Eat Sleep and Play Primally

Archive for September, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

Have a great day!

Friday, September 24th, 2010 Uncategorized No Comments

Happy New Year: 5771

Shofar (Rams Horn) blown during the Jewish High Holidays to awaken us from our spiritual slumber

September 8th, 2010 marked the beginning of year 5771 of the Jewish calendar and for those who don’t know this, it is also the beginning of the Jewish High Holidays.  These are the most important holidays on the Jewish calendar starting with Rosh Hashanah and culminating 10 days later with Yom Kippur.  These 10 days are commonly referred to as the “Days of Awe”, a time to contemplate your conduct in the previous year as well asa  time to set goals for the next year.  These 10 days also focus on repentance for the past years indiscretions in an effort to not repeat those mistakes in the coming year. In reflecting on all the changes in my life this past year I’ve thought a lot about my decision to live the primal lifestyle.  Its been almost 4 months now and I truly believe the changes in my life are remarkable.  I feel fitter, stronger, healthier and happier.  These were my original goals when I started on this journey and honestly I couldn’t be happier or prouder of this decision.

Of course, in the spirit of confession that is typical in the Jewish faith at this time of the year, I also had to reflect on how faithful I was to the “primal blueprint”.  I believe that I’ve done really well.  Of course, no one is perfect, but that’s what makes life so interesting.  On a camping a trip over weekend, and after a few to many glasses of wine, I ate a Hostess Ding Dong and Oreo cookies.  I’m not gonna lie. They were as good as I expected them to be.  However, I really don’t feel that bad about eating these sugary, floury delights.  I know I won’t be having another one for a long time.  I’d like to say that I will never eat another one again.  But, that is not realistic.  Rather, I will simply reaffirm my commitment to not eat this type of food in the next year.  I will strive for 100% commitment, and I will be fitter, stronger, healthier and happier as a result. I am sure that this next year will prove to be even more remarkable.

Of course, Jewish Holidays typically include some sort of festive meal.  My Mom always made a Honey Cake on Rosh Hashanna.  It is tradition to mark the new year with something sweet.  As a kid this always meant dipping freshly sliced apples in sweet honey and Honey Cake after the traditional meal.  Just because I have decided to live primally, however, does not mean that I have to give up this tradition, I simply have to reinvent it.  So instead of making the typical Honey Cake made with tons of flour and sugar like my Mom’s, I made a primal version that is still sweetened with honey, but contains no refined flour or sugar.  I was really pleased with the results.  It was dense, delicately spicy, moist and, just like the original version, went really well with a good cup of coffee.  Honey is supposed to encourage a sweet new year and while you might not be celebrating the new year you should try this delicious cake and have a sweet year as well!

Primal Honey Cake

You will need the following ingredients:

  • ½ cup strong black coffee (I used Starbucks Instant Via but only used 1/2 a cup of water instead of a full cup as directed)
  • 2 ½ cups blanched almond flour
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon cloves, ground
  • ¼ teaspoon allspice, ground
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ½ cup organic honey (if you like it sweeter you can add more)
  • ¼ cup almond oil, grapeseed oil or olive oil
  • 2 eggs
  • ½ cup raisins

To prepare the honey cake:

Preheat oven to 350º.  Generously oil a 9″ round or square cake pan.  In a small bowl, pour some hot water over the raisins to soften and let cool.  In a large bowl, combine almond flour, salt, baking soda, cinnamon, cloves and allspice.  In a separate bowl, combine vanilla, honey, eggs and almond oil. Beat until smooth with a hand mixer. Add cooled coffee and beat to incorporate.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and beat with hand mixer until smooth. Drain the raisins and stir the raisins into the cake batter.  Pour the batter into the well greased cake pan and bake in the 350º oven for 30-35 minutes.  Check the cake after about 25 minutes.  It will be done when a tooth pick placed in the center of the cake comes out clean.  When the cake is done let cool and serve.  Traditionally, this cake is not frosted, but you an top it with homemade whipped cream or cream cheese frosting.  To make the frosting you can simply beat together softened cream cheese and honey until you get a smooth spreadable consistency.

Enjoy and I hope you have a healthy and sweet New Year.

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Monday, September 13th, 2010 Recipes 8 Comments

Pretty Primal Chocolate Cheesecake

No Bake Chocolate Cheesecake

So the other day I promised that I would post my recipe for the Chocolate Cheesecake I made the other day.  I warned that this dessert was not perfectly primal and so some of you may pass on this one.  To make it I used Ghiradelli 60% Cacao Chocolate Chips and some stevia (purevia).  This is the highest cacao content chocolate chip I could find and you can substitute a higher cacao content chocolate if you like.  Of course the chocolate chips contain sugar which many of you shy away from.  Becasue I am pretty faithful to the primal eating plan, pretty much staying under 100 grams of carbs a day, I was not that worried about it. But, because I brought it up, I was interested to see what the actual total carb count for 1 serving of this cheese cake would be. Including all ingredients, I calculated that 1 serving (1/8 of the cheesecake) had an approximate total carb count of 17 grams.  Wow, I was really surprised at how low this really was.  This is not bad at all.  If you made this cheesecake with the chocolate chips and 1 cup of sugar (instead of the stevia) it takes the carb count up to about 41 grams.  That’s a savings of 24 grams of carbs which is pretty significant.  So this is a perfect celebration splurge, maybe not something you would eat all the time, but something you might make for a special occasion.  This cheese cake is smooth, creamy and chocolate delicious. If you decide to try it, I hope you like it.

Chocolate Cheesecake

You will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 package knox gelateen
  • 1 cup of boiling water
  • 6 -8 packages of purevia (stevia)
  • 2 8 0z. packages softened cream cheese
  • 1 cup Ghiradelli 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup almond meal/flour
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 3 tbls. butter
  • 1/2 – 1 tsp. ground cinammon

To prepare the cheesecake:

Preheat the oven to 350º.  Prepare the crust.  Melt 3 tbls. of butter in the microwave.  In a bowl, combine the butter and almond meal/flour (I used meal because I think it looks more like a graham cracker crust) and cinammon.  Stir to combine.  If it seems to wet, add more almond meal until you get a crumbly moist texture.  Press the almond meal mixture into the bottom of a 9″ galss pie plate and place in the oven for about 10-15 minutes.  In the meantime, bring 1 cup of water with the stevia added to a boil.  At this point you can melt the cup of chocolate chips in a double boiler (or the microwave, but, be careful here because if you leave them in the microwave too long the chocolate will separate).  When the water comes to a boil add the gelateen package and stir until the gelateen is completely dissolved (several minutes).  Remove the pie shell from the oven.  Now, with a hand mixer, beat the melted chocolate chips, vanilla and softened cream cheese together until smooth and creamy.  Add the gelateen mixture to the cream cheese mixture and beat until fully incorporated.  Pour the cheesecake mixture into the baked pie shell and refrigerate for several hours (2-3) to set.  Serve the cheesecake on its own or with fresh fruit and whipped cream (I whip up some heavy whipping cream with cinammon).


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Friday, September 3rd, 2010 Recipes 1 Comment

Iron Chef Inspiration: Broc-N-Cheese!

I am addicted to the food network.  I have been watching it for years and one of my favorite shows is Iron Chef.  While I prefer the more campy style of the original Japanese version, I still enjoy the food network version.  I get lots of inspiration from this show.  I love that they focus on one ingredient and then make several dishes where that secret ingredient is the star.  The secret ingredient on the show I just watched was broccoli.  Growing up I was not a fan.  Its one of those vegetables that you either liked or didn’t like.  My parents didn’t understand this dislike, nor some of my other food quirks but always said that someday I would change my tune.  Well this is true for many things I wouldn’t eat as a kid.  I didn’t like tomatoes, mac-n-cheese, asparagus, peas, broccoli, and the list goes on and on.

These days I eat all of these items, including broccoli, and love them.  I don’t know why I did not like them as a kid, but I am glad as an adult that I am not missing out.  Anyway, after watching the last Iron Chef I was inspired to create a new broccoli dish.  It actually combined components from two things I wouldn’t eat as a child, broccoli and mac-n-cheese.  Of course, eating primally meant that I couldn’t use macaroni, so I combined the broccoli with the cheese sauce from mac-n-cheese  to create a dish that was truly delicious and of Iron Chef proportions: I call it Broc-n-Cheese. It looked so good that I coul not wait to eat it when it came out of the oven all hot and bublly and I forgot to take a picture until after we had already devoured more than half of it.  I’ll post the picture, but be warned, its not pretty.  It was pretty before I got my hands on it, but, oh well, if your squeamish, just don’t look, but be sure to make it.


