly, we simply haven’t barbecued that much this summer.  I don’t have a gas grille so that means getting the charcoal and the Weber out.  Most of the time its just too much work just to make dinner for two.  I feel like I’m wasting a good hot grille when you only cook a piece of meat for 5 – 8 minutes.  While not as good, I do use our cast iron grille pan quite a bit.  Well, last night we pulled out the grille and decided to have dinner outside.  So as not to waste all that good barbecue heat, we cooked a bunch of stuff so that we we could have several meals throughout the week.  We grilled pork steaks, ribs, turkey legs (what could be more primal than gnawing on a caveman size turkey leg) and vegetables.  Man, was it good!

One other problem with barbecuing, since going primal, is the seemingly lack of choices when it comes to barbecue sauce.  If they are not packed with high fructose corn syrup, they undoubtedly will have tons of sugar.  I make so many things from scratch now, I decided to make my own barbecue sauce.  Have you ever tried to make your own barbecue sauce.  so many recipes call for sugar, brown sugar and start with a base of commercial ketchup (also packed with HFC or sugar).  Of course I am not using sugar or brown sugar these days, but I do like a sticky sweet barbecue sauce.  I needed to find a way to to achieve a sweeter sauce without using sugar.  I think I did it.  Well, kinda.  I did use a little bit of honey, but the batch was big enough that I did not feel so bad about it.  I was also in a hurry and was able to find a commercially made ketchup that was very very low in sugar.  You of course can make your own ketchup as a base and I’m posting a recipe for that to get you started.

Our dinner last night was teriffic.  We invited my partner’s mother over to share.  She called shortly before hand to let us know she had made a macaroni salad to bring along.  Oops! When we told her that was very nice but that we don’t eat pasta anymore, she showed up with fresh sliced peaches.  they are in abundance now and were delicious.  Catastrophe avoided.  We started our dinner with a great Grilled Romaine Wedge Salad.  if you haven’t tried grilling romaine lettuce, your in for a treat and its really ease.  All you need to do is halve romaine hearts (if you have full heads of romaine, simply remove the outer leaves for another use).  Cut the romaine hearts in half, and spray with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.  Throw them on the grille for about 2 minutes per side until they are charred.  To serve, place a wedge on a salad plate with some fresh sliced tomatoe.  Drizzle the wedge with a balsamic vinaigrette (1/2 cup olive oil, 3 tbls. balsamic vinegar, 1 tbls. dijon mustard and salt and pepper to taste) and then top with some crumbled blue cheese or feta.  For the rest of dinner, we had BBQ’D Pork Steaks, grilled onion,  and a delicious homemade cole slaw.

Now onto the barbecue sauce.  If you have ketchup you like, use it, otherwise make your own.

Homemade Ketchup


  • 12 ounce no-salt-added tomato paste
  • 2/3 cup tap water
  • 4 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pinch ground cloves
  • 1 pinch ground allspice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2 tablespoons of honey or 4 packets of purevia (stevia)
Mix all ingredients in a bowl and store in the refrigerator overnight to let the flavors develop.
Its as easy as that.  Now you have a good base for a tasty sticky sweet barbecue sauce.  While you can use stevia or honey to sweeten this sauce, its not absolutely necessary.  The onions will add considerable sweetness to the sauce.

Pulled Pork with Sticky Sweet BBQ Sauce and Homemade Slaw

Sticky Sweet BBQ Sauce


  • 2 large onions, finely chopped
  • 6 garlic cloves finely chopped
  • 1 1/2 tbls. finely chopped ginger
  • 1 1/2 cups ketchup (homemade or low sugar)
  • 1/2 cup cider vinegar
  • 6 tbls. soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 tbls. honey or 2 packets of purevia (stevia)(optional)
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (if you like your sauce a little hotter)


Slowly Cook the onion and ginger in oil over moderate to low heat until they are a caramel color.  You want the onions to caramelize to bring out all their natural sweetness.  This can take 30 -40 minutes, but if you are in a hurry, you can just saute the onions and garlic and ginger until the onions are soft and translucent.  At the end you can add the garlic and continue to cook for another couple of minutes.  You can also add a few tablespoons of balsamic vinegar at the end, but continue to cook the onions and garlic until most of the liquid has evaporated.  Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 15-20 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally.  Now, puree the sauce in a blender or food processor in 2-3 batches.

