Eat Sleep and Play Primally

Archive for June, 2010

Buy Locally, Eat primally!

I try to shop locally as best as I can.  Sometimes that can be challenging, especially during the winter months when the farmers’ markets aren’t in full swing.  Recently I discovered that I could buy locally produced bison meat at the Soulard Farmers Market.  The Soulard Farmers Market is a St. Louis gem.  It is the oldest farmers’ market west of the Mississippi.  You can get anything from rugs, to jewelry, to locally made goat cheese here.  While the market is chock full of vendors selling commercially grown produce, there are also plenty of  local vendors from whom  can buy organic locally grown produce.  The market is only open Wednesday through Saturday.

A couple of Saturdays ago we popped into Frandeka’s Meat & Fish.  I’d never been in this butcher shop but was pleasantly surprised.  It has apparently been in business for nearly 100 years.  The employees are super helpful and the lines move pretty quickly.   They sell everything from beef, to pork, goat and rabbit.  A sign advertising bison bratwurst immediately caught my eye and I inquired about it.  It turns out that their bison bratwurst come from Sayersbrook Bison Ranch which is located just about an hour from St. Louis.  I love sausage, and I loved even more that it was being produced in my back yard, so I decided to give it a try.  It was about $10 a pound, but, I felt it was worth it because it was locally produced.  When the employee handed me the package he also told me that he had 1 lb. packages of bison tenderloin tips on sale for $7.99. (Four 4 oz. bison fillets are selling for $55.95 on the Sayersbrook Ranch site). Sold! I got a package of that too.

When I got home I wanted to find out more about this local producer and how the bison are razed.  In addition to trying to buy from local producers, I also try to buy grass fed meat,  Its just healthier and better for you, is higher in protein, and contains the good omega 3 fatty acids we need in our diet.  According to the Sayersbrook Bison Ranch website, their bison are grazed on Missouri’s native grasses, but in their last three months, they are fed “a special blend of all natural grains that enhances the flavor and tenderness of these award winning meats”.  Bummer! While I like the fact that the bison are initially grass fed, I didn’t really like the idea that they were finished on grain.  However, I think that this is much better than the typical corn/grain fed meat you get at your local grocery.

The terms “grass fed” and “pastured” aren’t  really regulated, so I’ve heard that some producers are not completely honest about their methods.  I was glad to see that Sayersbrook was up front about their processes.  It’s important to get to know your producers, and that is a lot easier to do when you buy locally.  Unfortunately, even short term finishing on grains or corn can greatly diminish the good omega 3 content of meat.  While I’m not convinced that this is a good method, I have to think  that it is somewhat better than the alternative.  Of course, I would always recommend and prefer to buy purely grass fed beef.  The health benefits are clear.  For a lot of us, this is hard to do, so, if you try to do it is much as you can, you will surely be better off.

In any event, the deed was done.  Now I had to do something with the tenderloin tips.  Bison is typically lower in fat, and cooking it can be a challenge for some.  If you cook it too long, it will be tough and dry.  As I was trying to decide what to do with the tenderloin tips, I started thinking about my favorite dish in Vietnamese restaurants, Thit Bo Luc Lac or known to some as Shaken Beef.  It’s typically one of the more expensive dishes on many Vietnamese menus.  It usually features quick sauteed beef, fresh tomato, onion and some kind of green.  It is served with a salt and pepper dipping sauce that will knock your socks off.  So I went about creating this dish and it turned out fantastic.  It was really quick, healthy and perfectly primal.  Along with the sliced raw onion that is typically served with it, I made some pickled red onion as well.  You don”t need bison Tenderloin, but can substitute any grass fed beef or even pork.  I would recommend a tender cut like tenderloin or sirloin. With 1 pound of bison, this was enough for 2 hearty appetites, but could make a light meal for 4. Here it is:

Thit Bo Luc Lac

Thit Bo Luc Lac (Shaken Beef/Bison)

The Dipping Sauce:

  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp unrefined fine sea salt
  • juice of one medium lime

Marinade for the Meat:

  • Juice of 1 medium lime
  • 2 tbls. soy sauce
  • 1 tbls. sesame oil
  • 1 tbls. Vietnamese fish sauce
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped finely
  • 1 tsp. black pepper

For the Pickled Red Onion:

  • 1 large red onion
  • 3/4 cup seasoned Japanese rice wine vinegar
  • 2 tbls. chopped fresh cilantro

For the Salad:

  • 1 lb. Bison Tenderloin, Beef Tenderloin or Pork Tenderloin cut into 1″ cubes
  • 2 ripe tomatoes
  • 1/2 thinly sliced white onion
  • 6 Cups baby spinach or watercress
  • 1-2 tbls olive or coconut oil for cooking the meat.


First prepare the marinade by whisking together all of the marinade ingredients in a bowl.  Cut the bison, beef or pork tenderloin into one inch cubes and place in a zip lock bag.  Pour the marinade over the meat and seal the bag.  Shake the bag around to ensure that you have coated all the meat in the marinade.  Marinate the meat in the refrigerator of 1/2 hour to 1 hour. 