This is not the broccoli with cheez wiz sauce your mom made at thanksgiving every year, but a more refined and tasty version.  The broccoli is roasted first to give it a crisper feel and better taste.  The cheese sauce is rich with egg and vermouth, and the crispy topping comes from pork rinds not bread crumbs.  Its perfectly primal and good for you and makes a great accompaniment to your favorite roasted meat.

Broccoli is known for its anticancer properties but did you know it could also boost the immune system in older people and slow down the effects of ageing, according to research by Dr. Andre Nel from UCLA.  A chemical found in this cruciferous vegetable called sulforaphane was found to activate a number of antioxidant genes and enzymes in immune cells. These prevent free radicals from damaging cells.  Free radicals are byproducts of normal body processes, such as the conversion of food into energy. They are a supercharged form of oxygen, which can cause oxidative tissue damage leading to disease – for example, triggering the inflammation process that causes clogged arteries.  So I say eat broccoli.

One of the challenges of making this dish is that most real cheese sauces use flour as a thickener so I had to come up with a way to make this sauce thick, delicious and creamy without resorting to flour.  Well this recipe uses no flour and the cheese sauce is as good as any you probably have had.  I used both sharp cheddar cheese and blue cheese in my recipe.  Understanding that alot of people don’t like blue cheese (however, like my parents said to me, i say to you “someday you wil change your tune”) you can leave it out and use all cheddar, or any combination of cheese you like.  I think that the blue cheese gives it a really nice sharp and creamy texture, however.  While this is not the easiest dish to make, it is well worth the effort and time. So, here’s the recipe:


You will need the following ingredients:

  • 3 nice size stalks of broccoli
  • olive oil
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 oz. greek yogurt or cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup vermouth
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 12 oz. grated cheddar cheese
  • 4 oz. crumbled blue cheese (or substitute and equal amount of sharp cheddar or your favorite cheese like gouda or goat cheese)
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup ground pork rinds
  • salt and pepper to taste

To prepare the Brow-N-Cheese:

Prepare the broccoli by cutting the tops into florets. Peel the stalk and slice into 1/4″ slices.  Place the broccoli florets and stalks on a cookie sheet and spray with olive oil and add salt and pepper to taste.  Toss the broccoli to coat with the olive oil.  Place in a 400º preheated oven for about 30 minutes.  You want the broccoli to become browned well, but not burned, so keep your eye on it.  While the broccoli is roasting, prepare the cheese sauce.  Place the milk, yogurt or cream cheese and vermouth in a sauce pan and place on the stove over medium low heat and heat to just about simmer. Stir often and keep you eye on it so it doesn’t scald.   Beat the eggs.  When the milk comes to just a simmer, add some to the eggs, stirring to temper the eggs (you don’t want to scramble them).  Add the remaining milk to the eggs and stir to incorporate.  Place the egg milk mixture back in the sauce pan and cook on low heat until it starts to thicken.  Stir often.  I found that when the mixture coats the back of a spoon it is thick enough.  When the milk egg mixture has thickened, add  8 oz. of cheddar cheese and 4 oz. of blue cheese along with the cayenne pepper to it and stir to completely melt the cheese.  This makes a fairly good amount of cheese sauce and you may have some left over.  By this time, the broccoli should be done and removed from the oven. Lower the heat on the oven to 350º.  Now, in a medium size glass baking dish combine the broccoli and half of the cheese sauce.   You want there to be enough cheese sauce to completely coat and cover the broccoli.  Add more cheese sauce if necessary and keep the rest for another time.    Spread the remaining 4 oz. of shredded sharp cheddar cheese on top and then spread the pork rind crumbs on top of that.  Place in the oven for about 30 to 25 minutes until it is hot and bubbly.  If you like the top browned and crispier you can broil it at the end for a couple of minutes.  Remove it from the oven and serve.
The next evening I used the remaining cheese sauce in a similar dish, but, instead of using broccoli, I used about 3 – 4 cups of cubed and parboiled rutabaga and butternut squash.  You can substitute other vegetables as well.  I think roasted cauliflower would be really good in this dish as well.  Play around using different vegetables and cheeses to come up with your favorite combination.

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Thursday, September 2nd, 2010 Recipes 4 Comments

My Just Desserts! Chocolate Cupcakes.

Primal Chocolate Cupcake

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

Primal Chocolate Cupcake

To make the cupcakes, you will need:

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

To prepare the cupcakes:

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


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