Your sauce is ready to use.  I got 3 meals out of this batch, including all the barbecue we made last night.  After refrigerated, the sauce can get a little thick, so you can just add a little more vinegar and water to thin it down before using.


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Tuesday, July 27th, 2010 Uncategorized 4 Comments

Eat More Whole Eggs and you’ll be Golden.

In a facebook comment yesterday regarding my post on coconut oil, a friend indicated that he had been frying his egg whites in coconut oil for years and was glad to read about the benefits of coconut oil.  My partner pointed out to him that he needed to be eating the whole egg, yolk included. He told him that “They are very good for you. Don’t be afraid of fat. Be afraid of carbs. You need all the good vitamins and minerals in those egg yolks. Eggs are a very balanced food. When you remove a part you disturb that balance. Eating the whites only actually can make you vitamin deficient and less able to absorb the protein that it sounds like you want.” I couldn’t have said it better. My partner eats about 2 1/2 dozen eggs a week.  I don’t eat nearly that much but I am not afraid of eggs.  I guess this friend is not different that a lot of folks out there who have fell victim to the incorrect but conventional wisdom that eggs are high in cholesterol and should only be enjoyed occasionally.

In Fact Eggs are a naturally nutrient-dense food, which means they have a high proportion of nutrients to calories. One large egg has 70 calories and provides 13 essential nutrients in varying amounts. eggs are an excellent source of choline and a good source of the highest quality protein and riboflavin. Many of the egg’s incredible nutrients are found in the egg yolk, including choline, folate, lutein, zeaxanthin and vitamin D. The yolk also includes healthy monosaturated  fats and almost half of the high-quality protein found in eggs.  According to the Harvard Health Publications, the only large study to look at the impact of egg consumption on heart disease—not on cholesterol levels or other intermediaries—found no connection between the two.

In a 2008 study at the University of Connecticut, a team of doctors set out to determine the effects of putting several overweight individuals (some of whom suffered from metabolic syndrome) on carbohydrate restricted diets that included 3 eggs a day.  A separate group of overweight individuals were given an equivalent amount of egg substitute (0 cholesterol). Both groups after 12 weeks lost weight and decreased their waist sizes.  Both groups had lower plasma triglyceride levels, but more importantly, the group who consumed 3 real eggs a day had marked increases in HDL.   These results suggest that including eggs in a carbohydrate restricted diet results in increased HDL-C while decreasing the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome.  In fact, 18 subjects were classified as having metabolic syndrome (MetS) at the beginning of the study, whereas 3 subjects had that classification at the end.  Finally,both systolic and diastolic BP were significantly reduced in these subjects.

My conclusion: You’ll be golden if you eat more whole eggs.  Don’t be afraid of the fat or cholesterol.  It will do you good.

I have been trying to add more eggs into my daily diet.  Recently I came across a recipe for “Oopsie” rolls.  I don’t know why they are called this but they are a good bread substitute and hold up well for sandwiches.  I’ve used them for chicken salad sandwiches and pulled pork sandwiches.  I’ll be trying them with hamburgers soon.  They are pretty easy to make and you’ll be suprised after seeing the recipe that these could actually end up like a bun.  I’ve seen pictures on the internet of much fluffier rolls than mine.  This could be due to the high humidity here in St. Louis.  In any event when mine don’t rise very much I just use 2 of them for the sandwich.

Open Face Pulled Pork on "Ooopsie" Rolls

Curried Chicken Salad on "Oopsie" Rolls

“Oopsie” Rolls


  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 oz. cream cheese
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/8 tsp. of cream of tarter
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder


Separate the yolks from the eggs in separate bowls being careful not to ge3 any yolk in the whites.  Use a clean stainless steel mixing bowl and make sure your beaters are clean and oil free.  Add the cream of tarter and whip the egg whites until they are stiff (stiff peaks).  In a separate bowl mix the egg yolks, cream cheese, pinch of salt and garlic powder and blend until smooth.  Fold the egg yolk/cream cheese mixture into the stiff whites gently so as not to lose volume.  Drop 1/2 cup of mixture onto a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet.  If they are really fluffy, flatten them a bit.  You should get about 6 rolls.  Bake in a 300° oven for about 30 minutes or until lightly browned.  Remove them from the oven and let cool for a moment and then transfer to a  rack to cool completely.  Eat them immediately or store them in a zip-loc bag.  If they turn out fluffy you can cut them in half. Since mine sometimes turn out pretty flat I just use 2 to make a sandwich.  I hope you enjoy them and eat more eggs.