Meanwhile prepare the pickled red onions.  Bring 3/4 cups of japanese seasoned rice wine vinegar to a boil in a sauce pan.  While this is coming to a boil, finely slice the large red onion.  When the vinegar comes to a boil, place the onions in the boiling vinegar.  Press the onions down until they are submerged in the hot liquid.  The onions will begin to whlt and they will all fit in this amount fo liquid.  Remove the pot from the stove and pour the contents into a heat resistent bowl.  Add 2 tbls. of chopped cilantro and stir to combine.  Cover and refrigerate the pickled onions until you are ready to serve.

Next, prepare the dipping sauce.  Combine the juice of 1 medium lime with 1 tsp. pepper and 1/2 tsp. of fine unrefined sea salt and set aside.

After the meat has marinated long enough, remove it from the refrigerato and drain the marinade and discard.  Meanwhile prepare the salad.  Place 3 cups of baby spinach or watercress on 2 plates.  slice the tomatos and arrange around the plate.  Slice the 1/2 white or yellow onion and set aside.  Equally divide the pickled red onions among the 2 plates.  I like to do this with tongs or a slotted spoon so that you don’t end up with too much vinegar.  You can always spoon additional vinegar from the pickled onions over the salad if you like.

Meanwhile heat 1-2 tbls. of olvie oil or coconut oil over medium high heat in a skillet. When the oil is hot, place the meat in the hot oil, but don’t overcrowd it.  You can cook the meat in 2 batches if necessary.  Be sure to not disturb the beef in the pan so that you can brown the meat well.  After about 2 minutes, shake the pan to cook the other sides of the meat cubes.  The meat should be medium rare to medium in about 2 more minutes. If you like your meat cooked more well, leave it in the pan for a couple of more minutes, shaking the meat occasionally.

When the meat is done to your liking, mound the browned meat cubes in the center of the plate and garnish with the sliced raw white onion.  Serve with the dipping sauce on the side.  You can dip the meat cubes in the sauce as you are eating the salad, but beware, the sauce is peppery and tangy.


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Tuesday, June 29th, 2010 Uncategorized 3 Comments

Cuckoo for Coconuts

Since going primal I’ve revisited my love for coconut.  It was something that I loved growing up.  Once in a while my Mom would pick one up at the store, crack it open, and we would grab chunks and snack on it for days.  I liked the texture and the fact that it seemed to take forever to eat.  Somewhere along the line I lost touch with the coconut, most likely due to a marketing smear campaign that was launched years ago.  I remembered reading somewhere that it was bad for you and you should avoid any product that had coconut oil in the ingredient list.  It was based on the mistaken belief that saturated fat was bad for you. This was a mistake on my part and I once again am using coconut in all of its forms almost on a daily basis.  I’ve become particularly fond of cooking with coconut oil.

Coconut oil is an edible oil that has been consumed in tropical places for thousands of years. Studies done on native diets high in coconut consumption show that these populations are generally in good health, and don’t suffer as much from many of the modern diseases of western nations.

Coconut oil was once prevalent in western countries like the United States as well. With a long shelf life and a melting point of 76 degrees, it was a favorite in the baking industry. But a negative campaign against saturated fats in general, and the tropical oils in particular, led to most food manufacturers abandoning coconut oil in recent years in favor of hydrogenated polyunsaturated oils that come from the main cash crops in the US, particularly soy, and contain trans fatty acids.
One thing I didn’t realize about unsaturated oils in cooked foods was that they become rancid in just a few hours, even in the refrigerator. This is one reason for the “stale” taste of leftovers. However, some posit that eating fresh unsaturated fats is even worse, because once inside the body, they will oxidize (turn rancid) very rapidly due to being heated and mixed with oxygen.
This does not appear to be the case with coconut oil. Even after one year at room temperature, coconut oil shows no evidence of rancidity even though it contains 9% linoleic (omega – 6) polyunsaturated acid. It is theorized that coconut oil may have antioxidant properties, since the oil doesn’t turn rancid and since it reduces our need for vitamin E, whereas unsaturated oils deplete vitamin E. Many researchers have reported that coconut oil lowers cholesterol (Blackburn et al 1988, Ahrens and colleagues, 1957). Studies in the early 80’s showed that islanders with a diet high in coconut oil showed no harmful health effects. When these groups migrated to New Zealand and lowered their daily coconut oil intake, their total cholesterol and especially their LDL cholesterol  increased. The cholesterol-lowering properties of coconut oil are a direct result of its ability to stimulate thyroid function. In the presence of adequate thyroid hormone, cholesterol (specifically LDL-cholesterol) is converted by enzymatic processes to the vitally necessary anti-aging steroids, pregnenolone, progesterone and DHEA. These substances are required to help prevent heart disease, senility, obesity, cancer and other diseases associated with aging and chronic degenerative diseases, actually making coconut oil a healthier  alternative to the vegetable oils most of us are used to cooking with.
Similarly, newer findings about coconut oil demonstrated that it is a healthy fat. In 1988, N.W. Istfan of Harvard University Medical School’s Nutrition Coordinating Center , vindicated coconut oil. Dr. Istfan reported: “For the U.S. consumer, the use of coconut oil does not increase the role of heart disease.” Other researchers demonstrated that coconut oil reduces the risks of atherosclerosis, heart disease, cancer, and other degenerative conditions. It helps prevent bacterial, viral, and fungal infections, as a result of its antimicrobial component, lauric acid, which is found solely in coconut oil and in breast milk.

