Tag Archives: Diet

National Pancake Day

28 Feb

I’m sure most Americans have heard by now – its National Pancake Day at the International House of Pancakes. That means free food comprised of a lot of flour and a small amount of eggs and dairy, topped with sugar.

Here’s my favorite pancake.

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It’s a Frittata – baked in a cast iron pan. This is 3 days worth of breakfast.

I always start with a base of sautéed vegetables. I use mixed peppers and onions and then add a green – either spinach or kale.

Once the vegetables are softened, I remove from heat and add 9 eggs. You can also add some cooked bacon or other meat, and cheese if your program allows dairy.

Then bake for 30-35 minutes at 375 degrees.

Starting the morning with a good dose of protein and a serving of vegetables is a great source of energy or recovery from early morning exercise.

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Ending Dogma

23 Feb

Dogma: the established belief or doctrine held by a religion, or a particular group or organization.  It is authoritative and not to be disputed, doubted, or diverged from, by the practitioners or believers.  Although it generally refers to religious beliefs that are accepted without reason or evidence, they can refer to acceptable opinions of philosophers or philosophical schools, public decrees, or issued decisions of political authorities.  (from Wikipedia)

For 13 years, I had my own Dogma: eating beef.

It was founded on the belief that fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol in my diet were bad for me.  It was founded on the belief that eating beef was dangerous because of E. Coli outbreaks, and Mad Cow Disease.  I saw these attributes and events as the sign of a food source that I should eat.

It persisted for 13 years.  During some parts of that period, my diet was entirely poultry for a protein source. When I started investigating Paleo and alternative dietary plans, it occurred to me that what I thought I knew of fat and saturated fat might not be true.  Although I read the stories and studied the information, my decision to abstain from beef continued.

But in the last month, it occurred to me that I might be missing a nutritionally dense food source that could bring some additional positive results into my diet, if I could find a clean source for the meat.  I knew that grass-fed and finished beef was available at Whole Foods, but still was apprehensive about adding it back into my diet.

It occurred to me that I was holding onto this one facet of my old low-fat diet for the simple reason of momentum: I had been doing it for a long time.  The belief had become dogmatic – that it was healthier for me not to eat beef.  That’s when I knew I had to take steps towards change.

The opposite of dogmatic behavior is pragmatic behavior.  While holding certain beliefs to be true is important, I decided it was more important to accept all of the solutions to “problem” of a healthy and complete diet.

I firmly believe that variety in diet is one of the strengths of the Paleo lifestyle.  I have increased the variety of fruits, vegetables, and protein sources I eat over the past year (and especially in my six month Paleo stint.)  The different types of food give a great variety in micro-nutrients and flavors.

So the perfect opportunity came last week – when returning from a business trip to Asheville, North Carolina my trip took me right through the same area that Brasstown Beef and would give me the opportunity to see where the animals live and get a good price on a cut suitable for smoking.  (As an aside – buying Grassfed beef in this instance was $1 per pound more than conventional beef that was on special at Publix last week.  For a 3 pound cut, this meant a difference of $3.  This is hardly a budget breaker!)

The next time, the beef (a chuck roast) went onto the smoker and smoked until it was to pulling temperature.  It was delicious.

I’m still not sure if I’ll add steaks back in to my diet – the cuts that sound appetizing to me are the larger pieces suitable to slower (and lower temperature) cooking.  That’s probably still partially a mental response, but the large pieces, slow cooked are more appealing to me from pork sources as well.  (I’m more likely to smoke a pork shoulder than eat chops, for example.)

So in the course of a weekend I’ve ended a practice of 13 years that I could no longer hold onto.

These Are Southern Heritage Foods

19 Feb

At some point, the true heritage foods of the Southern United States were lost, obscured or perverted.

I think most people are more likely to associate Paula’s Deen’s brand of deep fried, sweetened foods with the South.

But the true heritage foods of this region: smoked meats, cured meats and fresh vegetables.

I travel regularly in the Carolinas and Tennessee, often by car. Barbecue is widely available in small stores an roadside stands offering meats smoked with a variety of wood smoke and sauces, depending on the region.

The traditional ‘cue of the region: pork and chicken is featured on the menu.  (Beef is more of a feature of the cattle states like Texas.)  Alongside the ‘cue in the best of the restaurants are fresh vegetables – everything from green beans to collard or mustard greens.  A lot of barbecue joints seem to resort to using frozen or canned vegetables instead, but that’s can be forgiven if the barbecue is good enough.

Is there anything more primal than meat cooked slowly over a smoky fire?  Probably not!

A Greater Appreciation for Food

18 Feb

Every parent has had the moment of sitting down to dinner with their kids.

Three words, uttered before even cutting into the food.

“I don’t like this.”

And it destroys the entire mood of the meal before a bite. We all know we did it as a child, but wouldn’t dream of it as an adult.

The process of learning to cook is part of learning more appreciation of food. When you understand the time and effort required to produce a home-cooked, high quality meal: you give more room for experimentation into new food.

But it also goes deeper into the food supply chain. When you grow your own food, you understand what it takes to produce high quality, sustainably produced food.

I’ve been growing backyard fruit for more than five years. I can count the number of perfect peaches we’ve produced in the dozens. It’s been a battle against fungus, bugs and birds.

I’ve had more success with my vegetable production this winter – and I’ve greatly enjoyed everything produced.

But to know there are farms that work even harder to produce Artisanal quality fruits, vegetables, meats and dairy products – I have deep appreciation for their output now.

To some degree, that’s part of the paleo lifestyle – knowing where your food originates, and appreciating the quality and hard work put into producing the food.

It makes it that much more difficult to consider eating processed food products.

Food is about more than macronutrients – fats, carbohydrates and protein. Diet quality goes well beyond these measures.

Reversing Direction

9 Feb

Just before I graduated from college, I decided to stop eating beef.

I decided that beef, along with its saturated fat load, questionable production methods, as well as emerging health risks (Mad Cow disease) was a good thing to remove from my diet.  It was pretty easy to do, and I didn’t miss it.

A few years later pork followed suit.  I decided pork was at least as questionable – and probably equally easy to eliminate.  Probably the only meal I missed in pork was Southern Pulled Pork Barbecue.

Since my adoption of Paleo, my food attitudes have adjusted.  Back in October, real Bacon returned to my diet regularly for the first time in probably 15 or 20 years.  The world didn’t end – and in fact, my good cholesterol rose versus last year.  I’ve also mixed in a few high quality Pork shoulders, slowly smoked to my diet occasionally.  My pork source: Thompson Farms in Dixie, Georgia.  They use pastured animals, raised from infants to slaughter in the same location and have earned one of Whole Foods highest certifications for animal welfare.

It’s great to see family run farms being rewarded for raising animals well and allowing them to live as naturally as possible.  They also were quick to respond to a question I sent via e-mail.

I’m now on the verge of reversing direction on my first food exclusion – and mixing some grass-fed beef back into my diet.  I’m thinking about a large cut – like a brisket or a tri-tip for smoking.  Again, it’s another Whole Foods-certified local farm – either White Oak Pastures in Bluffton, Georgia or Brasstown Beef in Brasstown, North Carolina as the source.

Grass-fed has a lot of advantages – all originating because it’s how the animal was intended to eat.

Have you reversed direction on a specific food because of Paleo?

Warriors Don’t Drink Coke for Breakfast

3 Feb

There are certain celebrities that have attracted a lot of attention for their athletic look in certain roles.

Ed Norton in Fight Club and American History X.

Gerard Butler and the Spartans in 300.

And Brad Pitt in Troy.

So much in fact, that there are workouts related to several of these films – like this one for Troy, the famous 300 workout and others.

So crossing my news wire this morning (I track beverages for professional purposes) is news that Brad will sometimes use Coca-Cola to get his kids (ages 3-10) up and moving in the morning.

Brad, are you trying to build Greek Warriors and Fight Club members or the people on the sidelines?

Completely Paleo, Home Made Caesar Salad Dressing

20 Jan

Caesar salad is great.  It’s a mix of flavors – but most prominently, garlic!

However, most people are accustomed to creamy Caesar Salad dressings that come from a bottle!  The ingredients list, even for a company like Newman’s Own, is full of non-Paleo compliant ingredients:

All Natural Ingredients:
Ingredients: Vegetable Oil (Soybean Oil and/or Canola Oil), Water, Egg Yolks, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Worcestershire Sauce (Distilled Vinegar, Molasses, Corn Syrup, Water, Salt, Caramel Color, Garlic*, Sugar, Spices, Anchovies, Tamarind, Natural Flavor), Salt, Contains 2% Or Less Of: Distilled Vinegar, Parmesan Cheese (Pasteurized Milk, Cheese Cultures, Salt, Enzymes), Lemon Juice Concentrate, Spices, Garlic*, Onion*, Xanthan Gum
*Dried
Contains: Egg, Milk, Anchovy

Others are turned off by fresh creamy Caesar dressings having raw eggs.

Here’s a way to get your Caesar fix, and even get some Fish Oil from a food source in the process.

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