Archive for July, 2010
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.
The combined action of nutrients in sea Buckthorn oil provides integrative anti-cancer properties, according to a description on the Drugs.com 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.
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 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.
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?
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.
- 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)
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
There’s nothing like a vacation. The excitement of deciding where to go, what to do, where to stay and then, when its all planned, the anticipation of the day of departure finally arriving. My partner’s 40th birthday is coming up and rather than spending lots of money on a party that only lasts a few hours, I decided we would go to on vacation instead. We decided on Puerto Vallarta, Mexico and I can’t tell you how excited we are about this trip. We both love to travel and have both traveled extensively. Neither of us has been to Puerto Vallarta. I’m the type that likes to keep going and typically am not that interested in just lounging around at the pool or beach for a week. We always try to go somewhere where there’s lots to do and see. I had a small change of heart last year after staying with a friend in his beautiful villa in Playa Langosta, just outside Tamarindo, Costa Rica.
It was uber relaxing hanging out at the beach, taking naps, watching the sun set and enjoying great company. The day was usually capped of with a cocktail on the beach and then a nice dinner in town after the sun went down. I have come to realize that you can have a great vacation when you balance activity with rest. So, this trip to Puerto Vallarta will include some activity and some relaxing.
My biggest conundrum, however, is how I will eat and remain faithfully primal in the land of beans, rice and tortillas. This will be my first vacation since embracing the primal lifestyle. During a walk in the park the other day I told my partner that I just didn’t know how I would handle the eating portion of this trip. I love Mexican food. Chips, salsa, tortillas, tacos, well the temptation may just be to much for me. Don’t even get me started on the margarita and pina colada issue. I suppose everyone will point out that there will be lots of choices: fresh fish, fruits, vegetables, etc. But when you get to your hotel and they greet you with a couple of fresh margaritas, a bowl of hot tortilla chips and guacomole, well, I don’t think I can just ask for a spoon to eat the quacamole, and send back the chips and margaritas.
There’s something about being on vacation. Would I go to Paris and not eat my favorite Schwarma Sandwich from the stand at the bottom of Sacre Coeur, or that delicious pistachio macaroon from the pastry shop in the Marais? A vacation just wouldn’t be a vacation without experiencing the culture around you, and this always includes the food. I spend every day planning my meals and workouts to remain happy, fit and healthy. I don’t want to think so much on vacation. Will one week of a “who cares attitude” really make a difference in the scheme of things? Or, will it throw me into a never ending abyss of carbo craziness.
What do you think? Should I throw caution to the wind or is there a better way to attack this? Please help! Adios!
Yesterday I posted a recipe for Home Style Primal Pepper Steak. I recommended that it be served with Cauliflower Rice, but I didn’t give a recipe for the Cauliflower Rice. I got a lot of requests, so here it is. Also, My mom used to serve her Pepper Steak with biscuits from the tube. It was great to have something to soak up the additional sauce with. I served mine with Primal Cornbread. Well, its not really corn bread. There’s no corn meal in it at all. While the texture is a little different, it is closer to cornbread than you might think. I have a set of vintage cast iron cornbread pans which I use to make mine. It looks just like cornbread and the cast iron pan makes the whole stick crunchy on the outside and moist and tender on the inside. These will work just as well on a cookie sheet or in a muffin tin, but if you have a cast iron cornbread pan, use it.!
The Cauliflower Rice is so easy to make, especially if you have a food processor. You can vary this recipe in any way you want. You can make fried rice by adding garlic and green onion to the oil, seasoning the cauliflower while its cooking with soy sauce, and when its almost done, clearing a space in the middle of your pan and walk and scrambling an egg or two in it. Drizzle it with some sesame oil at the end, and that’s it. Try Cauliflower rice Pilaf by adding green onion, garlic and diced mushrooms to the oil before adding the cauliflower.
Simple Cauliflower Rice
All you need is a non-stick skillet or a wok, a food processor with a grater attachment or box grater. This will make 3-4 large servings/sides.