Coconut oil is one of the  richest sources of medium chain fatty acids.  They are easily digestible, and are sent directly to your liver where they are immediately converted into energy rather than being stored as fat.  They have actually been shown to stimulate your metabolism and aid in weight loss.   Incorporating coconut in all its forms, and particularly using the oil can have dramatic effects in you body.  Try this delicious recipe which incorporates coconut flour, coconut powder and coconut oil for luch or dinner.  I’m sure you’ll love it.

Cuckoo for Coconut Chicken and and Mango Salsa

Cuckoo for Coconut Chicken with Mango Salsa

You will need a large non-stick skillet, and 4 mixing bowls.  this recipe will yield 4 servings.

Prepare the Mango Salsa. You will need:

  • 2 cups of fresh or frozen thawed mango, diced
  • 1/2 red onion, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, seeded and finely diced
  • 2-3 tbls; chopped cilantro
  • 2 tbls. red wine vinegar
  • salt & pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a small mixing bowl and add salt and pepper to taste.  Set aside.

Prepare the Coconut Chicken.  You will need:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 eggs beaten well with a splash of milk
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1/2 cup coconut powder (available at your Asian market)*
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3 tbls. coconut oil for frying
  • salt & pepper
  • romaine, green or red leaf lettuce for garnish

Place 1/2 cup of coconut flour on a plate.  In a separate pie pan or deep dish, beat the egss, milk, salt and pepper together.  In a separate pie pan or deep dish combine 1/2 cup coconut powder (coconut powder is a finely grated coconut.  If you can’t find coconut powder, you can substitute unsweetened coconut flakes but increase the amount to about 3/4 cup) and 1/2 cup almond flour and stir together well.  Season the coconut powder/almond flour mixture with salt and pepper.  Now, season both sides of the chicken breast with salt and pepper.  Start by dredging the seasoned chicken breasts in the coconut flour, making sure to coat all surfaces.  Then, place the dredged chicken breasts in the egg mixture.  Now, place the chicken breasts in the coconut powder/almond flour mixture making sure to completely coat the schicken breasts.  set the coated chicken on a plate and heat the coconut oil in the non-stick skillet over medium heat.  When the coconut oil is hot, fry the chicken breasts for 7 to 10 minutes on each side, depending on the size of the chicken breasts, and until cooked through.  Check the chicken often to ensure that the coating is not burning and adjust the heat if necessary also being careful not to disturb the coating. Meanwhile, place 5 lettuce leafs on each of 4 plates.  When the chicken is browned and cooked through, place one breast on each plate, top each chicken breast with 1/2 cup of mango salsa and serve.


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Monday, June 28th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

High Intensity Interval Training and Ginger Salmon Croquettes. What?

World's Fair Pavillion, Forest Park, St. Louis, Missouri

As I’ve alluded to before, one of the crucial bases of Primal Blueprint fitness is low level aerobic activity.  This is moderate exercise, working at %55-%75 of your maximum heart rate. A simple often used way of figuring our your maximum heart rate is to subtract your age from 220.  For moderate exercise, strive to obtain a heart rate that is %55-75 of that number.  According to Mark Sisson who authored the Primal Blueprint, “Not only is low level aerobic activity the natural evolutionary expectation of the body, it’s flat out beneficial in its own right. It plays an integral role in maintaining weight and metabolic balance. It also builds your base and makes more strenuous workouts possible by toning all the muscles, joints and connective tissue needed for optimal strength training and high intensity aerobic activity. Low level aerobic exercise engages your energy systems and incrementally improves their functioning and efficiency. And while it does all that, it also physiologically and hormonally counters the effects of stress.

Its easy to achieve a good amount of low level aerobic activity but are you getting enough High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT).  Its a combination that will lead to a leaner, fitter and healthier body.  My partner and I try to do some type of high intensity interval training once a week.  It can supercharge your fitness, boost your metabolism, and help burn off that extra fat.  High intensity interval training  is about mixing high intensity bursts of exercise with moderate intensity recovery periods. It’s brutal but has incredible advantages.  It will boost your metabolism for the following 24 to 48 hours, meaning that you will burn more fat than if you simply went jogging.  One study  by Dr. Izumi Tabata concluded that  moderate-intensity aerobic training that improves the maximal aerobic power does not change anaerobic capacity and that adequate high-intensity intermittent training may improve both anaerobic and aerobic energy supplying systems significantly, probably through imposing intensive stimuli on both systems.  This is something you should add to your routine once a week.

The key to high intensity interval training is working to the max of your heat rate for short bursts followed by full recovery, and repeating the sequence several times.  My partner and I typically go to the park.  We warm up first with an easy paced walk.  We then will sprint for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by about two minutes of easy paced walking.  We typically repeat this pattern 8 to 10 times.  this workout takes between 30 and 40 minutes.  We usually end up tossing around the Frisbee afterwards just for some added fun.  You don’t have to run to do high intensity interval training.  You can do this by biking, swimming, at the gym even on a treadmill or stationary bike.  The key is the burst of all out effort.  Because of a knee problem, sometimes I cant do the sprints by running and I’ll do an alternate workout. Stairs don’t seem to bother my knee as much.  The other day, my partner and I went to Forest Park.  There are 2 sets of stairs flanking the World’s Fair Pavilion pictured at the beginning of this post.  Each set has about 50 steps.  We sprint up the set of stairs and go back down, repeating this 3-4 times.  We then walk over to the other set of stairs and repeat.   We usually do 6 to 8 reps, followed by a pleasant walk around the lake at the bottom of hill.  It’s an intense, but fun workout.