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Friday, July 23rd, 2010 Uncategorized 5 Comments

Why You Should Leave a Jar of Coconut Oil Next to Your Stove and your Bathroom Sink.

If you haven’t already figured this out, I am a big fan of coconut oil for cooking.  It is healthy and is a good high heat cooking medium.  It does not impart a coconut taste and I honestly believe that food fried in it has a less greasy cleaner mouth feel.  Well I am also a big fan of using coconut oil on my skin.  I use the same organic unrefined coconut oil that I cook with on my skin.  It has a pleasant smell and makes my skin so soft.  The organic unrefined coconut oil I use comes from Whole Foods and is pretty reasonably priced, around $5 for a 16 oz. jar.  I just scoop some out with a spoon, rub it in my hands and spread it all over my body.  My skin glistens for awhile after application, but fairly quickly absorbs into my skin.  I have never had a problem with it staining my clothes either. Why use coconut oil as a skin moisturizer instead of other commercial lotions or moisturizers?  Simply put its better for you and has a host of other benefits as well.

Published studies in medical journals show that coconut, in one form or another, may provide a wide range of health benefits. Some of these include:

  • Reduces inflammation.
  • Supports tissue healing and repair.
  • Supports and aids immune system function.
  • Is heart healthy; improves cholesterol ratio reducing risk of heart disease.
  • Protects arteries from injury that causes atherosclerosis and thus protects against heart disease.
  • Helps prevent periodontal disease and tooth decay.
  • Functions as a protective antioxidant.
  • Helps to protect the body from harmful free radicals that promote premature aging and degenerative disease.
  • Does not deplete the body’s antioxidant reserves like other oil.

Bruce Fife, N.D., a prolific author on the use and benefits of coconut oil, warns against the use of most commercial moisturizers that are predominantly water.  This is because the moisture is quickly absorbed into dry, wrinkled skin.  As the water enters the skin, it expands the tissues, like filling a balloon with water, so that wrinkles fade away and the skin feels smoother.  But this is only temporary.  As soon as the water evaporates or is carried away by the blood stream, the dry, wrinkled skin returns. Besides the water, most lotions have an oil of some type.  This oil is almost always a highly refined vegetable oil devoid of all natural protective antioxidants. As most of you know if you follow the Primal Blueprint, vegetable oils lead to a great deal of free radicals in our body.  Not good, right!

As we age our skin is continually subjected to free-radical attack which breaks down the fiber and connective tissue that makes up our skin.  As a result, connective tissues become hardened and lose both elasticity and strength.  The skin loses its ability to hold itself together and begins to sag and become wrinkled.

Once a free-radical reaction is started it can cause a chain reaction which produces more free radicals, which ultimately damages thousands of molecules.  The only way our body has to fight them is with antioxidants.  When a free radical comes into contact with an antioxidant, the chain reaction is stopped.  For this reason, it is good to have plenty of antioxidants in our cells and tissues to protect us.   Having anti-oxidants in skin care products is important.

Dr. Ray Peat, a biochemist who has written about the antioxidant properties of coconut oil, asserts that it is well established that dietary coconut oil reduces the need for vitamin E, but he thinks its antioxidant role is more general than that, and that it has both direct and indirect antioxidant activities.

Conventional body care products that are made with refined vegetable oils,  which have all the antioxidants stripped from them are highly prone to free-radical generation. This is why you should be careful about the type of oils you use on your skin, and in your lotions, creams and lip balms.  If you use a lotion, or cream with a refined oil in it you may be in fact causing your skin to age faster.  The lotion may actually accelerate the aging of the skin.

Once again, according to Bruce Fife, and as we all know, one of the classic signs of old age is the appearance of brown, freckle-like spots or liver spots.  It is a sign of free-radical deterioration of the lipids (fats) in our skin.  Oxidation of polyunsaturated fats and protein by free radical activity in the skin is recognized as the major cause of liver spots. Because cells cannot dispose of the lipofuscin pigment, it gradually accumulates within many cells of the body as we age.  Once lipofuscin pigment develops, it tends to stick around for life, but you can prevent further osication and perhaps even reduce the spots you already have by using the right kind of oils in your diet and on your skin.