- 1 head cauliflower
- 2-3 tbls. olive oil or coconut oil
- salt and pepper to taste
Begin by cutting up the cauliflower so it will fit through the feeding tube of your processor with the grater blade attached. Grate all of the cauliflower. If you are not using a food processor it is just as easy although a little more time consuming to grate the cauliflower on a box grater by hand. Use the largest grater section you have. Heat your non-stick skillet or wok over medium high heat and add 2-3 tbls. olive oil or cocomut oil. When the oil is hot, add the cauliflower and season with salt and pepper. Stir fry the cauliflower for 5-8 minutes until the cauliflower is cooked and heated through. Stir the the cauliflower ofter. It will shrink significantly while cooking. Be careful not to overcook as the cauliflower may get mushy, Remove from the heat and serve immediately as a side to just about any dish. It goes great with a simple stir-fry or even better with my Home Style Primal Pepper Steak.
You will need a muffin tin, muffin top pan, or cast iron cornbread pan. This will make 6-8 biscuits or cornbread sticks.
- 4 eggs
- 1/4 cup cooled, melted butter
- 1/4 tsp. salt.
- 1/3 cup coconut flower
- 1/4 tsp. baking powder
- 4 oz. shredded sharp cheddar cheese
- 1 tbls. honey (optional)
Preheat oven to 400º. Whisk together the eggs, cooled melted butter, salt, and honey (optional) and set a side. Next combine sifted coconut flower with baking powder and mix together well. Add the coconut flour mixture to the wet ingredients and stir to combine well. Fold in the cheddar cheese. Spoon the mixture into a greased muffin tin, muffin top pan, or cast iron cornbread pan. Bake for about 15 minutes until well browned, but not burned. Keep you eye on them! Serve them hot alongside your favorite dish, soup or chili. These heat up really well later in a toaster oven. They will freeze well and crisp up nicely in a toaster oven straight from the freezer.
Enjoy and let me know what you think.
Has anyone ever dreamed about food. Since going Primal, I seem to dream a lot more, perhaps because I am sleeping better as a result of a better balance of diet and exercise. Many of my dreams seem to involve food. I think this might be because I subconsciously miss some of the “forbidden foods” or because I am constantly trying to come up with new and inventive recipes to defray the cravings I have. Lets face it, for many, food is comforting. Just thinking about family dinners, celebrations, holidays, or just strolling down the street with an ice cream cone conjures up warm feelings. Crazy as it may seem, I recently had a dream of sitting around my Mom’s kitchen while she prepared one of our family favorites. Pepper Steak. I swear I could smell it simmering in her electric skillet while I was sleeping. When I woke up the next morning and recalled the dream I was determined to make her Pepper Steak for dinner that day. Of course my mom’s version wasn’t perfectly primal. She used lots of margarine and it was always served over a bed of rice-a-roni. My version is just as good, but is perfectly primal and delicious.
I substituted the margarine for butter and the rice-a-roni with cauliflower rice. This is a simple recipe and utilizes ingredients that I know we almost always have in our house and you probably do to. My Mom’s preferred cut of meat for this dish was skirt steak. Growing up in Chicago, this cut was abundant. I was surprised after moving away how difficult skirt steak was to find. I typically had to go to the local Mexican market to find it. I’m happy to say that this cut of meat has become increasingly more popular and easier to find. Many of the grass fed beef stands at our local farmers’ markets carry this cut of meat now. I have also substituted the bison fillet tips I have been buying lately at the butcher shop in the St. Louis’ Soulard Farmers’ Market. You can substitute just about any cut of grass fed beef for this recipe. If its a tougher cut you have to be careful to not overcook it.
My Mom would let hers simmer for quite awhile until the peppers and onions were very soft. I prefer to make this a quicker version, leaving some of the bite to the vegetables. My Mom also used a beef bouillon cube in hers. I do use beef bouillon granules in mine to impart a rich beefy flavor. While I try to stay away from this because of the salt content, I find that it makes it more like I remember it. You can ommit this and use beef stock or broth instead. Yours just may be a little bit more soupy. My Mom’s also did not have mushrooms in it, but, I sometimes add mushrooms to mine.
This recipe serves 2-4 people, depending on your appetite. It reheats very well for lunch the next day. You can also use the leftovers in an omelet the next day. I hope you enjoy this dreamy family favorite of mine.
Home Style Primal Pepper Steak
All you need is a large non stick skillet.
- 1 lb. skirt steak, fillet, sirloin or your favorite cut of beef
- 1 large yellow or white onion
- 1 green pepper
- 1 red pepper
- 1 ripe tomato
- 1 clove of garlic, finely chopped
- 4-6 tbls. of butter
- 1/’2 cup red wine
- 1 to 1 1/2 tsp. beef bouillon granules or 1/2 cup beef broth or stock
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste (omit the salt if you use bouillon)
- cauliflower rice for serving
Slice the beef in to 2 x 1/2″ strips. Slice the green and red pepper in to 2 x 1/2 inch strips. Cut the onion in half and slice (not too thinly). Mince the clove of garlic. Slice 1 cup of mushrooms (optional). Cut the tomato in medium to large cubes.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium high heat. Add 2-3 tbls. butter. When the butter has melted and is frothy, add the sliced meat to the skillet, season with pepper and salt (optional) and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup red wine and beef granules and or beef stock and bring to a boil. Simmer for another 2 minutes until the alcohol has boiled off. Remove the skillet from the heat and place the cooked beef in a bowl and set aside.
Return the skillet to the heat and melt 2-3 more tbls. butter. Add the garlic and saute for 1 minute. Add the onions and peppers to the skillet and saute until tender but not mushy. If you are using mushrooms, add them towards the end. When the vegetables are cooked to your liking return the beef and all its juices to the pan with the vegetables, add the tomato and lower the heat to low and simmer 2-3 minutes so the flavors can blend. If the sauce seems to soupy, you can add some additional butter to thicken and richen it.
Serve the Pepper Steak over cauliflower rice (or cauliflower mash) and enjoy!
On my first outing to find coconut flour I went to my favorite international food store. I had never seen coconut flour before so I didn’t really know what I was looking for. I searched and searched, and nothing. I finally asked the helpful, but not very good English speaking, clerk for help and she pointed me to a bag of coconut powder. It didn’t look much like flour to me, but, since I didn’t know any better, I bought it. The ingredient list showed simply “coconut”. It looked more like coconut granules, but not like shredded coconut. I got it home but still wasn’t sure I really got what I was looking for. I put it in the cupboard and scoured the internet for recipes using coconut flour. A few days later, while at my local grocery store, I was looking at the Bob’s Red Mill display, and quickly determined that what I had just bought was clearly not coconut flour. It was too granular and white. Oh well, the deed was done. Now I had to find something to do with this big bag of coconut powder I had just bought. If you read my recent post, Cuckoo for Coconut, I made a delicious chicken dish coated in the coconut powder and topped with mango salsa. The combination of coconut powder and almond meal made a coating for the chicken that was hardly discernible from the bread crumb version I’m sure most of you have had. I think the coconut powder works better than shredded coconut as it coats the chicken better and more closely simulates the “bread” crumb look.
I’ve since come up with another perfect use for coconut powder. Primal Choco-Coco Truffles. Now before you run out to find coconut powder, be warned, there is another product out there called coconut cream powder. This is more like coconut powdered milk. Don’t use this for the truffles, it will not work. Also, this recipe does use stevia, not very much, but I’m sure some of you may not like this. I have to tell you though this was such a treat. I really felt like I was eating a gourmet truffle from the candy shoppe. Here’s the recipe:
This recipe will yield 4-6 truffles, depending on how big you make them. You will need:
- 2 tbls. Crunchy Almond Butter
- 2-3 tbls. coconut powder
- 1 scant tbls. cocoa powder
- 2 packets of stevia
- pinch of salt (if you are using salt free almond butter)
- additional cocoa powder for dusting or finely chopped pecans for rolling
Combine the almond butter, cocoa, stevia and pinch of salt in a mixing bowl. When all of these ingredients are well combined, add 2 tbls. coconut powder. The consistency should allow you to roll the mixture in your hand into a ball. If it is too runny, add more coconut powder until you can easily form the mixture into balls. Using a tablespoon size measuring spoon, scoop one tablespoon of the mixture into your hand and roll it into a ball. Continue with this process until you have used all the mixture. Now you can roll the the balls in your favorite finely chopped nuts, or cocoa powder. You can leave also leave them as is. Place the truffles in the refrigerator for about 1/2 hour to allow them to set. Remove them from the refrigerator (one at a time if you can) and enjoy!