One other method that was spawned from the study referenced above is called Tabata sprints.  These are tough but the best thing about them is that they only take 4 minutes to complete.  In this method you sprint for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest. You do this for a total of 4 minutes.  This is a great alternative on those days when you just don’t have time to get out or go to thy gym to do your regular HIIT training.  You’ll still get plenty of benefit from this work out.

When you switch things up, you add variety to your routine, and you are moire likely to do HIITs on a weekly basis.  Admittedly I sometimes get sore from these workouts.  I’m not a big fan of over the counter anti-inflammatory drugs, if you feel the same way, as an alternative, try some ginger, either in the form of a supplement or use it in one of your favorite recipes. 

Ginger has been used for a long time soothing nausea and easing stomach upset, but it’s also a natural immune system booster with anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. One recent study showed a 24-25% decrease in exercise induced pain within 24 hours.

One of my new favorite dishes that gets its deliciousness from a good amount of ginger is my Ginger Salmon Croquettes (I love this word)  with Ginger Mayo.  Served in lettuce cups, it makes a great post work out meal. I served this with a spaghetti squash saute and plantain fried in coconut oil – yummy!

Ginger Salmon Croquettes with Ginger Mayo

Ginger Salmon Croquettes with Ginger Mayo


Ginger Salmon Croquettes:

  • 1 lb. wild caught salmon fillets
  • 1 tbl. finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1 tbl. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbl. prepared horseradish
  • 1 1/2 tsp. soy sauce
  • 1-2 tbls. coconut oil

Ginger Mayo:

  • 2 tbls. mayonnaise (made with olive oil)
  • 1 tbls. dijon mustard
  • 1 tbls. finely grated peeled ginger
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. soy sauce (depending on your taste)


  • Lettuce leaves
  • 1/4 – 1/2 red onion sliced thinly and separated

Make the ginger mayo.  In a small bowl whisk  together the mayonnaise, mustard, ginger and soy sauce and set aside.

Make the salmon croquettes.  Finely chop the salmon by hand with a knife.  You want a very fine consistency (not chunky). In a bowl, stir together the finely chopped salmon together with the ginger, mustard, horseradish, and soy sauce.  Form into 4 – 6 croquettes and set on a plate.  I like to let the croquettes sit for about 10 or 15 minutes before cooking as some of the excess moisture will drain from the croquettes.  Heat 1 – 2 tablespoons of coconut oil in a non stick skillet over medium heat.  Place the croquettes in the preheated skillet and cook on each side about 3-5 minutes, depending on thickness, and until cooked through.

Meanwhile, place 2 -3 lettuce leaves on 2 plates.  When the croquettes are cooked through, place 1 croquette on each lettuce leaf and smear each croquette with a good dollop of the ginger may.  Top with the slivered red onion and serve with your favorite side.

Try high intensity interval training.  In no time you will see a difference in your leanness as well as your aerobic capacity.  Follow your workout with this delicious recipe and you’ll feel like a million bucks.


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Thursday, June 24th, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Soothing Cool summer Salad

Asian Shrimp Pineapple Salad (photo courtesy of Framed)

Before I began following the Primal Blueprint I loved a refreshing cool salad during the summer months.  This Asian inspired shrimp salad fits that bill perfectly.  The spicy herby dressing, paired with the smooth avocado and refreshing pineapple will satiate your hunger for something healthy and filling without having to even turn on the oven during these hot summer months. The addition of slivered or chopped almonds gives it that extra crunch you might be looking for.  This dish is great for lunch, either on its own or wrapped in lettuce leaves.  It also makes a great party dish that your friends will love.  I sometimes use canned pineapple for this recipe along with a few tablespoons of the light syrup for the dressing.  I prefer fresh pineapple and you can squeeze some of the natural juices from the pineapple for the dressing as well. This recipe will yield 2-4 servings.

Asian Shrimp Salad
First make the dressing, You will need:
  • 2 tbls. Olive Oil
  • 2 tbls. Asian fish Sauce
  • Juice of 1 large lime or 2 small limes (about 2-3 tbls.)
  • 2-3 tbls. fresh pineapple juice (or reserved light syrup if you are using canned)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 small jalapeno or thai chili pepper, finely chopped (remove seeds if you like it less spicy)
  • 2 tbls. fresh chopped mint leaves
  • 1 tbls. chopped cilantro

Whisk together the oil, fish sauce, lime juice,  and pineapple juice until well combined.  Stir in garlic, red onion, chile peppers, mint and cilantro.   Set aside.

Assemble the salad.   You will need:

  • 20 peeled and deveined cooked large shrimp (tails removed)
  • 1 1/2 cups pineapple cut into 3/4″ cubes
  • I large avocado
  • 2 tbls. chopped or slivered almonds
  • 8 lettuce leaves (butter, romaine, red leaf: your choice)
  • 4 lime wedges for garnish

Assemble the salad. Leave the shrimp whole if you are serving the salad alone or cut the shrimp into 2 or 3 pieces, depending on the size of the shrimp, and  about the same size as the pineapple chunks if you are going to serve this salad wrap style. Place the shrimp in a large bowl and salt and pepper the shrimp to to taste.  Halve, pit, peel and roughly chop the avocado.  Add the pineapple, avocado and dressing to the  shrimp and stir to combine. I like to place the salad in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to allow the falvors to meld and develop, but this is not necessary.    When you are ready to serve, divide the salad among 2-4 plates, sprinkle the salad with some of the chopped almonds, and place 2-4 lettuce leaves and lime wedges alongside the  salad and serve.

I hope you enjoy this salad.  Its packed with flavor and nutrition.  Avocados provide nearly 20 essential nutrients, including fiber, potassium, Vitamin E, B-vitamins and folic acid. They also act as a “nutrient booster” by enabling the body to absorb more fat-soluble nutrients, such as alpha and beta-carotene and lutein, in foods that are eaten with the fruit. Pineapples are an excellent source of vitamin C and manganese. Pineapples are also  known for having the anti-inflammatory substance bromelain.  This salad will undoubtedly become a summer favorite.

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Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010 Uncategorized 1 Comment

Hot Diggety Dog
With summer now in full swing I got to thinking about Hot dogs.  They are synonymous with summer, backyard barbecues and baseball.  Growing up in Chicago, I ate a lot of Vienna Beef Hot Dogs.  There’s nothing like biting into a good kosher dog, the skin pops and a burst of delicious juice pours into your mouth. Topped with mustard (never ketchup), pickle spear, tomato, onion, sport peppers, that famous bright green relish, and celery salt, well, you just can’t beat it. That’s why I was so surprised to find that my partner wouldn’t go near them. I didn’t understand, nor did I really want to know why. I wanted nothing standing in the way of my enjoyment of this delectable treat.
However, since I’ve gone primal and made an effort to be more conscious of what I eat and put in my body, I decided to look into the matter more closely.  I wasn’t happy with what I found out, but, wait, all is not lost, I’m here to tell you that you can still enjoy this American favorite without the guilt.
Whether you call it a wiener, a frankfurter or hot dog, I was surprised to find out that the USDA actually has standards that regulate this American favorite. Hot dogs can be made from beef, pork, turkey, chicken or any combination of the above.  The finished products may not contain more than 30% fat or no more than 10% water, or a combination of 40% fat and added water. Up to 3.5% non-meat binders and extenders (such as nonfat dry milk, cereal, or dried whole milk) or 2% isolated soy protein may be used, but must be shown in the ingredients statement on the product’s label by its common name.  Most hot dogs contain MSM (mechanically separated meat). Mechanically separated poultry is a paste-like and batter-like poultry product produced by forcing bones, with attached edible tissue, through a sieve or similar device under high pressure to separate bone from the edible tissue.  In 1995, a final rule on mechanically separated poultry said it was safe and could be used without restrictions. However, it must be labeled as “mechanically separated chicken or turkey” in the product’s ingredients statement. The final rule became effective November 4, 1996. Hot dogs can contain any amount of mechanically separated chicken or turkey.If that’s not enough to get you thinking about the next hot dog you eat, read on. 
The quintessentialal American hot dog, the Oscar Mayer wiener has the following ingredients: mechanically separated turkey, pork, mechanically separated chicken, water, contains less than 2% of salt, flavor ,sodium lactate, corn syrup , dextrose ,sodium phosphates, sodium diacetate, sodium ascorbate, sodium nitrite. Surprised? I guess I wasn’t, I just didn’t want to know this. As a primal eater, this just doesn’t work. The addition of corn syrup is problematic enough from a primal standpoint, but I was equally concerned about the last ingredient, sodium nitrite.
I had little knowledge about this ingredient or its effects, but was curious as more often these days I see labels that tout the fact that they are nitrite free. So I did a little checking.
Nitrites are found in most cured meats like bacon, ham and hot dogs. But, according the Cancer Prevention Coalition, nitrites have long been linked to a variety of cancers. “Peters et al. studied the relationship between the intake of certain foods and the risk of leukemia in children from birth to age 10 in Los Angeles County between 1980 and 1987. The study found that children eating more than 12 hot dogs per month have nine times the normal risk of developing childhood leukemia. A strong risk for childhood leukemia also existed for those children whose fathers’ intake of hot dogs was 12 or more per month.  Researchers Sarusua and Savitz studied childhood cancer cases in Denver and found that children born to mothers who consumed hot dogs one or more times per week during pregnancy has approximately double the risk of developing brain tumors. Children who ate hot dogs one or more times per week were also at higher risk of brain cancer. Bunin et al, also found that maternal consumption of hot dogs during pregnancy was associated with an excess risk of childhood brain tumors.”
Can you still enjoy hot dogs. Of course you can. You just need to be conscious about what you are buying. Read the labels and try to avoid cured products that contain nitrites.
There are lots of alternatives. Applegate Farms makes a great hot dog that’s healthier for you and delicious  Compare their hot dog’s ingredients with the Oscar Mayer wiener. The Applegate Farms hot dog has the following ingredients: Organic Grass-Fed Beef, Water, Contains Less Than 2% Of The Following: Sea Salt, Organic Spices, Organic Garlic Powder, Organic Paprika, Celery Powder, Organic Onion, Lactic Acid Starter Culture (Not From Milk). Not only are there no nitrites, its made with organic grass fed beef which will provide you with plenty of healthy omega 3 fatty acids. With that combination, you can’t go wrong. In addition, with summer farmers’ markets in full swing you can likely find a variety of locally made, nitrite free hot dogs, sausages and bratwurst from a local purveyor.

Applegate Farms' Sausages

So abandon the corn syrup, nitrite, mechanically separated meat versions of this American classic for the healthier versions and you’ll be amazed at how good a hot dog can really be, even without a bun!  Yes, I said without a bun.  Try it wrapped in a piece of lettuce with your favorite toppings, and you will be pleasantly surprised.

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Monday, June 21st, 2010 Uncategorized 2 Comments

Viva La Crepe

I used to live down the street from a little coffee house and creperie, The City Coffee House and Creperie .  Their crepes are simply to die for.  One of my favorites was the Shady Oak which was a buckwheat crepe filled with grilled chicken, spinach, tomato relish, havarti cheese and  drizzled with honey mustard dressing.  It was a favorite indulgence of mine.  I was craving one of these crepes theo other day so I decided to replicate it.  My version was just as delicious but still primal to the core.  I hope you enjoy it as much as I did! You can fill these delicious crepes with anything you like.  They are great for any meal and perfect filled with your favorite fruit for desert.

Crepes Stuffed with Chicken, Tomato Relish and Spinach

You will need a good non-stick skillet (8″) or a crepe pan. This recipe will yield 4 crepes.


  • 5 eggs
  • 1/2 cup plus two tablespoons of almond or coconut flour
  • 2 1 tsp. honey
  • 3 tbls. dijon mustard
  • 4 grilled chicken breasts
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • 2 ripe tomatos
  • 2 green onions
  • 1 tbls Olive Oil
  • 2 tbls. balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tbls. chopped fresh basil
  • coconut oil


Make the crepe batter.  Beat the eggs in a mixing bowl and add the almond or coconut flour and one teaspoon of honey. Stir to combine well and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Next, make the tomato relish.  Combine chopped tomato, sliced green onions, chopped basil, olive oil and balsamic vinegar.  Stir to combine and add salt and pepper to taste.  set aside so the flavors can combine.

Make the honey mustard drizzle by combining 3 tablespoons of dijon mustard with 2 table spoons of honey.

Dice up the grilled chicken breasts and coarsely chop or tear the spinach and set aside.

Now preheat your oven to 300º f. and heat the non-stick skillet or crepe pan over medium heat.  Add 1/2 tbls. of coconut oil to the pan.  Remove the crepe batter from the refrigerator and stir well. Pour 1/2 cup of the stirred crepe batter in the hot pan and swirl to evenly and thinly  the batte over the pan.  Watch the crepe closely as it will brown fairly quickly.  When the crepe is nicely browned flip it in the pan and brown the other side.  Remove the crepe from the pan and place it on a cookie sheet.  Continue making the crepes until you have used all the batter.

After the crepes are done fill 1/2 side of the crepe with 1 chopped chicken breast, 1/2 cup spinach and 2-3 tabls. of the tomato relish.  Fold the crepes over the stuffing and place the cookie sheet in the oven for about 10 minutes or until the crepes are evenly heated through.

Plate each crepe, drizzle with the honey mustard and serve.

These crepes are very versatile and can be stuffed with just about anything.  a delicious vegetarian version might include spinach, sauteed mushrooms and goat cheese.  Or try filling them with fresh sliced berries and drizzled with cream.  Bon appetit!

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Friday, June 18th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Comfort Food Gone Primal

Roast Chicken, Just Like Potatoe Kugel and Roasted Brussel Sprouts

Having just celebrated Mother’s Day, and with Father’s Day just around the corner, I found myself  thinking about spending time with my family, holidays, and comfort food.  You know, the food your mom made growing up that you can never seem to duplicate perfectly.  Try as I might, it never seems to quite turn out like Mom used to make.  That probably has a lot to do with the experience of sitting around the table with your family enjoying a meal.  Growing up Jewish, food played a big role in our family.  Each holiday had some dish that was usually associated with it, and when the holiday neared, you looked forward to having that dish served at the holiday celebration.  It was Matzoh Ball Soup and Potato Kugel at Passover, or Roasted Brisket with Kasha (bukwheat) and Potatoes for Rosh Hashanah.  My Mom’s cooking was definitely heavy on the carbs and starches.

Having gone primal, a lot of these dishes are, of course, forbidden.  But, this doesn’t mean that you can’t still enjoy the same taste, feel and texture of many of the dishes you grew up on, and still remain faithful to your primal lifestyle.  I find myself constantly trying to replicate those dishes my Mom made, but, with a primal spin. 

One of my favorite dishes that my Mom served was Potato Kugel.  Kugel is a baked Jewish pudding or casserole usually made with potatoes or noodles.  Its somewhat similar to a potato pancake (latke) but in casserole form.  It’s simply delicious, especially served with your favorite roasted meat or chicken.  It soaks up the delicious meat juices on the plate and simply is heaven on a plate. 

The other night I was determined to replicate this kugel, but alas, I wasn’t about to use potatoes. I opened the fridge, which always has a big variety of fruits and vegetables and noticed:

Voila! Daikon Radishes.  I had used regular red radishes before as a substitute for potatoes, but the thought of grating a hundred radishes to create a potato kugel seemed daunting at best.  I thought that the Daikon Radish was the perfect solution.  It is a very large mild flavored white east asian radish that is very commonly used in Japan and other asian cuisines.  Daikon is very low in calories. A 3 ounce serving contains only 18 calories and provides 34 percent of the RDA for vitamin C. Rich in vitamin C, daikon contains active enzymes that aid digestion, particularly of starchy foods. Select those that feel heavy and have lustrous skin and fresh leaves. I had picked some up at the grocery store earlier in the week thinking I would simply snack on it or use it in a salad.  While not used by many in the US very often, they are widely available in most grocery stores.

Let me tell you, the Daikon worked perfectly in this Kugel.  It was almost identical to my Mom’s Potato Kugel, just a little moister.  Here’s the recipe:

Just Like Potato Kugel 

Preheat your oven to 375º f.  Genourously butter or grease a 9″ x 13″ cake pan.  I prefer a glass baking dish as I think that the Kugel browns better.


  • 8 cups grated Daikon Radish
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 4 eggs beaten
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • salt & pepper to taste


You will need 2 large mixing bowls.  Grate the Daikon Radish and place in 1 of the large mixing bowls.  When you have finished  grating the Daikon Radish, place both mixing bowls next to your sink.  Grab handfuls of the grated Daikon, and with both hands, squeeze out as much of the moisture as you can.  Place the squeezed radish in the empty mixing bowl and continue until you have gone through all of the grated radish.  It is really important that you squeeze out as much moisture as you can. Then grate the onion directly into the Daikon radish.  Now, beat the eggs and pour them over the drained grated Daikon and onion.  Add the almond flour and salt and pepper to taste.  (I happen to like a lot of pepper but you could really get away with none since the radish has a mild peppery flavor anyway).  Stir all of these ingedients together until it is well mixed.  Pour the mixture into your buttered baking dish, spreading it out evenly throughout the baking dish.  Bake the Kugel in your preheated oven, 45 minutes to 1 hour, or until the kugel is browned to your liking.  Remove the Kugel from the oven and slice it into the desired number of portions and serve with your favorite roasted meat or poultry.

You will definitely be surprised at the intense flavor and potato like texture you will obtain with this recipe.  This recipe will make multiple servings and you will likely have leftovers.  It will keep for several days in your refrigerator.   It will be just as delicious the next morning, rewarmed and served topped with fried or poached eggs and a drizzle of sriracha or hout sauce.  Yummy!

Live healthier, happier, leaner and stronger.



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Wednesday, June 16th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Go Climb a Tree!

Since I’ve started the primal lifestyle from Mark Sisson’s The Primal Blueprint  I’ve done a lot of thinking about more than just diet and nutrition.  As I pledged in my first post, my main goal in this primal journey is to live healthier, happier, stronger and leaner.  Party of my pre-primal lifestyle always included exercise.  After reading The Primal Blueprint I started to think that maybe what I thought was exercise to make me healthier, stronger and leaner was not making me happier or having the real benefits that my body needed.

My routine for the last 10 or more years included, almost exclusively, running and cycling.  I was pretty passionate about these activities.  I’ve run 5 marathons, countless 1/2 marathons, biathlons and triathlons.  I’ve also logged thousands of miles on my bike, having followed the Tour De France on my bike twice, once through the Alps, and once through the Pyrenees and Alps.  I thought I was strong, healthy and lean. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the running and cycling, but, there were too many occasions to count when I would dread the next long run or bike ride.  There simply wasn’t enough variety in my activities to keep my body strong as it could have been.  More importantly, because of the lack of variety, simply running 3-4 times a week, and cycling the remaining days, wasn’t enough to keep my mind focused and engaged.

To top it off, all of those years of pounding out the long mile, seemed to take a toll on my body and my mind. I was plagued with injury, knee issues, hamstring issues, and calf problems.  You get the picture.  Typically, I would trudge on, through the injury.  I got to the point where my mind just couldn’tkeep up anymore.  After a series of injuries in the last year, the stressesof life and some family issues, I stopped running and exercising.  I would bike once in awhile, take a spinning class, but that was about it.  I never thought I would get to the point where I wasn’t working out every day.  In fact, I often questioned the dedication of friends who would take a week off when they had a minor injury, cold or the flu.  Not me, I had to be really really sick to skip a day of running or biking. 

Well, I found my self in that very position.  The combination of injury, boredom and lack of variety got me to the place I thought I would never be.  I started to put on weight and generally felt like a sloth.  So, in the late winter of this year,  against my will again, I was talked into starting the P90X program by my partner.   This is an intense program which includes a variety of high intensity aerobic and strength workouts.  I made it through the 90 day program, and in fact started it over again, and am now finishing phase 2 this week.  While I think that this may be too intense of a program for most, and probably not the ideal primal exercise plan, it made me realize something important.  I wasn’t bored with my workouts anymore.  There was plenty of variety and I was learning just how weak I was in certain areas that I didn’t need or use just didn’t use while running or biking.

Lets face it, variety makes everything more interesting. P90X helped me realize this.  The Primal Blueprint was the final piece of the puzzle.  It made me realize that my  previous notions about exercise was causing me to injure my body, joints, mind and happiness level.  Now, its no longer about chronic cardio, its about making myself leaner and stronger and enjoying it all the time.  This means lots of low level aerobic activity, walking and hiking for example.  Its about lifting heavy things once in a while.  Its about high level aerobic activity once in awhile.  Its also about rest and allowing my body to heal. 

I will no longer force myself to run 50 miles a week and bike 100 miles a week.  I may have some weeks where I will bike over a hundred miles or run 50 miles, but they will not be the standard.  However, because of the variety I am providing in my life, when I do these things, I will enjoy them more and be fit and strong enough to do them.