Coconut oil fits this description. Pure coconut oil prevents destructive free-radical formation and provides protection against them.  It can help to keep the skin from developing liver spots, and other blemishes caused by aging and over exposure to sunlight.  It helps to keep connective tissues strong and supple so that the skin doesn’t sag and wrinkle.  In some cases it might even restore damaged or diseased skin.  The oil is absorbed into the skin and into the cell structure of the connective tissues, limiting the damage excessive sun exposure can cause.

Coconut oil will not only bring temporary relief to the skin, but it will aid in healing and repairing.  It will have lasting benefits, unlike most lotions. The coconut oil will aid in removing the outer layer of dead skin cells, making the skin smoother. The skin will become more evenly textured with a healthy “shine”.  While doing this the coconut oil will penetrate into the deeper layers of the skin and strengthen the underlying tissues.

How does this work.  According to the scientific literature, antiseptic fatty acids in coconut oil help to prevent fungal and bacterial infections in the skin when it is consumed and to some extent, when it is applied directly to the skin. The biggest chemical barrier to infectious organisms is the acid layer on the skin.  Healthy skin has a pH of about 5, making it slightly acidic.  Our sweat (containing uric and lactic acids) and body oils promote this acidic environment.  For this reason, sweat and oil do us good.  Harmless bacteria can tolerate the acid and live on the skin, but troublesome bacteria can’t thrive and their numbers are few.

The oil our bodies produce is called sebum.  Sebum is secreted by oil glands (sebaceous glands) located at the root of every hair as well as other places.  This oil is very important to skin health.  It softens and lubricates the skin and hair and prevents the skin from drying and cracking.  Sebum also contains medium chain fatty acids, in the form of medium chain triglycerides, that can be released to fight harmful germs.

Our skin is home to many tiny organisms, most of which are harmless;  some are beneficial.  At least one variety of bacterium is essential to the healthy environment on our skin.  It feeds on the sebum, breaking down the tryglycerides into free fatty acids.  The bacteria actually feed on the glycerol part of the triglyceride.  This leaves fatty acids which are now “freed” from the glycerol unit that held them together.  Medium chain fatty acids which are bound to the glycerol unit as they are in coconut oil have no antimicrobial properties.  However, when they are broken apart into free fatty acids, they become powerful antimicrobials.

Coconut oil is nature’s richest source of medium chain fatty acids. When coconut oil is put on the skin it doesn’t have any immediate antimicrobial action.  However, when bacteria which are always present on the skin turn these triglycerides into free fatty acids, the result is an increase in the number of antimicrobial fatty acids on the skin and protection from infection.  The free fatty acids also help to contribute to the acid environment on the skin which repels disease causing germs.

When bathing or showering, soap washes the protective layer of oil and acid off our skin.  Often afterwards the skin becomes tight and dry.  Adding moisturizers helps the skin feel better, but it does not replace the acid or the protective medium chain fatty acid layers  that was removed.  By using a coconut oil cream, lotion or just pure coconut oil you can quickly help reestablish the skin’s natural antimicrobial and acid barrier.

I make it a habit to slather on the coconut oil after I bathe. You should try it too. not only will it make your skin incredibly soft, it will provide greater benefits than that.

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Thursday, July 22nd, 2010 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Is Counting on Luck Enough to Enjoy a Long, Happy and Healthy Life?

Happy 79th Mom

That’s my Mom to the left.  We just got back from Kansas City celebrating her 79th birthday and a good time was had by all.  Truth be told, my Mom is lucky to be alive and celebrating 79 years of life on this earth.  Actually, we are lucky to still have her with us.  She’s a kind, gentle, and strong willed woman.  Her life hasn’t been easy.   She worked hard all of her life retiring at age 65. She then enjoyed 13 years of retirement, spending the winters in Las Vegas with my Dad, who passed away about a year ago. Now she lives with my sister in Kansas City, who I am grateful to for providing her with a loving, safe and healthy environment.