See that picture at the top.  That’s me this past weekend.  We went to Johnson Shut-Ins State Park which recently reopened after 5 years of being closed due to a catastrophic breach in a reservoir that sits way above the park.  Notice the big smile on my face.  I hiked about 5 miles through the Scour (this is where the breach devastated a part of the forest below the reservoir).  I then climbed, swam and simply just had fun in the river.

What a blast.  I was active and was having fun.  Afterwords I felt happier, healthier and stronger.  goal accomplished.

Rethink how you live your life.  Whats going to make you healthier, happier and stronger.  You can accomplish this and still have fun.  Throw a Frisbee around in the yard.  Go for a walk in the park. Go Climb a tree.  I guarantee you will have a renewed interest in life, you will still burn calories and you will be stronger in ways you never thought possible.

Live healthier, happier, stronger and leaner.

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 Uncategorized 5 Comments

Its Primal Party Time

Hooray! Once again the weekend is upon us.  Even now that I am not working, I still look forward to the weekends.  Happy hours, parties, dining out or just staying home, people just seem to be happier when the weekend comes around. For me weekends always mean doing something active during the day – running with my running group, cycling, hiking, oh, and of course stuff around the house. Evenings can be laid back, dinner and a movie, parties, or just getting together with friends at a bar.  While I typically shy away from alcohol during the week, I do enjoy a cocktail or two, or a glass of wine, on the weekends.  Its something I am just not willing to give up. So, can you still enjoy some wine or a cocktail while still being faithful to the primal lifestyle.  It’s a choice, but I think you can.  Of course, it goes without saying, moderation is the key.

The news is fraught with the benefits of drinking in moderation, from lower heart disease risk to a lower risk for diabetes (  Some studies suggest that it may actually lower insulin levels altogether and may prevent diabetes through that mechanism.  Precisely what a primal diet is supposed to do, right!  Also, alcohol isn’t metabolized the same way as carbohydrates.  Of course it does have calories, so be careful.  Alcohol is metabolized in the liver and becomes your body’s first choice for energy.  so, you won’t be burning fat until you burn off those alcohol calories.   So enjoy a drink every now and then if you like.

While you’re at it, why not mix your favorite alcohol with something that packs some antioxidant effects.  Might I suggest during the upcoming hot summer months that you add some rum to an icy green tea with freshly muddled mint. 

Cheers and enjoy, in moderation, of course.  Have a great weekend!

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Saturday, June 12th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

The "C" Word

Who isn’t afraid of Cancer?  According to the U.S. Cancer Society, cancer is the second leading cause of death in the United states.  It is second only to heart disease and contributes to 1 out of every 4 deaths in the U.S. every year.  Can you eat a diet that can actually protect you from cancer.  William Li, head of the Angiogenesis Foundation,, believes that angiogenesis is a medical breakthrough that promises to conquer cancer.  Angiogenesis is the process your body uses to build blood vessels.  Mr. Li believes that cancer cells can’t thrive without the nutrients and oxygen supplied by your capillaries.  He believes if that we can control angiogenesis, we can prevent a myriad of diseases, including cancer.

Coming from a family that has been plagued with numerous events of cancer, many culminating in death, I read up on angiogenesis and highly recommend that you listen to Mr. Li’s fascinating presentation for TED,  According to Mr. Li,  the majority of people carry around microscopic cancer cell clusters in their bodies, but not everyone actually develops cancer.  He posits that if your body has the ability to balance angiogenesis properly, it will prevent blood vessels from forming to feed these microscopic tumors.  When cancer cells manage to get their own blood supply, they can transform from harmless to deadly.

There are currently numerous anti-angiogenesis drugs being used today to treat cancer.  Mr. Li believes that drugs for curing cancer are not the only answer, but rather, focus should be on stopping cancer before it starts.  He believes that this can be done through diet.  If you could eat foods that would protect you from cancer, wouldn’t you?  Seems to make sense, especially since mother nature has given us a tremendous number of foods and herbs that actually assist in the anti-angiogenesis process, thereby starving cancer cells from progressing.

Some of these foods are probably already in your diet, especially if you are a primal eater.  So either continue to eat or incorporate these ant-angiogenesis foods in your diet on a regular basis:

Surprised?  Like I said, you probably eat many if not all of these things on a daily, weekly or monthly basis.  One of my favorite snacks from this list is Oven Baked Kale.  It’s really simple to make, delicious and will  your craving for something crispy and crunchy.  It’s a great snack (I like to eat it out of a bowl like popcorn), or an awesome nibble to serve at your next cocktail party. 

How To Make oven Baked Kale

To make Oven Baked Kale you will need an oven preheated to 350 degrees fahrenheit, a cookie sheet, olive oil and salt to taste.  Simply wash and dry a bunch of Kale.  Then, remove the leaves from the thick stems and tear  into pieces the size of a tortilla chips.  Toss the clean and dry kale with a tablespoon or two of olive oil (depending on how much Kale you are using) and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.  Bake for about 10-15 minutes until the kale is browned but not burnt.  Remove the kale from the oven and let it rest for a few minutes and then enjoy.  You can kick it up a notch with your favorite seasonings like curry powder, garlic salt, cayenne pepper or even parmesan cheese.

Eat to starve cancer and enjoy!

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Friday, June 11th, 2010 Uncategorized 3 Comments