Why is she lucky?  Well lets just say she’s like a cat with 20 lives.  she has had a series of major illnesses all starting in her 50’s when she had her first heart attack.  Since then, she’s has had multiple heart issues and heart surgerie as.  She also had high cholesterol and high blood pressure. Most of the last 20 years she has taken cholesterol lowering drugs and blood pressure medication.  A few years after her heart problems, during a routine chest x-ray the doctor’s found a spot on her lungs.  They were pretty sure that it was cancer and then removed one lobe of her lungs.  At the same time she was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease.  She was put on oxygen.  But, my mom was not going to tote an oxygen tank around with her for the rest of her life.  She worked really hard at pulmonary therapy and eventually was able to go without the oxygen.  About 5 years later, they found more spots on her lungs.  Luckily, on both occasions, the cancer had not spread.  She once again underwent surgery and they removed another lobe and a half on the other side of her lungs.   Missing 2 1/2 lobes of her lung made things difficult, but she worked really hard at therapy and exercise to stay off of oxygen.  About 3 years ago they found more cancer in her lungs.  This time it had spread to her hylar lymph node and the doctors, because of her age and the fact that they had already removed a good portion of her lungs, didn’t give her much hope.  In fact, the first doctor she saw said there wasn’t really much he could do for her.  I wouldn’t accept this and neither would she.  I did some research and found the best cancer doctor in our hometown and urged my mother to see him.  she agreed.  It was kind of funny that this new doctor was partners in the very same office of the original doctor who said there was nothing to offer her.  This new doctor felt differently and recommended she undergo a new procedure, laser knife surgery.  This was a 3 part process where they first mapped the location of tumors in her lung and lymph node.  The next week, they surgically implanted gold markers around the tumor locations.  The following week she had 3 days of radiation where they beamed radiation directly at the tumors.  It was then a wait and see game.  Within 6 months there was little if any sign of the cancer and within one year it was completely gone.

If multiple bouts with heart issues and lung cancer weren’t enough, she was then diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and peripheral neuropathy.  Today, she continues to struggle with high blood pressure, and barely has enough strength to stand or walk on her own.  The Parkinson’s disease has progressed fairly quickly and now effects her speech.  Some people may say she is really unlucky.  We both say she is one of the luckiest persons “alive”, because she is “alive”.  She has been able to do alot, see her grand children get bar and bat mitzvahed and progress through school.  She was able to have a lot of fun with my dad during their retirement years.  Im lucky because I have had her around all this time.

Why am I bringing this up.  I guess because I’m not so sure I want to count on luck to make it to age 79.  This is exactly why I started living primally, cutting most refined sugars, grains, cereals and bread from my diet.  My mom was a bread and sweet addict.  She still is.  I grew up with the largest part of my diet coming from carbs.  I’ve done a lot of research into these issues and I am convinced that the myriad of health problems my mom has had can be linked to sugar and carbs.  High blood pressure, high bad cholesterol, heart attacks and cancer.

It has been scientifically proven that:

  • sugar can suppress the immune system
  • sugar upsets the mineral relationships in the body
  • sugar can cause a significant rise in triglycerides
  • sugar contributes to the reduction in defense against bacterial infections
  • sugar reduces high density lipoproteins
  • sugar can be linked to cancer
  • sugar contributes to obesity
  • sugar contributes to tooth decay
  • sugar can cause heart disease
  • sugar can cause a increase in bad cholesterol
  • sugar can cause a decrease in insulin sensitivity
  • sugar can increase systolic blood pressure
  • sugar can cause diabetes
  • sugar intake is higher in persons with Parkinson’s disease

The list goes on and on.  Nearly every issue my Mom has had can be either directly or indirectly linked to a high carb, refined sugar diet.  Even if her problems weren’t caused by a high carb, high sugar diet, they probably were exacerbated by it and/or made her slower to heal. I don’t want to travel down the same path.  I hope at my age the damage isn’t already done.

After only 2 months of living primally, I do feel noticeably different and better.  Sometimes, however, I need a reminder of why I am doing this.  Visiting with my Mom this past weekend gave me powerful motivation to continue on for life.  Look, I just don’t think most people are as lucky as my Mom (and me for having her around this long) and not only do I want to live to be 79 (or older), I also want to be healthy, fit and active at 79, not just lucky.  So while I am not willing to count on luck anymore, I hope that my Mom continues with her lucky streak and we have her for many years to come.  Love you Mom!

Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments